AgriSETA & CATHSSETA on their 2013/14 Annual Reports

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

26 November 2014
Chairperson: Ms L Zwane (ANC, KwaZulu Natal)
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Meeting Summary

Three of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) briefed the Committee on their 2013/14 annual reports, focusing on their challenges, successes and goals. However, Members later commented that the reports varied widely in style, format and content, with some of the targets not clear and successes not specified, which made it difficult for them to compare the achievements, and the SETAs were requested to adopt a different format for future reports.

The Agricultural Sector (AgriSETA) noted that it relied, for its income, on levies from farmers but with changing demographics faced challenges because most of the black farmers could not afford the levies. Literacy levels amongst farm workers remained low and many farmers saw no value in training. It had received R360 million for 2015/16. Its discretionary fund of R180 million was used for bursaries, but it faced financial constraints and uncertainty of funding for the future. It had developed 19 qualifications that were completed and a further five were in progress, and nine more at planning stage, and there were challenges around the approval process. Many farming skills and soil scientists were scarce, but the SETA encouraged basic skills. It was involved in cooperative and expanded works projects, and a youth development programme, and expressed concerns at poor governance in the cooperatives, and challenges around mentoring of rural development.

The Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, Sports (CATHSSETA ) SETA was presently under administration, following the dismissal of its Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer, problems with the boards and an audit investigation. The administrator was appointed on 16 October 2014. The provincial spread was concentrated in the Western Cape, because it was a concentrated learning environment. The body achieved a surplus of R13 million in the last year. The main challenges were the high levels of disciplinary hearings, mistrust between employees and the board, breakdown of relationships between Auditor-General and management and internal auditors, and the administrators were attending to outstanding audit issues and trying to stabilise the organisation and address staff uncertainties.

The Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDPSETA) had never received a qualified audit certificate, and was present in all provinces. Goals included skills planning and development, increasing teaching skills, increasing job entrants and employability. It distributed material to support life orientation programmes in schools, particularly career guides, and awarded bursaries, as well as offering matric re-write programmes.  Youth development focused on increasing access to workplace learning, with internships and learnership programmes. Recognition of prior learning (RPL) was an attempt to accelerate the training and awarding of the NQF level qualifications. The targets and achievement were fully described. Key successes were named as support to Further Education and Training Colleges, contributions to youth development, and challenges included the new grant regulations reducing the mandatory grant from 50% to 20%, the ageing information management systems and capacity constraints.

Members, in addition to raising concerns about the format of reports, asked for more detail on the targets and why Mpumalanga ranked low in bursaries and achievements. The SETAs were asked how they publicised their bursaries, who could access that information and the criteria for support. They questioned the discrepancy in the ETDP targets on the hard copy and electronic presentations, and asked how the SETAs managed their budgets when there had been over-achievement. Further questions related to the percentage of spending on employees, the organograms, skilling of young people in particular, in Northern Cape, and the need for AGRISETA to give more assistance to cooperatives and set out its recruitment strategy. .


Meeting report

Chairperson's opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that the Committee wanted the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) to present their findings, challenges and achievements for the year 2013/14. She noted that the Auditor-General (AG) had identified an issue with the SETAs' targets, which needed to be discussed by the Committee and improved. South Africa needed to develop scarce skills through the SETAs, and she said the pertinent question was whether the learners trained by these SETAs were being absorbed by the market, or whether their training was "missing the mark".

Agricultural Sector - AgriSETA briefing
Mr Jerry Madiba, Chief Executive Officer, AgriSETA, commented that this SETA trained in the agricultural sector and so the majority of levies that it collected were gathered from farmers. The literacy levels were fairly low amongst the farm workers. AgriSETA faced numerous limitations. It received only R360 million for 2015/16 and had a discretionary fund of R180 million, which was used to further education and bursaries. This SETA had only five provincial offices. The Minister of Finance was reducing AgriSETA’s discretionary fund and he indicated that the level of further income from the Department was not stable. This imposed financial constraints on the SETA.

He noted that this SETA had developed qualifications, and so far 19 were completed, five were in progress and nine were in the planning stage. The biggest challenge was the delay in approval of these qualifications.

Mr Madiba noted that everything the SETA did in agriculture was to do with scarce and critical skills. .Currently South Africa lacked sufficient numbers of soil scientists, doctoral graduates and agricultural economists. Basic skills like sheep shearing and fence building were instilled and encouraged through the SETA. 274 bursaries had been assigned for the year. Agriculture was not seen as a particularly attractive trade and the SETA had to work hard to attract new learners.

