South African Council for Educators (SACE)
The presentation was made by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the South African Council for Educators (SACE) on the 2014/15 annual report of SACE. He reflected on the foreword of the Chairperson of SACE to the effect that SACE now had a stricter way of conducting research; there was a more streamlined system for its code of ethics; researchers that would help in drawing up the budgets now existed; and there was now a multifaceted approach for outreach. SACE also owned the building in which it currently operated. It had made its mark internationally and was currently hosting a delegation from Zambia who came to see how it carried out its operations.
SACE was leading the African forum for teacher regulatory authorities (AFTRA), which started with two countries – South Africa and Nigeria, and was also part of the international forum for teacher regulatory authorities (IFTRA).
SACE registered 29 000 educators in the past financial year, and updated the information on 39 000 educators. In terms of its vigilance on code of ethics it received 586 complaints in the past financial year, and carried over 283 complaints from the previous financial year. 222 complaints were however carried over into the current financial year.
On professional development, SACE approved 113 providers and endorsed 263 programmes.
SACE was however faced with financial and human resource constraints.
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO), SACE listed two weaknesses picked up by auditors, which related to the collection of revenue of SACE linked to the collection of wrong membership fees, as well as the weakness identified under the supply chain.
The Chairman of the audit committee said one of the major concerns of the committee was the way the administration addressed the problem of aligning SACE’s database with reality.
The Chief Operating Officer (COO), SACE noted that 98 339 educators were provisionally registered by SACE, out of which 20 287 had incomplete registration. Application forms were being updated in order to assist with the new mandate of verification for the current financial year.
The Senior Manager on Professional Development and Research for SACE elaborated on three issues, which were endorsement of professional development activities, uptake of professional development by teachers, and the extent to which teachers were recruited to SACE in terms of the activities being carried out. Challenges were being faced by SACE on the uptake of professional development by teachers.
The CEO concluded the presentation by highlighting the teacher appreciation and support programme (TASP) which had several aspects to it and was designed to acknowledge the efforts of teachers, listen to the problems teachers were faced with and find solutions to these problems so that teachers could carry out their duties more effectively.
Discussions on the presentation by Members of Parliament (MPs) raised issues of clarification and inquires on the reason why learners and educators had to learn the anthem of the African Union; what SACE was doing about the lack of educators participating in the compulsory Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) programmes; what programmes had been put in place by SACE to address issues of persistent violence, racism, and sexual abuse within schools; the programmes SACE had put in place to rehabilitate suspended teachers; the number of fulltime investigators that SACE was planning to appoint, time of appointment and cost implications; reasons why SACE concentrated its outreach programmes on universities in and around Gauteng; whether SACE followed up on the cases that were referred to South African police services (SAPS) to see if such cases were finalised; whether or not SACE had a programme where it orientated teachers on the dangers of corporal punishment; how protected teachers were from violent learners; details of when and where the CPTD programmes would take place in each province; if teachers were equipped to look into the rights of the LGBTI learners; whether the number of volunteers for SACE that outnumbered the number of its employees did not affect its performance in terms of cases; whether SACE experienced unresolved cases due to shortage of staff and fear of people to come forward to give evidence; the plans SACE had in place to protect those who came forward to give evidence; SACE’s plans to make its business and operations known to the public; SACE’s plans to improve its financial capacity so as to achieve a clean audit; what was being done about reaching the target for professional development; how many investigators had been appointed by SACE, if these investigators had been able to assist SACE in dealing with the backlog of cases and to what extent; whether SACE had any monitoring instruments for past performance in relation to the carry-overs of the previous financial year; how far SACE had gone in terms of negotiations with the teacher unions; whether cases of absenteeism of teachers were reported to SACE, and how such cases were addressed; and the possibility of teachers getting employed in the system without being registered with SACE.
Education Labour Relations Council
The General Secretary of the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) presented on the 2014/15 annual report of ELRC. The main area of focus of ELRC’s strategic goal on research was on the conditions of service of Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners. Significant progress was made on in-country research.
Focus was placed on a proactive approach for dealing with disputes. Provincial dispute prevention committees were established to deal with the nature of upcoming disputes, and to put mechanisms in place to detect the causes of disputes so that they could be prevented from escalating. T was no labour unrest in all the nine provinces, and even at national level all through the past financial year.
ELRC also adopted a proactive approach on its service delivery environment by looking at ways of preventing disputes from escalating. Emphasis had been placed on the discipline of educators. ELRC had ensured that there was improvement of efficiencies in terms of resolution of disputes, particularly in respect to disputes around appointments and promotions.
ELRC continued to monitor the implementation of the current policies on incentives in terms of its collective bargaining services.
A functional supply chain management (SCM) unit was established in 2014/15, and a recruitment and retention strategy was developed. A total reward strategy that included the salary benchmarking and remuneration policy was also developed.
There had been development on the amendment of the further education and training colleges (FETC) Act.
In terms of finance and administrative systems, it was reported that South African Revenue Service (SARS) had refunded R920 675 out of the R1.8 million that was incorrectly deducted, and a follow-up was underway on getting the balance of the refund.
ELRC received 762 disputes in the last financial year, out of which 464 were within jurisdiction, while the remaining 298 were out of jurisdiction.
The strategies to address areas of underperformance would focus more on addressing quality learning and teaching campaign (QLTC).
On the financial statements for the past financial year, the CFO of ELRC noted that the majority of ELRC’s other income came from interest accrued on the monies retained or surpluses kept with the CPT account with the South African reserve bank.
ELRC’s financial position however showed that it was in a good liquidity and solvency state, which meant that the council would be able to settle its debts should they become due within a short period.
MPs raised issues of clarity and concern on issues around whether ELRC was no longer responsible for QLTC; how far ELRC had gone in its plans to provide the SCM unit with training after being established; what proactive strategies were put in place to stop the ANA disputes from escalating; what ELRC’s recommendations were on addressing the issue of non-cooperation of provinces in implementing the QLTC programmes; when the reports on the incentives for educators would be available, what incentives was ELRC referring to, and which of the educators qualified for such incentives; whether ELRC embarked on performance management and development systems (PMDS) for the non-educators, and if there were any unfair labour practices with regard to the PMDS; what ELRC was doing about achieving its goals in respect of the ECD and grade R; and if the research paper on the institutionalisation of Grade R practitioners had been finalised and was now out.
Delegates from Umalusi presented the 2014/15 annual report of the organisation. The Acting Executive Officer and CFO of Umalusi stressed that the reason for the anomaly identified in the audit report could be traced to a general government-wide problem. The quality assurance regime for 2014/15 ensured that standards were set and maintained to assure quality through a combination of processes and interventions that were enumerated.
The Executive Manager took the committee through four main units of the organisation, which were the Qualification, Curriculum and Certificate unit (QCC); quality assurance of assessment unit; Statistical Information and Research (SIR) unit; and evaluation and accreditation unit. The roles and achievements of these units for the past financial year were elaborated upon.
The CFO discussed the roles and achievements of other units and subunits within the organization for the past financial year. These units included the office of the CEO in relation to governance; the information technology (IT) unit; the Finance and Supply Chain Management (FSCM) subunit; and Human Resources Management and Development (HRM&D) subunit.
Umalusi’s financial position and a 3-year forecast was highlighted. Problems may likely arise with regard to the budget for the next three years based on the projected budget of Umalusi, and also the DBE grant and reserves of the entity. The DBE and the Portfolio Committee were therefore alerted on the need to find ways to supplement the budget for 2017, going forward, so that Umalusi could continue carrying out its functions.
Discussions by MPs on this presentation raised issues of clarity and inquiries on the causes of the phenomenon of group copying and cheating in the system, and what had been done to curb this phenomenon; the state of readiness in provinces, districts and centres for the forthcoming exams; how parents could be assisted in identifying accredited private institutions; the difference between the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) certificate, Matric, and National Senior Certificate (NSC); when the grade 9 certificate would be implemented; what Umalusi’s relationship with SACE was on the verification of certificates in general, and particularly for foreigners; whether candidates who had involved lawyers in respect of the irregularities would be allowed to write exams while their cases were ongoing; whether Umalusi had standardised the compensation for learners whose home language was not English; whether the five month shortage of staff that was highlighted as the reason for the incomplete printing of external newsletters was temporary; whether Umalusi was able to strike a balance between the difficult papers and the easy ones for the next exam; what measures were identified to ensure the security and credibility of exams; whether or not the continuation of the outdated N1 to N3 programmes for engineering students would have a negative impact on the engineering fraternity; what was being done to resolve the certification backlog for the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges; the role Umalusi played in the School Based Assessments (SBAs); and what was happening with the amended SC as well as what would be done to clear up the outstanding learners who were yet to sit for the old NSC exams.
A new member in the person of Mr G Davis (DA) joined the Committee and introduced himself to the delegation.
South African Council for Educators (SACE)’s 2014-15 Annual Report
Mr. Rej Brijraj, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SACE introduced the delegation and began the presentation. He started with the highlights of the chairperson (of SACE)’s foreword. The chairperson had tendered apologies due to union activities but it was important to reflect on what the chairperson had to say, since she represented the Council.
In terms of SACE’s achievements, SACE now had a far stricter way of conducting registration, because the requirements had been increased; professional development had become a compulsory programme for all teachers; there was a more streamlined system of code of ethics because SACE worked closely with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to cut out overlaps and questions of double jeopardy; SACE now had researchers that assisted it in drawing up budgets, issues of teacher professionalism, and general needs of the teaching profession, and in the coming year, SACE had adjusted its programme more to suit the requirements of the system besides the requirements for professionalism. SACE also had a multi-faceted approach for outreach, as outreach was becoming a big issue. In terms of infrastructure, SACE now owned the building in which it operated. It was a five-storey building in Centurion. It also rented offices in Durban and Bloemfontein. The office in Durban was officially opened last week by the MEC for Education and Head of Department (HOD) for Education in Durban, and the office in Bloemfontein would be opened on Monday. The council is quite strong about wanting to open three more offices by April next year, and the remaining three towards the end of next year. The Council was making efforts to ensure that SACE was far more visible and could take services closer to its members.
The staff complement was growing but was not near the satisfactory number needed. SACE was managing with the staff that it had, considering the current resource constraints it was faced with.
Internationally, SACE had marked its footprint. It currently had a delegation from Zambia that was going through how SACE did its work. This was because a similar council had just been set up in Zambia a year or so ago in line with SACE’s operations. SACE was leading the African Forum for Teacher Regulatory Authorities (AFTRA), which started with two countries – South Africa and Nigeria. Through SACE’s efforts, almost 20 countries now had teacher regulatory authorities that simplified how to promote teacher professionalism, as well as the holistic development of learners. Teacher professionalism was now seen as two sides of a coin; one required teachers to fulfil obligations of the profession, while the other was appreciative and supportive of teachers. The latter was a new dimension that was added by Council in the last year, since it was observed that it was a missing element in the general interaction of teachers, that is, the appreciation and the support of the work that teachers do.
A number of challenges were identified by the chairperson, and listed in the annual report. While SACE was still battling to increase its financial capacity, it was very grateful to government and the DBE because of the grant given to SACE; and also because of the commitment that the grant would be secured with inflation for the next three years, to assist SACE in continuing its work in terms of teacher professional development.
