The Department of Basic Education (DBE) gave a presentation on the measures being implemented to improve the credibility of education statistics, emphasising the need for effective data management in the education system. An educational management information system (EMIS) derived from the national education information policy had been developed, since the data collected through the SNAP software programme and surveys was not reliable.
One of the priority activities that had been identified for improvement of the EMIS was the implementation of the South Africa school administration and management system (SA-SAMS) to simplify the data collection process in schools. The second activity had been aimed at developing and implementing the national learner unit record information and tracking system (LURITS), while the third strategic direction had been to develop and implement business intelligence reporting systems. The last strategy was aimed at improving the quality of data audits, by asking provinces to select a sample which would be verified from the source records by an independent service provider.
SA-SAMS was provided to schools free of charge and was maintained by the Department of Basic Education (DBE). It fed LURITS with the data of learners at school level and also provided the learner unit record data. The EMIS was also fully funded, and the DBE had set aside R16 million to carry out its task of maintaining the SA-SAMS and developing the second phase of LURITS.
The DBE’s vision was to ensure that all data was collected from a single source system. The ultimate aim of the strategy was for the collection of data for each learner in the country from grade R to grade 12, as well as tracking the movement of these learners from one school to the other.
The DBE had partnered with other departments, like the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), to eliminate late birth registrations, to assist learners in securing identification documents, and to verify learners. The Department of Social Development assisted in identifying students that were recipients of social grants. Discussions were underway to collaborate with the Department of Health (DoH) to verify the accuracy of the statistics on teenage pregnancy among learners.
A major challenge facing the Department was connectivity at school level. Other challenges included the inadequacy of administration support staff and information technology (IT) skills at the school level.
The Committee asked questions on the fair implementation of the system across all provinces; the management of book retrievals; assistance to learners in core rural areas in securing ID documents; the challenges of exporting timetables to spreadsheets using the SA-SAMS; the measures put in place to tackle the source credibility of data; the uneven piloting of the dashboards in districts and provinces, and the neglect of rural areas from such piloting; what could be done for schools without connectivity; the functionality or otherwise of provincial warehouses; and the monitoring of the allocated EMIS budgets.
The Kha Ri Gude mass literacy campaign presented a progress report on its programme, which had been launched in 2008. A target of reaching 4.7 million illiterate adults was set to be attained by the end of 2015. The programme was left with two years for its completion.
The campaign was also a poverty alleviation project, as it had employed approximately 40 000 unemployed graduates and matriculants on short-term contracts. The programme had started with an enrolment of 381 862 learners in 2008, and this figure had grown to a total of 3 849 930. Examinations were not conducted in the programme, since it was a non-formal education system. Learner assessment portfolios (LAPs) were used as a replacement for examinations. This assessment was, however, verified by the South Africa qualifications authority (SAQA). Discussions were under way between DBE and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on the absorption of Kha Ri Gude graduates into the DHET programme.
The DBE described the National Senior Certificate Learner Retention (NSCLR) programme as the second phase of the Kha Ri Gude programme. It would be introduced in 2016 as the Kha Ri Gude programme came to an end. The programme would serve as a second chance programme for learners who had not been able to meet the national school certificate (NSC) requirements from 2008, as well as learners who qualified for the supplementary examinations for NSC. The programme would be run in collaboration with the DHET community colleges’ programme aimed at targeting learners who could not meet the requirements of the Senior Certificate, which was the old Grade 12 qualification before 2008.
Facilities that would be used for the programme would include schools, community colleges, teacher centres, community halls, the facilities of technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and faith-based institutions. The human resources that would be used would include unemployed qualified teachers, as well as the existing structures of Kha Ri Gude. Additional support would be provided for learners through career guidance and other built-in motivational programmes.
Questions raised by Members revolved around the reason why Kha Ri Gude was not monitored at the district level, the availability of sufficient officials and trained educators in the use of Braille equipment, and the mechanisms put in place to monitor the Kha Ri Gude programme.
The Chairperson informed the MPs of the retirement of Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) from Parliament, before opening the floor for the presentations by the Department of Basic Education (DBE).
Measures to improve the credibility of education statistics
Mr Bheki Mpanza, Chief Director: Financial Planning Management Systems, DBE, said the presentation was aimed at showing the measures taken by the DBE on database management. The data collected by the DBE was self-reported, but reliable and credible data was received from schools. Just like every other big organization, there was a need to manage the data. However, the Department was dealing with a huge system, taking into consideration the number of students (approximately 12 million).
The shape and size of the system was based on the SNAP software programme. At the moment, the SNAP statistics showed that there were 25 687 schools, 12.8 million learners and 416 000 educators in the country. KwaZulu-Natal had the highest number of learners, amounting to about 24% of the entire system with 2.8 million learners, followed by Gauteng with 2.2 million learners, and the Eastern Cape with 1.9 million learners.
