The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC); South African Council for Educators (SACE); Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) presented their budget review to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education.
Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC)
The ELRA provided a forum for engagement and ensured stability in the education system through offering bargaining and dispute management services. However it was finding it practically impossible to formulate smart objectives, targets and time frames as per the PFMA, because the nature of the work depended on buy-in and agreement between employee and employer (DBE). The Auditor-General was satisfied that given the nature of the ELRC business, it was difficult to achieve smart criteria.
The proposed amendment for temporary educators becoming permanent and the incentive schemes would involve ELRC monitoring implementation of the policies, formulating proposals and making recommendations for revising policy.
A challenge was that the general trend was for educators to use lawyers rather than unions. This was their constitutional right but disputes could not be resolved quickly this way. Other challenges identified were that there were few provisions in the Children’s Court for protecting children; migration of the FET lecturers from college employment to state employment, which lacked conditions of service; and no guarantee of government funding while being a public entity. In 2014, the ELRC had succeeded in preventing strike action in the Eastern Cape.
Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) was given financial support by ELRC but existed independently. The ELRC monitored QLTC performance and maintained 27 functional QLTC structures.
Expenditure of the ELRC was closely aligned to income generated. Expenditure increased from R50.2 million in 2010/11 to R58.6 million in 2013/14, at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent, mainly due to increase in the staff complement and the QLTC in the 2013/14 financial year.
Members asked what role ELRC played in addressing the permanent appointment of temporary teachers and incentives; if the Teacher Laptop Initiative for educators announced by the President was one of ELRC’s unresolved matters; why there were only 27 QLTC structures and how the programmes were strategically selected and supported to make an impact, what QLTC was doing with the finances that ELRC gave to it, how much was given to it, if the QLTC brought their plan to the ELRC before being given financial assistance, and to what extent it was monitored. They also asked why there had been a massive increase from R572 000 to R1.5 million budgeted for research services in the current financial year; what tangible plans were in place to make up for the funding shortfalls; and if targets were now being set too low.
South African Council for Educators (SACE)
SACE had strengthened it vetting regime to prevent usage of fraudulent documents and entry into the profession by individuals who could not be trusted with learners. Current projects included initiation of on-line registration, validation, rapid response systems, and categorization of registration and tracking of levies. SACE had also developed a more streamlined approach to educator misconduct and sanctions.
The projected budget for 2014/15 was R60.7 million, with R51.7 million from teacher membership fees and the balance from registration fees and interest. The government grant was zero for the current financial year but this would change – there would be a grant given during the year to assist in Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD), but the grant amount was not guaranteed. Until then, SACE was using its own resources to manage the processing of registration services. For the current year, the SACE would register 26 000 educators and 25 000 updates of qualification records for newly qualified educators.
Members asked if the Auditor-General had accepted SACE’s performance plan; if SACE had an updated database; how was it possible that members were not registered by SACE; if foreign educator applications affected development of youth of South Africans; what the reasons were for rolling out CPTD at such a slow pace; and how SACE could plan CPTD without a guaranteed amount of funding from government.
The Chairperson asked SACE to return to clarify important issues on how it was developing teachers and scarce skills. The role of SACE, in line with the country's objectives, had to be very clear.
Umalusi played the important role of council for quality education, its core function being quality assurance of qualifications. It reported to the Ministry of Basic Education from the point where papers were set to the point of standardisation and certification; and quality assurance processes of the curriculum and examinations, both at public and private providers.
The unaudited financial statement ending 31 March 2014 showed a net surplus of R19 million and a 109% of budgeted revenue was as a result of certification income flowing from the previous financial year. 92% of the budget was spent the previous year because there had been a vacancy rate of 9%. Total assets amounted to R88.9 million. Cash at the end of the financial year was R5 million and investments totalled R41 million attracting a net interest rate of 5.7% per annum for public deposits. 94% of debt was collected. A detailed breakdown for the financials for 2013/14 as at end of March 2014 can be found in the attached document.
The budget for moderation of the marking of three million papers was R24 million in 2012/13 and R34.7 million in 2014/15. The increase was due to increased monitoring around marking process; centralised and on-site moderation; expert markers; as well as external moderation of vocational qualifications and practical examinations.
Total budget had increased from R110 million to R134.8 million in the current year, a 22% increase. In order for Umalusi to do its mandated work, it would need R148 million. It was in the process of finalising its Annual Performance Plan. The Committee was requested to assist in this regard, so that Umalusi could sustain itself in its work. The administration costs for petrol, food, electricity, travel and accommodation increased each year, while the CPI stayed around 6%.
Challenges going forward included the implications of the White Paper published in January 2014, which called for increase in post-school education and establishment of community colleges without quality compromise. Another challenge was strengthening of the marking process. Umalusi had proposed E-marking to the DBE, which had the advantage of eliminating bias and reducing marketing time amongst many other benefits.
