Department and Minister of Basic Education briefings on 2012/13 Annual Report

Basic Education

08 October 2013
Chairperson: Ms M Malgas (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister and Department of Basic Education (DBE) briefed the Committee on the 2012/13 Annual Report. The results in the Annual Report showed how the DBE had reformed education, and there was value in the investments made into that sector. The Minister said that DBE was focusing on areas that would have a significant, long-lasting and sustainable impact on schooling, and had provided some blueprints for turning around schools, setting clear objectives, outputs and outcomes. The action plan was in line with the delivery agreement for Basic Education, to ensure high monitoring and evaluation. The Department had taken steps to realise sector priorities and had built on past milestones and successes to meet its goals. In the last year, DBE focused on fundamental issues of equitable access, efficiency and quality in provision of educational. It had a more open engagement platform for delivering curriculum support for schools., and the National Education Collaboration Framework was launched, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP). The number of students qualifying to go to University had doubled since the previous year, and the DBE had exceeded its targets in five programmes. There was greater focus on early childhood development, and rectifying nutrition and sanitation deficiencies. However, there was large under-spending in Programme 4: Planning, Information and Assessment. Provinces had now aligned their management plans to the DBE plan, so that all procurement activities leading to the delivery of Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM) to schools were completed within agreed timeframes. Targets for delivery of textbooks, the National Senior Certificate examination, training of teachers, support from districts, libraries, bursaries, teacher trainees and a number of other areas were described in depth. It was, however, noted that there were concerns with the Annual National Assessment results, particularly for Grade 9, which had flown under the radar for some years, but was now receiving more targeted attention.

A recurring theme, raised by both Members and the Department, was the need to hold more widespread discussions on the quality of education, given the widespread perception that quality education was not being provided. Members questioned how South Africa compared to other countries in Africa, and said that learner results in the Annual National Assessments clearly indicated that there were problems needing to be addressed. They asked several questions relating to the value achieved for the spending, particularly in relation to litigation, service providers of books, and bursary access.  concern about money spent on litigations. The Members wanted to know what was being done for security in schools. Members questioned why some important issues, including the handover of schools under the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure initiative, the discrepancy between teachers appointed and teachers registered, the performance of Technical Schools, and absenteeism rates had been omitted from the presentation. They asked about time frames for attending to student – teacher ratios, about provision for multi-grade schools, and the specific endeavours for special schools and inclusive education. One Member again requested the School Monitoring Survey, promised to her but never provided. Members commented that the Auditor-General (AG) had noted that 64% of indicators in the Annual Performance Plan were not defined, and it was clear that many were not measured properly. They questioned why school principals were not asked to rate the performance of districts, and how the delivery of unions’ professional development programmes was monitored and the money accounted for. They believed that improvements were needed also in early childhood development, and questioned whether the DBE was ready to implement all schools offering Grade R. particularly Mr D Smiles (DA) noted the Minister’s comments in Vuk’uzenzele, and agreed with improvements needed in ECD. They commented that education received a very high allocation, and was concerned when money was not used. Further details were requested on the irregular expenditure, and when the new legislation may be provided. They questioned the value of matric intervention programmes and suggested that students should rather be relying on the regular teaching. Members also asked about the status of litigation, the costs, why the targets for 2% disabled employment were not met, security at schools and rollout of teacher laptops.  
 

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that she had read through the report by the Minister of Basic Education, and particularly appreciated the summary between what had been seen at the start of the engagements with the Portfolio Committee, and the Department’s progress to date. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) was humble about its achievements and recognised that improvements were still needed.

In relation to the Committee’s oversight functions, she said the Members did look at the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. She congratulated the National Department for again achieving an unqualified audit report, and particularly the Eastern Cape Provincial Department, which had achieved this for the first time. Limpopo again had a disclaimer, which the Committee questioned. Members noted, and wished to congratulate the DBE on its scorecard under the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT), understand that there were challenges, and were confident that the DBE could improve still further.

She noted that the Western Cape had commenced the Common Assessment Task (CAT), and she would like to congratulate the learners. She would make no mention of examinations until the Department had made statements.

Department of Basic Education 2012/13 Annual Report
Minister’s briefing

Ms Angie Motshekga, Minister of the Basic Education, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to brief the Committee and agreed that Department audit outcomes were positive. She thanked the officials at the DBE for addressing all concerns. She said that this Annual Report displayed that the DBE had reformed and the value in investing in education. The public resources were used to meet the needs of the public. The Department was now focusing on those areas that would have a significant, long-lasting and sustainable impact on schooling in South Africa. The DBE provided blueprint for turning schools around with clear objectives, outputs and outcomes. The action plan was in line with the delivery agreement for Basic Education, to ensure high monitoring and evaluation.