The mandate of the education management information system (EMIS) was derived from the National education information policy that was gazetted in August 2004. Section 29 of the EMIS policy stated that the Director General (DG) must designate a national EMIS officer, while section 30 stated that each provincial department head must designate a provincial EMIS officer. The policy was amended in 2010 to include the appointment of EMIS officers at the district and school levels. Posts were not created, but people were instead assigned to the districts and schools, notwithstanding the fact that they held other positions. The EMIS policy was currently being amended to accommodate the collection of unit record information.
The EMIS policy was gazetted in 2004. It was realized that the previous method of data collection through SNAP and surveys was not efficient, and additional funding had to be requested from Treasury to improve EMIS. This was granted in 2007. The EMIS strategy had been agreed upon in 2006 and the priority funding areas had been identified. The agreed upon EMIS strategy was to move away from the aggregated data collection in survey form, to the collection of unit record data from the source systems -- for example, school record keeping systems. This meant that the collection of data through surveys was not effective due to the unreliability of the data given, and it necessitated a new system.
The priority activities that were identified for the improvement of the EMIS included the implementation of the South Africa school administration and management system (SA-SAMS). The argument was that there had to be a school administration system at the school level that would be responsible for ensuring that data collection at the school level was standardised. The second activity was to develop and implement the national learner unit record information and tracking system (LURITS). DBE was saddled with the responsibility of developing the LURIT system. The third strategic direction was to develop and implement business intelligence reporting systems, while the last strategy was aimed at improving the quality of data audits by asking provinces to select a sample which would be verified from the source records by an independent service provider. The Auditor-General also monitored these activities by auditing the data.
The SA-SAMS was provided to schools free of charge and maintained by the Department. SA-SAMS formed the basis of the learner unit record information and tracking systems, as it fed LURITS with the learner data from school level and provided the unit record data. The provincial educational departments were rolling out SA-SAMS to schools, and they also had the responsibility to train schools on SA-SAMS. The role of DBE was to maintain the package in order to ensure that it met the needs of the policies. This meant that the Department had the responsibility to capture new policies that came up. The primary aim of SA-SAMS was to assist principals with school management. SA-SAMS replaced all paperwork that principals and teachers were expected to do with an easier method.
The ultimate aim of the strategy was to collect unit record information. In the first quarter, the LURITS uploads reflected the number of learners whose names, date of birth, subjects taken and other information could be tracked. There were approximately 11 million learners whose data was uploaded on LURITS in the first quarter.
The EMIS was fully funded, as funds were allocated to each province to deal with EMIS activities. The DBE also earmarked R16 million, since it had a task of maintaining SA-SAMS in the second phase and the development of LURITS.
The vision of the Department was for all data to be collected from a single source system at institutional level to provide a single entry point of factual information. In other words, all categories of data collected from schools should have one source, and this would be the school’s administration system (SA-SAMS). This was to avoid situations where different programme managers were given different numbers. All operational and transversal systems had to be built on top of the institutional systems and be available for use at both provincial and national level to provide a single source of factual data. The reporting layer would be a single layer on top of the operational systems, to provide one single integrated view. This referred to the business intelligence system.
The ultimate aim of the strategy was to collect the unit record data of each learner in the country from grade R to grade 12, and to track the movement of each learner from school to school throughout the learner’s school career. The system was able to identify learners without identification (ID) numbers. The DBE had received support from various political aids, like the Council of Education Ministers (CEM), who took a decision that IDs should be mandatory in the system. It did not mean that learners without IDs should be done away with, however. Instead, it meant that these learners should be assisted in ensuring that they were documented. The system was also able to identify duplicate learners in the system, as well as learners that had exited the system at any point. It could also track the movement and migration of learners in the system, provide a full progression history of learners in the system, and provide accurate data for planning and resourcing purposes. The unit record system marked a significant change in the way in which the EMIS collected data to support planning, monitoring and decision-making in the system. South Africa was one of the few countries that collected unit record information in education.
Reference was made to the integrated EMIS system. The source of EMIS was SA-SAMS, or third party vendors, as there were companies that were also committed to the SA-SAMS. The second layer of the integrated system demanded that each province had a provincial data warehouse. Data collected from schools had to go to a provincial warehouse, after which such data would be transferred to a different destination, although the main destination was LURITS.
Previously, a high number of data records were collected for compliance purposes. Information came in through one direction, and educators could not access learner data. It was the survey era, where surveys were used for data collection. Principals complied only because it was a compliance routine that had no value for them, unlike the current era, where putting data in the system would assist them in their day-to-day management and add value to them. The flow of data would also be bi-directional and principals would be able to access the data, as well as the Department, for monitoring purposes.
The Department partnered with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation in 2012. The purpose of that partnership was borne out of the realisation that the weakest link in the whole strategy was at the district level, and as long as managers at the district levels demanded papers, as opposed to the SA-SAMS, it would affect the implementation of the systems. The purpose of the partnership was to empower officials at the district level to see the value of the data collected which could be used for the day-to-day management of their activities. Due to funding challenges, the Foundation had agreed to pilot the dashboard in seven districts. Five of the districts were in Gauteng, one was in the Free Sate and another in Waterberg, Limpopo. This was referred to as the “data-driven approach” or “data-driven district management,” which was aimed at ensuring that district directors, curriculum managers and other managers were able to track system performance using the available indicators in the dashboard, especially because the dashboard visualised all the data collected from schools.