Some interesting projects that the SETA currently was running included:
- A cooperative development with the KwaZulu Natal (KZN) Provincial Department of Agriculture, involving  R3 million  and with 84 beneficiaries
- An Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) of R22 million, with 2 700 skills programmes and 50 learnerships
- A Youth Development Programme of R2 million, with 490 beneficiaries.

Mr Madiba noted that emerging black farmers did not have enough money to pay the levies. At the moment, the majority of levies came from white farmers. The SETA was seeing a drop in levy income due to the change in demographics. He noted that governance was critical amongst co-operatives. He had himself noted a lack of leadership and future planning. The SETA’s biggest challenge was figuring out how to mentor rural development.
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Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, Sports -CATHSSETA (under administration) briefing
Mr Pumzile Kedama, Administrator, CATHSSETA, noted that the aim of this SETA was to provide education and training skills development. However, there were a number of allegations against the board members and former Chief Executive Officer, and audit firm Grant Thornton had investigated and a qualified audit report was issued for the current year. The dysfunctional nature of this SETA resulted in it being put under  administration, with the administrator being appointed on 16 October 2014 to take over as the accounting authority.

The Western Cape had the highest number of certified learners because it has a concentrated learning environment. The Northern Cape had the lowest. The same applied to the number of bursaries awarded. Total revenue for 2013/2014 was R264 million and total expenses were R250 million, leaving a surplus of R13 million.

In 2013/14, there were 282 new or received applications for assessor and moderator registration numbers, and 46 were approved or registered in this year.

Challenges to the SETA included high levels of disciplinary hearings, mistrust amongst employees and a breakdown of relationships between the Auditor-General (AG), management and internal auditors. There had been a suspension of the Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officers, and an assessment was done of the financial position of the CATHSSETA. The administrators were now following up, with the AG, on outstanding issues. Trying to achieve stability in the organisation was of paramount concern, and this was being done through addressing staff uncertainties, reviewing strategy and budgets, holding weekly management meetings and monthly staff meetings, as well as engaging with stakeholders.

Education, Training and Development Practices - ETDPSETA briefing
Ms Nombulelo Nxesi, Chief Executive Officer, ETDPSETA, noted that this SETA had never received a qualified audit certificate, since inception, and it had a presence in all provinces. The goals included skills planning and development, improving teaching skills, increasing new job entrants and youth employability. The SETA had eight programmes to respond to these goals, with leadership and management driving the process. Basic computer skills had been given to teachers. Life orientation programmes in schools did not provide enough guidance and therefore a large number of career guides were being distributed to schools by the SETA. Bursaries were awarded and the SETA had a matric re-write programme. After this rewrite programme, learners could get into universities. The focus for youth development was through increasing access to workplace learning, with internships and learnership programmes. The flagship projects included research chair projects, the matric rewrite project, the placement of career development officers, and school administration assistance projects.

The recognition of prior learning (RPL) was an attempt to accelerate the training and awarding of the NQF level qualifications.

Ms Nxesi described the main achievements of the SETA over the last five years. The career guide target was 100 000, the SETA had achieved 69 281. The bursaries for prospective teachers target was 2 000 and the SETA had achieved 1 052. The number of Further Education and Training (FET) College management staff and lecturers trained was targeted at 1 698, but 1 440 were trained. The training of teachers exceeded the target, with 5 680 trained against a target of 5 000. The award of bursaries in scarce and critical skill areas was 569, against a target of 640. The numbers of youth placed in the matric rewrite programme was 3 067 against a target of 5 000. The unemployed youth placed in learnerships was at 2 630 against the target of 5 000.

Key successes included supporting FET colleges to be responsive to the national priorities, contributing to youth development, the award of another unqualified audit report and contribution to improving teaching. Challenges included the introduction of new grant regulations reducing the mandatory grant from 50% to 20%, the ageing information management systems and capacity constraints.

Ms L Dlamini (ANC, Mpumalanga) thanked the SETAs for their reports. However, she had a particular issue with the reports, in that the SETAs were supposed to give the Committee full feedback on their activities for the last financial year. This was not done, in the case of the AgriSETA report. This was also not done for the CATHSSETA, but this was understandable, since it was under administration.

