The Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, said the Department had focussed on both long and short term strategies, with “non-negotiable” interventions that would be implemented in the second term. The focus had also been on repositioning of the Department to assess what needed to be done. Infrastructure had always been a provincial competency, but through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC), the Department had repositioned and established a unit that complemented the PICC to reach the objective set by the PICC of “one book per child per subject per grade.” Inefficiencies included the high drop-out and high repetition rates (10%). Teacher recruitment, although aided by the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme, also needed to be addressed.
The Deputy Minister, Mr Enver Surty, said the Minister had succeeded in creating synergised and symbiotic relationships with all MEC’s in the provinces and there was broad consensus on how to move forward. Learner and Teacher Support Material (LTSM) and the timeous delivery of these materials were a provincial priority, but the Department had taken on part of this responsibility in light of the challenges in literacy and numeracy. In July 2013, the Minister had announced that the Department would be delivering or completing a school per week, and that target had been achieved. The National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) had been established which allowed for collaboration between the three spheres of government and the private sector which dealt with education challenges at the district level. The Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) programme had been developed through the South African Council for Educators (SACE) and more than 24 000 principals and deputy-principals had been enrolled in a course on leadership and management. Information and communications technology (ICT) was very important and although 8 000 schools had been connected, ICT should be integrated into the curriculum. Migration to urban areas was a global phenomenon and the challenge was retaining skilled educators in rural areas. The Minister had previously stated the futility of having very small numbers of learners in schools where those learners could be integrated into other schools. A quality curriculum and the implementation thereof were at the heart of the work of the Department. Professional development should be linked to the curriculum, where even principals who were responsible for the leadership and management of a school should be involved in the implementation of the curriculum.
The Department said the DBE Strategic Plan 2011-2014 focussed on the quality of learner outcomes, the quality and quantity of LTSM, the quality of school-based tests and examinations, the quality of support from the districts -- specifically school support personnel -- and access to basic education. The 2014 Action Plan had been developed in response to the key challenges identified in the sector to ensure seamless and coordinated long term planning in the sector. The action plan was based on 27 goals and these goals were encapsulated as a priority in the Minister’s Delivery Agreement signed with the President in the previous cycle.
The activities of the DBE had been structured into five programmes as elaborated in the Annual Performance Plan (APP). The sector goals and the outputs were outlined for all five programmes. These five programmes focused on Administration, Curriculum Policy, Human Resources and Institutional Development, Planning, Information and Assessment and Educational Enrichment Services.
The DBE had been allocated a budget of R19.9 billion, but mainly due to the conditional grants, the budget had been cut to approximately R19.6 billion. A breakdown was given of how the R19.6 billion was disseminated to each programme.
The DBE’s priorities followed the NDP and built on key sector plans, and critical activities were focused on outputs in the next five years, as a basis of the delivery agreement. Statistics were provided that illustrated the wealth of information the Department had collected in the previous term that addressed critical issues, such as the mathematics and literacy competencies in learners, infrastructure of schools and teaching competencies.
The Committee discussed the newly built and renovated schools the Department was delivering on a weekly basis. The maintenance of the schools and the safeguarding of the equipment were some of the issues raised. There was a tendency to deploy teachers to teach subjects or grades they were not equipped to teach and adherence to the Employment of Educators Act (EEA) was discussed.
Members raised the issue of whether the Department’s involvement at school and district level was not undermining the work of the provinces. The Department outlined the strategic objectives for the involvement and stated that it was working with provinces and utilised the best practices of specifically the Western Cape, the North West and the Free State.
The Early Childhood Development initiative by the President, which mandated the need for all children to undergo at least two years’ pre-school education was discussed, as well as the norms and standards as they related to infrastructure, funding and curriculum implementation.
The Draft Minutes dated 11 March 2014 and 24 June 2014 were adopted without amendments.
Consideration and adoption of outstanding Draft Minutes
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee to the meeting and asked members to consider the Draft Minutes dated 11 March 2014 and 24 June 2014 for adoption. The minutes were adopted without amendments.
Briefing by the Department of Basic Education
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, and delegates from the Department. The Committee was in preparation for the budget vote, and the meeting would focus on the Annual Performance Plan (APP), the Strategic Plan of the Department of Basic Education (DBE), and the budget estimates.
