SA Council for Educators & Education Labour Relations Council on their Annual Reports for 2012/13

Basic Education

09 October 2013
Chairperson: Ms H Malgas (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed on the 2012/13 Annual Reports of the South African Council for Educators (SACE), which was established under the SACE Act (Act No. 31 of 2000). The Minster of Education officially opened the South African Council for Educators’ building on World Teachers’ Day, 5 October 2012. On core mandates the registration of 50 748 educators were assisted for the year. Of the 16 958 provisionally registered educators, 5 589 were foreign nationals. The office was currently striving to complete registration requests within seven days. The SACE had managed to promote the code of professional ethics to 7 795 educators and stakeholders. Plans for an intensive advocacy campaign to promote professionalism of teachers, and the well-being of learners, were under way. Although there was a target for Continuing Professional Development of Teachers, this was not achieved in full, because of other systems and processes first had to take place. The CPTD implementation plan was approved by Council in November 2012. 556 disciplinary cases were received from all 9 provinces, and a breakdown showed that corporal punishment and assault were in the lead, with 182 reported cases, unprofessional conduct, alcohol abuse, absenteeism, and insubordination followed with 115 cases, and sexual misconduct, including rape, was reported in 104 matters. 375 cases were finalised and closed. A CPTD Orientation and School sign-up team had been established and capacitated to assist SACE and the nine Provincial Education Departments in implementing the CPTD system, and it had managed to get principals, deputy principals and educators signed up and this effort would continue.  

Members of the Committee asked questions with regard to violence and pregnancy in schools, both of which were on the rise. They asked about the trend with regard to the registration of foreign nationals against local teachers, whether SACE kept the record of qualifications of teachers, how these systems were linked to Department of Basic Education (DBE) systems, what the original target was and what the achievements were. They wanted more details on how the cases were finalised, whether the SACE was relying on volunteers to handle the cases, and how they were chosen. They commented that the goals had not been reached, asked why this was so, and asked some questions on the financial statements.

The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) presented its Annual Report. It had held an Exco Lekogtla in December 2012 and had decided that the key areas of focus would be  dispute management services, dispute prevention and facilitation and a more proactive approach, with a focus on prevention. The ETRC had also wanted to focus on training of panellists and parties (with emphasis on Dispute Resolution Practitioners), establishment of Dispute Prevention Committees / Task Teams and support to provincial chambers. In the organisational environment, the focus was on supply chain management an career and succession planning strategies would be employed to ensure that existing skills were developed and new talent was cultivated. There were sub-programmes dealing with professional training and development. There had been 673 disputes received, of which 59% were within jurisdiction, 29% were out of jurisdiction and 12% were determined through condonation. Of these, 193 disputes related to promotion and appointments, 253 to allegedly unfair dismissals and 97 to other unfair labour practices. 70 cases related to interpretation of collective agreements, 42 had to do with Basic Conditions of Employment Act matters. 17 of the enforcements related to sexual offences matters involving a learner and one related to a dispute of mutual interest. The 415 disputes finalised in this year were finalised by arbitration, conciliation, withdrawals, and rulings (with breakdowns provided.) In order to overcome areas of under-performance, ELRC was providing practical training to dispute resolution service practitioners, wanted to minimise postponements, and encourage panelists to enforce the ELRC constitution.

Members questioned whether the ELRC had any powers over School Governing Bodies, whether the Council had enough capacity at the provincial chamber level, whether the Council had collected the costs in review cases where costs were awarded in favour of the ELRC, whether productivity was a strategic goals and whether the ELRC became involved at all in supply and demand for teachers.
 

Meeting report

South African Council for Educators (SACE) Annual Report 2012/13
Mr Rej Brijraj, Chief Executive Officer, South African Council for Educators, (SACE) said that the South African Council for Educators (SACE) was established under the SACE Act (Act No. 31 of 2000). The core functions of SACE were as follows:
-Compulsory registration of all educators
-Management of the Continuing Professional Teacher Development system
-Promoting and development of the teaching profession
-Review and maintenance of ethical standards.

