The Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) briefed the Portfolio Committee on the audit outcomes for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and its entities for the 2013/2014 financial year, noting that the purpose of the presentation was to better equip the Committee to execute effective oversight. The Department of Basic Education (DBE), South African Council for Educators (SACE) and the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) received unqualified audits, but with findings, and the main areas of concern related to the capacity of the internal audit unit, quality of financial statements submitted, quality of performance reports and the supply chain management. There were some problems identified in relation to human resources and ICT management, and the financial health of the Education Labour Relations Council was not altogether satisfactory, and there was still a lack of enforcement of consequences for poor performance and transgressions, and slow responses by management. In the case of the DBE, some incorrect procurement processes had been followed, which had created a need for intervention on supply chain management. However, there had been some improvements on the previous years. The role and functions of the AGSA and the committees in relation to oversight were explained. Members asked for more detail on the specific problems with each of the entities, and questioned the reasons for saying that the Minister was not able to provide full assurances, also enquired why there had been misstatements by the provinces, and the extent of these. They asked about the use of an external auditor for Umalusi, and enquired how information was collated.
The DBE, and the Minister of Basic Education, briefed the Committee on the 2013/14 Annual Report. The Department had 57 performance indicators consisting of the quarterly, bi-annual and annual targets set by the Department. The output for each programme was presented, with achievements and highlights. The Department had managed to spend around 99% in four of the five programme, with underspending in Programme 4 due to poor spending on the Schools Infrastructure Backlog Grant, and delays in procurement. There had been transfers withheld for the HIV Conditional Grant and the Capitalisation Grant owing to low spending. There was, however, over-spending on goods and services, and that the budget allocation for examination papers did not increase in proportion to the increase in the number of papers. Some overspending on the infrastructure grant was borne by the provinces. There had been a need for restatement after an error was discovered. Members said that the underspending was of concern, and called for more explanations on this. In general, throughout the discussions, Members indicated that more detail was required on several issues, and particularly asked for comment on recurring issues. They questioned statements in the reports that there had been no industrial action, which belied the activities that led to certain officials having left the Department, and noted that the principals had not been entirely accurate when giving figures, and asked what the Department was doing to address this. Monitoring systems needed to be improved. Members also expressed concerns on the state of sanitation in schools, the fact that many schools did not have braille machines, the status of procurement, and need to monitor and take actions quarterly on issues of concern. They asked for more information on the library shortages, and the reasons why two reports due to be released in June and August respectively had still not been made available. The Chairperson wanted the value of Grade R to be specifically and separately debated. Members also had comments to make about safety and security, emphasised the need for proper safety in the hostels, queried the violence at schools, and wanted more detail on the laptop initiative, multi-grading, training targets and ICT upgrades. They wanted more detail also on the extent of corruption, what had been done to ensure protection of whistle-blowers, quarterly reports on learner attainment, the reason for the low hits to the Thutong portal. Members also questioned teacher training and the bursary funding, the outcomes of the survey on student advisors and the purpose of the ANA pilot study, and why disabled learners were not included in all pilot studies. The Minister concluded that "an immense budget" would be needed to develop infrastructure, and conceded that there was insufficient money for ICTs; although allocations had been made to the provinces, these had been re-appropriated to cover other essentials. which was critical. She was confident that the Department was ready, from an administrative standpoint, for the matric examinations.
Auditor-General South Africa: 2013/14 Annual audit report of the Department of Basic Education
Mr Godfrey Diale, Senior Manager, Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA), noted that the aim of his presentation was to help the Committee with its oversight role. The Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA, was responsible for the auditing of the financial statements of the Department of Basic Education (DBE), South African Council for Educators (SACE) and the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). The outcomes for Umalusi that were mentioned in his presentation were submitted by the external auditors of the entity.
Mr Diale explained that the there were mostly unqualified audits, with findings, between 2011 to 2013 for the three bodies DBE, SACE and ELRC
He explained that financial statements submitted should be reports that contained no material deficiencies in the content and preparation, failing which management would be called upon to do an adjustment as the statements would be regarded as non-compliant. He noted that the finical statements of the DBE and ELRC were measured in a certain way because management did not have a transversal system for internal control to measure the extent of disclosure notes. Mr Diale said that the DBE statements only provided some level of assurance, because although discrepancies were identified, material adjustments were not recommended given the size of the entity.
