DBE Provincial & District Monitoring & Support; ELRC De-Listing; SACE progress report

Basic Education

17 August 2015
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chief Executive Officer of the South African Council for Educators (SACE) said that an agreement had been reached between SACE and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to work closely with the office of the Director General (DG) on the strategic plan and annual performance plan of SACE. The DG’s office had promised to offer further expertise to assist SACE in fine-tuning its strategic and annual performance plan.

SACE had improved its relationship with provincial departments of education and had also met with the heads of education committee (HEDCOM) to sort out difficulties in communication. SACE was now equipped to complete registration for unregistered educators.

Validation and screening processes were in progress, and SACE was in the process of categorising the database to ensure the validation of all databases within the next two years. There had been a shortfall in reaching out to the desired number of educators, and it was important for the council to figure out to reach out to more educators, and also popularise professionalism. SACE had agreed to publish the names of all educators that had been struck off the roll indefinitely or for fixed terms. With regard to the duties on professional development, SACE would work with DBE in ensuring that teachers and school principals understood the importance of taking up professional development throughout their careers as educators.

SACE had under-collected revenues by an amount of R69 000 due to non-payment of membership fees by some subscribers. However, SACE had underspent by R4.9 million, having received R8.9 million budget from DBE for Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD). Overall, SACE operated within its budget. It was pointed out that the acquisition of a building for office space saved SACE more money than rental.

SACE had been able to register more educators than it planned for in the past financial year. 20 000 new educators and 30 000 updates were targeted for this year. Vetting would be conducted for all educators within the system and changes would be made to SACE’s application forms.

The ethics targets for 2014/15 had been audited, and the 2015/15 targets were highlighted. SACE was able to finalise a lot of cases in the past financial year.

The Senior Manager for professional development gave a progress report on the CPTD management system. SACE had a target of 110 000 educators to be signed up on post level 1. 29 000 of those educators had already been signed up.

With regard to professional development uptake, the principals and deputy principals were in their second year of the 3-year CPTD cycle, while the heads of departments (HODs) were in their first year.

SACE was working on a new programme referred to as professional standards. It had begun to develop a broader discussion document and concept that would guide its consultation processes and assist in engaging stakeholders and other people working with professional standards within the sector. Seminars that brought together key stakeholders and other officials had been organised by SACE, to discuss issues of implementation in this regard.

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act required SACE to be recognised as a council by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). SAQA was supporting SACE in this process, and SACE had submitted the first draft of requirements in line with the laid down criteria.

Questions raised by MPs revolved around the advertisements of the managerial posts in the new provincial offices of SACE; functions of the provincial officers, usage of electronic funds transfer as opposed to postal orders for teachers during registration process; SACE’s twitter handle; uptake of courses and referral of cases from provinces to SACE; specifics periods or months for the vetting process; the meaning of ‘fit to teach’ hearings; those responsible for research activities within SACE; explanation on the incomplete list of duties of SACE that omitted the training needs for improvement of teacher performance; content of SACE’s radio advocacy; the need for clarity on finances and to clear the assumption that finances only referred to acquisition of building and membership; details on the training programmes conducted and the outcomes of such trainings; the means by which effectiveness of activities was measured by SACE in type 1 schools; the reason for the approval of 98 out of 200 targeted targeted trainers; the reason for under-collection of revenue; clarification on statutory obligations placed on provinces to report serious offences to SACE; the need to sort out the induction of qualified teachers before being posted to schools to teach; the percentage of provinces that were doing well in the CPTD programme and those that were not; capacitation of teachers to deal with learners with different challenges; the criteria used in admitting foreign educators; clarification on the ongoing vetting process in connection with the verification of qualifications; the financial implications on provinces through contributions from teachers; and the number of reported cases, especially with regard to sexual harassment of learners by teachers.

The Director-General of DBE said that the presentation of the Department on provincial and district monitoring and support focused on the provisions of page 303 of the National Development Plan (NDP). The Director of Districts however, began the presentation by noting that DBE’s primary clients were the learners, and it ensured that high level outcomes were delivered.

A policy on districts was gazetted in 2013 and it provided a mandate consisting of key units to assist districts in delivering the services expected of them. DBE had prioritised support for all districts since 2012 in order to ensure an improvement in the performance of the system. A forum of education district directors had been established and it was conveyed by the Minister on a quarterly basis. DBE had also introduced a district-based teacher recruitment campaign for the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme. This campaign targeted rural and poor communities.

A major human resource (HR) project that focused on the profiling of teachers throughout the provinces, was being implemented in districts. DBE was also strengthening performance management, and monitoring it closely at the district level. In terms of examinations, DBE focused more on ensuring that credible examinations and assessments took place in schools. Increased access had been given to districts in this regard.

Annual National Assessments (ANA) placed the important performance data that was useful for empowering teachers and districts alike in monitoring school performance at the disposal of districts.

DBE had decentralised its services in terms of its overall evaluation and monitoring, by bringing its services closer to the schools.

The success of the National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA) was also emphasised, as being dependent on the successful management at the district level. Consistent improvement was now noticeable in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) performance at district level. Partnerships were also being strengthened to align with the requirements of the NDP.

Discussions on the presentation focused on the monitoring tools of DBE; the plans of the Department to resolve the Funza Lushaka drop-out rate; DBE’s plans to resolve the serious challenge of teachers that taught subjects they were unqualified for; the need for greater attention and support for districts in the day-to-day delivery of administrative and educational services; DBE’s focus on learners that performed better for consideration of all its programmes; DBE’s involvement in dealing with operational issues affecting the effectiveness of district offices; the focus on special schools as opposed to inclusive education; consideration of subjects in analysing under-performance; inclusion of circuits within districts; the retention plan for Funza Lushaka teachers in the rural areas; the collaboration of the performance management and development system (PMDS) with commitment; how DBE handled the issue of subject switch in the in the Funza Lushaka bursary programme; the need to monitor the kilometres traveled by educators; clarity on the powers of circuit managers; as well as the need for DBE to come up with examples of districts and provinces where the ANA instrument had been implemented.

