Inclusive Education: progress report; DBE on its 1st Quarter 2014 performance

Basic Education

09 September 2014
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education presented the performance indicators and targets for each of its five programmes and reported actual outputs as at the end of the 1st Quarter of 2014/15. Programmes 1, 2 and 4 are the most problematic. The Financial Report indicated that DBE has underspent for the first quarter but has yet to take into account all of their pending invoices.

In its Implementation of Inclusive Education progress report, the department provided a detailed assessment on every aspect of full-service schools and special schools. It was optimistic about the progress it had made. The challenges identified were:
▪ Dealing with disabilities demands a multi-disciplinary approach and involvement of different disciplines
▪ Inter-departmental and stakeholder involvement is not efficiently coordinated
▪ Incoherent understanding  of Inclusive Education intentions
▪ Inadequate resourcing of the Inclusive Education policy at all levels both in terms of personnel and funding
▪ Shortage of specialised skills among teachers in dealing with disabilities
▪ Specialist professionals are largely employed by Departments of Health and Social Development.

Members asked many questions on a wide range of questions. They were concerned about how to ensure each province is spending its funds; the exodus of teachers from the profession; and that school infrastructure development is taking too long. On the subject of inclusive education, a primary concern was that learners with disabilities are in regular schools, but the majority of teachers are not trained how to teach them so what did the department planned to do to ensure public schools have the infrastructure, including remedial teachers, to deal with special needs learners; the learner to teacher ratio was too high; there was a lack of assistive devices; many teachers still remain without special needs qualifications, despite the money allocated to it.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the presentations would need to be limited so as to provide sufficient time for discussion.

Mr Paddy Padayachee, DBE Acting Director General, commented that first quarter activities have progressed slowly due to the 2014 elections. He noted the presence of all the senior department officials.

Ms Vivienne Carelse, Deputy Director-General: Strategic Planning, presented the 2014/15 performance indicators, looking at the outputs of DBE's five programmes. Most of the programme indicators expand past the first quarter; therefore, the Department’s focus here was on the strides made in achieving these.

▪ Programme 1 focuses internally on human resources management, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, as well as auditing. This programme also focuses on the department’s partnership participation including bilateral agreements, Mandarin studies, and visits to Shanghai, China. The Department’s litigation status was briefly looked at (see document). Special emphasis is placed on the increased use of communication via social media: Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, email correspondence has increased drastically. In order to develop these areas, the department has begun to increase staff participation in development activities, post-graduate internships, financial disclosure forms, performance agreements, audit reports, and the development of a Management Performance Assessment Tool internally. Globally, two reports on partnership participation are pending. Due to elections, some of these outputs are incomplete and others are pending.
▪ Programme 2 focuses on education, training, and tools: Printing of Grades 1-9 workbook 1 for 2015 academic year commenced at the beginning of June 2014. A total of 45.6% has been delivered to the warehouse as at 1 July 2014. Grades 1 and 2 Home Language Braille workbook 1 in all 11 languages have been printed and delivered to all 22 Special Schools. Only  Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cap have reported on Universal Coverage which is aimed at assessing the importance of ensuring that every learner has a textbook for every subject.  The Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Project has been delayed. Administration and management functions have ranked better than in 2012. Programme 2 underspent because the cost of printing workbooks has not yet been included in this quarter.
▪ Programme 3 highlights teachers and school systems. The number of qualified teachers with identified roles and responsibility training has increased by 5 280 due to Funza Lushaka, additional university education programmes, and Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) programmes. However, the majority of the teachers that left were over the age of 30. More schools in all nine provinces were monitored and evaluated based on the following 5 basic policies: admission; finance; language; religious policy; and, code of conduct for learners. Programme 3 overspent due to the Funza Lushaka and School Infrastructure Backlog Indirect Grant programmes.
▪ Programme 4 focuses on using exams and assessments to measure where the schools are at currently in regards to infrastructure, administration, teachers, and learners. 179 140 children are tested on 7 subjects varying from Mathematics to Geography, but not every province has responded. All but one case out of 3 291 calls have been responded to.
▪ Programme 5 emphasizes the quality and diversity of the education. This includes life-skills, sports, AIDs education, reproductive health. Special emphasis is on sexual education and homophobic bullying. In two provinces psychosocial programmes have been put in place to identify learners with challenges.18 201 schools have nutrition programmes, but no citizenship rights and responsibilities, or constitutional values programmes have been reported. Invoices from the first quarter are still being processed; so all programme costs are not yet available.