Members asked for clarity on the extension on the Senior Certificate examination; what the role of Umalusi was in SBA, ANA, on-site monitoring of teaching and moderation of teachers during the year; what the nature of the relationship was between Umalusi, the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU), SACE and other entities; how Umalusi could allow a certificate to be presented to a child for technology which would require pure maths and physical science; and how Umalusi could quality assure a qualification without quality assuring the curriculum. They also asked whether learners were being properly assisted with subject choice; how educators could be motivated and monitored to account for their results; how teachers were being assisted to deal with slow learners; and how Umalusi assisted learners with special needs during examinations. Members then asked what Umalusi’s role was with student maths and home language ability at intermediate phase - before the exit point; how Umalusi could ensure that matric papers were not fraudulent; and what possible litigation Umalusi was expecting, having budgeted for it, and what were the main historical litigation issues.
Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) Strategic and Annual Performance Plans
The Chairperson welcomed the ELRC delegation and said that the Committee was interested to know how the ELRC was resolving re-deployment of teachers, promotions, appointments, and dispute resolution, progress with the ELRC’s relationships in the provinces, as well as its Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) as part of its social contract.
Ms Cindy Foca, Accounting Officer and General Secretary: ELRC said that the ELRA provided a forum for engagement and ensured stability in the education system through offering bargaining and dispute management services.
It was a Bargaining Council, bound by the Labour Relations Act, but was listed as a Schedule 3A public entity regulated by the PFMA, and did not receive funding from government. This was an important issue to highlight upfront, as it was practically impossible for the ELRA to formulate and insert measurable smart objectives, targets and time frames as per the requirement of National Treasury, mainly because the nature of the work depended on many parties agreeing. Though performance management instruments were important for accountability in the system, buy-in and agreement was required from employee and employer (DBE). Without agreement between stakeholders, the ELRC targets could not be reached.
The Annual Performance Plan was developed together with the budget in terms of the requirements of the PFMA. The 2013-2015 strategic outcome oriented goals accurately reflected targets which the ELRC would endeavour to achieve with the resources allocated. The Auditor-General was satisfied that given the nature of the ELRC business, it was difficult to achieve smart criteria. The tensions over the past year that characterised the education sector between employer and employee had a negative impact on planning. The ELRC had consulted legal opinion and would propose to the Minister of Finance and Basic Education that ELRC should be de-listed as a public entity.
Dispute resolution was a core mandate, but dispute prevention held more of its focus. Early dispute resolution in all provinces had a positive effect on prevention of strikes and the ELRC provided facilitation before problems arose. A challenge was to ensure that there was no tension about the commitments from the state and unions. The proposed amendment for temporary educators becoming permanent after seven months (and receiving incentives) would involve ELRC monitoring implementation of the policy, formulating proposals and making recommendations for revising policy. In 2014, the ELRC had succeeded in preventing strike action in the Eastern Cape.
Another challenge was that the general trend was for educators to use lawyers rather than unions. This was their constitutional right but disputes could not be resolved quickly this way. The ELRC had also identified that there were currently few provisions in the Children’s Court for protecting children when they testified in court and ELRC was engaging with the Department of Social Development in the various provinces to identify venues to deal with the issue.
The FETC Bargaining Unit had a challenge with FET lecturers as the ELRC did not have jurisdiction over the Public Service Act employees, but only over the Employment of Educators Act employees. As per the Public Service Act, there was migration of the FET lecturers from college employment to state employment. The Minister of DHET took the responsibility away from the College Council as the employer, only in so far as the component that was previously employed by the state and those who were previously employed by the college would remain in the employment of the college. The grey area was where the lecturers who were with the College Council would go to for their conditions of service.
QLTC was given financial support by ELRC but existed independently. The ELRC monitored QLTC performance and maintained 27 functional QLTC structures.
Mr Musa Mahlangu, Senior Manager: Corporate Services, ELRC presented the overview of the 2014/15 budget and MTEF estimates (see attached document for detail on figures). Funding was not generated by grants received by state but relied on levies collected from the employees and employer contribution. The ELRC projected that deficits would arise over the MTEF period, due to income remaining constant and costs increasing due to inflation. However, the ELRC had sufficient reserves to cover this deficit. The ELRC would be tabling a draft discussion document in the form of a Collective Agreement for an increase in the levy contribution to cover the expected deficit for the 2017/18 financial year.
The specific objectives and targets for the three ELRC programmes: Administration Services, Dispute Management Services, and Collective Bargaining Services were listed.
Expenditure of the ELRC was closely aligned to income generated. Expenditure increased from R50.2 million in 2010/11 to R58.6 million in 2013/14, at an average annual rate of 5.5 percent, mainly due to increase in the staff complement and the QLTC in the 2013/14 financial year.
The Chairperson said that the challenges were understood and the Committee was concerned about the disputes and strikes disturbing teaching and learning.
Ms Lovemore (DA) asked what role ELRC played in addressing the appointment of temporary teachers and whose role it was to take the issue forward.
Ms S Basson (ANC) asked what the ELRC was doing for those temporary educators who had been teaching for more than two years and were still not permanently employed, or covered by incentives.
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked what the outcome was with DBE on review of the policy on rural incentives.
