The Committee was given a functional overview of the entities falling within the Committee’s portfolio. They included the South African Council for Educators (SACE), the Educational Labour Relations Council (ELRC), and UMALUSI (Quality Control for General and Further Education and Training). The key stakeholders, which included organised labour and civil society, were enumerated.
The Committee’s Content Adviser said there was general agreement on progress in respect of access, equity and redress. Within that framework, there was a nearly universal enrolment in primary education, a gender parity index of 1 in 2012, and an increased enrolment in Grade R. A number of initiatives had been launched as part of the commitment to improve equity. These included the no fee school policy, the national school nutrition programme, Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) and learner transport. He said that the Department was challenged to provide quality education, noting that poor African countries were performing well. The action plan for 2014 had been developed in response to the key challenges facing the Department to ensure long-term planning, monitoring and evaluation against quality indicators, and was based on 27 goals.
The Chairperson drew attention to the University of KwaZulu-Natal research, in which a previous mathematics examination was used as a tool to assess the competence of Grade 12 teachers. Only 60% had passed the paper, while 28% had correctly answered questions involving problem solving. This issue was of concern. Other issues raised by Members included the huge shortage of mathematics and science teachers, the absence of reference to indigenous African languages in the presentation, school sports not being mentioned as part of the curriculum, and what factors had been used to measure and evaluate the gender parity index.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented its fourth quarterly report on the performance of the Department in meeting its strategic objectives for 2013/2014. It gave details of the targets and outputs that had been attained. The expenditure report for the fourth quarter was also presented. Members asked about the shortages of maths and science teachers, graduates’ internships, learners with special needs, the recruitment of qualified teachers, the provision of quality of education, the provision of correct data, e-learning, and securitisation of schools.
The Chairperson opened the meeting and thanked Members of the Committee for their unwavering commitment shown during the “budget vote” period. She said three apologies had been received from Ms H Boshoff (DA), Ms C Majeke (UDM) and Ms D van der Walt (DA). She asked the Content Advisor to brief the Committee.
Overview of Education Sector: Key Issues from Legacy Report
Mr Dennis Bandi, Content Advisor, said that the presentation focused on three issues -- overview, full and regular reports, and the legal framework of oversight. The briefing could have taken place at the beginning of the term, but there had been too many other issues to deal with.
Oversight was a constitutionally mandated function of the legislative organs of state, to scrutinise and oversee executive action and any organ of the state. Members of the Cabinet were accountable to Parliament individually and collectively, and that the thrust of the Committee’s work during the fourth Parliament would be oversight. He proceeded to explain the oversight function.
Mr Bandi said that the power of the Committee to change aspects related to a tabled budget was drawn from the Constitution (s77(3)) and the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act 9 of 2009.
The principles of oversight were drawn from national, regional, and international instruments and developmental works. When the Committee engaged in oversight, it should be guided by these principles, together with the priorities set out by the Department.
He gave a functional overview of the entities falling within the Committee’s portfolio. They included the South African Council for Educators (SACE), the Educational Labour Relations Council (ELRC), and UMALUSI (Quality Control for General and Further Education and Training). He also enumerated the key stakeholders, which included organised labour and civil society.
He said that there was general agreement on progress in respect of access, equity and redress. Within that framework, there was a nearly universal enrolment in primary education, a gender parity index of 1 in 2012, and an increased enrolment in Grade R.
A number of initiatives had been launched as part of the commitment to improve equity. These included the no fee school policy, the national school nutrition programme, Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) and learner transport. In respect of access, he provided key areas for oversight.
Mr Bandi said that the Department was challenged to provide quality education, noting that poor African countries were performing well. He gave the examples of Kenya and Botswana. However, there was evidence that demonstrated some improvements were taking place, as shown in the interaction between the Department and the sector between 2010 and 2014 (see attachment).
The action plan for 2014 had been developed in response to the key challenges facing the Department to ensure long-term planning, monitoring and evaluation against quality indicators, and was based on 27 goals.
The Chairperson said the presentation had highlighted the existing issues and challenges. The key areas of focus had not been met. There was a need for the Committee to consider these issues and come up with suggestions on how the Department could improve the delivery of quality education. There was also a need to look into issues of discrimination that were being reported by the media. She was proud that South Africa had regained hope of an improvement at an international level in terms of a quality learner outcome.
She informed the Committee that the University of KwaZulu-Natal had conducted research, in which a previous mathematics examination was used as a tool to assess the competence of Grade 12 teachers. Only 60% had passed the paper, while 28% had correctly answered questions involving problem solving. This issue was of concern.
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) suggested that the Committee’s legacy report should be discussed in the presence of the Department.
The Chairperson replied that the Committee was planning a workshop, where members of the Committee would sit together with various stakeholders and discuss the legacy report.
Ms A Lovemore (DA) sought clarity on how the concepts of equity, access and redress were defined, and asked about issues for oversight emerging from the 2014 SONA (State of the Nation Address). On the latter note, she said the President had made a commitment that all vacancies would be filled. She supported the Chairperson’s concerns regarding the huge shortage of mathematics and science teachers.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) sought clarity on why the issue of African (indigenous) languages was not covered by presentation. She asked why school sports were not mentioned as part of the curriculum, and what factors had been used to measure and evaluate the gender parity index.
The Chairperson replied that indigenous languages were among the subjects offered, even if the issue was not covered in the presentation.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) sought further clarification on school sports and the issue of security.
