Department of Higher Education & Training and Department of Basic Education (with Deputy Minister) on their 2014 Strategic Plans

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

09 July 2014
Chairperson: Ms L Zwane (ANC; KwaZulu-Natal)
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Meeting Summary

In the first session, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) presented the 2014 Annual Performance Plan, budget and strategic plans to the Committee. Its mandate was to provide adequate access to educational and skills opportunities. Greater emphasis had been placed on promoting skills development and artisanship in order to generate the practical skills required for the economy, and to provide further employment opportunities. The Minister indicated that the Department intended to achieve these goals through a focused ten-year plan. The presentation was cut short because of shortage of time, but the DHET emphasised that it had recognised the need to have a differentiated and inclusive post-school system, to fulfil social and economic participation goals, coupled with improvements in the quality of education and teaching. The access to higher education must be aligned with higher education institutions’ ability to absorb the graduates, but the DHET was also putting a strong message across that encouraged more students to opt for Further Education and Training Colleges, or Technical and Vocational training, using British models. It was important to reduce skills bottlenecks and to create graduates who were needed in the workplace. Although the DHET cited a number of critical challenges to its mandate, arising from shortfalls in funding and budget constraints, coupled with some maladministration and poor linkages between the post-school and labour sector, and the limitations that undermined its regional presence, it was working to address as much as it could within the funding available. There were concerns with the inadequacies of the Department’s funding, and discrepancies relating to conditional grants and National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

Members were particularly concerned about shortcomings in NSFAS, asked what institutions were promoting more access by the disabled, raised concerns about accommodation shortages and shortcomings, and lack of planning and coordination from the Department. They asked that the forensic investigations be speedily completed and results given to the Committee. Members stressed that they would have liked to have a presentation specifically geared to the position in the provinces, and requested further briefings. They wanted more progress reports on the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges, questioned how the Department would limit wastage of funding, particularly when students failed, asked how South African universities compared to international ones and wanted to know more about employment opportunities when students graduated, stressing the need to recruit more students to become teachers. Members asked about working relationships with other departments, suggesting collaboration with the Departments of Home Affairs and Social Development also. Some questions must be answered in writing.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE), with substantial input also from the Deputy Minister Mr Enver Surty, gave a presentation on its 2014/15 Annual Performance Plan, budget and Strategic Plan. A brief description of the aims and outputs of the five programmes was given. There would be a particular focus on quality and efficiency of education, prioritisation of teaching and learning within the fiscal constraints and communication to and involvement with communities and parents. Norms and standards would be closely monitored and provincial and national mechanisms strengthened. There had been some divergence from spending targets in the last year, but these were explained. The Department’s “100-Day Action Plan” emphasised joint planning, monitoring and reporting, having reached agreement on certain areas. The overarching subcommittees on education from HEDCOM would be used optimally and there would be guidance through the processes. The Department would also be reviewing all resources, the education conditional grants and signing delivery agreements.

Members indicated their concerns with certain comments by the Auditor-General and were particularly interested to hear what actions were taken to support those provincial departments under administration, and what had been achieved by way of improvements. They asked about learner performance, particularly in maths and science, at Grade 9, and asked what interventions had been introduced to improve the success rate, and how teachers were being assisted to dispense the curriculum correctly. Members were pleased with initiatives on multi-lingualism and improvements in textbook delivery. They asked how the Department was addressing extended leave by teachers, suggested that better alignment was needed between primary and secondary education, and the tertiary sector, and thought tracking systems would be useful. They questioned the ICT access in schools, the transfer of money to Malawi, the training of and use of Grade R teachers, as well as Grade R facilities at schools, and wondered if the Department had anything to assist students who were depressed after failing matric. A Member noted that he was not in favour of proposals to have heads responsible for more than one school. They felt that the DBE was moving in the right direction, but stressed that progress would depend upon collaborative efforts amongst all the stakeholders. They welcomed the invitation to the further workshops with the two departments, and the suggestions for more alignment between Portfolio and Select Committees.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
The Chairperson thanked the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) for its attendance, but expressed her concern that so few female delegates  were present. She noted that time was short, and requested that the briefings be concise and to the point. If there was insufficient time to address all questions, the Department must answer them in writing.

The Chairperson reminded the Department that documents would be required timeously by the Committee, to engage with the presentation sufficiently, and noted the late receipt of documents by the Committee.

Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director-General, Department Higher Education and Training, advised the Chairperson that the matter would be addressed with the Parliamentary Liaison Officer.

