Department of Basic Education on its 2015/16 Annual Performance & Strategic Plans, with Deputy Minister present
NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture
06 May 2015
Chairperson: Ms L Zwane (ANC; KwaZulu-Natal)
The Deputy Minister of Basic Education gave a broad overview of the progress that had been made by the Department of Basic Education and the efforts that had been made to align its strategic plans with the National Development Plan.
Reasonable progress had been made with regard to programmes such as Early Childhood Development, where more than 830 000 learners had been enrolled in schools; the approach to the qualification of teachers of Grade R classes, by recruiting teachers with better qualifications; strengthening the element of professional development through the provision of 140 teacher resource centres across the country; the creation of viable partnerships with the private sector through the establishment of the National Education Collaboration Trust; enhancing greater access to resources through information communication technology (ICT); and assessing the capacity of various provinces through collaborative efforts between the districts and provinces.
Provincial details on Limpopo and the Eastern Cape were given. The Department and Cabinet had changed the status of interventions for Limpopo to fall under section 100 (b) due to the adequate progress that had been reported with regard to the prompt delivery of books. Factors that had led to the intervention programme -- which included finance, non-delivery of textbooks, teacher provisioning, scholar transport and infrastructure -- were expanded upon.
The Department reported that the strategic plan was based solely on the National Development Plan (NDP). Key focus areas, such as the maths, science and technology grant resulting from the merging of the Dinaledi and technical schools grants and Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, were explained.
The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation emphasised the baseline reductions of the Department’s budget by the National Treasury. Reductions were noticeable in the Kha Ri Gude programme and the infrastructure backlog. It was noted that there had been an increase of R200 million for allocation of transfers and services, especially with regard to the National Education Collaboration Trust.
Questions raised by members covered issues such as the scholar transport system, standardization of crèches, prevalent problems of replacing mud schools, the school nutrition programme, the de-worming programme, effective implementation of teacher resource centres and use of ICT, mechanisms put in place to ensure effective monitoring of principals and teachers, bridging the gap in the uneven access of learners to digital content, the rationale behind the review of policies, the implementation of rural allowances, and the introduction of indigenous languages.
The Department said it was putting efforts into ensuring that the allocated budget was spent on the purposes set out in the strategic plan by adopting and reviewing policies to bring about positive results. Two models were being used in the school nutrition programme, but the decentralised model was being promoted as it assisted in the control of funds and better implementation of the policy. Younger children in Grade R to Grade seven, as well as quintiles one, two and three, had been targeted for the de-worming programme, and emphasis was being placed on ensuring that children wore shoes and washed their hands after visits to the bathroom to avoid being infected. A donation of seven million tablets had also been received from the World Health Organization.
Indigenous languages were being introduced to learners with no prior exposure to any African language at an early stage, but full implementation would commence only in year 2016. Availability of teachers was important before proceeding with full implementation.
Support had been provided through the provision of computers and laptops to schools to enhance connectivity for administration. Efforts were still being made to ensure connectivity for learning and teaching through Operation Phakisa, which would be implemented in June. With regard to monitoring and support, the Department had produced a comprehensive framework known as the National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA), to ensure the compliance of provinces to the deliverables set out in the document. Principals and district directors alike were required to sign performance agreements and the Department had formulated indicators to assist in monitoring the satisfaction levels of principals.
With respect to scholar transport, a framework had been put in place by the Department of Basic Education and Department of Science and Technology to ensure that sufficient funds were provided to meet the demands of the scholar transport programme. Rationalisation and support programmes had been considered to build mega schools, but facilities had to be put in place before mergers could be carried out. The reasons for policy reviews were linked with the changing nature of problems that now existed among learners in schools, such as teenage pregnancies and drug abuse.
The Chairperson said that since the mandate of the National Council of Provinces (NCOPs) was different from those of the National Assembly (NA), the Committee would appreciate updated provincial details as feedback from the Department, to assist in knowing the current happenings in the various provinces. The importance of feedback from the Department was to ensure compliance with the relevant instruments -- for instance, to see if the annual performance plan (APP) was complying with the prescripts of the National Development Plan (NDP), Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and various other pieces of legislation or international conventions, and also to note how realistic the targets of the Department were.
Deputy Minister’s Opening Remarks
Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister, Department of Basic Education (DBE) said he appreciated the issues raised by the Chairperson. As for the provincial perspective in conveying information, he said that the Acting Director General would ensure an alignment of the presentation with that requirement, as a well as ensuring an alignment with the NDP and the Immediate Strategic Framework (ISF). The Director would provide an overall generic presentation on basic education, while a provincial report would be handled by him.
One of the first things that had led to the Department’s adoption of the NDP was to ensure that Departmental programmes were aligned with the NDP, as well as the ISF. He described some elements within the NDP that constituted part of the Department’s strategic plan.
Considerable progress had been made with regard to Early Childhood Development (ECD). In eight years, the Department had been able to increase the number of learners enrolled in schools from 300 000, to more than 830 000. The intention of the Department was to make enrolment universal by next year, thereby ensuring that every child under six years was at school. The household survey carried out by the National Department of Statistics indicated that 92 percent of children had had one year of pre-school learning as the barest minimum, which was encouraging as it was evidence of progress in education of children, especially in the black community.
The NDP had asked for two years, but the Department had noted that the approach to Grade R children was quite sensitive. A basic requirement was qualified practitioners and even though the Department had started with under-qualified teachers, there had been an improvement to ensure that the minimum requirement for teachers was a level four qualification. The target was to ensure that every practitioner that taught in grade R classes had a level six qualification. More than 30 percent of the practitioners were either on level five or six, and many were pursuing further education to ensure they had quality capacity to teach.
