Adult Basic Education & Training Bill; Education Laws Amendment Bill: public hearings

Basic Education

16 August 2000
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Meeting report

ADULT BASIC EDUCATION AND TRAINING BILL; EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL: PUBLIC HEARINGS

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 August 2000
ADULT BASIC EDUCATION AND TRAINING BILL; EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL: PUBLIC HEARINGS

Relevant Submissions
Adult Basic Education and Training Bill [B42 - 2000]
Education Laws Amendment Bill [B48-2000]

Adult Basic Education and Training Bill
Centre for Education Policy Development, Evaluation and Management (CEPD)
South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
Association of Further Education & Training Institutions of SA (AFESTISA) [The Committee of Technical College Principals in transition]
National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA)
Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS)
Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU)
Association of School Governing Bodies

Education Laws Amendment Bill
National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA)
Association of School Governing Bodies
Centre for Education Policy Development, Evaluation and Management (CEPD)
Association of Further Education & Training Institutions of SA (AFESTISA) [The Committee of Technical College Principals in transition]
Adult Education and Trainers Association of South Africa (AETASA)
Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU)

SUMMARY
The CEPD welcomed the Adult Basic Education and Training Bill with the suggestion that a public centre at a school have a joint governing body with the school; and that the Head of Department's duties (prior to a governing body being formed) be amended. The CEPD was concerned over expropriated land in terms of the Education Laws Amendment Bill.

FEDSAS was adamant that only persons over the age of 18 be regarded as an adult in terms of the Bill. FEDSAS also wanted Section 4 (2), (3), (4) and (5) to be deleted.

SAOU was especially concerned about the delineation of duties of the principal of the public school and the public centre's manager. SAOU also asked that the relationship between the South African Schools Act and the existing schools body be clarified.

SADTU recognised that ABET Bill required a uniformity of terminology and that proper managerial arrangements would aid the night school arrangements. It was also suggested that ABET educators not be restricted to the qualifications set out by the Employment of Educators Bill.

AFETISA welcomed the ABET Bill which could act as a catalyst to promote literacy and numeracy amongst adults in South Africa. AFETISA stressed that there should not be a minimum requirement that would constrict entry to the Adult Learning Centres.

NAPTOSA agreed with the objectives of the Bill but suggested that it be phased in with care noting that no mention was made in the Bill about the centre's educators and emphasised the need for budgets to ensure success.

AETASA was concerned that Bill's emphasis on regulation would inhibit the voluntary and developmental potential in society regarding ABET initiatives.

The IAAB raised concerns of the accessibility to the Adult Education centers both in terms of age limits and geographical placement. The Bill had clear boundaries such as the registration age that would exclude some who were in need of the service ABET provided.

SADTU, SAOU and NAPTOSA expressed similar concerns with regard to the Education Laws Amendment Bill. There were proposed amendments to the selection and representation of the School Governing Body and the Employment of Educators Act. NAPTOSA expressed deep concern over the neglect of higher education. It also noted that the amendments would not ensure a higher quality of the outcomes. SAOU was generally in support of the Act but suggested that the labour legislation should be clearer on issues such as the code for maternity and shift work.

FEDSAS, on the Education Laws Amendment Bill, said that clause 3 should rather refer 'administration and management' and not 'governance' as they are opposed to giving governance of schools to the Head of Department. The federation rejected the co-option of parents to a school governing body on racial grounds under clause 5 of the Bill. It felt that the representation in the governing body should be left to the parent community to sort out themselves in accordance with the principles of democracy. The federation feared that if the term "racial composition" is not defined it might result in a situation where co-opted members exceed the number of elected members in a school governing body. It requested that should the Committee decided that co-option stays in the Bill, a provision saying that the co-opted members should not exceed a third of the number of elected parent members should be included.


MINUTES
Adult Basic Education and Training Bill
Centre for Education Policy Development, Evaluation and Management
The CEPD welcomed the move to engage policy to further the transformation of adult education and training. The CEPD suggested that the public centre's governing body and the school governing body enter into an agreement that would facilitate the use of facilities of the school by the public sector. It was also suggested that the opportunities to make reasonable representations be defined in clear time frames such as a period of 90 days.

CEPD asked that the link to the Schools Act of 1996 be clarified. It was suggested that the membership of a public centre's governing body be confined to elected members, ex-officio members and co-opted members. The CEPD pointed out that it is necessary to make provision for a governance framework that fosters a strong relationship between the two respective governing bodies.

