Department of Higher Education and Training on its 2013/14 Annual Report

Higher Education, Science and Innovation

15 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms Y Phosa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) presented its annual report for the 2013/14 fiscal year. It looked at its strategic goals, such as increasing the number of skilled youths and expanding access to education and training; to adequately capacitating individual institutions to effectively provide or facilitate all learning; to increasing the number of students who successfully entered the labour market upon completion of their training; and to expanding research, development and innovation capacity for economic growth and social development. It also highlighted key achievements in terms of the strategic goals.

The Department presented separately on each of the five programmes within its respective branches of administration, human resource development, planning and monitoring coordination, university education, vocational and continuing education and training, as well as skills development. Each branch presented on its performance status by 31 March 2014, giving a summary of the total number of achieved targets and the ones that were not achieved. Furthermore, each branch explored its key achievements and strategies, addressing areas where targets had not been met, and providing reasons for the non-achievement of specified targets.

The presentation on the Auditor-General’s report focused on the actions that had been taken by the AGSA and the audit action plan that had been developed. It looked at compliance with laws and regulations; strategic planning and performance management; annual financial statements; human resource management and compensation; the action plan audit; the 2013/14 allocation versus expenditure; and explanations of variables.

Committee Members expressed their dissatisfaction at the absence of both the Minister and Deputy Minister, and said they hardly attended Portfolio Committee Meetings. The Chairperson mentioned that Wednesday meetings disadvantaged the Committee, because they were the days the Cabinet met. An Opposition Member suggested that the role of the Deputy Minister was to stand in for the Minister when he was otherwise engaged.

The Committee had mixed comments, suggestions and questions which were based largely on the targets that were not achieved, bursary administration and allocation, funding for postgraduate studies, skills development and training of mid-level skills, security concerns at some TVET college campuses that had necessitated DHET interventions, the Auditor-General report, as well measures that the DHET had taken to ensure that the needs of the beneficiaries were catered for.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks

The Chairperson welcomed everyone and said the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) would present the departmental financial and non-financial annual report. The previous day, 2014, officials from the Office of the Auditor-General had given an overview of the entire sector on the audit outcomes. She was pleased that the Director General was in attendance. The DHET would present on their performance, challenges, and recommendations.

Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director-General: DHET apologised on the behalf of the Minister, Dr. Blade Nzimande, who was away on an Operation Phakisa assignment aimed at revitalising South Africa’s economy. The Chairperson said the Deputy Minister was away on the same assignment. Ms J Killian (ANC) had sent an apology as she had to attend another equally important and competing meeting (Powers and Privileges Committee), and said she would join the meeting later.

Prof B Bozzoli (DA) expressed her concern about the absence of the Minister and Deputy Minister. Other Portfolio Committees were often graced by the presence of the respective Ministers and Deputy Ministers, but the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training had not seen them both in attendance since the term of office began, in Parliament or in workshops. She said that this was unacceptable.

The Chairperson noted the concern.

Mr Y Cassim (DA) asked if they could have a resolution, as a Portfolio Committee, to appeal to the Minister’s office to ask if he was serious about Parliament. He and the Deputy Minister needed to attend more Portfolio Committee meetings. He was of the view that as a Portfolio Committee, they needed to make that request so that the Minster attended meetings more often.

The Chairperson noted Mr Cassim’s statement. She said that the Committee had a complication in regards to having meetings on Wednesdays, because it was the Cabinet day. She had raised the matter with the Chair of Chairs, and the matter was being explored further. Once she received a response from the Minister’s office, she would share it with Committee Members. The Committee was currently being disadvantaged. The Constitution stipulated that both Ministers needed to be present and account for the work they were doing.

Ms S Mchunu (ANC) said that the activities that both the Minister and Deputy Minister were attending were very important, and she accepted their apology. She was of the view that not everyone wanted to lodge an appeal, as it had been mentioned on Wednesday that they were not going to be present, due to the Cabinet meeting.

Prof Bozzoli asked if Operation Phakisa was a Cabinet meeting, and if both the Minister and his Deputy had to be there. She was of the view that one of the main reasons why the Minister had a Deputy was to deputise when the Minister was not available.

The Chairperson replied that Operation Phakisa was a Cabinet programme set by President Zuma.

Prof Bozzoli pointed out that it was not a Cabinet meeting.

Briefing by DHET on its Annual Report 2013/14

Mr Qonde, Director General, DHET, said the presentation outline looked at pertinent issues in the 2013/14 review, as stipulated in the annual report and the targets set. The strategic goals within the DHET included:

- increasing the number of skilled youth and expanding access to education and training;

- to adequately capacitate individual institutions to effectively provide or facilitate all learning because without optimal functioning of institutions, they would not be able to realise the goals set, as that was the area in which training took place;

- to increase the number of students who successfully entered the labour market upon completion of their training. The DHET was proud because the number of participating youth had increased, particularly students from institutions for which the DHET was responsible;

- to expand research, development and innovation capacity for economic growth and social development;

- to create a college curriculum that was responsive to the demands of the market place and could transform, and adapt quickly and effectively to changing skills needs, with a special emphasis on artisan training, not only for skills acquisition but also to ensure that DHET training provided youth with the skills needed by the economy;

- to develop a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning to support an inclusive economic growth path. There was an ongoing project which looked at the establishment of institutional mechanisms in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), among others; and - to sustain a healthy effective, professional, efficient administration that was informed by good corporate governance practices across the system.

During 2013/14, expansion of post-school education and training opportunities remained a central focus for South African citizens, especially the youth. The milestones that had been achieved during 2013/14 included:

  • The launch of the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training. The DHET was working on its implementation in order to realise its principles and objectives.
  • Publication of the policy for the Provisioning of Distance Education in South African Universities, after DHET realised that system expansion had to take place through contact processes, and they had to enhance and expand the provision of distance education.
  • The policy framework for differentiation of the Higher Education and Training system was in place.
  • Finalising a policy for a Generic National Artisan Learner Grant Funding and Administration system;
  • Establishment of two new universities -- Sol Plaatjie University (Northern Cape) and University of Mpumalanga;
  • Establishment of the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences;
  • Declaring 2013 as the ‘Year of the Artisan’;
  • Extension of the Higher Education and training aids to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

Strong emphasis was placed on career guidance. Exhibitions had increased in number, and the quality and quantity of information that was made available to learners had improved as well. A national Career Advice Portal had been developed.

Mr Qonde said that there were five budget programmes within DHET with a combined total of 127 planned targets. 82 (65%) targets had been achieved as at 31 March 2014, and 45 (35%) targets were not achieved, but a number of ongoing mechanisms had been put in place with relation to internal and external factors, such as incapacity areas within the department. The annual report provided details on strategies to deal with underperformance in respective programmes.