The Minister thanked the Chairperson and the Committee Members, and also thanked those who had always supported the Department. The Department was aware of the challenges it faced, and the Strategic Plan spoke to those challenges. This new term came with a new mandate and that mandate needed to be implemented. The Department focussed on both long and short term strategies, with “non-negotiable” interventions that would be implemented in the second term. The focus had also been on repositioning the Department to assess what needed to be done, because a wealth of information had been gathered in the last term.
In the libraries sector and the Annual National Assessment (ANA), with regard to mathematics and literacy, the next step would be the timeframes and outputs of what needed to be done. Infrastructure had always been a provincial competency, but through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC), national involvement was enforced. The Department had been repositioned by establishing a unit that complemented the PICC to reach the objective set by the PICC of one book per child per subject per grade. An opportunity for a proper discussion with the Committee on the repositioning of the Department in future would be appreciated.
The Minister said access and equity were covered well in the last term, but there were inefficiencies. These inefficiencies included high drop-out and high repetition rates (10%). Teacher recruitment, although aided by the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme, which was an expensive programme, needed to be addressed. Some of the targets would not be achieved if the teacher recruitment and professional development processes were not adequately managed. School safety was expanded from just infrastructure to also include bullying and drugs. The curriculum was successful, resourcing was progressing and all these factors needed to be addressed to keep the system going.
Interventions highlighted by Deputy Minister
The Deputy Minister thanked the Committee and acknowledged the support the Department had always enjoyed from the Portfolio Committee. The Department recognised the challenges, especially those concerning literacy, numeracy, mathematics, science and technology, and a range of other challenges. These challenges could not be addressed by the Department alone and the provinces had a role to play. The Minister had succeeded in creating synergised and symbiotic relationships with all MEC’s in the provinces and there was broad consensus on how to move forward. Further, the Minister had also taken the decision to meet, interact and collaborate with the district managers to share best practices and to establish common strategic objectives on a quarterly basis. These initiatives had positive impacts on the performance of learners across all provinces.
The Deputy Minister highlighted the areas and interventions that would have the most impact on education and said these interventions should be palpable and systemic. Learner and Teacher Support Material (LTSM) and the timeous delivery of these materials were a provincial priority, but the Department had taken on part of the responsibility in light of the challenges in literacy and numeracy. The delivery of 154 million workbooks to Grade R to Grade 9 learners over three years was made possible by this initiative. Grades 10, 11 and 12 mathematics and science text books and Grades 4, 5 and 6 mathematics and science and technology textbooks had been delivered to all learners across all provinces, because core textbooks had been identified through these collaborations with the provinces. Digitised versions of 92 titles were available for the junior high school, and it was a big step toward the President’s target of one textbook per child per grade per subject across the system.
In July 2013, the Minister had announced that the Department would be delivering or completing a school per week and that target had been achieved, particularly in the Eastern Cape. These new schools had libraries and laboratories and jungle gyms and sanitation facilities for Grade R learners. Two schools had been delivered in the Western Cape and another 12 were planned to be completed. Infrastructure needed to be addressed holistically with the focus not just on the building, but on sanitation, water and electricity.
The Department had a vast level of knowledge and analyses of districts to assist in the intervention strategies for those that were not performing well. The Minister had established the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) that allowed for collaboration with the three spheres of Government and the private sector, dealing with education challenges at the district level. It facilitated dialogue about education with stakeholders such as Equal Education (EE) with regard to monitoring and evaluation, and drove the process of delivery forward.
The biggest challenge was the issue of professional development, because irrespective of the content and quality of the curriculum and resources, competent and capable educators were still a challenging issue. The Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) programme had been developed through the South African Council for Educators (SACE) and more than 24 000 principals and deputy-principals had been enrolled in a course on leadership and management. It would be extended to reading, literacy and numeracy-based initiatives, but it was a work in progress. The placement of educators needed to addressed, where the skills of educators needed to be adequately matched with the subject, because globally approximately 20% of teachers taught subjects they were not qualified to teach.
Information and communications technology (ICT) was very important and although 8 000 schools had been connected, it should be integrated into the curriculum and teachers should be able to use this technology in the 21st century. Toward the end of the previous term, discussions had been held on the efforts put in by the Department related to literacy, numeracy, the importance of reading and the importance of establishing new libraries and expanding existing libraries. This was not limited to the availability of books, but also ICT and media, and all the new schools delivered were fully equipped with these resources.