The Department had taken steps to realise sector priorities and had built on past milestones and successes to meet its goals. Over the past year, the Department had given serious attention to fundamental issues of access, equity, efficiency and quality in provision of educational. The DBE assessed the fact that different racial groups lacked equality of resources and the same quality education, and thus had key interventions to address this, and to drive its key priorities.

The DBE had distributed 114 million workbooks to children over the 2013/13 period. The draft procurement policy by the Department was being monitored closely. DBE was accelerating school infrastructure every week, throughout the provinces. It was also working hard to realise universal access. The DBE was collaborating with teacher unions and had, through this, trained many teachers. It had established a more open and honest constructive engagement platform in delivering curriculum support for schools. The National Education Collaboration Framework had been launched in line with the National Development Plan (NDP). This was one key lever in accelerating change in the system. The work with the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) had resourced the DBE well, as would appear from its reports.

The DBE was now getting ready for the matric exams run through a credible exam system. In the 2012/13 year, the highest matric results were achieved since 1994. The number of matriculants who could pursue bachelor degrees had doubled since the previous year. The DBE had a focus on improving quality of learning whilst also improving the pass rate. A task team had been deployed to look at the National Senior Certificate and the final draft would be ready early in 2014.

The Minister advised the Committee that the DBE would be reporting on work done in the Eastern Cape, and the Auditor-General (AG) had assured her that because all outstanding issues were addressed, the Eastern Cape could achieve an unqualified audit report, and should be working well within the next two years. DBE was working to sort out issues of excess teachers in Limpopo and was also working to align its action plan with the NDP. All people – students, parents and teachers – needed to be part of the solution.

Department’s briefing
Mr Manthanziwa Mweli, Deputy Director-General, DBE, focused on the sections of the Annual Report that discussed the national DBE and variations in programme performance. Most of the targets  were drawn annually or bi-annually, due to complexities and monitoring and evaluation. The activities of the DBE had been structured into five programmes, as elaborated on in the Annual Performance Plan, with Programme 1 focusing on administration, Programme 2 on curriculum policy, support and monitoring, Programme 3 on teachers, education, human resources and institutional development. Programme 4 related to planning, information and assessment and Programme 5 dealt with educational enrichment services.

She said that the purpose of programme 1 was to manage the Department and provide strategic and administrative support services, for improving the output of interns who participated, and for international relations. In terms of the 2012/13 targets, the DBE had a positive variance of 70. In terms of internships implemented, the DBE had a positive variance of 32. In terms of employment outcomes of interns, the DBE achieved a positive variance of 9%. Interns were trained in technical areas of the work so that they could compete in the labour market. Quarterly reports were published, on legal cases in particular, and the Portfolio Committee had access to this information.

The purpose of Programme 2 was to develop curriculum and assessment policies and monitor and support their implementation. The implementation of Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) was on track with the implementation in the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4-6) and Grade 11 commencing in the 2013 academic year. Preparations for implementation in Grade 12 and the Senior Phase in 2014 were at an advanced stage. The training on the Certificate in Primary Education Language Teaching, to support the introduction of English First Additional Language (EFAL) in the Foundation Phase, was conducted in August 2012, and this was a key highlight for the Department. The Ministerial Task Team Audit of Reading Programmes finalised its report in February 2013. Combined with the NEEDU report, it showed that provincial efforts in implementing reading interventions had to be more closely strengthened, supplemented and supported. This was a significant input in the sector. An impact evaluation of the reception grade (Grade R) has been finalised in the year under review. A Diagnostic Review on Early Childhood Development had also been finalised, together with an implementation plan which had expanded over the past ten years, that would guide implementation for the Departments of Social Development and Basic Education.

The adaptation of workbooks for Braille for Grades 7-9 was completed and teacher guidelines for Sign Language as well as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) were developed. The Human Resource Development (HRD) strategy for Inclusive Education (IE) was approved in 2012 and made available to provinces and Higher Education Institutions, in an effort to improve the supply and development of professionals in the inclusive education sub-sector, which was highlighted as a key priority in 2013. The three-year plan for the development of the National Catalogue of Textbooks coincided with the phased-in implementation of CAPS between 2012 and 2013, with the National Catalogue being developed a year ahead. The DBE developed and released the Basic Education Sector Plan for the procurement and delivery of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) in provinces. Provinces aligned their management plans to the DBE plan so that all procurement activities leading to the delivery of LTSM to schools were completed within agreed timeframes.
The DBE monitored and supported Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) in managing the procurement and delivery of textbooks and stationery for the 2013 school year.