The environment in Grade R classes was different from that of Grade One classes, as it was less formal and more directed towards play. This meant that there was an associated cost with infrastructure. The Department had dedicated resources for establishing appropriate infrastructure classes because the sanitation for Grade R level, for instance, differed from what obtained in normal primary schools.
Another area where progress had been made was in the curriculum. Every child now received a resource pack containing four books per annum, delivered free of charge. The resources were also made available in all languages.
With regard to the second year recommendation in the NDP, the Deputy Minister said it was believed that this fell within the purview of the Department of Social Development (DSD). What the DBE had done was to provide adequate support to the DSD by developing a curriculum. The DBE would continue to assist the DSD in ensuring that there was a development of professional skills for practitioners.
The other element referred to in the NDP was the element of professional development. With regard to teacher development, the Department had established 140 Teacher Resource Centres (TRCs) all over the country. This had been done to ensure access and also to provide a community of professional practice amongst educators. This was a result of a partnership with various stakeholders like Vodacom, MTN, Cisco, UNICEF and UNISA, who had provided the Department with high level of sophistication in connectivity, while the infrastructure belonged to the Department. All managers in the TRCs were trained. Educators were also trained to assess their ability in English. Modules had been formed for all subjects and all grades so that educators could assess what their ability was in specific subjects in order to discover areas of deficit that needed improvement. TRCs were also utilized in providing training for educators who could integrate ICT in the teaching practice into the curriculum. The Department hoped that each of the TRCs would be connected by the end of the year. The Department was fulfilling the recommendation of the NDP through these programmes.
With regard to the NDP’s partnership recommendation, the Department had, for the first time in the history of the educational system, been able to create a National Education Collaboration Trust where the private sector was working with the DBE, and had identified eight districts where partnerships had been created. Mr Surty referred to some districts in Johannesburg where every school had been profiled, and interventions had been made from leadership to resources, to mentoring and coaching, and a range of other things. The DBE intended expanding the number of districts where partnerships would work.
With regard to provincial details that had been requested by the Chairperson, he talked about two provinces that were under intervention -- Limpopo and Eastern Cape.
In Limpopo, the Cabinet and DBE had decided to change the status of the interventions from Section 100(b) to Section 100(a), because there had been adequate progress with the prompt delivery of textbooks, a change in the financial management -- which was an initial reason for the intervention -- and also the procurement of textbooks at a cheaper rate than in any other province in the country. They had provided a viable model for the procurement of books which was now being utilized by the other provinces. It could be said that although a few other challenges still persisted, there was now a relatively stable educational environment in Limpopo.
As for the Eastern Cape, he said it was one of the reasons for the Minister’s absence from the meeting, as there was a press conference at which a question had been raised on the Eastern Cape. He summarized the factors that had led to the intervention programme including five things:
- There had been no scholar transport, but 57 000 scholars now had access to scholar transport;
- Non-delivery of textbooks, which was an issue, had now been resolved. After Limpopo, the Eastern Cape was the next province to procure books economically. Textbooks were now delivered on time.
- There had been a problem with infrastructure, but 81 schools with state of the art facilities, libraries, laboratories, Grade R facilities, media centers, and internet connectivity had been provided for;
- Finance had been an issue, but they now received consistent disclaimers;
- Teacher provisioning was still a challenge, but teachers had been profiled and methods stipulated in the provincial labour council. These methods included the provision of additional teachers; qualified temporary teachers and Funza Lushaka, as well as other resources. In any case, the problem of human resources still stood as a weak point in the Eastern Cape.
With regard to the other provinces, Guateng was leading in its level of achievement. The Minister would announce later in the day that after the supplementary examinations, North West had the leading results. This demonstrated the positive effect of the competition amongst provinces, as the leading provinces used to be the Western Cape and Gauteng, but there was now a shift in improvement from Free State and North West.
In the context of ICT, the Western Cape and Gauteng had a huge advantage with infrastructure. The approach of the DBE was to see how ICT could be provided in rural provinces such KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West. Collaboration between the Departments of Communication and Science and Technology had taken place and round table discussions were ongoing to provide a method with which connectivity, electronic content, and professional training to all educators would be made available in every school in the country. Hope was expressed about the possibility of getting all schools in the country connected by year 2019. A programme had been established for everyone within range of 600 devices (ranging from ordinary cell phones to the most sophisticated smart phones and other devices) to gain access to all resources available to schools that would normally be on computers. This meant that people could access past examination papers, curriculum content, textbooks in mathematics and science, 94 editions of mathematics and science and technology, all workbooks on their cell phones and smart phones.
Collaboration had been made with Vodacom to develop professional content through a website specially dedicated for a curricular education platform. The arrangement with the DBE was such that the download of digital data from the website by anybody amounted to Mahala – free of charge. Efforts were being put into the construction of an educational cloud. Once completed, it would be hosted in the different ICT collaborations, with MTN and Vodacom. This would lead to the provision of digital content across the curriculum as a public good which would be free of charge to everyone. South Africa would be the first country in the world to walk this path.
At the NCOP meeting on the budget vote of DBE, the Minister would explain further what had been announced earlier on at the press conference, which was that the DBE would be expanding its budget. The result of the focus on districts within provinces and provinces working together had led to a sustainable change in education, where there was a unified system as opposed to what obtained ten years ago, where every provincial department set its own examination paper, had different sets of textbooks and different methodologies. There was currently only one uniform system of education accessible to everyone, with reliance on the elements of quality and efficiency.