DBE had gone the extra mile to ensure that SACE’S strategic plan and annual performance plan (APP) aligned to each other and were modernised in the required format, and over the last two quarters, SACE had been applying this format to its strategic plan and APP.
Another major challenge facing SACE was the weak systemic approaches to teacher appreciation, well being and support.
SACE increased its budget for outreach and the finance section was carrying out feasibility studies for the remaining offices. SACE would also consider the possibility of purchasing these offices in the near future, because if the amount spent on rent for ten years was calculated, the possibility of owning the offices might be a better option. The Council would therefore consider this option. Council had interrogated the critic from some quarters that these offices were a waste of time, and Council had reaffirmed that it would continue to establish provincial offices because it was the best way to promote professionalism and reach teachers.
In terms of international interactions, Zambia would be hosting the next AFTRA conference to take place next year. SACE was also part of the International Forum for Teacher Regulatory Authorities (IFTRA), a body that also started with a few councils such as SACE, the GDC of Scotland, and two other councils that were established some 18 years ago. This group had grown to about 20 international councils. SACE was a founding member of IFTRA. IFTRA was held in high esteem, both on the Continent and internationally, and it would hold its next conference in Ireland next year.
In terms of the government grant that was mentioned previously, the next council meeting that would be held in November would discuss the new budget that would take into account the expanded role of SACE.
Some other points that came out of the CEO’s report for the Committee’s attention were highlighted. SACE was going out of its way to ensure the encouragement of complaints that came to it on violence of any kind in schools; whether the violence was between teachers, between teachers and members of the community, between learners or between learners and teachers. Council had prioritised this area so that it could proactively remedy situations that were not even within SACE’s jurisdiction by referring them to the appropriate quarters to be addressed. It had become quite saddening to hear of attacks on teachers, and it was now necessary to make sure that teachers had a conducive environment for the work that they do.
SACE had registered about 29 000 educators and had updated about 39 000, which meant that most of the educators had changed their status from provisional to fulltime teachers..
SACE had also been vigilant with the code of ethics. It received 586 complaints; 283 complaints from the previous year; 647 complaints were processed altogether; 222 were carried over to the current financial year; 69 hearings were conducted resulting in 56 educators found guilty, and of which 28 had suspended ‘striking offs’, 18 had definite period ‘striking offs’, and 10 had indefinite ‘striking offs’, which meant that they would not be able to return to the teaching profession in South Africa or in most parts of the world.
The CEO had been asked what the most serious violation of the code of ethics was. Statistics show that it was corporal punishment cases. Teachers that were struck off indefinitely were those found guilty of sexual related offences. Those with suspended striking offs were mainly for corporal punishment. They were usually fined and given a suspended striking off. The Council was of the view that the teachers needed to be rehabilitated in order to give them a chance to correct the management of indiscipline, but not to tolerate the continued inflicting of corporal punishment.
With regard to professional development, SACE had approved 113 providers and endorsed 263 programmes. Specifics in this regard had been included in the presentation (see attached document).
It was important to note that although SACE had constraints of financial and human resources nature, it had gone far beyond its mandate, especially since the SACE Act gave a pretty narrow mandate to the entity. SACE had agreed in terms of the expectations of Members of Parliament and the public, to go far beyond its mandate. It had therefore expanded its mandate voluntarily by doing much more than is required by the SACE Act. Because of the support that SACE received from the teacher unions, the provincial departments and DBE, it had been able to add more weight to its work in making sure that teachers were more professional.
In the view of the chairperson and CEO, SACE had been doing well, would continue to do better, and would take into account all the comments and advice from the Committee and other institutions that were interested in the work of SACE.
Mr Morris Mapindani, CFO, SACE, said the auditors had picked up two weaknesses. The first was SACE’s collection of revenue, which had been classified under internal control. The majority of SACE’s membership fees came from the public sector, sourced directly from the payroll of government educators. SACE usually received this revenue but the members concerned were not registered on its database. The implication of this was that SACE was receiving wrong fees, because the people were not registered and the money could therefore not be allocated to any individual in SACE’s system, even though in terms of the legislation, these people were supposed to be registered. More than 30 000 of such members that were paying SACE and were not registered in the system were picked up. In a bid to address this issue the Council took a decision that all members should pay membership fees, irrespective of their situation. When the Council started with this policy, unemployed members were exempted from paying membership fees. SACE however noticed that it had a group of members who came from outside (foreigners) to register with the council. Some got the job while some did not. SACE was able to implement the Council’s decision by doing a monthly reconciliation of members who had paid. The moment a member was identified as not paying membership fee for a month, such member is marked inactive, which was easier than the period used in investigating whether such member was dead or out of the country.
The other method adopted to curb those members that were around but had refused to pay membership fee was the refusal of SACE to assist such members (who were usually on provisional register but their membership status was not in order) until they paid their outstanding fees. This way, SACE would be able to implement the accrual process. SACE had also upgraded its finance management computer system to keep updating the membership fee data for every individual, so as to detect those in the profession that were defaulters. Twice a year, SACE merged its register with the death register from Home Affairs in order to identify those members no longer alive. As for those retiring, SACE compared its register with the employers or DBE’s register.
The second weakness was identified under supply chain management. SACE had a policy gap in terms of declaration of interest, which had two components. One was that suppliers declared that they had no one within Council, while the Council also declared that it had no relationship with any of the suppliers that were chosen, so as to strengthen the code of conduct of supply chain officials. The auditors picked this up. SACE however continued with the quotation processes without the suppliers declaring that they did not know anyone within SACE. In terms of the bidding processes on the other hand, the declaration of interest form usually accompanied the bidding documentation. This was another area that was picked up, and was linked to the issue of leadership and monitoring. This was because the violation of the points raised earlier would normally raise issues of leadership and monitoring.
Mr Basil Snayer, Chairperson of the Audit Committee, SACE, said the audit committee met about four times annually and considered all the financial regulatory processes and procedures very carefully, in order to ensure that they were in line with the prescribed requirements of the Auditor General (AG). Other management factors and requirements from the administration of SACE were monitored carefully in each meeting. A resident internal auditor presided over the planning and preparation of documentations for meetings. Over the months of the current financial year, the audit committee noted that amongst the shortcomings of the administration were SACE’s database and its alignment with reality. This was one of the major concerns of the audit committee, as it concerned SACE’s financial position and ability to fund its operations. Contributions from independent schools and from schools where there were school governing body (SGB) posts were of particular concern. The external auditors had ‘red-flagged’ those areas on several occasions. Mr Snayer opined that there was a gap in the way that the administration was addressing that problem. The issue had been raised and the administration was seriously working to address the problem, but there were practical and physical constraints on the ground.
SGB posts were very difficult to monitor, as it was difficult to get legal backing for the requirements of teachers in registering with SACE. On the one hand, schools required the skills of people in certain posts, for example, mathematics or physical sciences. Often times, most of the teachers had the academic qualification but lacked professional capacity, and this meant that in terms of SACE presiding over teachers, they did not have the required documentation and were therefore not liable to pay. Schools could not also hold them liable to pay membership fees to SACE from their salaries, because they were not registered, even though many of the teachers could be provisionally registered. This was an area of great concern, because the database cannot align itself without all these issues being finalised. Apart from these highlighted issues, it was noted that the first meeting would be held very soon to finalise the current year’s performance of the administration. It was reported that the overall operations of SACE was improving, and the areas of concern were being erased.
Ms Matseliso Dipholo, Chief Operating Officer (COO), SACE, highlighted the number of educators that were paying, especially from public schools. This in return, showed the number of educators that were employed in the public schools in each province (see page 17 of attached document).
In terms of the statistics on registration till date, 98 339 educators were provisionally registered, including all the teachers who either had a conditional registration because they did not have a teaching qualification or were studying towards education, out of which 20 287 were foreign educators. ‘Incomplete’ registrations simply referred to educators that had applied to SACE but had outstanding documents. Letters had been sent to them requesting them to submit the requisite documents in order to complete their applications. There were about 20 000 educators in this category.
The data clean up was paying attention to the supplements that SACE intended to finalise by the end of this year. SACE was hoping that with all the processes from other departments and Home Affairs, it would be able to give a better outlook for the 2016 financial year.
Application forms were being updated in order to assist with the new mandate of the verification for the current financial year. The current application form was a very basic one, which was being updated in order to get more information from the teachers that were applying.
Ms Ella Mokgalane, Senior Manager, Professional Development and Research, SACE, raised three issues: endorsement of professional development activities, uptake of professional development by teachers, and the extent to which teachers were recruited to SACE in terms of the activities being carried out. In terms of the issues around endorsement, it was reported in the annual report that SACE had achieved about 436 newly endorsed activities. SACE was unhappy with the current status because the endorsed activities were still not enough, but it had worked closely with DBE based on the belief that the nine provinces were the main providers in terms of providing professional development. From that angle, SACE was beginning to receive more and more activities from the non-provincial education departments. Teacher unions were also doing a whole lot of work in terms of developing their teachers through the professional development activities.
In terms of its database, SACE made reasonable progress and its overall catalogue stood at over 1 400 newly endorsed professional development activities. Also included in the catalogue were priority areas that SACE was considering, with regard to matematics, science and technology, and so on. Progress reports were made to the DBE on a quarterly basis, in this regard.
SACE was experiencing challenges around the uptake of professional development by teachers. However, SACE had begun monitoring and auditing what educators were doing. Letters were already being sent through SACE’s continuing professional teacher development (CPTD) information system in order to ensure that teachers received their annual reports that would indicate the extent to which teachers had participated in the programme and had reported. This would also make teachers realise that SACE was taking the whole process seriously. Providers were encouraged to keep reporting uptake, especially the non-provincial education department, and progress was already being recorded in this aspect unlike what was reported in the annual report.
SACE was also moving towards utilising ICT as a sector, having realised that face-to-face method might not totally work. SACE had also noticed the ICT strategy that DBE was about introducing, and was working closely with the Department. There was also a whole process of e-government from the public service administration that worked closely with SACE in considering ways of addressing the medium term strategic framework (MTSF) output 1, in terms of how to utilise ICT to improve professional development provisioning and activities.
Mr Brijraj referred to one word: “TASP”, which stood for ‘teacher appreciation and support programme’. This was a very important dimension that was missing from the education system. Fortunately, DBE had a very important seminar around this time last year, where it was decided that DBE in partnership with SACE, would facilitate this programme for the medium to long term. SACE adopted (based on the would-be agreement of the Minister for Basic Education) a series of activities that would show teachers SACE’s acknowledgement and appreciation for the work that they do because SACE believed that the majority of teachers were doing good work in difficult circumstances. This programme had many facets to it, one of which would be a world teachers’ day that would be organised and would involve all the stakeholders involved in different programmes throughout the year, acknowledging teachers.