The CEPD noted that by delegating responsibility of the public centre to the Head of Department during the establishment of a proper governance structure deprived the immediate community of their right to directly interact with the centre. The CEPD asked that access to information about the centre not be restricted to the HOD and suggested that applicants make their application for admission to the head of the centre rather than to the HOD who would already be inundated with tasks.

Discussion
Ms M Njobe (ANC) expressed concern over the blurring of the responsibilities of a joint governing body.
In response, CEPD was concerned over the unequal power relations that presently exist between the school governing body and the public centre. Mr Mthembu of CEPD felt that having a joint governing body would emphasize common interests such as the maintenance of buildings, thereby ensuring that such difficulties be dealt with peacefully and efficiently.

Ms E Ghandhi (ANC) asked for clarification on CEPD's point that applications not be handled by the HOD.
The CEPD replied that even if the HOD did receive applications, it would still be delegated to subordinates due to the excessive workload that the HODs currently deal with. The process of having applications dealt with by head of the centre would distribute power and responsibilities thereby fostering self-management structures.

Ms Ghandhi also asked whether CEPD proposed that volunteers be made to register and whether there would be a uniform method of teaching that would encompass all teachers including volunteers.
CEPD responded that people should be able to teach others and if an initiative of two or three people wished to teach others they should be allowed to do so and the proper environment should be established so that this could occur.

Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS)
FEDSAS suggested that the definition of an adult be any person above the age of 18 years old as this would accord with the Bill of Rights. It was also suggested that the word "person" in the definition of "learner" be amended to read "adult". FEDSAS also expressed concerns that certain sections contradict several provisions of the South African Schools Act of 1996. It was pointed out that no provision is made for remedies for the public school in cases of breach. FEDSAS was quite firm that Section 4 (2), (3), (4) and (5) not be included.

Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU)
SAOU expressed concerns over the relationship between the South African Schools Act and the existing school body. There was specific mention about the relationship between the principal of a school and the centre manager. It was noted that there was an ambiguity in Chapter 2 of the Draft. It was suggested that ABET include an indemnity clause so that centres would not have to deal with a lawsuit if someone injured themselves on the premises.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
SADTU welcomed the Bill with the view that it would create an infrastructure, which would ultimately provide job opportunities. SADTU recommended that uniformity of terminology be established. Proper managerial arrangements should aid the night school arrangements. It was suggested that these educators not be restricted to the qualifications set out by the Employment of Educators Act. Provincial bodies should be established to aid the functioning of the National Advisory body. SADTU expressed concerns over the funding of private ABET centres and hoped that monies be used in previously disadvantaged communities. Anti-discrimination policy should form an umbrella over race, sex, disability and religion.

Discussion
Ms K Mothoagae (ANC) asked for clarification on SADTU's view of the funding of the Public Centres.
SADTU replied that they were simply suggesting a cautionary note to ensure that monies for public centres were not used to perpetuate inequalities. The funding from the state is public money and should be channeled into disadvantaged sectors. Specifically funding should not be awarded to centres which were operating on a profit margin.

Association of Further Education and Training Institutions of South Africa (formerly Committee of Technical College Principals)
AFETISA welcomed legislation which could act as a catalyst to promote literacy and numeracy amongst adults in South Africa. AFETISA noted that there may be resistance from schools due to their lack of experience with adult education. To alleviate this the Minister should consider providing funding mechanisms to the FET institutions. AFETISA also recommended that the Adult Learning Centres register with the Department of Education. This would ensure a degree of accountability with regard to the programmes offered and the certification of the learners. AFETISA stressed that these Centres be accessible to learners, i.e. there should not be a minimum requirement that would constrict entry to the Adult Learning Centres.

Discussion
Ms van Wyk (UDM) enquired as to how many technical colleges were located in rural areas. Mr Mthimkhulu (ANC) noted that there were overall 152 centres which were too far from those who needed the relevant training.

Ms Njobe (ANC) enquired how AFETISA proposed to cater for people living in rural areas and previously disadvantaged communities.
AFETISA responded that there were campuses all over the country with highly skilled-trained teachers already. It was noted that people do not need to come to the colleges since there were mobile groups that were reaching out to people in rural areas. The reduction of sites served to streamline the operations and did not disadvantage the programme.

National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA)
NAPTOSA welcomed legislation that would eradicate illiteracy amongst adults and provide facilities for use by the public sector. NAPTOSA noted that no mention was made of the educators at these centres and expressed concern over this. NAPTOSA was concerned about the budget for ABET since the struggle of the provincial departments is to provide effective mainstream education. NAPTOSA stressed the need for continued assessment to ensure the outcomes required. There was agreement over the overt distinction between adult basic education and training centres and other educational institutions, made by the Minister of Education. NAPTOSA's main concern was whether provincial departments have the means to ensure success. NAPTOSA agreed with the objectives of the Bill but suggested that it be phased in with care.