As a last point on provincial details, Mr Surty pointed out the reality of rural to urban migration, noting that there had been growing tendencies towards such migrations, where people within provinces moved from rural to urban and from provinces to other provinces for economic reasons. In the current year alone, Guateng had received more than 52 000 learners, while Western Cape had received an approximate increase of 15 000 learners. The resulting effect of this was the creation of a huge burden on the provinces in terms of infrastructure, teaching capacities and other resources. Migration within provinces had led to overcrowding in urban areas, when state of the art facilities already provided for the rural areas were only being used by a fewer number of learners. This called for better planning and rationalization, which the DBE had been focusing on.
The Deputy Minister asked for permission to be excused from the meeting immediately to attend the budget voting in the National Assembly. The Chairperson said the DM had to be excused, despite the wish of Members of the Committee to engage him in a discussion based on the report he had given. She noted that the DM had given an explicit report on some provinces, but reports on other provinces would have been appreciated. It was exciting to note the improvement in the situation in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. She expressed the hope that the Director General (DG) would be able to provide the Committee with more details, as they would like to know the mechanisms that had been put in place to assist provinces that were underperforming. The Minister had mentioned the continuation of the Annual National Assessment (ANA) in Grade 7 and Grade 9. It was encouraging to note that more children had access to the city classes; a statistic of 92 percent had been given in that regard. The delivering of learner teacher support materials had improved in most provinces, particularly in provinces that had not been doing well in the past.
Mr Paddy Padayachee, Acting Director General (District Coordinator Support), said that in terms of the Department’s strategic plan and annual performance plan, emphasis would be placed on schools, districts and provinces. He said that Ms Stella Mosimege, Director General (DG), would take the Committee through the first part of the presentation while Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), would handle the second part of the presentation.
Presentation: DBE’s strategic and five-year plan
Ms Mosimega said that the first few slides in the presentation gave a brief report of what had happened in the year since the elections, noting the role of Treasury, in terms of guiding planning for the Department, had been moved to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency. Not much had changed, as the DBE was still using the same planning frameworks and the same departments were still involved in monitoring what provinces and national departments were doing in terms of reports and plans.
Based on the aforementioned frameworks, the strategic plan of the Department still contained the same vision, mission and values as were in the previous five-year term. The legislative mandates had not changed either, but there had been an emphasis on policy development in view of the NDP mandate as a preparation towards the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), with focus on areas where policies, frameworks or guidelines needed to be completed to assist in carrying out the specified mandates in the five-year plan. Emphasis had also been placed on the relevant court rulings that had taken place in the previous year, which were likely to affect the way education would be administered in the coming years.
The Department’s plan was based solely on the NDP mandate, as pointed out by the Deputy Minister. The sector plan had been revised to align with the NDP for an extension till year 2030, as against the previous plan of year 2025. A revised action plan had been put in place for the medium term up till year 2019. The sector plan had been changed only with respect to the targets for the current five-year term, from 2014 to 2019. Reports on the MTSF were already being given to the Presidency on a quarterly basis through the programme of action. As for the provincial perspective requested by the Chairperson, the DBE engaged provinces in conversations on a continuous basis through the head of the committee in charge of panel reporting, monitoring and evaluation, to ensure a collective achievement of the MTSF targets.
The Department had come up with ten non-negotiables after the reinstatement of the Minister and Deputy Minister in the DBE. The first four non-negotiables were linked to the MTSF sub-outcomes. The first lap of the presidential programme, known as Operation Phakisa, which had already begun in several departments, was just about to be implemented in the DBE, with the focus on ICT in this financial year. No specific date had been set, but June was the likely date when it would begin. These were the areas the Department had used in focusing its strategic objectives, targets and indicators.
The DG said she had gone through the MSTF sub-outcomes in August 2014 at Pretoria, but she briefly highlighted the outcomes as shown in the presentation:
- The first sub-outcome was on teachers, placement, recruitments, and utilization of teachers;
- The second sub-outcome comprised of two elements: infrastructure and learning, teaching and supporting materials (LTSM);
- The third sub-outcome was assessment, with focus on utilizing the Annual National Assessment (ANA) to improve teaching and learning;
- The fourth outcome was on Early Childhood Development (ECD). The Deputy Minister had already spoken on what the efforts the Department was putting into compliance with the NDP’s two year plan, before Grade One;
- The fifth sub-outcome was on strengthening and improving accountability at school and district levels;
- The sixth sub-outcome was on partnerships engaged in by the Department. The Department had established a National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) to further encourage more partnerships that would strengthen delivery of education.
The DG reiterated that the action plan to 2019 had always existed. It had only been aligned to the NDP and revised to have new targets. The impact indicators of the action plan were also serving in the programme of action that would be reported to the Presidency through the Cabinet after every quarter.
The first four of the ten non-negotiables were similar to some of the sub-outcomes of the MTSF. The Deputy Minister had emphasized the Operation Phakisa initiative on ICT, and that there was a move to ensure that all schools had access and were able to utilize ICT for teaching and learning, and not just for administrative purposes, where the programme had been initiated a few years back. Other areas of emphasis included the Kha Ri Gude (mathematics literacy programme) which was already being introduced in the provinces, library services to strengthen reading, a focus on rural schooling to ensure that provinces affected by rural schooling were brought together with provinces that were not so rural to create a balance. There was a curriculum which covered maths, science and technology (MST), history, introduction of African languages (IALS), and reading. Inclusive education was a broad programme that formed the core of what the DBE did as a sector, and social mobilisation had a focus on social cohesion and partnerships which the Department had formed, and would continue to form, to strengthen issues of learner wellbeing and safety. Examples of such partnerships were associations formed with the Department of Health and the Department of Arts and Culture for the purpose of introducing some support programmes to the educational system.