Department of Higher Education and Training 2014 Annual Performance Plan, Strategic Plan and budget
Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director-General, Department Higher Education and Training, gave the apologies of the executive who were not present at the meeting. He further apologised that the flights of the female members of his delegation had been delayed owing to frost, although they had intended to be present.

Mr Qonde congratulated Members of the Committee on their appointment and representation of their various provinces.

Mr Qonde then moved to the main body of the presentation, and stated that the Department believe that the provision of post-school education and training was inadequate, in terms of access and quality. The Department had a responsibility to meet five of the 12 national outcomes. The outcomes referred to the creation of “a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path”.

Mr Qonde indicated that a differentiated post-school system was required to fully satisfy the requirements of participation in Higher Education. He further noted that the implementation of a differentiated system would aid the creation of capable graduates to meet the developmental goals of South Africa and reduce unemployment. The Department was endeavouring to reduce the current skills bottleneck, increase rates of participation in the post-school system and ensure quality with regard to the provision of programmes.

The DHET aims included achievement on the following:
- A differentiated and inclusive post-school system to fulfil social and economic participation goals.
- Access aligned with enrolment that the ability to absorb was not constrained
- Improvement in the quality of education and teaching.
- Development of capable citizens able who would be internationally competitive graduates
- Reducing the causes of unemployment.

Recognising that post-school qualifications increase job prospects, the main emphasis of the DHET lay in this field, and the higher education sector was a cornerstone of skills development and training in the country. The Department aim to reduce skills bottlenecks through its new interventions. It would effectively and efficiently manage resources.

The following strategic goals  were indicated:
- To increase the number of skilled youth by expanding access to education and training
- To establish adequately capacitated individual institutions for the effective provision and facilitation of all learning
- To increase the numbers of students successfully entering the labour market upon completion of training
- To expand research, development and innovation capacity for economic growth and social development
- To establish a college curriculum that was responsive to the demands of the market place and was able to transform and adapt quickly and effectively to changing skills needs, with a special emphasis on artisan training, based on the British model.
- To establish a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning, to support an inclusive economic growth path
- To establish a highly effective, professional, efficient administration informed by good corporate governance practices.

Mr Qonde elaborated that the expansion of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system was necessary to create graduates to support other experts, and the lack of technically-skilled graduates was currently a weakness within the Higher Education system.

Mr Theuns Tredoux, Chief Financial Officer, DHET, presented the financial information and budget  for 2014/15, for each of the five programmes as set out in the Annual Performance Plan (APP). There were five branches of the Department, namely: Administration, Human Resource Development, Planning and Monitoring Coordination, University Education, Vocational and Continuing Education and Training and Skills Development.

Mr Tredoux indicated that the budget comprised of two components of direct charges and the Voted Funds.
There was a healthy growth of 6.8% in budget growth for this year. The estimates were done by National Treasury (NT) and South African Revenue Services (SARS) in collaboration.

Mr Tredoux noted that that the Department’s budget was dominated by programme 3: University Education and that transfer payments to institutions accounted for 98% of the budget leaving 1.5% of the budget for operational costs. He indicated that the Department received an additional R76.3 million over the Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF) period, primarily for TVET colleges to allow for the improvement of conditions of service for staff, salary increases and the piloting and roll-out of the new student-centred loan administration model at National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Mr Tredoux added that NFSAS had experienced the biggest growth in terms of the budget, and that it had made recoveries of over R250 million per annum which were available for reallocation as new bursaries. The NSFAS MTEF allocation reflected a rise from R6.139 billion in 2014/15 to R6.811 billion in 2016/17.

Mr Tredoux further acknowledged that external funding received by TVET colleges from grants, subsidies and bursaries contributed to an expenditure of approximately R9 billion.

Mr Tredoux finally noted that the function shift was currently in process and money allocated to TVET colleges would be paid by the national Department, and no longer by the provincial government, in future.

Structure, Budget and Expenditure Trends
Mr Zirk Joubert, Chief Director: Vocational and Continuing Education and Training, DHET, presented on the Department’s expenditure trends. He said that enrolments informed the budget allocations for conditional grants and subsidies. Mr Joubert further indicated that the total budget allocation in Gauteng was currently the highest, accounting for 23% of the total budget, whereas the Northern Cape had a minimal budget allocation of 2%. In addition, the bursary allocations for 2014werehighest in Gauteng and lowest in the Northern Cape by a substantial margin.

Key Budget Pressures and financial performance
Mr Tredoux noted that the current fiscal constraints of government had been evaluated with the Minister of Finance. These constraints had direct implications on the service delivery of the Department, in addition to the Department’s other limitations to establishing a full regional presence and maintaining its operation functions.