Programme 1: Administration

Ms Lulama Mbobo, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, DHET, said the presentation focused on the key achievements and explanations on the five targets that were not achieved during the year under review. The purpose of programme 1 (administration) was to conduct the overall management of the Department and provide centralised support and services. Of a total of 22 targets, 17 were achieved and five not achieved by end of the fiscal year.

Key achievements included that the DHET’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) governance framework maturity levels had moved from level 1 in 2012 to level 3 in 2013/14 (one level higher than planned); the Department had managed to reduce the vacancy rate from 11% in 2012 to 7.11% (funded posts) during 2013/14, and the target for the year was 10%; it had managed to fill advertised posts within the planned period of four months; and the average number of days to resolve disciplinary cases was 74 days, against government’s target of 90 days.

Strategies to deal with underperformance in areas where targets were not achieved were in progress. These areas included:

  • Network connectivity: On IT, the Department was not able to reach its target of 100% network connectivity due to a system shutdown within the whole government. As a result, it had achieved 99.5% of its target.
  • Adherence to the Performance Management Development System policy: This was an area of concern within the DHET owing to the fact that managers and supervisors failed to take accountability for officials who did not comply with service agreements. However, the DHET had put measures in place to deal with officials’ non-compliance in this regard.
  • Payment of invoices within the prescribed timeframe: The DHET set a 28-day target instead of a 30-day overall target within government departments. In this regard, they had achieved a 30-day target and not the 28-day target they had set for themselves. This was due to the fact that statements had come to the DHET with wrong accounts, among other reasons. The Department had put measures in place to address the situation.
  • Identification of fraud cases (early warning system): The DHET had insufficient capacity to address issues related to risk management. Nonetheless, the situation had been resolved and the DHET was fully compliant in terms of risk management, and prevention policies had been put in place.


Prof Bozzoli said the number of targets that were not achieved was very high. She was of the view that the non-achievement of targets within the Department resulted from failure by other institutions that the Department was not able to fully control. This was problematic, as the majority of the DHET’s work was managing other institutions. How many they targets had not been achieved by the Department that were not because of other institutions’ failures.

Mr C Kekana (ANC) referred to the training of artisans, and how this had to be aligned with the needs of the economy. The country had been struggling to achieve economic growth, and he was concerned about all the structures involved in the provision of artisans. He asked why DHET had not mentioned the private sector’s participation in the whole process, because the needs of the economy also involved the private sector. Unless artisans were employed, they were trapped by having qualifications, but could not work. There had to be a buy-in from the private sector, which had not been cooperative, to avoid the bad results arising from poverty.

Ms Mbobo replied that out of the targets that DHET could not meet, they could control only two of them -- performance management, and cases of the early warning system regarding fraud cases. However, the DHET did not have full control over ICT invoices. Regarding the performance management and early warning system, the Department had put measures in place to ensure that going forward they would achieve 100% of target.

Mr Qonde said the artisan question had two issues. Firstly, there was the development of institutional mechanisms for skills planning that supported inclusive economic growth path. It was a research intensive activity that was ongoing, because DHET had inadequate capacity, and had to collaborate with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Further Education and Training authorities and other relevant institutions in the private sector, to assist with the development and information they needed to establish the mechanisms. In the second place, artisan development was a collaborative exercise which involved government, state-owned enterprises, the private sector, and colleges. There were various partnerships regarding artisan development. The DHET was working on a joint project with the automobile industry toward artisan development, because of the need they had identified and intelligence they had provided to the DHET and the willingness they had expressed to come on board. Consequently, a number of manufacturing companies had sponsored the DHET with cars to be used for training at TVET colleges, such as Renault, Nissan, BMW and others, and the programmes were underway. State-owned enterprises were collaborating with colleges and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) in locating training in TVET colleges. The private sector was cooperative in various forms. For instance, the DHET was working with German companies situated in South Africa on the development of artisans, including an appropriate curriculum in particular skills acquisition. The Department was also working with other individual companies within South Africa.

Prof Bozzoli said that in respect of human resource management, the Auditor-General had mentioned that officials’ qualifications were not duly verified in the Department, which was of huge concern to the government. She believed departments had to verify qualifications of the officials when they were appointed, and failure to do so posed a risk of corruption and fraud. She asked how many officials were not verified, what steps were taken by DHET to ensure that verification of qualifications took place, and if DHET used the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), which was the DHET’s organisation to verify qualifications.

The Chairperson asked if DHET had come up with an action plan after the Auditor-General’s audit opinion and the success in its implementation, because it had been raised with AGSA that people submitted plans but did not implemented them. The aim of implementation was to turn around the financial and non-financial performance in a bid to attain a clean audit. She asked if the Department had submitted and implemented the plan.

Ms Mbobo acknowledged that on the issue of the registration of qualifications, at the end of the fiscal year DHET had a total of 79 outstanding cases of qualifications’ verification, but to date only seven cases were still outstanding. They had worked collaboratively with SAQA to address the outstanding cases, and had addressed new appointments with SAQA as they came in. There had been a commendable improvement. The DHET had entered into an agreement with SAQA to verify the qualifications of all DHET employees to start a clean process, because this had been done only with new appointments. They aimed to achieve this by the end of the 2014/15 financial year. The DHET only used SAQA to verify qualifications and were not permitted by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to use other agencies.

It was a requirement for all branches to produce an action plan to respond to AGSA audit findings, and for programme 1, the DHET had submitted its action plan. On a quarterly basis, it reported to the Director-General about progress with the plan. The programme plan implementation was well in progress and there had been improvements, which included the verification of qualifications.

The Chairperson asked whether the DHET met security check requirements, because it impacted on the Department’s image and efficiency.

Ms Mbobo replied that DHET met the requirements, and cited a recent example where the DHET had received about 69 reports from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) regarding security checks. The Department had a backlog which had since been reduced. Due to the growth of numbers, the Department would have its own internal unit that would conduct security clearance through NIA’s assistance. There was improvement in the security check area.

Programme 2: Human Resource Development, Planning and Monitoring Coordination

Mr Reineth Mgiba, Director: Strategic Planning, DHET, said the purpose of the programme was to provide strategic direction in the development and monitoring of the Department’s policies, and to coordinate activities in relation to the human resource development (HRD) strategy for South Africa. The performance status as of 31 March 2014 indicated a total of 19 targets that had to be achieved. The DHET had managed to achieve 13 of the targets, and had been unable to achieve six.

Among key achievements,100% of public institutional data for 2010, 2011, and 2013 had been integrated into a single management information system (50 TVET Colleges, 23 Higher Education Institutions/universities and 21 SETA’s). On Career Advices Services, DHET planned to include two more modules. The National Career Advice Portal (NCAP) had been developed as an integrated education and training career development information system, and was live on the website provided in the presentation. A multi-platform helpline was functioning (radio, web portal, etc.), and had since exceeded the planned target. Furthermore, the DHET had developed its first international relations strategy, which had been approved by the Director-General, and was in its implementation stage. The DHET had dealt with all litigation within the framework that had been set by the rules of court.