The DG expanded on some key focus areas. On MST, the Department had merged the conditional grants for Dinaledi Schools and technical schools together so as to strengthen the funding of MST programmes in the schooling system. The Funza Lushaka bursary scheme was still ongoing, but greater emphasis had been placed on ensuring that provinces were able to pay educators as soon as possible after the graduation of the current students. The Department had been working on a demand model to incorporate information about teacher recruitment and exit, with specific emphasis on the migration problems, especially as it concerned monitoring the data of the educators. Strengthening accountability was closely linked with the appointment of principals, as efforts were being made to ensure that principals signed performance agreements. It was pointed out that other instruments such as the Performance Management System (PMS) and Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) systems were in place to monitor the performance of teachers and principals.
The DBE was still committed to competing and benchmarking with other international countries in order to assess performance and avoid complacency on the part of the sector. For this reason, the Department still participated in international test programmes like the Trends in Maths and Science Studies (TIMSS), Progress in Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the South African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ).
Strategic Objectives and Indicators
The DG said her presentation contained indicators and strategic objectives that had been developed for the five-year term, which the Department would be working with till the 2019/20 financial year. The strategic objectives and corresponding indicators for each program in the five-year plan, showing the five-year target, had been outlined in each table. This had no yearly targets, as would have been the case in the APP. The APP indicators were reflected below every programme in each table. The five-year target implied that evaluations would only be done along the way, and a full report given at the end of the five-year term.
Programme one focused only on what took place at the national departments, and not the provinces, unlike the other programmes that related to the provinces in one way or the other.
Program two had an indicator on ECD which was the foundation phase of the entire strategic plan. It had APP indicators for the provision of workbooks to Grade R, as well as the focus on qualified practitioners already pointed out by the Deputy Minister to ensure that practitioners moved from the entry level to level six. North West Province seemed to be the only province topping the list of provinces in terms of entering level six. The second indicator on programme two was on learning materials. Targets for the supply of these materials to learners had been set to be between 97 percent and 100 percent. The third target was on completion rates, as a lot of funds had been invested in several programmes, like the Kha Ri Gude and MST. Checks had been placed on the completion of not only the Kha Ri Gude programme, but also the pass rate of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. The fourth strategic objective was on improving the curriculum implementation in multi-grade schools. 500 educators would be trained in multi-grade teaching on an ongoing basis in the APP for the first yea,r but the impact evaluation would be published only at the end of the five-year term.
Programme three focused on the recruitment of teachers. The key programme referred to was Funza Lushaka, which was aimed at attracting young people into teaching, with emphasis on 100 percent placement within the first six months after they had completed their training. Beyond this, efforts had been put into recruiting educators from age 30 and below. The last indicator in the APP was also present in the MTSF, showing that the Department had to ensure that principals were recruited, based on competence. With reference to the second strategic objective, teachers were being trained on an ongoing basis in accordance with the MTSF. Diagnostic tests had been developed for teachers, beginning with English language, followed by additional language and mathematics. The indicator for the third strategic objective, also present in the MTSF indicator, had been set as the target for the five-year term. Competence of governing bodies of schools was also considered, as parents and communities were stakeholders in the education system. This explained the first APP indicator with regards the percentage of School Governing Bodies (SGBs) that met minimum requirements. It was also important that schools were monitored on continuous basis.
Program four dealt with assessment and information systems and district support. Because the ANA had been institutionalized, the NSC had been adopted as a strategic indicator. Yearly reports were obtained for the NSC and ANA, not just to show the percentage of learners that passed but also to recommend mechanisms that could be utilized to improve the teaching of difficult subjects in schools.
Infrastructure was identified as another strategic objective, with a focus on the basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity. Based on the ICT program of the DBE, schools had been provided with administrative tools like computers for easy communication between schools, districts, provinces and the national department. The third objective of program four was to strengthen information systems by improving the learning tracker system. This explained the APP indicator, which was the percentage of schools utilizing the electronic administration system to update the learning tracker. The target for the year was 60 percent. The critical indicator in the fourth objective was the percentage of schools visited by district monitors at least twice a year. The other indicators dealt with support of officials that were performing poorly in some districts, to bring about improvements. The targets would keep changing, based on the results from these mentoring programs. Principals and district managers were also being assessed.
Program five focused on social cohesion and partnerships, with particular emphasis on matters of health and school safety. The target for the five-year term was aimed at taking a large number of learners through several programmes outlined as the strategic indicator (see slide 25 of attached document). The target on a yearly basis was placed at 5 000. The other indicators emphasised nutrition by targeting all schools in quintile one to three, and all learners in those schools.
The DG said that the last part of her presentation showed the several processes the Department had gone through in drafting the strategic plan. There had been numerous interactions with provinces to ensure that they had the necessary documents in order to ensure that their plans aligned with those of the Department. The Department had on two occasions received and analyzed reports of provinces to ensure that all sectors were running the same course.
2015 MTEF allocation
Ms Molalekoa, CFO, presented the budget of the Department over the MTEF. The baseline allocation for 2015/16 had been reduced by Treasury by R433.6m to R21.5 bn, by R315.1m to R22.5bn in 2016/17, and by R325.9m to R23.9bn in 2017/18. Reductions had affected school infrastructure programmes, Kha Ri Gude, goods and services, payment for capital goods and conditional grants.
An increase of R48.147 million in the first year was noted in the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) but the allocation had been reduced for the two outer years. The MST grant was the result of the combination of the grants for technical schools and Danaledi grant. The HIV and AIDS life skills grant had also been reduced over the medium term to R5.3 million, R7.5 million and R4.98 million in the three years respectively.
Even though the overall budget had been reduced, there had been a minimal increase to the budget in some areas. An additional R200 million had been allocated to the National Education Collaboration Framework over the MTEF in the three outer years. With the new MST grant, additional sums of R5 million, R5.2 million and R5.5 million had been allocated respectively for the three years for oversight functions from the Department.