Ms Foca replied that ELRC had acknowledged the absence of a national agreement dealing with appointments for temporary educators and had engaged with parties to come up with an agreement to appointment them. However, it was necessary to await finalisation of the amendments to the Labour Relations Act, as currently there was no law governing temporary educators’ permanent employment after six months. It was premature to enter into a Collective Agreement, as it would then be superseded by the amendment. Once finalised by parliament, ELRC policies would be informed by such law going forward. Regarding the ELRC’s role in monitoring of policy on incentives, the ELRC had recommended to the Minister to revise the policy, as it was not implemented consistently throughout the country.
Ms Lovemore asked why there had been a massive increase from R572 000 to R1.5 million budgeted for research services in the current financial year.
Ms Foca replied that the R1.5 million was set aside for deliverables to inform policy going forward for ECD educators. Previously there were no research programmes. Evidence-based research was emphasized in the National Development Plan (NDP).
Mr Mpontshane asked for clarity on “matters which were not able to be resolved”. He asked if one of the matters was the five-year long issue of ELRC principal and deputy principal performance agreement.
Ms Foca replied that indeed, the principal and deputy principal performance evaluation - under ELRC’s QMS plans for revision of the existing integrated QMS (IQMS) - was long outstanding on ELRC’s agenda and was one of the four unresolved matters. The draft plan document was comprehensive and had different performance standards for those serving in each of the managerial positions: principal, deputy principal, head of department and general post level one. The work on the revised IQMS document had been completed and finalised, but until it had been signed by all parties involved. The ELRC did not have the mandate to implement it.
The second matter was the problem with district officials’ performance management. The NDP raised the need to strengthen district management in education and this was in ELRC’s strategic plan - to deal with performance management of office-based educators.
The third matter was the issue of RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning), which was at the heart of the former Chairperson; and the fourth matter on the agenda for finalisation was a HR policy, PAM (Personnel Administrative Measures) for educators.
Mr Mpontshane asked if the Teacher Laptop Initiative (TLI) for educators announced by the President was also an unresolved matter.
Ms Foca replied that the problem with implementation of TLI was that the funding model had to be revisited. The project had been referred back to the DBE for engagement with National Treasury. It was clear that the creditors were not satisfied with the credit ratings of educators, according to the National Credit Act. The ELRC therefore no longer played a role in the TLI.
Mr Mpontshane asked if the ELRC had defined for itself what the concept of the Sections 28 and 29: the Right to Basic Education, from which the ELRC derived its mandate, entailed.
Ms Foca replied that the ELRC mandate, in terms of the Right to Basic Education, was that ELRC recognize the court pronouncement on the progressive realization of the Right to Basic Education, within the available resources. As ELRC operated within the DBE, its objectives were all linked to the realisation of that right.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) if what was being presented in policy was happening on ground: if the QLTC and ELRC monitored district schools and work-shopped new principals.
Ms Foca replied that induction and training of new principals was the responsibility of employer. The ELRC provided training to dispute resolution practitioners to ensure competency.
Mr Mnguni asked if the turnaround target of 30 days for dispute management was being met. He gave an example of a principal having been expelled from the school by parents and educators had undergone a disciplinary hearing where he was instructed to return to the school, but had not returned to the school.
Ms Foca replied that ELRC providing training to dispute resolution practitioners so that they could represent the employer or Trade Union. However, once the Commissioner issued a ruling of non-resolution, then it was classified as a dispute, and then a minimum of 180 days was given to secure witnesses, etc. The matter could drag on for years. The ELRC had no jurisdiction over the matter once it was classified as a dispute and was escalated to the Labour Court.
The Chairperson questioned whether the ELRC was doing its job if unions were being trained by ELRC to resolve disputes and stand in for members, but a number of educators preferred being represented by lawyers.
Mr Mnguni asked how ELRC ensured that information reached educators on time.
Ms Foca replied that each time there was Collective Agreement, the information was disseminated to provincial officials who oversaw implementation and to Trade Union officials whose job it was to ensure that their members were paid what was due to them.
Ms Lovemore commented that the QLTC was a strange animal within the ELRC ambit. She asked why there were 27 QLTC programmes when there were 24000 schools, how the programmes were strategically selected and supported to make an impact, what QLTC was doing with the finances that ELRC gave to it, and how much was given to it.
Ms J Basson (ANC) asked if the QLTC was functioning satisfactorily, how well they were monitored and how the 27 structures were how divided and allocated governance per province.
The Chairperson asked if the QLTC brought their plan to the ELRC before being given financial assistance, as surely the ELRC could not throw money at it without monitoring its plan. She also asked to what extent it was monitored, even though it was not ELRC core business.
Ms Foca replied that the QLTC was established by the ELRC and then taken over by the DBE. It involved a range of different stakeholders, including Traditional Leadership and School Governing Bodies. The Minister coordinated them and the ELRC was part of the Steering Committee in the Office of the Ministry. To ensure objectives of the QLTC, ELRC resources were given, as each QLTC programme assisted the ELRC in achieving its own objectives. If QLTC identified a need to ensure functional structures at district, provincial and at school level, then ELRC would fund these and monitor their activities. QLTC was also able to report to the ELRC on the stakeholder issues which caused tension and unhappiness, but ELRC was careful not to take on responsibility for issues which for example, were the responsibility of the employer, that being the DBE. The ELRC provided the forum for engagement between employee and employer parties. Regarding the 27 structures, the QLTC identified key priority areas where schools were regarded as being dysfunctional. They started at those schools, to ensure that they were fully functional. ELRC did not get involved in the number of schools, as such.