Mr Mgiba referred to targets that had not been achieved by the end of 2013/14 financial year. A research bulletin had been approved and published after the end of the year under review due to qualitative checks that took longer than planned. An investment report on education and training was compiled after the end of the deadline of 31 March, also due to qualitative checks that took longer than planned. A monitoring report on the implementation of the Social Inclusion Framework within the universities was subsequently finalised and approved in April 2014, and the report contained progress in this regard. Due to the consultative process followed, the monitoring and evaluation report on the mandatory role of the Quality Councils and SAQA was finalised and approved after 31 March. The Ministerial policy guidelines issued in terms of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act, required the Minister to “publish guidelines which set out government’s strategy and priorities for the NQF, and which may be updated annually”. The database of international engagements of all public post-school institutions remained a challenge, though most of the work had been done. The challenge was with the IT programme that had been introduced, because the universities that had to report on their international engagements were able to report but DHET had difficulty accessing the programme and the information therein. However, there was work under way and the challenge would soon be rectified.


Prof Bozzoli referred to the database of international engagements and asked why DHET needed this, as it appeared to be a time consuming and expensive exercise which had little visible benefit. What use was the database for the Portfolio Committee, as well as the DHET, and how much it would cost?

Ms Mchunu referred to the vacant position of Deputy Director-General in the DHET. According to Public Service regulations, an employee should not act in a higher post for an uninterrupted period that exceeded 12 months, yet the current DDG at the university branch had acted in the position for more than three years. She asked when the DHET was planning to rectify that.

Mr Qonde said the DHET, in relation to the international work database, had resolved that its work should not just involve a trip to a destination abroad, but should rather focus on adding value to the work done in the post-school education and training system. The work took place in DHET institutions, TVET Colleges, the DHET itself. Other offers, such as donor funding or assistance in collaboration towards the development of certain programmes at work, had to come via the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and other departments and institutions in South Africa. The Department took a considered view that it had to ensure that there were no overlaps in the work done on the international front, and the programmes that DHET were involved in were synchronised with its work. The Department would also have to ensure that it improved its administration on opportunities and offers that were given to DHET on the international front. DHET considered it important to be in possession of relevant information regarding what was happening on the international front. Institutions entered international rating competitions because people lived in a global village, not as a country in isolation. Also, DHET had to ensure that they were part of the activities that happened internationally, and be able to maximise opportunities to the country’s benefit.

On the issue of posts, there were processes that were under way to fill the posts. Interviews were already scheduled because the posts were in the executive field. Not everyone who had to participate had been able to arrive, so the interviews had had to be re-scheduled. The process of ensuring that posts at all levels were filled was well under way.

Programme 3: University Education

Dr Diane Parker, Acting Deputy Director-General, DHET, said the purpose of programme 3 was to develop and coordinate policy and regulatory frameworks for an effective and efficient university education system, and to provide financial support to universities, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the National Institute for Higher Education. The performance status of programme targets as at 31 March showed that out of a total of 34 targets, 23 targets had been achieved, while 11 of them were not achieved.

The key achievements reported by 31 March were for the 2012 academic year that had been audited in 2013. They included:

- 953 373 students were enrolled for higher education studies at universities (43 657 more than targeted);

- 19.2% headcount enrolment over population 20-24 year olds, which was also called the participation rate of admission to university (1.3% above target);

- two public higher education universities were established in August 2013 (Sol Plaatjie University and University of Mpumalanga). Each university had a ten-year development plan which was underway;

- 662 123 African students were enrolled at universities (68 863 above target);

- 554 840 female students wereenrolled at universities (15 224 above target). DHET was surprised by this achievement and would have to think about it carefully and conduct a research project to understand the number of female enrolments, which was above the system norm;

- a 76% success rate of students enrolled in higher education studies at public institutions;

- 9 974 engineering sciences graduates from universities;

- 8 015 human health and animal health graduates from universities;

- 6 366 natural and physical sciences graduates from universities (979 above target);

- 13 740 graduates in initial teacher education from universities (3 067 above target); and

- 45 598 postgraduate students (1 297 above target). There was also a special focus on Foundation Phase Teacher Education, which was an important achievement within the system. There was also an achievement with Research Master’s and Doctorate (PhD) graduates.

Strategies dealing with underperformance in areas where targets were not achieved was ongoing. Targets not achieved included:

  • A draft policy on Adult Educator Qualifications. It was completed and ready for approval, but unfortunately it was not approved before the end of the financial year. DHET would look into improving their processing systems to make sure that approvals were achieved before set deadlines.
  • 1 812 fewer students graduated from universities in the 2012 academic year than targeted. These were system targets that the DHET had no control over. They had since negotiated the targets. The issue was understanding why the system was not able to produce targets. Research would have to be undertaken in terms of data analytics and the actual situation within universities.
  • 17 of 25 universities had statuses that specified five Ministerial appointees rather than the targeted 24. The Minister had made an appeal to all universities that in terms of the Higher Education Act, he was entitled to appoint five Ministerial appointees for each of the universities, and he had requested all universities to comply with the Higher Education Act. Only 17 of 25 universities had complied with the process by the end of 2013/14 fiscal year.
  • There were 3 044 fewer honours graduates from universities in the 2012 academic year than targeted.


Mr Cassim referred to first time enrolments, as well as Honours graduates, on the targets that were not being met, and also noted the statement about how the targets would be addressed in terms of monitoring. He did not think he would support this, and DHET might need to think about it thoroughly. Understandably, the DHET could not control every part within the system, but should the focus be on monitoring? What had the greatest influence on the system? He did not think that institutions themselves had influence over the different variables within the system when they looked at how they were going to achieve set targets. He was of the view that the DHET and the Minister were in a better position to influence the system as a whole, to ensure the conditions were in place for the targets to be met. He cited the example of whether it was an issue of accessing first time entries with different entities like NSFAS that influenced higher education’s grant, and how they interacted. He did not believe that the manner of targeting had to be changed, because this meant that nobody was well suited to own that responsibility. Looking at the strategies to address underperformance, which included more research and funding, he asked what the trends had been since 2012 and how they were linked to funding in particular. Was there any trend that spoke to first time enrolments linked to students that were funded by NSFAS? Were there fewer students enrolled in that regard, and how did DHET monitor it on a regular basis? On the issue of honours students whose academic programmes had no research component, what was the link over the last year? What had the DHET planned to ensure that there was access for poor students, in particular for Honours and B Tech degrees, considering that there was not adequate funding for these degrees? If there were no plans, what were the targets, or were these degrees meant for those that could afford it?