The National Guidelines for School Library and Information Services were launched on 13 August 2012, to support the consolidation of the culture of reading in public schools. In terms of programme outputs, the Department had exceeded the target for the number of schools with access to electronic content. The DBE had also exceeded the target for the number of digitised workbooks aligned (in terms of curriculum requirements) with resources available for use in underperforming schools.

A new e-Education strategy that updated the 2004 White Paper and included future targets for ICT access in schools had been released. Work was being done to ensure that there was enough capacity to realise it in the coming financial period. The DBE had exceeded targets for the number of subject advisors and other teaching professionals orientated in the Curriculum, by 1 003. DBE had exceeded the target of having 140 personnel trained in multi-grade teaching per province.

Grade 3 numeracy and literacy levels remained areas of concern, as well as the Annual National Assessment (ANA) results for grade 6 and grade 9 performance levels. In 2012, a total of 136 047 learners became eligible for admission into university. This was 15 280 more bachelor passes achieved in 2012 than 2011. The DBE target of 180 000 matriculants for 2014 was based on 2009 data, and did not take account of the demographic shrinkage of the 2011 Matric cohort which was given in the Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) data. The 1999 Admissions policy also institutionalised the shrinkage of the admitted cohort. The pass rate for 2012 was 73.9%, and this increased to 75.6% after the supplementary exams.

A survey done in 2011 showed that 51% of schools had access to library information services. The percentage of learners with textbooks for each subject had focused on textbooks ordered and delivered by the PEDs to schools for the grades implementing CAPS in 2013 (Grade 4-6 and grade 11). The target for 2012 was 85%. However, 99.4% of grades 4-6 and grade 11 orders were delivered to schools. 10.3 million learners were targeted to receive books and 10.979 million actually were distributed.

The 2012 target for number of learners enrolled in the Kha Ri Gude programme was 630 990, but 665 246 learners were registered and the completion rate of the programme was 93%. The DBE had also exceeded targets for numbers of district offices that had trained officials, and the number of schools that had teachers trained in the Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support Strategy. These positive variances did not mean the DBE under-planned or under-budgeted: the DBE managed to achieve economies of scale in the way it had structured the training. The 2011 General Household Statistics showed that 87.8% of Grade 1 learners had also received formal Grade R education.

The purpose of Programme 3 was to promote quality teaching and institutional performance through the effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources. Maintaining stability in schools in support of curriculum delivery and learner performance was a critical focus of HR planning, provisioning and monitoring. A National Education Human Resource Framework (including HR strategies and guidelines) was developed and approved. Proper implementation of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) not only supported effective teaching, but also helped to improve levels of accountability. During the period 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013, IQMS moderators had conducted 13 527 school visits. These visits were for purposes of IQMS monitoring, data capturing in the Eastern Cape, monitoring of school readiness and monitoring the writing of National Senior Certificate. Teacher Centres assisted to achieve improvement in teacher quality, by supporting teachers at the local level. The Teacher Union Collaboration was important to teacher development programme, and the Memorandum of Agreement with these unions would help to reach professional development targets. The Funza Lushaka bursary allocation from National Treasury had increased from R109.7 million in 2007, to R671.9 million in 2012. In 2012/13 the number of bursaries awarded increased to 11 715. In this year, there was also a district-based recruitment programme targeting learners from rural and poor communities, in quintile 1-3 schools, to assist them to access Funza Lushaka bursaries.

There was a target to publish a guide to professional development programmes on the website, and in pursuance of that, a catalogue of 150 short courses in priority subject areas had been developed and placed on the DBE website, and circulated to all stakeholders for publication. Courses in EFAL across the system had been developed. The number of qualified teachers aged 30 and below entering the public service as teachers for the first time had increased, 1 427 over target. The number of bursaries awarded to students enrolled for initial teacher education during the past year was 11 715, above the initial target of 11 500.

There were further targets for the percentage of ordinary public schools where the School Governing Body (SGB) would meet the minimum criteria for effectiveness, 10 528 schools, or 71% were supported, against the target of 14 836 schools. No data was available yet on how school principals rated the support services of districts.