The allocation per programme for year 2015/16 was compared to 2014/15. The budget for administration had increased by 2.9 percent to cater for the office accommodation for the Department. A reduction of three percent, due to the cut in the Kha Ri Gude, was noted in the budget for curriculum policy, support and monitoring. The baseline reductions implemented by the National Treasury had also led to a reduction in the budget for the teachers, education, human resources and institutional development, by 7.6 percent. The budget for planning, information and assessment had been increased by 16.9 percent. An increase of 4.3 percent was noted in the budget for educational enrichment services.
The CFO gave details on the allocation per economic classification, noting that there was an increase of 6.3 percent in the compensation of employees and a 3.6 percent decrease in goods and services for year 2015/16. Allocation for transfers and services had been increased, especially for the National Education Collaboration Trust, which would receive an increased amount of R200 million over the MTEF, but would be getting R20 million for the current year. The 30 percent reduction in payments for capital assets was a bit high, but was due to the decrease in the school infrastructure backlog grant.
The last part of the presentation showed the transfers to various sectors like the Skills Education Training Authority (SETA), the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), Unesco membership fees, Childline South Africa, and the Guidance Counselling and Youth Development Centre in Malawi. They reflected the allocations over the MTEF. Other transfers to public entities such as Funza Lushaka and Umalusi were highlighted.
Ms T Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA, Western Cape) asked when the posts of the two acting DGs, Mr Padayachee and Mr Mueli, would become permanent, since this translated to temporary staff working alongside in the establishment. What were the time frames set for the key focus areas on programme four, especially with regard to the introduction of languages? Based on the 2014 visit to the Eastern Cape on indigenous secondary schools, what improvements had emanated with regard to the 80 percent that had been noted last year? A comprehensive report would be appreciated. How far had broadband been introduced at schools, since it was one of the programmess to provide learners with ICT equipment? What powers had been put in place to curb corruption between the providers of school nutrition, the SGBs and the principals, in implementing the school nutrition programme? She asked for an explanation on the escalated amount of R150 million between the second (2016/17) and third year (2017/18) for the Kha Ri Gude programme, especially because the report showed a R10 million difference between the first and second year.
Mr H Groenwald (DA, North West) asked what role the Department was playing in the development and standardization of crèches. He expressed concern about the different levels of teachers available at the crèches, with an emphasis on unqualified teachers, and also the confusion over whether the DBE or the DSD was responsible for the crèches. Was there any relationship between the DBE and the DSD to ensure that they carried out functions at the same pace and at the same standard? Was the quality of teachers produced from the different training centres the same? Were children able to acquire the same standard and quality of teaching from teachers that had undergone this training?
What was responsible for the prevalent problem of maths at schools and the overall educational system in the Eastern Cape? In what ways was the allocated budget being utilized? What would the Department do to resolve these problems? What mechanisms had been put in place by the Department to resolve the huge problem of scholar transport, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, since it posed a serious security and health risk for children who had to trek long distances to school? What was the reason for the difference in the curricula of some schools in South Africa? What plans had been put in place to address the issue of the numerous schools in the local communities that were close to being empty? Clarification was requested on the number of schools that provided nutrition.
Mr M Khawula (IFP; KwaZulu-Natal) said that the Departmental intervention of moving learners from rural to urban areas had led to even greater negative impact on the local communities. Some schools had closed and learners had moved to neighbouring schools, but transportation had not been provided for these learners. These interventions had to be balanced and guarantees given, especially for transportation. He asked what mechanisms the Department was adopting to ensure that schools were monitored. It was important to focus on monitoring and if possible, the Department should provide the Committee with yearly academic reports to cross-check on monitoring. Would the Department achieve its goal of providing quality education, based on the reductions in the baseline and budget as a whole? Had the OSD problems in KwaZulu-Natal been sorted out?
Ms L Dlamini (ANC; Mpumalanga) raised the issue of the provision of free digital content for learners and educators, as was mentioned by the Deputy Minister. Although this was a positive innovation, it had an adverse effect of broadening the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, since it would be accessible only to people who had smart phones and devices to gain access. She suggested that the Department should start by providing Grade 12 teachers with those gadgets so that they could gain access to resources that could be used to teach the learners. She asked for clarification on the APP, as the presentation only showed five-year targets as opposed to yearly targets, that would allow the Committee to carry out its oversight functions.
The DG responded that APP indicators and targets were placed below every strategic objective. Yearly targets were not expected in the five-year strategic plan, but progress reports per year would be provided at the request of the Committee.
Ms Dlamini said the explanation was helpful to an extent, even though she was not sure all the APP indicators had been reflected in the strategic plan.
As regards ECD, she said that it was necessary to have all the role players involved to clarify reports. Other questions she raised were:
-How many children had, or did not have, access to the Grade R programme?
-What was responsible for the low quality of education in South Africa, especially since efforts had been put into comparing the educational system with other countries? Could the issue of children not being able to express themselves in English be linked to the poor quality of the educational system, as many young people still remained unemployable after matric?
- On the issue of social cohesion, clarification was needed on what the annual target of 5 000 stood for. The indicators were also not specific and measurable in terms of the SMART requirement. What would the Department measure under the social cohesion objective?
-With regard to provinces faced with the challenge of scholar transport, had boarding schools been considered as an alternative to resolve this issue?
Ms P Mququ (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked for clarity on the number of schools that administered the de-worming programme. She also wanted to know why the presentation showed a target for Grade R to 7 in the nutrition program as opposed to what obtained in the Eastern Cape, where learners between Grades R and 12 benefited from the nutrition program.