First Quarter Expenditure: Financial Report            
Ms Ntsetsa Molelekoa, DBE Chief Financial Officer, said the majority of the budget was spent on transfer payments, specifically conditional grants. Programme 2 was underspent because the cost of printing workbooks is not yet included in this quarter and Programme 3 overspent due to the Funza Lushaka and School Infrastructure Backlog Indirect Grant programmes. Auditing is still in process so the cost is approximate, for example, the cost of printing and building are still incurring as the invoices from the first quarter are still being processed.

Discussion
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) appreciated the Chief Financial Officer’s presentation where she provided explanatory notes to explain why each programme is not on target. On the matter of delayed pensions, the reason given is the documentation is missing or incomplete – whose responsibility is that? Delayed pensions and missing money has been a problem in the past, are they communicating with the people responsible and how are people held accountable. Control of the budget by the districts was of concern as they did not release the funds and prevented the circuits from acting. Cannot the circuits control their own budget?

Ms D van der Walt (DA) said that an important concern was the budget and plan for the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI) programme where in 2011/12, DBE said it would build 510 schools. We have now shifted the final date from 2014/5 to 2015/16. Of the 150 schools for 2014/15 she does not think any have been built because the answer she got when she put a parliamentary question to the ministry was that 75 schools have been built since inception. The presentation states “59 schools are in different phases of construction”. Neither the DBE website nor the documents here are clear. DBE must be honest with the Committee and tell it, of the 150 schools planned for 2014/15, how many schools are built? It is necessary to know how many schools are finished, are in the process, or not yet started. There are only a few months left for 150 schools to be built. It is offensive that this information has not been shared, despite enquiries about it.

Ms van der Walt referred to conditional grant enforcement because some of these funds were not spent on what they should have been spent on. She gave the example of the school nutrition fund in Limpopo and the corruption involved and how little of this money was spent on food to feed the hungry children. She asked about special schools. What is national department’s responsibility with regards to special needs schools in the provinces and ensuring special needs children are catered for in the provinces. She gave the example of a Limpopo special needs school that was closed down in Polokwane and meant to move to Hwiti in Mankweng. Did that happen because there were numerous deaf and blind children without resources and access to school. What is the department’s relationship with regards to these special needs cases and the allocation of budget?

The Chair stated that this subject matter should be addressed in the second presentation on special needs.

Ms H Boshoff (DA) asked why they are wasting resources on teaching Mandarin if we are wanting to concentrate on teaching our 11 home languages. She asked for more information on the 23 ongoing litigation cases that the DBE is involved in - why are they still ongoing, why can we not solve them? How is DBE going to deal with the non-responsiveness of the provincial departments on the number of ECD practitioners to be supported since only four provinces have responded. She referred to page 9 of the presentation and asked when the balance of the Grade 1 to 9  workbooks expected? Lastly, on page 11 why do the five basic policies not include safety and security in schools with which we have a huge problem?

Mr T Khoza (ANC) asked about school furniture stock to ensure that every child has a desk and a chair.

Ms J Basson (ANC) requested more perspective on the contractual obligations. The majority of spending should be in the 1st quarter, not near the end of the fiscal year, and that this should be monitored or managed somehow.

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) asked how much was spent on litigation and asked if DBE would consider using alternative dispute resolution to avoid this high cost in the future. She referred to the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT)

findings in Programme 1 and the improvement plan DBE had developed based on the areas of weaknesses. What are the key issue you are attending to and whether you are following that plan? She asked if the Committee could see that plan. She asked about the stipulations and enforcement of these stipulations for transfers to municipalities. The 1st quarter impact on the annual spending allocations needed more detailed information – no mention is made about budget item over or under-spending. She recommended that DBE intensify media communication about its achievements to ward off detractors. On the matter of connectivity at schools, she asked about what flat rate is government getting from the networks given the role of corporate social responsibility?