SACE was making sure that wellness programmes, financial advice and more publications would reach teachers. The NECT, teacher unions, and governing body associations were all together in this programme. The CEO offered to write a memo to the Chairperson of the Committee, containing the specifics of the programme, as it would unfold throughout the year. This was a dimension that SACE believed would address the systemic weakness of not listening to the teachers and addressing the problems that they had. For that reason there would be sessions throughout the year where SACE would meet with teachers to hear what problems they were faced with and see how it could help teachers to perform their duties better.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) commended SACE for addressing a certificate problem that was brought before it previously, especially because the person received his certificate within five days after waiting for several months for the certification problem to be resolved.
She wanted to know why teachers and learners had to learn the African Union (AU) anthem; what SACE was doing about the lack of educators participating in the compulsory CPTD programmes and how SACE was getting teachers on board to see that they undergo these training sessions; how much it cost to draw up the presentation that was before the Committee, seeing that SACE had to increase its levies to cover the cost of provincial offices, and also because it might not be necessary to increase levies if the cost of producing the glossy presentations could be reduced; and what programmes SACE had put in place to address the issue of persistent violence, racism, and sexual abuse within schools, since SACE continually expressed concern over these issues and highlighted plans to address these issues every year. An example was cited relating to a teacher from Durban High School that was found guilty of child pornography and sexual molestation but was still teaching. It was not until after a few years before he was struck off the list.
Ms Boshoff sought more clarification on the programmes SACE had put in place to rehabilitate suspended teachers; the number of fulltime investigators that SACE was planning to appoint, when they would be appointed, and at what cost they would be appointed; the reasons why SACE concentrated its outreach programmes on universities in and around Gauteng; whether SACE followed up on the cases that were referred to South African police services (SAPS) to see if such cases had been finalised, what the reasons were; and why only two cases had been referred to SAPS when there were many cases of statutory rape that required opening a case.
SACE was told to look at its landline, as it did not exist.
Ms J Basson (ANC) wanted to know if SACE had a programme where it orientated teachers on the dangers of corporal punishment; how protected teachers were from violent learners, since it seemed learners were more protected; if the two buildings SACE had in two provinces were its properties; how far SACE had gone in establishing offices in other provinces; the extent to which SACE had gone in terms of screening and vetting generally, and for foreign teachers; if SACE could give details of when and where the CPTD programmes would take place in each province; how the auditing processes were carried out before it got to the Auditor General’s place; and what measures SACE had put in place to ensure that educators who applied for the SGB posts were registered with SACE, and whether the teachers applying for the SGB posts should also be screened in order to avoid instances where teachers who had been suspended were appointed for such posts.
Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) noted that during the AG’s report that took place the previous day, certain challenges were analysed where there were good and stagnant outcomes in terms of the finance matters of SACE. The submitted performance report also showed that 25% were good while 75% still needed intervention. SACE’s financial health and Information technology (IT) also reflected that 50% was good while 50% was stagnant, while the human resource (HR) management as a whole reflected a stagnancy. SACE was advised to give this area serious attention.
She wanted to know if teachers were equipped to look into the rights of the LGBTI learners, apart from dealing with the usual sexual abuses, bullying and violence happening at schools; if the reference to transfer of R4.5million to SACE in September 2015 was not an error and should have read September 2014 (see slide 24 of attached document); and if SACE was referring to PDEs in slide 26 of attached document, which stood for provincial department of education.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) wanted to know if the number of volunteers for SACE that outnumbered the number of its employees did not affect its performance in terms of cases, if SACE experienced unresolved cases due to shortage of staff and fear of people to come forward to give evidence, and what plans SACE had to protect those who came forward to give evidence; what plans SACE had in place to make its business and operations known to the public; if SACE still employed the media to popularise its role and business to the public; and what plans SACE had in place to improve its financial capacity so as to achieve a clean audit at the end of the day.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) congratulated SACE on its achievement.
She raised the issue of human resourcing of SACE, especially in the research division. The Portfolio Committee had raised the issue around the need for SACE to collaborate with other sectors in order to reach its full potential, and implement its mandate. Since SACE had to influence the sector in terms of research, she was concerned that SACE had only achieved five out of nine of its targets in terms of research, and also because there was a post in the research division that was left vacant for about six months. Clarity was sought on the current status of plans in place for filling up that vacant position, as well as other positions in that division, and deadlines that had been set in order to the research indicator.
In terms of SACE’s inter-governmental relations, it was noted that challenges still abound with regard to the disbursement of funds. She wanted to know how SACE was using the regular interaction with the Minister or the representative of the Ministry in the Council to ensure that there were no delayed disbursements for the implementation of programmes; clarity on how SACE was using its interaction and connection with provinces to ensure that provinces committed to the CPTD programmes; if there was an improvement plan showing the issues that the audit committee had worked upon and the outstanding issues yet to be addressed; what corrective measures had been taken by SACE to address the issue of non-compliance with Treasury regulations, if the tenders that were issued had been cancelled in an appropriate manner, what action had been taken to correct the situation, and what action had been taken against the people that were responsible for the mistake; clarity on the monitoring of SGB posts, and if SACE had any plan to deal with the challenges in this regard.
Mr G Davis (DA) wanted to know what union commitment could be more important than the statutory obligation of the Chairperson of SACE to report to the Committee, since it was noted that at the start of the meeting that the Chairperson was absent due to union commitments; what was being done about reaching the target for professional development, since SACE missed the target by 30% which was 15 000; why the CPTD system was not part of the strategic plan of some of the provinces and what was being done to align with the provinces; clarification on what the column for ‘other’ stood for in terms of the executive management remuneration (on page 97 of the annual report) that had about R400 000 to R500 000 in some cases, while some of the salaries were about R1.5 million in total; and why the CEO did not receive a bonus this year, even when other members of the executive received.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) expressed concern on educators’ accessibility to SACE, and wanted to know how SACE intended to make itself known to its clients. He also wanted to know if educators were aware of what SACE stood for; if relevant information in this regard was made available to them; if SACE ensured that educators knew the value of what they paid for; and why it was taking SACE so long to have offices in all provinces, since this would also help educators in all these provinces to gain access to the services of SACE.
Mr T Khoza (ANC) wanted to know how many investigators were appointed, if these investigators had been able to assist SACE in dealing with the backlog of cases and to what extent; and also if SACE had any monitoring instruments for past performance in relation to the carry-overs of the previous financial year, since it made mention of the closing of vacancies, which should ordinarily mean that more staff had been appointed, but the report showed that there were carry-overs.
The Chairperson appreciated SACE on the opening of the two offices in the two provinces. She wanted to know how far SACE had gone in terms of negotiations with the teacher unions, since there was a link between the opening of these offices and the subscriptions from the educators themselves; if cases of absenteeism of teachers were reported to SACE, and how SACE addressed such cases, and if so; how SACE managed and addressed cases of sexual abuse of learners by teachers that were reported to it; why the number of the providers for professional development programmes was so low and what could be done to address this; and clarity on whether there were a number of teachers in the system that were yet to be registered with SACE, and if so, explanation was sought on the possibility of teachers getting employed in the system without being registered with SACE, except for the SGB posts that needed special attention. SACE and DBE had to come up with a solution to address such issues if ever they existed.
Mr Brijraj said there was no known stipulation for the chairperson of Council to be present at gatherings such as the Committee meeting. However, the chairperson had tried to be part of the meeting. The only stipulation in SACE’s delegation was for the Council to have representatives at the meetings, and the CEO and chairman of the audit committee was already present. The comments were nonetheless taken, and it was reiterated that the chairperson regretted being absent at the meeting.
With regard to the CEO’s bonus, it was pointed out that all the staff was evaluated for performance with the exception of the CEO, because the Council supervised the CEO. The Council was yet to award any bonus and the CEO had remained silent on the matter.
The reason for the learning of the AU anthem by teachers and learners was linked to SACE’s belief that the learners and teachers had to show patriotism to not only South Africa, but to the whole of Africa. This was because the council believed that they were all citizens of Africa as well, and should therefore try as much as possible to learn the South African anthem for a start, and then try to imbibe the spirit of the anthem of the AU.
Fulltime investigators had been appointed and would be finalised soon.
The question of panellists and volunteers was very important to SACE, because all the issues raised could be linked to the issue of money. There was no council in the world that survived on the kind of levies that SACE received, and yet, SACE had been able to get by. This was why SACE recruited volunteers to assist in the evaluation of programmes. These volunteers were paid a daily stipend. SACE also had people who endorsed programmes, and they also received stipends. There were investigators who helped in going to schools to retrieve evidence. There were also panellists from the teaching profession, which had been referred to SACE by stakeholders. These people also received a daily stipend that the Council had agreed to. The stipend was minimum and it was not likely to be up to R1 000 per case, since Council was quite strict in terms of its finances. It would definitely cost much more to process the cases if SACE had fulltime staff. However, with the appointment of two additional investigators, SACE would be able to reduce the backlog of cases it was currently faced with.
It was SACE’s intention to visit all universities, and to speak to all students who aspired to become teachers.
The question of orientating teachers to be able to respond to special cases in schools was of great concern to SACE. SACE was working closely with the Departments of Education in this regard. Over the last year, SACE had had very good interactions with the Department of Education and the heads of departments invited SACE to different forums. There was a much clearer understanding of what SACE needed in order to partner with these departments. This was one area that could be linked to the number of activities and programmes that were available out there. The departments had indicated to SACE that there were many more programmes that were delivered to teachers at their cost, but had not been coming through to SACE due to some administration misunderstanding and miscommunication between the departments and SACE. At the next Portfolio Committee meeting, it would be seen that the number of activities had been addressed and had increased, especially since SACE had now realised that the Department was doing a lot in this regard.
It had been agreed in the Heads of Education Departments (HEDCOM) that there would be a structured meeting with the different heads of departments in the provinces at least twice a year, in order to cooperate on areas of misconduct, professional development and provisioning, finding out the needs of teachers, advertisement for positions, and also take into consideration the issues of learners with special needs.
The scenario had changed from the former disjunction between departmental officials and departmental heads on the knowledge of what SACE required and what should be done, but this situation had been corrected. SACE was of the opinion that it would make good progress in orientating its teachers, in the coming year.
SACE would make sure that the issue of corporal punishment is dealt with and together with the Department, would ensure that teachers desist from corporal punishment.
The observation on public knowledge and educators’ knowledge about SACE was correct. SACE was not well known, as it ought to be. The TASP initiative would go a long way in taking SACE to the people and to the community, so that SACE becomes well known through more activities and the increased budget for outreach.
The issue of departmental funds, just like the building, had been corrected. In the past, there were good reasons why the Department did not give SACE its grants at once. That was the only problem as at then, and the Department explained to SACE through its departmental representatives in the Council that explained the reasons behind the delay in getting the money for the CPTD grants. However, the acting DG corrected the matter once and for all, by signing a memorandum of understanding with SACE to the effect that SACE would get its funds at once, every year, with inflation calculated. The matter had therefore been resolved, and SACE was thankful to the Department.
SACE had a very good relationship with the departments, DBE and the teacher unions. Up till now there had been no resistance from the teacher unions on any decision taken by SACE, whether it was on the opening of offices or embarking on CPTD programmes or on the compulsory accumulation of CPTD points. New areas had been opened up and would be finalised shortly, for instance, the issue of disclosure of names of people who had been struck off, as well as the issue of compulsory induction for period for teachers. SACE believed that the consultations and negotiations with unions was the reason why its projects were going well. Sometimes the consultations took long because unions had to go back to deliberate with their constituencies on how they would abide by SACE’s rules. Fortunately, SACE had an excellent rapport with the union, the departments and the stakeholders. SACE had not had any confrontation with any stakeholder grouping till date.
