Education Laws Amendment Bill: hearings

Basic Education

12 August 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 August 2002
EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL: PUBLIC HEARINGS


Chairperson: Prof. Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
documents will be available here as soon as they are available electronically
Independent Examinations Board Submission
NAPTOSA Submission
Correction To NAPTOSA's Submission
Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa Submission
South African Qualifications Authority Submission
Federation of Association of Governing Bodies of South African Schools Submission
National Association of School Governing Bodies Submission (see Appendix)
South African Democratic Teacher's Union Submission
Suid Afrikaanse Onderwys Unie Submission
South African Foundation of Education and Training
Catholic Institute of Education Submission
United Christian Action Submission
Mpumalanga Department of Education Submission (Appendix)
Westville Boys High School Submission (Appendix)
Harvest Christian School Submission

SUMMARY
The presentations were clear on what they perceived as problems with the Bill. The presenters welcomed the Bill's objectives. However, they all felt that it could not be passed because it was largely ambiguous and in need of clarity. Questions from the Members were based on practical implications of the Bill and the manner in which certain clauses could be implemented.

A central concern in all the submission was the issue of the Minister of Education being the sole regulator in respect of the appointment of teachers as opposed that being the responsibility of the School Governing Bodies. The other issue was the issue of the code of conduct being the sole domain of the national Minister of Education. In conclusion, concerns about the proposed issue of preferential payment to attract teachers to where the shortage of them was acute.

MINUTES
Fifteen organisations submitted their views on the Education Laws Amendment Bill. Half of the organisations presented a macro response to the Bill and the rest presented a micro view based on their experiences from their particular schools. The macro view was based on three concerns. Firstly, the admission age to Grade R. Secondly, the powers of the Minister against the powers of school governing bodies. Thirdly, there was concern over initiation practices in schools. The concern was that the Bill was not clearly worded on these issues and hence ambiguous. The conclusion was that the Bill could not be passed with such ambiguously worded clauses.

The micro view of the Bill was largely based on what the different presenters experienced in their particular schools.

Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS)
Presenter: Mr Colditz, Chairperson
Please refer to the attached submission.

Discussion
Mr Aucamp (AEB) viewed some parts of the Education Laws Amendment Bill as more concerned with technical, procedural and legal issues rather that with the rights and interests of school going children. He read through Section 28(2) of the Constitution to indicate the rights of schools going children. He then asked for FEDSAS comment on his view.

Mr Colditz agree with Mr Aucamp's observation.

Mr Van den Heever (ANC) was concerned about the existence of unemployed qualified teachers and indicated that Clause 6A of the Bill dealt with the issue.

Mr Colditz said that he had no knowledge of any statistics of such teacher, however, he agreed that there was a shortage of teachers.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked if FEDSAS supported initiation in schools.

Mr Colditz unequivocally opposed initiation.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) then asked if FEDSAS was in favour of re-employing teachers who left public schools for other jobs, especially private schools. Mr Colditz had no problem with re-employing such teachers. However, he warned that on should also question the loyalty and commitment of such teachers.

Mr Ntuli (DP) asked FEDSAS's opinion on ways to deal with dysfunctional School Governing Bodies (SGB's). He noted that Section 22 of the South African Schools Act dealt with dysfunctional SGB's. Mr Colditz was of the opinion that no set of regimented code of conduct could solve the problem. His alternative suggestion was that SGB's needed proper recognition and support so that they could perform their duties satisfactorily.

Mr Green (ACDP) viewed Clause 6A of the Bill as curtailing the powers of SGB's. He also viewed the equity clause of the Bill as undermining equity as provided by the Constitution. Mr Colditz reckoned that the Bill had some complexities within itself and in relation to other legislation

South African Qualifications Authority
Presenter: Mr Isaacs, Executive Officer
Please refer to the attached presentation.

Discussion
Mr Green (ACDP) wanted to know what SAQA thought of the process that the Minister should follow in amending legislation.

Mr Colditz reckoned that the process should be clarified by clearly spelling out what should be done and by specifying the persons who would be responsible for different tasks.