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) referenced that more teachers are leaving than coming in and that gap will need to be filled. The number of schools that are visited and monitored regularly must increase to stop schools from cheating the system. The methods that have been developed for addressing these matters needs to be made known. Confidence is needed in the school system.

Ms C Majeke (UDM) brought up the problem of how Programme 1 pays school fees at certain schools, but some of these schools still ask for money from their learners. What measures are used to ensure this is stopped. MPs are often asked about how to applying for Funza Lushaka benefits by the public and more detail is needed on this. She asked if new teachers nowadays have undergone actual teaching experience during their training. She said the Moot Court Competition where children learn about the Constitution is appreciated.

The Chairperson asked the Chief Financial Officer if DBE is on track with its spending and Annual Performance Plan (APP) and what challenges are they facing. She requested information on the status of telecommunication connectivity in schools, and which areas are connected. The presentation had not made reference to school nutrition indicators. She gave examples of regions in the Eastern Cape and KZN where school feeding was not taking place due to tendering corruption and disturbances. Is DBE aware of these breakdowns and what is it doing to intervene? This really cannot be left as is. Teacher supply and demand is a concern as it seems more teachers are exiting than entering the profession. What plans have you got to avoid any crisis and she made mention of maths and science vacancies in the Eastern Cape?
 
Mr Padayachee replied to the Chair about whether DBE is on track with budget spending, saying that due to the recent appointment of new political office bearers post-elections, they had “received a mandate about certain non-negotiables”, some of which are not covered in the APP, strategic plan or budget. Some of our programmes are being redirected in that manner such as ICT, for example. He said “we are fine” but Treasury has told us that there is no additional funding. To ensure those non-negotiables, the entire budget should be spent and spent well; those activities that are not part of the core objectives of the DBE must be evaluated and cut. However, ICT being used to promote the curriculum is a non-negotiable for the Minister and Deputy Minister.  One can look at increasing the class size and the saving on this can be put into the use of ICT. The digitalisation of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) can save costs too; especially in long-term. More will come on that topic.

On pensions, he noted that the provinces are the employers of teacher so the teacher’s documentation goes there. On the long wait for pension payout when a teacher retires, what they are finding is that the DBE’s administration is not doing its work by following up if documents are missing. Also DBE does not have to wait for a pension application, it should have the file prepared when a teacher turn 65. The Human Resources capacity in provinces needs strengthening and the monitoring of that. Pensions is an area they are targeting.

On circuit budget allocation, he said some provinces do allocate to circuits and districts but this requires a delegation. At the end of the day, the Head of Department of each provincial education department (PED) is responsible for the budget and dealing with delegations so it is a balance between managing the overall budget and at times giving the delegation. This is something they are working on and this is why a branch has been created to deal with districts – not only delegations to do with budgets but also appointments and taking disciplinary actions. More detail will be provided at next week’s meeting on districts. 

On school building, the “59 schools in different phases of construction” refers to the progress in the first quarter. He is aware of her written parliamentary question on the 150 schools in the 2014/15 APP. DBE did make a presentation on this last week to the Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCOA) but he thinks they should make a detailed briefing on ASIDI to the Portfolio Committee. Time does not allow us to explain why if you have a 150 schools in the APP, that it will be built in one financial year. However, more than 200 schools are in construction and 75 have been completed. On Thursday the President opens a school in Kensington in Cape Town. In fact, the written report they made to SCOA on ASIDI schools will be sent to this Committee. Spending on infrastructure has improved with the introduction of a programme support unit to deal with lack of capacity. Now a branch is being created to deal with infrastructure delivery.

Schools know where to go for their furniture stock and this will be delivered to those who request it. On the non-placement of Funza Lushaka bursary recipients in schools when they graduate, there is a plan to increase graduate placements as there is a directive to reach 100% placement in the next year. DBE does not intend to overspend, so the money is spent well and adjusted accordingly.

On how Kha Ri Gude can be helped to spend, Kha Ri Gude as a programme has not really rolled out yet but the spending will happen. They will not halt the programme but he is hoping that they will spend in an efficient manner and that those savings can be used in other sectors without putting Kha Ri Gude in jeopardy. They have already requested a re-prioritisation of some of the funds. DBE plans to make Kha Ri Gude more efficient based on recommendations from the Auditor-General and the savings they make should not be seen as under-spending but as efficiencies that can be spent on other unfunded activities if Treasury approves.