The Minster of Education had officially opened the South African Council for Educators’ building on World Teachers’ Day, 5 October 2012.

Mr Brijraj outlined the performance of the SACE against its core mandates. It had done registration of 50 748 educators for the year. Of the 16 958 provisionally registered educators, 5 589 were foreign nationals. The office was currently striving to complete registration requests within seven days. The mammoth task of validation and classification of the register was underway. Plans for an on-line registration were underway. The tendency of applicants bringing fraudulent qualifications was reduced as a result of more verification procedures and close co-operation with the South African Police Service (SAPS). Outreach programmes were done in many outlying areas to ensure that the SACE service reached as many people as possible, in line with the advocacy programme.

In relation to the code of professional ethics, a total of 7 795 educators and stakeholders were conscientised on the code of professional ethics. Plans for intensive advocacy campaigns to promote professionalism of teachers and the well-being of learners were underway. 556 complaints against teachers were received from all 9 provinces. Of these offences and breaches, corporal punishment and assault were in the lead with 182 reported cases, unprofessional conduct, alcohol abuse, absenteeism, and insubordination followed with 115 cases, and sexual misconduct, including rape, was reported in 104 matters. 375 cases were finalised and closed.

Ms Ella Mokgalane, Senior Manager, SACE, reported on professional development, noting that Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) targets were initially planned and approved in the 2012/13 Annual Performance Plan (APP) with an understanding that the CPTD system implementation would start at the beginning of the 2012/13 financial year. However, that implementation did not take place as planned, due to other systems and processes (more fully detailed in the CPTD Status Report on the pilot project in July 2012) that needed to be reviewed and updated first before full rollout could take place. Subsequently, the CPTD implementation plan was approved by Council in November 2012. Therefore, the first three quarters of the 2012/13 financial year were spent on planning and preparation for the phased-in implementation process.

Ms Mokgalane said that the CPTD Orientation and School sign-up team had been established and capacitated to assist SACE and the 9 Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) in implementing the CPTD system in provinces and more specifically in orientating and signing –up Principals and Deputy Principals. The team consisted of SACE, Department of Basic Education (DBE), nine PEDs, the National Teacher Unions, National Independent School Association (NAISA) and South African Principals Association (SAPA). 28 CPTD engagement sessions were held with all the national and provincial education departments, and national stakeholders. The purpose of the engagement sessions was to share the CPTD implementation plan; to get buy-in from stakeholders; to identify areas of collaboration and support; and clarify roles and responsibilities.

Ms Mokgalane said that in regard to the achievements of the CPTD Orientation and School Sign-up, the 10 Principals and Deputy Principal CPTD Orientation sessions that were held focused on an overview of the CPTD system, Professional Development Portfolio Guidelines and Template, signing up to and use of the CPTD self-service portal, and administering the Principals and Deputy Principals needs-identification questionnaire. All the cohorts signed up for the CPTD system manually or electronically through the CPTD self-service web portal which was available on the SACE website. There were two sign-ups, namely, the Individual Profile for Principals and Deputies, and School Profile. The CPTD Self-Service Portal Demonstration could be done, if time permitted. She noted that from January to March 2013, the sign up figures were 545 principals and deputy principals and 29 schools.

Ms Mokgalane said that in 80 professional development activities were endorsed. The majority of these activities/programmes came from the private providers and few from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

Discussion
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked what the department was doing about violence in schools perpetrated by both teachers and learners. She was concerned about the high rate of pregnancy in schools which was becoming a norm.