Migration to urban areas was a global phenomenon and the challenge was to retain skilled educators in rural areas. The Minister had previously stated the futility of having very small numbers of learners in schools where those learners could be integrated into other schools. Multi-grade teaching required a particular skill set which needed professional development, ICT resources and an environment conducive to learning and teaching. The Department borrowed quite heavily from the best practices in the Western Cape to ensure that educators were retained in rural areas and with regard to infrastructure and the provision of furniture.
The Minister had also previously stated that a quality curriculum and the implementation thereof were at the heart of the work of the Department. Professional development should be linked to the curriculum, where even principals who were responsible for the leadership and management of a school, should be involved in the implementation of the curriculum. The importance of Early Childhood Development (ECD) had been illustrated by linking the framework to the National Development Plan (NDP). Social mobilisation should be driven so that parents, communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector realised that education was a social issue. The norms and standards were critical, especially in relation to the delivery of textbooks and furniture across all provinces and the infrastructure norms and standards were functioning extremely well.
The Deputy Minister concluded that these were the critical issues that the department was currently working with, and which would be dealt with in the presentation. It was not an exhaustive list, but an overview of the strategic objectives.
Department of Basic Education 2014/14 Annual Performance Plan and Budget
(See attached presentation)
Ms Vivienne Carelse, Deputy Director-General: Strategic Planning, said the DBE Strategic Plan 2011-2014 focussed on the quality of learner outcomes, the quality and quantity of LTSM, the quality of school-based tests and examinations, the quality of support from the districts -- specifically school support personnel -- and access to basic education. The 2014 Action Plan had been developed in response to the key challenges identified in the sector to ensure seamless and coordinated long term planning in the sector. The action plan was based on 27 goals and these goals were encapsulated as priority in the Minister’s Delivery Agreement, signed with the President in the previous cycle.
Ms Carelse gave an overview of the previous Delivery Agreement and said the DBE was currently developing the new five- year Strategic Plan which would be tabled in March 2015. The education long term sector plan has been revised to ensure further alignment with the NDP, and the Action Plan to 2019 had been finalised and would inform all DBE medium and short term plans.
The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) priorities were to improve the quality of teaching and learning through the development, supply and effective utilisation of teachers, the provision of adequate, quality infrastructure, and LTSM. Other priorities were expanded access to ECD, improvement in the quality of Grade R, and strengthening accountability and improving management at the school, community and district level with partnerships for education reform and improved quality. A detailed overview outlined the strategic priorities for 2014 that dealt with the curriculum, assessment, LTSM, infrastructure and accountability.
The activities of the DBE had been structured into five programmes, as elaborated in the APP. The sector goals and the outputs were outlined for all five programmes.
Programme 1: Administration
The purpose of Programme One was to manage the Department and provide strategic and administrative support services. The strategic objectives were to ensure the provision of suitable human resource capacity, to ensure that the basic education sector and the country benefited from targeted support to the education department, and to improve inter-governmental planning, communication, education policy and legislative development.
Programme 2: Curriculum Support, Monitoring and Evaluation
The purpose of Programme Two was to develop curricula and assessment policies, and monitor and support their implementation. The strategic objectives were to increase the availability of e-Education, to bring about stability and coherence with respect to the national school curriculum, to pay special attention to improvements in mathematics, physical science and technical subjects, to promote adequate access to quality learning materials, to establish national norms for school libraries, to create a sound basis for quality pre-Grade one education and to finalise and promote national screening guidelines.
Programme 3: Teachers, Education, Human Resources and Institutional Development
The purpose of Programme Three was to promote quality teaching and institutional performance through the effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources. The strategic objectives were to ensure the new teacher development plan was translated into a wide range of teacher training materials, to establish the National Institute for Curriculum and Professional Development (NICPD), to establish an ongoing national campaign for choosing teaching as a career, to bring about a set of planning, management and accountability tools at the school level, to develop training strategies and materials aimed at parents and to establish better and evidence-based practices and procedures for the country’s 82 education district offices.
Programme 4: Planning, Information and Assessment
The purpose of Programme Four was to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through planning, implementation and assessment. The strategic objectives were to establish a quality system of standardised and benchmarked learner assessments, to ensure that all children completed a quality readiness programme in Grade R before they entered formal education in Grade One, to put into place support systems for provinces and schools to improve the physical environs of the school, and so that districts could use quality information and data about the level and quality of learning in schools.