LURITS created an opportunity for government to collaborate in the area of statistics, and also to enable government to come up with one uniform number.
The Department had signed a protocol with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in 2010. The protocol was aimed at enabling the DBE to verify learners using the national population register (NPR) system of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The DHA was working towards eliminating late registration and therefore needed to know the number of learners that were undocumented. The Department had also worked jointly with the DHA on the joint birth and ID registration campaign that assisted in promoting civil registration and eliminated late birth registration. Currently, the process was done through the exchange of computer discs, but a simpler process would be implemented with the development of LURITS Phase Two. This simpler system would link the two systems of the DBE and DHA together, so that learners without IDs would be automatically picked up by the system and the DHA would be informed immediately.
The DBE also partnered with the Department of Social Development. This collaboration would help in noting the students that were receiving social grants and were attending schools, as well as those who were over-aged but were still attending schools. The DBE was currently discussing with the Department of Health (DoH) to verify the accuracy of teenage pregnancy rates, as it did not have the mechanism to identify accurately the learners that were pregnant. It had plans to sign a protocol with DoH to acquire accurate figures using available data so that it could give a progress report on a uniform number showing the magnitude of teenage pregnancies in schools.
The first challenge facing the Department was connectivity at school level. The Department usually provided schools with 3G connectivity, especially in provinces that had problems of connectivity, like Eastern Cape. Administration support staff at the school level was another challenge, as it was necessary for the effective running of the education system. It had been discovered that schools with administrative support staff performed better with data collection than schools without support staff. The utilisation of data at circuit and district level was also a challenge. This required a paradigm shift, because some areas were used to doing things in a particular way, so the introduction of new systems became difficult for them to adjust. These areas were beginning to see the need for these systems, as well as because technology enabled them to work more smartly and efficiently. Information Technology (IT) skills at the school level was still a challenge. The DBE was partnering with some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to make sure that educators were provided with data.
The project’s design, showing the integration of various data and change management elements, were outlined (see attached document). It was necessary for advocacy, training, coaching and mentoring to occur at each stage for a successful implementation of the systems and to create awareness of the need for educators to move from the use of paper to the systems.
The Chairperson requested a simple summary of the entire presentation and an explanation about how the systems would work in schools and what role the schools had to play in the entire process.
Mr Mpanza said that principals of schools had different responsibilities. Different reports were required from the principals by the circuit offices, the district offices and by the DBE. There were also reports required for the management of schools that principals headed. These reports were done on paper. Examples of such reports were admission books for all learners that would be admitted at the beginning of the school year, class registers, time-tables and so on. This was where SA-SAMS came in -- to simplify the data collection process and help with the promotion of learners. Teachers had only to capture marks and the SA-SAMS would automatically do the promotion. The Department had made reasonable progress with regard to getting data from the system. It therefore meant that there was no need for circuits to go to schools to demand mark schedules, since they were already in the SA-SAMS. All the principal had to do was to print the mark schedule from the SA-SAMS, sign the document and hand over to the circuit. The same data on the system of each school would be uploaded to the provincial warehouse once the school was connected. Once the data was uploaded on the provincial warehouse, there was no need for curriculum, school nutrition, examination officials and any other person to go back to the school to demand information on the same data, as it could be accessed from the warehouse. The warehouse then uploaded the data to LURITS which was the central warehouse where all the data collected from schools was viewed.
Ms Carinne van der Westhuizen, SA-SAMS project manager, said that SA-SAMS was responsible for all the administration for schools. It included the financial package, the curriculum, learner-teacher support material (LTSM), textbooks, learner disabilities, library section, built-in security and every other thing required for schools. The SA-SAMS was free of charge, maintained by the Department and upgraded regularly. The connection was also free of charge for schools. All the data was uploaded once a month or once a quarter, depending on each province, and standard reports were available for different sections, such as the number of teachers and their qualifications, analysis of the learners’ results, the disability of the learners, and so on.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) wanted to know if the system would be able to indicate the teacher-people ratio provincially and nationally, if the system was implemented fairly, how book retrieval was being managed, and how the Department would assist learners in the deep rural areas who were still struggling to get their ID documents.
Mr T Khoza (ANC) asked if the issue of time-tabling had been resolved, since there was a challenge of exporting the time-table to the spreadsheet for printing last year which had led to some problems for schools.
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) wanted to know how the Department would eliminate the challenge of source credibility that was reflected in instances where the people generating the numbers or statistics into the system, inflated them for various reasons.