The purpose of Programme 4 was to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through planning, implementation and assessment. A National Report on learner performance in the Annual National Assessments (ANA) had been released. The 40% of schools targeted for the provision of exemplars and other tools to support ANA preparation had been exceeded. The DBE produced 680 different exemplars in Mathematics and Languages for Grades 1-6 and Grade 9, to 86% of schools. A National Technical Report on learner performance in Grade 12 had been released. The NSC examination was successfully conducted, with 511 152 students writing this exam.

55% of schools complied with a very basic level of school infrastructure, against a target of 92%. In order to promote credibility and maintain consistency, it was important to note that 55% was the new baseline for the following year. The DBE was in consultation with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) to formally amend the indicator.

The percentage of learners in schools that were funded at the minimum level was 47%, against the target of 85% and the target for 2014 was calculated on 2009 data. The percentage of schools that were assessed as having acquired the full set of financial management responsibilities was 74%.

98.8% of children in the 7 to 15 year age group were now attending education institutions, against the target of 98.8%. There were 71.7% of children enrolled in grade 7 who turned 12 years old in the previous year, against the target of 50%. There had been improvement in repetition and drop-out rates over the years, which was encouraging, and the indicators also showed dramatic improvements in access to school education.

The purpose of Programme 5 was to develop policies and programmes to improve the quality of learning in schools. Leadership was driving an integrated health programme. To promote the overall well-being of learners, the Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP) was launched on 11 October 2012. In addition, 16 749 Life Orientation educators were trained and 1 201 500 sets of LTSM were distributed to schools dealing with Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH). Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps on health, education and poverty indicators for all nine provinces were developed, to support health interventions where most needed. The DBE conducted phased-in implementation of the social cohesion toolkit in selected schools and districts for curriculum diversity. The Department of Health (DoH) had reported that 652 258 learners in schools in all provinces underwent screening, as against the target of 500 000. In the 2013 academic year, 9 159 773 learners were being fed a nutritious meal daily, against a target of 8 892 088. Cumulatively, 16 838 schools were linked to police stations in the country, lower than the target of 18 000 links.

8 842 schools were reported by PEDs to have participated in the South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod (SASCE) at district, provincial and national level, which was fewer than expected.  DBE hoped to exceed these targets this year. 7 612 schools, higher than the 5 000 target, were reportedly registered in sports leagues. 415 schools were benefitting from the Adopt-a-School programme. All of this was helping with learner discipline and behaviour.

The DBE cited some challenges encountered during the auditing process, which included alignment between the financial year and the school calendar year, which was linked to the service delivery environment. The training of subject advisers on Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) had been planned for the school calendar year. Some sector indicators in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) were national competencies, and others were provincial competency. Much f the DBE’s work required inter-governmental collaboration.

Mr Anton Schoeman, Deputy Director General, DBE, outlined the steps that DBE was taking to strengthen planning and reporting processes. It was looking at capacity building for officials in branches on planning, reporting, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). DBE intended that its Internal Audit and M&E directorate should verify data on supporting documents. On the risk management side, there would be quarterly milestones, and quarterly branch reviews with managers around achievements. All indicators would be tracked on a quarterly basis, and there would be detailed feedback on the quarterly reporting of the branches.

Ms Ntetsa Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer, DBE, presented the Annual Financial Statements. She said Programme 1 spent 98.3% of its allocated budget. Programme 2 spent 98.7% of the budget and Programme 3 spent 95%. Programme 4 spent 84.9% of allocated budget, and programme 5 spent 99.6% of allocated budget. Under-spending in programme 1 was actually a saving with regard to office accommodation budget and unitary fee payment, based on the consumer price index (CPI) that fluctuated. A further reason for the under-spending was the vacancies, but many had been filled later in the year.  On  programme 2, the under-spending was mainly due to the delays in procurement processes for the LTSM of the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign class of 2013. The classes for Kha Ri Gude project resumed each year, in June.. Under-spending in Programme 3 was mainly due to IQMS moderators who left during the year, so less was paid than anticipated. DBE also received money from National Treasury for union collaborations. There was no time to train the teachers, and training was delayed. The under-spending  in Programme 4 was due to the School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant underspending against the allocated budget, as a result of capacity challenges among implementing agents and contractors. Some contractor contracts were cancelled due to non-delivery. Adverse weather conditions and poor road conditions also contributed to slow delivery. Underspending on Programme 5 was due to funds being held from Limpopo, from the conditional grants for HIV and Aids, Dinaledi Schools and Technical Secondary Schools, owing to low spending.