On the question of DBE spending correctly, DBE plans to stay within the budget for the year. If there were any danger of it overspending, reports to justify it would be given to Treasury and the Minister of Finance well beforehand.

On the 8 000 teachers who left in the first quarter, compared to only 5 000 entering the profession, he said that about 13 000 usually leave per year. One of the reasons the figure is higher could be because  Treasury is making changes to pensions and teachers think their pensions are at risk. However, clearly teacher supply and demand is something they are addressing. They would provide more details about this in future.

On the Integrated Performance Management System (IPMS) and visiting two schools a day, some of these schools are repeat visits to look at areas that needed improving and also fewer of these schools are first-time schools. Also size of the school and proximity are also factors. Monitoring two schools a day is more manageable considering the long distances in parts of the country.

Mr Padayachee noted that provinces and even national if necessary do investigations if it comes to their attention that no-fees schools are asking for school fees from parents and children. However, the regulations do allow for voluntary contributions for certain outlined activities. A guideline on that has been provided. Breeches of the regulations will be stopped when discovered.

Details about the Funza Lukhasa bursaries are on the DBE website. Additional experience training for graduates is needed but generally they are better prepared than before. In order to improve, orientation training for teachers when they are about to enter the profession  is in development. They also plan better contact with them for the four years they are in the training system.

The Chairperson asked how Dinaledi schools and the technical high schools fit into the funding allocations.

Mr Matanzima Mweli, Acting Deputy Director General: Curriculum, Policy, Support and Monitoring, stated that the Dinaledi and Technicalised Schools conditional grants need to be reconfigured as DBE was not getting value for money and Treasury has given the go-ahead for that.  We aim to use 200 out of 1006 technicalised schools and 500 of the schools that received the Dinaledi conditional grant as resource schools for other schools in the area. They will be hubs as they have computers, equipment and extra teachers. There are schools in the country that have not been offering mathematics and DBE issued a directive to audit this which was done and DBE will ensure that all schools offer maths. They also intend to have Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) at all technicalised schools. The aim is to increase the number of learners who offer technical subjects. The National Development Plan (NDP) says that by 2030, the country must be able to produce at least 13 000 artisans per annum. You can only do this if you have a solid base from your schooling system to feed the rest of the system. These two grants will be used to achieve this. 

The department is the addressing the Mathematics / Mathematics Literacy split. You will be pleased to know that the Ministerial Task Team found that there is nothing wrong with the subject, Mathematics Literacy, so DBE has been vindicated in making that decision to ensure that everyone takes at least some form of mathematics up to Grade 12. Mathematics Literacy is the best thing that has ever happened to this country. The exodus of learners to Mathematics Literacy will be eased with the introduction of a third option of Technical Mathematics.

Mr Mweli said broadband connections and service provider information will be presented at the 11 September joint meeting with the Telecommunications Portfolio Committee. So far the only service provider that is really helping and meeting its licence obligations is Vodacom. The FIFA World Cup money is being used by Telkom to deliver to 1650 schools. He hopes that the 11 September meeting will be productive and help in reaching an agreement with service providers to meet their licence obligations, come to the party and determine deliverables.
E-education is important - it is a “deal breaker and must be cracked”.

Mr Mweli agreed that the department lacks methodology, especially the Foundation phase, and uses partnerships with colleges for help who are the real experts on pedagogy. It remains an area of focus for DBE. Turning to connectivity, he said that the bottom line is that connectivity “has not arrived” and it remains a very expensive commodity for the sector. Government is hoping its service provider partners will charge half-price at some point. He said Kha Ri Gude does not run like a normal school as the 240 hours that are allocated can happen at any time. On the balance of Grade 1 to 9 mathematics workbooks, Grade 1 and 2 are fully delivered and used now and DBE has even done remediation on those. Delivery for 2015 is in process and delivery is sitting at 35% for Workbook 1 with remediation done. The department has delivered a lot and plans to deliver even more. The department has delivered a lot and plans to deliver even more.
Ms D van der Walt stated that she is from Limpopo so she would be familiar with it.
 