Ms J Basson (ANC) expressed worry over the piloting of the system in five districts in Gauteng, one in North West and another in Mpumalanga. The challenges were more prevalent in schools in rural areas where there was no connectivity, nor administration clerks to address the challenges. She wanted to know why the Department did not concentrate its piloting in rural areas, if there were plans by the Department to discuss with those in charge of the curriculum the need for fixed quarterly subjects in all grades in order to compare the results across the schools, and if the problem of supplying schools with administration clerks was being addressed by the Department.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) asked what the Department would do in situations where schools given 3G cards still did not have connectivity, what would be done to schools that had no access to connectivity, and if the Department could explain how the connectivity amounted to a duplication of the curriculum assessment policy statements (CAPS), as noted by principals during the Committee’s oversight visit to some schools.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) asked if all the warehouses in all of the provinces were functioning efficiently, if there were any monitoring tools used by the DBE for the spending of the EMIS budget allocated to schools, and if the budget was being spent for the right purposes, and if the system could give accurate information on the delivery notes of textbooks.
Mr Mpanza said that with regard to the teacher-pupil ratio, the system collected descriptive statistics, out of which other indicators that required monitoring could be calculated.
In terms of the learners in the rural areas without ID documents, the Department worked closely with the DHA, which was also under pressure to deal with undocumented learners. It was a reality that documentation was not seen as a priority in rural areas, except in situations where there were services required from government, like social grants. However, the Department faced a challenge of supposedly undocumented learners who actually had ID documents, but who changed their names when they arrived at schools. The ID campaign mentioned in the presentation was targeted at the rural areas.
The Department admitted that the inflation of learner numbers that spoke to the source credibility was a reality. However, one of the strategies of the Department was for the provinces and national department to carry out audits done by an independent service provider to verify the data produced by the principals of schools. The independent service provider would check the data submitted to the system and do the head count of the learners. Disciplinary action would then be taken by the provinces (and not the DBE) against any principal found guilty of inflating learner numbers, since it was a criminal offence. However, the provinces had to submit an audit report to the Department to show how many audits they had conducted. The Department also had the extra mechanism of the NPR to detect learners with fake ID numbers and non-existent learners.
The piloting in Gauteng had not been funded by the Department, but was being funded by the partners of the DBE – the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. The Foundation was assisting in getting the systems running in seven districts by using funding from the MSTF. However, other districts were beginning to demand that the systems be introduced to them, as they now saw the importance of tracking learners’ data through the system.
The shortage of administration clerks at the school level was a very difficult issue. The Department was still faced with the challenge of compensation of employees. The DBE had, however, advised other provinces to use the expertise of other provinces. For example, the SA-SAMS was very effective in the Free State because it clustered five schools in the province and dedicated one administration clerk to capture information on behalf of the five schools, and give feedback to them. Other provinces used the MST funds to appoint contract staffs to assist in capturing data.
It was true that some areas had issues with connectivity and lack of a strong signal from some service providers. Provinces were, however, in charge of looking into selecting service providers with strong connectivity. Some areas resorted to the use of satellites when the connection was not strong enough.
Not all provinces had fully functional warehouses. The DBE was intervening by working closely with the provinces and listing the specifications for the warehouses to be LURITS-compliant. The Department had assisted Mpumalanga and Gauteng in developing fully functional warehouses. Northwest, Free State, Western Cape and Eastern Cape also had fully functional warehouses. KwaZulu-Natal was still being assisted in developing a functional warehouse. The Northern Cape and Limpopo also did not have a functional warehouse. The important element for these warehouses was the business intelligence system that produced information at a click of a button, instead of relying on a person to retrieve data.
The DBE monitored the budgeted expenditure. There was an audit committee mandated to audit provinces. The Department was still monitoring these audits, but relied mainly on the Auditor General’s reports because it was credible in detecting if all provinces were using the money budgeted for EMIS for that purpose. The Department was also discussing with Treasury to see if it could reinvest this money, because the reality was that when budget pressures arose, all available money would be used, notwithstanding the fact that a certain amount had been allocated for EMIS.
Ms Van der Westhuizen said that the timetable problems were more in the field of support problems. There was a SA-SAMS support disk at the national level that was assisting with training. The next session of training was scheduled to be held in August.
With regard to the curriculum, it was pointed out that if the CAPS was prescriptive, it meant that the SA-SAMS had locked it, but if CAPS was silent and had a suggestive total, SA-SAMS would pick the suggestive total. Provinces had nine different versions and in actual fact, there were 84 versions because there were districts that implemented their own interpretations. There were provinces that added tasks on top of CAPS. This turned out to be a SA-SAMS problem, but it was more of an interpretation problem. Once the Department was alerted of any problem, it contacted its curriculum colleagues to seek out solutions to amend whatever problem was discovered.
In response to whether there were duplications from CAPS, it was noted that the curriculum section used an Excel spreadsheet, but they were now advised to use SA-SAMS since data would be readily available on that system at a faster pace. The Excel spreadsheet data could be manipulated by teachers, but it was impossible to manipulate the SA-SAMS.
In terms of the credibility of the data on SA-SAMS, there was a security system in SA-SAMS. Teachers could capture only their marks on the system, and could not change the marks after the learner reports were issued. In dealing with duplicate learners, the system required attendance and marks for every learner. A fake learner’s account would therefore be empty.