In terms of the AG’s report, the CEO was not sure if the delegation was privy to the report. He was of the view that he had to see the AG’s report in order to ensure that the next time the delegation did not fall short of any matter in terms of the report, when next they appeared before the Committee.
SACE tried its best to stick to the requirements and prescription of Treasury, but it seemed there was an unknown monitoring that took place, and SACE was not aware of the specifics. The CEO could not say what the protocols around the AG’s reports were but he would seek some advice on how the issues could be dealt with.
SACE was now following up the teachers who applied for the SGB posts to ensure that those teachers were registered with SACE and were of good standing.
Teacher absenteeism did not come directly under the scope of SACE. It was a matter that could be taken back to council, since it was an issue relating to the conditions of service, and departments were well-placed to see that the people that they pay are coming to do the job they are paid to do, otherwise, SACE would become everything to everybody, and it was important for SACE to streamline its work to focus on being watchdogs for professionalism.
SACE did not provide rehabilitation or support for victims or for teachers who had gone out of line, but the sanctions meted out by SACE were such that teachers had to show that they had rehabilitated themselves. So sometimes, the sanctions made sure that the teachers went for rehabilitation or corrective services. As far as victim support was concerned, SACE reported matters to the welfare authorities and checked on victims to see that they received the necessary support. SACE on its own could not provide victim support.
On the issue of managing learners in terms of ethics cases, SACE had discovered that this had to be done by social services. The Council had given the CEO an additional mandate to have a separate process to deal with cases that were suddenly withdrawn, because it seemed there was a legal way in which such cases could be reinstated, in order to ensure that some teachers did not get away with their offences, and also to ensure that no stone was left unturned.
Mr Snayer said in addition to the previous response on the unregistered teachers for SGB posts, that the collaboration with DBE would help, since DBE had a direct contact with schools. With the assistance of SACE, the Department and SACE could address the issue of teachers who ended up in schools but were unsuitable to be in the system.
Ms Dipholo said that all cases were carried over due to the schooling system. Most of the hearings of cases between February and March were set in the new financial year. Most of the hearings from the previous financial year would then automatically fall into the new financial year. This did not mean that they were not investigated but the time within which the cases were instituted was the problem.
With regard to cases reported to SAPS, most of such cases would have been reported already while cases that were referred were usually those reported through parents and when SACE felt that parents were reluctant to help, it then reported such cases to SAPS.
More details on screening and vetting would be explicit in the report of the 2015/16 financial year.
There was a very clear mandate from DBE that no newly employed teacher would be registered without a SACE certificate. The educators referred to in the discussions with the CFO were those who were already employed before SACE was established, but at the moment, when such teachers began to apply for promotional posts, they would have to register with SACE.
Mr Mapindani said in response to what the Council has done with regard to the audit findings, that some policy gaps were identified but the Council had already rectified that by adjusting the policies. One of such policies was the policy on the supply chain as well as the data management of those who were supposed to pay the Council. Those polices were adjusted accordingly. Another decision taken by the Council was to enforce the payment of membership fees by every member; otherwise such member would be marked inactive. SACE’s IT system had also been improved to that level, and this included those who registered at the provincial offices. This was because the work carried out at the provincial offices was linked directly to the database of SACE. There was therefore no other control different from that of the head office.
With regard to the column for ‘others’ on the salaries, the management of SACE was such that was structured within the allowed parameters into different forms of earnings. The CFO noted that he might not be in the best position to break down the earnings because they were different, and a breakdown would be sent to the Committee if necessary.
SACE usually printed 2 000 copies of the annual report, and 760 copies were brought before the Committee. The remaining 1 200 copies were shared with other stakeholders in the education sector. The current report cost R92 000 for printing. Other copies were usually printed in black and white, whenever SACE felt there was a function where it had to share it with its stakeholders.
The buildings occupied by SACE in Durban and Bloemfontein were rented at the moment; the Council in its November meeting would discuss the future of these provincial offices. The first two offices were used to set up the system, so that the Council could assess and take a decision in terms of moving forward. But the plan that had been shared with the executives was that the remaining six offices should be finalised next year, and the next Council would discuss the resourcing for these offices. Human capital and other resources would be needed and they required money. The current budget may not be able to cope with six additional offices. All of these would be considered by the Council in November, but the plans for the first three offices would start in April, while the next six would commence in July next year.
Ms Mokgalane said that the largest number of providers was private providers and most of them needed assurance that they would be funded for them to be able to provide the activities for which they were endorsed by SACE. SACE on the other hand, could not guarantee funding, as it was not responsible for provisioning. The Department was responsible for provisioning. Since the new financial year started, SACE had been able to approve 98 new providers but it was still faced with problems from provinces such as the Northern Cape and Free State, where no providers were forthcoming to provide in those provinces.
In terms of the target for the CPTD programme that was not reached by 15 000, the programme was for HODs, but the number had reduced by over 5 800 since the beginning of the new financial year. It was a moving target that could not be fully ascertained at once due to the numbers that were coming from the provinces that varied from the national statistics, and also because of many issues surrounding the target. SACE was however working towards achieving the target.
The whole essence of compelling provincial education departments to report to the DBE on a regular basis was to address issues of provinces that had no CPTD programme as part of their APP, especially because if the CPTD programme was not in their APPs, it could not be funded and could not be reported. However, provinces were already complying in this regard.
With regard to the monitoring of professional development, SACE had a process of conducting site visits to check whether the providers delivered the services they were endorsed for. SACE had a list of selected providers for this financial year, to carry out on-site visits.
Mr Brijraj emphasised that there had been no observation of any irregular process regarding tenders, where tenders were given out for SACE’s major projects. The observation had been in regard to the regular service providers, such as caterers or people that carried out small contracts, and there was no declaration of interests made by such service providers to be included in SACE’s database. This happened because Council took a resolution a long time ago, not to do business with any member who had family members in SACE. However, the audit requirement was that there had to be a declaration by the provider.
Mr Themba Kojana, Deputy Director General (DDG), Teachers, DBE, said that five key issues were being looked into based on the comments at the previous Portfolio Committee meetings. These issues included the alignment of the strategic plan and the APP for proper reporting, of which there was an improvement in that regard; the vetting of applications and verification of qualifications; the setting of professional standards for the profession; the induction processes; and the teacher appreciation programme. These were the key issues that SACE would be reporting on since comments were received on these issues during the last quarter.
The improvement plan would always reflect in the report of the first quarter, after the annual report for SACE had been completed.
The chairperson noted that the Committee understood that SACE was audited by independent auditors, but the questions that were raised on the AG’s reports was based on the assumption that the independent auditors would have informed SACE of the comments from the AG’s report.
The Committee would however like SACE to commit on when the new application forms for the educators would be rolled out in the new financial year.
The CEO informed the Committee that SACE would be hosting the World Teachers’ Day on 30 October 2015, and would also launch the two offices officially on the said date. Formal invitations would be sent to the Committee.
Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC)’s 2014/15 Annual Report
Ms Cindy Foca, General Secretary, ELRC, noted that although the Council had been delisted from the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the PFMA was still the applicable legislation for the reporting period, and was therefore listed in the presentation. The plans of the ELRC had also been influenced by the service delivery of the Minister and the Department’s action plan.
In terms of ELRC’s strategic goals, the main area of focus under research was the conditions of service of early childhood development (ECD) practitioners. Significant progress was made on in-country research. This was because Council took a decision that an analysis of where the country stood in terms of research had to be carried out first, before looking into what was prevailing in other countries. The ELRC was therefore nearing completion on this project, and would most likely be able to produce a report before the end of the academic year.
In terms of goal 2, ELRC had been focusing on the proactive approach in dealing with disputes. This referred to the establishment of provincial dispute prevention committees to deal with the nature of upcoming disputes and putting in mechanisms to detect the causes of such disputes so that they are prevented at the level of grievances rather than escalating into disputes. The ELRC had also increased its pool of panellists, as well as intermediaries for cases where children were brought in as witnesses. It had also secured appropriate venues to deal with special disputes, and to protect children from being exposed to the alleged perpetrators of the misconduct.
The ELRC’s progress report on collective bargaining processes for the period under review showed that it had concluded the collective agreement on the process of acquiring organisational right to give effect to the amendment of the Labour Relations Act (LRA). ELRC had also concluded the policy management system collective agreement. Negotiations were concluded, and the matter was not on the agenda for deliberations. There was an agreement on what should be contained in the document itself and ELRC had signatories from some parties. A collective agreement that would increase the pool of ELRC’s panel of conciliators and arbitrators had also been concluded. This would assist in concluding disputes referred to ELRC, since it was critical to deal with all referred disputes within the shortest possible time, in order to avoid labour unrest.
It was important to note that the period under review had not experienced any labour unrest in all nine provinces of the country, and even at the national level, there was no strike from the educators.
In terms of goal 4, ELRC focused mainly on the training of its dispute resolution practitioners, which included union representatives from the Department of Education, and also training of its panellists to deal with disputes.
As for communication and marketing, ELRC would continue to place adverts wherever it found the opportunity, whether in the education handbooks or at the displays and exhibitions at the provincial conferences of its parties.
A survey research was conducted on the awareness of the council to its clientele, which were the educators.
With regard to the service delivery environment, ELRC’s approach was proactive, as it looked into ways and means of preventing disputes from escalating. Task teams had been established to deal with issues that emanated from the nature of the disputes. The provincial departments in the meetings usually presented analysis of the nature of the grievances so that parties could identify the sticking points in the labour environment between the employers and employee parties at provincial level.
There was a need to place more emphasis on the discipline of educators. The trainings that were being rolled out in the current financial year were therefore focusing on issues around the discipline of educators.
The ELRC had also ensured that there was improvement of efficiencies in relation to the resolution of disputes, particularly in respect of disputes around appointments and promotions. This was because a greater percentage of disputes were based on appointments and promotions.
Recruitment and training of interpreters and intermediaries (that is, those who would be involved in special disputes where a child was a witness) was ongoing. Appropriate venues had also been secured, and an agreement had been entered with the magistrates’ courts, the children’s courts, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and the Department of Social Development. This was because the problem ELRC had been faced with in times past was the postponement of cases that children had to testify, and there were certain requirements that had to be met in order to protect them from being exposed to their alleged perpetrators.
ELRC had concluded Collective Agreement No. 1 of 2015 that dealt with the appointment of the panel. A greater percentage of disputes were based on promotions and appointments, and in order to ensure that these disputes were resolved within the shortest possible time, a collective agreement on the ELRC guidelines for its arbitrators had been concluded. This was to ensure that arbitrators followed a uniformed approach when presiding over cases.
In terms of the collective bargaining services, ELRC continued to monitor the implementation of the current policies on incentives. It was pointed out that there was no collective agreement in this regard; ELRC was only monitoring the implementation of the policy.