Prof Bozzoli said there many plans, task teams, initiatives, and policy documents, but many of them did not seem to go anywhere maybe due to inadequate money to implement the plans. She was of the view that the DHET was reaching its limits and cited Marxist theory on capitalism, because the costs of expanding student numbers lay with NSFAS. Student numbers could not expand forever. The report stated that some targets could not be reached due to insufficient NSFAS funding, and that needed to be dealt with seriously by the DHET. She asked what had happened to the Transformation Committee, which seemed to have disappeared. What was the review of the Higher Education Act for, when would it be completed, and who was in charge of it? She referred to the increase in the number of Teach Education graduates, and said schools where some of the graduates had been placed reported that the reason why the numbers had gone up was due to quality admission levels going down, and that Fundza Lushaka education bursaries were given to students who were not properly screened for their capacity to teach. If this was indeed the case, it was a serious concern. The DHET’s interpretation of improving research focused on producing more Masters and PhD students, and academics producing more articles. This differed from her own interpretation of research, putting academics in the production line where they had to produce more articles, but without the basis of an improvement in research. She suggested that the new targets needed to be modified so that the DHET’s ideas of improving research were more up-to-date.

Mr M Mbatha (EFF) asked what the real numbers were of young South Africans interested in higher education, leading to 2030. He was worried that the DHET was not projecting what was in line with people’s needs, rather in line with fiscal capacity and regulations. On the issue of an increased number of female enrolments in institutions, he said young women aimed for a better life. He thought one of the biggest shortcomings was the inability to accommodate all of them across all higher education and training institutions, including TVET Colleges. If the current Parliament term was unable to deliver, it would impact on the 2030 vision by saving money at the expense of black children, because NSFAS could not be part of the South African history. Failure to deliver was going to exclude black children through actions that would affect them more than the policy.

Mr E Siwela (ANC) said the DHET was unable to meet the enrolment funding due to lack of NSFAS funding, and asked if the DHET planned to increase NSFAS funding in future in order to reach the set target. Since the DHET and the Minister of Higher Education and Training could not meet the set target that universities needed five Ministerial appointees where others had complied, he asked that if the Minister could not force universities to comply with the requirement, was it worth it for the DHET to continue with that indicator in future, because the DHET did not have powers to compel institutions to abide by the set target or requirement. It might be better to change the statutes in order to ensure that the Minister had the power.

Mr Kekana asked why Dr Parker sounded sceptical about the overproduction in the number of female enrolments in higher education and training institutions. He was happy with the numbers of female enrolments, because females felt poverty more than any other person, and education could empower them to be independent. He wanted to know why the DHET felt the need to analyse whether the Department was doing the right thing.

Mr M Tshishonga (AGANG) said that strikes by university students were disturbing and sought clarity on whether the strikes were as a result of students who were funded by NSFAS, but could no longer be funded due to insufficient funds, or new students who wanted to be considered for NSFAS funding, and who were not getting what they were asking for.

Mr Qonde replied that it was correct to emphasize that DHET had to set targets that were informed by the needs of the country. The DHET had to work out the mechanisms for achieving set targets to sustain the system as a whole. Where intervention was needed, it had to be informed by the nature of a particular challenge. The DHET was not looking only at the targets that were easy to achieve, because it had a system which served the entire country, so a responsibility rested with the Department and they would not abdicate that responsibility. At no stage was the DHET going to review targets to suit more comfortable ones -- they would work on targets that were going to take South Africa forward. The system that DHET was in charge of could not be driven and directed adequately if there was not a well-researched policy, with regulations and plans. In achieving this, one had to tap into the knowledge and expertise of all South Africans. Whether it was it in the form of a Commission, or any other form, because money had to be invested, plans had to be informed by scientific and empirical evidence in order for the DHET to intervene precisely and adequately.

On NSFAS, he thought it was incorrect to say that the country had reached the limits, because it was not true though there were challenges within the DHET. The Minister would issue a Ministerial statement which was negotiated, together with relevant institutions, on target sets, how much it would cost South Africa, and the totality of funding opportunities and options.

Mr Qonde said that DHET institutions had leverage on income and others had formed reserves over time. There was other funding within the system from the public and private sectors. In terms of targets achieved, in 2012 they had achieved approximately 170 000 first time enrolments, and in 2013 just above 183 000. The DHET aimed to achieve over 200 000. Targets were all informed by engagements with work done by the DHET. The question was how they monitored and improved on an ongoing basis, as it should be done.

Over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, the NSFAS increase was important to note, because government realised the significant role played by NSFAS. However, a challenge was to improve efficiency at the institutional level and across the system on NSFAS administration and management. That accounted for the reason why there was an ongoing forensic audit undertaken by DHET, due to severe dishonesty at institutions being identified, and action had been taken to resolve it.

There were other inefficiencies that had to be addressed within the system. He cited the recent Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) strike and said it was mostly due to management inefficiency, as the DHET had found that there was a large portion of NSFAS funds -- R97 million -- that remained unclaimed by the institution. As a result, NSFAS had responded in writing for the Director-General to engage authoritatively with TUT management, and the Director-General had taken it up with the council and followed up to ensure that their systems were improved and to improve efficiency and competency within the TUT.

Overall, there were many challenges regarding NSFAS which DHET was attending to. The Transformation Committee was still active and was currently involved in a discussion of the equity index document in the system. The White Paper spoke to a 20-year plan function of the system and it contained clear targets on expansion. This was the reason why the infrastructure investment by government had increased significantly in existing institutions, which had put up new infrastructure in the form of the establishment of new institutions and colleges too. The DHET was working on the White Paper’s implementation plan, on how it was going to handle the overtime and cost implications involved. The Department had formed a team of capable South Africans to develop the plan because it did not want the White Paper to just be a document that was not implemented effectively and its goals not realised. The DHET understood that there were economic constraints due to the unstable economy of the country, and would seek funds from the Portfolio Committee (as Parliamentarians) to carry out its mandate.

With regard to strikes, there were a number of contributing factors, which at times involved student organisations. There were cheating instances, whereby students from relatively well-off families utilised the NSFAS funding while it was meant for the disadvantaged, and inefficiencies within institutions. Consequently, the DHET was investigating all the factors contributing towards not meeting targets in order to come up with better responses. A forensic investigation was going to take place at the end of the month.

Dr Parker placed emphasis on the planning process to meet enrolment targets. The Department would take all targets in the strategic plan as system targets, and would have to monitor its institutions in terms of those targets. There were processes in place and regulations that needed to be monitored. The funding mechanism and various other issues were being taken forward with relevant institutions. The issue of Honours graduates was a concern for the DHET, which would work on new processes with other South African universities to understand what the problem was, and what it took to train people at their particular levels, linked to the development of pipeline scholars and getting scholarship funding for students at their respective levels of education.