The Chairperson asked for clarification on the entire database management. She wanted to know if the Department was still piloting the SA-SAMS, what the current state of the SA-SAMS in all provinces was at the moment, the measures taken to overcome the challenges of connectivity, which was still prevalent in most provinces, and if the system was able to track learners from the moment they enrolled in schools till they graduated. In summary, she noted that a lot still had to be done to get the system working for the benefit of everyone in the country, and there was a need to have a progress report on how far the system had been working or not.
Ms Vivienne Carelse, Deputy Director General (DDG), DBE, said that the stronger districts demonstrated the usefulness of SA-SAMS to other districts which were lagging behind, by showing how the system enhanced the work of planning and the analysis of learner results, as well meeting the needs of those districts across the schools for which they were responsible. Because it was a technical system, the Department had developed a technical system to cater for all the provinces. The Department was able to enter into provinces that needed its help more than those which were already running with the system during a provincial oversight. It was noted that the Free State and Western Cape were leading in the use of the SA-SAMS, since the numbers and details they were able to capture enhanced efficiency at other levels. The use of the system was about demonstrating the partnership with corporate bodies like the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and also about equipping educators and officials with the necessary skills to manage the system, coupled with the distribution of human resources to support the system.
With regard to teacher supply, provinces needed to implement the cross-divisioning norms accurately and efficiently and also ensure that overtime was recorded, and that there were no details of educators that were not loaded, especially since the system could pick up discrepancies in cases of dishonesty and shadow or ghost learners. The audit process also picked up figures on ghost learners.
Ms Van der Walt wanted to know if a loaded system could tell how many learners were officially in a school, and the Department answered in the affirmative.
Ms Boshoff wanted to know how the Department would ensure that pregnant learners were captured on the system, in order to avoid the infringement of the basic rights of such learners. She also wanted to know what would be done to the extra staff that would result from the use of the capturing system that did not require the use of so many members of staff, mainly because the elimination of extra staff could make more money available to schools.
Ms Basson noted that the presentation of the challenges could not be compared to the practicality of what happened in the provinces. A ‘stats analyser’ had been developed in SA-SAMS, but it sometimes confused the promotional data carried over from SA-SAMS, which led to the totals not tallying with the summaries in the promotional schedules, and most especially on the rural schedules. She wanted to know how schools could be assisted in this regard, since the stats analyser did not help the promotional data from SA-SAMS.
Mr Mpontshane wanted to know if principals still filled in quarterly and annual returns.
Ms C Majeke (UDM) wanted to know if the Department had a progress report on connectivity for schools in every province, as well as the target in the future for other schools that were not yet connected.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) wanted to know the extent to which the Department was planning to include training on the use of the system as part of the curriculum for new teachers during their training at the colleges or universities, in order to avoid situations where teachers would be encountering the system for the first time when they started work.
Mr Mpanza replied that 100% of schools in the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape provinces were on the SA-SAMS, while 98% of schools in Mpumalanga, 80% of schools in Gauteng, and about 98% of schools in Limpopo were on the SA-SAMS. In the Western Cape, the Department was waiting for the web-based SA-SAMS. It was noted that the Department was considering making SA-SAMS a web-based system.
The dashboards in regard to piloting were mainly about the utilisation of data, as well as changing the minds of the officials to show the efficiency of the system.
On connectivity, it was noted that the President had spoken about Operation Phakisa during his state of nation address and he had indicated that information communication technology (ICT) in basic education was one area that the government would prioritise. The issue of connectivity was therefore receiving high attention in government. The IT component would be part of the initial teacher training, as it became critical to train teachers on the issues of IT.
With regard to efficiencies, the Department acknowledged the fact that the system was assisting in reducing the costs used on extra staff. This, in effect, had led to challenges of eliminating extra staff.
Ms Van der Westhuizen, responding to the question raised on pregnant learners, said that the next upgrade on SA-SAMS would be to upgrade the new sex education policy and health issues, which would also deal with issues of pregnant girls. The Department would consider the availability of information in this regard.
SA-SAMS was also designed for rural schools. There was no need to duplicate data on paper and electronically. The data would be captured electronically and printed afterwards to avoid duplication. SA-SAMS also assisted the farm schools.
With regard to the system not calculating the data correctly, it was emphasized that there was no other system that calculated accurately, as SA-SAMS was the only system. The system also calculated learners who were absentees.
As for the training of teachers, SA-SAMS would be part of the Performance Development and Management System (PDMS), and training for teachers would count toward PDMS points.
Mr Hubert Mweli, Deputy Director General, Curriculum Policy Monitoring and Support, responded on the issue of delivery slips for books, noting that proof of delivery slips were usually issued for books that the DBE delivered to schools. The DBE used a work-based system to note such deliveries and could produce proof of book delivery for every school. It confined itself to the Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) that it delivered, by delivering only work books and maths and science books for grade 10, 11 and 12. Other textbooks were delivered by the provincial education departments. The Department could therefore not give proof of those other deliveries.
The Department was ready for a follow-up as requested by the Committee on the issues of connectivity and teacher training.
