The Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented its performance report for the first quarter of 2015/ Committee. A detailed description was given of each of the Department’s five programmes, highlighting achievement against targets and drawing attention to challenges. Among the targets met were such projects as the Funza Lushaka bursary awards, teacher placement and the provision of sanitation facilities, electricity and water in schools. A major challenge had been the non-completion of the self-diagnostic assessment for English and mathematics teachers, with only 150 teachers completing the assessment for English against an annual target of 20 000.
The total appropriation budget of the Department for the 2015/16 financial year amounted to R21. 5 billion, of which R17 billion had been allocated as conditional grants (R15.8 billion), transfers to public entities (R1.1 billion) and other transfers (R74 million). The remainder of the budget (R4 477.284 million) was allocated to compensation of employees and examiners and moderators, and a wide range of other Departmental activities and requirements. The total actual expenditure of the Department for the first quarter had amounted to just over R7 billion, which was made up mostly of transfer payments. Comprehensive explanations for deviations in expenditure were provided.
The Committee expressed concern over several issues. A number of schools had not received their textbooks, and educators had experienced harassment and victimisation when they contacted the provincial department. The Cabinet had approved a final draft of the learner transport policy before it had gone through the Committee. The Committee was concerned about profiling and the matching of teachers to the needs of schools, and the competency of school principals. A Member referred to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, in which a promise had been made to provide school desks to the Eastern Cape, but this had never been implemented. The Committee also sought clarity on conditional grants.
Department of Basic Education: First Quarter Performance
Ms Vivienne Carelse, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Strategic Planning, Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented the first half of the report, which focused on the performance indicators and targets.
The Annual Performance Plan (APP) summarised the priorities of the DBE, as aligned to the delivery agreement of Outcome 1: Improving the quality of Basic Education and the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025.
The activities of the DBE had been structured into five programmes as elaborated in the APP: Administration, Curriculum policy, support and monitoring; Teachers, education human resources and institutional development, Planning, information and assessment; and Educational enrichment services.
A total of six staff development opportunities had been offered to officials that were paid by the Department, and ten interns were appointed in the quarter.
The Legislative Services Chief Directorate was responsible for providing the Minister, Deputy Minister, Director-General and all in the directorate with legal advice, scrutinizing policies, guidelines and norms and standards, and draft legislation. Ten pieces of legislation were in process, and nine policy instruments were under scrutiny by the legal services.
Strategic Planning and Reporting:
The final Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) scores for 2014/15 (v1.4) were received from the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) on 24 May 2015. Quarterly performance reports for all the quarters were received from the different branches, and a consolidated report was produced. Reports for outcomes 1, 7, 13 and 14, for the Forum of South African Directors-General (FOSAD) and State of the Nation Address (SONA) were compiled and submitted timeously. The DBE produced an analysis report for the three public entities – the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), SA Council of Educators (SACE) and Umalusi -- and the provincial departments on their performance information.
Research Monitoring and Evaluation:
The Department had received the General Household Survey (GHS) report, Focus on Schooling, using 2014 data, and had reviewed and quality assured the quantitative information presented in the report. The final report had been edited and published on the DBE website. Six staff development opportunities were offered to officials in the DBE, out of a target of 15. Ten internships had been implemented against the annual, goal of 65.
Library and Information Services:
The DBE formed a steering committee on the formation of the 1 000 libraries campaign, “Getting the Nation to Read.” A total of 35 trolleys had been procured for delivery to 35 multi-grade schools in Kwazulu-Natal.
Early Child Development (ECD):
Implementation of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for children from birth to four years had commenced and delivery of training for the first phase of the NCF had been concluded on 1 April 2015 in all the delivery points, as per the provincial directives. 92 750 documents had been delivered to provinces. Training of 13 500 ECD practitioners at level 4 was ongoing.
Implementation of the multi-grade toolkit had commenced during the quarter under review, and provinces had been provided with the compact disks containing the toolkit. Four provinces had trained subject advisors who would train teachers on multi-grade teaching and the use of the toolkit.
Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM):
The department focused on corrections of the data received from provinces and the finalisation of print orders. The printing of 2016 workbooks had commenced in May 2015. As of 29 June, 23 432 954 Grades 1 to 9 workbooks had been printed. This represented 88% of the 26 500 000 Volume 1 workbooks.
The department had developed the national catalogue for Grade 10-12 Further Education and Training (FET) literature, and the Grade R materials catalogue was released in April 2015. The revised catalogue for Grade 4-6 and Grade 1-3 addendum was released in April 2015. The following State-owned textbooks have been developed and completed:
- Grades 4-6 mathematics textbooks;
- Grade 10 technical mathematics;
- Grade 10 technical science.
Maths Science and Technology (MST):
The department was monitoring the implementation of the 1+4 intervention model. The Department had also completed lesson plans for all four terms, and had distributed them to all the provinces. It had also completed the monitoring instrument that would assist in tracking progress of the model. The Heads of Education Departments Committee (HEDCOM) had approved the implementation of Delphi as a computer programme used for practical papers for Computer Applications Technology (CAT) and (Information Technology) IT subjects in all provinces. A skills revolution in the Basic Education sector had been brought about by the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for technical high schools, and vocational programmes for schools of skills.
Information Communication Technology (ICT):
325 schools had been connected through Vodacom, as part of their licence obligations.
The Department had successfully held the commencement of the initial phase of the Operation Phakisa laboratory, called “Soft Start,” from 22 June to 3 July.
Kha Ri Gude:
The DBE had edited learner support material in all 11 official languages, including Braille material for blind learners and volunteers prior to the Government Printing Works (GPW) printing workbooks for the 2015/16 campaign. Nine provincial coordinators had been appointed to strengthen, support and coordinate the programme.
Human Resources Planning:
1 941 young and qualified educators were appointed at schools during the reporting period. The annual target for financial year was 8 600. As the end of June 2015, there were 4 657 graduates eligible for placement in 2015; in the first quarter, 3 995 were placed in schools and 662 remained unplaced. An additional 208 who remained unplaced in the 2014 placement cycle were also placed by end of June 2015.
Six collective agreements had been signed in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Chamber (PSCBC). During the quarter under review 12 queries had been received, of which five had been finalised and others were still under investigation. The Ministerial Task Team recorded interviews in the Western Cape, Limpopo, the Northern Cape, Frees State and KwaZulu-Natal regarding an investigation into the allegations of selling of educators’ posts. 64 potential witnesses had been interviewed and documents pertaining to new evidence were obtained.
Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme:
A list of new applicants in 2015, recommended for Funza Lushaka bursaries offering initial teacher education programmes at 24 universities, had been consolidated. A total of 13 939 Funza Lushaka bursary awards had been made by 30 June 2015. A total of 46 quality assured lists had been sent to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), with validated ID numbers.
Human Resource Development:
A number of training workshops on different programmes and projects took place. There had been training of 89 officials, including the first cohort of 79 Grades 3,6 and 9 mathematics subject advisors from nine provinces in institutionalised usage of the Annual National Assessment (ANA) data Usage at the DBE between 25 and27th May. Also trained were 155 Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Grade 8 and 9 leaders in Gauteng, 272 MST Heads of Departments (HODs) in the Northern Cape, and 75 General Education and Training (GET) MST subject advisors in KwaZulu-Natal. Eight provinces, except the Western Cape, were visited to support the implementation of the 1+4 Model for Mathematics.
Integrated Quality Management System:
School monitoring visits were undertaken at six schools in KwaZulu-Natal and five schools In Mpumalanga. The Department commenced with the preparation of resources for the implementation of the Quality Management System (QMS). The purpose of the resources was to support provinces to understand the process in the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) after the signing of the collective agreement. Work was done on the following resources: A draft rating guide for post levels 1-4; a draft evaluation tool in Excel format for post level 1 and 4 educators; and a draft work plan agreement and IQMS appraisal package for principals.