Meeting report

Follow-up briefing by the South African Council for Educators (SACE) on progress in respect of planning and reporting
Mr Rej Brijraj, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), South African Council for Educators (SACE), began the presentation by informing the Committee that all the queries raised at the last Portfolio Committee meeting had been taken to Council and all suggestions given to remedy the issues raised were being followed up.

With regard to the strategic plan and annual performance plan (APP), an agreement had been reached between SACE and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to work closely with the office of the Director-General (DG). The DG’s office had promised further expertise to assist with the fine-tuning of the strategic plan and the APP in advance before making a submission to the portfolio committee. It had also been agreed that advanced copies of the strategic plan and APP would be sent to the Committee for MPs to study. The new strategic plan and APPs were in draft stages; they would go to council and thereafter be examined by the DBE experts before being accepted. SACE was very vigilant in terms of its national mandates by adhering to the national development plans (NDP) and upholding Vision 2030.

SACE’s finances and administration were maturing and an increase was expected as the building for provincial offices had been paid for. SACE had an improved relationship with the provincial departments of education and had also met with the Heads of Education Committee (HEDCOM) to sort out difficulties in communication with regard to issues like non-payment of levies by teachers. SACE had also scheduled to meet with the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) and other units. This was because the majority of the work carried out by SACE depended on collaboration with other departments and units.
SACE was now equipped to complete registration for unregistered educators.

With regard to registration, SACE was in the middle of the validation and screening process. SACE would also collaborate with the PDEs to address situations of teachers who had been deregistered but would like to be reregistered into the profession again. SACE was currently busy with the categorisation of the database to ensure that all databases had been validated in the next two years. There was a need to get the specific number of teachers on the database.

SACE was doing quite well in terms of ethics. However, it had fallen short in the area of outreach as it had been impossible to reach out to the desired number of teachers. There was a need for the Council to restrategise on how to reach out to more educators and popularize professionalism among them. The main issue was to find additional budget that would fund a more intensive outreach programme.
SACE had also agreed to publish the names of all the educators that had been struck off the roll, whether indefinitely or for fixed periods. In the past, access could only be made to this data on SACE’s website with the identification number of the specific educators. In a few months’ time however, the names of all educators, the last school where they taught as well details of striking off indefinitely or for a fixed period would be uploaded and accessible on SACE’s website. The list of these educators was currently being audited in order to come up with an accurate list of all educators that had been struck off the roll from inception.

SACE was also following up on sanctions and victim support.

SACE was performing well in terms of its duties on professional development. These duties included approving of programmes and providers, endorsing programmes, allocating professional development points, and monitoring of the uptakes to ensure that the number of points required were met. However, there was an inherent challenge with the low level of uptake especially from the first core which included the school principals and the managers who should be in the second year of professional development. SACE would work with DBE to make sure that teachers, and school principals alike understood the importance of taking up professional development throughout their careers as educators.

SACE had also improved in its outreach by advocating for and communicating with teachers. It had a whole division that dealt with public relations.

Mr Morris Mapindani, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), SACE, said that in terms of the revenue, SACE under-collected revenue by R69 000 that arose from subscription of membership. The Council had however taken measures to collect revenue, especially from the category of people who were registered provisionally but had not been paying membership fees. With effect from September, revenue would be collected from this category of people.

With regard to the expenditure, SACE had underspent by R4.9 million. SACE received the R8.9million budget from the Department of Education for continuing professional teacher development (CPTD) and added the amount carried over from the previous financial year to the amount which resulted in a total of R11 million for the year, for CPTD. It could be said that SACE operated within its budget.

With regard to the progress on the building, a table showing the projected rental was referred to (see page 15 of the submission). The rental SACE had been paying for the past three years before acquisition of the building was highlighted. The projected rental for the next eight years would amount to over R69 million, without owning the building. However, the cost of purchasing the building was R61 million and the amount was accumulated within three years.  This gave SACE a property with full ownership and with the right to redesign the building as the need arose. In effect, was an advantage for SACE.

Ms Matseliso Dipholo, Chief Operations Officer (COO), SACE, said that SACE had been able to register more educators than it planned for in the past financial year. 29 484 new educators and 39 296 updated educators were registered. The targets for this year was 20 000 and 30 000 respectively.
The first quarterly target for the end June 2015 was 3000 but SACE had already registered 8 453. The target for number of registration updates was 6000 but SACE had done 10 706.

The first term of vetting was dedicated to getting proper information on how to conduct the next vettings. SACE would therefore be vetting all educators on its system in this term, and also change the application forms. SACE had included its full provisional number on the system. Educators of provincial public schools who were paying had also been included (see page 20 of the submission).

With regard to ethics, the targets for 2014/15 had been audited. The targets for 2015/16 were highlighted. The first quarterly targets had been included (see page 21 of the submission).

As for the case management targets, SACE had been able to finalise a lot of cases in the past financial year. It expressed hopes of finalising other cases for the current financial year (see page 22 of the submission).

Ms Ella Mokgalane, Senior Manager: Professional Development and Research, SACE, gave a brief progress report on the CPTD management system. SACE would sign up post level (PL) 1 educators in secondary and combined schools. The target for the year was 110 000, and SACE had been able to sign up more than 29 000 educators. Orientation had commenced, but more focus would be placed on the Western Cape at the end of the first quarter because the province was yet to set aside a budget for orientation sessions.

The second grouping was the final year student teachers with whom SACE was working to ensure that they understood what their responsibilities were as educators before graduation. SACE was utilising the provincial teacher education and development committees to pass the necessary information to the higher education institutions. However, SACE had signed up 502 student teachers till date. SACE would approach the higher education institutions in this quarter and the next quarter to make sure that these student teachers were signed up before the end of the year.