Suid Afrikaanse Onderwyser's Unie (SAOU)
Presenter: Mr Delport, Chief Negotiator
Please refer to the attached presentation.

Discussion
Mr Geldenhuys (NNP) asked the SAOU what could be done to ensure an equal spread of teachers around the country.

Mr Delport explained that an equal spread of teachers was impossible as an historical fact and in terms of future predictions throughout the world. He attributed the unequal spread to a free labour market whereby teachers are concentrated in regions with attractive employment conditions.

Mr Green (ACDP) asked if the condition that secures employment for bursary funded teachers was not discriminatory against teachers who had no bursaries. He viewed the difference as undermining the rights and equality of teachers.

A representative from SAOU explained that the bursary condition was a separate provision, which had nothing to do with the current legislation governing education. He said that non-bursary holders were as much eligible for employment as bursary holders were.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) was concerned about the standards and quality assessment mechanisms in education. He wanted to know about the progress with these mechanisms. The response was that employees had a set of standards, which needed to be negotiated with employee associations.

Mr Aucamp (AEB) asked if the SAOU had any statistics of teachers who refused posts in rural areas.

Mr Delport said that such statistics were available from the Department of Education.

Mr Aucamp asked if the Bill would make teaching an attractive career.

Mr Delport flatly negated such a possibly in the light of the present situation facing most teachers.

Mr Mpontshane (IFP) asked the SAOU's opinion on dealing with the problem of initiation in schools and he made and example of racially motivated initiation practices. The SAOU unequivocally opposes initiation and insisted that any unlawful initiation act should be prosecuted according to applicable legislation.

Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA).
Presenter: Ms Rees, Director: Professional & Curriculum Development
Please refer to the attached submission.

Discussion
Mr Ntuli (DP) was concerned that the Minister's regulatory powers might be too great and he asked if ISASA could think of mechanisms to ensure that such powers were limited at parliamentary level.

Ms Rees agreed and suggested that the Minister's powers must be confined to issues such as good governance.

Mr Mpontshane (IFP) was concerned about the autonomy of independent schools with regard to the imperatives of nation building. He asked if nation building was reconcilable with the autonomy of the independent schools.

Ms Rees reckoned that nation building was reconcilable with the autonomy of independent schools. She explained that nation building was a primary need and that independent schools were proudly South African. She however cautioned that ISASA did not equate nation building with prescribed curriculum outcomes.

Mr Van den Heever (ANC) asked if the ISASA was happy with the substitution "National Curriculum" for "National Curriculum Statement".

Ms Rees said that she was happy with the substitution because it was clear.

Mr Green (ACDP) wanted to know if the ISASA had any fears that the National Curriculum Statement might be eroding the curriculum of independent schools. Ms Rees said that the ISASA could not comment until there was further clarity with the curriculum statement.

National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA)
Presenter: Mr Hendricks, Executive Director
Please refer to the attached submission.

Discussion
Mr Kgwele (ANC) once more asked on the progress of standards and quality assessment in education. Mr Hendricks said that NAPTOSA was in the process of signing an ELRC agreement. He agreed with Mr Kgwele that there was a need for coherence and consistency in setting standards.

Mr Abrahams commented that if some of the issues were gazetted, there could be some progress in schools. He asked how far progress was with regard to the issues that NAPTOSA raised.

Mr Hendricks said that the issues were complex to deal with and he agreed that there would be some progress if they were gazetted.

Mr Ntuli (DP) asked what the Department thought of the five interpretations offered by NAPTOSA under 3(12)(e) of their submission.

Mr Hindle, Deputy Director General: Education and Training, said that the interpretations would be studied first before they could be adopted.

Mr Ntuli (DP) then asked NAPTOSA's view on the existence of external evaluation on exit points. Mr Hendricks agreed to the need for external examination on exit points in schools.

South African Foundation for Education and Training (SAFET)
Presenter: Mr Ross, Consultant
Please refer to the attached submission.

There were no questions directed to Mr Ross, due to time constraints.

South African Democratic Teachers Trade Union (SADTU)
Presenter: Mr S Mphahlele, Legal Officer
Please refer to the attached submission.