Mr Tredoux indicated that National Artisan Moderation Body did not have official voted funds. He noted that as government function shifted the structural adjustments required funding yet the Department did not have the resources, although it was in discussion with NT on that point. Funding was required, in particular, for the function shift from institutions to the Department, which incurred large costs because there was a need to accommodate the provision for 30 000 additional staff and this had created a number of additional pressures.

Mr Tredoux indicated that examination services funding remained stable but that money was required from other Departments to fund examinations.

Mr Tredoux noted that the Department had kept its spending within budget since commencement and operation on 1 April 2010 and that Departmental underspending had declined.

Mr Qonde noted that conditional grants were transferred to national departments prior to the Proclamation made by the President. He further indicated his concern that some monies allocated to colleges were misappropriated, and that the money was not utilised for the purpose for which it was intended, thus creating disparities between the conditional grants and subsidies. However, he particularly wanted to highlight the meaningful deployment of resources evident in the statistics presented in Gauteng.

Administration Programme
Mr Tredoux presented on administration on behalf of Ms Lulama Mbobo, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Services, DHET, who had been delayed. He and noted the following programme priorities:
- Finalisation of the Department’s Communication strategy and profiling of DHET programmes/projects in the public domain, through the communication strategy
- Reducing the vacancy rate on funded posts to 10%
- Ensuring good governance through institutionalisation and implementation of Risk Management strategies. This would be done by providing awareness and training sessions on risk management, and developing and approving risk management strategies
- Completing the website improvement project aimed at improving the current look, feel and user-friendliness
- Improving efficiency by implementing the necessary information technology infrastructure and systems
- Providing effective and efficient human resource planning and management services
- Ensuring adherence to policies and standards on the Supply Chain Management Services.

Mr Tredoux indicated that the Department had developed a Risk Management strategy and had appointed a risk manager in 2013. A Chief Director had been appointed to ensure adherence to policies and standards on Supply Chain Management Services. The Departmental target for the turn-around period was currently three months.

Particular strategic objectives that were highlighted under this programme included:
- Improvements to efficiency by implementing the necessary technology infrastructure and systems
- Providing an effective and efficient Human Resource Planning and Management Services
- Ensuring adherence to policies and standards on Supply Chain Management Services

Human Resource Development, Planning And Monitoring Coordination.
Mr Firoz Patel, Deputy Director-General: Planning and Monitoring, DHET, presented on this programme. He said that the strategic objectives included:
- Establishing and maintaining an integrated education and training management information system, linking all providers of education and training into a single system, to provide accurate data on the national skills supply and demand
- Establishing and maintaining coherent Career Development Services by March 2017
- Pursuing and strengthening bilateral relations with priority countries in Africa, the Middle East, South and the North as well as multilateral agencies (giving examples of various agencies in the attached presentation)

This programme attended to legal and legislative services, international Relations and gave strategic coordination and secretarial support. Other functions included Information System co-ordination, Education Management Information services, research coordination, monitoring and evaluation, planning and its monitoring and evaluation. Its particular focus areas were on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF),
social inclusion and equity, Career Development services and Open and Distance Education

Mr Patel indicated that the function shifts had not resulted from the 2010 arrangements between the Departments of Higher and Basic Education, but responsibilities regarding specific institutions were assigned to the Minister of Higher Education and Training by the President.

Mr Patel explained that the withholding and division of resources at provincial level posed a challenge to the Department. Provinces had not contributed on certain functions, and intergovernmental protocol was not adhered to. He indicated that the additional recruitment of staff to the Department further created a challenge which would not be solved without cooperation.

The Chairperson asked that his presentation be cut short at this point, because of time limitations.

University Education
Mr Patel Director noted an apology for Dr Diane Parker, Deputy Director General, and presented on the programme on her behalf.

The following strategic objectives for this programme were indicated:
- To expand the Higher Education sector in order to successfully increase equitable access
- To improve success rates in Higher Education studies at public institutions and therefore increase graduate outputs by 2014/15
- To monitor good governance and management of the public Higher Education system in order to build capacity and efficiency
- To develop and enhance the research capacity and productivity of universities
- To maintain and enhance the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS)