In terms of professional development uptake, it was recollected that the principals and deputy principals were in their second year of the 3-year CPTD cycle, while the heads of departments (HODs) were in their first year. These two cohorts were the only ones monitored by SACE in terms of professional development uptake. The current statistics showed that SACE’s target was 50% of those who had signed up. 23% had already reported in the first quarter. The majority of those who reported did so on type 1 professional development, which was carried out on their own. Very few were reporting on type 3, which was what was prescribed by the external providers and employees. This posed a bit of a challenge in this area. Another challenge faced was the issue of those who were about to retire, having no need to continue with professional development. This affected the uptake.

SACE had been able to approve 98 providers out of its target of 200. 243 activities (out of the target of 500) had been endorsed by the end of the quarter.

Professional standards was a new programme that SACE was working on within a broader context of teacher professionalisation. SACE was working closely with DBE in order to link up the standards of the induction and mentoring process. SACE had started a process of developing a broader discussion document and concept that would guide its consultation processes and assist in engaging stakeholders and other people working with professional standards within the sector. SACE had been able to organise a bigger seminar that brought all stakeholders together to discuss these issues. The research on interviews and engagement of SACE in broader implementation implications had begun and a report should be produced on this by the end of the year.

Another area was on professional designation. The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act required SACE to be recognised as a council by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). SAQA was supporting SACE in this process, and SACE had submitted the first draft of requirements in line with the laid down criteria.

A progress report on the type of professional research conducted by SACE was highlighted (see page 33 of the submission).

Discussion
Ms A Lovemore (DA) asked:
-if the posts of managers in the new provincial offices were advertised, what criteria was used, and what the work of the provincial officers was;
-if the research paper presented by SACE in Namibia could be made available to the Committee as it was not available online;
- if there was the option to pay by electronic funds transfer (EFT) as opposed to postal orders when teachers applied for registration;
-what SACE’s twitter handle was, having indicated that it had 3000 interactions on social media every month;
-if the issue of uptake of courses and referral of cases from provinces to SACE was discussed as part of the discussions had with HEDCOM on resolving the difficulties of communication;
-the specifics of the predicted months for vetting;
-what the ‘fit to teach’ hearing meant;
-who the researchers of SACE were;
-the reasons for the incomplete list of duties of SACE that omitted the training needs for the improvement of teacher performance, which should normally be the bottom line of all the duties of SACE;
-the content of the advocacy done by SACE on radio stations

Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) cautioned against assuming that finance was all about the building acquisition and membership. Finance was about programmes that were designed by SACE, including the providers of these programmes. She wanted to know how the programmes of training were monitored, what the outcomes of these trainings were, what schools the trainings took place in, the recipients of the trainings and if the result of the trainings showed improvement.

With respect to the ‘fit to teach’ hearing, she recommended that SACE should implement a ‘fit to become a teacher’ programme as students enrolled into the profession, in order to identify if they had the passion and ability to become teachers.

Clarification was sought on the ‘71/2’ figure on page 16 of the submission with respect to SACE’s building acquisition.

The Chairperson wanted to know how SACE measured the effectiveness of the activities of those on type 1 within the school; the reason for lesser people on type 3 where external training was needed; why 98 out of the targeted 200 trainers had been approved; and why SACE under-collected revenue which led to a shortage of R69 000 in its finances.

Mr Mapindani said that the posts in the provincial offices were advertised in December 2014 and the adverts were closed in January 2015. Appointments were made in March for them to commence work in May. The functions of the provincial offices were to register members, assist in administering cases, carry out advocacy on the services of SACE, and facilitate the professional development.

The rental amount was an error. It should have reflected 7.5 as opposed to 71/2. It meant that the full amount of the rent would have been paid within seven and a half years.

With regard to under-collection of revenue of R69 000, SACE budgeted a collection of R50 million on an annual basis. The amount would be divided over three months per quarter. What had been collected so far was still short by R9 million. The reason for under-collection was because although SACE projected the number of living members it would get, most posts had not been advertised nor filled up in the first month of the year. However, by the first and second quarter, most members became active and new posts would have been created. The collection would then cover up and may sometimes go beyond the initial projections of SACE. There was a loophole in the projection. This was linked to members who registered provisionally. Most of these members were foreigners, and SACE was not sure if they got the job or not. Usually, they only renewed their membership after getting the job. In terms of the Act, membership fees had to be collected from every member. It had been discovered that the number of people not paying membership fees was increasing and causing problems with regard to auditing and compliance. It was therefore important to collect from this category of members.

Ms Dipholo said that SACE’s twitter handle was @sace9.

SACE was trying to phase out the postal order. The use of postal orders would be minimised after the implementation of the online applications for educators by 30 September.

Provinces still referred cases to SACE, but it had been decided at a workshop in June that all cases not mainly focused on SACE would be referred back to the Department who would be given three days to update SACE. It was expected that the Department would deal with cases that were employer-employee related while SACE would deal with cases of sexual abuse and human relations cases. This would narrow SACE’s focus and strengthen its work.

SACE was working to ensure that the educators were vetted. The profiling of educators had been picked up in some provinces. Vetting would be done from July to September. By the end of September, SACE would report on the number of educators that had been vetted. The first term of vetting would be dedicated to the actual process, while the application forms would be changed in the second term.

Ms Mokgalane said that one of the biggest challenges with providers was funding. Most of the approved providers in the catalogue of providers were private providers. The expectation of most of the providers was to get funding from the professional development programmes. They did not see the need to continue to develop the programmes without available funds. SACE was however collaborating with the Education Training and Development Practices (ETDP) and its research section, to come up with bigger research on provider capacity.

SACE was also working on professional development provisioning across the sector versus uptake by the educators, since uptake was still a huge challenge.