Mr Brijraj responded that SACE would not be in a position to support any kind of corporal punishment whatsoever. They were bound by the Council decisions to abide by the law, and unless there was a change in the law, SACE would not support any kind of violence or physical methods of discipline. SACE definitely feel that people who had done wrong should be punished some way or the other, but it did believe more in addressing the root cause, and said that there was a need to emphasise good behaviour from the start.  Teachers also needed to teach their children how to live well, and how to be good citizens. The same principle applied to the pregnancy cases. The boy children were cautioned, and girls were advised on preventative measures but there was a need to teach the children, from a very early age, how to make the best of their lives and how to avoid the negative; something that had been not taught in their schools before.

Ms Mushwana asked what the DBE was doing with the educators that were found guilty of misconduct.

Mr C Moni (ANC) said that the types of breaches that were committed by teachers were surprising and were having an effect of eroding the dignity of the profession itself. It was not only the SACE which should take drastic steps against these transgressions, but society also should do something about discipline particularly around institutions of learning.

Mr D Smiles (DA) also asked the Council to explain what happed with finalised disciplinary cases.

Ms N Gina (ANC) asked what programmes SACE had for rehabilitating those teachers that had been found guilty after their disciplinary cases, and whether there were any changes or lessons that had been learnt after attending such programmes.

Mr Brijraj agreed that there was a need to develop a more comprehensive approach to bring out the wrongdoings of teachers. This was matter that all stakeholders needed to drive home because sometimes they were reluctant because of unions and other factors. Unions themselves agreed that bad teachers needed to be brought to book.

He added that there were post case intervention programmes there were two things that they did, one they refer those that were found guilty to rehabilitation or assistance programmes and to counselling programmes. However to date there had not been monitoring of whether or not those people referred had actually attended the programmes. Children that had been victims were sent for counselling, because SACE itself did not have the resources to do this itself, but again there was no follow-up. The only time there was follow-up was when it might have been that someone was found guilty and told to go for anger management for six months in a recognise institution, in which case the institution would be asked for feedback.  

Mr D Smiles (DA) asked what the trend was with regard to the registration of foreign nationals against local teachers because the report stated that there were 5 500 foreign national registered as teachers which was the third of the total amount for the year.

Mr Smiles asked what the original target was and what the achievements were in terms of the sign-up of 10 principals and deputy principals.

Mr Smiles asked whether SACE kept the record of qualifications of teachers so that they could inform other users of that information.

Mr Z Makhubela (ANC) asked whether the system of registration of SACE and that of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) had reconciled and was able to tell whether there were teachers that were outside of the registration system.

Mr Makhubele also asked who was supposed to the determine the provisional registration of private teachers, who had previously been able to register as teachers, despite the fact that they had only  Standard 8. This ha been something that had to end at some point. He asked on what basis that determination should be done.

Mr Brijraj said in regard to the record of qualification, that SACE did indeed have all the qualifications recorded, in fact, Ms Mokgalane and her team were currently registering people and updating the qualifications on the system. The SACE would be discussing with the DBE how they could exchange information, because their idea of professional development should take place on some informed basis.

There were still some unregistered educators. Every now and again SACE would note an educator, who had already been teaching for quite a long time, battling for registration. It was in fact unlawful for teachers to be teaching whilst unregistered. SACE was writing to all the departments and entering into Memorandums of Agreement with heads of those departments, bringing to their attention that many of the schools were quietly employing teachers that were not registered. Some people were doing this by commission, and others by omission, perhaps because they were underpaying people, or were bringing their own friends into the teaching profession. That was another message they were spreading loudly, and would appreciate the support from other role players as well.

Mr Brijraj further said that the question of under qualified teachers was tricky. When the principal of a school asserted that there were no other qualified teachers in his area the SACE had to take that in good faith, but it was a matter that he was going to take back to Council to consider how to screen those occurrences.

He believed registration was a very crucial issue and there was a need for more qualified teachers. In terms of numbers, if SACE registered more provisional teachers than it did with full registration, this would indicate that less qualified teachers were coming into the system. The answer to that might not be easy, since, for example, schools could take under-qualified teachers on purpose. However, the requirement for them was that they should at least be enrolled for a diploma, and there should be evidence that an under qualified teacher was so enrolled so that in few years s/he would be qualified. The SACE was now starting to track that and were raising the bar a bit.