Progress report on Kha Ri Gude mass literacy campaign
Mr Mweli gave a brief summary of the shape and size of Kha Ri Gude. The Kha Ri Gude services had been provided to adults and young adults who were deemed to be functionally illiterate because they could not read or write. The programme had started in 2008 and would end in 2017. The Department had now spent an average of R495 million per year for seven years, and in total it had spent R3.4 billion on the programme.
An average of 550 000 learners had been enrolled every year, but there had been a reduction in the numbers in recent years. The programme had covered a total of 3.8 million learners to date, even though the target had been to cover 4.7 million learners. The Department had spent an average of R900 per learner per cycle. The DBE also provided materials such as books and bags to the learners, including the provision of stationery used for management and administration, printing, distribution, and training.
The Kha Ri Gude team was headed by Dr Morongwa Ramarumo. She worked alongside Ms Jennifer Wakefield, who was in charge of the finances of the programme.
Dr Ramarumo, CEO of Kha Ri Gude, said that the 2001 census was used as the basis for the literacy campaign, which showed there would be 9.6 million illiterate adults by the end of 2015. The campaign unit had targeted 4.7 million illiterate adults to be numerate and literate in one of the 11 official languages.
The campaign was also a poverty alleviation project which employed the unemployed on short term contracts. It had employed approximately 40 000 unemployed graduates and matriculants. The campaign had been initiated in 2008 and had reached 3.8 million illiterate adults across the country.
The main objective of the campaign had been to fulfil the “education for all” commitment of reducing the illiteracy rate by half by 2015, which would improve the knowledge base of the economy. The campaign covered all 11 official languages, and included brail for the blind. It also catered for disabled people, such as deaf and blind learners. The campaign had reached 3.4 million learners by 2013. In 2014, 416 000 learners had been added to the programme. 44 142 volunteers had been appointed during the campaign, which had included 3 046 disabled learners and 1 299 disabled volunteers.
The database of the Kha Ri Gude learners had been modified to include issues raised in the 2013/14 performance report of the Auditor General (AG). All learners and volunteers were verified by the DHA monthly, prior to the payment of stipends. All classes had been completed by the end of March 2015, while learner assessment portfolios (LAPs) had been completed by the end of April and returned to the campaign unit by the end of May 2015.
The materials used were provided in the 11 official languages. Culture, language and other elements were discussed before the books were printed. The campaign unit was working with the municipalities, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and provincial coordinators, to ensure that learners that had not been targeted before could be recruited into the programme.
Because the programme was a literacy campaign, examinations were not conducted through continuous assessments. Instead, learner assessment portfolios (LAPs) were used. LAPs was verified by the South African qualifications authority (SAQA) and moderated at the provincial level. Moderators checked the whole portfolio and selected three tasks. Marking was graded in terms of adequacy and level. External verifiers verified the moderations. Problematic portfolios or sets were identified and the incidence of such problems would be analyzed. A detailed statistical analysis would then precede a SAQA report, because SAQA verified the quality of LAPs.
SAQA visited 300 sites and checked if learners had completed tests under outside supervision. The test results were compared in detail with learner achievement portfolios, and a detailed statistical analysis was done. The scripts were looked into, as well as the improvement in the handwriting of the learners, consistency and growth of the learners.
SAQA decided on the recording of results on the national learner’s record database (NLRD). The NLRD was where the results of everyone was kept before certificates were issued. The Kha Ri Gude graduates were encouraged to register for adult education and training (AET) classes of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
SAQA had agreed that Kha Ri Gude results had improved since 2008. Examinations were not conducted because it was a non-formal education programme. Moderation and verification had led to the ongoing improvements in Kha Ri Gude. SAQA was particularly impressed by the management of records and resources during the verification.
The campaign unit had had visitors from UNESCO in 2012 and the country had been praised for its accountability and quality assurance in the programme.
The unit had been visited over the years by the AG. Findings had been made and recommendations given to the unit. Based on the AG’s findings and recommendations, the unit had come up with a progress report on how it could implement the recommendations given. The first recommendation was to recalculate realistic targets. The unit had had to realign the targets with the budget given by Treasury. 504 683 000 learners would be targeted for 2015/16. The figure would be reduced in the coming years, since the programme was left with two years to be completed.
The unit currently had a draft recruitment policy for both learners and volunteers. All employed volunteers would not be reappointed to the programme -- instead, unemployed youths with matric would be appointed. The campaign unit was also looking at attendance registers that were completed on a daily basis in order to take the registers to the Home Affairs for verification at the end of each month, and to pay volunteers based on the number of authentic learners.
The unit had appointed nine provincial coordinators in each province to strengthen the campaign by carrying out ground work. The unit conducted monitoring and unannounced visits for both learners and provincial volunteers. Criteria for the payment of stipends had also been adopted to suit the Department.
The AG had discovered that there were learners in the programme that were under 15 years of age. The unit had conducted an audit of the entire Kha Ri Gude learners and had discovered that the oldest was 17 years old, which was in line with the criteria of 15 years and above.
The Department had ensured that all registered learners had ID documents in order to reduce fraud.
A needs analysis had been conducted prior to the printing of the books for the 2015 campaign so that the unit could establish which books were unavailable.