Vocational and Continuing Education and Training
Dr Bheki Mahlobo, Chief Director: Vocational and Continuing Education and Training, DHET, presented briefly on the programme. The priorities included:
- Ensuring the continued relevance of further education and training college programmes, by supporting the development of a diverse range of high quality and responsive vocational education and training qualifications and programmes, in consultation with relevant role players
- Facilitating collaboration between Higher Education Institutions and FET Colleges towards delivery of learning programmes at level 5 and 6 of the NQF
- Expanding the institutional base for the provision of quality post-school education and training. This would encompass registering new private education institutions, and monitoring all the already-registered private further education and training colleges for compliance and performance each year
- Monitoring and supporting Adult Education and Training (AET) centres to increase enrolments in the General Education and Training Certificates (GETC) programmes
- Developing the National Senior Certificate for Adults (NASCA) qualification, for implementation in 2016/17
- Increasing access to programmes leading to intermediate and high-level learning. In this regard, the Department would be establishing new FET college campuses with modern teaching and learning lecture rooms, simulation rooms, workshops and resource centres.
- Ensuring that TVET colleges complied with the NSFAS bursary disbursement policies and regulations

- Improving the vocational certification rate by increasing the year-on-year certification rate of TVET college students in vocational programmes, with a 36.2% increase on the 2011 figures expected by 2015. The DHET would provide training and support to lecturers and student support services managers
- Improving participation in vocational education for poor students, by increasing the number of TVET student bursary recipients in these colleges,  from 188 826 in 2012/13 to 233 958 in 2014/15, with an aim to reach 245 655 in 2015/16
- Improving portability of credits between colleges, industry and universities of technology, by facilitating and supporting partnerships between these institutions over the medium term
- Fully migrating the TVET Colleges and AET from a provincial to a national competence
- Improving financial management systems of the TVET Colleges, through a partnership with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, aimed at building the capacity of colleges to establish and maintain sound financial systems
- Managing and administering a credible and efficient examinations and assessment system for TVET institutions

Overall, the strategic objectives were directed to improving access and improving success in the programmes. DHET hoped that the strengthening of the institutional capacity of VET institutions would improve their performance and efficiency

Dr Mahlobo was requested by the Chairperson to cut the presentation short, due to shortage of time.

Skills Development
Mr Mvuyisi Macikama, Chief Director: National Skills Fund, DHET, presented briefly on the programme.

The main priority was to promote quality learning at work and for work, by ensuring that the number of new artisan learners registered for training increased, from 21 849 in 2012/13 to 27 000 in 2014/15 and 29 000 in 2016/17. It was expected that the number of competent artisans entering the labour market would slow down from 15 277 in 2012/13 to 13 000 in 2014/15, but then scale up in 2016/17 to around 15 000.

Other priorities included:
- Facilitating professional placements, work integrated learning, apprenticeship, learnership and internship
- Promoting the alignment of skills development outputs with the needs of the workplace and the broader growth needs of the country’s economy. This would be done by ensuring that the strategic plans of the Skills Levy Institutions, NSF and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), were in line with the national skills planning priorities

Mr Macikama reiterated the Department’s emphasis on the promotion of artisanship and skills training. He was requested also to cut the presentation short at this point.

The Chairperson reiterated the Committee’s interest in provinces, which Members represented in the NCOP.
She stated that although access to education was a Constitutional right, she was concerned that university entrance requirements were too high, especially for rural students. The Chairperson enquired what mechanism could be implemented by the Department to meet this concern.

The Chairperson further enquired as to the Department’s success in capacitating lecturers to ensure that quality education was delivered.

The Chairperson referred to the establishment of 12 TVETs noted in the State of the Nation Address, and enquired what progress there was on this point.

The Chairperson said that funds were “wasted” in FETs and NSFAS when students underperformed academically, or graduated with insufficient skills and knowledge, particularly when there was an emphasis on mathematics in certain streams. The Chairperson enquired how the Department would follow up on its investment.

Mr H Groenewald (DA; North-West) asked the Department how South African universities compared to international ones.

Mr Groenewald noted efforts to ensure diversity in institutions within Higher Education. He enquired what was being done to monitor healthy relationships between the different cultural groups.  

Mr Groenewald enquired to what extent the Department could guarantee the necessary skills and employment opportunities for students upon their graduation. He noted that more students should be recruited to Education itself, as passionate teachers were necessary.

Mr Groenewald enquired as to the budget targets for the period for student housing.

Mr D Stock (ANC; Northern Cape) requested an update on the Department’s forensic investigation cases and the interventions proposed.

Mr Stock asked what the Department’s oversight mechanisms were to prevent overcrowding in student housing.

Mr M Khawula (IFP; KwaZulu-Natal) noted the statement in the presentation on withholding of resources during the function shift. Provincial representatives were given to understand that the provinces had insufficient resources.