Programme 5: Educational Enrichment Services
The purpose of Programme Five was to develop policies and programmes that improved the quality of learning in schools. The strategic objectives were to enhance the current basket of education support services to learners from poor communities and to ensure the involvement of stakeholders in exercising involvement in schools in a manner that added value to the attainment of the core outcomes.
Overview of the Budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)
Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer, DBE, gave an overview of the trends of the past four financial years. Deviations in the trends could be ascribed to workbooks printed and distributed to schools in all provinces, as well as the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign. Other reasons included the introduction of the Education Infrastructure Conditional Grant, the introduction of the Infrastructure Backlogs Indirect Grant and intensive monitoring of the implementation of policies in provinces.
DBE had been allocated a budget of R19.9 billion, but mainly due to the conditional grants, the budget had been cut to approximately R19.6 billion. A breakdown was given of how the R19.6 billion was disseminated to each programme, where Programme One was allocated the least amount of R347 million due to its mainly supportive function to the Department. Programme Three’s budget allocation increase to R1.2 billion was mainly due to the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme.
A detailed overview of the allocations per economic classification over the 2014 MTEF was provided, with details of conditional grants and transfers over the 2014 MTEF and a summary of allocations as compared to the previous financial year. Details of earmarked allocations over the 2014 MTEF included the Kha Ri Gude Literacy Project, workbooks, the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS), the Annual National Assessment (ANA), National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) and the National School Nutrition Programme.
Non-Negotiables and MTSF 2014 Priorities
(See attached presentation)
Mr Paddy Padayachee, Acting Director-General, DBE, highlighted the MTSF priorities as outlined by the Deputy Minister. These priorities followed the NDP and built on key sector plans. Critical activities were focused on outputs in the next five years, as a basis of delivery agreement. The presentation gave a detailed illustration of initiatives, the targets and the outputs as they were initially outlined by the Deputy Minister. The Department would inform the Committee on an ongoing basis on the implementation of those initiatives to achieve the targets. Statistics were provided that illustrated the wealth of information the Department had collected in the previous term that addressed critical issues such as the mathematics and literacy competencies of learners, the infrastructure of schools and teaching competencies.
Ms J Basson (ANC) asked what “KRG” stood for and asked for clarification on the five strategies.
Mr Padayachee said KRG stood for the Kha Ri Gude Literacy Project.
The Chairperson said there would be a lot of acronyms the Committee would deal with and asked Members to familiarise themselves with documentation provided before the meetings.
Mr Mnguni (ANC) said he appreciated the Department and its leadership, and the initiative to meet with district managers showed commitment. There were some beautifully equipped schools that had been opened and it was greatly appreciated, although more work needed to be done. He referred to the MTSF priority that referred to the improved quality of teaching and learning through development, supply and effective utilisation of teachers. There was a tendency to deploy teachers to teach subjects or grades they were not equipped to teach, and he asked how those affected schools and teachers could be assisted. The President had spoken about the importance of pre-Grade R development -- what were the Department’s plans were in that regard? He referred to the Employment of Educators Act (EEA), and asked if there was adherence to the Act, especially with regard to transfers and resignations of teachers, and if a standardised exemplar could not be developed that would help principals understand what was needed for the effective functioning of schools. There was a lot of emphasis on the development of the leadership and management skills of principals, but circuit managers and district managers were often teachers promoted to those positions who equally lacked the necessary skills for those positions. He asked the Department to also speak to this issue.
The Minister said that teachers were key assets and were allocated more than 80% of the Department’s budget. More than 20% teachers were wrongly placed and there was a dire need for Foundation Phase teachers. This shortage was addressed mainly through the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme. It was often found in rural areas that only two teachers qualified to teach mathematics had to cater to the needs of the whole school. The Department was working with the NECT to develop the correct model in districts for the deployment of teachers, who were a sensitive and expensive resource.
Mr Padayachee said an area of focus would be how the DBE managed human resources, and sometimes the controls were not put in place or were not fully employed with regard to the EEA when it related to transfers, appointments or resignations.