The issue of uptake of courses had been discussed with HEDCOM and provinces. SACE was waiting for provinces through the CPTD, DBE, and HEDCOM on teacher development and curriculum management. One of the issues being considered was the streamlining of recruiting processes. The plan was for all the teachers to report to SACE on type 1 professional development in order to reduce the paperwork. SACE would then move to type 2 which was to move professional development at school level, before proceeding to type 3 which was externally initiated to all employers and providers to create awareness on the need to recruit participants for SACE within the various professional development activities.

There were more recruitments on type 1, which addressed issues of participation in meetings, conferences, and seminars. There were fewer recruitments for short courses, fixed programmes, and consultations. This showed that not many people would participate in this, and it also brought out the need for SACE to look into the reasons behind this.

SACE was not directly involved in the needs identification process. SACE relied on DBE’s performance management system and had recently began to utilise the Annual National Assessment (ANA) and National Senior Certificate (NSC) diagnostics report, as well as the survey conducted by the National Institute of Continuing Professional Development (NICPD). This data informed SACE on the kind of professional development activities that providers should be working on. SACE’s endorsement criteria was also very clear in indicating the appropriateness, relevance and fitness for purpose, otherwise, such activities would not be endorsed.

SACE had only one researcher in the organisation. It relied more on partnering with the stakeholders, other research organisations, and DBE. It also commissioned some of its research out to external bodies.

Mr Brijraj said that ‘fit to teach’ hearings were held when teachers who had left the profession for one reason or the other wanted to come back into the profession again. Hearings were then held to find out why these teachers were struck off the roll in the first place and to see if they were rehabilitated and fit to teach. Teachers who had been struck off the roll for a definite period and desiring to come back to the profession would have to reapply and not automatically reinstated. They would need to appear at the ‘fit to teach’ hearings where their references and histories would be checked before being determined as fit to teach again.

SACE’s ethics outreach varied on the target audience in constituencies. There was a template to address teachers on the dos and don’ts of the profession. There was a different template to address the school community (which included parents) on the responsibilities of the parents to contact SACE and how to give evidence on reported educators where the need arose. In other words, the constituencies determined the kind of outreach that SACE had.

It was important for SACE to monitor uptake. However, the main function of SACE’s professional development activities as provided for by the SACE Act were quite narrow. The Act did not refer to the identification of needs and monitoring. SACE would love to be more involved in the identification of needs, monitoring and other functions but it also had to make sure that its professionals were well developed and the outcomes benefitted the children.

The issue of passion and ability of teachers to teach could be placed under the area of standard setting. SACE had agreed with DBE and the stakeholders that it would input to the initial training programme of educators in terms of the contents of what the educators would be exposed to and in terms of the profile of these educators. There was also a period of induction that had been agreed to alongside DBE. It had been agreed at a seminar inclusive of stakeholders and DBE that teachers would not get a full registration in the first year but would be granted provisional registration. The registration would be reviewed for teachers to demonstrate their suitability in the profession for one year, and SACE would develop ways of checking whether teachers deserved professional registration.

Mr Themba Kojana, acting Deputy Director-General: Teachers and Institutional Development, DBE, responded to the issue of recruitment and selection process. At the present moment, the Department relied on the academic abilities of students in the priority subject areas. DBE was currently working on the guidelines for provinces and had begun the process of identification of educators. SACE was working with the ELMA Foundation, having commenced the project in Free State. Extensive screening processes were being used in recruiting educators.

One of the organisations SACE was working with on induction processes was the Primary Science Programme (PSP). The University of North West was one of the key institutions that was doing quite well in this regard. SACE was therefore working with the institution to find out how the induction process was structured.

Ms Lovemore said that the accredited training courses should match the existing training needs. She also sought clarification on what SACE meant by vetting; whether there was a statutory obligation on provinces to report serious offences to SACE or for serious offences to be reported directly to SACE before names of culprits were struck off; and what would qualify teachers for full registration after being granted provisional registrations for one year.

Ms Van Der Walt said that it was important to acknowledge that there were many good teachers who might want to come back to the profession, not because they left under odd circumstances. The usual practice was for teachers who were reapplying to state their history and why they left the profession in the first place. It was also important to sort out the induction of qualified teachers before they are posted to schools to teach.

Ms J Basson (ANC) also pointed out that the ‘fit to teach’ concept was a broad one. She wanted to know what 50% and 23% stood for in the CPTD, and which province was doing well or not doing well in this regard; if educators were capacitated to deal with learners with different challenges; and the measures with which foreign teachers were screened by SACE.

Mr T Khoza sought clarification on the ongoing vetting process in connection with the issue of verification of qualifications. In his opinion, verification of certificates of educators should come before vetting.

The Chairperson wanted to know if there were any financial implications on the provinces through contributions from teachers; and what the number of the reported cases on sexual harassment of learners by educators were.

Mr Mapindani said that SACE had projected a 50% increase in levies over the next three years, in order to complete the other provincial offices. SACE was currently stable with regards its finances for the available provincial offices.

Ms Dpholo said that SACE verified qualifications and relied on SAQA, Umalusi, and DBE to assist with the verifications. SACE was developing tools to speed up the verification process. Certificates were being verified continuously. SACE did not only consider the status of the educators before enrolment but had redesigned its application forms for educators to tick if they had any criminal records or not, for further investigation. References of educators would also be contacted to verify information about the educators. These steps would be taken from the current term. With regard to non-South Africans, SACE relied on SAQA’s verification, since all non-South African certificates had to be verified by SAQA. However, there were some certificates that were endorsed by other bodies. There was therefore a need to verify these certificates from the original universities of these people. Although SACE relied on verified certificates from SAQA, it still queried some of the verifications where the need arose.

With regard to ethics, SACE had two ways of getting cases: one was through parents who reported directly to SACE and the other was through members of the community. The contents of these cases were then analysed and referred back to the provinces, Department or schools, as deemed appropriate. It was only after then that the sanctions meted out by the Department, Province or school would be reviewed.