Mr Khawula noted that there was concern on conditional grants being misappropriated, saying that certain conditions needed to be met for allocation of the grants, and asked what the DHET would do if grant funding was misappropriated.

Mr Khawula expressed the view that smoother running of NSFAS was needed.

Ms C Dlamini (ANC; Mpumalanga) said that the presentation was too long, leaving too little time for questions. She requested that in future, the Director General should package it more tightly, and that its content deal specifically with provinces. She believe that the strategy portions were too extensive, with too little time to go into the Annual Performance Plan and budget, and requested a second meeting to engage again.

Ms Dlamini noted that skills for national development was a critical outcome and asked what the DHET was doing to provide sufficient access to opportunities for skills. She was worried that no clear working relationship had been set out between the DHET and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and cited lack of preparation from the DHET. She also suggested that it should collaborate with Department of Home Affairs to establish trends with regard to expected enrolments, and suggested that it also collaborate with the Department of Social Development on private accommodation. She thought that the Department should meet with the two Select Committees on integration and requested a follow up.

Ms T Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA; Western Cape) stated that failure to implement some measures at intermediate level had resulted in the challenges at DHET level.

Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana enquired what the Department was doing in relation to NSFAS funded students dropping out due to poor performance, and what the returns on loans were.

Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana enquired if post-school education was disability-inclusive as prescribed by the United Nations Convention. UWC was accommodating disabled students but UCT had not implemented the necessary interventions.

Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana noted that there had been a crisis with regard to NSFAS, as students at one university at least had not received textbook and transport allowances for six months. She wanted an exact timeframe for NSFAS to address this.

Ms T Mampuru (ANC; Limpopo Province) noted that the onus was on the Department where communities were failing to implement social development plans, for skills development.

Mr Qonde indicated that there was insufficient time to address critical concerns in detail and further responses to the concerns, as well as to any additional questions, would be submitted in writing.

Mr Qonde replied to Mr Groenewald’s questions on quality by stressing that university programmes were quality assured and the courses monitored by various quality councils. Universities could not offer programmes without the necessary accreditation. Mr Qonde noted that South African universities were prominent when compared to foreign universities for exporting skills and research. Many foreign countries were sustained by South African medical and engineering graduates, and South African engineers had been involved in the construction of the infrastructure for the World Cup in Brazil. South Africa was internationally competitive on teaching and research.

In response to questions on accommodation, Mr Qonde replied that in 2010 the Minister established a task team to assess challenges relating to student accommodation. The report identified that 20% of students were housed by University-owned accommodation but 80% of students were not able to be accommodated owing to insufficient infrastructure expansion. The DHET had allocated R1.6 billion to infrastructure, with R1.2 billion of this allocated to formerly disadvantaged institutions. Demand exceeded resources and reprioritisation was necessary.

Mr Qonde assured Members that DHET was currently attending to all of the NSFAS challenges. It had met with the Chairs of various councils, who acknowledged the institutional weaknesses around NSFAS, including maladministration.

Mr Qonde responded to the questions and concerns regarding access to post-school education by noting that the Department was obliged to change the existing perceptions. Many issues arose from students perceiving university as the only post-school option. The campaign on career guidance advocated various alternative post-school opportunities, and that this booklet could be distributed to Members. Mr Qonde expressed that 70% of students should be in other programmes, specifically TVETs, and that the Department had already identified an encouraging response of 800 000 enrolments there.

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee intended to engage with the Department in a follow-up meeting. The Committee hoped to have a positive working relationship with the Department.

Mr Qonde noted the Minister’s day-long workshop, and invited the Committee to attend in order to contribute to developing the system.

Opening Remarks for session with the Department of Basic Education (DBE)
The Chairperson welcomed the Department and Deputy Minister of Basic Education, who submitted apologies that the Director-General and Chief Financial Officer’s flights had been delayed by bad weather.

The Chairperson indicated that the engagement would be limited by time constraints, but said that the Committee wanted to determine the Department of Basic Education (DBE or the Department)’s alignment with objective in its Annual Performance Plan (APP), and establish the necessary directives. She requested that core issues related to Provinces, in line with the NCOP’s mandate, be emphasised.

Department of Basic Education 2014 Annual Performance Plan, Strategic Plan and budget
Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, kindly requested that members observe a moment of silence for prayer and condolences in the light of a recent death. He noted the apology of the Minister, who was attending a Cabinet meeting at this time. He indicated that the renewal of his term of office had provided the opportunity for a renewed disposition, as efficiency and quality in the system required attention, and promised an effective approach.