Mr Diale noted that AGSA would hold quarterly interactions with the Executive authority for assurance. He explained that in the case of the DBE, the internal audit unit needed to be capacitated in order to cover all activities, especially infrastructure. The auditing team experienced issues linked with the lack of expertise for specific internal audits. However he indicated that the Audit Committee within the DBE was effective.
Mr Diale said that, when doing an audit, the AGSA would address three key components of internal controls; namely, effective leadership, human resources controls and ICT governance and controls. Should there be audit deficiencies identified, these would be documented and handed to the Department, so that an action plan could be formulated to address the findings and the process.
Mr Diale indicated that the risk areas which suggested the need for intervention, were:
- Quality of submitted financial statements
- Quality of submitted performance reports
- Supply chain management matters
He indicated that there were problems in the areas of financial health, human resources (HR) management and information technology (ICT).
Mr Diale explained that the formulation of financial indicators required adjustments, despite the absence of material mismanagement. The DBE was required to have credible reports, depending on the accountability of provinces with effective processes to monitor the information and provide audit assurance. In the case of the DBE, some incorrect procurement processes had been followed, which had created a need for intervention on supply chain management. However, there had been some improvements on the previous years.
Turning to the position of the ELRC, Mr Diale said that its financial health raised some concern, although no interventions were required at this point. The Further Education and Training (FET) colleges have indicated a lack of contribution to the ELRC by lecturers, although colleges were now beginning to pay, after the intervention of the Auditor-General.
The ELRC performance agreements did not link properly to the deliverables in the strategic plan. ELRC had not indicated Information technology concerns. However, the root concerns for the ELRC were:
- lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions, which had remained unchanged
- slow response by management, which had actually regressed from previous years.
Mr Diale noted that the core purpose of the audit was to allow for concerns to be addressed timeously and to drive the agenda of good governance. He explained that AGSA was progressing on honouring the key commitments noted by the Minister.
Mr Diale referred to the oversight model provided by National Treasury and explained that it was necessary for time to be allocated to planning, especially with regard to the processes for the DBE to drive the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP). He noted that there was a need for quarterly assessments, as an indicator for achieving the outcomes set-out in the annual performance plan and to validate credibility and address non-performance.
Mr Diale explained the role of the portfolio committees according to Rule 201. Mr Diale proceeded to note the considerations for Portfolio Committees when dealing with performance monitoring. He referred in particular to the support given in oversight, and said that the Auditor-General would require extensive assurance from the portfolio committees. He urged the Committee to engage with AGSA on a regular basis.
Mr Diale explained that ‘clean’ administration improved service delivery by means of:
- Robust financial performance management systems
- Independent and relevant reporting by the AG
- Oversight and accountability by all
- Commitment and ethical behaviour
Mr Diale proceeded to explain the accountability and remedies for transgressions and poor performance which were noted in the AGSA booklet. Recommended actions included the implementation of action plans, accountability of all staff, and establishing and checking linkages between the reported achievements of the Department, with relevant documentation that also contained reliable information from provincial Departments of Education (PDEs). He further noted, in the case of the DBE, the need for improvement of controls with regard to record-keeping, leadership oversight and improvements in the project management of internal audits.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Diale for the presentation and acknowledged the necessity of the auditing process.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) said that he was pleased to hear that there were no apparent problems with the financial health of the Department. He enquired what would be the effect of agencies not complying and not being paid, noting that this amounted to a mis-statement that affected the Department's compliance.
Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) felt that it would be desirable for the AG to address specific issues on a national level, with regard to the Department’s outcomes and challenges. She noted that the presentation was not specific, but she felt that this information was necessary.
Ms A Lovemore (DA) was concerned that the areas outlined by AGSA were not specifically linked, in the presentation, to a specific entity. She was also concerned that the Minister could not provide real assurance and said that the country required a reason for the lack of sufficient assurance. She was not sure how the Portfolio Committee was able to provide assurance, as indicated in the presentation, and enquired as to the manner in which the Portfolio Committee migjht effect oversight over mismanagement so that misstatements in the Annual Report were rectified.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) enquired as to the extent of challenges which were preventing the DBE from receiving a clean audit opinion, how serious a concern this was, and said he needed more on the misstatements from provinces.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) requested clarification on the issue of recurring transgressions. Ms Mokoto enquired where the AG captured the shift in performance by the Department. She asked to what extent the AG would work with the internal audit to realign the expectations and outcomes to avoid qualified audits and disclaimers.