Mr Suren Govender, Chief Director: Curriculum, DBE, said pre-Grade R and Grade R related to ECD and the DBE was obliged to work closely with the Department of Social Development to address this issue. An interdepartmental committee had been established, but the progress was not as rapid as the Department had hoped. Two months ago, the Department had conceptualised the formation of a task team that would report to the interdepartmental committee. The task team had been developed with other departments and a whole range of stakeholders, and would focus on curriculum delivery and the training of practitioners. A National Curriculum Framework had been developed, designed for children from birth to age four that would be piloted in 100 ECD centres, and this pilot would inform the roll-out in 2015. In respect of ECD, the NDP mandated the need for all children to undergo at least two years’ pre-school education. This initiative would need an audit of all children in the system and policy and legislative amendments would need to be assessed in conjunction with other departments.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) said the ‘school a week’ programme involved both newly built schools as well as upgraded schools, and she asked if all these completed schools were equipped with laboratories and libraries, including equipment. She asked why the community or sister schools could not be involved in the building of desks from redundant school furniture or in the redistribution of books that were not being utilised by institutions. Maintenance of the infrastructure was a big problem, especially with regard to the often expensive electronic equipment donated to schools. She asked what the Department was doing in respect of teaching learners and teachers about maintenance of the equipment, and how the equipment was safeguarded.
The Minister said the Department had developed norms and standards for the procurement of furniture for schools because of the various challenges, such as low quality and theft of furniture. The Accelerated School Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI) was not only for new infrastructure, but also for the maintenance of existing infrastructure. The reinstatement of factotums in schools would not only assist with the maintenance of schools, but it would also create employment. As part of the infrastructure programme, provinces were urged to reinstate factotums, who were often multi-skilled and were a cost effective tool in infrastructure maintenance. There were many inefficiencies and wastage in the system, and wrong statistics about schools often led to an excess of books and resources sent to schools, but the Department had started doing head counts to address the issue. The schools with small amounts of learners and teachers paid huge electricity and water bills that were not sustainable. Inroads were being made to have those schools integrated, but it had stalled after the litigation process that had been embarked on in the Western Cape, where it became a political issue. There were inefficiencies in the Scholar Transport System and the drop-out and repetition rates created inefficiencies as well. National Treasury was aware of these leaks in the system, and it was difficult for the Department to justify additional funding if these inefficiencies were not addressed. Theft of electronic equipment and books were a big problem in schools and it was an issue the Department would have to address.
Ms A Lovemore (DA) said some of the information in the presentation on the non-negotiable priorities (annexure D) were not in the APP and there was not one reference to ‘inclusive’ education in the APP. She asked what status these targets in the presentation had if they were not included in the formal documentation of the Department, where the statistics came from that showed that only 41% of teachers were not competent to teach, and how the Department would measure that a certain percentage of children from Grade R were ready for school if there were no school readiness tests. She asked how norms and standards would be enforced, because currently Limpopo was not adhering to the funding norms and standards and there had been no consequences. She referred to the work done by the Department in relation to the districts, and asked how much of the budget or grant allocations of the Department was spent on work that should really be done by provinces and how would the provinces be involved, because 8 000 moderators were used in the Integrated Quality Management Systems (IQMS), which was directly initiated with schools by the Department. She asked what the National Initiative to Improve Learning Outcomes was, since it had been allocated over R30 million. The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) was an issue that should be dealt with in future.
The Minister said that provinces had to implement the negotiated and agreed upon norms and standards and this implementation was more difficult to enforce in the old than in the newer schools.
Mr Themba Kojana, Deputy Director-General: Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development, DBE, said the Department had conducted teacher profiling in the Eastern Cape and the methodology had focussed on qualifications, qualifications to teach specific subjects and effectiveness.
Mr Padayachee said Annexure D had already come through the Cabinet Lekgotla and had its origin in the NDP, which had been translated into a programme of action for Government and was referred to as a MTSF. A programme for Government had an implementation plan, as well as funding in that regard. Work was being done with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and those initiatives that were prioritised were included in the Strategic Plan, as well as ensuring that it was funded by Treasury.
Mr Govender said one of the deliverables discussed in Annexure D was curriculum, and the curriculum was unpacked in different ways. There were detailed project plans that dealt with inclusive education. In 2013 an impact evaluation on Grade R learning outcomes was done in collaboration with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. A report on that evaluation had been presented to Cabinet in March 2014 and implementation of those recommendations needed to be done. DBE’s focus with regard to Grade R had moved to actual curriculum delivery, while at one time it was focussed mostly on resource provision. A basic Grade R resource pack had been provided to all centres and clearly the challenge now became the implementation and monitoring of this process in the ECD centres.