Discussion
Mr Geldenhuys (NNP) requested an explanation of how SADTU could initiate a relationship between racism and initiation in schools.

Mr Mphahlele explained that the rising news reports on conflict and initiation practices in schools had deeper racial motivations when they were closely analysed.

Mr Green (ACDP) once more asked about the rights and equality of teacher. He also wanted to know if redistribution of teacher could mean firing some teachers.

Mr Abrahams from SADTU, Vice Chairperson: Education, reminded Mr Green that he worked work for SADTU and that he knew very well that the union did not compromise on the rights and interests of its members.

Mr Kgwele asked if SADTU had any role in teacher placement. This question was not answered.

Mr Aucamp commented that the power of SGB's was curtailed if the interviewing panel task was to make recommendations on candidate teachers.

Mr Mogoba (PAC) appreciated SADTU's commitment to distributing teachers where they were needed most. He suggested and asked if it would not be a good idea to have salary incentives for those teachers who worked in needy areas.

National Association of School Governing Bodies
Presenter: Mr Mathonsi, National Co-ordinator
Please refer to the attached submission.

Discussion
Mr Green later asked the National Association of SGB's on incentives for teachers who worked in needy areas. Mr Mathonsi had no problem with the suggestion. He saw it as a way of compensation for extra financial costs that could be faced by the teachers (e.g. scarce and expensive transport). He however, added that teaching should be seen as a commitment too.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked if the NASGB would be satisfied with the involvement of other organisations in the process of teacher placement. [The question was not answered]

The Chairperson rectified the NASGB in its summary statement which stated their concern with the way in which the authority will determine what should be taught. He explained that the Bill had nothing to do with the content of learning.

Independent Examinations Board
Presenter: Mr Johnstone, Director
Please refer to the attached submission.

Discussion
Mr Green (ACDP) asked if the IEB would be happy with the insertion of "National Curriculum" if it were clearly defined. Ms Dudley asked a similar question. Mr Johnstone explained that the IEB had always followed the core national curriculum but with some flexibility. He did not see a problem unless flexibility was denied.

Afternoon Session

Catholic Institute of Education
Presenter: Mr Nathan Johnstone
Please refer to attached submission.

Discussion
Mr C Aucamp (AEB) asked whether the concerns raised in their submission reflected the general concerns of other faith-based groupings in the country.

Mr Johnstone said that their submission did not reflect those general concerns.

A Member responded to Mr Johnstone's assertion that, instead of pursuing the route of a differential payment system to encourage teachers to go to the rural areas, creative and innovative ways should be explored. He asked why the Institute did not consider the issue of differential payment system as a long-term solution.

Mr Johnstone emphasised the fact that teaching was not a job but a vocation. What was needed was commitment before money. The proposed system of differential payment was approved, teachers were going to be lost to the highest bidder. And that the highest bidder will thus attract more people.

Mr Mpontshane wanted to know why the Catholic Institute of Education was criticising the government to where they were needed, whereas the Catholic church was using a similar system in placing its teachers in the past?

In response, Mr Johnstone said that in the past were not paid and went there voluntarily. Now they are professionals. And that the question was dealing with two different times.

United Christian Action
Presenter: Mr Robbie McCafferdy
Please refer to the attached submission.

Discussion
Mr M Montsitsi (ANC) commented on how young looking Mr McCafferdy was and asked if the United Christian Action was a youth organization. He further said that the type of language used in the submission was youthful. He expressed his surprise at the language Mr McCafferdy was using.

Mr McCafferdy's reply was that the United Christian Action was not a youth organisation, it was an organization that had been in existence for over twenty years.

Mr LM Kgwele took issue with the constant references to teachers leaving as a result of their disillusionment with the way the education system was run. He denied the fact that teachers were leaving the country of the education system. He referred Mr McCafferdy to the fact that teachers, like any skilled people, were mobile and that their departure had nothing to do with the education system. He also insisted that when a teacher qualified from tertiary institution, he was a qualified teacher and therefore did not need any further scrutiny to establish if he was qualified or not.