The Chairperson asked what the rationale was behind the review of several policies by the Department -- was it due to challenges in the implementation of the policies, or newly developed dynamics that necessitated the review of these policies? Was there a policy for rural allowances in the Department and if so, in what provinces had they been implemented? With regard to several figures in the presentation, where would the 5 000 educators and officials that would be participating in certain activities be sourced from? More clarification was needed on how the Department arrived at several figures highlighted in the strategic plan. Had history been made compulsory in all schools, and if so, had it been implemented? There was a need for the Department to focus on management and monitoring of the educational system, to prevent further degeneration in the sector. Based on the several reductions in the budget, she wanted to know specifically the reasons for reductions in infrastructure, since issues surrounding schools that were not fit for educational purposes had been raised. Were indigenous languages introduced at the foundational stages? This was based on the need to ensure that indigenous languages did not become obsolete. Which Department was responsible for the two year visit to schools -- the DST or DBE? She also asked for a report on the equalisation of salaries.
Mr Padayache gave an explanation on what the reductions in the baseline meant. Under normal circumstances, budgets were expected to increase. The finances of the Department were controlled by the National Treasury and the Minister of Finance. The DBE budget was not limited to basic education alone, but cut across government, encompassing both national and provincial budgets. A large portion of the budget went to the payment of incurred debts, an issue which was being addressed by the government through several adjustments. Resolving ongoing negotiations and directions on settlements could also impact on the budget. The Department would ensure that funds were spent for the purposes that had been set out.
Ms Mosimega responded on the question raised on APP indicators, noting that the APP did not reflect all the indicators of the sector. Some indicators were in the MTSF, while others were in the action plan 2019. The APP indicated only key targets to be delivered within the five-year term while excluding targets that had been highlighted in quarterly reports, either through MTSF reports, action plan reports, APP reports or other forms of reports. Other indicators that were not strategic would be found in the individual operational plans of different sectors of the Department.
On how indicators were measured, especially with regard to social cohesion activity, the Department usually explained how these activities would be measured behind every programme. The target of 5 000 would be sourced from the several social cohesion programmes which included extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, spelling bee competitions and so on. In the technical integrated description behind the programme, data would be collected from participatory registers at these social cohesion events.
Mr Padayachee said that the 5 000 target referred to the number of educators or participants, and not the number of activities. Evidence had to be given on every effort of the Department which should be able to withstand the auditing of the Auditor General.
Mr Granville Whittle (DDG, Care and Support) responded to questions surrounding the national school nutrition programmes. Provinces currently used two different models – centralised and decentralised models -- to procure nutrition. Some provinces used the centralised model, where tenders were issued at the province, district or circuit level. The decentralized model, where the province transferred the funding for nutrition directly to the school, was the preferred model as it assisted in the control of funds, was more stable as students were able to feed on a regular basis, and there was improvement in the quality of meals. Provinces such as KZN, Mpumalanga, Guateng and the Western Cape were using the centralised model. Limpopo was currently operating a dual model, although efforts were being made to promote the decentralised model, as 300 schools had adopted this model. There were problems with models that were used in some provinces, as the centralised model had inherent problems that had resulted in several court cases in KZN and Mpumalanga. The Department had increased its target for the provision of nutrition from the technical figure of 15 000, to almost 20 000 schools. This was due to the fact that some schools after classification still had a large percentage of learners who struggled with nutrition. The Department had therefore asked provinces to extend targets to cover such children.
A high prevalence rate of intestinal worms had been noticed amongst learners in South Africa, which implied that these worms competed for the nutritional value of the food provided through the national school nutrition programs. This was what had led to the de-worming programme for quintiles one, two and three, included in the budget vote. Younger children had been targeted for the programme and emphasis had been placed on ensuring that children wore shoes and washed their hands when they went to the bathroom. About 71 percent of children between the ages of seven and 18 had said they never washed their hands after a visit to the bathroom, and this was a means by which they became infected with worms. The Medical Research Council had done a regional study in 12 schools in the Western Cape two years ago and it had shown a 90 percent intestinal worms infection rate. The implication was that children became sick more often and stayed out of school, which at the end of the day compromised the quality of education that the Department sought to provide. Grade R to Grade Seven (primary schools only), as well as quintiles one, two and three schools had been targeted for the programme. Seven million tablets had been donated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Medical Control Council had granted permission to import those drugs.
This year, the de-worming programme would be linked to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccinations carried out by the Department of Health for all Grade Four girl learners. School nurses would take the tablets to schools and give them to the teachers, who would administer them to the learners. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had said that the de-worming programme was the best intervention any government could make, and that explained why the Minister of the DBE had agreed to commence it this year. The Department had been interacting with the DSD and the DST to extend the programme to sites that were not schools, especially because the WHO was willing to increase the size of its donation, but these discussions were still fresh.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the process of teachers administering the tablets, and not the school nurses.
Dr Whittle said that the simpler method adopted universally was for the teachers to administer the tablets. Permission had been requested from the Medicines Control Council to allow teachers to administer tablets, but this could take place only under the supervision of a professional nurse. The link to HBD vaccinations was reflected in the sense that HBVs were administered only by professional nurses. These nurses would remain in the school for the duration of administering the tablets, to be able to be able to deal with adverse reactions or complications resulting from the medication immediately.
Mr Matanzima Mweli, Acting DG: Curriculum Activity, DBE, said that the 60 percent Mr Whittle had referred to was linked to the poverty index of schools. In terms of the schools that were deemed to be poor, the system was meant to cover 60 percent, but had in actual fact exceeded that percentage. Figures indicated that out of 11 474 528 learners, 9 111 724 learners were benefiting from the schools. If this was compared with the school nutrition programme, as an example, it would reflect the sum of 9 121 638 learners benefiting. This added up to a total of 76.2 percent out of the initial total of 11 474 528 learners. With regard schools, it covered about 82.4 percent of public schools, which was well above the target of 60 percent.