Mr Makhubele asked why there were two pages (87 and 88) that the Auditor-General noted as supplementary information which couldn’t be considered for purposes of an opinion. He asked how these were supplied so late instead of at the time they were supposed to be considered.

Mr Makhubele said that it was not in the interests of good reporting that the targets and objectives in the quarterly reports and annual reports were not aligned with the targets and objectives set up and approved in the Annual Performance Plan. He asked why SACE had allowed that situation to happen. 

Ms N Gina (ANC) also noted that there were targets that were not met – and were in fact very far from being met – such as the target of workshops for 25 000 teachers, when only 7 000 were reached. She asked whether it was a question of financial capacity or human capacity that prevented SACE from achieving those targets.

Ms N Gina (ANC) said that it should be acknowledged that SACE and DBE had not done enough in terms of continuous teacher development, because that was a long standing issue which was a core issue. There was great reliance on the development of educators to achieve a quality education system. She asked what the challenges were when it came to continuous development of teachers, since the movement was so slow, which she found unacceptable.

The Chairperson noted that in the previous financial year the expenditure of the Council was R13m. She asked why that expenditure dropped to R10m in the current financial year. She said that the Auditor-General (AG) indicated that there were certain items that were audited that could have been unfunded mandates because they didn’t appear on the Council’s Annual Performance Plan (APP), but were nonetheless completed. She asked whether that was correct or not.

Mr Brijraj said that in terms of the comparative figures, it was true that the numbers were looking low for some time after SACE became involved in this matter. Although the SACE Act was promulgated in 2000, the SACE activities had only really started five or six years later, after the basic preparation stages. The point was important, because he agreed that there was not enough reporting against the targets. He pointed out, however, that people would withdraw from the training for unknown reasons, as the report had indicated. He agreed, however, that the targets should be set more realistically.

The SACE was trying to put a system and structure in place so that people would have a system that would link up to DBE, because currently all teachers, including managers, should be able to undergo professional development activities. This point needed to be brought home in a far stronger way. More awareness was needed that there was a professional development portfolio and all providers should send their programmes for endorsement, which SACE would upload on to its website. SACE needed to be more visible about that aspect, to remind all teachers that they should be getting down to professional development activities, in terms of the guidelines that were on the website, and did not wait for the following years. There must be records of progress of professional development portfolios.

Ms Gina asked what the state of the teaching profession was in terms of the quality of educators.

Mr Brijraj thought that joint research between SACE and DBE should be undertaken, to determine that question. There was not really much understanding of the shortcomings and whether this was to do with people not employed in areas of specialisation. There was no way, at the moment, to make categorical statements. Personally, he felt there was shortage of supply of teachers coming into the profession and the number needed to be doubled.

Ms Gina asked about the finalisation of disciplinary cases. SACE had claimed that there was lack of capacity. She asked whether the SACE was using volunteers, from which pool were they drawn to preside over cases, and what the credibility was of the volunteers that the council was using.

Mr Brijraj said that most of the volunteers were ex-principals, ex-teachers, and people of high standing who were dealing with those cases. They had very good track record and Council would veto the list, so it was not just a question of picking “just anyone” – there was a database of volunteers and the names were well known to the Council.

Mr Moni asked about the financial statements and cash flow, but the question was not addressed. .

Education Labour Relations Council Annual Report 2012/13 briefing
Adv Luvuyo Bono, Chairperson: Education Labour Relations Council, said that the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) had adopted a statement of values that referred to professionalism, transparency and access to information by citizens, independence in the decision-making process, accountability and consequences. It must be fair and equitable on adjudication of grievances and disputes, respond to the social issues of the day and act efficiently (see attached presentation for full details).