Work had been concluded on the revision of personnel administrative measures (PAM). The revision of PAM spoke to the alignment of PAM with the collective agreement that had been concluded, in order to ensure uniformity in all provinces on the implementation of the content of PAM. This exercise had not been carried out for a number of years, and as such, there were cases where reference was still made to the provisions in the policy handbook where PAM was printed. ELRC was awaiting the Minister’s publication on the review, and thereafter, the council would roll out training and advocacy and also devise mechanisms to ensure that the document was accessible to all educators.
Council had concluded the quality management system (QMS), but it was still waiting for the majority signature of parties.
On administrative services, the ELRC reported that it established a functional supply chain management (SCM) unit in 2014/15. It had developed a recruitment and retention strategy, and also a total reward strategy that included the salary benchmarking and remuneration policy. A 5-year employment equity plan had also been developed, for the first time in the life span of the council.
ELRC had established and utilised the services of an internal audit function. It previously used to outsource such, but now the unit had personnel in the employment of the council itself.
A safety, health and environment (SHE) committee had also been established.
ELRC had also drafted a collective agreement on its levy increase, and was awaiting feedback from its parties. It had been addressed in the past that static revenue was one of the challenges facing ELRC.
It was noted that there had been development on the amendment of the Further Education and Training Colleges (FETC) Act. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) had taken over the employment of the FET lecturers who were previously employed by the colleges, and this necessitated a revision or amendment of the constitution to address the amendments in the legislation relating to FET.
Under the programme for administration, ELRC had not been able to achieve minimisation of the fruitless and wasteful expenditure. This was due to the fact that ELRC was not in control of the situation. There were instances where accommodation was booked and arrangements were made for parties to attend meetings, but due to operational requirements, the principals of the parties would then call back their representatives to the office and in the end, the parties would not be able to attend these meetings.
Irregular expenditure had also not been achievable, due to the fact that ELRC had a supply chain officer who did not obtain quotations when services were procured. This process has since been dealt with, and the official concerned had been demoted after being subjected to an incapacity hearing. The performance was still being monitored since demotion was not the only solution in dealing with such cases.
ELRC’s target on the establishment of an SCM unit was to train the officials. The officials were only recruited in the month of October, towards the end of the year. Training was therefore organised only for the current year in.
The target for training and development of other staff on the other hand, had been over-achieved. The target was 30 and training had been achieved for 53 staff.
The introduction and employment wellness programme had been achieved, and the implementation of the Council’s marketing strategy to promote the image of the ELRC had also been achieved.
The building establishment project was yet to be achieved. The indications from the project plan was that the building would be handed over to ELRC in the month of November, but for the period under review, that plan was yet to be finalised.
In terms of finance and administrative systems, it was reported that South African Revenue Service (SARS) had refunded R920 675 out of the R1.8 million that was incorrectly deducted. There was a follow up on the balance, and there was a good indication that ELRC would be refunded soon.
In order to curb the fruitless and wasteful expenditure, the council had introduced a ‘cost order’ process in the current financial year, and was in the process of implementing the process.
Training for the SCM officials would commence in the current financial year.
In terms of programme 2, what was yet to be achieved under dispute management services was the issue of completing conciliations within 30 days. This was mainly due to the rights enjoyed by the parties that led to parties extending the period of conciliation beyond 30 days, despite an agreement to conclude the process within 30 days. It was therefore not ELRC’s fault that conciliation could not be concluded within 30 days; instead, it was born out of parties exercising their rights.
In terms of dispute management services, ELRC received 762 disputes. 464 of those disputes were in jurisdiction, while 298 were out of jurisdiction. This meant that in real terms, the disputes that came to ELRC were 464.
A graph showing the percentage of referral of disputes by provinces was highlighted (see slide 33 of the attached document). Eastern Cape was the highest, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng. This could be linked to the fact that the aforementioned provinces were big provinces.
The strategies to overcome the areas of underperformance included the need to continue the process of recruitment and training of interpreters and intermediaries; and getting appropriate venues for special hearings, even though there were provinces where it had been difficult to get such venues.
In terms of the collective bargaining services, ELRC had achieved its targets. However, the target for research was yet to be achieved due to the fact that ELRC was focusing on the in-country research. ELRC was still awaiting the report on research.
Poor performance was recorded in quality learning and teaching campaign (QLTC) mainly because ELRC was not in control of the situation. There had been reports of non-cooperation from some provinces and some districts where they planned their programmes in such a way that the QLTC team were not afforded the opportunity to roll out their programmes.
With regard to the performance at provincial level, a number of collective agreements that had been concluded in Mpumalanga, KZN, Gauteng and North West were highlighted (see attached document). ELRC was happy with the performance at the provincial level, in terms of the prevalent labour peace.
The strategies to address the areas of underperformance would focus more on addressing QLTC. Council took a decision to remove QLTC from its plans, due to the inability to meet the target in that regard. ELRC was only noting the strategies but it would still follow up the QLTC processes, even though it was no longer part of the council’s plans.
An overview of what had been achieved in the provinces, and the provinces that had achieved what programmes, was highlighted under provincial performance. (See slide 45 of attached document). The main focus in this regard, was on the post provisioning and the incentive for educators.
It was also pointed out that ELRC’s plans were always limited to the framework from National Treasury. The provinces were doing way more than what was reflected in the presentation but the planning was such that it had to be limited to the requirements of the framework. This was linked to the reason for insisting that ELRC be delisted. ELRC plans were currently done to reflect the work of the chambers as informed by the LRA. This meant that ELRC had moved away from putting together plans that only satisfied the requirements of National Treasury, but was now addressing the things that would be done by the bargaining council as enshrined in the LRA.
Mr Omphitlhetse Mofona, CFO, ELRC, presented the annual financial statements for the financial year that ended in March 2015. The financial statement showed that ELRC had a total contribution or levies amounting to R49 million at the end of the financial year, which was a decrease of R109 000 from the previous financial year. The amount also equated to an average of 409 000 contributors.
In terms of revenue, ELRC’s levies had remained static for the past four years due to the rate of the contribution that remained unchanged. This also had a link to the collective agreement that was drafted to address the issues of static revenue.
In terms of ELRC’s financial performance, the majority of its other income came from interest collected from monies retained or the surpluses kept with the CPT account with the South African reserve bank. This amount was an average of about 5.5 to 5.8% per annum and this increased as a result of the increase in the total ‘other’ income or investment income, which was as a result of the compound interest in ELRC’s investment.
As far as personnel related expenses were concerned, the increase in the personnel expenses was a reflection of the normal cost of assessment. The Council had put a lot of effort in ensuring that all vacancies were filled and at the end of the financial year, ELRC had a full staff component.
ELRC’s operating expenses was in line with the operating activities of the Council, as well as meeting the strategic objectives and targets already alluded to in the presentation. A decrease in the surplus for this financial year had been recorded, due to the static revenue. However, there was an increase in the operative expenses due to inflation. All of these led to an accumulated effect but a collective agreement was drafted to deal with the long-term effect of these increment and decrement.
In terms of ELRC’s financial position, it was in a good liquidity and solvency state, which meant that the Council should be able to settle its debts if they became due in the short term. However, ELRC had to consider the issues of fund raising for the long term in order to ensure financial sustainability.
ELRC’s current assets were about R138 million while its liability was about R53 million. This was an ideal ratio of greater than 1 (>1), which meant that the council would be able to cover its debts if they became due.
The re-subsistent reserves in ELRC’s books in terms of its cash and cash equivalents was about R137 million which was sufficient to ensure that the Council was a going concern in the medium term. However, the issue of static revenue had to be dealt with to ensure that ELRC remained financially sustainable.
Mr Khosa wanted to know if ELRC was no longer responsible for QLTC or it was not part of its plan; a timeframe could be given to address the issue of fruitless and wasteful expenditure; and how far ELRC had gone in its plans to provide the SCM unit with training after it had been established.
Mr Davis said that page 27 of the annual report spoke to overspending of about R928 000 on mobilising employee services. He wanted to know what mobilising employee services was and why there was overspending in that regard, and also what proactive strategies had been put in place to stop the ANA disputes from escalating.
Ms Mokoto wanted to know if what ELRC was reporting to the Committee tallied with what it was currently doing now based on the AG’s reports and particularly because some of the actions in the report presented were long-term plans that needed to be followed up for visible progress. She also wanted to know the status of the general financial control within the finance department of ELRC since the AG’s report showed that the entity was in a risky situation in terms of its human resource, IT system and financial health, but the presentation only spoke to the problem of fruitless expenditure. The AG’s report pointed out some mistakes in ELRC’s audit that resulted in unqualified audits for this year.
Another issue that was raised in the report was the quality of submitted performance report, which bothered on the issues of financial statements and supply chain management. Although the financial statement presented before the Committee was very impressive, but when compared to the comment of the AG, it would be realised that it raised some doubts. The observations from the AG’s report showed that a lot of mistakes could be avoided. The internal audit functions that had been established by ELRC were a step in the right direction to address the aforementioned issues.
The emphasis on ECD was one area that ELRC looking to improve, and this included the way it would impact on the quality of education generally.
Ms Basson wanted to know what ELRC could recommend in addressing the issue of non-cooperation of provinces in implementing the QLTC programmes and how it would assist the Department in combating this non-cooperation; when the reports on the incentives for educators would be available, what incentives was ELRC referring to, and which of the educators qualified for such incentives; and what were the results of ELRC’s findings on QMS.
Ms Boshoff wanted to know if ELRC also embarked on performance management and development systems (PMDS) for the non-educators, and if it had any unfair labour practices with regard to the PMDS. This was because there was usually no attention given to the non-educators, even though they were an important part of the survival of the teaching profession, since they were the support base.
Ms Van Der Walt wanted to know what ELRC was doing about achieving its goals in respect of the ECD and grade R; as well as the research services on the policy and conditions of service for the institutionalisation of grade R practitioners and the appointment of researchers to conduct the research.
The Chairperson wanted to know why ELRC only chose the Mail and Guardian for its advertising and marketing, if there was a specific reason for that; and if the research paper on the institutionalisation of Grade R practitioners had been finalised and was now out.
Ms Foca, in responding to the questions raised on QLTC, noted that QLTC was constituted by union officials and coordinated by departmental officials. They were housed in the Department of Education. ELRC’s involvement was only to provide funding and in doing so, its requirement was for QLTC to furnish it with the plans that had set targets so that ELRC could see where it was directing its financial resources. In other words, ELRC was not in control of QLTC; it was not a unit within the council itself. QLTC was a structure that existed outside the ELRC, but it was made up of parties within the ELRC. A lot of factors influenced the inability of QLTC to achieve its plans, and ELRC could not control such factors. So instead of ELRC including QLTC in its plans and not being able to control it nor achieve its targets as identified in the AG’s reports, the Council had decided to exempt QLTC from its plans. QLTC was therefore not in the current plans being implemented by ELRC.
The Chairperson urged DBE to note the responses given by ELRC, especially with regard to the progress on QLTC.
Ms Foca continued on the responses to the issues of QLTC. The reason why there was movement on QLTC in the second quarter was because of the non-cooperation received from the provincial departments, where provincial departments prioritised their own programme over the QLTC programmes.
