South African Institute for Drug-Free Sports on school drug testing; Department of Basic Education on its progress in delivering Physical Education Curriculum

Basic Education

05 November 2013
Chairperson: Mr M Mdakane (ANC, Sport & Recreation), Ms H Malgas (ANC, Basic Education)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation and the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education met jointly to hear from the South African Institute for Drug-free Sports (SAIDS) on its progress in implementing anti-doping measures and drug-testing in schools. The Department of Basic Education would also inform the joint committee on curriculum delivery in physical education (PE). 

SAIDS stated that the School Testing Project began in 2012 and that it had received input on the draft from schools. Most young people began using drugs in school between the ages of 16-18 and many sporting codes, including SA Rugby, had expressed concern with the prevalence of drugs in school sports. Testing had begun at schools that had signed the protocol and was done when there was “reasonable suspicion” for testing a learner. SAIDS did the testing and analysis and the schools were responsible for taking action in the result of a positive test. SAIDS had been focusing on the training and appointment of education officers in provinces that were not a part of the initial training and implementation. Consent forms would be sent out to parents in order to provide SAIDS with the jurisdiction to test pupils for performance enhancing drugs. 

The Deputy Minister of Basic Education asked if there had been any prior formal communication between SAIDS and the Department of Basic Education. Members expressed concern over the small amount of schools that SAIDS had initiated programmes in and noted that there was much work to be done in improving the scope of SAIDS programmes.  Some international sports organisations had threatened to exclude South Africa due to drug and age issues and Members felt that SAIDS was helping in ensuring that this didn’t happen.

The Department of Basic Education then presented on its progress in delivering PE curriculum. PE had been a historically fragmented subject but the merging of education departments had brought about a single curriculum, PE was now categorised in Life Skills. Life Skills/Life Orientation was designed to be central to the holistic development of learners. The curriculum of Life Orientation addressed development skills, knowledge, values and attitudes which enabled learners to make informed decisions about their personal lifestyles, civic responsibilities, physical well-being, and careers.

The presenters then outlined the long-term participant development (LTPD) model which was an initiative designed to enhance the health, wellness and personal fitness of learners.  LTPD was designed to encourage lifelong physical activity and aimed to achieve this by connecting and integrating PE programmes in schools with elite sports programmes and recreational sport programmes in communities.  Young learners were taught the correct fundamental movement skills and these skills were introduced during the optimum point of their physical development.

Members asked whether reintroducing Life Orientation was an option as it would ensure that both students and teachers took it seriously. Concern was expressed in regards to PE facilities in rural areas and whether schools could deliver a successful PE curriculum without the proper resources.   Was there a monitoring system in place to ensure that schools were properly using facilities and whether funding was going to the proper regions.

The Committees noted that in the next meetings the Department and SAIDS needed to bring concrete statistics to show what kind of progress was being made towards their goals. The Committees also felt that during their oversight visits they needed to ensure that there was cohesion between what they were being told and what was happening on the ground.   By travelling to actual facilities they would be able to ensure that they were receiving proper information and that programmes were being implemented and facilities were being utilised.

SAIDS brought up the fact that they had received little support from the South African Football Association (SAFA) in its initiatives and it requested that the Committees confront SAFA about this next time they meet with them.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
Mr Mdakane welcomed the delegations and stated that the meeting would not be long. The Joint Committee intended on covering a lot of material and was interested in hearing about the work being done to combat drugs in sports.  The Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation had many long discussions about drugs and schools sports and were aware that this was a serious problem. He asked the Deputy Minister of Basic Education to give his opening remarks.

Remarks by Deputy Minister
Mr Mohamed Enver Surty, Deputy Minister, Department of Basic Education, thanked the Committees for having extended the invitation to the Department.  The Department would listen very closely to what the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport (SAIDS) had to say as it was critical that sports in the country were drug –free. He noted that South Africa was home to one of the two drug testing sites on the African continent. There was a problem with drugs in schools around the country and there needed to be a discussion about testing; where and when should it take place. 

Briefing by SAIDS
Dr Victor Ramathesele, Chairman, SAIDS, thanked the Committees for the invitation. He noted that SAIDS had appeared in Parliament on 20 August and had presented a progress report as well as an outline for some of the programmes it was implementing, including drug testing in schools. SAIDS had received good feedback from this presentation.

Mr Khalid Galant, CEO, SAIDS introduced the delegation and stated that the presentation would provide the Committees with some context in regards to the drug testing programme.