ELRC worked in terms of a number of pieces of legislation (see attached presentation), and other mandates included the Service Delivery Agreement of the Minister of Basic Education and Action Plan to 2014: Towards the realisation of Schooling 2025.

A Lekgotla was held by EXCO in December 2012 to address performance in service delivery. The focus areas for 2013/14 looked at dispute management services, dispute prevention and facilitation. It was decided that there should be a proactive approach to focus on prevention. There should be training of Panellists and parties (with an emphasis on Dispute Resolution Practitioners), and establishment of Dispute Prevention Committees / Task Teams  in all provincial chambers. In Dispute Resolution (DR), the emphasis was on “Appointments and Promotions” and in relation to Special Disputes, on those involving a child as a victim. The Collective Bargaining Services dealt with temporary educators, incentives, conditions of service for Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners, and research on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and ECD.

Adv Bono said that with regard to organisational environment the focus was on the Supply Chain Management (SCM) unit. A Career and Succession Planning strategy would be employed to ensure that existing skills were developed and new talent was cultivated. A main challenge was the fixed income.

With regard to key policy developments and the legislative framework, there were changes in Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Act 25 of 2010 and the Further Education and Training Colleges (FETC) Amendment Act 3 of 2012 in regard to the scope of the ELRC. There were further considerations in the Labour Relations Act Amendment Bill of 2012, and Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill of 2013.

Adv Bono said that in terms of dispute management services, the purpose was to manage disputes proactively, including prevention and resolution. The sub-programmes involved Professional Training and Development. The strategic objectives included the provision of dispute resolution services, resolution of special disputes, prevention of disputes, training and development services, and professional development and training.

In terms of referrals, there were 673 disputes received, which predominantly related to unfair labour practices around promotion and appointments. Out of 673 referrals,  395 (59%) were in the jurisdiction, of the ELRC, whilst 192 (29%) were out of jurisdiction, and 86 (12%) were determined through condonation.

He gave a further breakdown of the statistics, saying that the disputes ranked as follows:
- 193 (29%) were around promotion and appointments
- 253 (38%) related to alleged unfair Dismissals
- 97 (14%) related to other allegations of unfair labour practices
- 70 (10%) had to do with interpretation of collective agreements
- 42 (6%) related to matters under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

In relation to enforcements 17 (3%) were Sexual offences involving a learner and, there was 1 dispute of mutual interest.

In relation to the outcomes, he reported that there were 415 disputes finalized, of which 161 were done by arbitration awards, 69 were settled at arbitration, 32 were settled at conciliation, 81 were withdrawn, 32 were withdrawn at conciliation, 49 were withdrawn at arbitration. There were 45 dismissed, 22 at arbitration, 23 at conciliation and 27 rulings.

Adv Bono then describe the strategy to overcome areas of underperformance. ELRC looked at the provision of practical training to dispute resolution service practitioners, wanted to minimise postponements, and encourage panelists to enforce Clause 64.7 of the ELRC constitution. It insisted upon booking appropriate venues for hearings where a child was a victim, with intermediaries appointed to protect the rights of a child. It was hoping to increase the panel of conciliators, arbitrators and interpreters, and non-compliance of panelists would be monitored.

Adv Bono said that the purpose of Collective Bargaining Services was to contribute to the Council’s vision of a strengthened social contract between government, teacher unions and civil society, to promote the best possible fit between good educational outcomes and a fair deal for the teaching profession, to promote collective bargaining at national and provincial levels, to promote respect for international conventions and labour legislation in the management of collective bargaining, and to support and facilitate special initiatives and campaigns. There were Sub-programmes for collective bargaining (provincial). Here, the strategic objectives consisted of collective bargaining on matters of mutual interest in public education, provision of facilitation services to support collective bargaining at national and provincial levels; and research on teacher welfare and national development issues.