Mr Mweli states that Mandarin is an elective class just like French and German currently are. It has not been offered at a disadvantage of our own languages. The language gives a learner a competitive advantage and has immense. China is really becoming tied to the economy in all of Africa because business relations are so strong. The United States, for example, is leading in teaching Mandarin.

The Chairperson encouraged members to embrace all forms of empowerment, including foreign language skills.

Ms Ntsetsa Molelekoa, DBE Chief Financial Officer, noted that transfers to municipalities go via the PEDs and they tracking how this money is spent. 

Mr Anton Schoeman, Deputy Director General: Administration, says that the 23 ongoing litigation cases cannot be properly labelled as “ongoing”. These can be put into three categories: there are four cases directly against the Minister / department; there are the section 100 cases against Limpopo and the Eastern Cape Provinces; and there are those cases where the Director General and Minister are cited as third and fourth responders also against the provinces. Court dates and settlements are pending. The Department has spent R350 000 on litigation up to 21 August mostly on consultation with counsel and expert legal opinions.

Mr Granville Whittle, DBE Deputy Director-General, says that school nutrition is a massive programme and DBE feeds about 20 000 schools a day. DBE prefers to follow a decentralized model where the school nutrition money is paid over to the schools to run the programme using local small/medium enterprises to deliver this. It is looking into the Eastern Cape problem and it will provide the Committee with a written report when that becomes available. The awarding of the Mpumalanga tenders are being looked into as well. Previously, Limpopo has been asked to de-centralise its model. Currently it is in transit and is in between the two models. Provinces choose their models, some choose to be decentralized and others choose to be centralized. There are four provinces that have a centralised model.

Mr Whittle said there is a school safety policy and he will make this available to the committee.

On the July 2014 MPAT findings, Ms Mosimege explained the four scores: Level 1 means it is insufficient, 2 means you have bare minimum, 3 you have everything that is required; and 4 you have everything that is necessary and beyond the standard. The areas their scores were Level 1 or 2 were internal audit; access to information (PAIA) compliance; equipment and retention strategy; diversity management; employee health; disciplinary case management; payment of suppliers; and, intergration of M&E in strategic management. The rest of the 31 indicators were Level 3 and 4. Improvement plans will be made.

Ms Carelse mentioned on the provision of “good news” stories that communication is a complex subject and they are often at the mercy of media houses who use the information provided as they choose to. They are encouraging the PEDs and DBE’s public entities to develop clear communication messages and proactive sharing of information. She noted increases in social media use and noted it can be used for dealing with and responding to mis-communicated messages. The website is being revamped to ensure all of the policies are available as well as answers to frequently asked questions. The department invites the committee to look at the info that has been made available. They make use of community radio stations to get their message out in all the vernacular languages which have a great deal of listeners. They want to encourage a sector-wide media message about the non-negotiables rather than diverse provincial voices and so media monitoring is important. She agreed that successes must be shared.

On the concern that only four provinces had supplied its ECD training figures, Mr Padayachee said that follow-ups were done and that the other five provinces did provide reports after the first quarter.

The Chairperson thanked the department for their information on communication because this was an area that DBE needs to work on. The Annual National Assessments (ANA) is coming up shortly and there will be a lot of media noise on that. Communications is an area that deserves attention.

Ms C Majeke appreciated the work done on school nutrition but questioned the quality of food used by some service providers, especially the amount of saturated fat in their food. She asked if DBE could standardize the quality of food.

Mr Whittle responded that over the next few years the department intends to improve the quality of the meals. They do find that when you have local preparation of the meals instead of using large service providers, this can help deliver more nutritional food.

The Chairperson spoke for the Committee when saying that the first quarter results warrants more monitoring and tracking by the Committee, but the work that has been done is appreciated. Millions and millions of children are dependent on the school meal and the cost is worth it and must not be tampered with. Quality information dissemination and teachers need to continue to improve. The Committee is hopeful that the department is on the right track. The next presentation would need to be very limited to allow for questions.