In his reply, referring to the issue raised of teachers being mobile, Mr McCafferdy said that he could not see the point the member was making there. Regarding the issue of teachers being qualified or not, Mr McCafferdy admitted that teachers were indeed qualified when they passed tertiary education level. However, he pointed to the difference between a suitable and a qualified teacher. Only School Governing Bodies were the only ones who could determine whether a teacher was suitable or not for a particular school.

Mr LM Green (ACDP) referred to the issue of the voucher system raised by Mr McCafferdy in his submission and wondered about the practical application of such a system. How was such a system going to help South Africa?

Mr McCafferdy explained that the voucher system allowed for parental choice or self-governance. It was a system that would allow for greater flexibility and competition among different schools.

Mr Mpontshane (IFP) said that Mr McCafferdy seemed to be against the Minister of Education's power to regulate. If stripped all of the regulating powers, what would remain of the Minister?

Mr McCafferdy said that the proposed powers were sweeping powers to be granted to a single individual. Decentralization of powers was a preferred option, and thus meant more power to the people.

Mpumalanga Department of Education
Presenter: Ms Maria Magagula
Please refer to the attached submission

Discussion
Mr Kgwele congratulated the Mpumalanga Department of Education for its input and promised to take their recommendations forward.

Submission by the Westville School Collective - a group of about 12 schools
Presenter: Mr Tom Stokes
Please refer to the attached submission.

Discussion

Mr Montsisi asked if Mr Stokes thought that the writing of the code of conduct by the Ministry of Education, if implemented nationally, would result in national standards applying throughout the country.

In his reply, Mr Stokes said that the government could not write guidelines for School Governing Bodies. These bodies knew what was best for their schools.

The Chairperson referred to Mr Stokes' concern about "teaching for exams" and he did not believe that this was what the Bill was proposing.

In reply, Mr Stokes said they were not of necessity opposed to the existing national curriculum. Their concern was when it was translated into external examinations. That meant that examinations were going to be the target, rather than the acquisition of knowledge.

Submission by the Harvest Christian School
Presenter: Mr Gavin Brettenny
Please refer to the attached submission.

There were no questions directed at Mr Brettenny due to time constraints.

The meeting was adjourned, as Members were needed in the House.

Appendix:
Response To Education Laws Amendment Bill 2002 By Westville Schools Collective
In terms of Government Notice No.442 (Gazette23327) 11 April 2002

Comment on insertion of:
Section 6 in Act 76/1998 (Employment of Educators Act)

Appointment of Post Level 1 teachers.

Proposal by the Westville Schools Collective:
That the proposed section 6A not be enacted.

Motivation:

The right to appoint teachers, which Governing Bodies currently possess, is
a fundamental right of democratic education.

While we acknowledge the changes made to the initial proposed amendment in
an attempt to mollify concerns from a wide range of interested parties, we
believe the proposed amendment as it presently stands is still Draconian in
the degree to which it allocates powers to administrative staff in the
department, and severely restricts the rights of Governing Bodies as well
the rights of those teachers specified in this amendment.

On the first issue of prescribing the role of the Governing Body to
determine which educators are best suited to their school: this proposed
amendment removes the fundamental right which was given to Governing bodies
in exchange for their increased responsibilities for managing and funding
schools. The Governing Body has, in terms of the Act, the right and
responsibility to "promote the best interests of the school": and they best
know how to do this. The imposition of new teachers on to existing staff
complements without an understanding of the community and staff room
dynamics, flies in the face of basic management practices and will severely
limit the Governing Body in carrying out its mandate.

On the second issue of individual rights: to place limitations on individual
teachers on the grounds of the arbitrary classification described in the
proposed amendment is, we believe, an infringement of basic human rights.
The fact that many women break service to have children means those female
teachers will be prejudiced in particular by this amendment.

The crux of our objection is that the amendment, as it now stands, does not
ensure that the appointment of post level one teachers by the department
will only be made if the school is unable to find a suitable educator on its
own and approaches the department to appoint one on its behalf.

There are two practical matters that arise from this proposed amendment that
will further complicate the role of the Governing Body.