Adv Bono outlined the strategy to overcome areas of underperformance. A pre-bargaining workshop was to be convened in 2013/14, to finalise the management plan on bargaining issues for approval by Council. More emphasis was to be placed on adherence to agreed time-frames, as per the management plan, revenue management and budgetary constraints.

The Overview in terms of collective agreements concluded was given. These included the Collective Agreement 1 of 2012: Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) For Education Therapists, Counsellors and Psychologists employed in public education. The Collective Agreement 1 of 2013: Vote Weights of Trade Unions that were parties to Council. 5 Collective Agreements were ratified (4 FETCBU and 1 Free State Chamber).

Adv Bono concluded that 2013/14 financial year heralded new period of sustained improvement. The ELRC appreciated the oversight role of the Portfolio Committee.

Discussion 
Ms Mushwana asked who was supposed to deal with the powers of the School Governing Bodies (SGBs) because they had powers which were out of order, and there were many disputes when it came to employment of teachers at schools.

Adv Bono said that the role that was played by the SGBs was defined by the South African Schools Act. Essentially it was the role the ordinary employer played. The employer of the educators remained the DBE. The ELRC at some point sought to include SGBs, to try and regulate some of the things that they did and because of the problems that existed. However, in reality this had not been possible. The ELRC had no jurisdiction over the SGBs, who were legal entities and who played a role that was supposed to be played by one of the stakeholders in the Council which was DBE. In terms of promotion, the Head of Department had the final say on a promotion, which was more of a safety net of what would have to happen in the process. He agreed that there were challenges. The matters on the SGBs would have to be dealt with under the South African Schools Act and the DBE, for whom the SGBs were discharging their duties.

Mr Moni congratulated the Council for having money to finance its future plans. He asked whether the Council had enough capacity at the provincial level because he noticed that there were only two officials, being the provincial manager and the provincial administrator.

Ms Cindy Foca, Accounting Officer, ELRC, answered that the disputes were handled at national level, where there was a full complement for the dispute service. Provincial chambers were only utilised as a forum for consultation bargaining. Therefore, the two personnel at provincial level was adequate, given the amount of work that had to be done at that level. However, mechanisms would have to be developed to support the provincial chambers. ELRC was finding it difficult to achieve some targets because of the way these had been phrased. However, this did not mean that there was no activity at the provincial level, but rather whether there was activity along the lines of what was in the Annual Performance Plan, and that was why ELRC had earlier indicated that it welcomed the suggestions made by Parliament around trying to put targets that were specific, reliable and achievable, so that it would no longer include targets that were not achievable in the reports, especially at the level of the provincial chambers.

Mr Moni asked if the Council had collected the costs of cases by people who had lodged reviews against the Council and whose cases were dismissed.

Ms Foca said that ELRC had mandated its lawyers to collect the costs, as it was these lawyers who dealt with the Labour Court matters. She had just confirmed with the Chief Financial Officer that he did not have records of any money collected.

Mr Smiles asked whether the productivity of teachers was considered to be a strategic goal, because other unions listed productivity against some labour relations matters as a goal.

Ms Foca said that this might be a problem for the ELRC in proving what it had managed to achieve, were this to be included as a target. This was something that was more pertinent to the employer, in terms of managing performance. The role of the ELRC was to bring the two parties to agree on the instruments of managing such performance. After the agreements had been concluded, it would be noted in reports that ELRC had discharged this part of its responsibility by ensuring that there was a collective agreement.

Mr Smiles asked whether the demand and supply of teachers, and temporary teachers, was the business of the ELRC.

Ms Foca said that the issues of demand and supply of teachers were not necessarily in the competency of the ELRC in the Bargaining Council, despite the fact that it was a matter that could be regarded as being of mutual interest for both the members of teachers’ unions and the employer. However, all that had really been done was to commission research by the ELRC to take the process forward. When it came to the employment of educators linked to the process of posts provisioning, the ELRC’s role was just to monitor that there was consultation in that regard, but it was not going so far as bargaining.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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