Processes had been put in place to address the curb issues of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. However, there were some instances where ELRC had no control over such expenditure. ELRC could only request that the officials invited to its meetings should notify it on time if they would not be able to attend such meetings, so that cancellations could be done in good time to avoid costs on accommodation, shuttle and other cumulative expenses. In essence, non-honouring of meetings was the main reason for incurring fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The SCM unit had been established but the target was for ELRC to train the officials. The officials were only recruited in October and since most training were linked to the academic year; the officials had not undergone training as at the time of reporting. However, the officials were currently being trained in the current financial year.
In terms of the proactive steps taken by ELRC to prevent the ANA disputes from escalating, the statements issued from both sides were being observed and what was coming up sharply from both sides was that current engagements were taking place. ELRC was of the view that such engagements were a way of preventing the disputes. ELRC would not want to interfere in ongoing processes or engagements that were taking place. ELRC had not been given sufficient reasons to believe that there was a dispute because parties were talking to each other and engaging with each other. ELRC would nonetheless continue to observe, and then intervene when the need arises in line with its constitution.
In terms of the AG’s report, it was noted that the HR issues highlighted did not affect ELRC. The issues raised concerning ELRC in the AG’s report were on misstatements on the financial statement, which was linked to the previous year, and had been corrected. The other issue raised was on irregular expenditure, which had been elaborated upon and was being addressed by the entity.
The incentive referred to in the report was the rural allowance incentive. The report that was presented to ELRC by the provincial departments confirmed that such incentives were being received, and it also showed how the policy was being implemented from one province to the other. There were provinces like Gauteng where the policy had not been implemented.
With regard to the ECD research, it was reiterated that ELRC was currently focusing on in-country research, because this was a shared responsibility involving the Department of Social Development, private providers, and in some instances, the Department of Institution. The decision was for ELRC to consolidate what was happening in the country and on that basis, come up with a concrete recommendation on how a policy could be developed by DBE together with other departments, on ensuring that the ECD was brought in line with the main stream educators, as far as the conditions of service were concerned. ELRC was currently at the stage where the researcher was finalising the report. The report would be shared with the Committee after it had been submitted to Council.
The reason why ELRC advertised in the Mail and Guardian was because it had a publication called ‘the teacher’. Anytime they approached ELRC to market a space, an article was prepared and placed in such space. ELRC only capitalised on the fact that the newspaper had such publication. ELRC would however take into consideration, the observation of the Committee on the grounds that it was expensive to continue to market in the Mail and Guardian. It would begin to utilise the platform of its stakeholders, such as publications of teacher unions that went out to educators. ELRC was also in the process of establishing a database for schools.
The ELRC also received reports on PMDS only if such employees were employed in terms of the Employment of Educators Act, and not the Public Service Act. Such reports were presented in the ELRC provincial chambers, as part of the reports on performance management, which related to the implementation of the IQMS. The QMS would only kick in when it had been signed.
With regard to where ELRC was with IQMS, it had been indicated that ELRC was awaiting signatures of parties. There was a requirement in the ELRC constitution to the effect that for any agreement to have force and effect, it must enjoy the signature of the majority party. In this case, the majority party was the union. ELRC had agreed to keep persuading the union to change its mind, but not putting the issue back on its agenda, as this would nullify the requirement of the constitution.
Mr Mofona said the mobilisation of employees referred to the human resource division of the council.
The variance in spending could be linked to the manner in which ELRC had been carrying out its budget processes, where the budget increases for cost of living adjustments were based on the Treasury guidelines, subject to confirmation. However, ELRC had implemented the total remuneration reward strategy in the council and this also had cost implications.
Mr Kojana said the unions in the departments were communicating and had agreed on two aspects; one was on the process of mediation and the other was the formation of a ministerial task team, which would look into outstanding issues yet to be resolved. With regard to the mediation process, there seemed to be a proposal that came from the union around the preferred person who would lead the process. A meeting would be held very soon (now that the union and the departments were talking to each other) to look into the local authorities. This was where ELRC would come in. The department would be guided by that meeting. Progress had been recorded on other works of the task team, agreed upon by the union and departments. The ANA situation was being managed properly until it became totally resolved.
Mr Paddy Padayachee, DDG, Planning, DBE, said a programme had been presented to the Committee on the QLTC and in the future, the Department would come back to report on that. The QLTC itself would continue with the parties of the ELRC from the teacher unions. The involvement of DBE in QLTC was broader than the teacher unions themselves. The Department would come back with a progress report in this regard.
Umalusi’s 2014/15 Annual Report
Professor John Volmink, Chairperson of the Umalusi Council, said the report highlighted some of the significant achievements in 2014/15. One of the most significant highlights of the year under review was the installation of the council in August 2014. The council took over from the outgoing council, whose tenure ended in June 2014, and although the new council was only installed in August council members had taken responsibilities from 8 June 2014. The previous council laid a very strong foundation for the work of the incoming council, such as giving examples of how to discharge its fiduciary responsibilities based on intelligence and dedication. The current council was only at the beginning of its tenure and had served for nine months. The council continued to meet its legislative, governance and financial mandate and to be accountable to the Portfolio Committee in this regard. Council relied on the competency and efficiency of Umalusi staff in carrying out its duties and responsibilities. This was also to ensure that the daily activities were properly executed.
The policy on assessment accreditation and certification was debated and approved by council as it carried out its fiduciary responsibilities. Government Gazette C8029 on the policy for the general and survey education and training framework that was concluded on 29 September 2014, was highlighted. Government Gazette C7965 on the policy for national senior certificates for adults that was concluded on 2 September 2014 was also highlighted.
Umalusi was grateful for the opportunity to be in regular communication with the Committee, and it assured the Committee that it would do its best to maintain high standards to ensure that the country’s children and adults gained access to quality education and training that was equivalent to the best anywhere in the world.
The annual report being presented was the first of its kind to be submitted by this council.
The Chairperson noted that although the annual report was the first of its kind submitted by Umalusi, it was also the first time that issues were noticed in the audit report of Umalusi. The Committee was concerned about the reasons for the shortcomings and hoped these areas would be addressed in the presentation.
Mr Jeremy Thomas, Acting Executive Officer and CFO, Umalusi, said the reason for the anomaly identified in the audit report was a general government-wide problem. Sometimes new ways of doing things were drawn up without the necessary support and ability to comply. Umalusi did not want to go through an exercise of mere compliance. It therefore went through a process in January 2015, where it began training and educating its staff on result-based management. The training was to identify why Umalusi was carrying out the activities it did and the impact of such activities. Umalusi went through a process of a few months where it questioned everything that it embarked on as an entity, in order to prepare for the crafting of the strategic plans and budgets for the 2016/17 financial year. Because it was impossible to go back to adjust the strategic objectives, outcomes, outputs and indicators for the 2014 financial year, the red mark still remained in front of Umalusi, but the issues had been rectified and Umalusi’s plans had been submitted. It had consulted with the directorate for strategic planning in the DBE and the directorate provided guidance and an analysis of what Umalusi had crafted prior to the submission of the 2016 plans. Umalusi also began to adjust and align its 2015 plans so that it spoke the correct language in terms of the MFPPI (which was the framework for managing performance information).
The role of Umalusi was highlighted (See page 3 of attached document). It was noted that the Minister usually included the phrase ‘independent quality assurer’ in describing the role of Umalusi. This was one area that was not technically captured in the Umalusi Act, around the independence of the entity as a quality assurer that could investigate whether standards were being met in terms of learning programmes.
Umalusi’s mandate was determined by two main Acts: the National Qualifications Framework Act of 2008, managed under the auspices of the South African qualifications authority (SAQA), and the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act of 2001, also known as the Gen-SAQA Act.
The summary of Umalusi’s mandate was outlined (See page 5 and 6 of the attached document).
The impact of the external environment on the Work of Umalusi was also outlined (see page 7 and 8 of the attached document).
The quality assurance regime for 2014/2015 was such that standards were set and maintained to assure quality through a combination of processes and interventions that were outlined (see page 9 and 10 of the attached document).
In terms of the organisational structure, the Umalusi chair was made up of 15 members and the three CEOs of SAQA and two quality councils (QCs). The organisation had three internal streams; the Executive Manager, Ms Zodwa Modimakwane, who managed and led the evaluation and accreditation unit, as well as the quality assurance of assessment unit headed by Ms Faith Ramotlhale, headed one. The second stream comprised of the acting executive manager for qualifications and research. There was also an acting senior manager for statistical information and research (SIR) and the senior manager for qualifications, curriculum and certification. The acting senior manager posts would be folded on 1 January, and this was this reason why the acting executive manager posts had two other levels of acting senior managers.
The third stream was the branch for corporate services under the CFO, which comprised of HR, finance, supply chain, infrastructure and IT systems.
Ms Modimakwane said Umalusi’s mandate to perform on the national operations branch consisted of four units, which were the qualification, curriculum and certificate unit (QCC); quality assurance of assessment unit; statistical information and research (SIR) unit; and evaluation and accreditation unit.
The role of QCC was highlighted (see page 13 of the attached document). The role of QCC focused on the qualifications that Umalusi certified. Currently, Umalusi certified the national senior certificate, the senior certificate and amended senior certificate, the general education and training certificate for adults education and training, the national certificate vocational (NCV) for levels 2, 3 and 4, and others.
The QCC unit was also responsible for assuring the quality of qualifications as well as their related curricula. The curricula was developed by the assessment bodies but the role of this unit was to quality assure the curricula.
The continuation of this unit towards the quality assurance review of Umalusi was also based on the quality assurance of the certifications issued by Umalusi.
The QCC also focused on the issuance and verification of certificates.
In terms of governance, a qualifications standard committee of council, which was established by the council and was made up of experts in curriculum qualification and basic education in general, supported the QCC.
For the period under review, the QCC unit was able to gazette the policy for the general and further education and training sub-framework, which were done in September 2014. The national senior certificate for adults (NASCA) was also regulated in September 2014. The appropriate authority was currently in the process of developing the curriculum for that qualification and Umalusi was supporting it in that regard.
The policies regarding the management of qualifications, curricula and certifications were reviewed, discussed at council and approved by council.
The qualifications standard committee usually met thrice a year, and it met as planned.
Relationships between the Departments, SAQA and QCs were maintained. Umalusi was involved in SAQA through task teams. Umalusi served in a number of task teams of SAQA, and with the two QCs that it worked with, it was a member of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) task team and also a member of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QTCO) task team. It held regular meetings and bilateral meetings with the Department, and also served in sub-committees of qualifications and curriculum within HEDCOM.
Umalusi evaluated the period of the FET CAPS and published reports. Reports were submitted to the Minister of Education. The senior phase CAPS research was commenced and the first evaluation workshop was held in 2014/15. In the current financial year, Umalusi was in the process of going on with this particular project on the senior phase. The evaluation of the foundation phase had been conducted and the plan was to look at the longitudinal study, which meant a consideration of the progression from foundation phase up till the FET phase.
The certification systems of all qualifications were developed. The introduction of the amended senior certificate required the certificate system to be developed to include that qualification.
1 128 879 certificates were issued in the 2014/15 financial year.