Mr Mahlangu added that R1 million was allocated to the QLTC, under ‘special projects’.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) asked how the Committee could assist with the ELRC funding model to ensure that it was sustainable.
The Chairperson asked how much the 50/50 contribution was currently and what ELRC was envisaging as an increase from 2017.
Mr Mnguni asked what tangible plans were in place to make up for the funding shortfalls.
Ms Foca replied that funding in previous years was sufficient to cover objectives and operations. The challenge was the manner in which it was regulated: it was stagnant and did not increase per annum. ELRC was currently in a good and health financial state, but going forward the draft discussion documents would talk to a funding model linked to salary increase of educators, at the minimum rate of 50 cents per salary increase, over and above the current R5. ELRC had also identified that it could generate additional income by sub-letting part of the building after refurbishment.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) asked when the vacant positions in ELRC would be filled.
Ms Foca replied that the only reason for huge vacancies in the past was due to revising. The filling of the three vacancies was in process.
The Chairperson said that while the challenge of setting targets was dependent on the parties involved, she questioned whether some targets, such as fruitless expenditure and wellness programmes, were now being set too low.
Ms Foca replied that the ELRC was revising plans to ensure that going forward it would be guided by the baseline, not the minimum.
The Chairperson thanked the ELRC for the presentations. Members would have another chance to engage with ELRC at the upcoming meeting, which would include an update on the status of the Eastern Cape’s temporary teachers and redistribution of teachers.
South African Council for Educators (SACE) (recording not available/report incomplete)
Mr Rej Brijraj, CEO: SACE, said that SACE had functioned less than optimally due to the austere budget caused by savings for the “building reserve fund”. Through disciplined spending, SACE had saved enough to purchase the building it currently occupied and the budget for the current year therefore eased by about 25 percent.
Total revenue had been made up mainly by levies from teachers, amounting to R55 million and a special Government grant of R10 million. The grant had been utilized for expenses relating to Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD).
SACE had strengthened it vetting regime to prevent usage of fraudulent documents and entry into the profession by individuals who could not be trusted with learners. This process would be further strengthened by operationalising protocols with AFTRA (African Forum for Teaching Regulatory Councils).
Current projects included initiation of on-line registration, validation, rapid response systems, and categorization of registration and tracking of levies. SACE complaints had reduced due to the improved budget and it was engaging with authorities to develop a more streamlined approach to educator misconduct and sanctions.
Mr Morris Mapindani, Chief Financial Officer, SACE added that the projected budget for 2014/15 was R60.7 million, with income from membership fees (R51.7 million) and the balance from registration fees and interest. The government grant was zero for the current financial year after being R15 million the previous year. There would however be a government grant during the year to assist in CPTD, but the grant amount was not guaranteed. Until then, SACE was using its own resources to manage the processing of registration services.
For the current year, the SACE would register 26000 educators and 25000 updates of qualification records for newly qualified educators.
Mr Enoch Rabotapi, Acting Chief Director: Human Resources Development, DBE said that one issue that had emerged as a key area was professionalization of educators and setting standards for compliance. SACE did not want to use discipline but wanted to adopt a forward looking approach where teachers and pupils respected the profession, performed at the required level of conduct and were rewarded for it.
Ms Lovemore asked if the Auditor-General had accepted SACE’s performance plan. She found it entirely unacceptable.
Mr Mapindani replied that SACE submitted its performance plan to the DBE for approval. The Auditor-General would receive the Annual Report after implementation of the performance plan.
Ms Lovemore commented that the official performance plan was not professionally written and there was no proper register. It indicated that 600 000 teachers had registered, but there were not that many teachers. One third of those teachers would be dead.
The Chairperson asked if SACE had an updated database. It was concerning to hear that there were teachers who should not be teaching who were teaching.
Ms Basson commented that the presentation was too brief and was statistically crippled. She could not make comparisons or deductions.
Mr Mnguni asked how was it possible that members were not registered by SACE and how ELRC ensured that they are compelled.
Mr Brijraj replied that SACE wanted the DBE to visit schools to check registration status. It could always contact SACE to verify registration status. SACE, with its limited resources, could not go to each school. Teachers would have to get on board and register on the system. It was also important for them to engage in continuous training activities, whether they were getting points for it or not. SACE was a working project and refinements were required. The database needed to be cleaned up and more emphasis was now placed on the background of teachers, and the use of police clearance for both local and foreign teachers to ensure safety for learners.
Ms Lovemore said that there was nothing vigorous about the rollout of the CPTD, as indicated in the presentation. She had many questions about it, including the accreditation of the courses and how to ensure high moral standard. The Committee needed a full day with SACE. She also asked what the reasons were for rolling out CPTD at such a slow pace.
Mr Mapindani replied that outsourced consultants had not been satisfactory. There was no proof that the government funding would come in and SACE would have to adjust the budget accordingly. Currently people facilitated CPTD work from home and were given schedules and instructed where they had to assist educators. The service would be expanded. It was conducting a feasibility study on what route to take and in which province.