Mr T Khoza (ANC) wondered about the chances of the entities receiving clean audits without findings.
The Chairperson noted that Mr Diale said that Umalusi utilised an external auditor, and enquired how the Auditor-General would deal with disagreements with the Department. She also wondered whether AGSA audited the provincial departments, and wanted to know how the information was collated.
Mr Diale explained that the audit process was one that involved engagement, and that the verification of information was done against the delivery and the payment timeframes. AGSA required documentation and communication indicating the withholding of payments and the reasons behind this. The AGSA would then prepare briefing documents with specifics which related to the content. He apologised for the lack of the detail on specific entities, but said that this information was available and that the Committee would be able to get it.
He explained that the executive provided only some assurances, because not all the commitments had been met, which was the reason why the AGSA would not have indicated that the executive had provided full assurance. He said that it was difficult for AGSA to explain all content thoroughly, and apologised if any of the information had been confusing to the Committee.
Mr Diale explained that if the AG was said to express a certain opinion, that it would be unfavourable to the entity, but the financial statements had not yet been opened to the public.
Mr Diale noted that all departments faced challenges with regard to execution of outcomes at the provincial level. He further explained that customised indicators were not specified on the annual plan, but that in respect of information that had been included, AGSA would be looking for a correlation between the material information and the specific statistical indicators.
In the case of the DBE, there was over R900 million noted in irregular expenditure, which emanated from the infrastructure projects. He explained that there was not a contradiction. The submission by the Department was late, owing to pending issues. He indicated that there had been improvements but that these were not yet sufficient. However, the chance of the DBE obtaining a clean audit outcome were good and this was seen with Umalusi. With sufficient preventative audit controls being put in place, a clean audit should be possible. These controls were necessary, so that consequence management and review processes could be implemented
Mr Diale explained that the AGSA could not give assurance on the audit work done by the auditors of Umalusi. He explained that the work of AGSA itself was already extensive. Where audits were outsourced, the AGSA had to accept that the work was conducted by other audit professionals.
Mr Diale explained that disagreements did occur and that there would, in this case, be engagement with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on any deficiencies, and AGSA would ask management, in a week, to respond to the findings. If management did not respond, the findings would be recorded as they were, and this would then affect the audit report without corrections, noting the consequences.
Mr Diale explained that the AGSA had the audit outcomes for the provinces, and these would be shared, with the sector report. AGSA could, if the Committee wished, also brief the Committee on the specifics of the document. He indicated which entities the various components of the diagrams related to.
Ms Lovemore asked why all entities were said to be audited by AGSA, despite the fact that external audits occurred.
Mr Diale noted that the Public Audit Act accepted that there were certain audits that the AG had opted not to perform, but the AGSA was suggesting changes to the legislation.
Department of Basic Education 2013/14 Annual Report briefing
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Basic Education, and noted her apology that she would have to leave the meeting early. She noted that certain concerns about the DBE were raised during the presentation by the AGSA, and the Committee wanted to engage with the Department on those.
The Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, tendered an apology on behalf of the Deputy Minister, who was attending another meeting involving the Department. She noted that the Department found the input of the AGSA invaluable, and noted that there had been a lack of synergy between the national and provincial leadership.
Mr Paddy Padayachee, Acting Director-General, Department of Basic Education, gave a brief overview of the Department, and the programme performance. He noted that the main factors which influenced the role of the Department were the performance delivery environment and the organisational environment.
He wanted to indicate the relevant factors for the performance delivery environment, as follows:
- Data and Information Challenges
- Access to Basic Education
- Expansion of Early Childhood Development
- Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS)
- High quality Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM)
- Annual National Assessment (ANA)
- National Senior Certificate Results
- Competence, professionalism and status of teachers
- Effective teaching and learning in the classroom
- School Infrastructure Development
- Learner Well-being
-Section 100 (1)(b) Intervention in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo
In respect of the organisational environment, he noted that the important factors were the DBE oversight role and responsibility to provinces, and the alleviation of Provincial budget pressures.
Mr Padayachee explained that the Department had established 57 performance indicators consisting of the quarterly, bi-annual and annual targets set by the Department.