Implementation of Inclusive Education: progress report
Mr Matanzima Mweli, Acting Deputy Director General: Curriculum, Policy, Support and Monitoring, noted the shift from focusing on special needs to focusing on inclusive education. DBE aims to provide access to education for all disabilities; although some provinces currently have more access than others. Mainstreaming learners with minor or mild disabilities is necessary because the majority of people with special needs are not in special schools. Inclusive education is about removing barriers to learning. There are systemic barriers and physiological barriers but it is the system’s responsibility to remove these barriers. Gauteng, KZN and Western Cape are the better resourced provinces. Resource allocation needs attention. The quality of special schools remains a challenge. For intellectual disability which is highly prevalent, DBE has re-introduced curriculum differentiation which is teaching and assessing in a different  way. Some disabilities such as deafness, blindness and autism require specialised intervention. Special schools teach 111 598 learners in 444 schools with 9 739 educators with a ratio of 11 learners per teacher. Full-service schools were discussed with Free State having the highest enrollment of learners with disabilities. There has been a steady growth in 0-4 year old children with disabilities receiving ECD programmes from 28.3% in 2009 to 43.7% in 2013. It is important to conscientise parents to access early intervention learning programmes. Challenges were adequate staffing and resources and procuring assistive devices for each learner with special needs. Closer monitoring would help in solving this.

The detailed progress report document included coverage of:
• Special Schools Enrolment in 2012;
• Full Service Schools Special Needs Learners: 2014
• Access For Children 0-4 Years; 5-Year Olds; 7-15 Year Olds; 16-18 Year Olds
• Resourcing Inclusive Education Policy
• Programme 4 Spending & Per Learner Expenditure In Special Schools
• Challenges With Expenditure Under Programme 4
• Expansion of Inclusive Education Expenditure & Budget
• Health Professional and Social Services Personnel Provisioning
• Curriculum Related Developments
• South African Sign Language R-12
• Curriculum Differentiation
• Procurement of LTSM, Assistive Devices and Equipment
• Adaptation of Workbooks
• Teacher Development Activities
• Specialised Teacher Training
• Challenges and Remediation.

Discussion
Ms J Basson (ANC) said that the word “inclusive” in the White Papers is too broad, and that it is not doing justice to schools if they are identified as full service schools but are not supported. Full-service schools lack social workers, skilled educators, and resources to teach special needs. The full-service schools that are already over-populated do not have enough assistants and have become a “dumping ground”. Also they are not geographically accessible to some. An explanation for why some provinces lack special needs devices was requested, specifically in the Northern Cape where there were often none in the schools. Special learners need access to special schools in all areas. 

Ms H Boshoff (DA) asked why only 92 out of the 979 educators are educated in sign language in home languages. Expanding the number of teachers who can use sign language is needed. Without support, special needs assistance cannot be conducted. Having 44 learners in a class is just not on for special needs learners. Do you have assistants for these classes? She asked for the breakdown of expenditure per learner in a mainstream and a special needs school as Mr Padayachee had said learning expenditure is higher for special schools than mainstream. It was also made clear that regardless of the return on investment, special needs students must be educated. There are not enough ECD practitioners for Grade R so how can we help the 0 to 4 year levels? Slide 32 shows the over expenditure of the Mpumalanga province by 124% – this shows that that provincial department does not have enough quality staff in place which is a concern. How the department has and seeks to provide the best assistance possible must be outlined.

Ms D van der Walt requested any information regarding the school that was supposed to go to Hwiti. Provision of the R213 million in the conditional grant was made for OSD students yet some provinces do not have funding this year to send all the students that would like to go; the discrepancy is in question.

Ms N Masabela (EFF) asked what the department planned to do to in order to make sure that all public schools have the infrastructure, including remedial teachers, to deal with special learners.

Ms N Mokoto indicated that many teachers still remain without special needs qualifications, despite the money that was allocated for it, and it has gone unaddressed for too long. Little budget is assigned to this budget line item in North West, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape provinces and this is of concern. Funding for five of the nine provinces that have part of the allocated budget does not cover all the children in need of special attention.

The Chairperson commented that the department has been too vague. Most of the prevalent disabilities are intellectual, their categorization should be elaborated upon. The majority of people with these prevalent disabilities are in regular schools, but the majority of teachers are not trained to teach them. She referred to a special needs hearing they had held in Parliament in the Fourth Parliament and the level of concern raised by parents of special needs learners. Parental involvement plans were not mentioned at all even though it is an important part of education. The provinces that received more support were mentioned, this needs more clarity. The statistics must be more clear and specific.