Mr Brijraj added that SACE was awaiting input from the different service delivery departments. Providers had to be quality assured and SACE had to approve and endorse them. SACE did not provide the training. It watched over the professional development and liaised with the providers.
Ms Lovemore commented that SACE could not budget for a backlog and deficit each year and farm out what it could not handle.
Mr Mapindani replied that SACE budgeted for the backlog but hoped that by the following year there would be no backlog - maybe just a small overflow. It should not be budgeted for in future. In the past year, SACE had processed 300 000 ethics cases. SACE was trying to set up centres in each province. There was much duplication between SACE and DBE and SACE was motivating to leave the ethical standards cases to SACE.
Mr Rabotapi added that the main objective of CPTD was to address quality of the system. SACE measured the quality of development and tracked development and ensured that any provider went through the endorsement and received points on the system. There needed to be more collaboration with the DBE so that provinces knew which providers were SACE endorsed.
Ms Lovemore asked if foreign educator applications affected development of youth of South Africans.
Mr Rabotapi said that the foreign maths and science teachers were needed. DBE was running a bursary scheme to bring people into the profession, and SACE wanted to ensure changing the perception of teaching as a profession in terms of teacher conduct, how they project themselves, dress code, etc which would encourage talented individuals to enter into the profession. The Minister had asked for clear plans on how SACE would professionalise teaching.
The Chairperson asked about the funding for CPTD and how it could plan without a guarantee.
Mr Mapindani replied that it was correct that there was no guarantee that the money would come in.
The Chairperson asked SACE to return to clarify important issues on how it was developing teachers and scarce skills. The role of SACE, in line with the country's objectives, had to be very clear.
Umalusi Budget Review
Prof John Volmink, Chairperson: Umalusi said that Umalusi played the important role of quality council for quality education. Dating back to 1909, it had the fortune of institutional memory and consistency through standardisation methods, monitoring, moderation, verification, accreditation, quality assurance of qualifications and frameworks.
Dr Mafo S Rakometsi, Chief Executive Officer: Umalusi briefed the Committee on the mandate, mission and vision of Umalusi, which was one of three national quality assurance councils coordinated by the South African Qualifications Authority. The other two councils were the Council for Higher Education and the Quality Council for Trade and Occupation. Umalusi reported to the Ministry of Basic Education from the point where papers were set to the point of standardisation and certification, and quality assurance processes of the curriculum and examinations, both at public and private providers.
Mr Jeremy Thomas, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Corporate Services: Umalusi said that Umalusi was in the process of finalising its audit. The unaudited financial statement ending 31 March 2014 showed a net surplus of R19 million and a 109% of budgeted revenue was as a result of certification income flowing from the previous financial year. 92% of the budget was spent the previous year because there had been a vacancy rate of 9%. Total assets amounted to R88.9 million. Cash at the end of the financial year was R5 million and investments totalled R41 million attracting a net interest rate of 5.7% per annum for public deposits. 94% of debt was collected.
Comparative total expenditures over three years were presented (see attached document). The core function of Umalusi was quality assurance of qualifications and was where the budget was most focused. CEO and Governance a marginal increase over the past two years, most of council or committee members transferred from other public entities. HR development was also a budget focus, as it was critical that as a quality assurer, the staff was competent to do the work IT cost of hardware and software, fortunately had governance structures in place to get best equipment value for money
The detailed breakdown for the financials for 2013/14 as at end of March 2014 can be found in the attached document. Assets had increased by R10 million compared to the previous year due to acquisition of the new building. The Provincial Education Departments owed Umalusi money for certification fees, particularly from private entities providers, an amount of R4.5 million; capital and reserves was R73 million; and current liabilities was R15.7 million.
The revised budget approved by the Minister in April 2014 for 2014/15 was R134 million. The grant approved was R107 million and R10.8 million from the previous year was approved for funding of operations in the current financial year due to unavailability of sufficient funds. Motivation for utilisation of reserves of R46 million for the current financial year: the Minister had approved R10.8 million to be used for the current financial year; the new building transferred into the Umalusi name in Jan 2014 would require R10 million for renovations; money owed to creditors from previous financial year was R10.3 million; and R15.5 million would be used for any possible litigation.
Ms Eugenie Rabie, Chief Operations Officer: Umalusi said that her portfolio oversaw national operations, which was the core business of Umalusi. The previous year’s budget was R7.7 million and was R7.89 million for the current year.
The qualifications sub-frameworks and quality assurance work were part of the operations framework. The operational units were divided according to function: 1. qualification, curriculum and certification; 2. quality assurance and assessment; 3. evaluation and accreditation; and 4. a research unit.
The sub-frameworks of the first unit were the school system (the national and senior certificates) and the post school system (colleges and adult learners). Two new qualifications currently being registered were the NASCA, the NSC for adults, for which the DHET was developing a curriculum, and the General Education and Training Certificate for adults (GETCA) which was currently also being reviewed for comment. Most of the work was development and setting of standards of qualifications, evaluation of Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements) CAPS and policy development. Policy development was previously the mandate of SAQA and in 2009 this work had been transferred to Umalusi, which had applied itself intensely to manage policies around the framework; certification of all learner qualifications; and uploading of results onto the National Learner’s Records Database (NLRD), which was also used as a reference for and verification of authentic certificates. The Annual Report would provide the Committee Members with more detail.