Mr Padayachee proceeded to provide an overview of the Department’s output per programme and noted the achievements and highlights for each of the programmes (see attached presentation for details).
Annual Financial Statements
Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer, DBE, presented on the Department’s annual financial statements.
Ms Molalekoa referred to the Department’s allocation against the actual expenditure per programme for the 2013/14 financial year, and indicated that the figures set out reflected the Department’s final appropriation.
Ms Molalekoa noted that four of the five programmes had spent 99% of their allocated budgets.
Ms Molalekoa further explained that the reasons for underspending with regard to programme 4, was a result of the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant and the delay in the procurement process, which was subsequently terminated.
Ms Molalekoa explained that transfers were withheld for the HIV Conditional Grant and the Capitalisation Grant owing to low spending.
She indicated that there had been an over-expenditure for goods and services, and that the budget allocation for examination papers did not increase in proportion to the increase in the number of papers.
Ms Molalekoa explained that the Department had experienced issues which have arisen from delayed claim submissions.
Ms Molalekoa added that there had been an over-expenditure on the infrastructure grant, but that this over-expenditure was paid for by the provinces. Ms Molalekoa explained that the information reflected in the report had been submitted by the provinces themselves.
Ms Molalekoa finally emphasised that the audit outcome for the 2013/14 financial year was an unqualified audit opinion with emphasis of matter. Ms Molalekoa explained that the reported figures required restatement as an error was discovered in the corresponding figures at 31 March 2013, and the material underspending on programme 4 with respect to the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant.
The Chairperson noted that the underspending was a concern and that the Committee required an explanation. She indicated that the Department did not provide the root causes behind the concerns and requested that the Department explain the reason why funds had not been sufficiently utilised.
The Minister explained that in respect of those programmes over which the Department had full control, underspending did not occur. She indicated that the programmes that showed discrepancies were run by the provinces and explained that the Department allocated funds and monitored those, but that the PDAs were implementing on behalf of the Department.
Ms Mokoto thanked the Department for the report. Ms Mokoto said that all of the programmes have performed above 60% and believed that the Department had performed adequately, but she thought nonetheless that children had not received all of the resources available to them. She asked how the Department addressed he recurring issues.
Ms Van der Walt said that she had been vocal on her concerns, and that this had produced results. The quality of the spending and the irregular expenditure should be explained. She cautioned that the DBE should be aware that principals often lied in order to make their organisation seem to be complying against norms and standards, and suggested the need for better infrastructure. She was particularly concerned that she had noted, during oversight, that one contractor at a school had received payment although the services were not completed. The appointment and procurement process required adjustment at national level.
Mr Mnguni indicated that there had been improvement in infrastructure, according to the report by the AGSA, but added that the monitoring system required improvement,for national progress.
Mr Mnguni noted that compliance by provinces was of concern and said that the responses to these concerns also needed improvement.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) responded to the Minister's remarks, and indicated that interventions should be implemented urgently. The improper SCM and policies had to be addressed. She enquired when the other six provinces would be targeted, as they were not included in the presentation.
Ms Boshoff enquired as to the progress on sanitation, noting that this was particularly important in view of the Ebola epidemic.
Ms Boshoff queried the statement that the provisions for braille were being adapted pointing out that many schools did not have braille machines.
Ms Boshoff further enquired as to the status of procurement as mentioned by the Department.
Ms J Basson (ANC) made a recommendation for the national Department to assume control over or better manage the provincial functions.
Ms Basson referred to the Department’s monitoring function and said that the expenditure trend was apparently evaluated quarterly, so then enquired why the Department was not similarly addressing, on a quarterly basis, the instances where programmes were not performing adequately in relation to the budget allocation.
Ms Basson recommended that the explanations for over-expenditure should be specifically recorded.
Mr Khoza enquired as to the reasons for underspending and wanted to know the Department’s plans to address this. He also wanted to know of the reasons behind the specified audit outcomes.
Mr Khoza enquired as to the extent of the library shortage and requested more information regarding the library roll-out plan.