Mr Fahmy Galant, General Manager, SAIDS, began the presentation and noted that the School Testing Project began in 2012 and the draft version of it had been sent to schools for a comment period in order to obtain feedback. This feedback was taken into account and the amended draft was presented at workshops at four different schools.  Most young people in school started using drugs in school between the ages of 16-18 and it was becoming a larger concern every year. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) was concerned with the prevalence of drugs in school sports and had sent out a message to schools to express this. Some schools knew that their players were taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) but were not showing the will to stop them or take them out of the games.

Testing by SAIDS was done at accredited schools that had signed the protocol.  Those schools filled out the authorisation to test form which stated that there was “reasonable suspicion” for wanting to test a learner for drugs. SAIDS then notified the Doping Control Officer of the school and provided the learners name. After the Doping Control Officer arrived at the school and completed the test the sample was sent to the SA Doping Control Laboratory in Bloemfontein. When SAIDS received the results it contacted the school and notified it of the results.  The schools then took disciplinary actions based on the Schools Act. SAIDS could make recommendations on what disciplinary route should be taken.  At the time of the meeting, four schools had requested testing for a total of 14 tests. Those tests were still being analysed but he Galant knew that some results had came out positive.

Mr F Galant then spoke about the educational workshops in schools which were designed to help schools understand the testing protocol.  The campaign slogan was “I play fair, say no to doping” and the workshops would help schools in knowing which substances were banned and what was permitted in sport. There had been a total of 27 workshops completed in the period of April – October 2013, with 50-500 participants per school participating. SAIDS had begun focusing on training and appointing education officers in provinces that did not have any and were working on strengthening relationships with provinces and building relationships with provinces that did not have a SAIDS presence.

The South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 focused on recreational drugs at school and did not provide SAIDS with jurisdiction to test all pupils at schools for steroids, diuretics and hormone modulators.  The Schools Act gave a great deal of power to the headmaster in terms of identifying test subjects via reasonable suspicion.

Going forward SAIDS wanted to send out consent forms to be signed by the parents of students in schools that had signed up and the consent forms would allow for random testing at the school and sporting events. The tribunals set up to deal with positive cases would consist of a SAIDS legal representative as the chairperson and two people from the governing body. Testing would be done to find identified substances but the list of substances could be revised to ensure that they encompass the changing trends.

Deputy Minister Surty asked if there had been any formal communication between SAIDS and the Department of Basic Education.

Mr K Galant responded that there had been no formal engagement although there had been some informal talks with the Department of Basic Education.  SAIDS had only engaged with the Department of Sports and Recreation and the Portfolio Committee on Sport.

Deputy Minister Surty expressed concern that the programmes being administered by SAIDS were directly involved with schools but it had not talked to the relevant bodies.

Dr Ramathesele replied that the board had only been in existence for 11 months and that he had hoped that by then it would have met with the Department of Basic Education.  He apologised for breaking the protocol and the lack of courtesy, he took full responsibility for this. This programme touched many departments and many more meetings would need to take place.

Deputy Minister Surty thanked Dr Ramathesele for his apology.  He noted that the schools highlighted in the presentation were private schools and there needed to be more schools involved.  The presentation was only based off of what was going on in 14 schools. Protocols could not be developed without engaging all provinces and schools.  The Department of Basic Education was still responsible for what happened in schools even if the framework and protocols were developed by SAIDS.  In moving forward SAIDS had to work with the Department and use the resources at the Department’s disposal.  He suggested that the Committee not engage on the presentation until full consultation had taken place.

Ms Maglas accepted the Deputy Minister’s proposal not to engage SAIDS.

Dr Ramathesele felt that SAIDS should not lose the opportunity before it and wanted to leave the meeting with a clear cut programme.

Ms Maglas felt that the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Sport and Recreation would have to meet on these issues.

Mr Mdakane stated that the Committees must accept that the Director Generals must meet and that before Parliament dissolved critical decisions needed to be made.  There were still over 26 000 schools that were unaccounted for in South Africa and SAIDS did not have the capacity to commence drug testing on a mass scale.  He wanted to be ensured that SAIDS would not launch the programme without having the ability to finish the job.  The Portfolio Committee on Health should also be invited to participate in discussion.

Mr G MacKenzie (COPE) stated that apart from the protocol that had not been observed, he would hate to see the progress of drug testing come to a halt as he felt it was a major problem in schools. No Department should take it lightly. He cited a case in which two boys were on drugs and the parents wanted to sue the school. Drugs in schools created a minefield of moral and legal issues. There were international sports organisations threatening to exclude South Africa from competition due to drug and age issues. SAIDS drug testing programme was essential in helping sport in the country.