The Deputy Minister asserted that the Department of Basic Education (DBE or the Department) had experienced sound progress in five years. Supplementary examinations at matric had resulted in there being an 80% pass rate for last year, and one out of three learners were able to attend tertiary institutions as a result. However, it was accepted that further improvements were required, in the interest of reaching excellence, and there would be an emphasis on numeracy and literacy and teaching quality.

The Deputy Minister noted that an enrolment draft had been established, to assist with social development. However, inadequate infrastructure and inequality posed challenges to the Department still, and concerted efforts would be made for improvements.

Mr Solly Padayachee, Acting Director-General, DBE, went through the main points of the attached presentation. The Strategic Plan aimed to address the key issues contained in the “Action Plan to 2014” and Delivery Agreement.

The following key challenges were highlighted:
- Quality learner outcomes
- Quantity and quality of Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) to support quality learning
- Quality of school-based tests and examinations
- Quality of support from districts, specifically school support personnel
- Access to basic education

Mr Padayachee noted that the “Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025” was developed in response to the key challenges identified in the sector. This Action Plan aimed to ensure coordinated long-term planning in the sector, based on 27 goals. Goals 1 to 13 were the outputs desired by the Department, and goals 14 to 27 illustrated the mechanisms that would be implemented in order to achieve the desired outputs.

Mr Padayachee indicated that the Department was developing a new 5-year Strategic Plan, which would be tabled in March 2015, to realise the priorities highlighted in the 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF),  and ensure alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP).

For 2014, the strategic priorities identified before would continue to be implemented, in respect of curriculum, assessments, LTM, infrastructure, and accountability. He indicated what the NDP priorities for education were and explained how DBE must achieve its vision in line with them.

The focal areas for the DBE in this period were:
- A focus on quality and efficiency of education
- Communication to communities and levels
- Prioritisation of teaching and learning, within the terms of the fiscal constraints
- Strengthening and placing more emphasis on the role of all stakeholders
- Strengthening of provincial and national mechanisms, including intergovernmental and inter-departmental mechanisms
- Evaluation of the plans, monitoring and evaluation and a focus on achieving norms and standards
- Considering and taking account of the provincial, district and school realities

Mr Padayachee stressed that the DBE had set certain “non-negotiables” on which targets must be achieved, which included:
- Improvements to infrastructure
- Better coordination with districts
- Teacher placement, deployment and development
- Taking children into the 21st century with a focus on ICT
- Library Services
- Rural Focus
- Curriculum development
- Partnership and social mobilisation
- Maintaining norms and standards for business processes

Mr Padayachee presented the Department’s “100-Day Action Plan” which emphasised joint planning, monitoring and reporting, having reached agreement on certain areas. The overarching subcommittees on education from HEDCOM would be used optimally and there would be guidance through the processes.
The DBE would review the resources, in order to access funding. There would be a review of the education conditional grants. A delivery agreement for the sector would be signed by the President and partners.

Mr Padayachee then presented the strategic objectives and outputs for the Department’s five programmes.

Administration programme
The following strategic objectives were indicated:
- To ensure the provision of suitable human resources capacity to support a high performing organisation
- To ensure that the Basic Education sector and the country benefit from targeted support to the provincial Education Departments
- To improve inter-governmental planning, communication, education policy and legislative development

Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring programme
The following strategic objectives were indicated:
- To increase the availability of e-Education learning and teaching resources amongst teachers
- To establish stability and coherence on the national school curriculum
- To pay special attention to making improvements in Mathematics, Physical Science and technical subjects
- To promote adequate access to quality learning materials by means of better national specifications on learner requirements, as well as taking a proactive approach towards cost-effective development, reproduction and distribution of materials
- To establish national norms for school libraries
- To create a sound basis for quality pre-Grade 1 education through the promotion of quality learning and teaching materials at this level
- To finalise and promote national screening guidelines that provided for an equitable system of access to special needs support amongst learners
Teachers, Education, HR and Institutional Development programme
The strategic objectives were listed as:
- To ensure that the new teacher development plan was translated into a wide range of teacher training materials, collaborative professional development activities within the schooling system and agreements with the relevant service providers
- To establish the National Institute for Curriculum and Professional Development (NICPD) in order to promote best practices in classroom teaching and development, and to establish an ongoing national campaign for teaching as a career choice, based on research focused on the relevant information and bursary opportunities
- To establish planning, management and accountability tools
- To develop training strategies and materials aimed at parents, to better integrate parents in the new accountability mechanism being established for schools
- To establish better and evidence-based practices and procedures for the country’s 82 education district offices, including models for school interventions designed to tackle specific school shortcomings