Ms Lovemore requested greater detail with regard to the content of the Department’s presentation. In particular, she noted the mention of misstatements, and wanted to know what these were. In general, she said that she was disappointed in the “level of sugar-coating in the report”. Ms Lovemore stated that the report noted “labour-peace” on the one hand, but then on the other indicated that there had been strikes and marches. Ms Lovemore further stated that the report was misrepresenting the position, as it said that there had been an improvement, despite the fact that some grade 9 learners had been writing the grade 9 learners writing grade 8 examinations.
Ms Lovemore further expressed her intense dissatisfaction, and enquired as to the release of the NEDA report which should have been released on 18 June 2014, but was not.
Ms Lovemore asked if the audit of the LTSM had ever been conducted, and, if so, wanted to know the outcome.
Ms C Majeke (UDM) referred to the Department's goals and enquired why the Department utilised unregistered contractors. She thought that a criteria of extensive experience should be enforced in respect of the procurement of services and experts by the Department.
The Chairperson referred to the report on the value of grade R, and indicated that discussions were required to reach agreement. She requested that a discussion on the impact of grade R be added to the agenda for the next meeting.
The Minister responded to Ms Lovemore that she was proud of her impact as a Minister, as there had been visible improvements since her appointment. She stated that she did not mislead anyone, and the Members should not question the integrity of the Department. She noted that there were no labour disturbances. She did acknowledge that the NEDA report was not released. She indicated that the Department was reporting on 2013/2014 and not 2014, and inferred that the incidences referred to by Ms Lovemore applied to the 2014/15 reporting period. She agreed that there was a need to strengthen capacity in terms of auditing and the balance between reporting and quality assurance.
The Minister explained that the Department was only able to account for the sectors over which it had full control and had requested the Acting Director-General to create an infrastructure unit to assist provinces with their function.
The Minister explained that the Department of Public Works was an implementing agent in provinces, and that had its own dynamics. Public entities would be treated as private businesses, with the consequence of termination, to reduce non-compliance and service delivery. The Department had now compiled a roster for replacement instead of creating a delay by going to tender. She indicated that there had been improvement with the processes being implemented, owing to this system.
The Minister agreed with the Committee about the inadequacies in some schools but said that the Department was not prepared to utilise money where there were insufficient business plans being submitted by provinces. In regard to the state of hostels at schools, she explained that the budget that had been underspent was actually already committed to infrastructure, but that many of the goals set by the Department could not be achieved in the short term, owing to insufficient capacity and budget allocations to business plans.
The Minister referred to the relationship between the Department and provinces and explained that national programmes could not be implemented without the provinces. She acknowledged the lack of synergy.
Mr Padayachee referred to the internal audit unit and explained that the unit was not fully capacitated. The Minister agreed with the opinion of the Auditor-General that the unit required strengthening. The Department had also considered a revision of the units for which a proposal had been compiled. The Department had also included, as a key result area in the plans, the obtaining of an unqualified audit, to create greater accountability and ensure that issues do not recur. The national Department would be working with the provincial departments in order to progress on the audit outcomes, and provide them with the necessary support.
Mr Padayachee referred to the issue of Irregular expenditure and explained that implementing agencies required tenders and the Department had been compelled to choose between going to tender and providing the services. Mr Padayachee added that the Department would have compromised the delivery of services and that was the reason why it had opted rather to follow the route it did.
Mr Themba Kojana, Deputy Director-General: Teacher and Professional Development, DBE, emphasised that the Department had a commitment to monitoring and intervened in provinces on the basis of the information submitted to it. The report on the laptop initiative was in fact correct, and he acknowledged that the procurement process had been slow owing to a request for an intensive strategy for teachers and learners to develop their ICT skills.
Mr Kojana referred to the suggestion around principals submitting false information to the Department and indicated that provinces had been informed of the situation and asked to ensure that they implemented accountability measures because of the financial implications on the Department. The profiling done now covered 80 districts to enable focused support for issues that affected individual schools.
Mr Suren Govender, Chief Director, DBE, confirmed that there was a report available for the universal coverage of LTSM, inclusive of the provincial reports on expenditure. He also referred to the questions around library shortages and explained that the Department’s position was contextualised in accordance with the language for which each programme was being constructed. There were 11 366 school still requiring libraries and 8 863 of these were primary schools. Mr Govender noted that the Department had prioritised a roll-out plan for primary schools from 2014 to 2018, which was committed to provinces.