Ms Molalekoa reiterated that the DBE had achieved an unqualified audit opinion, with emphasis of matters, which related to material under-spending of the budget on programme 4 (where R1.2 billion was underspent) and the restatement of the prior year comparative figures. The problem experienced during the audit was that Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI) accruals for 2011/12 were incorrect. The DBE was looking into obtaining additional capacity to ensure that this would not recur. At the moment, external capacity was being used.

Mr Schoeman concluded said that significant progress was achieved during the 2012/13 period. The gains made, as illustrated by the NSC and ANA results, would be leveraged to further improve learner performance. There would be support to the implementation of the CAPS, and the Workbooks programme would be consolidated. Good progress had been made by the DBE in aligning targets with the NDP. A review of targets, refinement of strategies and institutionalisation of interventions was introduced, to improve district support and performance. Learner performance and quality in Early Childhood Development (ECD) would ensure increasing meaningful compliance with the NDP in the sector. He thanked the Portfolio Committee for its contribution, and the Minister for her leadership.

Discussion.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked why, for Programme 2, Afrikaans was noted as the Second Additional Language.  She also asked how far the target was achieved for schools having libraries. She asked if the DBE had time frames for attending to teacher-student ratios. She also asked if there were timeframes to ensure every school would have educators

Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) referred to the Minister’s comments on the delivery of quality education, and commented that there was a perception that poor quality of education was provided in the country. He suggested to the Minister that there was a need for a summit to talk more deeply about this matter, and perhaps compare standards with other African countries. Commenting on the vacancy for Deputy Director of Risk Management, he said someone was needed to oversee risk management. The Department had assured the Committee several times that there would be handing over of the schools being built under the ASIDI programme, on a weekly basis, but Members needed to know exactly what was being done. In addition, better communication was needed to tell society what was being done to transform and redress the inequities of the past.

Ms A Lovemore (DA) said she was alarmed and disappointed that the schools being handed over now under ASIDI were the first 49 schools that were supposed to be completed in 2011/2012. She asked what would happen with the handover of the 100 schools scheduled for 2012/2013 and the 349 schools for the 2013/2014 period. She asked what the Auditor-General had said on that issue. She noted that she had asked, many times, to get the School Monitoring Survey of 2011 and although the Minister had replied to her that it would be placed on the Departmental website on 30 September 2013, this had not happened. She asked again that it be provided, and asked when this would be done. She commented that the Auditor-General had noted that 64% of indicators in the Annual Performance Plan were not defined, and it was clear that many of the indicators  were not measured properly. The targets set for textbooks to be delivered to schools did not appear to take into account how many students needed those books.

Ms Lovemore referred to slide 33, on the ANA results and said there were concerns that even in the well-resourced schools, learners were not doing as well expected, which suggested to her that the level of teaching was not adequate. Nothing was mentioned in this regard, in the Annual Report, about adequacy of teaching, and how the results would be addressed. She questioned why slide 47 indicated that 8 227 teachers were appointed into the teaching profession, although the South African Council of Educators indicated that only 5 561 were registered, and questioned the discrepancy, which indicated that some teachers were not registered.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) supported comments on the perception about the quality of education. He said the commitment of current teachers could be compared with those teachers in the former Bantu education system and pointed out that the provinces were a barometer of the national Department. He had been alarmed by media reports on the Kwa-Zulu Natal PED, and asked the Minister to comment. He noted that under programme 3, the importance of the districts in delivering quality education had always been emphasised, so he asked why the principals in the various districts did not provide ratings. Noting that R70 million was allocated to the Unions for the implementation of teacher development programmes, he asked who was monitoring activities and holding them accountable. He noted that the Committee had discovered, during its oversight,  that some teachers did not undergo training for CAPs, and asked if this had improved. He asked if the Department was saying, in relation to the Grade 9 ANA, that this was the first cycle. Only about 39% of learners achieved above 50% in their home language, although better results were expected, and he also expressed disappointed that only 2% of learners achieved above 50% in Mathematics. Lastly, he questioned the position for the organisations contracted by provinces to supply textbooks, and asked why the same organisations were sometimes working in more than one place.