Ms Molalekoa said the R30 million allocated to the National Initiative to Improve Learning Outcomes was money transferred to the NECT for the programmes that were driven by the Trust.
Mr N Mpontshane (IFP) said the Minister set the right tone with the priorities, especially with the rural focus, and asked for clarification on the rural allowance to teachers in KwaZulu Natal that was rumoured to have been stopped. He asked for clarification on the challenges that were faced that had prompted the development of the leadership and management skills of principals, the status of the CPTD programme, time frames for the establishment of the NICPD, the establishment of evidence-based practices for district offices in Programme Three and the school readiness tests proposed for children in Grade R. The President had spoken about the establishment of a Remuneration Commission for teachers and civil servants, and he asked if this initiative would be driven by the Department.
The Minister said through the Department’s own investigations it had been identified that schools headed by principals that were suitably skilled in both the management and accountability for implementation of the curriculum, functioned much better and produced better results. The proposed Remuneration Commission was for all civil servants, and would not be driven by the Department.
Mr Kojana said the ‘rural allowance’ was initially meant to be an incentive policy that attracted and retained teachers, but because of the gaps in the policy, it had been manipulated into the ‘rural allowance’. The Department was in the process of revisiting the policy so that it could serve its intended role. There had been many court cases related to this policy and as it stood now, the policy was incentivising the teacher, rather than the post. The Department, in collaboration with the Dell Foundation, had developed a tool for subject advisors that guided what questions needed to be asked to get evidence-based results on subjects. These results could be linked to the ANA, as well as the National Senior Certificate (NSC), to assess if there were areas that required intervention.
Mr Govender said the Minister and the Deputy Minister had pronounced clearly on the reorganisation and realignment of the DBE so that it spoke to the core mandate and addressed areas not receiving the necessary focus. Within the curriculum sector there had been acceptance of the Directorate for Rural Education, with the biggest challenge being the provision of multi-grade education. A DBE multi-grade sector support and multi-grade toolkit had been developed. The multi-grade toolkit training had been done and implementation and monitoring were the next steps.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) congratulated the Department on its commitment to providing quality education. She asked what the amount spent on legal fees annually was, and how the Department would go about achieving the ‘one book per child per subject per grade’ target. There was nothing wrong with the Department interacting with districts and schools directly and she asked the Department to elaborate on the positives these interactions resulted in. The Strategic Plan had referred to the loss of confidence in DBE’s ability to coordinate United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) matters in the country and she asked if the Minister had been able to resolve the challenges around this matter. She asked about the Department’s priority to capacitate the teaching profession and whether this priority had been properly linked to the opening of new educational colleges, because there was a need for such facilities.
Ms Molalekoa said the total legal expenditure for the 2012/13 financial year was R1.1 million, and it had increased to R2.3 million.
Mr Padayachee said there had been many more challenges for the Department that warranted the increase in legal expenditure, but the Department could claim the costs if the litigation was successful.
Mr Kojana said the link to capacitate teachers with training colleges had been rolled out in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga. This work entailed reviving old training colleges, although most of these training colleges were now connected to the universities, because training of teachers was run by the Department of Higher Education (DHE).
The Chairperson said there needed to be an information session that showed the concurrent functions with provinces. She asked for specifics around the timeframes of the ‘one book per child per subject per grade’ target. She asked for more elaboration on the plans to improve quality teaching and learning, assessment and monitoring, IQMS and the Action Plan to 2019, especially in light of the Committee’s oversight responsibilities. African languages in schools had been discussed previously, and she asked what the status of that development was.
The Minister said the Department worked with and through provinces. Concurrence was a strength, because coordination and good practices informed entire systems. The Western Cape had a very solid institutional framework that allowed them to manage the sector better, while the North West had a very strong curriculum management framework that allowed them to move from the bottom to the number one spot in the NSC results after the supplementary results. The Free State had a very solid district support system. The interaction with districts did not undermine provinces, but allowed the Department to access an information hub of good practices that would ultimately serve the whole country. The Department was running pilots in collaboration with Dell through the provinces on how to improve the system through information management, and these forums with the districts were key. Progress and impact had to be experienced as a country, and not only a province. Norms and standards had been developed with provinces and the curriculum was a national competency. The Department’s investigation in 2009 had revealed that interpretation of certain aspects of the curriculum differed vastly from province to province, and the interactions had helped to establish a uniform understanding of key issues.
