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EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE; SELECT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND RECREATION: JOINT MEETING
3 September 2002
BRIEFING BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ON PROGRESS WITH HIV/AIDS PROGRAMME, UPDATE ON CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT AND STANDARDS AND NORMS FOR FUNDING OF SCHOOLS
Documents handed out:
HIV/AIDS Programme- Progress since 2001
Presentation on National Norms and Standards for School Funding
Further Education and Training Update: National Curriculum Statement for Grades 10-12
Context to the Revised National Curriculum Statement
Expenditure and Budget Trends in Education
The Department briefed the two Committees on the Department of Education's progress on their HIV/AIDS programme, curriculum development and budget trends in education. Members were impressed with the updates, especially that on HIV/AIDS. The Department noted that they would undertake a baseline study this year which would enable them to set benchmarks and targets. The main concern of Members was that the Department had no specific time frames to accomplish some of its strategic goals, especially those that dealt with equity in the funding of schools.
HIV/AIDS Programme since 2001
Ms Magome: Advisor to the Minister of Education on HIV/AIDS, outlined the context and background of the programme as a multisectoral response to a multifaceted problem of HIV/AIDS. She explained government priorities in dealing with HIV/AID in education sub-sectors. She then outlined an impressive progress that the Department had achieved at grassroots level. She also acknowledged some shortcomings and listed some lessons that the Department learned during the process. (please refer to the attached presentation for the full briefing)
Mr Kgwele (ANC) was impressed about increasing budget figures for the programme and encouraged the Department to maintain the upward budget trend. He further commended the Department for its age sensitive education on HIV/AIDS. His first question was an enquiry on the Department's mechanisms to deal with victimisation of both HIV positive teacher and students.
Ms Magome's response was that there was an anti-victimisation provision in the Minister's HIV/AIDS policy that was released in 1999. She emphasised that the government's policy on HIV/AIDS was zero-tolerance on victimising HIV positive people.
Mr Kgwele asked how the Department was involved in absorbing the impact of HIV/AIDS on the daily experience of learning and teaching and he wanted to know if there were any support groups or formations.
Ms Magome reported that this year the Department was embarking more on educating management on practical approaches to dealing with the impact of HIV/AIDS. She added that there was co-operation between the Department of Education and Social Development in order to create support structures through the professional help of social workers.
Mr RS Ntuli (DP) commended the Department for its holistic approach toward HIV/AIDS. His first question was whether the 60% of schools that are be expected to phase in the life skills programme included disadvantaged schools or not.
Ms Magome acknowledged the problem of disadvantaged schools. She pointed out, however, that provinces were responsible for the rollout of these schools.
Mr R Ntuli (DP) observed that the presentation did not mention any benchmarks. He felt strongly that the HIV/AIDS programme in schools should be guided by benchmarks. He also noted the presentation's silence on an HIV/AIDS education programme in further education and training (FET) in comparison with an elaborate programme in higher education.
Ms Magome promised Members that the Department would undertake a baseline study this year and from that it would be able to set benchmarks and targets. On the HIV/AIDS programme in FET, she acknowledged that there was no mention of it. The reason for the lack of mention was that the Department was in the process of developing an HIV/AIDS programme for FET.
One Member (ANC) commended the Department's progress because of the short time that had elapsed between the conference on HIV/AIDS and the implementation of the agreements. She then snubbed government critics who constantly lashed out at government for not caring about the AIDS epidemic. She asked how the Department was helping with respect to the nutritional aspect of HIV/AIDS in schools.
Ms Magome said that it was the right of pupils to benefit from the government's nutrition programme.
Another Member (ANC) wanted to know if the Department had statistics of schools that had no progress with the programme.
Ms Magome had no statistics. However, she promised the Committees that the Department was reviewing its funding standards for schools so that it could benefit disadvantaged schools.
Mr Abrahams (UDM) also asked how the Department approached HIV/AIDS education in FET particularly with the fact that learners were of age and would prefer making decisions independently rather than being prescribed to.
Mr Nkompela emphasised the pictorial appropriateness of HIV/AIDS education.
Ms Magome replied that all material that was produced by the Department were as age appropriate as in the curriculum.
Mr Nkompela asked if the there was progress on HIV/AIDS education in higher education.
Ms Magome was pleased to affirm that implementation was in its eighth month with the involvement of SAUVCA and CTP and funding by the Department and DIFD.
Mr Nkompela pointed out the silence on how HIV/AIDS education was delivered to special education pupils, especially those who suffered from hearing impairments.
Ms Magome apologised for not mentioning it but explained that it was being developed as an adaptation to the national HIV/AIDS programme in schools.
Rev Chabaku (ANC) commended the Department on the content of the presentation. She was, however, displeased by the gender insensitive language of the presentation and suggested language that that was not male biased. She advocated for an "inclusive language". She then suggested that the Department should stop dealing with victims but focus on preventative measures such as abstinence from sexual activities. She also suggested that religious groups should be included in the programme because they represented the moral authority of different groups. She rebuked the Love Life campaign on HIV/AIDS as encouraging young people to indulge in sex with condoms. In summary, she advocated morality and lashed out at programmes dealing with precaution measures against contracting HIV/AIDS.
Ms Magome dissociated the Department from any implied associations by Rev Chabaku. She said that the Department was focusing on preventative measures and that one of the agreements at an HIV/AIDS conference convened by the Department of Education was to include community organisations, part of which are religious ones. She emphatically dissociated the Department from Love Life's campaigns other than sports and games.