SACE received about 859 sexual cases in 2013/14, but the number of such cases had dropped since then. SACE had received 210 cases for 2015 and only 69 were sexual offences cases from the nine provinces.

Mr Brijraj said in addition to the response on vetting and verification that SACE desired to make sure that all the names that appeared on the sexual offences register were matched with SACE’s database for educators. SACE would not only concentrate on the new teachers coming into the profession, but it aimed at sorting out the data of all teachers in the profession within the next two years at the maximum. If teachers who were not supposed to be teaching were found doing so, SACE would institute a hearing to consider if such teacher could continue teaching.

SACE had no obligation to wait for a court or the Department to complete proceedings against an educator. The Council would decide on the types of cases it would consider. This was because some cases took a longer time to be completed in the courts due to the complexities around them, and the test of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ used in court cases, whereas, SACE could determine cases at a faster pace.

Ms Mokgalane said that the principals, deputy principals and HODs were the ones going through the three-year CPTD cycle at the moment. SACE was only responsible for CPTD system while the employers and other providers were responsible for provisioning. Provisioning of special education needs, training programmes, or inclusive education would therefore, be the direct responsibility of providers and employers. SACE was however responsible for quality assurance of all activities. According to SACE’s database, there were 75% endorsed activities across different areas of special education needs.
Till date, no principal, deputy principal or HOD had reported any special education needs. This reflected the challenge of uptake.

With regard to the figures, 100% would mean 63 100 principals, deputy principals and HODs that had signed up for the programme. 50% of those being monitored by SACE would be 31 550, while the 23% that had reported back to SACE during this quarter was 7 356.

Mr Brijraj said that the nomenclature used with regard to the implementation of the induction still had to be settled. Discussions were being made with stakeholders and DBE to see if ‘provisional registration’ would be the apt term for the designation prior to the induction year. However, it had been agreed that there would be an induction year. The registration and designations were currently being considered, and would be confirmed or given a second designation at the conclusion of induction. As for now, it seemed the term ‘provisional’ would be used for the first year period.

SACE had the power to check ‘unfit to teach’ educators. This was SACE’s way of screening to make sure that as a gatekeeper to the teaching profession, it was assuring the employers that certain teachers were employed without infringing on the constitutional rights of such teachers.

Presentation of the provincial and district monitoring and support by DBE
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Director-General, DBE pointed out in his opening remarks that the presentation focused on page 303 of the NDP which provided that “teaching in schools can be improved through targeted support by district offices. District offices should also ensure communication and information sharing between the education authorities and schools, and also between schools”. The diagnostic report was more detailed on this point.

Mr Phillip Tshabalala, Director of Districts, DBE said that the sector had over the past few years, increased its focus on the learners which were the primary clients of the Department, to ensure that high level outcomes were delivered. In doing this, DBE had ensured that it moved from over-concentration on the national and provincial levels of education management to a more decentralised and local management through the districts and circuits of different levels of education management in the country.
There was clear recognition by the ruling party and NDP that districts were important in the day-to-day delivery of both administrative and professional education services. DBE in responding to this directive, developed a policy on organisation, roles and responsibilities of education districts.

DBE acknowledged that the district system was a very complex one because it brought together all processes, policies and programmes adopted at national and provincial levels. The national policies and programmes were translated into district-specific programmes for implementation by schools. This gave an overriding effect to the role of districts to support all education institutions in delivering high quality education.

The 2013 policy on districts provided a mandate for districts. This mandate would consist of key units to help districts deliver the services expected of them, which included curriculum support, management and governance support, support for learners’ wellbeing, accredibility of examinations and assessment, district operations in terms of information management, human resource (HR), financial and supply chain services.

It was important for districts to be capacitated for them to succeed in their mandate in providing the necessary guidance and support to schools. The capacities needed were outlined (see slide 4 of the submission). DBE identified challenges in the course of monitoring the effectiveness of districts. These challenges were also outlined (see slide 4 of the submission).

DBE had prioritised support to all districts since 2012, in order to ensure an improvement in the performance of the system. A forum of education district directors had been established and it was conveyed by the Minister on a quarterly basis. The forum had been able to achieve a lot by pulling together expertise and ideas to ensure that best practices were shared amongst district directors and other officials in the Department. This forum met on a quarterly basis to develop a common understanding of sector priorities and programmes, as well as the non-negotiables, the vision and direction that the Department was heading towards; plan collectively; report on strategies and programmes to improve learning outcomes; share best practices; and also discuss and address key challenges experienced by officials in different parts of the country jointly.

In addition to this forum, an HEDCOM subcommittee on districts was also established. The subcommittee comprised of the chief directors and other key stakeholders in the sector. The focus of the subcommittee was to mediate on issues of implementation, and to come up with solutions to address challenges that arose from time to time at the provincial level.

The progress report on the role played by districts was outlined. (See slide 6 of the submission).

With regard to the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, DBE already introduced a district-based teacher recruitment campaign that targeted rural and poor communities. This was borne out of the need to take into consideration the teacher supply needs of rural areas during recruitment of teachers.
The district-based recruitment model required the selection of bursars against the identified needs in the districts. Hence, the importance of identifying the needs on time in order to identify the students to be granted bursaries, and so that they could return to teach upon graduation.

This kind of recruitment also ensured that the best applicants that could compete on an equal footing were identified for the bursary programme. The schools, districts and provincial departments were the key role players in this district-based teacher recruitment.

A graph showing the increase in the number of students that been registered on the programme and had been realised from 2013 till 2015 was highlighted (see slide 8 of the submission).

With regard to the monitoring of this recruitment process, DBE conducted district-based support sessions for briefing, and participated in selection committees that ensured that students were registered for the identified priority subject areas. Higher education institutions (HEIs) also participated in those briefing sessions. DBE was entitled to information on whether the bursars had switched subjects and phases while in the university. Annual briefing sessions were held with final year students at each HEI to remind them of their contractual obligations and to share information on placement procedures.
The challenges in the Funza Lushaka programme were outlined (see slide 10 of the submission).