Mr Kojana said previously a collective agreement had been signed with unions that looked into teacher evaluation. The Department had looked into ways of strengthening the tool of teacher evaluation and had found that the IQMS in its current form was too bulky and not focussed. The IQMS had been revised and had been submitted for approval, and this version also included the functions and roles of principals in teacher evaluations.
Mr Govender said to ensure that there was effective curriculum delivery, the National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA) was the overarching framework that extended from Grade R to Grade 12 on a school, district, provincial and national level. Based on the 2013 ANA learner performance and the General Education and Training (GET) band, the Department had developed an ANA diagnostic improvement plan. This overall framework had been distributed to provinces, districts and schools with the instruction that it should be used to customise and individualise improvement plans and mathematics per school. The same modus operandi had been implemented for the Further Education and Training (FET) band, and subject improvement plans had been developed for all NSC subjects. Improvement plans with specific subject targets had to be set at school, district and provincial level. The Department had uplifted curriculum coverage to ensure accountability through a national template to ensure the curriculum was covered adequately. The level of accountability seemed embedded, because provinces and districts were calling underperforming principals to a centralised venue to discuss the curriculum and improvement plans.
The Incremental Introduction of African Languages Draft Policy was gazetted for public comment and these comments would be integrated into the Draft Policy for consultation processes. The practical part was that a national pilot was currently in progress and there were monthly reports on this pilot that were being submitted to the DBE. An interprovincial committee had been established to track its progress and the challenges. The most significant challenge was the availability of teachers to manage the pilot and implementation would be from 2015 onwards. In anticipation of the way forward, the DBE’s focus was on the provision of the necessary LearnerTeacher Support Material (LTSM), teachers for this implementation and policy revision and requirements.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) said it was not clear what was being done about the high drop-out and repetition rates.
Dr Faith Khumalo, Chief Director: Care and Support in Schools, DBE, said the National Household Survey identified poor academic performance, poor socio-economic status and lack of future prospects as key factors. An integrated approach needed to be employed, because it was not only one factor that contributed to the drop-out and repetition rates. Initiatives could include more support to learners when they made subject choices, with more community awareness and involvement. The Department had initiated the “no fee” school policy, the National School Nutrition Programme and the Scholar Transport System. The integrated approach would involve identifying those barriers to learning such as health issues, social issues and learning difficulties.
Ms Basson asked who monitored the Kha Ri Gude centres, and who did they report to at the district level. She asked if these centres could not be used to support those on the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) band.
Mr Govender said monitors were appointed nationally and each monitor appointed was responsible for four Kha Ri Gude coordinators. Statistics showed that large numbers were certificated through the ABET programme, but awareness was certainly an issue and was highlighted in the Department’s deliverables that showed that there was inefficient advocacy for the programme.
Mr T Khoza (ANC) said the IQMS was a good programme and could benefit both teachers and the Department, but said it could be advocated wrongly. He referred to the school furniture and proposed that the Department consider a single desk per learner which would work better, especially during examinations. He said the norms and standards for funding could not be the same for GET and FET institutions, because the expenditure needs differed.
Mr Mnguni asked about equipment and safety at schools, and the premise that communities should take an ownership in the schools. There was a challenge at schools, where principals ballooned the enrolment of learners to retain teachers, or the remuneration of teachers was dependent on the number of learners enrolled. He suggested that enrolment should be standardised. The norms and standards should apply to the appointment of administrative support staff.
Mr Kojana said learner enrolment numbers did not impact teacher salaries. It could possibly influence the post levels of principals, but the matter would be investigated. There were existing norms and standards for staffing of schools and the challenges were not the norms or standards, but rather the implementation thereof.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) asked if there were criteria that were followed with the grant for the National School Nutrition Programme, because some schools did not even have enough classrooms. She asked for clarification on where and how the food was prepared and what happened to the consumables. The Occupation Specific Dispensation for Therapists would be phased out by 2016/17 and she asked about this as it related to the special needs of some learners.