Mr Mdakane stated that everyone agreed with Mr MacKenzie’s sentiment but that proper procedures must be followed. The Departments of Sport & Recreation and Basic Education could not simply solve a big societal problem such as drugs on their own. Society needed to work together in the fight against drugs and in the protection of children.  Not everyone would become a professional rugby player, but nobody wanted them to take drugs either. He thanked SAIDS for their presentation and expressed his happiness with the job it was doing. He requested more engagement with various departments as they moved forward.

Ms Maglas then asked the Department of Basic Education to begin its presentation.

Briefing on the role of DBE in Delivering the Curriculum: Physical Education
Deputy Minister Surty noted that the presentation from SAIDS was important and the Department would present on alcohol and drugs in collaboration with the Department of Sports and Recreation at a later date. The purpose of the day’s presentations was to focus on the delivery of curriculum in physical education.

Mr Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, Acting Deputy-Director General: Curriculum, DBE, noted that schools sports were a part of curriculum enrichment.

Dr Nhlanhla Nduna-Watson, Director: Schools, DBE, commenced the presentation with a brief historical background of physical education (PE).  Prior to 1994, PE was recognised as an approved subject but was approached differently by each provincial education department.  A lack of qualified teachers and resources prevented the effective roll-out of PE programmes.  The merging of education departments brought about the introduction of a single curriculum, which PE became a compulsory part of. Curriculum 2005 (C2005) and the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) reintroduced PE as a part of Life Orientation.   The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) placed PE in Life Skills from grade R-6 and in Life Orientation from grades 7-12. 

CAPS stated that Life Skills/Life Orientation curriculum was central to the holistic development of learners and it was concerned with the social, personal, intellectual, emotional and physical growth of learners.  The Life Skills/Life Orientation curriculum addressed the development skills, knowledge, values and attitudes that enabled learners to make informed decisions about their personal lifestyles, civic responsibilities, physical well-being, careers and more.

Dr Watson then broke down the time allocated to PE programmes at each level of education. Each phase of PE education focused on similar skills, knowledge and values and prepared learners to continue with the subject in further grades. In the foundation phase focus is placed on perceptual and locomotor development, the intermediate phase had a focus on rhythmic movements as well as physical fitness programmes. The Senior phase continued with physical fitness programmes and encouraged long-term engagement. 

There was a focus on inclusivity and CAPS made a provision enabling all learns to be accommodated in PE. Learners with disabilities needed to experience the same quality of PE and be offered the equivalent opportunities for physical activities that were offered to other learners, but with modifications made to meet their needs. Teachers could adapt, modify and change activities and equipment to meet the special needs of learners and the ultimate goal was to ensure that the learner was progressing and having some form of success.

Some schools were facing a shortage in the basic equipment required for PE and teachers needed to be training in the improvisation of equipment and the effective use of available facilities. Initiatives were in place that addressed the shortfall of equipment and facilities in schools.

Dr Watson then outlined the long-term participant development model (LTPD) which was an initiative designed to enhance health, wellness and personal fitness. It also promoted participation in physical activity and recreational activities by all South African citizens. The plan was designed by the South African Sport for Life (SAS4L) and was based on the concept of physical literacy which was the foundation of participation and performance.  The LTPD was an inclusive model that encouraged individuals to get involved in life-long physical activity. It aimed to accomplish this by connecting and integration PE programmes in the school system with elite sport programmes and recreational sport programmes in the community. LTPD ensured that children correctly learn fundamental movement skills and that these skills were introduced during the optimum point of their physical development.

Deputy Minister Surty stated that there was an anomaly in the previous curriculum as there was no dedicated time or curriculum for PE.  Both of these things had been corrected. In 2012 the Department had promoted 9 sports and in 2013 that number rose to 16 and included indigenous sports.  More than 5000 schools were competing in intra-school sports.

Ms Maglas thanked the Department for its presentation and opened the floor for questions.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) began by appreciating the presentation as PE was an essential area of learning.  She further asked the Department if PE was taken seriously within schools, as in the past Life Orientation was not a priority.

Mr K Dikobo (AZAPO) noted that in some schools Life Orientation/PE was given to the teachers with the least busy schedule and not based on skills.  Where did Life Orientation teachers come from and were they specialised?  Would the Department consider reintroducing PE as an examinable subject, especially for those who wanted to pursue PE teaching or sports science as a profession?

Ms N Gina (ANC) asked when the last time PE was an examinable subject. She expressed concern about facilities in rural areas and the availability of teachers. In some areas where learners had to travel to obtain facilities the travel time was longer than the time spent at the facility, much ground work needed to be made before they could consider objectives complete.

Mr MacKenzie asked the Department if there was a dedicated sports budget in its finances, because school sports seemed to be a primary objective and there needed to be consistent funds to bring the Department’s goals to fruition.  He asked for clarity on the statement that every school gets some form of physical activity. Had a database been created of equipment and facilities in order to address problem areas?