Whole School Evaluation (WSE):
As part of the initiative to support Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) to institutionalise School Self Evaluation (SSE) in all schools, a user-friendly SSE tool in Excel format had been developed, and support visits had been undertaken to the Free State and Limpopo. The implementation of an online SSE instrument in 225 schools countrywide, in partnership with the General Motors South Africa Foundation (GMSAF) had continued, with training taking place in the Free State, Northern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal. The revised WSE policy was presented to HEDCOM during the review.
School Governing Bodies:
The Department had produced and distributed guidelines for the capacity building programme for School Governing Bodies (SGBs), as well as for overseeing the training of newly elected SGBs. Two draft guidelines had been completed – “Guidelines on Support Parents can give to Children” and “Guideline on Discipline in Schools.” 13 939 Funza Lushaka bursaries had been awarded to students, and 86% placement had been achieved. 1 949 qualified teachers had entered the public service, out of an annual target of 8 600. 150 teachers had completed the self-diagnostic assessment for English, where the annual target was 20 000.
Examinations and Assessment:
Registration data on approximately 7.5 million learners had been collected from about 25 000 schools, and 50% of those records had been verified. A set of 102 assessment guidelines and test exemplars for Grade 1-9 had been developed and placed on the DBE website. Cleaning of South African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) IV data had been completed and submitted to the SACMEQ coordination centre. All 258 National Senior Certificate (NSC) question papers had been set -- 247 had been internally moderated and 182 externally moderated and approved by Umalusi. A total of 90 Senior Certificate May/June 2015 question papers had been successfully written by candidates. To ensure that the scores emanating from the implementation of the School-Based Assessment (SBA) were valid and reliable, the DBE had strengthened its moderation team by administering competency tests in ten selected subjects, conducting interviews for moderators, and appointing 83 SBA moderators. The first phase of SBA moderation had taken place on 29 June at all PEDs.
Financial Planning Economic Analysis and Provincial Budget Monitoring:
The Department had provided feedback on the fourth quarter performance report to all PEDs as part of their oversight role. The PED’s 2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) analysis report had been produced to determine the credibility of the budget allocation. Lists of no-fee schools for 2015 had been gazetted.
The first and second tranches of the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) allocation for the 2015/16 financial year were transferred on 17 April and 29 May 2015. To date, a total of R3.030 billion, or 32% of the R9.518 billion allocated to the sector, had been transferred to the respective PEDs. The National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) data had been updated on a daily basis, and to date 140 schools had been captured. 125 had been verified and the school approved on the system. A total of 153 vacancies had been filled. To date 20 architects, 18 quantity surveyors, three electrical engineers, two Geographic Information System (GIS) specialists, five town planners, 59 works inspectors and 39 finance personnel had been appointed. For school furniture, the DBE had ordered 358 481 double combination desks, 5 375 teachers’ tables and 5 490 teachers’ chairs from the Departments of Labour, Environmental Affairs and Correctional Services. The learner transport policy had been published for public comments, and the draft presented to the Portfolio Committees on Basic Education and Transport. The policy had been approved by Cabinet on 27 May 2015.
Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI):
As at 30 June 2015, 116 schools had been completed, as part of the replacement of inappropriate schools programme. 228 inappropriate schools in the Eastern Cape were affected by rationalisation and mergers, and had not been allocated to any implementing agents. 439 of 741 schools targeted for sanitation projects had been provided with sanitation facilities. 518 of 1 120 schools targeted for water projects had been provided with water. 295 of 914 schools targeted for electricity had been provided with electricity.
District level planning and implementation support:
The Department had developed a guideline draft recruitment and selection criteria for competency assessment, which would be used to strengthen the appointment of the right people in the right roles. Baseline information had been collected on the use of competency assessment in the recruitment of district officials, including district directors, as required in the legislation. Draft roles and responsibilities had also been developed for district officials, starting with district directors, to clarify the work of these officials. A handbook on district standard routines and operations had been developed by the district coordination, monitoring and support HEDCOM sub-committee task team. The purpose of the handbook was to standardised the work of district directors and to ensure predictability in what they did.