Mr D Smiles (DA) noted the Minister’s comments in Vuk’uzenzele, and agreed with improvements needed in ECD. He asked that the DBE explain the table on the concerns for schooling, and felt that some concerns had been omitted – for instance, technical schools. He questioned what was happening with these, and why they were not presented. South Africa needed to get value for money spent on education. Nothing was also said, in this presentation, about the rate of absenteeism. He said that DBE should be worried about the under-expenditure of R1.2 billion on programme 4, and said that many learners were finding themselves in poor education simply because the money allocated was not being used. The Auditor-General had confirmed that R82 million was regarded as irregular expenditure, and said that more detail was needed on what was involved and who was responsible.

Ms N Gina (ANC) asked how far the DBE had gone to finalise the Bill. She noted that the teacher development programme was now operative, but said it had been many years in the pilot phase, and full implementation was needed. She approved of the specific training for multi-grade classrooms, but asked how well the programme was performing, and the impact of those teachers. In some schools, the Committee had noted that learners were suffering, and said that appropriate measures were needed. This year was called “the year of inclusive education” and she asked what milestones on that had been achieved. She thought it positive that many young teachers were accessing the Funza Lushaka bursary, but one of the challenges was the timing in transferring teachers to various institutions, and appealed to DBE to get the system running more smoothly. She noted that there were challenges in e-learning, but in collaboration with other departments, such as the Department of Communications, matters were now running, and all students should be able to access quality learning. She felt that the DBE sometimes “went overboard” when budgeting for matric intervention programmes, and asked for comment on these programmes. Students were depending on the interventions rather than the regular school teaching, but this should not happen. She asked for assurances that the CAPS training would be rectified.

The Chairperson said that normally the DBE reports did a thorough analysis, and that this was needed to answer the questions. She wanted to know the status of NEEDU litigation, noting that 64 cases were listed, but 9 were outstanding, and the Annual Report did not clarify what the issues were. Pointing out that litigation used a lot of budget, she asked how the DBE was reducing litigation, and asked what baseline was used for this. She felt that there were some grey areas on ECD, such as conditions of service of the ECD practitioners, and the DBE had to speak to this. ECD would be made universal in 2014 and trained teachers were needed. Every school should have Grade R, and she asked what was being done about the special schools and extension to grade R. Nothing was reported in relation to the State of the Nation Address on programmes to improve the standard of education, and she asked if such programmes were running, and their impact in schools. She noted that the DBE had not met the 2% target for employing disabled people. On the previous day the Auditor-General had addressed the Committee on audit outcomes, and issues brought to the AG should have been picked up by the Internal Audit. She had been disturbed when the integrity of the AG, an independent body that gave confidence to the public, was questioned.

Ms Motshekga said many schools in South Africa were multi-grade. In all provinces, the DBE was working in these schools, with an acknowledgement of difficulties in the farming schools. However, small classes could also be advantageous, and some of these schools had been doing well, which was why the training in multi-grade teaching was continuing. She agreed that there was a need to direct and focus the debate about education for results. The question of accountability was a key issue, and there was a problem when parents could not support their children. The DBE had previously explained some of the problems around delivery from 2011, with the model using different delivery requirements done by Department of Arts and Culture and Treasury simply not working. Matters improved when the DBE built its own capacity.

The Minister confirmed that although South Africa was low in comparison to other international schools, this did not mean that it was not offering fit training, as this comparison was done against the best in the world, and just needed to address the weak areas, to improve. Human capital was stronger in other countries, and South Africa needed to expect more from its children, but there would be consequences if children in South Africa were expected to work the same kinds of hours as in Korea. Attempts to run ahead of Japan, for instance, might not necessarily benefit the nation, and fuller debate was needed.

Ms Motshekga said the provinces were struggling because of the pressure to stay within their budget, and this was being raised with National Treasury. The value of education was assessed in terms of what was achieved by the end of schooling, and the system produced people who could run the country. No middle class would exist without a system that produced it. She was glad the DBE had declared 2013 a year of inclusive education, which  had helped it to focus on previously under-serviced. The DBE had finalised the curriculum on South African sign language, and teachers were being trained for the special schools. More still needed to be done there, and DBE would give a further report to the Committee.

Ms Motshekga noted that litigation started long before it reached the court, and DBE would try to avoid litigation as far as possible. The Department would provide a full report.