Ms G Sindane (ANC) asked if there was data on what schools did not have the proper facilities and if there was a monitoring mechanism that ensured that resourcing of equipment and facilities was done properly and in the right areas. What monitoring systems were in place to ensure that teachers were performing properly?

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) asked the Deputy Minister how far the Department was in its implementation of the 2005 School Sports Plan.  Had any proposals for funding been submitted to the lottery board?

Ms Malgas thanked Members for the questions and stated that in order for school sports to be successful in the country the teachers needed to be qualified and committed.

Deputy Minister Surty noted the importance of the issues raised. Each province had a Provincial Department of Education that had a responsibility of promoting school sports, and the National Department helped them in this regard and tried to facilitate this.  But there needed to be work done at the provincial level because that was where practical implementation took place. The working relationship between the Department of Basic Education and Department of Sport and Recreation was evolving and both were working together better than in the past.

Deputy Minister Surty noted that when new schools were built and where the land was available, sport facilities were being built, sporting amenities were considered essential in building schools. These new schools were primarily found in rural areas. But he wanted to state that there was a difference between sporting code facilities and PE facilities as a football field was not necessarily essential to teaching PE.

Deputy Minister Surty said that every educator teaching Life Orientation/PE had received training and there was an agreement struck with the United Nations (UN) that provided master trainers who would go into areas and teach clusters of schools the proper teaching methods for PE. Life Orientation and PE went hand in hand and the Department had sought advice from experts on determining if Life Orientation should become an examinable subject as it was important information for learners to know well.

Deputy Minister Surty asked if sports federations considered school sports when they spoke about development. He felt as though they did not and instead opted to find convenient outlets. Federations needed to promote development in sports at schools and areas that did not have the resources of other places and focus on rural regions. To what extent did the private sector have to consider its role in the development of youth sports? He noted the social and moral responsibility of parents to promote healthy lifestyles and sports.

Mr Mweli noted the need for more statistics in the next presentation as statistics would provide more concrete answers to progress made. He agreed with the Members assessment that Life Skills/Life Orientation had taken a back seat in the recent past and that changes were made on the approach taken to these subjects.  Things had gotten better recently as areas had given it more consideration. The Department wished to bring Life Orientation to the same levels of assessment as other subjects in terms of the senior level certificate, which meant that it would be an examinable subject. The intention of Life Orientation was to develop a holistic being and provide learners with the tools to be successful in society and aware of what’s going on around them. 

He conceded that in terms of teacher training, Life Orientation was still not a high priority for the Department.  Focus had been placed elsewhere in training but going forward an emphasis would be placed on Life Orientation.

Dr Watson replied that in the next joint presentation the Department would provide statistics on the success of school sports programmes. She requested that in the next presentation the budget be addressed. She noted that the Department was working with sporting codes to determine what sports were prominent where and what areas needed to be focused on; using the data collected by sporting codes through registration they were able to determine this.

In terms of Life Orientation, it was fundamental to education as no learner could obtain their senior level certificate without it. The Department was making efforts towards comprehensively training teachers and had initiated some training provided by universities. When looking at training for teachers it must be considered as an upgrade in credentials. Working with the Department of Higher Education would be essential in this.

Mr Dikgacwi stated that the annual report of the Department of Sport and Recreation noted the training of many teachers, for the next meeting it was important that this data be brought forth. 

Mr Mdakane stated that although many schools did not have proper facilities, many did and did not use them to their full potential.  In many cases when Committees did their oversight visits what was presented was not always accurate. There could be a big difference between what the Committee was told and what was actually happening on the ground.  Members had to ensure that the facilities on the ground were being used and during oversight visits they must go to the facilities themselves to ensure this.  A joint oversight visit would be helpful in determining the success of the initiatives and would help the Committees to interact with schools.  He felt that more continuous progress needed to be made and more in-depth and joint oversight visits would help to achieve this.

Dr Ramathesele stated that concern had been raised that the biggest sporting code in the country, South African Football Association (SAFA), was not supporting the anti-doping initiatives taken by SAIDS.  He concurred with this statement and expressed disappointment in this fact. He requested that the Committee bring forth this matter the next time SAFA appeared before Parliament. The support of SAFA would be a great help in getting the message out to a wider audience and the influence of SAFA was great.

Mr Dikgacwi stated that Members would raise these issues with SAFA as it was important to get the message of SAIDS out.

Mr Mdakane stated that a new president of SAFA was in place and they would bring it up with him.

Ms Maglas thanked everyone for their contributions.

The meeting was adjourned.


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