The Quality Assessment Unit: Umalusi quality assures exit point examinations set by the state, which includes DBE, DHET, as well as private Independent Examination Board (IEB), and the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACIA). It quality assured 11 exams across the year which involved many stakeholders – around 500000 students wrote the NSC and many others wrote other qualification exams.
Budget for moderation of the marking of three million papers was R24 million in 2012/13 and R34.7 million in 2014/15. The increase was due to increased monitoring around marking process; centralised and on-site moderation; expert markers; as well as external moderation of vocational qualifications and practical examinations
Evaluation and Accreditation Unit essentially looks at provision of accreditation. The budget for the previous year was R7.9 million and R10.89 million in 2014/15 due to appointment of additional expertise, including 14 full-time subject specialists and 138 ad hoc evaluators; as well as a drastic increase in the number of schools and colleges and adult learning centres requiring the provision. The unit also applied itself intensely to accredit private assessment bodies such as SAICA, IEB and AVET (Advanced Vocational Education and Teaching) and benchmark for Adult Education, before these bodies could set final exams.
Statistical Information and Research Unit had increased by R1 million: R3.8 million to R4.9 million. ECD (Early Childhood Development) research was being planned as well as language projects; and item banking – maths and science. This unit also assisted with CAPS vs NSC assessment requirements, in preparation for the end of year standardisation; and the predictive value of the NSC, for post school performance.
Mr Thomas continued with explaining the Public Relations and Communications Unit. Its budget had increased by 12 % due to the increase in administration costs for travel and accommodation and the like. The Governance and Office of the CEO Unit ensured that plans were implemented. The budget increased by 15%, mainly due to increase in administrative costs. The increase of 11% in the budget for the Corporate Services Unit was primarily due to the increase in exchange rate cost for purchase of Information Technology hardware. Finance and supply chain management budget was up by 14% due to additional posts. HR management and development budget had increased by 11% due to the nature of increased cost of courses for development of staff. Training had become expensive and this had to be evaluated.
Umalusi’s total budget had increased from R110 million to R134.8 million in the current year, a 22% increase. In order for Umalusi to do its mandated work, it would need R148 million and was in the process of finalising its Annual Performance Plan. The Committee was requested to assist in this regard, so that Umalusi could sustain itself in its work. The administration costs for petrol, food, electricity, travel and accommodation increased each year, while the CPI stayed around 6%.
Dr Rakometsi added that challenges going forward included the implications of the White Paper published in January 2014, which called for increase in post-school education and establishment of community colleges without quality compromise. Another challenge was strengthening of the marking process. Umalusi had proposed E-marking to the DBE, which had the advantage of eliminating bias and reducing marketing time amongst many other benefits. Other current issues were: the matter of amendments, new qualifications, and synergy of data from assessment bodies with Umalusi systems.
Ms Lovemore asked for clarity on the extension on the Senior Certificate examination.
Ms Rabie replied that the Senior Certificate was supposedly phased out in June 2014. However, there had been a proposal on the table to revive it, as the NASCA wasn’t ready to be rolled out, and so there was ‘a gap’. Umalusi was in discussions with the DBE about this but nothing final had emerged.
Ms Lovemore commented that the concern about marking differences of the NSC across provinces had been highlighted this year and also by the previous Chairperson the previous year. She asked if Umalusi would have the final say to improve the system - to ensure the credibility and capable markers – by introducing E-marking.
Dr Rakometsi replied Umalusi wished that the DBE could buy in and ensure that ICT computer systems and hardware were deployed across the country, but it may not find the budget. The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) had implemented E-marking, and the advantages of this system of marketing were very clear. At the beginning go the year, Umalusi and the DBE developed strategies to strengthen marking, and the two strategies would be collated to ensure a better system of marking.
Ms Boshoff commented that she supported Umalusi’s proposal for E-marking for the sake of eliminating bias and cutting costs.
Ms Lovemore commented that Annual National Assessments (ANA) were not well moderated, verified, and/or standardized at the moment and could not be compared from year to year. The Minister himself had said that last year’s assessment could not be compared to that of the previous years because the style of the examinations was so different. This would also affect the marking requirements. She asked what Umalusi was doing to correct this.
The Chairperson asked what the role of Umalusi was in SBA, ANA, on-site monitoring of teaching and moderation of teachers during the year.
Dr Rakometsi replied that Umalusi had not yet become involved in ANA, but was discussing with DBE to check on how it could be involved. The question about SBA’s was a common international issue.
Dr Poliah added that the main purpose for introducing ANA was to drive assessment “for” teaching not assessment “of” teaching. DBE wanted to drive improvement in quality of teaching and learning through ANA and therefore have added grade 7 and grade 8 for the current year so that now all grades from grade 1 to 9 were included in ANA. DBE was considering reviving GETC (General Education Training and Certification) for grade 9. In no country will all learners be expected to get matric.