The QCC unit was also responsible for verification and verification was conducted for 303 049 certificates for the previous financial year. Verification was also one of the revenue of Umalusi. Umalusi saved its funds through the verification process.
The second unit was the Quality Assurance of Assessment unit (QAA). Functions included the establishment, maintenance and improvement of the standard in quality assessments at exit points. The focus was mainly on exit points. The main function of the unit in summary, was to ensure that the assessments conducted led to the award of certificates in schools, AET centres, private FET colleges, were of the required standard. The function of this unit was carried out through five key processes that were outlined (see page 16 of the attached document).
This unit was also supported by an assessment standards committee of council, which comprised of experts in assessment, statistics, as well as the general education system.
For the 2014/15 financial year, the unit moderated 502 question papers of the national senior certificate (NSC) across three assessment bodies which where the DBE, the Independent Examination Board (IEB), and the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI), which was a new assessment body currently under provisional accreditation.
90 question papers were quality assured for the general education and training certificate (GETC) adults, across two assessment bodies, which were DHET and IEB.
As for the NCV level, 390 question papers were quality assured, and 144 question papers were quality assured for NATED, for the N2 and 3 levels.
77 question papers were quality assured for the senior certificate (SC) that was currently conducted during the June examinations.
In terms of the quality assurance process, the QAA unit issued reports on each qualification for each assessment body, and the report was submitted to both the Minister for Basic Education and the Minister for Higher Education and Training.
Moderation of marking was basically to evaluate the quality of marking that was conducted at the different marking centres. Markings were moderated for 30 NSC subjects in 2014/15 financial year. Two approaches were adopted for the moderation of the subjects: on-site approach where marking centres were visited to moderate the markings, and the centralised approach where the marking centres were asked to select and submit the script to Umalusi, and moderators were conveyed in one site to carry out the evaluation of markings across the marking centres.
13 learning areas were moderated across PEDs, which was the nine provinces. Four learning areas for IEB and two learning areas for benchmark were also moderated. Benchmark was also a new assessment body that was currently in the process of applying for accreditation.
Markings for 86 subjects had been moderated for the NCV levels 2 – 4, while markings for 33 subjects had been moderated for NATED.
Internal assessment was school-based assessment, and included practical assessment centres. Umalusi conducted internal assessment in different phases, in order to observe progress during the course of the year. Umalusi usually conducted these assessments in the first, second, and third term, and these constituted the phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3.
For the NSC, eight subjects were assessed across four provincial education departments (PEDs) in its phase one. For phase 2, eight subjects were assessed across the nine provinces, while 17 subjects were assessed across the nine provinces, in the third phase.
There were two phases for SCAI. 26 learning areas were assessed for GETC in terms of school based assessment (SBA) tasks, followed by an actual moderation of those tasks across the nine provinces. In essence, the tasks to be administered at the centre level were moderated and the administration and marking of those tasks were also moderated across 17 learning areas. As for NCV, the internal assessments for 94 subjects were moderated across levels 2 to 4. This included a sample across 50 private and public colleges. 17 subjects were moderated for NATED.
The next quality assurance process was the verification and monitoring of conduct of examinations. Assessment bodies were required to monitor the conduct of exams at district, provincial and national levels. Umalusi’s role was to verify the monitoring of the conduct of exams. Umalusi carried out independent monitoring and also verified the monitoring process. In selecting samples for monitoring, Umalusi usually identified new centres and centres that had histories of irregularities. Assessment bodies submitted their monitoring plans to Umalusi, and Umalusi verified whether the assessment bodies monitored according to their monitoring plans. The sites monitored across the different qualifications in the 2014/15 financial year were highlighted (see page 18 of the attached document).
Umalusi also carried out monitoring of markings, which was different from the moderation of markings. Monitoring of markings involved going to the marking centres to examine the effective management of the marking centre in totality, while moderation of markings involved the examination of the actual marking process. Monitoring of marking included a holistic consideration of how markings were managed, the security system, appointment of markers and effective management of the marking system in general.
15 marking centres were monitored for SC; 103 marking centres for NSC; while 8 centres were monitored for GETC.
Standardisation was also one of the key quality assurance processes of Umalusi. This basically related to the moderation of assessment outcomes. Umalusi was responsible for the standardisation of 11 examinations, even though the qualifications were just six (see page 18 of the attached document). This was because the national accredited technical education diploma (NATED) was a trimester programme resulting in three examinations, while examinations for adult basic education and training (ABET) Level 4 was held in June and November.
There was a new phenomenon of systemic irregularities in 2014. This was initially picked up during the June 2014 examinations, where 153 centres were implicated in systemic irregularities in KZN. The DBE reported to the approval committee of Umalusi on 12 August that some of the subjects had been audited. DBE recommended to the approval committee that in cases where there was no evidence of copying, such candidate’s results should be released, while results of candidates identified in cases where there was evidence of copying should be declared null and void. DBE was also in the process of concluding auditing of those centres, but recommendations had been submitted to the approval committee on centres where the auditing was concluded. The recommendations had been approved, and Umalusi was awaiting the submission of the data for certification of those candidates.
In the November 2014 NSC examinations, 21 centres were implicated in group copying in KZN, 14 centres were implicated in the Eastern Cape, five centres in Gauteng, one centre in the Western Cape, one centre in North West and one centre in the Northern Cape were also implicated in group copying. Four out of the five cases in Gauteng were resolved, while the remaining case was still being dealt with. The case in the Western Cape was concluded earlier in the year, and the results of the candidates were declared null and void. In North West, the results of about 37 candidates were declared null and void. In the Northern Cape also, the result of a selected number of candidates was declared null and void. As for the 21 centres in KZN, hearings had only been conducted for 11 centres and recommendations submitted to the approval committee. The remaining 10 centres were rescheduled to be conducted in September/October. In the Eastern Cape, hearings had been conducted for seven out of the 14 centres. The hearings for the other seven centres would be rescheduled for September/October. The delays for the remaining centres in KZN and Eastern Cape were due to legal representations because the centres had gone ahead without legal representation. There were also cases of unrest in KZN that affected the continuation of the hearings.
The third unit was the evaluation and accreditation (E&A) unit which was primarily responsible for quality assurance of education provisions, in terms of private independent schools, private FET colleges, private adult education and training (AET) centres, and private assessment centres. This unit evaluated the capacity of education and training providers to implement the registered qualifications. The accreditation was linked to the qualifications on the framework and certified by Umalusi. The unit was responsible for evaluating the quality of the enacted curriculum. Part of the criteria for accreditation was the consideration of teaching and learning, not only the infrastructure.
The unit was also responsible for evaluating the capacity for assessment bodies to conduct all forms of assessment, including practical, internal and external assessments of learner achievements, to ensure that they were of required standard. These assessments would lead to certification.
An accreditation committee of council that was made up of experts in accreditation, vocational education, adult education, and basic education in general supported the work of this unit.
Due to the transition in the accreditation process, a new system was implemented in October 2014. Because of this transition, there were nine centres that were extended till August 2015, and Umalusi received new applications. There were different levels to be followed in the process for granting accreditation, after which the committee of council would make a recommendation to the CEO for accreditation of a particular institution.
For the period under review, 46 independent schools were granted 7-years accreditation, 25 were granted 1year provisional accreditation. This referred to those that applied. 12 institutions were not accredited because they did not meet the criteria for accreditation, while 3 institutions were deferred, that is, they were asked to go back to bring more documents and then resubmit again.
No 7years accreditation was granted to any FET college. The reason for this was that Umalusi had to have evidence of teaching and learning, and evidence of good learning outcomes before it could grant 7years accreditation. Due to the issue of registration and accreditation which had to be done by DHET and Umalusi respectively, Umalusi was granting two years accreditation so that it could have an opportunity to go back to examine the quality of teaching and learning before granting 7years accreditation, after such colleges had been able to prove that they could enact the curriculum and could also produce valid and reliable assessment outcomes.
There was a new system for the AET centres, and there were only ten applications for the period under review. Umalusi had granted 7years accreditation to two of the centres, 2years accreditation to two centres, two other centres were not accredited and four centres were deferred.
The Independent Examinations Board (IEB) was currently accredited to assess the NSC, and it was provisionally accredited to offer the GETC. The SACAI was also monitored over this period. It conducted a pilot on the NSC exams and on the ‘state of readiness’. A pilot was also conducted by the benchmark for the ‘state of readiness’ for GETC.
The institutional site visits simply merged the applications received by Umalusi.
The fourth unit was the Statistical Information and Research (SIR) unit. Its mandate was highlighted (see page 25 of the attached document). The SIR unit worked across the organisation. The unit was supported by a research forum that comprised of experts in research, in education, in assessment and accreditation.
The research conducted by the SIR unit over the period of reporting was outlined (see page 26 of the attached document). An example was the national senior certificate indicators report, whose purpose was to trace the NSC past requirements as well as the input, output between the period of 2008 and 2013. The report was finalised and was available. The status of the other reports was highlighted and some were available on the Umalusi website.
Umalusi also conducted seminars. The fourth and fifth seminars conducted during the period of reporting were tagged ‘working our up: Maths and Science education after poor international ratings’ and ‘education and South African political parties: consideration for the general elections’. The reports on these two seminars were finalised and would be consolidated into a single report.
Other reports conducted by the SIR unit were also highlighted (see page 27 of the attached document). The last two reports that were highlighted focused on home languages; that is the 11 official languages for both assessment bodies such as DBE and the independent examinations board. The reports were finalised and feedback was provided to the assessment bodies, who could now utilise the feedback in the report.
Mr Thomas spoke on the office of the CEO with regard to governance. This unit ensured that the strategic plans, APP and budgets were in place on an annual basis, and also that corporate governance as per the King III was implemented. Umalusi was currently waiting for King IV. Umalusi’s work was advocated through a communications and public relations strategy, and it also ensured that stakeholder relations were built and adequately managed.
Over the period of 2014 to 2015, plans were in place and were developed, implemented and monitored and the results-based management concept was understood in order to meet National Treasury requirements of the Department on performance monitoring and evaluation.
Umalusi also ensured that organisational governance was maintained. The council and all the committees referred to previously were supported administratively and their services were rendered to ensure the continuation of work in the various units.
The Public Relations (PR) and communications unit was responsible for facilitating the management of perceptions and strategic relationships between Umalusi and its internal and external stakeholders, through communications. There was a recent media statement on the upcoming examinations.
Over the period of the past financial year, Umalusi had external PR functions that were carried out according to its plans. There was also internal PR functions and internal Umalusi events that were managed and supported. The publications that went out did so in line with the external newsletters that were sent, as well as the media conferences and stakeholder relations that were maintained during this period.
The next unit under corporate services was the Information Technology (IT) unit, which focused on ensuring that all the IT requirements of the organisation were met, as this served as an enabler and contributed to the achievement of Umalusi’s strategic goals. The subunit was responsible for system development and maintenance, network and hardware provisioning and support, and also ICT governance in terms of the new governance framework requirements.