Mr Enoch Rabotapi, Acting Chief Director, DBE, indicated that the Minister wanted to set up an education summit early next year to discuss the issue of quality education. The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) defined quality education as addressing human rights, social justice, and issues of health. One of the issues the DBE focused on was curriculum coverage, and he pointed out that even in some affluent schools, not much teaching happened and the DBE monitored and tried to support this. Curriculum differentiation for learners of different cognitive levels was necessary, but this was not something that the South African curriculum addressed too well. He noted the comments on the 39% achievement for languages at Grade 9 and said DBE had noted that Grade 9 (senior phase) had been under the radar for some years, and was now being positioned for greater visibility and attention, which would be shown out in next year’s results. The same applied to maths. He said that the technical and Dinaledi schools had been covered, albeit briefly, in the last two slides. The main achievement on the Technical High Schools  was that the DBE had completed the CAPS. Since 2008, when the NCS was introduced, DBE had offered an elitist curriculum but this had been revised to accommodate more learners. He commented that in any country that did well, 30% of students followed academic training, and 70% followed vocational training. In South Africa, these statistics were reversed, and DBE wanted to change this so the percentages were in line. Until DBE got the curriculum right, special interventions would continue to be needed, and there was value to them. He noted that progress had been made on inclusive education. Provinces would be ready to implement CAPS. ECD universal provision of grade R also applied to special schools, but parents played a role when learners were not in the schooling system. The e-learning initiatives had been presented, and DBE had indicated that the implementation plan and strategy were being finalised. More information on libraries and information services was in the slides. Schools needed classroom libraries, so learners could borrow and read books. If the nation would take the matter of education seriously, it could improve, and he stressed that parents played a huge role in helping students with reading.

Mr Mweli responded on the irregular expenditure, explaining that the DBE appointed a number of implementing agents, including the PEDs and Department of Public Works in Eastern Cape. DBE had gone out on tender, as required, but huge numbers of tenders was received and the unit did not have capacity to process them quickly. The Department then appointed external entities which led to over-expenditure. The tenders had closed and successful implementation agents had been identified.

Mr Schoeman noted that the post of Deputy Director: Risk Management had been advertised but DBE struggled to find a suitable person to fill the post. DBE had appointed one of the audit committee members as a consultant. The Audit Committee had requested to make this post into a full Directorate level, so that it would fall under the Audit Committee. He admitted that it was a challenge to reach the  2% disability employment target although every advertisement encouraged those with disabilities to apply.

Ms Carol Nuga Deliwe, Chief Director, DBE, said the DBE continued to work with the provinces to ensure that posts were filled as quickly as possible, but there were challenges, and rationalisation and deployment, to get the teachers to where they were most needed, was problematic. DBE had put strategies in place to address adequacy of teaching. DBE designed competency tests for teachers, to identify where they were struggling, and although there had been some delays in rolling them out, the work was continuing and the tests would be piloted from next year and steps would be taken to improve content knowledge of teachers. She noted that the difference in figures, between teacher registration and teacher appointments was a matter that needed to be investigated, but it may mean that some registered teachers were not taking teacher posts. The districts were key points in quality of delivery, but there had been some challenges with full roll-out of the tool to help district performance. DBE had tried to use the services of external moderators to interview principals on the kind of service they wanted to see. This, however, was based largely on perceptions and was not a reliable indicator of the actual quality. In relation to the monitoring of trade union activities and use of funds allocated to unions, she noted that there was a Memorandum of Understanding with the unions, which specified that unions were required to report on how money was utilised. The unions were now establishing Teacher Development institutions, whose programmes would be accredited to ensure value for money. DBE was working to improve Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD), by signing up principals, and the plan was to roll out programmes for these type of managers.

Ms Deliwe could not comment why absenteeism was not covered in the report. When moderators visited schools, they took statistics on absenteeism on all levels as part of the IQSM report. However, with the condition of services for grade R practitioners, some practitioners  were not categorised as educators. Work was continuing to assist in improving their qualifications, and a new qualification – an Advanced Diploma in Principalship – would be developed. DBE would ensure that quality principals  were trained through that, to improve the quality of management in schools.

Mr Mweli explained that the positive variance of 111, in terms of Screening, Identification, Assessment, and Support (SIAS) training at school level, meant that in fact 211 people had been trained. There had been a delay in the School Monitoring Survey, between timing of consultations and submission of reports. On 17 October 2013 the DBE would have consultation with stakeholders, before releasing the Survey, but extracts and analyses should be available to the public by the end of October. The Household Survey had shown information on concerns around lack of books, fees, and other matters, and improvements and dropping of concerns over the years. There were challenges to the school nutrition programmes, in terms of coverage and deficiencies. Teacher Development programmes aimed to address inequalities. It was explained that it was difficult to do accurate comparisons with other countries. DBE divided schools into five quintiles, and the highest contained the majority of white learners, irrespective of ability, whereas in other countries the equivalent quintiles showed no similar race differentiation. He agreed that there were problems around teacher development, but there were also historical issues of spatial distribution, access to particular endowment of school infrastructure, resources, and others.