Discussion
An ANC committee member asked NAPTOSA about its comments regarding budget constraints and the recruitment of teacher to be trained for ABET.
NAPTOSA responded that the rationalisation process currently under way served to alienate trained teachers. NAPTOSA said that they needed to support teacher training and that people who were capable without the relevant qualifications should be given a chance to be teachers.

Adult Education and Trainers Association of South Africa (AETASA)
Mr Temba Mahlangu expressed complete support for Bill but pronounced some concerns: The Bill's emphasis that the State do things in a regulated way would inhibit the voluntary and developmental potential of ABET as seen in the literary campaigns of Cuba and Nicaragua. The Bill also seemed to marginalise the involvement of other organs of civil society such as NGOs. AETASA noted that the Bill was in accordance with the Employment of Educators Act, the result of which would exclude thousands of educators with ABET qualifications from various institutions.

Discussion
Ms van Wyk (UDM) enquired what measures was AETASA suggesting in order to promote English or whether AETASA would approve of people being taught in their mother tongue.
Mr Mahlangu referred to the Constitution and stated that ABET should do all that it could to eliminate illiteracy.

Interim ABET Advisory Body (IAAB)
The IAAB welcomed the Bill and acknowledged that it is an important piece of legislation. They were concerned about the release of the draft Bill noting that people only had access to it the previous day (16 August 2000) and that not many people were aware of the new legislation.

IAAB raised the following points:
- They speculated over the definition of "adult learner" in Chapter One. They were concerned that it served to exclude persons already excluded by former systems of education. This referred to people who were too old to be in Grade One but too young to be considered for an Adult Learning Centre.
- Over-regulation would kill initiatives by the public and other interested persons. The suggestion was that the registration be easy to follow to enable a greater response and not to alienate people who would be potential learners.
- The IAAB was extremely concerned over reconciling labour intensity and education. That is, how did ABET expect to cater for people such as miners who would have a low concentration span due to the type of work they did during the day and would thus not have the capacity to engage in educative initiatives. What about those people situated outside of the teaching arena such as in rural areas. Would employers then consider including teaching initiatives into the working programme to allow people the opportunity to learn and would there be a mobile or visiting unit that would take education to those who cannot come to it?
- There are a number of issues that still need to be dealt with that were not within the limits of this Bill.

Discussion
Ms Mothoagae (ANC) asked what the IAAB would suggest should be the definition of an adult. The IAAB suggested special cases such as a fourteen or fifteen-year-old who could not be accepted in Grade One, should be allowed the chance to further their education in a non-formal system such as the Adult Learning Centre's.

Ms Mothoagae also inquired about the funding of private centres. The IAAB distinguished between public centre funding and a private centre's funding stating that the needs of a state funded institution were different from the needs of a private funded institution and that this should not be ignored.

Education Laws Amendment Bill
South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
SADTU expressed its support for the amendments to the SAQA and SASA Acts. There were proposed amendments to the selection and representation of the School Governing Body. SADTU registered serious concerns relating to the Employment of Educators Act. It was suggested that the disciplinary and incapacity procedures be amended through collective bargaining to reduce the appeals and delays that may arise between the unions and the Department of Education. SADTU criticised the contents of the Employment of Educators Act. SADTU asked that clear distinctions be made with regard to the language of the legislature such as "serious misconduct" and "misconduct" and suggested that the grounds specified for unfair discrimination be expanded in line with the Employment Equity Act. SADTU made further suggestions with regard to the dismissal of teachers and disciplinary procedures.

Discussion
Mr Green (ACDP) asked for clarity regarding a paragraph in SADTU's submission which stated that Parliament was sovereign.

Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU)
SAOU admitted that most of the issues they wished to discuss had already surfaced in SADTU's presentation. SAOU was generally in support of the Act but suggested that the labour legislation should be clearer with hard issues such as the code for maternity and shift work. The legislation needed to be broad enough to deal with matters more generally.

Discussion
A member of the ANC asked the SAOU to elaborate on the issue of dismissal and transgression with regard to the Employment of Educators Act.
SAOU stated that they were in agreement with SADTU as far as those issues were concerned. Transgressions such as theft and bribery should be met with dismissal however the Act suggested that one who was late with a bond payment be met with the same disciplinary / dismissal procedure. SAOU felt that this section should be reviewed.