On the concerns over access of learners to Grade R, the figures available indicated an increase in the number obtaining access. A look at 1997 showed a total of 84 996 learners, but by 2014 the learners in Grade R were 813 044. This linked up with the Deputy Minister’s statistics that showed a 90.6 percent increase in the number of public primary schools that had Grade R classes. The figure added up to a total of 16 909 out of 18 000 public primary schools, and 23 000 schools in all. Exact figures of schools that were yet to benefit from these institutions may not be available, but the Department usually looked at indicators that showed that certain levels were available in schools and the schools that had been prioritized.
With regard to when the introduction of indigenous languages would be implemented, he said that learners from Grade R were already exposed to indigenous African languages, especially those that were taking instruction in these languages. The learners intended for this programme were those who had never been exposed to indigenous languages before. 3 538 schools had been identified in the country. These were historically former Model C schools with learners who had never been exposed to indigenous African languages.
Last year, an independent evaluation had been carried out by a service provider and the service provider had advised against full scheme implementation to cover the 3 538 schools because in the view of the service provider, there was still a need to go through the second phase of the evaluation, from Grade 1 to Grade 2 to be able to garner enough expertise needed for full scheme implementation. The Council of the Education Ministers took a decision for the Department to begin with the second phase without going into full implementation in 2015, but would use 2015 to prepare for full implementation in 2016.
Availability of posts for teachers was vital to proceed with full implementation. There was no need to appoint teachers on a full-time basis, as the nature of the job fell in the category of subjects that did not require full-time teachers. Itinerant teachers could also be appointed in provinces, like in the Western Cape and Limpopo, where itinerant teachers moved from one school to the other. These teachers were assigned to teach only the languages, and were not required to spend the whole day at the school. This policy would depend largely on the modules that provinces had decided to follow, but it was unlikely that provinces would appoint them on full-time basis.
Broad band roll-outs referred mainly to school connectivity. In terms of connectivity for administration, the Department had a 100 percent connectivity performance in terms of providing support to enhance administration of a school. Each school had at least one computer or a laptop, and this was a programme that had been running for many years. With regard to connectivity for learning and teaching, the Department was slightly above 40 percent. This was the reason why the sector and government had identified ICT as a project to be embarked upon through Operation Phakisa, which would be implemented in June. The intention of the Department was to ensure that all 23 000 schools were fully connected at the end of five years, and all learners and teachers would have access and be competent to use the ICT. It was believed that it would help in improving learning outcomes. Digital content, development, professional development of teachers and training, as well as infrastructure --all formed part of the package.
Four areas had been concentrated upon:
* Increasing connectivity;
* Roll out of infrastructure;
* Digital content development;
* Teacher professional development and training.
At the moment, 145 teacher centres were in place and Vodacom had helped with equipping them. 60 were now fully equipped with ICT, and teachers who visited a centre could now access and download the resources they needed on their smart phones and gadgets.
With regard to the state of the crèches, the role of the DST and DBE was clarified. In respect of ECD including Grade R, the DBE was fully responsible for Grade R. In relation to learners between zero to four years, the DBE was responsible for only two deliverables -- the development of stimulation programmes and the development of ECD practitioners. In terms of the management and conditions of the site, the DSD, community centres, local governments and other entities were all responsible. The DSD was responsible for monitoring and auditing the centres.
The DBE had so far developed a national curriculum framework for zero to four. Provinces were being trained and the implementation of the curriculum had been introduced. The DBE’s view was that it could help to with the school-readiness of the learners. A lot was also being done with regard to teacher development.
The relationship of DBE with DSD was explained. The DBE had a technical committee and reported to Cabinet sub-committees on the work that had been done, such as the recent progress report on improving the quality of Grade R. The relationship was improving, even though the Department had not fully attained its goals. The DSD was responsible for zero to four, while the DBE and other Departments had to carry out their responsibilities. He said that the notion of bringing the two departments under one platform was a welcome idea, as it would help to clarify issues.
The issue surrounding the unevenness in the curriculum was the implementation of the curriculum, as the blue print for the curriculum was the same in the whole country. It was noted that some schools produced effective teaching and learning, while others did not. However, the noticeable improvement in results was largely due to the Department’s focus on curriculum coverage.
With regard to monitoring and support, the Department had a comprehensive framework known as the National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA) which had started as a small document but now contained over a hundred pages of deliverables to ensure effective learning and teaching. The irony of this issue was that while Members of the Committee had recommended that the Departments focus on more monitoring, provinces were complaining of excess monitoring from the Departments. The DBE had insisted that the role of monitoring was clearly specified in the legislation and must be complied with, notwithstanding the sensitivities involved. The Department’s view was that they were not responsible for monitoring schools; instead they were to monitor those who were saddled with the responsibility of monitoring schools to ensure that they carried out their responsibilities and also to have evidence of what they had done so far.
On the value of the matric certificate, a team of experts, comprising of two from University of Cape Town and one from outside the country, conducted a survey in 2011 to evaluate the currency of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) to see if there was value in the matric certificate. The report showed that the NSC was indeed valuable, and provided figures to show the positive responses of the labour market towards the NSC.
Mr Mweli said that the success of the educational system did not have to relate to the economic success of a country. The bottom line was that the success of education could be measured through many variables, such as employment, although factors in the field of employment were determined by many things other than education.
Mr Themba Kojana, DDG: Education, Human Resources Development, said that with regard to accessing information through the ICT using any device, and not necessarily smart phones, the Deputy Minister had spoken about the platform formed as result of partnerships between the DBE and other stakeholders like Vodacom, which allowed any cell phone or device to gain access to resources. From the demonstrations shown, people could take their ANA tests and receive their results immediately.
The DBE had embarked on an initiative where the performance of resource centres was evaluated and the statistics of functional resource centres could be made available to the Committee.
On the question raised by the Chairperson, the DBE had developed policies to ensure that the directives based on legislation were taken into consideration, and these policies were usually monitored. Many developmental challenges, such as the curriculum changes, how to ensure accountability or improve learner performance in the system, contributed to a change in policies, hence the need to review polices from time to time.
An incentive policy had been established by the Department aimed at retaining and attracting teachers into the profession. All provinces had implemented this policy, with the exception of Guateng and Mpumalanga, due to the large number of applications, as many people preferred to be educators in those provinces, rather than in the rural areas.
With regard to scholar transport problems in KZN, measures had been out in place to look into pressures on the compensation of employees in KZN, since that was where the problem lay, and not with the scholar transport itself.
Ms Palesa Tyobeka, DDG: Marketing, spoke on performance agreements to be signed by principals, noting that district directors were also required to sign these agreements. The Department had selected the key performance indicators for district directors, which flowed to the work plans of second managers and subject advisers to help with what they focused on, part of which was support to schools. It was important to note that the Department not only considered support to schools through visits, but also what had been done during the visits as it related to learner outcomes.
The satisfaction levels of principals were also tested as a second level of monitoring. This was to get feedback on the support that was being received from the district directors. The method, which began in 2011, showed a high level of satisfaction last year, and the same method would be carried out this year to enable the Department check that the recipients were also satisfied.
She gave a report on a secondary school that had been visited by the Committee, noting that performance had dropped by 0.2 percent in 2014 due to major issues of safety and security and instability at the school. The DBE had interfered by suspending the principal and appointing an acting principal. The school had been stabilized, security had been stepped up, and it was hoped that the multi-disciplinary team working with the appointed principal would monitor the school.
Mr Padayachee responded on the remaining issues. The number of public ordinary schools was approximately 24 000 while private independent schools were about 1 000, which resulted in a sum total of 25 000 schools.
It was important to note that Kha Ri Gude had started off as a campaign whose targets would have been reached by next year; and the likelihood was that Treasury would bring the programme to an end. This explained the huge decline in the amounts budgeted for in 2015/16. There would be a movement from Kha Ri Gude to other alternatives for people to get qualifications. The intention was for the funding to remain within the sector, and so the funding would be made available to the NECT as government’s contribution to partnerships with the private sector.
With regard to the mud schools, the Department was left with the implementation in the Eastern Cape, as problems in the other provinces had been addressed. 108 schools had been completed and 84 of them had been in the Eastern Cape. Provinces were meant to complete almost 544 schools, but there was no specific breakdown on what fraction of that number were to be completed in the Eastern Cape. What was left was about 150 schools undergoing construction at the moment, and which should be completed by next year.
There was also a batch of 197 schools where it had been suggested they be part of the merger and rationalisation programme. This was linked to the issue of transport, based on discussions with the MEC. A number of things had to be put in place before mergers took place, and schools were closed down to avoid creating other problems. In the rationalisation of the 197 schools, the DBE would be building mega schools. Social issues had to be kept in mind when considering this model, especially with regard to young learners. The programme would move into another phase by looking at inappropriate schools, as well as township schools that needed some form of refurbishment. Based on the tight fiscal constraints, an additional R1.5 billion would be needed to continue the programme.
On the issue of scholar transport, the DBE and DST had put in place a framework on how it should work, but it had not addressed the issue of uneven distribution amongst learners, noting that only about 60 percent of the children were in need of transport, based on the budget that had been provided. This situation also applied in KZN, where some students qualified but there were insufficient funds to provide transport.
With regard to history as a subject, he said that history was being taught up to Grade 9 as part of social studies, but it was not compulsory for learners once they got to Grade 10. The history referred to was not the usual history that people were used to, but the history that contained the level from which the country had come and how far it had gone. The Minister would convene a round table discussion to consider this.
On policies and review, the Minister and the Deputy Minister had considered certain policies that needed review due to the changing nature of some issues. New issues such as teenage pregnancy and drug abuse were just springing up, and needed to be dealt with.
With regard to the appointment of the DGs, the Minister had advertised the posts, and it had closed. New DGs may accompany the Minister to forthcoming meetings.
The Chairperson thanked the DBE, reiterating the need for permanence in the posts of senior managers of the Department.
Mr Groenewald said that one of his questions about the relationship with the MEC in Gauteng had not been addressed.
Mr Padayachee replied that the MEC for Gauteng had provincial powers with regard to schools. Based on the character of schools in the country, there had been no significant change. It was suggested that the MEC and the provinces should communicate with the stakeholders on the rationale.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would like to see the districts being strengthened, as they were responsible for overseeing the work of the Department. It was encouraging to note the new approach to appointing principals. More provincial updates would be demanded the next time the Department came before the Committee. The report on the currency of the NSC should be sent to the Select Committee. It was important to develop instruments to determine the satisfaction of learners, based on the service they received from the principals and the teachers. This was to ensure a balance in the satisfaction of both learners and the principals.
The Committee made corrections to its minutes dated 18 March 2015 before adopting it.
Ms Dlamini announced there had been an invitation from the Department of Social Services (DSS) to participate in a meeting. The DSS would not be available at the meeting scheduled to be held the following day. However, it was agreed that they would be meet with the Select Committee on Tuesday, 12 May 2015 by 8.30 am, before the meeting with the Department of Planning.
The meeting was adjourned.
Zwane, Ms L
Dlamini, Ms L
Groenewald, Mr HB
Khawula, Mr M
Mpambo-Sibhukwana, Ms T
Samka, Ms P
Stock, Mr D
Tlake, Ms MF
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