School level Planning:
The Department had introduced a school improvement support project to assist districts and circuits to address school specific challenges to quality learning and teaching. The rationale for the project was for the officials and selected circuit managers to work together to strengthen capacity, and to utilise available data to address school specific challenges, using school profiling data as a springboard. The annual targets for the provision of sanitation facilities, electricity and water in schools has been met,
Care and Support:
For the period under review, the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) reached 15 232 Quintile 1-3 primary and 5 116 Quintile 1-3 secondary schools, as well as 262 special schools in all nine provinces. This resulted in a total of 9 125 358 learners benefiting from the programme. Monitoring of the programme involved four schools being visited in the Western Cape in 3 districts against a quarterly target of 66 schools.
Health and Promotion:
220 peer educator and peer mentor manuals, posters and 40 000 Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP) leaflets were printed, to be distributed to 286 schools in eight districts in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. The draft DBE national policy on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB) was finalised. The policy was gazetted and published on 5 May 2015 for public comments, which closed on 19 June. The Department reached a total of 2 497 educators who received training on sexual and reproductive health programmes.
The National School Safety Framework was approved and signed by the Minister in April.
To date, 1 391 provincial master trainers have been trained and 12 354 school-based training workshops have been conducted by these trainers on the prevention and management of bullying in schools.
Enrichment and Sport in Education:
The Department hosted the South African School Choral Eisteddfod (SASCE) from 30 June to 2 July. A total of 6 722 learners and 436 teachers had participated. In partnership with Spell It South Africa, the DBE conducted training in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga and North West provinces for officials who will officiate at the Spelling Bee during the year under review.
The Department, in partnership with the Physical Education Institute of South Africa (PEISA) hosted the 2015 Physical Education Symposium from 1 to 2 April in Cape Town. A number of social cohesion activities were held, covering learners, educators, and other officials. These activities include Moor Courts, iNkosi Albert Luthuli Oral History programme and essay writing competition workshops.
DBE’s financial performance
Mr Ntsetsa Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DBE, presented the financial report for the first quarter. He said the total appropriation budget of the Department for the 2015/16 financial year amounted to R21. 5 billion, of which R17 billion had been allocated as conditional grants (R15.8 billion), transfers to public entities (R1.1 billion) and other transfers (R74 million). The remainder of the budget (R4 477.284 million) was allocated to compensation of employees and examiners and moderators, and a wide range of other Departmental activities and requirements. The total actual expenditure of the Department for the first quarter had amounted to just over R7 billion, which was made up mostly of transfer payments.
Mr Molalekoa provided the Committee with explanations for deviations in expenditure.
- The bulk of the allocation in Programme 2 had been in respect of Kha Ri Gude and earmarked funds for workbooks. The spending trends on this programme, including the printing and delivery of workbooks, would be influenced when Kha Ri Gude classes for 2015 started.
- The high spending in Programme 3 was due to the transfer of 69.91% of the Funza Lushaka Bursary funds to NSFAS, which had been transferred in April 2015. The remainder of the Funza Lushaka bursary funds would be transferred in January to cover the registration fees for the 2016 academic year.
- The spending on goods and services would accelerate in the second and third quarters, when Kha Ri Gude classes had started. The invoices for the printing and distribution of Annual National Assessment tests and workbooks would also be received during the second and third quarter.
- The bulk of the allocations for transfers and subsidies were conditional grants. The transfers for the first quarter had been made as scheduled, except for the transfer of the EIG to Limpopo province. The transfer had been delayed due to the non-submission of a business plan. However, the business plan had since been submitted and the transfer had been made in July.
- The bulk of the allocation for the payments for capital assets was in respect of the ASIDI project. Although the spending seemed low, progress on the ground had gained momentum. The invoices received from implementing agents were reviewed prior to processing. The delays in reviewing invoices were not compromising the projects since implementing agents (IAs) received advances to pay contractors within 30 days.