Mr Bandi, with reference to the definitions of concepts, replied that the concepts were defined in relation to the inequalities of the past, and empowering disadvantaged schools.
The Chairperson remarked that the aim of the presentation had been to enlighten the Members.
Briefing by Department of Basic Education: 4th Quarterly Report for 2013/2014
The Chairperson handed over to Ms Vivienne Carelse, Deputy Director-General, Strategic Planning: Department of Basic Education (DBE) and asked her to introduce the members of her delegation. The Chairperson said that the Committee was expecting to hear how the budget had been spent and the challenges arising from the annual performance plan (APP) for 2013/2014.
Ms Carelse apologized on behalf of the Director General and the Minister for their absence, and then handed over to Ms Carol Nuga-Deliwe, Chief Director: Strategic Planning Research and Coordination, to take the Committee through presentation.
Ms Nuga-Deliwe said that the Department had committed its efforts to meeting the APP’s priorities. These priorities were aligned to the delivery agreement -- improving the quality of basic education -- and action plan for 2014. The activities of the Department were structured into five programmes: administration; curriculum policy, support and monitoring; teachers, education human resources and institutional development; planning, information and assessment; and educational enrichment services.
She explained each programme in detail. (See attachment).
Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa: Chief Financial Officer: DBE, took the Committee through the financial report. The total actual expenditure of the Department for the 2013/14 financial year third quarter amounted to R17 011 094 million. R13 349 868 million had been spent on transfer payments and R3 661 226 had been spent mainly on compensation, departmental projects and operations, and office accommodation. She detailed how money had been spent in relation to each of the programmes.
Ms Lovemore sought clarity on a number of issues including district support, why some objectives or targets were not covered during the presentation, the implementation of the textbook retrieval policy, why mathematics and science remained a challenge, the employment of qualified grade R teachers, and the meaning of the word “benefiting”.
Mr Mnguni was impressed by the manner in which the budget had been spent, but remarked that oversight was indeed needed. He asked what the monitoring tools were in relation to the teaching of indigenous languages, and sought clarification on how issues arising from construction contracts were resolved and what the Committee’s interventions on that matter should be. What challenges were teachers facing in keeping a daily record of learners who were part of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP)? What was the Department doing about schools’ security? What was the Department doing to support and motivate teachers?
Ms N Mashabela (EEF) asked for further clarification on curriculum policy, and also remarked that the Department was not doing enough to improve the quality of education.
Mr Mpontshane, referring to the number of internships for unemployed graduates, asked what challenges were faced by the Department. He commented on the number of qualified teachers employed, and asked what challenges were behind all the provinces’ inability to retain teachers. Why did the Department focus on retaining non-teacher employees in the last quarter? Why were service providers in KwaZulu-Natal not being paid?
Mr T Khoza (ANC) supported Mr Mpontshane on the issue of internships. He asked how the Committee could assist the Department at the provincial level. Referring to the food served to needy learners, he asked why the schools were not serving quality beans.
The Chairperson sought clarity on whether the payments of contractors were the concern of the DBE, or another agency. She said that the presentation illustrated that the target achieved had been low whereas the expenditure had been high, so the indicators were not correlating. She asked how far the Department was on the e-learning initiative. In 2015, what would the DBE’s role be at the national level? Why was the distribution of workbooks not being done via post, as in the past? Why was the Department consistently faced by a shortage of mathematics and science teachers? How would the Department deal with the issue of the teachers who could not pass the grade 12 examination paper.
Ms Carelse said that she would not be able to answer questions in order, as there had been an overlapping of questions. She asked whether these questions could be answered in writing.
To improve the quality of education was not an easy task. It required the development of a uniform national curriculum, improvement of services and the hiring of qualified educators. It required school learners to be screening at the foundational phase. Screening should be done, for example, to determine if learners had visual impairments, etc. In addition, language barriers remained a challenge. She acknowledged accountability when she said that some books had been delivered in the wrong languages.
The Chairperson said that the Department was struggling to provide correct data, and this had been a long-standing challenge.
Ms Nuga-Deliwe replied that a solution was to have an ICT system in place that might record the provision of services. With an innovative ICT system, there would be no problems related to data.
With reference to learners with special needs, she said that teachers were not properly trained. The Department had a plan to ensure that all teachers were trained.
She said that the Kha Ri Gude was an adult literacy programme, but unlike young learners, adult people were all passing. For that reason, the target as it appeared in the presentation had been low, but the expenditure had been high.
On the question of e-learning, she said that the Department was challenged with changing the definition of internet connectivity. As a result, few schools had been connected.
Ms Carelse said that the Department would consider the University of KwaZulu-Natal findings.
Adoption of minutes
Owing to time constraints, the Chairperson said that no minutes would be adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
- PC Basic: Overview of Education Sector; Department of Basic Education on 4th Quarterly Report for 2013/2014 - 1
- PC Basic: Overview of Education Sector; DBE on 4th Quarterly Report for 2013/2014 - 1
- PC Basic: Overview of Education Sector; DBE on 4th Quarterly Report for 2013/2014 - 2
- PC Basic: Briefing by the Department of Basic Education on the 4th Quarterly Report 1
- PC Basic: Briefing by the Department of Basic Education on the 4th Quarterly Report 2
- PC Basic: Overview of Education Sector; Department of Basic Education on 4th Quarterly Report for 2013/2014 - 2