The DHET was currently in the process of a review of the Higher Education Act with relevant entities, including the Council on Higher Education, and was looking at the entire Act as stipulated in the White Paper, to address issues relating to inconsistencies. On teacher education numbers, it had to put processes in place to increase the number and quality of teachers in relation to the programme. Teacher quality was a major issue with the DHET in regard to the change in curriculum, which was the reason for the implementation of the new policy on minimum requirements for teacher education, and it had looked at how knowledge and practice for teaching was understood through collaboration with the Department of Basic Education (DBE). Fundza Lushaka was the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE’s) programme and DHET worked collaboratively with them on the creation of processes to attract young people. On improving research and the issue of qualitative and quantitative targets, it needed to see how research productivity was increased and quality issues were of utmost significance.

The DHET, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and NSFAS, was looking at the quality of journals that were approved. The new policy on measurement outputs was going to be published soon and focused on the issue of research quality.

On the issue of female students’ enrolment at higher education and training institutions, the DHET was very happy that it had strong female representation in the system, but they recognized that female representation in institutions was reaching 60%, which meant that there was around 40% male representation. Looking at the whole population, the results were skewed. The DHET wanted to take care of all students, and had to keep a gender balance target. Male student participation was not increasing at the same rate as female student participation.

On the issue of five Ministerial appointees, the Minister had the power because the Higher Education Act indicated that the Minister may appoint 5 appointees to any council, but according to the councils’ own statutes. The Minister was in the process of requesting changes to the councils, to be aligned with the Higher Education Act.

Mr Cassim asked if there was a plan for students who wanted to study, but could not do so due to financial constraints, or whether the plan was still being researched. Such information needed to be communicated with affected students, since NSFAS funded only the first degree. He said there were reports that some students were rejected for Fundza Lushaka bursaries because they had not taken up any of African languages at high school (outside of English and Afrikaans), and asked if that was due to communication in the Department, policy changes or regulations.

Mr Mbatha wanted to know the names of the previously black universities that had received any research grants in detail, and how much they had received.

Dr Parker replied that there was a scarce skills fund managed by NSFAS for B Tech students who required professional registration. However, not all B Tech degrees were covered by that fund. Regarding Honours, the DST had a set of scholarships, which was a gap in the system that was recognized by both the DST and DHET. Currently, there was only a small amount of funding for Honours students, and there was no additional funding from DHET to support Honours students. Nonetheless, the DHET was working on a system to identify exceptional Honours students that had the potential to become academics and strengthen the academic system. There were also National Skills Fund (NSF) bursaries that were available for students managed through the system, particularly in the scarce skills area. She was not aware of the Fundza Lushaka issue of the rejection of students on the ground that they did not do African languages at school, and asked Mr Cassim to provide the DHET with the information so that they could follow up on it.

Mr Mbatha said that under normal circumstances, the Department supervised the applications from different universities for research grants, be it through the DHET system or allied systems, such as National Research Foundation (NRF). He asked that among all universities, which black universities were given grants, and how much the grants were.

Mr Qonde said the information could be made available in its breakdown later, and would be sent to the Portfolio Committee.

The Chairperson asked how soon the information would be available.

Mr Qonde said the Portfolio Committee would receive the information on 16 October.

Programme 4: Vocational and Continuing Education and Training

Dr Maboreng Maharaswa, Deputy Director-General: Vocational and Continuing Education and Training, DHET, said the purpose of the programme was to plan, develop, evaluate, monitor and maintain national policy, programmes and systems for vocational and continuing education and training, including further education and training colleges and post-literacy Adult Education. The performance status of the programme as of 31 March revealed that out of a total of 39 targets, 19 had been achieved, and 20 were not achieved. Some of the targets that were not achieved by the end of the financial year had since been achieved.

The key achievements of targets during the year under consideration included the fact that the targeted 650 000 headcount enrolment for TVET colleges had been exceeded, as 670 455 students were enrolled in a variety of college programme offerings. 273 679 college students had been awarded bursaries (above target by 50 862). The Vocational and Continuing Education and Training (VCET) branch continued to intensify lecturer training and student support services (SSS) in TVET colleges in order to increase the throughput and certification rates. 167 lecturers and SSS managers had been trained to implement the comprehensive student support services framework; 692 lecturers had been trained to support curriculum delivery; and 256 Personnel at public FET colleges had received training in financial management. These were aligned with a turnaround strategy for the sector.

Strategies to deal with underperformance in areas where targets were not achieved were in progress. Among others, the targets included:

  • TVET college councils were fully constituted.
  • The Department had planned to train college councils on institutional and corporate governance by 31 March 2014, but they could not achieve this because college councils were not fully constituted then. Nevertheless, college councils had since been fully constituted and training was ongoing until end of October 2014.
  • The branch had targeted to build six college campuses by 31 March, which remained unachieved. However, the DHET was in the process of rectifying and addressing the challenges they encountered due to the inability to secure service providers that met the requirements. As a result, they had had to re-advertise, and the procurement process was well under way.
  • The DHET had planned to develop Business Management System (BMS) standards for implementation at FET colleges, which was not achieved by the end of the fiscal year, although it had managed to develop the BMS plan.
  • The Department planned to increase the number of FET colleges that offered level 5 and level 6 qualifications. It was working towards improving performance in this regard.
  • A new 3-year National Certificate (Vocational) qualification policy would be developed.


Prof Bozzoli sought clarity on Adult Education andTraining (AET) educators that were supposed to be trained, but were not trained due to industrial action. She also sought an explanation on bursary administration and management guidelines, because students from Vuselela College who lived more than 10 kilometres away from the college, complained that it was a challenge for them. Were those bursaries up for review or not?

Mr Mbatha referred to articulation, and said one of the problems was that as the system grew in a particular area, young people would inevitably want to cross the system, perhaps by moving from N4/N6 to third year or other university programmes. This problem had the potential to spread across the country, defined by students’ backgrounds. He asked if DHET would work hard on the issues to an extent that in the next five years, the structure would not discriminate. Would the DHET assure the Committee that the certification problems that were encountered in the beginning of the term were resolved?

Ms M Nkadimeng (ANC) noted that previously, the DHET had reported that the Cabinet had approved the procurement of the IT system, and asked about progress. During their visit to Vuselela TVET College, the Committee had received a report that at one of the residences, senior students had been raped. Had the department intervened?

Mr Cassim referred to bursary administration, referring particularly to students who received bursaries but were from relatively well-off backgrounds, and asked what action had DHET undertaken in order to correct and rectify the fraud cases, and how it was reported and documented, to ensure that bursaries were given financially needy students. He asked about bursary regulations, particularly on the issue of whether students had transport and accommodation which put students at risk of criminal elements.