Dr Khumalo said the National School Nutrition Programme was a conditional grant and was intended for quintile one to three schools. The grant was made available to those schools that fitted the mandated profile. Some schools extended it beyond its original mandate, but then the funds would need to be found outside of the grant. Parents in the communities usually volunteered to cook and serve and were engaged by the School Governing Board (SGB) to come in and do the training on hygiene and preparation standards. South African schools were not traditionally built with facilities to cook and serve food, and it was a major challenge. There had been big support from mostly the private sector partnerships that built kitchens and facilities, but all the newly built schools were equipped with a fully functional kitchen and, where permitted, a dining hall. The Department was dealing with a huge backlog to equip existing schools with these facilities, and part of the training provided involved how to deal with consumables.
Ms Molalekoa said the Occupation Specific Dispensation grant would be discontinued after two years when National Treasury would pay the money over to the provinces, and the grant would be managed by the provinces thereafter.
Ms Van der Walt proposed the MASTEC building in Limpopo as another building that could be renovated as a new teacher training college, and asked how the retrieving of text books at the end of each year and top ups would ensure the ‘one book per child per subject per grade’ target. Norms and standards were paid out twice a year, and often the poorest schools did not adhere to the rules.
Mr Kojana said the MASTEC building had huge potential and would be investigated.
Mr Padayachee said there were already books in the system. Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) had been done and the target of ‘one book per child per subject per grade’ would not be achieved without a proper retrieval system at the end of each year.
Ms Lovemore said she did not fully accept the Minister’s explanation on why the Department was so involved at a district and provincial level, and she questioned why moderators had to check on IQMS if IQMS was functioning properly. She asked for an update on National Education and Evaluation Development Unit’s (NEEDU’s) status and asked why the matric pass targets were set at 75% for 2014, which was lower than what was achieved in 2013. Annexure D had some damning statistics on the status of schools and she wanted confirmation that the Department could be quoted on the statistics and the time frames of when these issues would be addressed.
There was a directive from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) for NEEDU to develop an Office of Standards and Compliance, so the Bill intended for Parliament was no longer applicable. The Office of Standards and Compliance was being developed and NEEDU was doing its work with a report of their activities of the last 12 months due soon. NEEDU would remain an independent government component.
The NSC target for 2014 was set three years ago, and targets differed from province to province.
Mr Padayachee said that for now, the Department needed a go ahead from National Treasury and other structures and said that in a few weeks the Department could be quoted on what would be achieved by set dates.
Mr Mpontshane said the Department had been busy with NEEDU for five years, but nothing to date had happened. He asked what the Department meant when referring to the ‘opening’ and ‘re-opening’ of teacher training colleges. The former Minister of Education, Ms Naledi Pandor, had introduced the rural allowance and it had never been referred to as an ‘incentive policy.’ Teachers had been budgeting around that allowance, and he asked how it happened that it was allocated in the first place.
Mr Kojana said the Department had always advocated the reopening of teacher training colleges and that was why the DHE had been implored to research the validity of the need for these colleges so that they would not be closed again. The Department needed to identify the gaps in terms of the implementation of the “rural allowance”, because the policy was implemented differently in every province.
The Chairperson asked for comment on the status of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) and asked how the provinces accounted for the various grants received. She urged the Department to follow up on the new schools that had been built, because very often those schools became overcrowded with enrolments and no longer responded to the needs of the communities.
Ms Molalekoa said provinces submitted a monthly report to the Department, but National Treasury sent their own reports to the Department so that DBE could compare if the expenditure figures matched.
The Auditor General also required information from the Department – for example, there needed to be a register of learners who had the meals. QLTC had also been repositioned and was under review. The NECT also did social mobilisation and it went beyond the QLTC targets. The Department wanted to align these two programmes. It was high on the Department’s priority list that the rationalisation of schools should be done properly, and this would be monitored.
The Chairperson thanked the Department and commended them for their input. She asked if the Committee could be furnished with the Action Plan to 2019 that could assist with the budget vote. She asked the Department to also furnish the Committee with Grade R resource packs for the Committee’s oversight visits.
The meeting was adjourned.
- 2014/15 Annual Performance Plan and Budget Presentation
- Non-negotiable and the Medium Term Strategic Framework Priorities Presentation
- Budget 2014 Estimates of National Expenditure VOTE 15 Basic Education
- Department of Basic Education Strategic Plan 2011-2014
- Department of Basic Education Annual Performance Plan 2014-2015