In relation to the reports generally, she wanted to know why Mpumalanga ranked so low on achievement against the targets, and what informed the allocations to the SETAs. She asked who, and in what way, was able to access the AGRISETA bursaries and how they were awarded, as well as how AGRISETA would choose whom to support under the discretionary funding. She noted that, in the case of the ETDPSETA, the targets in the oral and hard copy presentations did not match, and this was disconcerting. She questioned why there was a duplication of reporting by the SETAs.

Mr M Khawula (IFP, Gauteng) asked what the percentage of spending on employees for the three SETAs was. He also asked for comment on the organograms of the three SETAs.

Mr D Stock (ANC, Northern Cape) queried that there were no young people being skilled and developed in the Northern Cape, and questioned whether and how this was due to capacity. He also agreed with his colleague that the reports did not highlight the challenges. He asked for a clearer indication of the successes, such as how many of the initiatives were successful and how many out of how many applicants the SETAs had actually upskilled. The reports did not give a clear indication of the success rate.

Ms T Mampuru (ANC, Limpopo) stated that she had been to many agricultural co-operatives into which substantial funding had been pumped, yet the land was lying fallow and equipment was disused. The Committee and SETAs needed to assist these co-operatives.

The Chairperson commented that the reports needed to be standardised, and the different SETAs needed to have a consistent format for reporting, so that the Committee would find it easier to view and compare their reports.

The Chairperson asked what recruitment strategy AGRISETA used. She wanted to know if the board of the CATHSSETA was still functioning. She asked the ETDPSETA to explain how it would identify beneficiaries for the programmes, and also wanted further explanation on how the ETDP stipends were allocated, how the ETDP identified people for trade testing, and how it would allocate its budget when it had exceeded targets.

Mr Madiba answered the questions directed to the AGRISETA, and said that the provinces reported in different ways; hence the different formats. He noted that the reason for lower outputs for Mpumalanga was that this province had only one university college. The training and opportunities were linked to commodity based agriculture - for instance, citrus farming, and Mpumalanga was low on these commodities. The SETA advertised bursaries and called for beneficiaries, on its website, never in the newspaper. The SETA was only focused on training but did receive a lot of requests. The SETA worked with universities and colleges in agriculture to distribute bursaries. A large number of farmers saw training as a waste of time, so this was a major challenge.

Mr M Kabende, Chief Financial Officer, AGRISETA, noted that the demand for bursaries and funding support was around ten times greater than the available funding support, and there were certain windows of time within which people could apply for the support.

Mr S Khola (Project Manager for AGRISETA) responded on the issues around co-operatives. He noted that it took some time for people who had received land to receive capital to run the co-operatives, which hampered their growth. The SETA was trying to look at governance, through a "farm together" programme, to address misperceptions by some workers that they deserved more benefit than others.

Mr Kedama also commented on bursaries from the CATHSSETA viewpoint. This SETA had road shows and advertised bursaries on its website. The board ceased to exist in October this year, and so the management now worked with the administrator and with stakeholders.

Mr Muzi Mwandla, Executive Manager, CATHSSETA, spoke about the criteria that CATHSSETA used for grants in provinces. There was a bias towards urban provinces because the sectors and training facilities were based there. This SETA had created a discretionary grant system that weighted rural areas more than urban areas, in an attempt to adjust the imbalance. The biggest portion of the grants was reserved for the unemployed youth.

Ms Nxesi said that the ETDPSETA was guided by the brief used in previous years, in relation to the manner of presentation, and noted that the ETDPSETA had also provided its Annual Report, which set out the annual targets and achievements. There was an equal allocation of bursaries across provinces - for example if there were 900 bursaries available, each province would get 100. ETDPSETA also followed the provincial mandates. The SETA had set up provincial workshops where bursaries were discussed and allocated. Some grants were advertised in newspapers. The school-based teacher programme provided a stipend and paid for the teachers' education through UNISA. In terms of the stipends for the schools, administrators were allocated to help teachers. About 500 administrators were created in the Eastern Cape, 150 in KZN and 700 in Mpumalanga. Another area where this SETA was active was in helping the libraries with administration.

Ms Nkhensani Mabunda, Manager: CEO’s office, ETDPSETA, responded to the issues raised on over-achievement. When drawing its budgets, this SETA took the average costs for bursaries, given that universities charged different amounts, and this could lead to the over-achievement on paper of targets, when the SETA actually collected amounts different from those projected.

Mr Wayne Cotton, Chief Financial Officer, ETDPSETA, replied that the SETA had a salary bill of R55 million, just below 50% of total costs. The SETA was a people based, hence the high costs.

The meeting was adjourned.


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