Planning, Information and Assessment programme
The following strategic objectives were indicated:
- 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
- To implement support systems for provinces and schools to improve the physical environs and create enabling conditions for successful teaching and learning
- To ensure that districts could utilise quality information and data regarding the level and quality of learning in schools, to plan and implement school-based improvement programmes

Educational Enrichment Services programme
The objectives were:
- To enhance the current education support services to learners from poor communities
- To ensure the involvements of stakeholders in exercising involvement in schools, in a manner that added value to the attainment of core outcomes

Budget overview
Mr Padayachee indicated that the previous budget of R5.5 billion had increased to over R17 billion to accommodate various programmes. Mr Padayachee proceeded to explain the deviation with regard to the Department’s expenditure and the 2014 MTEF allocations. He indicated that the fiscal constraints had prompted a review of programmes, to determine reallocations for funding.

He explained the deviations.

The increase in programme spending had come about through:
-Grade 9 workbooks being printed and distributed to schools in all provinces, as well as the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign
- The introduction of the Educational Infrastructure Conditional Grant for schools and the Infrastructure Backlogs Indirect Grants
- Transfers of the Conditional grant and the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) had increased due to the policy to expand school feeding to secondary schools in quintiles 1 to 3.

The increase in spending in various of the economic classifications were due to:
- The Department’s intensive monitoring of policy implementation in Provinces
- Transfers in respect of Conditional grants
- The Infrastructure Backlog Grant for the provision of basic services to schools in the form of water and sanitation,  as well as the eradication of inappropriate school infrastructure such as mud schools

Ms Mampuru said that she was dissatisfied with the reports from the Auditor-General and asked the Department if the comments from the Auditor-General were occasioned by administrative problems, or if there was a challenge of skills or capacity in the DBE.

Ms Mampuru indicated that the underperformance of provinces must be avoided and that mechanisms should be implemented to ensure that underperformance was prevented.

The Chairperson noted that provincial education departments were receiving qualified audits and requested assistance from the Department in producing a clean audit outcome.
The Chairperson indicated that she, as a parent, had a particular concern regarding learner performance in Mathematics and Science, especially in grade 9. She enquired about the Department’s plans to address this, noting that the average results for these subjects were 13% and 14% respectively.

The Chairperson enquired as to the Department’s proposed mechanisms to ensure teacher preparation to dispense a quality curriculum.

The Chairperson indicated that in 2013, the target achievements were 78.2%. The Chairperson noted retrogression on the target figure since last year and enquired as to how the target was predicted.

The Chairperson indicated that the Eastern Cape Provincial Department was under administration, and enquired about the Department’s efforts to ensure progress, what had been achieved, and whether departments under administration would be able to function as expected, with the DBE’s interventions.

Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana complimented the Department on its prioritisation of multilingualism and noted that people were empowered through languages. She was also pleased to see improvements in textbook delivery.

Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana noted that the Department was addressing the concern of teachers’ extended leave which compromised the success of learners, and especially their academic performance in Grade 12.

Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana noted that there should be an alignment between DHET and DBE as their relationship was impacting on the skills of graduates.

Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana noted that teaching time was compromised in black schools compared to white, model C schools.

The Chairperson asked the next Member for questions, and she and Ms M Tlake (ANC, Free State) had to call upon Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana to cease talking as she stood up and demanded that she be allowed to continue to ask questions.

Ms Dlamini thanked the Department for its efforts, particularly in regard to the improved behaviour of learners and their academic results.

Ms Dlamini recommended that the Department considered a learner tracking system in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs.

Ms Dlamini indicated that the taxi industry had Wi-Fi access, and wondered why schools did not, to address the burning issue of access to internet.

Mr Khawula asked the Deputy Minister why there was an Acting Director-General.

Mr Khawula noted that money had been transferred from South Africa to Malawi, and requested clarification from the Department.

Mr Khawula enquired as to the budget plans of the Department with regard to absorbing Grade R teachers. He noted that these Grade R teachers did not receive the same benefits as other teachers, and asked how DBE intended to enhance their qualification and salary.

Mr Stock indicated that celebrations after the release of matric results had a sad impact on those matric students who had failed, with many experiencing depression or resorting to suicide, and asked if the DBE had any interventions to help them.

Mr Groenewald enquired about the lack of facilities for Grade R currently in primary schools, and asked what was being done to address this.

Mr Groenewald noted the proposals to possibly make one headmaster responsible for more than one school, but was worried that this would not lead to successful management and that the concept was not workable.