A major HR project focusing on the profiling of teachers throughout the provinces, was being implemented in districts. The importance of the project was to maintain stability and efficiency in teacher recruitment, deployment and utilisation by ensuring that the right teacher was in the right class, and taught the right subject. It was therefore important to identify what each teacher was qualified to teach and if teachers were teaching what they were qualified to teach. The work being done at the district level focused on capturing accurate data in this regard.

The first deadline set by DBE was not met but there were teams in the Department that were currently working on unblocking the blockages and to ensure that the profiles of all teachers were accurately captured. DBE’s expectation was to complete this process by the end of November 2015.

Performance management was another area that was being strengthened and monitored at the district level. This was to ensure that there was increased accountability on the part of officials and teachers in carrying out their responsibilities. Districts had the responsibility to monitor performance management in terms of the implementation of the integrated quality management system (IQMS) in areas of personal growth plans, improvement plans, evaluations of teachers and principals, as well as the finalisation and approval of scores for educators and other officials at the school level. School visits were undertaken by officials to oversee the implementation of IQMS.
The implementation of performance management development system (PMDS) in areas of signature of work plans, quarterly reviews, annual assessments, and developmental programmes to develop officials that had been evaluated through the personal development plans (PDPs) was carried out for officials, educators and other staff members.

Increased work was being done by districts to ensure a follow-up on the provision of structured support to schools that had been evaluated externally through the process of whole school evaluation teams.

With regard to examination, DBE’s focus was to ensure that credible examinations and assessment took place in all schools. DBE had previously focused on monitoring provincial offices, but had now increased access to the district level. The approach followed by DBE in supporting and monitoring districts included the development of norms and standards for key exam processes, mediation of norms and standards with districts, and ensuring compliance to the norms and standards.

In terms of the impact of the ANA on district performance, it was noted that ANA had placed at the disposal of districts, the important performance data that was useful for empowering teachers and districts alike in monitoring school performance. The use of diagnostic reports helped in identifying the actual problematic areas and misconceptions noticed in schools. In other words, districts had been able to identify schools that required specific kinds of support in the teaching of either language or mathematics, by using ANA data. ANA data had served as a converging point for parents to engage schools and districts on performance of learners.

With regard to overall monitoring and evaluation, DBE had decentralised its services to the districts by bringing services closer to the schools. Examples of such decentralisation and the number of areas that had been reached were highlighted (see slide 15 of the attached document). Stakeholders had also been involved in the planning and delivery of basic education services to schools. DBE had the recapitalisation team in the maths, science and technology (MST) grant, school-based support teams, and the learner wellness and wellbeing issues for teachers and learners under the HIV/AIDS life skills education grant. DBE had been able to address issues of budget control and monitoring, and positive changes were now noticeable in the reduced number of provincial departments with adverse audit findings.

The success of the national strategy for learner attainment (NSLA) depended largely on the successful management at the district level. Some changes had been made to the NSLA to strengthen it. The areas where these changes had been made were highlighted (see slide 16 of the submission).

The movement of NSLA in 2013 when it was a very vague programme to a more specific, more focused and more user-friendly strategy in terms of its reports, the kind of interventions made by districts, and the impact of these interventions were highlighted. The performance indicators of NSLA were also highlighted. A report on NSLA’s focus on progressed and repeating learners; on the under-performing districts, schools, and specific identified subjects; on the senior-phase mathematics; and on measuring impact were highlighted in slides 20, 21, 22, and 23 of the submission respectively.

Districts had begun to show consistent improvement in their national senior certificate (NSC) performance over the past four years. Currently, about 46% of districts performed at the average of 80% despite the slight drop that was experienced in the 2014 NSC results.

Challenges were still present with regard to the GET in the senior phase, especially in literacy and numeracy on mathematics at the senior phase, but current work with districts indicated that there would be a breakthrough in improving learner achievements in the senior phase.

Partnerships were also being strengthened to align with the requirements of the NDP. This reflected in the work DBE was doing with the national education collaboration trust (NECT) in making sure that seven specific identified districts were taken from very low levels of functionality and improved upon. This was to assist in duplicating good practices in less-functional districts. There were also other initiatives undertaken by a branch in DBE to ensure that districts were strengthened in the work they were supposed to do. These works had been centred on four key pillars, that is, ensuring that there was a clear and effective mandate structured for districts, ensuring that the right people were appointed in the right posts, ensuring that districts and circuits had the basic tool of trade for the officials to do their work, and standardising the types of operations carried out by districts.

Discussion
Mr H Khosa (ANC) wanted to know what tools the Department used for monitoring provinces; the plans the Department had to resolve the Funza Lushaka drop-out rate, since emphasis was placed on mathematics and science for the allocation of bursaries, whereas only few learners that passed mathematics in grade 12 would want to go into the teaching profession considering the incentives in other professions; and what plan the Department had in resolving the serious challenge of teachers that taught subjects they were unqualified for.

Ms Basson said that districts that needed to be given more support for day-to-day delivery of administrative and educational services had less officials unlike provinces. This could also be linked with the issue of critical posts that remained unfilled in districts. The learning area managers in most of the districts were not fully fledged, and some districts did not have circuit managers. The support for all districts should be prioritised and implementation of such prioritising should be monitored.
It seemed as if DBE focused its programmes more on learners that performed better. She wanted to know if inclusive education could be included as a subject or a course for educators to enable them deal with the dynamics of various learners.

Ms Lovemore wanted to know how involved DBE was in dealing with operational issues that hampered the effectiveness of district offices; the duration of Funza Lushaka bursary that could be awarded to 2000 young people; why DBE focused on special schools and not inclusive education or on the number of mainstream schools that accommodated learners with special needs but were not necessarily full service schools; if DBE considered subjects in analysing the number of under-performing schools per district or in a province; and what interventions were being referred to in the differentiated approach.