The DBE had held a number of discussions with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to absorb the Kha Ri Gude learners. It had also strengthened the monitoring of its service providers. A monitoring framework had been developed due to the motivation given by the AG, and a database had been established to ensure that problems were tracked. Monitoring reports had been strengthened in the sense that all directors now had to sign the reports before payment could be effected. Statistics were also monitored on a regular basis.
The Minister of Basic Education was also assisting in strengthening the Kha Ri Gude campaign in the remaining two years that were left. The Department was targeting 43 monitors, 168 coordinators and helpers that would be employed to assist the blind in moving around. The Minister had visited eight provinces to strengthen the campaign. A visit to the Western Cape would be conducted in the near future.
National Senior Certificate Learner Retention (NSCLR) Programme
Mr Mweli continued with the second part of the presentation on the national senior certificate learner retention (NSCLR) programme. He said that the Kha Ri Gude programme had won several awards, including an award from UNESCO in 2012, provincial awards, and awards from Public Works. Since the programme would be completed within the next two years, the Department was anticipating the end of the programme and would introduce another phase of the programme. This new phase referred to the NSCLR programme -- a second chance programme that offered learners who had not met the requirements of the national senior certificate (NSC) a second opportunity to do so. This programme would take over from Kha Ri Gude, but would be introduced in 2016.
The NSC remained a very important document because it granted entrance to the labour market, as well a host of other opportunities. The labour market required the NSC as a minimum requirement. Despite the numerous efforts by the Department to make sure that learners obtained this qualification, many learners could not obtain this vital certificate. Some of the learners that had qualified for supplementary examinations could not succeed because of the unavailability of sufficient guidance and support in the system. Providing support to learners who were unable to meet the requirements of the NSC met the goals of the national development plan (NDP) to increase the learner retention rate in the system.
In analyzing the data and information, the Department had identified weaknesses, such as inadequate preparedness, inability to answer questions appropriately, lack of foundational competencies, as well as basic issues such as reading with understanding and being able to respond to very simple questions.
The Department had also consulted with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) steering committee in the DHET, which appreciated the structure and proposed that it should be introduced to higher levels, such as the DGs in the DHET and DBE. The programme had received immense support within the DBE both at administrative level and political authority level. The Department had also discussed it with the delegated officials from the relevant branch in DHET and it was agreed that the programme would start by focusing on a group of learners who could not meet the NSC requirements from 2008, while the programme being run by DHET would focus on a group of learners who could not meet the requirements of the Senior Certificate, which was the old grade 12 qualification pre-dating 2008, to avoid duplication of programmes. The Department had also met with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which was very pleased with the programme and had pledged its support to the DBE.
The first target group of the DBE for the programme was learners who had qualified for the supplementary examinations of the NSC, while the second target group were those who did not qualify for the supplementary examinations because they could not meet the NSC requirements.
Many facilities would be used for the programme. These facilities included schools, because schools were used only until 2.00pm at the maximum, unlike other countries where schools were used until evening. Other facilities available were teacher centres -- there were over 140 teacher centres, with 80 of them fully equipped with state of the art facilities through DBE’s partnership with the Vodacom Foundation and UNISA -- community halls, technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, and faith-based institutions such as churches, temples, and so on.
The human resources that would be used would include unemployed qualified teachers and the existing structures of Kha Ri Gude. Study guides were available through the LTSM. The Department would also be using the available textbooks, because accountability had been restructured. Past question papers would also be made available and the broadcasting facility of the Department would be relevant. There was a dedicated DBE channel which was currently being used to prepare the matriculants ahead of their examinations.
The Department would be providing additional support through career guidance, assistance in preparing CVs and interviews, health care, as well as building some motivational programmes into the support that would be provided for the learners.
The Chairperson wanted to know if learners from the Kha Ri Gude programme could be absorbed into the DHET system.
Ms Basson asked why the Kha Ri Gude programme was not monitored by districts at the district level, where people were on the sites. Why had some provinces recorded zero helpers -- was it not necessary for all provinces to have helpers? What plans did the Department have in place to accommodate learners who fell under the category of Kha Ri Gude learners, but had one exam or another to retake in order to complete their requirements.
Ms Boshoff asked if there were sufficient officials or trained educators to assist with regard to the Braille equipment and other equipment for the deaf. What was the current drop out percentage? If learners from Grades 9 to 11 dropped out, could they also benefit from the second chance programme? How would the learners that had attempted matric prior to 2008 be tracked to get them into the second chance programme?
Mr Khoza strongly supported the issue of unannounced visits on the Kha Ri Gude programme for monitoring purposes, noting that it was necessary for bringing out the best in the system.
Ms Mokoto wanted to how the DBE would cater effectively for the human resources it required for the Kha Ri Gude programme. She asked if a common curriculum was used for the Kha Ri Gude programme. She sought clarification on the versioning of the workbooks, as well as on the percentage drop in the enrolment of learners from 2008 to 2014.
Mr Mweli replied that the variations in the enrolment percentages were due to situations where neglected areas had been reached after a number of years, and which were reflected in the numbers.