- The spending on examiners and moderators increases after the end of year examinations have taken place. Based on history, the bulk of the expenditure would increase during December/January.
- The transfer payments to NFSAS for Funza Lushaka Bursaries (69.91%) and the first quarterly transfer to Umalusi (25 %) had been made in April, as scheduled.
- The allocation for other transfers included the transfer of the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT). As at the end of the first quarter, 66.67% had been transferred to the NECT. The other transfers were made during January and February of the financial year.
- Although the spending on the School Infrastructure Backlog Indirect Grant seemed low, progress on the ground was accelerating. The allocation for the current year might not cover the work that was currently continuing on the ground. The Department was projecting to overspend on the grant.
- Spending on earmarked funds normally took place in the second and third quarters of the financial year for projects like workbooks, Kha Ri Gude and the Annual National Assessments.
- The bulk of the allocation in Kha Ri Gude was in respect of stipends paid to volunteer educators. Kha Ri Gude classes were expected to start during August 2015.
- The verification and signed-off learners’ data had been received from Heads of Departments, and the printing of the 2016 volume 1 workbooks was in process. It was anticipated that the delivery of workbooks Volume 1 would be made from August 2015.
- The Annual National Assessment was scheduled to take place during September 2015. A service provider had been appointed for the printing and packing of ANA tests for 2015.
- The bulk of the allocation earmarked for the Maths, Science and Technology programme was in respect of compensation of employees. The Department was currently in the process of appointing officials who would be monitoring the implementation of the conditional grant in the provinces.
- Other transfers, such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) membership fees, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), and the Guidance Counselling & Youth Development Centre: Malawi, are foreign transfers. The invoices for these transfers are received in January and February.
- The expenditure on household items was in respect of leave gratuities for officials who were exiting Government. The item had not been allocated a budget since the resignation of officials could not be pre-determined.
Ms A Lovemore (DA) sought clarity on the DBE’s reporting methodology. She found it strange that the DBE did not report on matters that were annual targets. She asked where the progress of the five-year targets was reported. She asked about inclusive education targets and the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU). She sought clarity on the ten pieces of legislation that had been mentioned in the presentation. What had been edited in the general housing survey? Why had there been a change from Java back to DELFI as a computer programme, when DELFI was not popular in the industry? How many Grade R practitioners were qualified? How far was profiling with regard to Programme 3? Did the figure of 150 teachers who had completed the self-diagnostic test in Mathematics and English refer specifically to English or Mathematics, or both?
The DDG listed all ten items of legislation. They were the learner admission policy at public schools, the draft chart on the rights and responsibilities for religious conduct, the norms and standards for focus schools, the national schools safety framework, the guidelines on focus schools, the whole school evaluation policy, the guidelines and accreditation of independent schools, the profound intellectual disability policy, and the schools’ sport policy. She said that the Department could provide a comprehensive list of all its legal services to the Committee via the Committee Secretary. Some related to policy and others to legislative change.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) said that the DBE was aware of the lack of implementation, or poor delivery, by the provinces in certain areas. What was the DBE doing to deal with this issue? Had the recommendations that the Committee had given to the DBE on how to improve its performance and implementation been implemented? How long did it take for the Department to implement recommendations from the Committee? With regard to ICT, he asked what the location of the 325 schools connected through Vodacom was, and how many were schools in the rural areas.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) spoke about the issue of textbooks not being delivered to schools. She said that during their oversight, the Committee had come across a number of schools that had not received their textbooks. She specifically spoke of the Letaba School for children with special needs, which had presented a whole list of a number of textbooks that they had not received. When schools report this to the provincial department and ask for assistance, they are harassed. She asked that it be put on record that these schools experience trouble when they report this problem. She asked for a copy of the catalogue for primary and secondary schools. She complained that schools that underwent renovation or infrastructure changes were not being handed over timeously, which was problematic. She was unhappy about the learner transport policy -- the final written document had not come to the Committee, yet the Cabinet had approved it. The Committee had not been happy with the draft policy, and a number of recommendations and comments had been made. The policy was meant to be presented to the Committee after being revised and reworked, but it never came back to the Committee. She asked for a copy of the policy. The DBE should also report on targets that had not been met and the challenges it faced, so that the Committee could be aware of these matters and assist in any way that it could. She spoke about the part in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year that promised to provide school desks to the Eastern Cape. She pointed out that this had never been implemented, and asked who had written that part of the SONA.