The Deputy Minister replied to Ms Mampuru that it was difficult to provide enough support to schools if there was insufficient HR capacity. However, senior staff had been utilised to assist and monitor schools on a regular basis, and mechanisms have been established for administrators on the turn-around strategy.

The Deputy Minister indicated that for the first time, the results for almost 65% of schools were positive and that in Eastern Cape, there was now one MEC established, which had given more stability; the situation prior to that was characterised by numerous changes of MEC. The DBE was satisfied that greater stability was achieved through the interventions. The DBE would continue to provide support and a review on the Eastern Cape and Limpopo would be conducted, and recommendations would be made to Cabinet. Some of the other provinces had also had qualified audits or disclaimers. The Deputy Minister indicated the establishment of a team to assist each province in developing the appropriate systems.

The Deputy Minister replied to the Chairperson’s concerns that provision of qualified teachers for Mathematics and Science were compulsory. The Deputy Minister noted that campaigns had been started from Grade R upwards to enhance skills, and skills were assessed annually. There had been improvements in the Grade 5  to Grade 9 baselines, with the establishment of templates on deficits, to determine where the main concerns were and take the necessary action. He conceded that previously, there had been insufficient recognition of the support required in earlier years to assist High School learners and so the Department was now implementing Grade 7 and Grade 8 testing against benchmarks. In answer to the perception that “Grade 9 cognitive demand was high”, the Department had incurred costs to test learners from Grade R to Grade 9, but this indicate an increase in pass rates. Furthermore, the teacher training for Grades 7 8, 9 an 12 was now differentiated.

The Deputy Minister indicated that the Department had actually exceeded national targets with regard to the 75% projections, and that the target would be revised to a projection of approximately 80%.

The Deputy Minister noted, to Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana, that although he understood her eagerness to get all her questions answered, it was correct for Members to observe and abide by the authority of the Chairperson.

The Deputy Minister noted that indigenous African languages would be introduced from Grade 1 and that the Department was committed to mother-tongue teaching as there was a challenge regarding the development of African languages. The shift in languages used had been shown to compromise the success of African children and that there would be an improvement through this.

The Deputy Minister indicated that stress and anxiety contributed to psychical illness, which resulted in teachers taking extended leave, and the psychosocial support for teachers was being strengthened. He noted the recommendation for other forms of discipline and indicated that quality teacher time was non-negotiable. The Deputy Minister indicated that disciplinary procedures regarding drunken teachers should not take so long and that efficiency was required.

The Deputy Minister noted that new schools had been established with new sports facilities. The Department of Communications had been provided with a list of over 10 000 schools for Wi-Fi connectivity. More than  800 schools were already ICT-connected.

He confirmed that 84% of learners were on the performance tracking system. He indicated that the Basic Education system had been able to provide Department of Home Affairs also with data on deceased parents and that the system had been successful thus far.

The processes relating to the appointment of the Director-General were done through Cabinet and this was being dealt with.

The Deputy Minister indicated that Malawi had some difficulties with capacity for teaching and its level of performance and required assistance from South Africa, which was given within the framework of the international relations.

The Deputy Minister indicated that 20% of Grade R teachers possessed at least a level 6 qualification, and that 96% of teachers possessed at least a level 4 Qualification. The Department was aiming that all should have Level 6 qualifications. The Department intended to integrate a R5 000 minimum teacher’s salary. It was true that the Grade R infrastructure differed presently, but there were improvements in integration and facilities.

The Deputy Minister assured Mr Stock that counselling was provided at schools to treat the trauma associated with failure. The Deputy Minister noted a suggestion to publish results according to exam numbers, rather than publish names. He noted again the improvement in supplementary examinations success rate, and repeated that this had resulted in 450 809 passes and increased access to Higher Education. North-West was now the number one province, having taken over from Free State.

The Deputy Minister said that the Department was encouraging provinces to allocate budgets for early childhood development programmes. He noted that the size of classes differed and that classes were overcrowded in rural areas, which was of concern and had to be addressed.  

The Acting Director-General indicated that the Department would make the Handbook on Education Legislation available to the Committee and noted the two days available for the Committee to meet with the Department.

The Deputy Minister recommended that the NCOP Committee work closely with the National Assembly, in the interests of time.

The Chairperson thanked the Department and noted that it was moving in the right direction, but stressed that progress would depend upon collaborative efforts amongst all the stakeholders. She welcomed the invitation to the two day workshop, and the suggestions for more alignment between Committees.

The Deputy Minister invited the Committee to the National Choirs Competition taking place in KZN, and said he looked forward to its presence also at the budget speech.

The meeting was adjourned.

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