The most talented "first appointment" teachers will not in practice end up
in rural areas or disadvantaged schools but will rather be lost to the
Public Sector as their first point of application will be to the Independent
Private Schools. The classification of "first appointment" and "break in
service" teachers virtually encompasses the whole range of post level 1
appointments. Teachers in service who apply for post level 1 will either be
privately-paid or Governing Body-paid teachers, and hence will be classified
as "first appointment", or if they have persal numbers they will be "break
in service" teachers. The only other applicants will be lateral transfers,
and "first appointment" or "break in service" teachers allocated by the
Department could block their path. In practice therefore, the Department
could effectively control ALL appointments at Post Level One with no
Governing Body appointments being made.

Comment on insertion of:
Section 6A in Act 84 of 1996 (SA Schools Act)

6A (1) (b) National instrument for the assessment of learner
achievement

Proposal by the Westville Schools Collective:
That 6A (1) (b) be amended as follows:
"a national process for the moderation of Provincial
instruments of assessment of learner achievement".

Motivation:
The proposed amendment is worrying on a number of counts:

1. Although aiming to standardize an exit examination across
the country it will in fact prescribe, in summative form, abbreviated
criteria of competency. This flies in face of the concepts underpinning OBE
whereby a host of complex competencies related particularly to real life
experiences are to be developed in pupils. There is every reason to
believe, judging from past experiences, that educators will "teach to the
exam" rather than widen the classroom experiences of their learners. This
will result in the narrowing of subject syllabi, in contradiction to what
the present draft National Curriculum Statements seem to be attempting.

2. A single examining panel will privilege a particular voice
and silence others. The variety of voice (although limited), offered by
Provincial examining bodies is healthy, particularly in the present social
domain where contesting voices are virulent in articulating and explaining
often contradictory discourses arising out of political, cultural,
technological and economic spheres of influence.

3. The tendency to set papers to cater for the "average" pupils
will inevitably lead to a lowering of standards when the range of candidates
covers such a wide domain. Each province has particular strengths in
certain learning areas eg Western Cape may be stronger in Afrikaans than
KZN, and KZN may be stronger in English 1st Language than Limpopo. These
strengths will be lost over time as standards are reduced to the lowest
common denominator.

CODA

An extract from the report to the Minister of Education by the South African
Certification Council (dated 25 March 2002). "The introduction of common
national question papers on a large scale has serious philosophical,
educational, logistical and financial implications that need to be resolved
before final decisions are taken. SAFCERT also recommends that
consideration should be given to the possibility of using common question
papers as standardising tools". (page 36)

Comment on insertion of:
Section 18A (1) in Act 84 of 1996 (SA Schools Act)

18 A (1) Code of conduct for members of the governing body of a
school

Motivation:

We endorse the need for every Governing Body to operate within the
constraints of an acceptable Code of Conduct.
We question however whether the interests of the community can best be
served by the MEC determining one uniform Code which is binding on all
members of all Governing Bodies. The Act allows Governing Bodies to draw up
their own Constitutions and Mission Statements and one would imagine that
the drafting of a Code of Conduct for Governing Body members should be
informed by these documents.
Governing Bodies are allocated important responsibilities in terms of the
Schools Act. In return, they deserve the courtesy of determining how they
discharge those responsibilities. It seems inconsistent for learners to
negotiate their Codes of Conduct in terms of Section 8, whereas Governing
Bodies will not be afforded that right in terms of the proposed amendment

Proposal by the Westville Schools Collective:
That 18A (1) be amended to reflect provisions similar to those relating to
codes of conduct for learners, as stated in Section 8 of the SA Schools Act,
viz.

18A (1) A Governing Body of a public school must adopt a Code of Conduct for
members of the Governing Body after consultation with learners, parents and
educators of the school.