The Chairperson was concerned about the issue of Letaba not receiving their textbooks, and asked if the DDG could contact the school and make a quick follow up to find out whether they had received their textbooks, and to check whether they had experienced any victimization.
Ms J Basson (ANC) asked how the DBE could help ECD practitioners that were willing to be trained. Were the educators in special needs schools able to use the special material provided? She asked whether the DBE’s advocacies were accessible in rural areas. She commented that it was problematic that learners with special needs were treated as normal learners when they were not, and said that principals needed to apply to get special needs attention for these students so they could receive fair results. Some principals needed to be made aware of this. She sought clarity on a school in the Western Cape that had recently been renovated and had been in the headlines because of it being unsafe for learners to attend. She asked who had renovated it and why it was unsafe. Why were the spelling bees taking place in only three provinces? When would this training reach other provinces? She asked how far the Department was in the screening and vetting of educators.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) asked what had been done to rectify the infrastructure grant situation. She recommended that the provinces should attend a Committee meeting and talk about all their conditional grants. She noted that there had been movement in ICT, and that there had been a slight improvement. What was the target, and how much was the DBE expecting to see in the next quarter? She asked how the DBE was responding to the issues raised in the general household survey. She congratulated the DBE on the deployment of teachers to schools, and asked how the DBE was ensuring that the needs of the schools were met and how it matched what it had with what the schools need.
The Chairperson suggested that the Department adopt a Rand for Rand approach with library services, meaning that the municipality would build a library and another governmental sphere would match it by building another library in that area. She asked if that was the programme being mentioned in the presentation, and if it was part of the 1 000 libraries, and if not, how far was that programme. She asked the DBE to give the Committee a picture of what they were looking at with targets of practitioners for ECD, and what the current situation was. She asked how far the DBE was with the investigation into the selling of posts. She pointed out that no principals have taken the competency assessment -- how far was the DBE with this test, what was it, and would it happen?
Mr Themba Kojana, Deputy Director-General: Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development, spoke on the delisting of labour relations and the implications it had for the Committee. He said that the Committee could investigate any matter that fell under their responsibilities and duties.
He said that the DBE had reported what the status was with regard to profiling. It used percentiles to extract their report. From the DBE’s findings, there had been very little improvement and there was a need to assist the provinces in completing these exercises. The DBE planned to go to all the provinces and give each province an individual report stating how far they had progressed and what areas they needed to focus on. Currently, the DBE was in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
The Chairperson pointed out that the provinces did not want to play their role or cooperate, and that this was a recurring problem that the DBE faced. She asked what the DBE was doing to deal with this problem, because it was unacceptable.
Mr Kojana listed three ways the Department was dealing with this issue. Firstly, it had invested in the training of all district human resources managers to capture information with regard to whether teachers were competent in the subject they were teaching. Secondly, it had communicated the need to complete these exercises, and their importance. Thirdly, the Minister had intervened in the process, because the DBE had noted how little improvement and progress had been made. The Minister had also urged the Members of the Ministerial Executive Committee to drive the process.
Mr Kojana said that the DBE had responded to the problem of a shortage of Afrikaans teachers in the Eastern Cape by allocating 45 graduates to that area, and reported that this had assisted in easing the situation.
The self-diagnosis assessment had increased from 150 to more than 700 teachers. It was specifically in English (first additional language). The DBE, in partnership with the British Council and the Pearson Group, was currently working on piloting a mathematics-focused self-diagnosis assessment. These assessments took place through teacher centres.