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) wanted to know if circuits were included in districts, and if not, a lot more should be said about circuits, mainly because the bulk of the implementation occurred within circuits. However, the staff within the circuits were not sufficient to deal with the monitoring of schools.
He also wanted to know what the retention plan for Funza Lushaka teachers in the rural areas were; if there were any plans to retrieve the funds from those that dropped out of the Funza Lushaka programme; if the performance management and development system (PMDS) worked together with the commitment; and how the issue of less knowledge from curriculum implementers who ended up losing committed teachers would be dealt with.

Mr Khoza wanted to know how DBE managed the switch of subjects in the Funza Lushaka bursary programme. The monitoring of the kilometres traveled per month should be given more attention.
It was also pointed out that the IQMS was a good initiative but the challenge that came with it was the attachment of incentives. The initial intention was for IQMS to be used for personal development. The monitoring of IQMS was posing a serious problem and required strengthen in order to achieve value for money in this regard.

Ms Van Der Walt noted that there seemed to be some sort of hierarchy of powers between the district manager and the circuit managers versus principals and others. It had been observed that circuit managers in provinces that did not service their districts were usually the ones with the most struggle. The challenges of who should serve in the districts should be dealt with to avoid situations where the most junior in the districts were blamed for under-performance.

The Chairperson said that the part of the presentation that spoke to monitoring the effectiveness of districts was the key to the entire presentation, and focus should be placed on implementing the identified issues. (See slide 4 of the submission).

She also acknowledged the reference of the presentation to the impact of ANA on district performance. However, the realities of this impact should be looked into, as there were schools that could not interpret the ANA results. The Department was encouraged to come up with examples of districts and provinces where the ANA instrument was widely used. The Committee could go on oversight visit to such districts, in order to see the full implementation of the ANA data and the plans put in place to assist or support schools based on the performance of ANA.

Mr Kojana said that tools had been developed for monitoring and were used to analyse various programmes, particularly on intervention. When the implementation plan for Funza Lushaka was developed, the previous input was given to the Department to see how it could improve the implementation of the bursary right from recruitment into placement. The Department could however report on placements and the level of implementation, simply because it was monitored regularly.

Learners indeed dropped out from the recruitment process till the selection process in the district-based approach for several reasons. Some of them failed, while some, because of the lack of information, were not followed-up or monitored by the districts. DBE had therefore come up with a mechanism to ensure that those selected learners were supported right from the moment of selection, in order to deal with issues such as transport from the rural areas to the universities.

It was true that DBE focused more on learners who performed well to be recruited into the Department. The number of applications received was many and DBE was very critical with the selection process.

With regard to the switching of subjects, DBE had strengthened the contract in a way that people would not change their subjects since people were recruited according to the subject needs of the various districts.

DBE had been able to recoup its funds back from learners who dropped off from the Funza Lushaka bursary programme. The contract also indicated the steps that could be taken in the event of a drop-out

The ultimate aim of teacher profiling was around the merging and the placements of teachers, in order to determine what teacher was teaching what subject. The Department had so far visited three provinces till date to observe their teacher profiling system.

2000 district-based recruitments had been allocated per year.

DBE would come back to report to the Committee on the job description of the circuit managers. A research had been conducted on the roles and responsibilities of the circuit managers. The circuits differed from province to province in respect to the nomenclature and service structure. This explained why there was no single mandate for the circuits. The circuits had been subjected to research; interviews would be conducted with the officials of DBE and with the provinces, and the research would then be able to give feedback to the Department. The first draft of the research work might be available by the end of November.

The branches of curriculum, child development and branch planning had worked together to come up with the data and also ensured that teachers were supported from through the data. The Department would be able to provide proper documentation in this regard would be provided to the Committee.

Mr Suren Govender, Chief Director on Curriculum, DBE said that NSLA had been in the system for several years and each year, there was a significant attempt by DBE to strengthen the NSLA. For 2015, NSLA had been strengthened in the area of management and coordination of NSLA at various levels in the system. For the first time this year, DBE had a management committee that was responsible for NSLA, established by DBE and there were directives allocated to each collar of the NSLA. DBE then proceeded to the provincial levels through HEDCOM to request each province to officially appoint someone at the senior level to manage NSLA in the entire province. The last report sent to the Department showed that every province now had a dedicated person that was managing NSLA provincially. Provinces had also been encouraged to go a step further to ensure that there was an NSLA coordinator appointed in each district. This had no happened in every province, but in KwaZulu-Natal for instance, NSLA coordinators had been appointed in every district.

The role of the NSLA coordinator at a national, provincial or district level posed significant challenges because NSLA coordination required matrix management. NSLA had a tool for monitoring learner performance and it was a tool that impacted on various components in the sector. Therefore, the individual tasked with monitoring or coordinating NSLA had to link with different chief directors, different branches and different components in the system in order to get progress reports and to compile these progress reports at either a district or provincial level. The system had grown significantly in terms of its coordination and management of NSLA but more work still had to be done.

A standard on inclusive education existed, and as part of that standard, NSLA faced several issues pertaining to full service schools, special schools and mainstream schools, and the way in which support was expected to be provided to learners with special education needs. The ultimate goal was to have a situation where any mainstream school would be able to provide the differentiated support and specialised instructional programmes that were required for the various levels of disability. The Department had not reached this goal but NSLA’s approach to inclusive education was not restricted to special schools.

With regard to under-performing schools and the linkage to subjects, it was noted that under-performance was approached differently and there were variety of criteria used and applied provincially in order to identify under-performance. For example, under-performance could be determined by the overall pass rate of the NSC examinations. Provinces identified under-performance in terms of the overall pass rate, while districts in turn, identified under-performing schools in terms of the pass rate. DBE had taken a step further to ensure that under-performance was subject-driven. This meant that there was identification of under-performance per subject. Mathematics was one of such subjects. Targets were set in the system for each subject at the national, provincial, district and individual school level. The Department recognised that the performance of mathematics had posed a challenge to the system at the GET and FET levels, as mathematics was a requirement for various professions, occupations and vocations. The approach to mathematics in terms of target setting was therefore clearly linked with under-performance.