Mr Govender referred to issue of braille in schools and explained that instruments for the Annual National Assessment existed. Mr Govender indicated that provisions were made for braille in schools, but the Department acknowledged that other adaptations were made. If information was provided that schools do not have the equipment, this could be addressed by the Department.
Mr Govender explained that the Technical High School grant consisted of three components and that training and equipment for the grant had been addressed. Infrastructure and workshops had posed the greatest challenge to the Department, and accounted for the expenditure.
Ms Molalekoa indicated that the explanations for underspending were included in the presentation provided to the Committee.
Ms Molalekoa responded to Ms Boshoff on the issue of withholding funding, and explained that the Department’s responses were based on what was set out in the Division of Revenue Act. The relevant branches conducted follow-up activities but the Department was limited in what it could do itself. The Department would intervene as far as possible, but this was based on approval by the relevant entity.
Mr Padayachee explained that the HIV grant was undergoing re-conceptualisation, with a focus on learner-well-being.
The Chairperson asked about the progress of quality controls, saying that whilst this was a valuable concept there have not been tangible benefits seen. She further queried the nature of the training for safety in schools and security.
The Chairperson expressed concern about multi-grading and enquired as to the target of training. She also wanted to hear more detail on the timeframe for ICTS and laptops.
Ms Van Der Walt enquired which Departmental member had responded to the written questions, saying that she had been provided with 2011 statistics. She requested updated, relevant information which was correct and comprehensive.
Ms Van Der Walt emphasised the need for the Department to ensure that female security guards were appointed for female hostels, particularly for the blind students.
Ms Lovemore indicated that the NEDA report on the intermediate phase was not released and is still not available. She further contested the statement that there had been labour peace by indicating that the South African Teachers Union rule resulted in the removal of the Deputy Director-General.
Ms Lovemore referred to the Department’s "misstatements" and enquired as to what the misstatements were.
Ms Lovemore enquired as to the membership of the advisory committee for the ANA tests.
Ms Lovemore referred to the audit and risk management inclusion in the report and enquired as to the meaning of a ‘minimum corruption’ campaign. She wanted more detail on the level of fraud and corruption in the Department, as statistics were not provided in the presentation.
Ms Lovemore noted that Strategy for Learner Attainment indicated that quarterly reports were received but did not disclose progress and challenges and so she wanted to know about the figures.
Ms Lovemore said that the Thutong portal had experienced a significantly low number of hits, and wanted to know why.
Ms Lovemore indicated that the NEDA report for the foundation phase states that every child should have access to at least 30 titles, however the Annual Report mentioned only three titles, and she asked for an explanation on this.
Ms Boshoff re-iterated that the whistle-blowing policy was approved, and wanted to know what measures had been implemented to safeguard the identity of whistle-blowers in South Africa.
Mr Mnguni referred to the issue of security guards and enquired as to whether the Departments intends to include fencing in its security plans. He indicated that ablution facilities were "terrible" and said that many schools did not have dedicated administration blocks. Furthermore, he was concerned that the grounds and infrastructure were insufficient for children's sport.
The Minister explained that the Department planned to close many of the multi-grade classes, and indicated that a multidisciplinary team was being established. She acknowledged the need to improve library services and noted that the Department was looking at means to provide, and improve, mobile libraries.
She noted the comment about security guards and noted that the Department had engaged with the provinces on this matter and would follow-up, although she wanted to remind the Committee that certain areas related to provincial competencies.
The Minster indicated that her understanding of the disruption of the system was exemplified by events in 2010. However, she acknowledged that she perhaps under-emphasised the severity of the matter.
Ms Van Der Walt enquired as to the reason why the pilot projects were not implemented for deaf students first, and said that all learners with disabilities, especially blind learners, should be prioritised.
Mr Padayachee noted with regret that special needs individuals were never prioritised in terms of the budget.
Mr Padayachee explained that educators are able to access multiple tools and not solely laptops, and that ICT will improve learning and teaching
In relation to the material misstatements, Mr Padayachee said that the Department will produce a written report.
Mr Padayachee explained that the advisory committee was composed of panels of educators who would set the papers. The advisory committee of the Director-General comprised experts from institutions of higher education as well as international experts. The international members were brought out for the finalisation of the tests last year.
Mr Padayachee referred to the internal audit and explained that there were certain minimum issues which needed to be addressed in terms of corruption, and providing capacity to ensure compliance.