The dropout rate was highest in grade 10 and 11, but what happening was that learners could spend up to 16 years in the system. ANA assisted with where in the system DBE should focus. DBE was optimistic with some of the interventions implemented. With a clear indication with what needed to be covered in the CAPS, per phase and grade, there was anecdotal evidence to suggest that the system would see improvement going forward.
The Chairperson asked what the nature of the relationship was between Umalusi, the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU), SACE and other entities that appeared to have one and the same objective.
Prof Volmink replied that Umalusi accredited, but did not develop, teachers. NEEDU existed for accountability, not in punitive sense, but to hold accountable so that through development the teacher would move to self-accountability, without being policed. SACE had to determine the extent to which it imposed standards to professionalise teaching and held teachers accountable. ANA was for systemic evaluations as Mr Mweli had indicated. It was not easy to compare the two systems. Umalusi’s mandate did not fit ANA.
Dr Poliah added that when the President announced the implementation of ANA in 2011, it also indicated that there should be an independent institution which must conduct verification of the ANA data. In 2013, DBE appointed an independent service provider to conduct ANA in 129 schools across all 9 provinces. That data was collected and marked by the independent agent and then compared this data with the data that the DBE had taken responsibility for and found close correlation between the verified and universal ANA. This added veracity to the data coming from universal ANA.
Ms Lovemore asked how Umalusi could allow a certificate to be presented to a child for technology which would require pure maths and physical science. Over 13000 learners were now taking maths literature with physical science. She asked how Umalusi could ensure that this was not allowed. Technology learners were being sent back to study maths. The government was failing its students.
Dr Rakometsi agreed that the DBE was failing its students in terms of maths advice given for careers and further education possibilities. It was a cul de sac to do maths literature together with science. Similarly, technical subjects with maths literature. Umalusi always highlighted these issues in its reports to the Minister. DBE had to pay attention to them.
Ms Rabie added that the following year Umalusi planned to look at NCV in relation to the technical school curriculum to benchmark the curriculum and technical education as a whole.
Ms Lovemore asked how Umalusi could quality assure a qualification without quality assuring the curriculum. In 2006, the curriculum was changed and it was now changing again as it did not suit the market. She asked how Umalusi could allow the curriculum to be unfit for the market, while being fit for qualification.
Dr Rakometsi replied that there was no way that Umalusi could look at qualifications without looking at the curriculum. Umalusi had arranged a meeting with the relevant departments to discuss the point at which a curriculum needed to be revised. At this stage, Umalusi looked at CAPS post hoc, but should have been involved at its time of development.
Ms Basson asked how Umalusi could quality assure markers who attended training on the memo for just one day.
Dr Rakometsi replied that the chief markers attended national memo discussions for one day. They were senior markers and specialists in their subject. They then returned to their province to teach markers in the province about what was agreed upon at a national level.
Ms Basson asked whether learners were being properly assisted with subject choice. It was clear that they wanted to work, but failed because they were not being assisted. She also asked if the language pass mark increase from 40 to 50% was affecting the failure rate.
Ms Basson commented that Umalusi concentrated on exit exams; not the damage already done. She asked how educators could be motivated and monitored to account for their results.
Mr Mnguni asked what Umalusi’s role was with student maths and home language ability at intermediate phase - before the exit point.
Ms Rabie replied that in Umalusi’s evaluation of CAPS, it had looked at all the education phases: foundation, intermediate (and would also research the senior phase) and indeed there was a huge drop out in grade 9 in languages and maths, as had been revealed by ANA. The DBE was intervening to address this. The following year, it would report on all phase results, as well as results of a longitudinal study; whether the exit outcomes fed into the entry requirements of the next phase, and where the weaknesses lay.
Dr Rakometsi added that in terms of exit point, Umalusi performed the quality assessment of grade 12, but in terms of curriculum, Umalusi looked at the curriculum at the different phases and benchmarked it findings against global norms. Umalusi also gave the Minister advice according to its findings, in the form of recommendations.
There was debate about whether students could be assessed for qualification at the end of grade 9, as this may be too expensive and may be sending out the wrong message, especially when grade 12’s were battling to get jobs. A lot of money was being spent on ANA and it may be possible. Umalusi did not feature in the lower phase assessments, but could make recommendations.
Mr Matanzima Mweli, Acting Deputy Director-General: Curriculum Implementation and Monitoring, DBE added that though ANA external assessment was obtaining results, the quality of education could not be at the expense of external assessment.
Ms Basson asked if learners who were not mainstream learners but kept getting promoted were given enough time and assistance for exams. Teachers were not coping with slow learners in large classes. She asked how these issues were being addressed.
The Chairperson also asked how Umalusi assisted learners with special needs during examinations.
Dr Rakometsi replied that the learners would have to operate in the same world as other learners and so should learn in normal schools. Teachers needed to know how to do remedial work. In terms of examinations, these learners could apply for concessions, such as for extra time to write, as enabled by policy. Learners who were blind could read and write their exam papers in Braille, and the certificate was also produced in Braille.
Prof Volmink added that the White Paper 6 intent was to ensure quality education was accessible to all learners. It was not about slow or fast learners, but about struggling learners and removing barriers to struggling learners. Some barriers were intrinsic – no hearing, but others were extrinsic – nutrition, cost a teacher, or not having books. DBE could expand more on this. Full service schools had greater resources than mainstream schools and special schools offered support to learners with intrinsic barriers. There were a number of issues taken into account. Teachers did not want to be social workers. At these different schools, DBE offered different levels of support for both teacher and learner. Ideally, all schools should be all-service schools and it was accepted that to get there would take time.
Ms Basson asked how Umalusi could ensure that matric papers were not fraudulent.
Dr Rakometsi replied that more security features could not have been factored in for certificate. It was highly professional. Some examples of security features on the certificate were a watermark, a serial number, letters in the serial number with specific size, all which could not be replicated easily, and the hologram. Umalusi would continue to be vigilant. The problem was when a candidate did a photocopy of an existing certificate, and went to the commissioner of oaths, a police officer and then had it certified as a true copy. There were fraudulent copies in circulation: not fraudulent certificates.
Ms Boshoff asked what possible litigation Umalusi was expecting, having budgeted for it, and what were the main historical litigation issues.
Dr Rakometsi replied that Umalusi had not faced any serious litigation. This came in 2012 when Umalusi had to de-register a fraudulent body: Eksamensraad vir Christelike Onderwys. If it had been pursued to high court, the costs would have been huge. Fortunately, the case was not followed up further. No huge expenses had been incurred on litigation.
The Chairperson asked Umalusi to elaborate on the introduction of African languages to the curriculum.
Dr Rakometsi replied that all home languages carried the same weight on the matric certificate. Umalusi had performed research to ensure that all languages were on the same level.
Mr Mnguni asked for clarity on the pass mark for the NSC and Senior Certificate.
Dr Rakometsi replied that the 30% was as old as the certificate itself. The Senior Certificate was older than 150 years old. The old SC aggregate pass mark was 720 marks, and there was higher and standard grade. A learner could attain 720 marks regardless of how many subjects he had taken. In the new NSC, three subjects had to be passed at 30% another three at 40% and the latter had to include a home language. That was why it was more difficult to pass the NSC than the Senior Certificate. Less than 1% had been affected by the 40% stipulation and this did not warrant a huge response. The NSC was not only for learners who wanted to go to higher learning, but for all those who wanted to understand our complex society and wanted to enter the world of work. The country also had to take responsibility for those who wanted to become a tailor, or sailor.
Mr Mnguni asked if Umalusi created jobs and why there were vacancies at Umalusi.
Dr Rakometsi replied that Umalusi created jobs, as it employed people, but had to watch personnel expenditure, which was currently at 48%. The 52% had to be on operations to ensure quality assurance.
The Chairperson asked how the research findings affected the way Umalusi could improve student readiness for tertiary education.
Dr Ramoketsi replied that Umalusi had partnered with a number of universities to investigate these findings and the outcome would be shared with the Committee when the study had been concluded.
Dr Mweli added that two areas of focus for the current administration during the 2014-2019 period was quality and efficiency, as well as inclusivity in terms of learners with special education needs, and the extent to which policies transferred into reality on the ground. E-marking was important but should not be viewed as a panacea to complex and multifaceted challenges. Indeed it was important, but a basket of interventions had to be implemented properly over a five year period. E-marking was one intervention. Piecemeal interventions caused instability in the system and had to be managed carefully. Competency and assessment of markers and a few other interventions had been identified.
Dr Rufus Poliah, Chief Director: National Assessment and Public Exams, Department of Basic Education, added that the DBE had a comprehensive plan in terms of improvement in quality of marking over the long term. DBE would present the plan in its state of readiness report. This year DBE would conduct an audit on marker appointments to ensure compliance with the criteria. Also, a DBE moderator would be placed at specific marketing centres per province for the entire duration of the marking and can attest to the quality of marking at a centre in a province.
The E-marking issue was being taken very seriously, in conjunction with U. currently putting in terms of reference to help procure the necessary hardware. Of paramount importance to the outcome of marking, even with E-marking, was the competency of the marker.
The Chairperson asked when the Senior Certificate exam would be phased out, how large the backlog was, and what Umalusi was doing to assist to phase it out as fast as possible.
Dr Mweli replied that the issue of the extension of the Senior Certificate had been in discussion for some time. The proposal for the extension had been published for public comment and feedback from stakeholders had been positive. The qualification shell would be retained, but the curriculum supporting the Senior Certificate qualification would be the current national curriculum statement, or the CAPS. Therefore, criticism for maintaining an old qualification would not apply. Until the NASCA was in place, the country would be in trouble if there was no senior certificate qualification available for adults. The DBE had also proposed that if a learner was unsuccessful after three attempts at the NSC, they should then follow the senior certificate qualification. It was suitable for adults as it was a one year qualification and did not have a SBA component. The critical issue was DHET support.
In principal, DBE was committed to E-marking, but it was a long process and the first step was implementation of a pilot study. The biggest cost factor was software, maintenance of software, technical support, and accessibility of laptops and computers for every marker.
Dr Rakometsi added that E-marking would be expensive and may not work. However, the system was fed with a memorandum and if a marker tried to deviate, the system would alarm the senior markers of the deviation.
The Chairperson thanked Umalusi and DBE for their interaction with the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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