Mr Kekana said the statistics on university achievements were tangible, and though technical and vocational statistics had increased, why were they not feeling the effect of this, especially in the area of artisans?

Ms Mchunu referred to unattained targets in the building of TVET colleges. Initially, the target was six but the President, in his 2014 State of The Nation Address (SONA), had announced that DHET’s 2014 priority was to build 12 TVET college campuses. She asked if the DHET would be able to build that number, given that the target had remained unattained at the end of 2013/14 fiscal year. Regarding the constitution of councils, she asked how many institutions had fully functional councils.

Dr Maharaswa said that in Limpopo, AET educators were appointed temporarily and not as permanent educators, and were paid hourly. The DHET had expressed dissatisfaction over this issue. The dynamics around the matter were that AET remained a concurrent function between the provincial Department and the DHET, and programme 6 did not feature as far as the issue was concerned. As such, the budget allocation went to the Province and not the DHET, which made it difficult for the DHET to exercise control. The bursary administration and implementation guidelines were under review, however, and after all inputs and implementation experiences had been taken into consideration, the DHET had decided to retain the 10 km radius bursary condition. This was influenced by affordability and was also guided by research, which revealed that the cost of transport within the 10 km radius could be affordable to students. The DHET had implemented this for the first time in 2014 and would possibly look into the conditions.

The DHET agreed with the Committee Member’s input on articulation, and said the White Paper placed emphasis on articulation being central to the activities of the whole system. Certification problems had largely been eradicated, but nonetheless they were struggling because they depended on one service provider. However, DHET was working closely with that service provider’s product, as well as with UMALUSI, to ensure that progress was made. Overall, the DHET had eliminated a huge backlog and the certification process had been guided by the policy while they were finalising the backlog. The system procurement process was in progress, and DHET was working with a SETA to ensure that it was finally procured.

The DHET had looked at all challenges regarding the security concerns at Vuselela TVET College prior to the Portfolio Committee’s visit, and it was regarded as one of the institutions that required support. The DHET already had a team working there. When the issues had been raised in the report of officials that participated in the oversight visit to Vuselela, the DHET had realised that most of the challenges that afflicted the college were related to human resource, labour relations, finance and structure. The DHET branches were working collaboratively to resolve some of the issues and had a team that was conducting work studies that looked into the employee costs which created problems for the college. On the campus located next to the mining area, which was also vandalised, the DHET VCET was working together with DHET corporate services towards a holistic approach of identifying Department officials, together with the college and North West provincial officials, to deal with all issues, including security concerns at the particular TVET college campus.

There would be an investigation undertaken by the DHET university education branch to curb corruption in the distribution of NSFAS funds. The 80%-20% rule remained, but it possibly had to be looked at in the future. However, the distribution was necessitated by the cost of provision, which was very high in TVET institutions and accounted for the percentage fragmentation, which would be looked at. The impact of mid-level skills in the TVET sector had to be viewed in the context of a sector that was in constant change. It was a conglomerate of former technical colleges in 2002, and as such it remained a young sector within the whole education system. This made it necessary for the DHET to re-look at the programmes that were offered in the colleges. A number of students graduated with mid-level skills, such as plumbers and brick layers, and colleges offered occupationally directed programmes.

The procurement process for the establishment of college campuses was in progress.

All colleges had fully functional constitutional councils, but there had been instances in which members would change their minds about their appointment to councils.

Mr Qonde elaborated on the bursary administration and management guidelines question. The colleges were established in a form and pattern which was different from the establishment of universities and, as a result, they served different purposes. For colleges, the DHET was informed by a proximity need in communities where colleges had to be located. That was the reason why the DHET undertook a study and investigation into the spread of colleges of higher education and training. The DHET had found that post-school education and training facilities were mainly concentrated in urban areas. There were rural areas where a person had to travel approximately 200 kms without coming across any post-school education and training facility, hence the establishment of two new universities and TVET college campuses, with a view to closing the gaps. Since colleges were established to be close to communities, what were the funding mechanisms that existed? In 2010, NSFAS had allocated approximately R240m for TVET college bursaries. In 2012, TVET college bursaries had increased to R1.2 billion. In 2013, it was R1.98 billion and in 2014, it was around R2.1 billion. The DHET had engaged with the TVET colleges on how the money could be used and where the problem areas were. Research conducted by the DHET revealed that students in TVET Colleges could be afforded accommodation and full tuition fees. At times, there were challenges with regard to access. The DHET had concluded that if colleges had available funds, students within a radius of 10-40km could be assisted with transport. It was costly to transport students beyond a 40km radius. The DHET said it would be better to look for accommodation closer to the college campus, and this approach was informed by the research outcomes.

On articulation, a government gazette had been published on 27 June 2014 for public comments, and the closing date was 28 August. The DHET was busy with an analysis of the comments, because it wanted to make articulation a policy matter. In the interim, the Department had engaged with its institutions, including universities -- through Higher Education South Africa (HESA) -- for ease of access and articulation, and the policy gap in the entire system, and a number of universities had responded positively.

DHET records on certification revealed that 13 218 students had to be certified, and certificates would be issued soon, although 304 776 certificates had been issued already. That had prompted HESA to collaborate with SETA towards the procurement of a specific customised IT system for the management of examinations. The DHET’s target was 30 November 2014, and it was working urgently on procurement through SETA processes.

Security concerns affected other college campuses, not just Vuselela TVET College alone, and DHET had been working very hard since the beginning of 2014 when the concerns had been brought to DHET’s attention by various colleges. There were colleges where transport provision could have been a resolution. The Department considered it a security matter that DHET needed to work on with communities and South African Police Service (SAPS), It was in discussions with SAPS to address pertinent issues, because security provision was SAPS’s responsibility. There were a number of interventions on fraudulent processes in TVET colleges. What informed DHET’s partnership with relevant bodies around the issue and subsequent engagements with the Minister, was to develop a circular which identified a number of areas where there were flaws within the TVET colleges system. The DHET had drawn the attention of the colleges to all the areas of concern, and what could happen. Overall, the DHET had required colleges to work out action plans on governance, HR, and financial controls in a greater detail. Copies of available information would be distributed to Portfolio Committee Members on what steps the Department would take. The DHET was going to test the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for the implementation of the circular with the Auditor-General on improving the financial control environment at TVET Colleges.

Mr Qonde said the Minister was on record to make colleges the institutions of choice. One of the things that underpinned the DHET’s strategy in developing and improving the performance of colleges to be the colleges of choice, were (i) promote integrated learning, and (ii) ensure that all TVET college students got at least a minimum of one year’s work placement after graduation so that it complemented the effectiveness of the colleges, especially in the production of technicians and artisans. There were a number of interventions to address improvements in the DHET career guidance campaign.