RESPONSE TO PROPOSED REGULATIONS TO
PROHIBIT INITIATION PRACTICES IN SCHOOLS
In terms of Government Notice No.438 (Gazette23315) 10 April 2002

Comment on Point 4: Prohibited initiation practices

Proposal by the Westville Schools Collective:
Clauses 3.5.2 and 4.3 in proposed regulation, and 3.4 in the guideline be
extended to include the following explanation:
Learner "monitors", with the delegated authority to act as representatives
of educators are permissible. The limit of their authority is to guide,
instruct and monitor learner behaviour in terms of school rules and code of
conduct, and when necessary, in cases of minor breaches in acceptable
conduct, issue agreed upon sanctions (e.g. Lines, detention etc). At all
times, however, learners need to be given the right to appeal to the
educators against the sanctions imposed by these monitors.

Motivation:
The general principles outlined in this proposed regulation are fully
supported by our School. Schools should be safe and caring environments
fostering the development of the full width of our young people, and this
proposed regulation deepens this understanding of the schools function.

This regulation does however highlight in 3.5.2 the problematic clause 7.4
in the Guidelines for the Consideration of Governing Bodies in Adopting a
Code of Conduct for Learners, viz, "The Act empowers school authorities to
discipline learners, but it is unlawful to delegate authority to learners".

In many schools (both in SA and abroad) the commendable system of pupil
monitors in assisting with school discipline is used, a system which might
seem in conflict with the existing guideline and proposed regulation, and
hence needs some clarification in both these documents. Our contention is
that the schools social and disciplinary milieu should approximate, as
closely as possible, the country's conception of civil society. Just as in
society policemen and women, traffic officers and other fellow citizens are,
as representatives of the legislative and judicial arms of the elected
leaders of the people, delegated authority to mete out sanctions determined
by a higher authority, so too do pupil monitors, represent the authority of
the school leaders: the educators. But just as the police can not
themselves punish, and just as every citizen has the right of appeal to a
higher authority, so too do pupils have right to appeal to their teachers if
they feel the punishment (usually "lines" or detention) meted out by
monitors is unfair; and so too should monitors be prohibited from acting
beyond their prescribed roles of merely "ticketing" pupil offences rather
than carrying out punishment themselves

Appendix
MPUMALANGA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
SUBJECT: SUBMISSION FOR EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL 2002


Information on School Readiness
The process leading to school readiness starts at birth and goes hand in hand with the normal stages of development of the learner. A learner who is provided with sufficient opportunity for healthy development should, by the time he reaches the year in which he turns seven (compulsory school age), also be school ready.

The learner's level of development in four areas indicates whether he is school ready or not. These areas are:
The physical \ biological maturation level.
The level of emotional readiness
The level of intellectual development, and.
The perceptual level

A learner who enters Grade one at the age of 5 - 5
1/2 years old has not yet reached a given physiological maturation level and still exhibits a great need to play. He is often not ready emotionally and socially to meet the demands made on him, he tires easily in a formal teaching situation and is not yet work orientated A learner who has not yet reached the desired level of physical maturation is often unwilling to perform a task as required by the educator. He often reacts in an emotional way to mask his inability when confronted with a task: that is too difficult

The learner at the age six (turning seven in Grade One) is physically ready for school and has the ability to meet the demands made on him. He can handle his pencil with ease and can sit still long enough to concentrate and to learn.

The learner who has achieved the required physical, emotional and social maturity is not only able to learn, but also willing and ready to listen to and carry out instructions. He is also more or less able to take care of his own physical needs., i.e. dressing, toilet routine, feeding himself etc.

When a learner is ready for school, his lateral dominance has been established, he has already developed a sense of direction, can see and hear well, has the language ability to express his own needs verbally, and is capable of a certain degree of abstruct reasoning.

MOTIVATlON FOR FLEXIBILITY OF EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL.

1. Consider what is the best decision for the child - not the financial implications for parents, institutions or provincial \ national departments.
2. Every child has the right to be protected from maltreatment \ degradation.
3. Be flexible with the admission age to accommodate the small number of learners who are really ready for school, but keep the bill as it is.
4. Speed up the compulsory date for Grade R.
We seriously plead that you will cunsider our submission as a matter of great concern.

ECD CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTORS
EHLANZENI REGION
MPUMALANGA
MAGAGULA M.
MATHE P.
NDLOVU N.
OLLEWAGEN R.
VAN DER NEST L.

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