National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA)
NAPTOSA supports the Bill but was certain that it required some amendments in line with those suggested by the SAOU and SADTU. NAPTOSA expressed deep concern over the neglect of higher education. It also noted that the amendments would not ensure a higher quality of the outcomes. It asked that the powers of the Minister regarding the prescription of operations of public and private higher education institutions be clarified. NAPTOSA made suggestions regarding the wording of the filling of vacancies in the Council for Higher Education. NAPTOSA expressed its support for the amendment on the funding of public higher education institutions adding that it would create an opportunity to receive guidance on spending.

Centre for Education Policy Development, Evaluation and Management (CEPD)
The CEPD expressed general agreement with the amendments of the Bill. The CEPD expressed concern over free access to land and free movement in areas that were expropriated. CEPD wondered how the Bill could be amended to protect teachers and learners from being subjected to the landowners who may resort to cutting off water and electricity to expropriated land. CEPD also enquired as to the Bill's promotion of representivity.

Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS)
Clause 3

Chairperson of FEDSAS, Mr Paul Colditz, expressed their reservations on the clause but stated that they have no suggestions except that it should not refer to 'governance' but 'administration and management'. FEDSAS aligned themselves in this regard with the position taken by CEPD.

Clause 5

FEDSAS Vice Chairperson, Mr Dave Samuel said the drafters of the Bill appeared to have no faith in the parents to apply principles of democracy. He said that members of one racial group might be prepared and even vote for representation by members of another racial group. He suggested that representation in the governing body should be left to the parent community to sort out themselves according to principles of democracy. He said he sees an anomalous situation where a school has learners that are in the majority and others in the minority from three different racial groups. He said according to the clause two members from each of the three racial groups in the minority have to be co-opted onto the governing body. This might result in the co-opted members exceeding the number of elected members.

He asked why race should be singled out as a factor to be considered on its own. Why does one not argue on the same basis that gender be considered? He suggested that the drafters should rather withdraw the clause completely. However, if the Committee decides to continue with the amendment it should include a provision that the number of co-opted members should not exceed one third of the number of elected members.

Discussion
Mr K Moonsamy (ANC,) referring to the serious misconduct in section 17, said he finds it baffling that some presenters should say dismissal for barbaric acts like rape should not be mandatory.

Mr Colditz said FEDSAS did not comment on the clause on disciplinary procedures because they viewed this to be an employer/employee relationship which does not strictly affect them as representatives of school governing bodies.

A committee member said he cannot see why FEDSAS construes clause 5 to say that more than two people may be co-opted into the school governing body. He said historically Blacks (including African, Coloured, Asian) have been excluded from certain schools and the clause seeks to address this sort of imbalance by providing that where a body does not reflect learners' racial composition it should co-opt two members from racial groups in the minority.

The Chairperson remarked that members should not speculate on their interpretation of certain words in clauses. He said that it is possible for a word to be given a definition to reflect the intention of the drafters. He gave an opportunity to members to ask any of the presenters questions they might still have.

Mr L Kgwele (ANC) said he has looked at the issue of misconduct and noted that no stakeholders tackle the use corporal punishment in schools. He asked if there is anybody opposed to it being included in the Bill as an act that is specified as serious misconduct.

Mr Colditz of FEDSAS said this would amount to contravening an Act and the amendment to section 18 (1) (a) of the Employment of Educators Act in the Bill makes it misconduct to contravene an Act of Parliament. Also this is legislated for under section 10 of South African Schools Act.

Ms M Njobe (ANC) asked NAPTOSA regarding paragraph (o) under clause 18 if they think the provision making it misconduct if an educator sleeps on duty without authorisation is without basis. She said her view is that it should not be deleted because if drafters put it in the Bill it must surely have come from experience. She mentioned that on days such as Fridays and Mondays a teacher might be drunk and sleep on duty without authorisation, which would be different from a scenario where a teacher falls ill on duty and is given permission to sleep.

NAPTOSA said they believe the issue is being over-legislated as there are provisions dealing with all areas of misconduct. There are mechanisms in place to tackle issues of misconduct.

FEDSAS was asked if school governing bodies actually appoint teachers, should they not comment on the issue of misconduct.

FEDSAS pointed out that school governing bodies may only recommend teachers for appointment by the Department. They can only appoint those teachers that they as school governing bodies pay themselves. FEDSAS is happy with the provision as it is.

[The Chairperson observed that the Association of School Governing Bodies and the South African National Youth Commission were on the programme but had not attended]

The meeting was adjourned.

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