Versioning occurred in the development of the workbooks, in terms of translating the workbooks from one language to the other.
With regard to the issue of a common curriculum, the second chance programme would stick to the current curriculum being used for Grade 12, except for the group that came before 2014, where slight differences in the curriculum were noticeable. These slight differences were not major curriculum shifts and those who would be in charge of these learners would give orientation programmes to inform these learners what the updated curriculum was. Curriculum differentiation would still remain key in the programme, but it was important for every teacher to have been taught curriculum differentiation in order to carry all the learners along.
With regard to the conditions of service, the implementation of the second chance programme should not be compared with a classical teaching career, because stipends would be given as opposed to a proper salary. The level of engagement and the time that would be expended would not be the same as that involved in a normal schooling system. The only challenge the Department would be faced with in using the resources without creating a gap, would be how it would absorb people back into the programme later if they were granted such opportunities.
The Department agreed to the emphasis on unannounced visits for monitoring the Kha Ri Gude programme. The implementation of stringent measures before paying stipends to the volunteers had helped a lot, even though it had caused delays in making payments. However, it had been able to eliminate a lot of fraud from the Kha Ri Gude programme.
The Department worked with various organs of civil society which would assist in tracking the learners for the second chance programme. Kha Ri Gude was well known among local government ward councilors, and the assumption of the Department was that ward councillors would be aware of everything that happened in their wards. With regard to those who failed to go through the General Education and Training Certificate (GETC), the exit level certificate that the Minister announced during the budget speech was intended to capture this group, by bringing in a different curriculum known as the curriculum stream, in addition to the two current academic and vocational pathways provided for by the Department. This would help to reduce the dropout rate in the GETC and help to prepare learners for further education and training (FET).
As pointed out by Ms Boshoff, the Department had an overriding objective to ensure that learners did not have to return to be enrolled in the second chance programme. This explained the avalanche of learner support programmes organised by the Department for learners.
With regard to whether there was sufficient Braille material for the Kha Ri Gude programme, the Department was yet to receive any complaints about a shortage of these materials, since the materials were produced centrally and were then given to learners to use.
The reason for not involving districts in the Kha Ri Gude programme could be traced to when the programme had first been conceived. It had been administratively managed from Pretoria, and had its own officials that were not part of the provincial administration system of bureaucracy.
Dr Ramarumo pointed out that when the Kha Ri Gude campaign had been launched, the Department had bought a Braille embosser which was housed at the Council for the Blind, where the printing was done. In essence, the Department did not outsource the printing of Braille material.
The Chairperson wanted to know why the same efficiency and methods applied to the Kha Ri Gude resources could not be extended to other special schools, since they were all part of the DBE.
Mr Mweli replied that every special school that offered Braille must have a Braille embosser machine. The audit last year had shown all the special schools had the Braille embosser machine, but they worked at different levels of functionality. Some of the special schools indicated that the number of learners had outgrown the capacity of the Braille embosser machines and therefore required a bigger one. The DBE ensured that every school ideally was provided with a Braille embosser machine. A request had been placed for a fresh audit to be done in order to identify the level of functionality and capacity of these machines so that the Department could intervene accordingly. The only difference was that Braille materials were produced centrally for the Kha Ri Gude learners, and the machine was therefore able to cope with that capacity.
Dr Ramarumo said in addition that the Department also had small Braille machines for volunteer educators and learners to use, since Kha Ri Gude did not have a huge number of learners, like schools.
The 19% dropout rate was a figure given by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to all countries, based on its research on adult education, literacy programmes and other non-formal education systems, indicating that 19% of adults usually dropped out from the system along the line. Kha Ri Gude had also followed this trend, as more than 19% of the learners had dropped out before the end of the programme over the past years. SAQA records, however, showed that 98% of the learners went through the entire programme till the end.
No calendar year existed in Kha Ri Gude. The Department normally said it would last for six months, but it followed a 240-hours’ content time which could lapse at any time. The DBE worked on tender processes and tender systems. The tender was currently being approved, which meant that a new session might start in September. Kha Ri Gude counted hours -- the programme ran for three hours, three times a week, leaving the last hour for administration.
With regard to the administrative system of Kha Ri Gude, an office existed at the national level and provincial coordinators had recently been appointed to strengthen the campaign. Monitors were also employed to monitor teaching and learning and give reports. There were coordinators under the monitors, who were responsible for 20 supervisors. Each supervisor was responsible for ten volunteer educators who supported and provided reports on a monthly basis. Volunteers across the system were billed according to the number of learners in the classrooms, which was verified through the DHA to curb cheating in the classrooms.
There were no helpers recorded in the Northern Cape because there were no blind learners or blind volunteers in that province. However, helpers would be recruited this year.
The DBE was in constant deliberations with the DHET on the absorption of the Kha Ri Gude graduates. The graduates would be able to gain easy access to the community colleges that the DHET was introducing.
The recommendation by Members on unannounced visits was already being put to use, and it had helped in reducing fraud in Kha Ri Gude.
Adoption of Minutes
The minutes of 23 June 2015 were considered and adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.