Mr Granville Whittle, Deputy Director-General: Care and Support, DBE, referred to the issue of training and explained that the Department was re-conceptualising what was done on training. Mr Whittle explained that the Department had worked with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, who conducted national surveys on school violence. It seemed that learners were perpetuating the violence and that when it occurred in the classrooms the violence was also driven by teachers. The Department aimed to create a strategy to deal with the classroom as the site of the violence. In addition, the Department was meeting with South African Police Services (SAPS) in line with the protocol which linked schools with police stations. The response must be holistic. When instances occurred in the absence of the teacher in the classroom, this would also have to be addressed. Furthermore, the Department required commitment from the community to curb the incidence of violence.
Mr Padayachee explained there was not a specific procedure for protection of whistle-blowers, but that the Department would be looking into this, together with the provincial Heads of education.
The Chairperson asked for a brief summary of the Department's priorities.
The Minister explained that "an immense budget" was required to develop infrastructure. She noted that the Rural Schools Project and Correctional Services assistance had been invaluable. However, there was no money for ICTs, which was critical. Although the State had allocated R1 billion for ICTS to the provinces, this money had been re-appropriated by provinces owing to various other pressures such as salaries.
Ms Lovemore referred to the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme and indicated that the bursary allocation was excessive, wondering it this was intentional. She asked how the Department was addressing the concerns about the disbursement of money in the middle of the year.
Ms Lovemore noted that the presentation did not make reference to the outcome of the survey on student advisors, and wanted more detail on this point. She also wanted to know the purpose of the ANA pilot study.
Ms Lovemore indicated that a 2013 report was scheduled for release by August 2014, and asked when it would be made available.
Ms Mokoto reiterated that schools had become targets for crime and enquired whether the Department had considered insurance to cover the resources which the Department funded.
Ms Van Der Walt enquired how the provinces were being monitored, and asked for the report on textbook delivery by the end of the year.
The Minister agreed with Ms Lovemore about the Funza Lushaka Bursary and echoed the need to train teachers. She posed the possibility of bursaries for teachers, and distance learning, which would cost less, and increase the number of learners with access.
Mr Kojana indicated that the Department aimed to work in collaboration with Teach South Africa and Elma foundation to strengthen community-based and district recruitment plans. In relation to the selection process, he explained that there had been a revised model to improve the provision of funds in the beginning of the year. The Department would be meeting with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to discuss these points.
Ms Palesa Tyobeka, Deputy Director-General: District Coordination, DBE, explained that the information from the audit was available but the Department had reason to believe that the data was not sufficiently accurate.
Ms Tyobeka explained that the Department was using the Districts to expand the scope of the audit and utilise a new electronic tool to acquire the data.
The Minister explained that there were more subject advisors for the FET phase, whereas the concerns are in the intermediate and senior phases. She emphasised that the resources needed to be appropriately allocated in the provinces.
Ms Tyobeka referred to the ANA pilot and explained that the sample was utilised to measure the processes involved. Ms Tyobeka explained that the data was not being utilised effectively.
Mr Govender expanded on LTSM and delivery and explained that there was a management plan within the sector which tracked progress. The delivery schedules of the provinces for the end of this year should be met.
Mr Padayachee stated that the Department would follow up on the reports. He explained that government does not take out insurance, but the Department of Public Works would deal with issues of rebuilding.
The Minister explained that there was a correlation between vandalism and responsible communities.
Ms Basson indicated that, from the grade R practitioners chosen to be developed, the Department only allowed for one ECD centre to be developed. Ms Basson enquired whether there was a ring-fenced number or limit on the number of ECDs to be developed.
Mr Kojana explained that there was a need to specify the definition in order to provide a comprehensive response.
The Chairperson asked for the Minster's opinion on the upcoming Matric examinations.
The Minister indicated that she would be happy if South Africa was able to sustain the pass rate, and preserve the quality of those passes. The Curriculum Branch had been visiting provinces where children were still studying by candle-light and the communities were supporting those children. She recommended that the Portfolio Committee also provide further encouragement to learners facing difficult circumstances.
Mr Padayachee added that the Department, from an administrative standpoint, was as ready as it could possibly be.
The Chairperson congratulated the Department and noted that the Committee was looking forward to seeing a clean audit report.
The meeting was adjourned.