Mr Raju (DP) was also impressed with the report and he wanted to know how successful the involvement of traditional leaders was managed.
Ms Magome explained that the aim of he programme was to reach all interested community organisations and all were managed at that level.
Mr Tlhagale (UCDP) was happy with the presentation. Like Rev. Chabaku, he was critical of the use of condoms. He then asked if there were any measure to prevent loitering of condoms. Ms Magome said that the only thing that could be done was to educate communities.
Further Education and Training progress update: National Curriculum statement for Grades 10-12
Presenters: Mr Williams: Director & Mr Ndlovu: Chief Director (Further Education and Training-FET)
Mr Williams outlined the context of the National Curriculum Statement for 2002-2008. He listed plans and phases in which the curriculum statement would be implemented. Mr Ndlovu pointed out some challenges during the planned implementation process, namely, the integration of education and training into one band and an adequate response to the unemployed people who were out of school. (please refer to the attached presentation)
Mr SB Ntuli (ANC) asked if the Department has determined the extent to which some schools are accessible to pupils and the extent to which some schools could access learning materials.
Ms Nhlengethwa (ANC) also asked if the Department had any mechanisms to monitor the availability of learning support materials and tenders.
Mr Ndlovu acknowledged the problem of accessibility and promised the Committees that the Department was assessing possible solutions such as hostels schools. He added that the Department was also devising innovative ways of ensuring the delivery of support materials. The vans of Coca-Cola, for example, reached every part of the country.
Mr Mpontshane (IFP) asked if the Department would have criteria to select textbooks.
Mr Williams said they would have criteria and it would be a centralised decision.
National norms and standards for school funding
Presenter: Mr Patel: Chief Director, Education Finance Planning
Mr Patel sketched the background to the funding of public schools as provided in the South African Schools Act and the Constitution. He also outlined some problems facing the funding of publics as reported by the 1999 audit investing into the readiness of the government to apply the norms and standards for funding. He then listed some ways to deal with the problems and inadequacies in funding public schools. (please refer to the attached presentation)
Expenditure and Budget Trends in Education
Presenter: Mr Visser: Director
Mr Visser presented a graphical representation of state expenditure on education.
He also gave a comparative statistical presentation among provinces. He mentioned that although state expenditure on education was nominally increasing, it was in fact decreasing in real terms for the years 2001-2004 due to shrinking resource allocation on education. He was however, not pessimistic and promised that the Department was doing its best to achieve an equitable and substantial funding for education. (please refer to the attached presentation)
Prof. Ripinga (ANC) commented that even though the Department had noted that the cost of education was problematic it did not propose ways to deal with that situation. He also wanted to know whether there were any previously disadvantaged schools in the 13% of Section 21 schools that Mr Patel mentioned.
The Department could not say if the 13% included a certain amount of previously disadvantaged schools. It also mentioned that it was looking into ways of lessening the burden of the cost of education.
Mr Tolo (ANC) asked if there were mechanisms to implement compulsory education because there were still children loitering in the streets during school days.
Mr Patel said that the Department's approach of universal access to education was the best way so far.
Mr Tolo commented that the decrease in the real growth of funding on education could mean decreasing quality of education too. He also commented that it was time there was parity in education and he wanted to know how the Department was dealing with predominantly white school governing bodies that excluded poor children on financial grounds. Mr Patel said it was unconstitutional to exclude pupils on financial grounds.
Mr Vadi (ANC) observed that school fees were increasing and he criticised the ANC's move away from it policy of free education prior to 1994.
Mr Patel stated that there was an upcoming study on the cost of education in South Africa. He also pointed out that free education should be analysed against the quality of free education.
Mr R Ntuli wanted to know what the Department was doing with schools' misappropriation of funds.
Mr Patel stated that the Department was trying its best to give self-management to schools that had the capacity thereof.
Mr R Ntuli wanted to know the Department's progress on building hostel schools in rural areas. He also wanted to know how the Department was dealing with unilateral decisions to increase fees by predominantly white school governing bodies to financially exclude pupils from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
Mr Visser promised that there would be a comprehensive study on backlog analysis for hostel schools. He also said that it was illegal to unilaterally increase fees so that other pupils could be financially excluded.
Mr Mpontshane (IFP) asked why the Department was allocating funds based on previous year's numbers.
Mr Visser explained that provinces were expected to adjust the numbers when they received funds in the year of implementation.
Mr Mpontshane (IFP) also needed clarity on equitable share and wanted to know if unallocated funds were spent elsewhere.
Mr Visser explained the equitable share was a basis for allocation of funds and not the actual allocation of funds.
One Member (ANC) was concerned whether school-governing bodies understood policies governing education and she was especially concerned about body members who could not understand English and she suggested that policies should be translated into indigenous languages.
Mr Patel explained that the Department only supplied master copies of policy to provinces and that provinces were expected to translate and distribute them.
Mr Raju observed that there was no mention of expenditure on a nutritional programme.
Mr Patel informed Mr Raju that it was not in the Department's budget by policy and law.
Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked if provinces were implementing the norms and standards for funding of schools. He then asked who determined non-section 21 schools' needs against the problems of mismanagement that he highlighted through an anecdote.
Mr Patel confirmed that provinces had to implement norms and standards. In response to the second question, he said that it was logically the Department. He acknowledged some of the management problems faced by such schools and blamed it provincial and district officials.
Mr Ntuli asked what the extent was to which the efficacy study by the Department would "turn things around".
Mr Patel explained that the study was being undertaken to identify the poor schools properly and that the recommendations thereof would only improve the list and not the resources.
The meeting was adjourned.