There was currently a Ministerial task team looking into the selling of posts, and an investigation was in progress. The task team would be compiling a report, which they would submit to the Minister. The Department of Justice was also playing an important role in the investigation.
Mr Kojana said there were currently 13 000 bursary recipients, which exceeded the target by 939. He said this target had been met by negotiating with higher education institutions to lower their tuition fees. In terms of placement, the DBE worked with the different provinces to place bursary recipients.
Only two provinces had completed the competency assessment, namely the Western Cape and Gauteng.
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Acting Deputy Director General: Curriculum Policy Monitoring and Support, said that according to the information received from the provinces, there were 6 480 Grade R practitioners at entry level 4, 2 015 at entry level 5, and 50 at entry level 6. He said that the majority of ECD practitioners did not have entry level 4.
The Minister had set a goal that by the year 2019, all learners would have access to fully functional libraries. This was based on the principle that for every 100 libraries the DBE would establish in a province, the province or municipality would match it.
The DBE used the general housing survey for planning, tracking progress and checking and verifying the Department’s data and statistics. It was also used to verify the achievement of the Department’s targets.
He said that 1 050 schools was the target for ICT access this financial year. MTN, Cell C, Neotel and Vodacom had all committed to funding 300 schools per financial year over five years. The Minister had set a goal that by the year 2019, all schools should be connected.
Mr Mweli said that the DBE had never received or experienced any challenges or complaints in facilitating reading and writing in Braille. He had the privilege of being present for the moderation of an exam, and there had been no complaints.
The DBE had the responsibility to train practitioners and create stimulation programmes, regardless of whether the learner was 0-4 years old or in Grade R. The Committee had said it wanted specific details about Grade R. He would have to check with the Committee to confirm the facts. They would ensure that the needs for Grade R learners were met, if they were not already met.
Mr Mweli said he was more than happy to distribute the catalogues to the Committee.
The Department had contacted Letaba, and that the textbooks on mathematics and English had been delivered to the school on 7 August. The outstanding books would be sent later. No harassment or victimisation could be confirmed, but he committed to following up on this matter.
Ms Van der Walt said she had spoken to the school at 8:32 am that day, and they had informed her that they had not received the textbooks. She asked for the delivery slip from the provincial Department to be sent to the Committee.
Mr Mweli responded that these things could be very tricky, depending on the person one spoke to. The person Ms Van der Walt had spoken to might not have been aware of the fact that the textbooks have been delivered.
He said that of the 325 schools, 127 (39%) were in rural areas, 7 (2%) were in urban areas, and the rest were not indicated. He committed to getting specific data and information on the logistics.
He gave an assurance that the DBE implemented the recommendations they received from the Committee immediately.
The change from Java to DELPHI was due to the fact that it made the educators’ task easier, and the change had in actual fact been endorsed. He said that there was a problem in moderating with Java.
He confirmed that profiling had not been completed and that as a result, matching had proved to be a challenge.
Ms Lovemore commented that she did not buy into the fact that DELPHI was easier to operate. DELPHI was not used in the work place and was not part of the business language.
The Chairperson asked how the DBE was dealing with all the schools which did not have online access, because they were by default disadvantaged and could not monitor or evaluate themselves.
Mr Mweli said that they did not need a connection, because it would be offered as a subject at the schools. All that was needed was a computer.
Mr Mpumi Mabula, Head of Infrastructure, DBE, said that the Minister and Deputy Minister had requested the learner transport policy from the Department of Transport. They had been informed that the policy was still being edited and that they would receive after it was completed. As soon as they had the policy they would forward it to the Committee.
He had tried contacting the school that had been renovated and was unsafe, but had not received a follow up.