The project of building college campuses was under way, and the first round of procurement had been done for all 12 sites, including two for refurbishments. Recommended awards had been made after due diligence had been undertaken and it was found that only three companies were capable of providing specific services. The Department had had to restart the process and it would be completed by the end of December 2014, if everything went as planned.

 All college councils were constituted, but there was an ongoing training programme and 27 councils had done training. There would be approximately 35 by 16 October, and the training manual would be made available to Committee Members by then. The DHET desired to make the training of college councils an annual exercise.

The Chairperson said they would appreciate it if they received documents by 16 October because they wanted to work on the first draft of their report on 17 October, If Members had additional questions, they needed to submit those in writing to the Minister because they were pressed with time.

Mr Mbatha applauded Mr Qonde’s response on articulation, but thought it was political, high level and could be understood only by a very progressive-minded person. The reality of the South African situation was that they needed to speed up articulation because it was not only about fairness within the system, but also value for money for young South Africans. If a young person felt the need to continue with their career direction, the system needed to be positive and support them. He said not only was there resistance, but also political blackmail around TVET colleges about the quality of qualifications due to questions about perfection, inferiority, and heightened racism against a particular generation of young people. The DHET needed to consult with the heads of universities to ground the system where it created standards, equity across systems, and that it remained fair to the beneficiaries.

Mr Qonde said there were programmes that were being designed between universities and colleges with the aim of offering certain certificates. There needed to be a regulative framework that would be created to ensure consistency in the entire system, articulated through a gazetted policy by the DHET. The policy needed to be distributed, because the closing date had been 28 August 2014 and they were busy analysing comments in order to put the policy into practice upon the Minister’s approval. The DHET was not waiting for the policy to come to life, but there were concrete programmes in progress between all higher education and training institutions in South Africa, and the entire system.

The Chairperson reflected on the audit outcomes of the TVET colleges. The report had stated there was a lack of record management, daily and monthly controls in terms of DHET’s equity; no appropriate risk management activities developed and implemented in 13 colleges; lack of adequately resourced and functioning internal audit relief (without risk); high risk at 11 FET colleges; lack of an adequately skilled finance unit; and the audit action plan (including time lines and responsibility for action) were not developed and implemented in seven colleges. Because DHET’s responsibility was monitoring and evaluation of TVET colleges, they would like to see an intensification of monitoring of the colleges so there could be a turnaround in all aspects that had been raised by the Auditor-General’s report. The monitoring process should look at the serious areas of non-compliance with the FET Act; supply chain management, irregular procurement policies; processes that were reported and procurement committees that were not in place. She asked how the DHET dealt with corruption if it did not get the mentioned issues corrected. 11 colleges needed serious intervention on ICT governance and control, due to an absence of IT security policies and disaster recovery plans, and if they did not address these areas, colleges may collapse. This would not be in line with the current government’s notion of radical change. Services needed to be accelerated and improved in order to live up to and benefit from the radical socio-economic transformation of the country.

Programme 5: Skills Development

Mr Zukile Mvalo, Acting Deputy Director General, DHET, said the purpose of the Skills and Development programme was to promote and monitor the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS). The performance status of targets by 31 March 2014 revealed that out of a total of 13 targets, 10 were achieved, while three were not achieved.

Some key achievements included that: 27 670 artisan candidates entered learning institutions nationally (1 670 above target); 18 110 Artisan candidates were competent nationally (target exceeded by 6 110); 27 346 graduates received work-integrated learning (67 above target); all 21 SETAs had at least four partnership agreements with public TVET colleges and universities (total of 284 partnership agreements); and all SETAs implemented National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) III with approved service level agreements, and reports were produced.

On the other hand, strategies to deal with underperformance in areas in which targets were not achieved were ongoing. The targets included:

  • 48% of national artisan learners passed trade tests by 2013/14 (Indlela only). Most students who failed came under section 28 of the Manpower Training Act (MTA), and there were interventions in place to assist them.
  • A secure trade test system had been developed and implemented at all trade test centres.
  • A scarce and critical skills list had been compiled.


Mr Siwela noted that DHET had reduced funding for training and staff development from R1.7 million in 2012/13 to R987 000 in 2013/14, and asked if the decrease had contributed to the poor performance of employees.

Mr Cassim did not think society was getting what it deserved, looking at the money that was put into SETAs. Though some targets had been achieved, they were very low when compared to the amounts used to put students through TVET Colleges and/or universities, and this did not add up. There needed to be thinking on how to get more for society in terms of skills training, and on how they reformed the targets needed to change, as well as the system. He thought the outcomes from SETAs currently were not commensurate with the amount of funds allocated.

Mr Mvalo replied that when they set targets for the following financial year, they looked at what had been achieved in the previous fiscal year. They came up with innovation with regards to artisan development, and for the first time in South African history, they had a policy on learner funding and administration that was not there before. The cost of training one artisan was above R120 000 a year, so SETAs had committed close to R2 billion for artisan development in South Africa for the 2013/14 fiscal year. During the 2012/13 financial year, there were 15 000 competent artisans and for the 2013/14year, there were 18 110. The figures showed an incline in terms of improving service delivery. There was improvement also in terms of bursaries and skills programmes. However, the DHET agreed that it was not sufficient, and they would over-stretch the system as much as possible. Funding affected DHET in terms of the capacity of all departments, not just the skills and development branch. However, the skills branch had developed a strategy to address the question of capacity within the branch, and would be able to help with the funding aspect, because they had a huge responsibility to monitor SETAs efficiently, effectively and economically. It was an area that the branch was looking forward to, to increase their capacity as well.

Auditor-General’s Report

AGSA told the Committee it had developed an audit action plan. In 2013, there were about 30% actions outstanding, and some related to performance information. In that regard, a decision to procure a performance information management system had been taken, and they needed to implement this. The first trial run was expected to be in December 2014, to ensure that everything was in place.

The issue regarding risk management was critical. There were slow responses to some of the actions, due to vacancies and capacity constraints, some instability within the Department, and problems related to consequence management. The Minister had agreed to commit himself to addressing the identified areas and specific actions would be taken in that regard. In future, reports would be submitted to the Director General and the Audit Committee, and outstanding actions from 2012/13 would be reported to the Committee.

There were significant uncertainties over the Department’s involvement in lawsuits. The big issue was the estimated volume of the lawsuits that had been disclosed in the annual financial statements as a contingent liability. In future, they would liaise with the Office of the State Attorneys with their legal services, to ensure that estimates were disclosed as per financial statements.

An appropriate performance management system would be procured by the Department. The critical issue, as also reported by the Auditor-General (AG), was the reliability and verification of information, particularly for programmes 4 and 5, which would receive dedicated attention.