On the issue of pre and post-testing for interventions, as well as the nature of the interventions, it was noted that DBE had an obligation to present an evidence-based report to Umalusi. This was used as part of the process of standardisation in the senior certificate results. One of the requirements of Umalusi in presenting these reports was for DBE to be able to indicate where it had intervention programmes. Intervention programmes were directed at teachers at some stages, and at other stages, they were directed at learners. In some other instances, there were support and development programmes designed for subject advisory specialists. Umalusi required DBE to provide information on pre-testing and post-testing because it was not only interested in the interventions but was also interested in the impact of those interventions. Since last year, DBE had been using data that was obtained from provinces and it relied on four provinces last year to compile the report for Umalusi. The intention for this year was to have information from all the nine provinces in order to include such information in the evidence-based report.

Different strategies were used by DBE with respect to the monitoring of learner performance through NSLA. For the first time this year, the monitoring done by the Department for NSLA had taken a different form. The initial set of provincial monitoring conducted at the beginning of this year in February and March, involved the visitation of the nine provinces, with district representation and officials so that the NSLA strategies, deliverables and performance indicators were clearly understood by all levels in the system. In June this year, the Department completed oversight monitoring visits to all nine provinces which included districts. However, provincial officials were engaged with on key areas of progress in respect to the NSLA for both the GET and FET. This provincial engagement was then followed by visits to selected districts to test the flow of implementation. The level of monitoring conducted by DBE in June showed for the first time, a process flow from provinces to districts and to particular schools to see whether such reports could be verified. The relevance of the use of ANA, including the utilisation of the diagnostic report and the improvement plan that went together with the diagnostic report was discussed at these monitoring visits. The same thing was done for the NSC diagnostic report because it had individual subject improvement plans.

Mr Tshabalala said that DBE was now tracking the vacancies of posts that remain unfilled in the districts, as well as the duration within which such posts had remained vacant. Some posts had been identified as critical posts. These posts were managerial positions, and they included circuit managers, principals, subject advisors in the foundation and intermediate phase, especially in the languages, mathematics, natural sciences, accounting and critical science in the FET. Reports were submitted on both a quarterly and annual basis to the Department.

With regard to the challenges of lack of resources, DBE could only rely on the cooperation of the provinces, since this was an area where provinces had to rework their priorities in order to deal with the identified challenges. DBE had worked in particular with Limpopo in such a way that all the challenges were tabled out and solutions that spoke to reprioritisation, allocation of budget and provision of basic resources to the districts and circuits, were proffered by the executive management of the Department. Progress had since been recorded in provinces on the reprioritisation of budget.

The profiling of districts was in two-fold. The first part was the profiling of districts that was conducted in collaboration with the NECT, and the reports were available on the website of every district. The second process involved the implementation of the profiling. DBE had started with the directors but would move on to other district officials in order to identify the various officials present in the system, as well as knowing what their qualifications were, and what skills they had.
It was pointed out that circuits were referred to as sub-components of the districts.

There were two particular delegations that were problematic in terms of reluctance of HODs to assign people to join the delegation. This reflected the issues around HR management and financial and supply chain management. There was a process currently underway in the Department to amend the policy on the number of problematic areas. The first level of engagement had been done at the HEDCOM. The Department would approach CEM soon. It was hoped that the proposed amendment would be published in a gazette in the nearest future.

Ms Vivenne Carelse, DDG office of the DG, DBE said that the research materials could be accessed on the profile section of the district website.

Mr Mweli said that the report made by the Department reflected the journey of its work in getting districts to perform in accordance with the NDP. The Department tried to ensure that norms and standards were put in place and also to evaluate the compliance with the existing norms and standards.

The Chairperson said that the team that was supposed to make the presentation on ELRC sent apologies for not being present at the meeting, and stated that it was yet to finalise the internal processes with regard to the presentation. Another date for the presentation was also requested and consented to by MPs.

Mr Mweli updated the Committee on the issue of the Mandarin language. About 22 foreign languages were registered with DBE. Mandarin was the last of these registered languages. The registration was prompted by two international cooperation agreements, signed by the President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Xi Jiping of China. The areas of cooperation included the issue of language and culture, which could be found in page 305 of the NDP. It also showed that this agreement was supported by international protocols as well as the paramount vision of the country. The way in which this issue was dealt with was consistent with the way German and French were dealt with. There was an expert house in the Department that supported the implementation of these foreign languages. The kind of cooperation and support that had been provided to Mandarin was yet to reach the full scale of the support being given to French, German and other languages.

A circular was issued to schools as a communique to inform interested students that they could now offer and register for the language. The communications from the media had given a wrong impression that the subject would be made compulsory. However, Mandarin had not been given any special status different from the other 21 foreign languages.

The Chairperson emphasised the need for better communication from the Department to the general public on issues like this, so as to avoid misconceptions.

Ms Lovemore sought confirmation on whether Mandarin would be taught during normal school hours and if it was unavailable for promotional purposes.
 
Mr Mweli replied that all foreign languages were offered as the second traditional language. It could be offered during the time allocated for school hours. The language was not added to subjects that would determine the promotion of learners, but learners who had plans to proceed with in it in the future would have to offer it as part of their qualifications.

Ms Basson said that the Department should make the same explanation made to the Committee on Mandarin to the public, in order to clear the confusion and misconceived ideas of the general public.

The Chairperson informed Members that a communique was received from the House Chair in the course of the meeting, requesting all committee chairs to reserve 25 – 28 August for training to be conducted for all chairpersons. For that reason, a meeting would not hold on Tuesday, 25 August 2015. The next meeting would be held on 1 September 2015.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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