Concerns had been raised around the statements that were made in the SONA. The National Treasury, the Presidency and the Department were in the process of ensuring that these promises were fulfilled. Three processes are currently under way to provide furniture for schools. The first involved the Department, and the second involved the National Treasury, which had contracted out the task to six companies. Five of those companies had completed the task, while the sixth company, Regency, had failed to complete the task and had asked the National Treasury for an extension. The third process involved the Department of Environmental Affairs, which was responsible for providing furniture to 845 schools. They had asked for their deadline to be February 2016, but the Department has rejected this. A meeting would be taking place to discuss the deadline, making it the end of this calendar year.
Mr Mabula said he would follow up with the issue of the abandoned school, saying the school had been completed but had no furniture.
The Chairperson asked how the whole process was managed generally.
Mr Mabula said that there are two processes. The first one was the contractual arrangement, which required the end user to receive a completion certificate before using the school. The second one was the social political process, which involved a launch with the Minister. This process did not mean that the end user could not immediately use the school.
Mr Khosa asked what the Department would do to ensure that there was no over-spending or under-spending.
Mr Gerhardus Schoeman, Director-General: Finance and Administration, said that no over-spending was currently taking place. Spending was monitored very closely. Overtime was budgeted for and if more money was needed, the Director-General had to approve the request. It was difficult to budget for traveling, and said that money did need to be added to that budget throughout the year.
Mr Mweli said that if a grant was not used as specified, the Department was reported to National Treasury.
Ms Carelse said that there was a branch dedicated to monitoring and tracking conditional grants.
Ms Lovemore asked why the MST grant, which was at 20%, was low. She spoke of the Harry Oppenheimer School, which had lost two teachers because there had been no money to pay them. She asked the Department to comment on this. She asked what the expenditure covered, and what had happened to the Naledi Grant.
Mr Mweli said that the Department did not pay for posts any more. The provincial departments should be able to pay for posts through their equitable grants.
The CFO said that grants transferred money at different times and levels. The budget and grant was structured in a way that worked best and was flexible. There was no fixed way, and National Treasury allowed for flexibility. What was transferred from the grant was what was reflected in the budget -- it was not the expenditure that was reflected.
The CFO said that the transfers showed a nil balance because the Department only transfered money when it received an invoice, which was usually in January and February.
He said that conditional grants could be withheld if there was poor performance, or if there was under-spending or no spending at all.
Ms Basson asked what other the transfers of R73.5 million covered. She asked what would happen to the current construction taking place and how the service providers would be paid, because the presentation stated that the budget would not cover current construction.
Ms Mokoto asked how the Department was ensuring that conditional grants were being used appropriately. Limpopo had experienced a delay in receiving its grants -- who was responsible for administering these grants on time? Were there any consequences for not administering them on time? There were provinces that were not spending their money because they felt that it was too little. How was the Department ensuring and motivating the provinces to spend their money, regardless of how much they received?
The Chairperson said that the Department should verify the facts that they received, and asked what the Department did if grants were not used appropriately. She voiced her concerns about Kha Ri Gude, as it always came up at the last minute and there was never any real progress to report to the Committee.
Mr Mweli agreed with the Chairperson’s concerns, and said that there were challenges with the new service provider, which made it difficult to measure accountability. He also stated that the programme required 240 hours and could take place any time of the year.
Ms Van der Walt said that the monitoring and oversight of the Department was very poor.
Mr Mweli agreed that their monitoring was very limited and poor because they sampled a few schools and relied on the reports that they received from the provinces.
Ms Mokoto asked if there was a budget for teacher assistants.
Ms Carelse said that there were assistive devices for the learners with disabilities.
Ms Lovemore asked how many schools benefited from the nutrition programme.
Ms Neo Rakwena, Director: National School Nutrition Programme, said that the target was 19 800, but the number reported was 11 550.
Apologies were received from Mr T Khoza (ANC), Mr D Mnguni (ANC), Ms H Boshoff (DA), Ms C Majeke (UDM) and Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC).
Mr A Mpotshane (IFP) was replaced by Professor C Msimang (IFP)
The meeting was adjourned.