Mr Ferdie Froneman, DBE Audit Committee Member, referred to the audit on predetermined objectives by the AGSA and said that the Audit Committee had also identified issues several times, and DBE was working on reformulating some of the strategic objectives. The legislation required the DBE’s executive authority, as well as the Portfolio Committee, to receive and scrutinise reports from the public entities. The Executive authority may institute policies and procedures for input, but until these policies were in place, reports should come to the Portfolio Committee, and so the DBE had to  employ people skilled in monitoring and evaluation to scrutinise reports and compile summaries for the Executive Committee. The DBE’s hands were tied. He added that litigation expenses were unforeseen and unavoidable, and it was impossible to set a baseline or budget for them.

Mr Solly Padayachee, Deputy Director General, DBE, answered concerns on the ASIDI programme. He said that when a school could be occupied, it was deemed to be practically complete, but this did not mean that the contractor had met all obligations. In 2012, only six schools had reached practical completion. There were 17 schools in March 2013. Of the 49 schools, 37 had reached “practical completion”. The DBE already had contractors in 201 other schools, and alternative construction technology was being considered in another 60 schools. Around 50 of the 201 schools were outside the Eastern Cape. DBE had been asked to try to provide temporary mobile facilities, eradicate the mud schools and address water and sanitation needs while schools were being completed. Other schools still needing replacement would be assessed. The R1.2 billion under-expenditure was regrettable, and DBE needed at least R5 billion to pay for the addition of more schools. It was now looking at better alignment of funding.

He commented that the NEEDU had reported to the Minister as envisaged. The new Bill was unlikely to be passed in this Parliament, as the DBE must wait for the new administration to deal with processes. The Department had taken up the Funza Lusaka issue and there had been no delays in making payments to the students from the Department. Litigation costs were  R1.1 million in the previous year, and settlements out of court were sometimes seen as a weakness but his report would show that some of the cases had actually benefited the Department. In regard to the question on suppliers, he noted that, for instance, the Department of Trade and Industry did work for different regions, and this all depended on how the service provider was managed, and what clients wanted. In future, PEDs would engage with service providers through proper procurement procedures and would ensure economies of scale. Finally, he noted that the DBE valued all inputs from the AG and welcomed the unqualified report; it would be dealing with the outstanding issues.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and DBE for the response. The Members did have some further questions that would be raised in the Report. The Committee needed to speak to the Education Labour Relations Council about the under-spending, although it was quite small. The DBE received the highest portion of the budget, but she asked what the DBE wanted to recommend in relation to the budget allocations and the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report. She asked Members to discuss whether there was a need for extra funding.

Ms J Ngubeni-Maluleka (ANC) asked about security in schools and said that Satanism was a problem, and asked what DBE was doing to protect learners. She asked how far DBE had gone with the rollout of laptops to teachers. She asked about the 2 000 subject advisors trained in multi-grade teaching and how they would be deployed around the country. She also asked what the role of Internal Audit was and what the Audit Committee was doing to ensure that it detected problems before the AG would. The AG had commented that management had regressed, and wondered if it was demoralised, or was simply not coping.

The Chairperson said to Mr Padayachee that the Internal Audit Committee had outlined the roles and responsibilities. She asked what was happening on teacher-learner relationships in programme 5.

The Minister commented that school security issues such as fencing could be addressed, but the DBE was limited in what it could do around issues such as bullying. It had MOUs with police stations, to erect fencing and have CCTV cameras installed, and all PEDs were trying to ensure safety of children. Some children, however, had anger issues, which was of huge concern. Some threats were internal and resulted from conflict. There was no single solution and DBE was using multiple strategies to address the problem.

Mr Froneman said the DBE had aligned its activities with the NDP. Recommendations had been made, but they were not yet funded, and this was to be discussed further with  National Treasury.

The Chairperson said something was needed in writing about the discussions between the Portfolio Committee and the DBE. She thanked the Department for its comprehensive report, and many of the questions had been directed to what was set out in the Annual Report, rather than in today’s presentation. She also appreciated the Minister’s presence. She fully agreed that society at large needed to discuss and debate education.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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