Mr Padayachee refers to how the Minister had raised two areas of relevance in the National Assembly. The one is that of rural education and multi-grade schools and a unit has been developed to focus on this. The second one is that of special needs education. Even with the advent of White Paper 6, progress was made but not that much. Thus 2013 was declared the Year of Inclusive Education. However, it is important that the strides that have been made in the last 20 years are acknowledged. The observation was made about the lack of social services expertise and teachers in full-service schools. Lack of social services and teachers is a country-wide problem, not just in certain schools and he agreed there is a need for these. He agreed that there are learners in full-service schools who should not be there. They are strengthening there education provision by having three systems: the academic; the technical vocational and the vocational occupational pathways. Their focus has been on the first two but now they are bringing in the third stream for learners who are unable to cope with the first two. The issue of unqualified teachers has been continual problem, but improvements have been made. They have now enrolled many of them via Funza Lushaka to ensure they are suitably qualified The return on investment that he is talking about is to make sure that disabled students receive as much access as possible to a quality education. He agreed with the comment that we do not have enough trained ECD practitioners but we must share those we do have with special needs learners. He agreed that DBE has to work very hard to ensure we have more of these ECD practitioners. On the expenditure in Mpumalanga, the Chairperson was part of the team that went to Mpumalanga and other provinces and appreciated the work that was done. Mpumalanga is leading in the rollout of inclusive education. Information about the move of the school to Hwiti would be provided as he did not have this on him. The department’s role is to monitor and support provinces; it engages with provinces at various levels, but the national department cannot force provinces to do what it wants them to do. The department can only persuade them to do the best they can do and to spend their budget and ensure learners are not short-changed by virtue of them living in a particular province. They are addressing the lack of teachers with the requisite skills which is a historical problem and the Committee must keep watch on the progress they are making. The most prevalent disabilities will be catered for by providing an accessible approach with the three educational streams.

Dr Moses Similane, DBE Director: Inclusive Education, responded about learners who are in full-service schools that are ineducable, saying that the admission policy states that special needs children must be admitted to public ordinary school as far as that is practicable. If the school is unable to support the child, the child must be referred to the Head of Department (this function is delegated to the districts) as a matter of urgency so professionals can assess the child and refer him to an alternative school. The policy does not speak about special schools, or creating waiting lists at special schools. Any child can go to any school, preferably local, and support must be provided. About the 92 teachers with sign language are those with formal qualifications. The audit revealed there are 351 teachers who are teaching at deaf schools in Foundation Phase who have to be trained this year in the new curriculum.

Ms H Boshoff (DA) wondered how many are trained in sign language in the home language?

Dr Similane replied that when the CAPS for the sign language curriculum were developed, it was developed at  the home language level using English as the framework. The sign language curriculum was first developed in English and adopted from that. In terms of training, the teachers will have to be trained at home language level. He added about the shortage of ECD practitioners, there are children with disabilities who are admitted as early as three (especially deaf and blind) at special schools across provinces to handle these physical disabilities.

On the move of special needs learners to Hwiti, this has yet to happen. However, there have been developments as R10 million has been spent on the host school in full preparation to receive the learners as the other school has to be completely re-built. The delay is due to internal consultation challenges but this problem has been elevated to the MEC of Education in Limpopo to find a solution.

On the lack of assistive devices, LTSM and resources in provinces, DBE is developing the funding norms. It deals with public schools, which encompass full-service schools, and special schools. The norms speak to how a school is supported in terms of non-capital, non-personnel resources. This standardization will empower provinces to respond appropriately to eliminate disparities and have every learner supported appropriately. There has been slow progress in staffing norms but it is work in progress. Staffing norms applies to not only teachers but also to other staff and not only at school level but at district level too.

On teachers without specialised skills, DBE has implemented a training programme from 2011 to 2014, training teachers mostly on visual impairment and sign language.

The department has supported provinces by providing business plans. Inclusive education is a rights-based approach and how it includes every learner in order to achieve the best possible result for each learner.

The Chairperson remarked that society is moving toward exposing disabilities, and hiding them less and allow all children access to education. The Committee nodded in agreement.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

Share this page: