Department of Basic Education on 4th quarterly Grant Report and conditional grants

Basic Education

26 May 2015
Chairperson: Ms N Mokoto (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented this Department's fourth quarterly report on the performance in meeting its strategic objectives for 2014/15, noting that the Department had already designed a strategic plan and annual performance plan for the five-year term to focus on improving the quality of basic education. Each of the five programmes was described, with their achievements set out in some depth. Programme 1 focused on financial, human resource, strategic planning, internal audit and international relations structures, and recorded a number of achievements which included the training of 452 officials from the departmental budget. Programme 2 focused on curriculum and emphasised library campaigns. Reading promotions, as well as the South African sign language developed in the previous year, were also implemented throughout the financial year. Programme 3 looked into the absorption of young graduates below the age of 30 years into the teaching profession. 10 788 educators were recruited and 3  221 graduates were placed in the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme. 60 teacher centres had also been upgraded by Vodacom. Programme 4 focused on planning, information and assessment and placed emphasis on the National School Certificate (NSC) examinations. The Department had recruited people to fill the 153 vacancies for the current financial year in order to improve the capacity of people in charge of the infrastructure programmes. Programme 5 focused on educational enrichment services. At the end of the fourth quarter, the Department had trained 18 888 educators on HIV/AIDS life skills programmes. The targets for the National School Nutrition Programme were not achieved, due to the unsigned report from some of the provinces that could not be verified alongside the other reports.

The Chief Financial Officer presented the financial report for the fourth quarter, stating that the bulk of the Department’s budget had been allocated for various transfers, including the conditional grants and grants for public entities. The remainder of the budget was R4.979 billion and it had been allocated to compensation of employees as well as other earmarked funds. The amounts spent by the Department up to the fourth quarter were outlined.

Underspending and overspending reflected in different programmes of the Department. Underspending was noticed in expenditure for curriculum, amount for goods and services, transfers and subsidies, payments for capital assets, Kha Ri Gude project, workbooks; as well as Annual National Assessment due to delay in submission of claim by some provinces. Overspending was noticed in compensation of employees, available funds that focused on teachers under programme 3; the ADEA and guidance counselling, and the IQMS that was due to payments for extensive travelling of moderators that monitored the implementation of programmes.

The Committee was briefed by the Director for Grant Management on the Department’s monitoring and oversight of conditional grants. The oversight functions were derived from the Constitution and the Division of Revenue Act; and were carried out through the implementation of the business plans that conformed with the conditional grant frameworks, application of budgets, strict observance of the Parliament and Constitutional laws with regard to financial and non-financial reporting, as well as the effective management of the conditional grant.

A ministerial task team was appointed to review the Dinaledi and Technical Secondary School grants and its review created the current maths, science and technology (MST) grant which was targeted at improving the educational system through the provision of necessary tools needed for quality teaching and learning. There were prevalent challenges in Limpopo and these challenges were connected to the incapacity in the supply chain management function as a result of numerous resignations from key positions in the province.

1 100 master trainers underwent the HIV/AIDS life skills education programme and 19 000 educators were trained to implement the sexual reproductive health (SRH) and TB programmes for learners to be able to protect themselves from HIV and TB. A target of 99.15% schools had been reached with the public awareness of HIV risk factors. 153 experts had also been hired from the built industry to assist with monitoring of infrastructure. Although the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) had recorded remarkable progress, cases of food poisoning and contamination still persisted.

Limpopo had been excluded from the occupational specific dispensation (OSD) because its payroll lacked clarity at the point where the collective agreement was signed for the other provinces.

The Department would consider in summary the expenditure of grant funding that had been tracked monthly using the basic accounting system (BAS); quarterly performance reports that provided non-financial performance information; programme-level monitoring that was undertaken by DBE and provincial coordinators; consistent report on conditional grants at HEDCOM subcommittee on finance as a standing item; and would also carry out the annual performance evaluation of the NDP.

Discussions from members of the Committee on the presentations focused on issues of how the Department would resolve under-spending and overspending found in its various programmes, the challenges faces with the placements of OSD, the acceptability and implementation of the 1+4 model by all provinces, as well as the challenges in training the school governing bodies (SGBs). Other issues raised surrounded clarity on the reading promotion programme; the contradictions in the report stating the Department exceeded its target on the Funza Lushaka bursary in comparison with the 100% highlighted; the method with which the Department intended to carry out its oversight functions and to monitor the spending of entities that had been given huge sums of money for specified projects. They raised particular challenges facing Limpopo, especially in relation to the numerous vacant positions that needed to be filled, and the provision for learners with disability under the Kha Ri Gude project, especially with regard to learners on the waiting list. They queried the outcomes of people that were targeted for the numerous trainings such as HIV/AIDS life skills training, as well as the measures that had been put in place to unlock the bottlenecks around this training. Members raised concern about lack of or substandard kitchen facilities for schools. which contributed to the cases of food poisoning and contamination. They called for further reports on the Scholar Transport programme, as well the questioning the reliability of performance information to prevent recurrence of misstatement of facts. 

Meeting report

Election of Acting Chairperson
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) was nominated as Acting Chairperson

Department of Basic Education, Fourth quarterly report on meeting its strategic objectives for 2014/15
Ms Stella Mosimege, Director: Strategic Planning, Department of Basic Education, noted that the budget of the Department (or DBE) was structured under five programmes, covering, in turn: administration; curriculum policy, support and monitoring; teachers, education human resources and institutional development; planning, information and assessment; and educational enrichment services. She noted that the DBE would be reporting on progress in the last four quarters and would indicate the actual target set in some instances, with the cumulative output for the year in others. This report would mirror the Annual Report to be presented in a few months.

She reported on the programme as follows:

Programme 1: This programme dealt with structures from finance, human resource (HR), strategic planning, internal audit and international relations. The achievements of the Department on these structures were reflected in the report. The first of such achievement was the training of 452 officials by the Department from the budget and 56 officials were paid from sponsored trainings from various organisations. A lot of queries received on communications had been addressed by the Department. In the fourth quarter, eight memoranda of agreement, 12 memoranda of understanding, one confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement and one implementation protocol were dealt with. The Department undertook research on Education For All (EFA); did an analysis of underperforming schools, with emphasis on those within a pass rate of 40% and below in the NSC exams; the reading strategy through research in the North West; and improving early grade reading in South Africa.

The Department had been able to produce its five-year strategic plan for the new five-year term and the first annual performance plan (APP) for 2015/2016. All quarterly reports for the year had been processed and submitted to the National Treasury. Other sector reports expected from the Department on behalf of the Minister for presentation at Cabinet had been produced as well. Public entities serving under DBE were supported by the Department. In some instances, the Department was able to analysis some entities’ performance information on quarter 3.

There had been an overall increase in the number of media queries and statements that the Department received and participated in.

She explained the meetings, saying that 75 out of the 123 meetings that were planned were convened while some were postponed and deferred due to various reasons.

The Department received all the business plans of the six conditional grants available in the sector and was able to acquire approval certificates for compliance on the grants. DBE also provided preliminary input to the draft conditional grant framework and MTEF allocations which were sent to the National Treasury for the current term. The details of monitoring and evaluation of the conditional grants would be elaborated in the second presentation.

The three targets for programme 1 were achieved and reflected in the APP indicators set out in the document. The performance indicator for number of audit reports signed off reflected an under-performance as only 20 out of the 29 reports initially targeted for in the financial year.
Programme 2: This programme focused on curriculum. The Department focused on the libraries campaign and was able to constitute a steering committee comprising of different representatives from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and from two leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that partnered with DBE in the libraries campaign programme. The Department had also been able to implement the reading promotion throughout the financial year, and had implemented the South African Sign Language that was developed in the previous year as part of its CAPS curriculum in its foundational phase and grade 9 in schools for the deaf in all provinces.

Most times, there was shortage of learning and teaching support materials at the beginning of the year, especially in provinces that experienced influx of learners at the beginning of an academic year. This was dealt with during the start of the 2015 school year. However, there was a 100% delivery of workbooks at the end of February.

Screening of the National Catalogue took place in the last quarter of the year. The Department had begun a process to develop State-owned textbooks that would be produced, printed and delivered to all schools. The State-owned books developed during the fourth quarter were grade 10 technical mathematics textbooks, grades 1 to 3 English home language and grade 4 to 6 mathematics textbooks.
The Department had designed a new programme called the ‘1+4 model’ which aimed at training teachers for one day so that these teachers could put to use what they had learnt, thereby assisting in closing the content gaps in the teaching of mathematics. This was done specifically to improve the grade 9 Annual National Assessment (ANA) results in the senior phase.

DBE had completed the process of merging the two conditional grants -- the old Dinaledi schools and the recapitilisation of secondary schools, into one maths, science and technology (MST) conditional grant which would concentrate on making sure that schools increased the number of learners that were doing maths and science and also increase the long term performance. A target had been set in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the strategy employed by the Department in meeting that target was to harness the two conditional grants instead of running them separately so as to reach the specified number of outputs by 2030. Some schools that were not offering maths and science subjects initially had already started offering those subjects at grade 10. As at January, 82 of such schools had already started offering mathematics.

The Kha Ri Gude campaign started late in the year and was therefore completed in March 2015 instead of December 2014.

In terms of the Department’s national senior certificate (NSC) performance, a combined result reflecting the NSC 2014 examinations and the 2015 supplementary examination was outlined. The document showed the various increments that the Department was able to attain in terms of learners that had attained their diplomas, obtained their higher certificates, and obtained admission to bachelor studies across the provinces. The overall pass rate had increased by 1.3% from 75.8% to 77.1%.

The Department could not complete the total number of interactive workbooks targeted as it was only able to complete four out of ten workbooks. The delivery of grade R materials in schools at the end of the financial year was at 99.96%. DBE had reached the target set for delivering mathematics workbooks to grade 9, which was between 97 and 100%. With regard the target set for the completion of Kha Ri Gude, the Department had high enrollment but the output for quarter 4 had not been achieved as 421 440 out of 545 386 had been completed.

Programme 3: This focused on teachers, recruitment and utilisation of human resources. One of the key areas that was looked into was to absorb young graduates below the age of 30 into the teaching profession and the Department was able to recruit 10 788 educators which exceeded the set target of 8  000. In quarter 4 alone, DBE recorded 4 827 of these educators but also noted that the Department was losing these same young educators.

The critical area in the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme was placement of the graduates. As at December 2014, 3 221 out of the 3 875 graduates had been placed. This meant that some of the graduates would still be placed in the current academic and financial year.

A total of 31 968 educators participated in information sessions on Information Quality Management System (IQMS) implementation across the nine provinces. The School Governing Body (SGB) elections went on successfully because they were preceded by a strong advocacy programme.
The Department had 60 teacher centres that had been upgraded by Vodacom and would continue to expand its teacher centres to cater for development programmes for educators.

The three indicators in programme 3 showed that the Department had met the targets set. The targets for the number of qualified teachers below 30 years of age entering into the profession and the number of Funza Lushaka bursaries awarded to students were exceeded. (See attached document).

Programme 4: This focused on planning, information and assessment. One key programme of the Department was the NSC examinations. Preparations for the 2015 NSC examinations had begun; question papers had been set and the Department was at different stages of external moderation.

This programme monitored provincial budget and expenditures as well as conditional grants across the board. Provinces had therefore had their expenditures analysed and feedback had been given to the Department. The programme structure review for provinces had been done and all the changes needed to be effected were communicated with the National Treasury on time.

The capacity to improve the calibre of people handling infrastructure programmes in provinces had continued through the recruitment of people in the built environment and in the finance area. 153 vacancies had been filled in the current financial year.

On Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), a total of 106 schools had been completed, 371 schools had been provided with sanitation, 381 schools had been provided with water and 292 schools had been provided with electricity.

With regard to information management systems at school level, 24 706 schools, which represented 99% of the public ordinary schools, had been able to process their data from their SSM systems to LURIT, which was the Department’s learner tracking system. During the fourth quarter, 18 000 schools successfully submitted their data.

A draft guideline on protocols for school visits by district officials had been developed. This was in a bid to monitor the districts or to strengthen the capacity of districts to monitor schools. Currently, all schools had been profiled in the 81 districts and this reflected in the EMIS database. 68 out of the 81 profiled schools had been analysed.

The DBE dedicated the fourth quarter to monitoring the re-opening of schools because the first term began in the fourth quarter. Part of what the District branch dealt with was to coordinate the reopening of schools so that educational officials and politicians who visited the schools could see that learning began on the first day of school. It was also important for the requisite documents, including learning and teaching support materials, were available.

The first target for programme 4, which was to produce ANA report and diagnostic report had been done after the results were released in December. The requisite reports for NSC – the technical report, school statistics report, school subject report and the three-year performance indicating change in subjects, had also been produced.

Of the cumulative target of 150 schools completed through ASIDI by 2014/15, the Department had been able to reach an output of 106. The 94% target for the percentage of grade 1 learners who had received formal grade R was yet to be met according to the GHS data. The targets for the other indicators had been met. (See page 27 of attached document).

The Department had reached a 100% referral rate and a 99.65% resolution rate with regard to managing cases reported to it. The Department had been able to produce two reports to assist in monitoring the events in the education sector of the country.

Programme 5: This dealt with educational enrichment services. By the end of the fourth quarter, provinces had reached 18 888 educators through training on HIV and AIDS life skills education programme.

The Department had been able to visit 230 schools in eight provinces for the purpose of monitoring the school nutrition programme. Verified data showed that learners in 15 678 schools were fed through the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in the fourth quarter. Data from one province could not be verified because the reports were not signed. The de-worming programme began in January 2015 and implementation of this programme had commenced to support the school nutrition programme.

The targets on nutrition could not be met because of the missing data mentioned earlier. The Department had done more than what was targeted in regard to the social cohesion activities organized for the year.

Presentation of the fourth quarter financial report
Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer, DBE, presented the financial report. The bulk of the budget for the Department had been allocated for transfers that covered conditional grants, transfers to public entities and other transfers. The remainder of the budget for the Department was R4.979 billion and it was allocated to compensation of employees, examiners and moderators, earmarked funds, office accommodation, specific and exclusive appropriation, departmental operations and projects.

The amounts that had been spent by the Department up to the fourth quarter were outlined. (See attached document). Administration had an allocation of R383 million and spent R380 799 million which represented 99.3% spending in the budget.

The expenditure for curriculum was 94.4%. There was an under-spending of R102 400 million due to the withholding of conditional grant transfers to Limpopo for Dinaledi schools which amounted to R8 505 million, and also due to the delay in starting the Kha Ri Gude project. Other measures were put in place due to the issues that were raised in the audit of the previous year and it led to the verification of learners that were registered as well as volunteer educators. The verification processes affected the processing of the payments in the last month of the financial year. The amount left unspent on Kha Ri Gude was about R63 million.

The available funds for Programme 3 that focused on teachers were slightly overspent due to the National Teachers’ Award allocation which was a bit higher than what was budgeted for. No material variances reflected in the spending for Programme 4 which focused on planning, information and assessment. The calculation showed that 100% was spent even though there was R594 000 left. The amount under-spent for Programme 5 on educational enrichment services was R21 335 million, while the amount spent was calculated as 99.6%. The under-expenditure was due to the withholding of transfers to Limpopo as result of low spending in the province. The total expenditure for the Department was calculated as 99.4%.
Putting the expenditure into consideration in terms of economic classification, a slight overspending in compensation of employees was noticed. The amounts however, included earmarked funds and the overspending was due to the payments of salaries of NEEDU evaluators which was higher than projected. The amount for goods and services was under-spent by R57 210 million, due to the delay in payments of Kha Ri Gude stipends. The under-spending for transfers and subsidies was R27 330 million due to the two conditional grants already indicated – Dinaledi schools and HIV and AIDS for Limpopo. The under-spending for payments for capital assets was R36 935 million. It was noted that there was necessarily not under-spending because under ASIDI, there were two allocations – operational and capital assets. The payment of capital assets showed under-spending while the operational part showed overspending because furniture was paid under operational sub-heading. In other words, the two allocations worked hand-in-hand to balance the spending. (See attached document for further clarification).

Under the allocation per economic classification, compensation of employees excluded earmarked funds which meant that it only reflected the allocation for the Department. The Department under-spent by R4 465 million and it was due to the vacant posts in the Department. Another significant under-spending reflected in conditional grants and was due to the withholding of transfers to Limpopo for Dinaledi and HIV and AIDS grants due to low spending. The school infrastructure backlog grant showed a slight over-expenditure of R2 million. Under-spending reflected in earmarked funds, especially in the Kha Ri Gude allocations due to the verification of all learners and volunteer educators. Verification had to been done in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs because of a previous issue that arose on deceased learners. Payments could therefore not be made and it contributed to the under-spending. There was also a slight overspending in departmental operations due to the payments of the national teacher awards that was higher than what was budgeted. Payments of some projects could not also be processed because the invoices were only received after the end of the financial year.

The details of the earmarked allocations were highlighted. (See attached document). Under the earmarked funds, there was an under-spending of R63 263 million in the Kha Ri Gude project, an under-spending of R6 019 million under the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) for Kha Ri Gude and an under-spending of R4 973 million for workbooks. IQMS, on the other hand was overspent by R4.197 million, due to the payments for extensive travelling of moderators monitoring the implementation of IQMS in schools. NEEDU was mainly on salaries; the salaries for the evaluators were higher than the projected amount. There was an under-spending of R11.613 million in the annual national assessment which was due to the delay in submission of claims by some provinces. The conditional grants that were indicated was for Limpopo province for Dinaledi and HIV and AIDS grants.

The overspending and under-spending for other transfers were not significant but the spending on ADEA and guidance counselling was slightly higher due to the rand-dollar exchange rates at the time the payments were processed.

Presentation of the DBE briefing on monitoring and oversight of conditional grants
Mr Gareth Macquela, Director for Grant Management, DBE, outlined the content of the presentation.

He noted that DBE’s oversight functions were derived from the Division of the Revenue Act and the Constitution. The Department focused on four areas in carrying out these oversight functions, which were facilitating the implementation of business plans in conformity with the conditional grant frameworks; application of budgets in keeping with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and other financial policies of government; ensuring strict observance of the laws of the Parliament and Constitution in relation to the financial and non-financial reporting; and effective management of conditional grants by mainstreaming best practice observed during monitoring and evaluation.

The Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, had appointed a ministerial task team to review the effectiveness of the Dinaledi schools grant in February 2013. When the technical team submitted its report, it requested that a review of the technical secondary school schools recapitalisation grant. The recommendations from this review informed the creation of the Maths, Science and Technology (MST) Grant. The MST Grant aimed to provide support and resources to schools, teachers and learners for the improvement of mathematics, sciences and technology teaching and learning at selected public schools -
approximately 1 000 schools per year had been targeted. The other aims and uses of the reconfiguration of the MST grant were outlined. (See attached document). One of the weaknesses in the previous grants was the challenges with the supply chain management, which the Department was trying to overcome by looking at transversal tenders to be done through DBE. The implementation of the grant had begun on a gradual approach.

One of the novelties in the implementation structure of the reconfigured MST grant was the Department’s focus on 16 primary schools as opposed to the two previous grants that were targeted at the Further Education and Training (FET) level. The Department could now target primary schools and deal with problems before they escalated. The target set for the number of schools and distribution between the FET and primary schools was 1 000 schools, and each province had indicated the number of schools that would participate in the grant.

The 2014/15 expenditure report of the previous Dinaledi schools grant showed that the spending was acceptable to some extent, except for Limpopo that spent only 23% of its allocation. There were a number of challenges with regard to Limpopo.

Each school that participated in the Dinaledi schools grant qualified to have two additional teachers to its post establishment, who were to teach maths or science subjects. The teachers were not employed by funds from the conditional grants but were employed by the province for one year, and therefore operated under a one-year contract. Funds did not necessarily come from the Department.

The challenges in Limpopo were connected to the supply chain management function that was not properly capacitated by senior managers. A number of resignations of key people had been recorded and these resignations led to tremendous challenges in spending. A senior manager had been subsequently appointed but it would take a lot of time for the challenges to be surmounted.

With regard to the Technical Secondary Schools Recapitalisation Grant, Limpopo improved by spending 60% of the allocation given. The spending was done with the assistance of Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) that assisted with the building and refurbishing of laboratories in the schools. The Western Cape on the other hand overspent by 40%. It was important to note that the figures under consideration had not been audited and had not considered the fact that Western Cape received an allocation from ASIDI. The figures to be given later would show the allocation from ASIDI.

Under the HIV/AIDS Lifeskills education programme, 1 100 master trainers were trained in the integration of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and TB programmes into the school curriculum. 19 000 educators were trained to implement SRH and TB programmes for learners to be able to protect themselves from HIV and TB and their associated risk factors including alcohol and drug abuse. It was emphasised that the only programme that served as a bulwark to annihilate the pandemic of HIV and AIDS as well as drug abuse was the HIV/AIDS Lifeskills education programme. 7 100 school management teams (SMTs) and school governing bodies (SGBs) members were trained to develop policy implementation plans and to ensure that SRH and TB education was implemented for all learners in schools as well as access to SRH and TB services.

Co-curricular activities were organised to prevent alcohol and drug abuse and 248 400 learners participated in these activities. Care and support programmes had also been implemented and had covered163 300 learners and 19 400 educators.

The Department had reached a target of 99.15% of schools and public being aware of HIV risk factors. The target for school communities targeting parents and stakeholders had been exceeded, while the targets for advocacy had also been reached. Deficiencies were only seen in the 63% of trained master trainers and this was due to the fact that not all provinces set targets for the training of master trainers, since it was not the focus of every province annually. In keeping with the available resources, some master trainers were trained while some had received training in the previous years and so, the focus of the business plan for each year would be different. Putting into consideration the aforementioned factors, the training was commendable at 36%. 99. 7% Life Orientation teachers had been trained and the Department had achieved its target in the training of teachers to integrate life skills. The Department had reached, and in some cases exceeded, its targets in areas of peer education and reduction in teenage pregnancy rate through curriculum-based pregnancy and learner retention programmes.

The expenditure of HI/AIDS life skills education programme was reflected in the presentation. (See the attached document). Only Limpopo was at 30.9% spending, for reasons that had been earlier enumerated.

No concerns were found in the EIG expenditure report for the 2014/15 financial year. However, at the end of the 2014/15 financial year, R6.9 billion or 92% of the adjusted allocation was spent. This spending was 7% less than the 99% spending that was reported at the end of the 2013/14 financial year. The highest spending provinces on the grant were KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape. Although Mpumalanga had spent its entire budget, it had under-spent its equitable share portion of the infrastructure allocation. Free State and the Eastern Cape were the lowest spending provinces on the grant at 76% and 77% respectively.

The Department had hired the required experts from the built industry (See attached document). A total of 153 experts had been recruited to assist with the monitoring of this programme. Provinces had also been provided with a maximum of R26 million in the 2014/15 financial year for the appointment of public servants to their infrastructure units. The allocation for the current year was R32.9 million.

The NSNP programme had progressed admirably but the incidences of food poisoning among learners was pointed out. In the previous week, MEC indicated the outcomes of one of the instances of reported food poisoning and the source of the food poisoning was determined to have had its origin from the learner’s home, not the NSNP programme.

Limpopo was not included in the expenditure of occupational specific dispensation (OSD) because it had no clarity on the payroll at the time when the collective agreement was signed. The allocation of R7 000 to Northern Cape was a mishap on the part of the Northern Cape Department of Education because it captured the therapists as educators, which would result in the therapists benefitting from the OSD for educators. The Department and Northern Cape were addressing this problem. Some motivations which had been worked on would be endorsed by the DBE in seeking for funding from the National Treasury.

The Department would consider the expenditure of grant funding that had been tracked monthly using the basic accounting system (BAS); quarterly performance reports that provided non-financial performance information; programme-level monitoring that was undertaken by DBE and provincial coordinators; consistent report on conditional grants at HEDCOM subcommittee on finance as a standing item; and would also carry out the annual performance evaluation of the NDP.

Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) wanted to know how the Department would remedy the situation of certain provinces that could not provide allocation to cater for the compulsory one year community service for those who had studied the OSD programme. It was important to note that OSD was critical for children with disability and should therefore be implemented. She asked what the Department was doing to those who caused the under-spending of the conditional grants. What was the resulting effect of placing Limpopo under section 100 – was is it worse off or better off? She stated that in her opinion, Limpopo was worse off as it reflected in all its expenditure. It did not also have NSC passes in December.

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) wanted to know if the Funza Lushaka bursary for undergraduates carried from the 2014/15 financial year into the current financial year had been targeted towards the end of May. With regard to the master trainers, teachers and SMTs that had been trained, what improvement in behaviourial changes had been noted, especially in the rural areas near the borders? Had the ‘1+4 model’ been accepted by all stakeholders and tried in all provinces?

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) wanted to know the challenges (if any) faced by the Department in training the SGBs, noting that it would be near impossible to implement policies in the rural areas. Was the Department training only those in the rural area or the entire SGBs? With regard to the NSNP, a newspaper publication released the previous day pointed out a certain teacher who placed a demand for the tenders for school nutrition programme. A previous Minister had been set to investigate the phenomenon of fronting by school principals and all the employees. Did such a programme exist in the Department with regard to school nutrition tenders, and what were the challenges faced by the Department? With regard to the OSD, the Department had subjected the employment of essential services, such as the psychologists, to the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). How would the Department expedite the employment of people for these essential services and what would be the criteria for their qualifications?

Ms J Basson (ANC) asked for clarity on the reading promotion, whose strategies and programmes had been identified and asked for how far the Department had gone in implementing the programme and what the results from the programme were. She questioned how the Department managed to reach a 100% spending target for the OSD when the Northern Cape showed a 0% spending? Why was there an 100% outcome for Funza Lushaka even though the Department had stated in its report that it recruited more than 100%?

Ms A Lovemore (DA) said she was yet to come across a school that was participating in the 1+4 model and would like to have details of schools participating in the model. The Department made several commitments in the preamble to each section of the previous Annual Report but there was no feedback from the Department showing that these commitments had been met, either through the annual or quarterly reports, and she asked if they would be provided, and how the Committee would get information on the progress of the Department in fulfilling the set commitments? With regard to the monitoring of not just the measurable targets and how well the Department had achieved on them, there were major changes that took place during the year that the Department had not given a report on. Two main changes that happened during the year were the first batch of provincial plans with respect to the norms and standards for infrastructure, as well as the co-option of learners who were part of the FET implementation phase. No numbers were attached to the report neither did the report state the measurement of the impact or evaluation of the policy change. The Department was asked to look into this area.  A comment was also requested on how the Department carried out its oversight functions and monitored the entities to which it had given large sums of money for various projects, to see that they complied.

Mr H Khosa (ANC) in referring to the challenges in Limpopo said that there was bureaucracy involved in the resignation of staff from the Province. The Department was advised to be proactive by filling vacant posts immediately after resignations. With regard to the school visits, there were a quite a number of challenges raised in previous years that had not been addressed. What was the Department doing to deal with challenges raised from visits to schools and was the school visit programme making an impact? On Kha Ri Gude, were the learners with disability receiving the necessary support they deserved? It had been discovered that some special schools had a large number of learners on the waiting list and this affected such learners adversely because some grew older while still on the waiting list, and being on the waiting list did not guarantee admission either. The Department should put into consideration measures that could be taken to adjust the process or the waiting list.  Did the Department have a retention policy to cater for the young educators that were leaving the system and how would this been dealt with? It was pointed out that last year, there was a large influx of people resigning and now the young educators were resigning too, which would mean that the department would end up not having teachers. With regard to food poisoning, Gauteng was not the only affected Province. The Department was asked to conduct further investigations on other provinces and also to expand on schools that suffered from delivery of food.

Ms H Boshoff (DA) wanted to know what the outcomes were for the people that had been targeted for the HIV/AIDS, NSFP and other training, and if the housing schools were also included in the training of such educators as well as the passing of the message to the children. It was difficult to pass the same message to a child in the mainstream and a child in a school for disabilities. She asked for more detail on the measures that had been put in place to unlock the bottlenecks around the training, and what would be done to resolve the resignation of key personnel in the sector. She asked that the Department find out where food was stored, because the Committee had discovered that some kitchens were not up to standard and some rural areas in provinces like Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Limpopo did not even have refrigerators to store their food, which could lead to food poisoning. She asked if those making corrupt tenders as food suppliers were ever blacklisted to prevent them from coming into the system again. She enquired how many learners were reached through the HIV/AIDS skills programme, especially since 18 888 educators had been trained.

Mr T Khoza (ANC) said that the under-spending on the curriculum was of great concern because the curriculum was the core mandate of the Department. He wanted to know if the upgraded teacher centres were distributed in terms of the geographical settlement of the country; the reasons for the delay in starting the Kha Ri Gude project; who authorized the travelling that led to overspending in the IQM and if such travel was checked; and if the challenges faced by the rural areas in implementing the MST had been resolved, since in most cases there was usually only one MST school in a rural area and therefore it became a challenge to transport the learners to the MST schools.

The Acting Chairperson commended the Department on the areas of improvement in terms of expenditure and the media profiling in shifting the perceptions of the public about the Department. Clarity was requested on why some of the targets that had not been achieved were omitted from the current APP and why they would only reflect on the Annual Report. Why did the Department underachieve in areas of placements for the number of beneficiaries for the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme? The over-expenditure and under-expenditure attributed to late reports received by the Department, as highlighted by the CFO, related to the issues of supply chain management and it needed urgent attention. The Minister met with districts on a regular basis for issues of accountability and monitoring. This raised a question of whether the Department had achieved the set targets since its budgets were mostly spent at the district level. How was the Department managing these issues to prevent a recurrence of under-spending in the audit report? There was no report on scholar transport in the presentation made by the Department. Was there any under or over-expenditure with regard to the scholar transport, school nutrition and provision of textbooks? How were Provinces made to account for the monies given them by the Department? Had the section 100 provision worked for Limpopo, and was there a strategy to see that all the interventions raised were implemented? How was the Department dealing with the issue of reliability of performance information to prevent a recurrence of misstatements of facts as pointed out by the AG in the previous year?

Responses from DBE
Mr H Mueli, Deputy Director General, DBE, started out with the responses to the issues raised by saying that the ‘1+4 model’ had begun on a full swing and the Department indeed had some misunderstandings with social partners which resulted in the engagement with the ELRC. The ELRC came up with a task team which finalised the matter within two weeks. The issue was not about the weaknesses in the model but mainly about consultation requirements, which was fulfilled by the Department, and therefore led to an agreement that all provinces would work toward implementing the model. Provinces had also indicated that it would be wise to align full implementation with the financial year, and so it could be feasible that some provinces had not implemented the model. At the level of CEM, the 1+4 model was accepted and it was stressed that not all provinces should be forced to adopt the model from the beginning as long as the principle of a dedicated capacity building approach was adopted for each and every Province, which was intensified to focus on the senior year phase. Whatever model was adopted by each Province, whether it was the 1+5 or 1+9 or 1+4 model, would be monitored by the Department. Free State for instance, had adopted the 1+9 model which meant that it conducted trainings bi-weekly.  Eastern Cape also implemented the 1+9 model and had reached 21 out of 23 districts. KwaZulu Natal (KZN) had implemented the 1+9 and had reached four districts. Guateng implemented the 1+10/20 which meant that trainings were conducted during Saturdays and not weekdays. Northern Cape adopted the 1+4 model and launched its intervention programme on the 16th and 17th of April 2015. Western Cape had initially indicated that it would adopt the 1+5 model but eventually implemented the 1+4 model and had taken a decision to train once a year during the June holidays so that teachers could implement the trainings for the rest of the year. Limpopo adopted the 1+4 model but when the Department visited the Province, it had not started the implementation. North West adopted the 1+4 model and ten out the 18 area project offices had implemented the model. A lot of best practice was gathered from the North West; an example was seen in their ability to cluster schools which the second manager would divide and visit them throughout the week, which would still constitute 1+4. Mpumalanga, on the other hand, started the model in February 2015 and it was the laboratory of the country. Other provinces that had begun implementation went to Mpumalanga to learn and indeed the best things on the 1+4 model and other programmes, like the good matric results that had been sustained over a period of five years, were happening in Mpumalanga. The Department requested a separate time-slot where it could present the full details of the implementation of the 1+4 model to the Committee.

On promotion of reading, provinces had intervention programmes which were being implemented and were reported to the DBE on a quarterly basis. Each province had a plan that was linked to the National Sector Plan and was being implemented. DBE also had a sector plan to which every province had aligned its plans. The implementation of reading norms found in the DBE plans indicated the expectation for learners to be able to read at a certain speed in each grade. In promoting reading, the Department had pointed out the resuscitation of Foundation Phase for learning and it included activities such as ‘drop all and read’. Provinces were expected to give a report on the progress of these activities as well as reading and matric results on a quarterly basis to the Department. This also included early grade reading (EGRA) which had begun in many schools but DBE had decided to follow up 1000 schools to check if they were implementing EGRA. Reading had been linked to the provision of libraries and information services. This work was done by  Mr Mueli and Mr Themba Kojana’s branch, led by the Director General (DG). The project would be launched on 18 July 2015, to coincide with the Nelson Mandela commemorations. DBE planned to announce 1 000 classes and was targeting rural schools, particularly, multi-grade schools where trolleys with reading materials, multi-media and personnel would be provided. The Department was working with the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) to provide a minimum of 1 000 Assistant Librarians, which would be done annually and grown over a period of five years.

The reason for the delay in starting the Kha Ri Gude project was attributed to the shift in appointing a new service provider. It was important to note that Kha Ri Gude was not implemented like the normal school programme. Instead, it allocated teaching powers, and as long as the entire teaching and assessment could be done within the financial year, it would not affect anything, even though the Department would have ideally wanted to end the project by December and then dealt with the spill-over in January and March. Learners with special education needs were a priority in the Kha Ri Gude programme and the delay did not affect them, as plans had been put in place for them to commence their training earlier than other learners. They had completed the learner assessment portfolios and the lapse of learners with special needs was collapsed to ensure that they completed the Kha Ri Gude much earlier and quicker than the other learners.

With regard to focusing on the MST stream to the detriment of other streams, it was stated that the Heads of Department (HODs) and the MEC in the Province could decide which school should continue to offer the maths and science stream without abandoning other streams, which would be a special case due to challenges of geography and availability of schools.

The issue of under-spending on the curriculum for Programme 2 related to Kha Ri Gude and was due to the stringent measures implemented by the Department. It was also due to the redirection of funds to other programmes that could better serve some other sectors of the Department since the number of beneficiaries would reduce as the programme came to a completion in the next two years.

The condition of the conditional grant was such that unspent allocations would be withheld. The Department was abiding by the rules of the grant framework. The conditional grant did not affect curriculum implementation because the reports showed that the Department went beyond the targets that should have been implemented due to the proactive measures taken by the Director-General, who directed that some funds from Kha Ri Gude be directed at curriculum implementation.

The Department had implemented the policy on progress learners. This started last year and more data had been gathered to enhance the Department’s understanding of how the phenomenon was being managed. Surprisingly, throughout the recent years, learners had been making progress and those in the education sector could confirm that there was a condonation process where learners who did not naturally pass were condoned. It was a notion implemented all around the world, and other countries such as Finland, Sweden, China, did not allow repetition. These countries opined that money should be spent wisely by supporting learners who had been progressed to enable them catch up with the ordinary learners, and such learners performed better. Empirical evidence had shown that it was not wise to retain learners in phases and grades, but instead to progress and support them so as to help them perform better with the other learners.

The redirection of Kha Ri Gude funds to other programmes was to support learners who were unable to pass at the end of grade 12 but qualified for the supplementary examinations and needed to pass the NSC. The second category was for learners who had completely failed. The Department intended to follow such learners up in the centres that had been identified and put together as part of the business plan to offer special support programmes to those learners so that they could eventually acquire matric and start some meaningful citizenship. These two programmes, referred to as the ‘second chance national senior certificate programme for learners who might have failed’ would commence in 2016.

Mr Themba Kojana, Deputy Director General: Education, Human Resource and Development, DBE, noted that therapists and psychologists were excluded from the initial introduction and implementation of the OSD in the public service. There was therefore a collective agreement to cater for psychologists and therapists separately but educators had been concluded a long time ago. The report presented to the Committee however focused only on therapists and psychologists. This explained the overlapping noticed in the Northern Cape with the identified educators who had benefitted, instead of the psychologists and therapists. This anomaly would be corrected at the National Treasury. The 2007 OSD covered the entire public service but therapists and psychologists were provided for at a later date.

With regard to the issues raised about any positive result of the intervention in Limpopo, it was pointed out that the Department started the intervention programme after it discovered a problem with the compensation of employees, which was bloated. The Department, through a collective agreement that had been reached, had been able to stabilise the compensation of employees. DBE was no longer overspending on the compensation of employees in Limpopo.

On the placement of the 2014 cohort of the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, the Department had implemented the consolidated action plan and a full presentation had been made to the Portfolio Committee. DBE had indicated that it would was giving weekly reports. For the 2014 graduates, 16 were placed in the Eastern Cape, five in Free State, 64 in Gauteng, 48 in KZN, three in Limpopo, four in Mpumalanga, four in North West, one in Northern Cape and 37 in Western Cape. These figures represented the cohorts that were carried over from the previous year. However, the placements for the cohort of 2015 was at 3 548, which gave a total figure of the 3 730 that had been placed out of the allocation of 5 218. The Department was at 71% in terms of the placement of Funza Lushaka graduates, and these placements were being monitored on a weekly basis.

It was pointed out that not all the students undergoing trainings to become teachers were BASA certificate holders. The output from the Universities in total was 10 000 learners who had been absorbed into the system and Funza Lushaka only contributed in part. Other stakeholders, provinces, universities and private institutions were giving subsidies and assisting the learners.

There had been challenges with the training of the SGBs. The Department had developed a manual to train the SGBs after they had been elected, because they were new in the system.

With regard to the demands of the union, the Department had gone through the demand of the unions in relation to the NSNP programme, but would further investigate on the Ilembe demands.

The Department had 145 teacher centres across the country and 72 of them were functional. Functionality had been defined with regard to the provision of the ICT, as well as the programmes that were running in those teacher centres. The list of where these teacher centres were located across the country could be provided to the Committee, to enable it to monitor the functionality of these centres.

The Department had a rural allowance policy, which was an incentives-policy and was in the process of being reviewed. The purpose of the policy was to attract and retain educators in the system, and also to look at areas that were difficult to teach. The policy was being reviewed to consider teachers who taught specific subjects, difficult subjects as well as accommodation issues.

Ms Faith Kumalo, Chief Director, Care and Support in Schools, DBE, elaborated on the HIV/AIDS life skills programme. It had been generally accepted that behaviourial change was difficult. The Department had conducted two evaluation studies with regard to the life skills programme and it showed that the programme had been successful in increasing knowledge levels amongst learners in addressing stigma and discrimination in the school environment and also by influencing the social norms within the school, especially when the programme was implemented alongside peer education programmes. It did not lead to behavioural change, however, even though there was an intention to change behaviour. This had resulted in a move to draft a policy that had been gazetted, which sought interventions that would lead to behavioural change.

From a curriculum perspective, DBE had been able to identify the determinants of HIV prevention and infection, and had developed scripted lesson plans that would assist teachers to go through particular lessons in support of children. These lessons would give clear and logical directives of how teachers would approach each lesson so that it could lead to an incremental change in behavior of the learners. The research conducted showed that the Department envisaged behavioural changes in learners delaying having sex, and also to engage in dual protection from HIV and learner pregnancy whenever they did have sex.  The Department had tabled some of its proposals on these interventions before the Committee, noting that it targeted a behaviour change communication programme that it intended to implement. DBE would need social partners, with the Department of Health in particular, but was also working with the South African National AIDS Council to ensure that these messages were publicised in not only the classrooms and school environment, but also in the streets and social places. The action plans had been identified and DBE had begun implementation, but behavioural changes were yet to be evident. Parents were also seen as key influencers in the intervention programmes.

With regard to the NSNP, the DBE advocated for provinces to consider a decentralisation of the NSFP programmes. Instead of having one or two big tenders, the provinces should begin to move towards the programme of giving the money to districts and schools directly for them to manage and procure the foods. It had been discovered that provinces like North West and Free State that had decentralised the NSFP implementation were better equipped, the quality of the meals were better, local economic activities were stimulated and it led to better participation from the local community. Accountability was also easy to monitor because local players were working together for the benefit of the children. It was important to provide a risk management planning in the strategy because money could not just be given to the schools without financial management training, administrative support and clear guidance on what should be done. The Department had therefore developed financial management guidelines, begun training for provinces and also assisted with the provision of tools that would enable proper accountability of the conditional grants. Ilembe was one of the provinces that had issues because of service providers had not been paid by the province and therefore led to a refusal to continue supplying the province.

There were two aspects of food poisoning to be considered; one dealt with microorganisms or bacteria in the food that caused disease, and the other dealt with food contamination as a result of foreign bodies found in the food. These categories of the food poisoning had to be addressed differently, because one was an environmental health process where investigations would be carried out with the Department of Health and local government, while the other one was a case that would be reported to the appropriate department for youth services. DBE had finalised tips and guidelines of food handling for schools and provinces that addressed the things that could potentially lead to contamination and food poisoning, and particularly emphasised the dangers highlighted by the incidence of contaminated food that was parboiled overnight in the North West. All of this information had been integrated into the training programme that the Department would be implementing. DBE would also ensure that schools were able to deal with food handlers and communicate cases of food poisoning and contamination to the Department. One of the tips was for food tenders, food technicians and every other person to sort through their food, to take out foreign bodies when cooking.

With regard to the deplorable and unacceptable state of the kitchens, it was pointed out that the schools were not historically built with the consideration of school feeding and the infrastructure was therefore not provided for in the beginning. However, with the ASIDI programme, all schools that were newly built had fully-fledged nutrition centres. It would be extremely costly to fix the current backlog as there were other imperative infrastructural challenges in the educational system. DBE had, however, built big and small partnerships to encourage schools and local businesses to assist in providing building materials that would be needed in the kitchens. However, many strong partnerships had been formed with big businesses to assist in donating facilities or building kitchens. The backlog could not be fixed with Departmental funding only as this would pose a challenge to learner funding, hence the need for the support of other stake holders to address the backlog.

With regard to the number of learners that had benefitted in proportion to the number of trained teachers in the HIV/AIDS life skills programme, it was noted that the teachers were Life Orientation (LO) subject teachers and the expectation was for LO subjects to be taught to all learners from grade R to grade 12. All learners within schools should therefore benefit but this was not used as a gauge to measure the target, instead the Department used the target of the number of trained teachers because the training also varied from time to time. The training had incorporated TB prevention and management and the Department had made sure it was comprehensive. DBE was also targeting the school management teams, parent community as well as the SGBs so as to make them understand the content of training being taught in schools and to work together with the Department to achieve the expected result.

Ms Molalekoa responded to the 100% spending on OSD that reflected in the report. Whenever the Department transferred money to the provinces, it amounted to 100% spending on the part of the Department but the amounts spent at provincial level would reflect in the annual report.

In terms of accountability of monies given to the provinces and with the conditional grant, all provinces were required by the donor to report to the Department but there were entities that reported to the Department on a quarterly basis, and if there were concerns in the reports, the Department would point out those concerns to the particular entities. A recent report had been sent to the Department on what was happening in the NECT.

Ms Mosimege responded to the issue of some 2014 targets that were omitted from the current APP report, and said that the Department had to reprioritise its plans based on the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF) and therefore selected what would be included in the current APP for the five-year term, because some of the indicators were still reported quarterly through the MTSF. Another reason for the omission was because some of the indicators had fulfilled their mandate and could be included in the new five-year term, like they were in the previous year. An instance was the linkage of some indicators into the development of CAPS which brought about the development of workbooks. It was apparent that some indicators would continue but some would reach an end before the current five-year term began. The Department was currently planning for 2015/16 and was reviewing some of the indicators. Because some of the indicators in the MTSF had been reported, there was no need to duplicate them. Other provincial based indicators had been left out because the Department could only monitor the, and not produce direct evidence for auditing purposes.

The reliability of performance information was raised in the last audit. DBE had used the 2013/14 audit report to find better ways of identifying the right document because reliability had to with auditors not being happy with the source documentation for the reported outputs given by the Department. The Department had therefore gone through the documents to identify which programme had issues with the information provided under it. Where the Department could bridge the gaps in the documentation, it did so by engaging with the managers to deliberate on how the gaps would be closed. As a result of the audit findings, DBE also had to tighten up the technical indicator descriptions behind the APP, to ensure that the documents produced were not vague. Every quarter, the Department submitted a preliminary report within 30 days and a final report within 60 days. In between the 30 and 60 days, the preliminary reports were checked to ensure that there were no discrepancies. If discrepancies were found, the Department would communicate these to the branch responsible and request further information.

The process of checking and re-checking documents from each branch would help the Department in eliminating misstatements picked up from the audit of last year. The report of DBE’s quality assurance mechanism was done twice and checked by the Deputy Director Generals. The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) also looked into the quarterly reports of the Departments and any discrepancy found would assist the Department in rechecking the documents, especially with regard to the figures expressed in the narrative report and tables. The internal audit also did the final auditing process to check for discrepancies.

Mr Macquela said that the Department had resolved bottlenecks by undertaking turn-around missions to provinces that experienced spending challenges, especially in Limpopo. The DBE conditional grant managers had spent several months meeting with the Limpopo counterparts along with the administrators and summoned any of the senior officials whose unit was found to be responsible for the creation of such bottlenecks. The reconfigured MST grants would however take care of some of the weakness that had been noted, especially around supply chain management through the implementation of the tenders.

Mr Phillip Tshabalala, Director of Districts, DBE, said that provision was made to cater for Minsters meeting with the districts, as those meetings were organised to communicate the sector priorities with the district directors. This was because implementation would commence at the level of the districts. This was to ensure that all learners were provided with same quality of education and opportunities to succeed. These meetings were also aimed at sharing challenges faced by different districts as well as best practices that could be utilised in each district to improve learner outcomes. Under-performing districts were therefore supported through these meetings to improve their learning outcomes. There was indeed value for money as the Department had experienced an improvement in the learning outcomes over the last five years, especially in under-performing districts.

Mr Paddy Padayachee, Acting Director-General, District Coordinator Support, said that the Auditor-General (AG) wanted to conduct a performance audit on the districts and the Department would grant permission for such audit, since it would assist in clarifying areas of concern.

With regard to the Conditional Grants, he stated that it was not desirable to withhold money but the Department had in the past withheld money and given extra money to provinces that were completing their programmes and had even intervened in provinces with the same money. However, technically, by doing this it had breached certain regulations and then had to go through procedures with the National Treasury that took a long time to complete. If the withholding was not done within a specific period, it would be impossible to make such money count.

DBE acknowledged that it could not report on every activity carried out in the Committee meetings, but the Department was a working Department that had done a lot of good work. DBE had not reported on the issue of infrastructure plans in respect of the norms and standards, because it had been agreed that more time was needed. A meeting for this report had been due to happen but was postponed to the following week, on Thursday and Friday.

With regard to the issues raised on NECT, the Department did its best in giving accurate answers on provincial details but the actual situation was that answers requested from these Provinces could be delayed and so it was safe to inform the Committee when questions were raised that it would get the answers from the Provinces. Information on Provinces would be made available as soon as the Department had them.

DBE’s monitoring went beyond officials sitting at their desks; the Department engaged in first hand monitoring of activities and even had to work with the Department of Health and South African community services on the issue of the food poisoning.

IQMS was about travel. The district profiling that had been completed was done by the IQMS, which was outside its original scope in reaching the 24 000 schools. The issue would be that there would be documentation showing every kilometer that was travelled and it would be submitted to the IMF. Such documentation would be subjected to auditing, but was anticipated to reach beyond the initial targets, as had happened in the previous year.

To put the issue of spending into perspective in the curriculum branch, he noted that the Kha Ri Gude had received some negative comments from the AG in the previous financial year and the Department took steps to set things right by ensuring that a volunteer educator existed in a class per month, as opposed to  the past practice, where fictitious registers showed that volunteer educators had taught a group of learners. The team therefore put together measures to deal with verification. Educators were paid within the first days of the new month after verification had been done. This process started in December 2014 but by 31st March, 2015, the Department could not pay anyone without full documentation, which was why the remaining R53 million could only be paid by April 2015. The lack of spending was not due to the negligence on the part of any of the DBE officials.

The Department did not also give a report on the grants for the Scholar Transport because it was not a conditional grant. It was included in the provincial budget, and reports had been given to the Committee on several occasions on the monitoring work of the Department in this regard.

The officials in charge of curriculum would give a report to the Committee in the next two weeks, on the provision of textbooks. The procurement of textbooks was done by Provinces and not DBE. DBE only provided textbooks in collaboration with a partner that had come on board.

The Department had noted the issue of reliability of performance information and had records of Provinces with good practices.

Further discussion
Ms Boshoff disagreed with the feeding scheme in relation to the sorting of food and storage mechanisms. She wanted to know what would be done with schools that had no electricity supplies and what the Department was doing to ensure that all schools had standard kitchen and storage facilities to cater for safe feeding of the learners. She also wanted to know how the sex education programmes would be implemented at the primary school levels where there were no life orientation teachers?

Mr Mnguni wanted to know why some schools were still not benefitting from the scholar transport services.

Ms Lovemore wanted to know how the MST grant would work, and for what purpose it would be used, especially because the grant would be changed from school to school each year, what the ultimate objective of the grant was, and how it would be achieved. She raised the assumption that the Department would have drawn up a list of requirements for which the grant would be used. She also asked for clarification on the percentage of Provincial Education Department (PED) contribution and wanted to know if there was a percentage PED to the MST conditional grant.

Ms Van Der Walt said that the Committee had no intention to attack the Department but was drawing the attention of the Department to issues of serious concern. She made a proposal for the CFO and senior managers on conditional grant to be in attendance at meetings called by the AG for the heads of all provinces. This would assist the Department in effective monitoring of the conditional grant, because these reports gave a different view from what actually obtained at the provinces. There was no justification for the Department’s compensation funds from five years ago being used as an excuse not provide textbooks for learners in Limpopo. The Department was advised to embark on unannounced visits to the schools in the provinces, in order to conduct proper monitoring of tenders, food supplies and other areas of the well-being of learners, as the school officials were usually well prepared to receive the officials when pre-informed.

Mr Khoza needed clarity on the second chance programme for those who did not pass the NSC examinations. Would they be doing a combination of subjects or rewriting the whole exam?

The Acting Chairperson wanted to know the actions the Department would take against individuals who were responsible for under-performance that led to under-spending in provinces, as was seen in the Northern Cape. What was the Department doing to resolve the issue of delays in receipt of some invoices that impacted on the overall report of the Department being submitted late, or not submitted at all to the Committee?

Mr Mueli, responding to the issue of tenders, said that the Department was working with the National Treasury to develop transversal tenders, otherwise known as central procurement, to address the obstacles faced with regard to tenders. Some of the issues under consideration dealt with capacity of different levels and spheres of government. The Director General had organised a team in DBE that was working with provinces and would start with LTSM in particular. For LTSM, DBE would work with National Treasury and identify voluminous projects that had a huge impact to ensure that provinces did not undergo difficulties in procuring services. Such service providers would have a footprint in the provinces and districts, so that local economic development would not be undermined. This was what the National Treasury was doing with DBE at the moment. It was expected that financial co-performance owing to supply chain would reduce a bit once these issues were dealt with. Three out of the five to six areas that were identified in LTSM had been dealt with by the Department in working with the National Treasury.

It was important to note that these challenges related to concurrent functions in the Department. A commitment had been made to invite experts who would unravel the challenges around the concurrent functions because the general expectation from the public was that a national department would instruct provincial departments on what to do, which was different what obtained in reality. Although some people might argue that legislation existed and the Department should follow it, the learners might be compromised and schools might collapse in a bid to complete the legislation processes for the provision of services. The Minister had directed DBE to develop norms and business processes that would set out the details of what was expected from the provinces and national Department alike, as well as the consequences of failure to carry out these functions.

The intention of DBE with the Second Chance programme for matriculants was not to make such learners start school all over again but it was to help them with subjects necessary for obtaining the certificate, as they had passed some subjects but still needed to pass some other subjects to get the full qualification.

The MST grant had a listed item of deliverables which included the ICT, procurement of equipment and instruments, training of educators and so on. The grant framework covered a wider list of deliverables and the latest grant framework was more comprehensive that the previous one. The intention was not to restrict the grant to the FET stage alone. The intervention around the senior phase was also supported by the MST grant. The intention was to open the resources up for the Department to be used to strategically intervene in certain areas of weaknesses in the system.

Mr Macquela said that the MST grant, which was a was a follow-up on the Dinaledi and Technical Schools grants, must carry on the functions that the previous grants were set out to do and could also broaden the scope by including more schools in the grant. The grant was aimed at fulfilling five important outputs which included Information, communication and technology resources with focus on computers and software, internet connectivity,  provision of workshops, equipment, machinery and tools for the former technical secondary schools, provision of apparatus and laboratories as well as provision of mobile laboratories. Learner support  would include assistance to learners or facilitating the participation of learners in the Olympiads and other sporting competitions that would seek to enhance their knowledge of the subjects. Teacher support involved the training of teachers in all kinds of methodology, the teaching of electrical, civil, mechanical, technical, mathematics and technical sciences.

The percentage of PED contribution was not referring to any funds provided by the PED. It rather referred to the number of schools from a total of 1 000 schools that a particular PED would constitute. For instance, a reference was made to 13% of the 1000 schools located in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Padayachee said that the stoves in the kitchens provided by DBE were run by gas, and were not limited by electricity.

Ms Kumalo said that grant for nutrition services was over R5 billion per annum, which seemed a lot but was actually not sufficient to cater for the approximate figure of 9.2 million children and provide school meals for these children every day. The cost of providing a meal had been calculated to fall between R2.38 and R2.98 per child per day. It was also important to note that issues around extending the nutrition programme to cover secondary schools arose when it commenced about five years ago, but the Department had done its bit to improve the quality of the meals by ensuring that the meals not only contained carbohydrates but also contained proteins, micronutrients and iron that would help with brain function. DBE had specified the menu and had introduced items such as fish and vegetables that were not included in the past. The grant I itself made no allocation for any other item aside from meals and payment of honoraria. The Department tried to provide for additional money to buy some equipment, but the infrastructure backlog in the current financial year could not be addressed from the NSNP grant. There had been discussions in the sector around the increase of the NSNP against other priorities within the sector, but it was noted that any increase here would affect the amount of some other grant in the sector. The reality was that there was no available funding to be added to the NSNP grant that could cover the infrastructure backlog.

Mr Padayachee said that there were challenges that had to be addressed with the National Treasury as to the priorities of the Department in getting funds allocated to it and it affected the infrastructure backlog.

The Scholar Transport programme was terminated, based on the assessment that was done between transport and education because of the issues surrounding school of choice.

The Acting Chairperson said that DBE should post information on the activities it carried out on its website for the public to access.

The meeting was adjourned.

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