On the annual financial statements, the material misstatements as reported by the AG regarding the interpretation of accounting principles, was clarified with National Treasury and the AG, and the matters were resolved by the time the AG started on the financial statements.

There were two specific issues in terms of human resource management and compensation -- the verification of qualifications which was critical, and the slow filling of vacant posts. The backlogs were being processed, and SAQA was being used to do all the verifications.

A critical issue on procurement and contract management was the officials who performed remunerative work outside their employment. Five officials in the Department had been identified who performed work through businesses within the government, and warning letters had been issued. It was reported that two of them were no longer involved in businesses, and had since withdrawn their interests. In future, AGSA audits and CIPRO processes would be followed. There would be special information workshops for the HR communications being issued to staff.

The other issue was contract management related to the management of consultancy services for all higher education and training institutions, where the level of agreement might not always be specific. There needed to be clear contracts in the Department, the consultants had to be monitored and clear reports must be available upon request. The critical part was that in many cases, these reports were not carefully filed and available to the Auditor-General, and this would be looked at.

The action plan audit findings would be reported to the Director General and the Audit Committee, and the first report would be due on 24 October 2014.

The Department had spent all but R1.9m of its R46.4bn budget allocation for 2013/14.


Prof Bozzoli was grateful that there were plans in place though some of the plans mentioned had appeared in the previous year. It seemed that people were not held accountable when they did not fulfil their plans, and asked what would happen to a person who had a plan, but by the next meeting, the plan had not been implemented. She understood from the AG that the Indlela security system had been an issue for the past three years at Vuselela trade centre.

The presenter corrected Prof Bozzoli, and said it was the Kempton Park trade centre.

Prof Bozzoli apologized for mistaking Kempton Park with the Vuselela trade centre. She said that was another place that needed security upgrades, but nothing was happening in that regard. She asked why that had not been implemented, and if it had anything to do with funding provision.

Mr Cassim referred to material misstatements, and according to the report, the differences in the prescribed financial report framework with the principles. He asked if that had happened for the first time, how it came about, and how they got into this situation, since the Department was not functioning for the first time where statements were prepared. Was there a deficiency within the department on the financial information and consolidation of the statements, as that impacted on the reliability and usefulness of the information and what was the evidence behind that, also in terms of the performance report? He asked if there was a particular system that had been put in place on how strategic achievements had to be substantiated. On savings and cross-cutting mechanisms under bursaries due to lack of funds, he asked what the reason was for the cross-cutting as part of the priority, and what the outcome of that was. In terms of funds at the provincial level, particularly in the Free State and Eastern Cape, he asked how the situation had arisen, what the funds should have been spent on, and the reason why those funds had not been spent accordingly, because targets had not been met, especially TVET colleges. He further asked why there was unspent money, if there was inadequate money in the system, because there was a competition for resources within government.

The presenter replied that consequence management was a problem, and had been raised by the AG in terms of completion of plans. It was an area which the Minister had made a specific commitment to work on, and was part of the plan of Corporate Services to address, which would be monitored closely in order to improve the situation. One of the issues that would be looked at included the performance agreement of managers. Part of the action to be taken would be to deal with it as part of the normal reports provided on managers’ performance. They had already submitted a detailed explanation on Indlela security, and the related challenges, to the Committee. Indlela was part of the government’s properties and was managed by the Department of Public Works (DPW). However, for any work to be performed, the DPW charged the DHET, which had insufficient funds to pay DPW for the work. As a result, nothing had been done to date. Nevertheless, they had put measures in place and the Department was in the process of appointing 24-hour security patrols in the area of Indlela because it was a critical situation. They would submit a memorandum to the Cabinet to request additional resources to carry out work that was not approved. They could not prioritise those services, because the total cost was estimated around R28 million by the DPW.

The financial misstatements were based on the interpretations of the accounting principles -- for example, how a specific item was disclosed might not be 100% clear in the guidelines provided by National Treasury. There were five areas, and they had met with National Treasury to look at financial statements accordingly. They were all based on the manner in which they reported information properly. In terms of the information that needed to be available, there was also specific emphasis on the verification of information, because this had been one of the biggest issues that the AG spoke to. With regard to the consolidation of information on the eventual submission of the reports, they had to be filed for an additional verification check. They hoped to address all the matters concerned. He asked if he could be provided with detailed written information on specific savings, and said one of the problems was that the classification of items were at times grouped, which as a result might have given a wrong perception, and maybe there had been a problem with the wording.

On the under-spending of conditional grants for TVET colleges was largely linked to the compensation of employees. The amount that was saved was relatively small, and was mainly due to vacancies within TVET Colleges in specific provinces – the Free State, Eastern Cape, and Limpopo -- but Limpopo had since been managed. The DHET advised provinces to get their Treasury approvals in the event of unspent money, and use it to transfer funds back to relevant colleges to ensure that the system did not lose the money. However, it was not so with all provinces, and Eastern Cape and Free State provinces had not received Treasury approval. As a result, the money had been taken back to the National Treasury, and had not been reallocated for any other purpose.

The Chairperson said the presentation had focused on issues that, if they had been attended to, would have turned around the situation and would have made the DHET a department that would be counted among those that provided excellent services.

Closing remarks

Mr Qonde thanked the Chairperson for the fruitful engagement and assistance in gaining a better understanding of the pertinent issues, and for the proposals from the Portfolio Committee Members. The DHET would follow up on the issues raised, including setting targets, particularly ones that the country needed the most.

The Chairperson said education was at the core of radical transformation. Being on the second phase of the democratic journey, it needed radical socio-economic transformation of the broader society. On behalf of the Committee, she thanked the DHET on its timeous responses on the White Paper which was being implemented; they were waiting for the full White Paper Implementation Plan. An increase in the number of skilled youth, women, and the disabled would enable these persons to contribute to economic growth. The concern was that in all DHET programmes, they had not been able to achieve 100% on their programme targets. They needed to commit to completing the implementation plan, and there was no excuse for them not to achieve all their targets. In areas that had unattained targets, they had to be implemented to the letter and ensure that the budget was used correctly. Tasks needed to be achieved in order to take the country to greater heights. Failure to set targets would influence the radical change which came as a response that some things were done inappropriately and insufficiently, but it needed to focus on taking the country forward.

The second phase of democracy meant that they had to accelerate infrastructure development. The DHET needed to shift towards infrastructure and skills development. It needed to avoid wasteful expenditure. On governance, the DHET needed to strengthen risk management (including other institutions that collaborated with the DHET). The Department needed to deal with corruption decisively by aligning with National Treasury fiscal policy, and move away from consumption to investment. They needed to fill all vacant posts and abide by the concept of value for money. Lastly, she appreciated the presentation and said they would be waiting for the promised documents.

The meeting was adjourned.

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