In the last financial year, Umalusi procured several computers; 245 computers, iPads, laptops, printers and servers. The equipment was installed with the implementation of service level agreement and network support. A total of 57 personal computers were procured in the organisation, 21 servers, 72 laptops, 366 network points and 12 iPads. In terms of software, Umalusi had about 23 different applications and ensured that the software licensing was up to date, ranging from the personal payroll to the management information software, and so on.
A disaster recovery plan was implemented as network support. High availability was also maintained, and this meant that the organisation had a fallback in the event of fire outbreak within the building. Umalusi had a server next door and onsite, just in case one of the servers failed, and it also had recovery through the state information technology agency (SITA) a few kilometres away from the building, and this meant that Umalusi could set up operations within 48 hours if the entire building burnt.
The management information system (MIS) project was ongoing. The programme was updating software and systems to improve operational output and reporting specifically. The Umalusi website was maintained and supported. An online accreditation system for private providers had been implemented and was currently updated.
Umalusi’s mainframe system was the certification system that supported the validation and issuance of certificates for the SC, NSC, N3, and the GETC. Umalusi had to submit the data of learner achievements to SAQA for the years 1992 to 2012. The information from last year would only be sent in the coming year.
The verification system was supported for the verification of qualifications. The Department of Public Service and Administration had sent out a circular to the effect that all government agencies had to verify the qualifications of their staff members. Umalusi was particularly getting an upswing in the number of verifications for Matric.
The quality assurance system was also supported in terms of the examination resulting processes for standardisation and statistical moderation.
The Finance and Supply Chain Management (FSCM) subunit provided sound management of financial resources and timely production of financial reports in accordance with organisational policy and relevant statutes. It produced reports on a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly basis. The problem faced by Umalusi in this regard was that various committees required reports in different formats, which made reporting a cumbersome task for public entities like Umalusi. This unit also ensured that Umalusi had unqualified audit reports. The upscaling of staff and the improvement of systems was a continuous process because Umalusi’s mandate kept expanding.
The unit also ensured the timeous collection of debt, even though Umalusi was still faced with a challenge of the old certification debt of about R1.8 million, but was making progress in retrieving the debt and was being assisted by DHET who communicated to the various colleges to pay up.
The unit ensured that service providers were paid within 30 days; that Umalusi’s assets were properly controlled and safeguarded; and also that surpluses were invested in line with the Treasury regulation at the corporation for public deposits (CPD) with National Treasury.
In the past financial year, Umalusi had an unqualified audit and it spoke to the performance information finding that it received. Creditors were paid within 30 days, surpluses were invested, fixed assets were labelled, and there was an adherence to supply chain management procedures, cost containment measures were implemented even though there were challenges at the initial stage in this regard, systems for collecting outstanding debts were strengthened, and building and security systems were maintained.
The Human Resources Management and Development (HRM&D) subunit’s role was highlighted (see page 37 of the attached document). The baseline performance of this unit included the implementation of the staff wellness programme, as well as the implementation of staff training and development plan determined through performance management.
Recruitment and appointments were made in line with organisational HR practices.
In the past financial year, Umalusi’s training plan was developed and implemented. Seven of its staff received bursaries (basically because Umalusi constantly encouraged its staff to study further); 14 of its staff went on in-house training; 41 went on short courses; and overall, 114 members of staff benefited from the training plan that Umalusi had on an annual basis. The vacancy rate of the organisation was 10% and the reason for this was because at the end of the financial year, council had provided approval for additional posts over a two-year financial period. Umalusi could not therefore fill up all the posts within one financial year. An e-recruitment system was implemented so that applicants could apply online, instead of having HR people capture incorrect information of applicants.
Umalusi’s turnover rate was 6%, which was quite low when compared with other public entities.
An effective records management system was implemented and Umalusi was currently working towards developing an electronic records document management system. It also had an effective management of performance management system. With regard to the performance management system, Umalusi staff were evaluated on a bi-annual basis and under performing staff and staff on probation were assessed on a quarterly basis.
In terms of financial performance of 2014/15, Umalusi collected a total of R137.9 million in revenue, out of which R107 million came from the DBE grant. Umalusi’s expenditure was R132 million and so, it made a surplus of R5.7 million. The surplus was due to increased accreditation applications; increased fee collections from private Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges because Umalusi made an effort to collect outstanding debt; interest income from reserves that were still unspent since Umalusi was awaiting SCM renovation approvals; reduced expenditure due to approval of posts to be filled over two financial years; and the cost containment measures that generated reduction in overall operational expenses.
In terms of Umalusi’s financial position for 2014/15 financial year, its assets amounted to R37.3 million for property and equipment, and R87 000 for intangible assets. Current assets were a total of R58 million, made up of trade and other receivables of R7.7 million, as well as cash and cash equivalents of R50.8 million. The total assets amounted to R95.9 million.
The accumulated surplus, which comprised of all the assets and property and the revaluation of property, amounted to R79 million. In terms of liabilities, trade and other payables amounted to R11 million, and provisions (which included provisions for bad debts, leave, and so on) were R5.2 million.
Umalusi’s 3-year forecast was highlighted. The budget for the current financial year of 2015/16 was R134.6 million. The budget for last year was R134.8 million. Umalusi budgeted a little bit less than the amount for last year as this year’s financial budget. However, the grant that it received for the current financial year was R112 million, which was 4.98% of the total budget. Umalusi would require a budget of R155 million for 2016/17 financial year, based on its projected plans. The baseline allocation for next year would however, be R118 million and Umalusi would have to fund the deficit of R13.3million from its reserves. The increase in the year on year grant would be 5.2%, in line with the National Treasury loan. The concern was with the 2017/18 financial year. Umalusi would require a budget of R174.8 million for the work it would need to do in 2017/18 financial year, and the grant would only be R124 million. It would be able to fund from its reserves, at least R7.5 million from the remaining amount, but this would leave a deficit of R13.9 million that would be an additional grant that would be required from DBE and the National Treasury going forward. Umalusi understood the cost containment measures that surrounded the kind of work that it carried out; it also understood the tightening of the budget but in reality, public entities like Umalusi deserved to get some kind of reprieve.
In considering Umalusi’s incomes and expenditure over the years since inception, it would be noticed that the percentage grant had gone up significantly. From 2013 onwards, the top slicing of the provincial budget exempted provincial departments from paying for certification fees, and that was added to Umalusi’s budget. However, it was mentioned that that process had to be reviewed every three years because the real expenditure inflation was not the 5% that was heard off, since costs for flights and accommodation usually went up by 25 or 30% on an annual basis. This formed the bulk of the money that Umalusi needed to go into the system, and audit the system.
The percentage grant given for 2018/19 financial year would go down to 68%, and it was necessary to consider the extent to which national fiscus would be able to raise more funds for Umalusi.
Budget requirements in the years going forward in terms of grant was a major problem. Umalusi was therefore alerting the Portfolio Committee and DBE that there was a need to find ways to supplement the budget for 2017, going forward, so that the entity could carry out its work.
It was also suggested that a scientific model should be looked into, where investments were made in quality assurance. A study was carried out by SAQA and the QCs in 2011 and it was found that of the national fiscus, the quality councils were receiving 0.047% of national budget. Umalusi was suggesting that if an allocation of at least 1% of the basic education budget could be allocated for quality assurance in general, for all the entities that performed some sort of quality assurance, this would really help the system to move forward in ensuring quality in the system. Quality should not be seen as a summative situation, quality should be ensured at the input level. To be able to measure quality in the system, from input to process to output would require more money at the end of the day.
The council was strengthening its quality assurance process to deal with systemic irregularities. An effective hotline was implemented, in order to receive reports on a monthly, quarterly and bi-annual basis. Assessment bodies were required to present irregularities report prior to the approval of results. Umalusi continued its monitoring roles in terms of the implementation plans that were submitted by the provincial departments. It was also in the process of reviewing its accreditation process. There should be a more streamlined system for the private institutions in a short period of time to come. Umalusi was also looking into cutting down costs for the relevant private entities.
Mr Davis wanted to know the causes of the phenomenon of group copying and cheating in the system, if Umalusi had done any studies on that phenomenon, and what could be done to prevent its reoccurrence; and also whether the concern raised recently by the CEO of Umalusi on the safety of exam papers for the NSC exams for this year in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Free State provinces was still a concern, and if so, what could be done to ensure that the papers were not leaked.
Ms Basson wanted to know what the state of readiness in provinces, districts and centres was for the forthcoming exams; how parents could be assisted in identifying accredited private institutions; if there was any difference between ABET, Matric and the NSC; if a particular examination was still in existence or not; what the GETC certificate was all about, and whether it was the grade 9 certificate; when the grade 9 certificate would be implemented; what Umalusi’s relationship with SACE was on the verification of certificates in general, and also for foreigners; if candidates who had involved lawyers in respect of the irregularities would be allowed to write exams while their cases were ongoing; and if Umalusi had standardised the compensation for learners whose home language was not English.
Mr Khosa wanted clarity on the highlighted aspect of the external newsletter that could not be completed due to shortage of staff for five months. He wanted to know if the shortage was temporary in nature.
Mr Khoza brought to the attention of Umalusi that while monitoring examinations, the quality of the teaching and learning had been compromised due to the challenge with furniture. Some of the furniture was usually outsourced from the other classes. It was suggested that Umalusi should persuade the suppliers of furniture to supply the combination of desks and chairs for the grade 12 learners, as it would be difficult for such furniture to be stolen. This would also ensure that no grade 12 learner would end up borrowing a desk from the next class during examination period.
Ms Mokoto wanted to know if Umalusi was able to strike a balance between the difficult papers and the easy ones for the next exam; and also if measures had been identified to ensure the security and credibility of exams.
Ms Van Der Walt’s question was inaudible.
Ms Boshoff wanted to know if the continuation of the outdated N1 to N3 programmes for engineering students had a negative impact on the engineering fraternity.
The Chairperson wanted to know what was being done to resolve the certification backlog for the TVET and FET colleges; what role Umalusi played in the SBAs; and what was happening with the amended SC as well as what would be done to clear up the outstanding learners who were yet to sit for the old NSC exams.
Prof Volmink said that the phenomenon on group copying may not be new, and it had to with the level of vigilance and the entity’s sampling methods. What was done in the past was to depend on samples given
In any form and fashion. Umalusi was now prescribing the form in which those samples should be drawn, which was a more random way than in the past. It was opined that the group copying did not affect all the papers. This meant that the group copying only affected a category of questions. The implication of this was that there was still ample time to take a whole memo, and assistance was rendered in formulating answers to these questions in the allocated time.
In terms of the exam safety, Umalusi would embark on physical visits to Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Free State to ensure that centres were secured.
School based assessments (SBAs) were a problem. It essentially said that learners had written exams on 75% and their continuous assessment would be 25%. It however allowed local content and reality to be taken into account.The chairperson of Umalusi felt that it was not a good idea to do away with it, just because Umalusi could not control it. Umalusi moderated the SBAs, and it would not allow the SBAs to be out of line completely.
Ms Modimakwane said Umalusi had established a hotline, managed by a specific service provider, in order to encourage the reporting or irregularities. Umalusi was receiving allegations of irregularities on a monthly basis, and was dealing with each case seriously by conducting thorough investigations and reporting such cases to the office of the CEO. There was a register containing all the cases reported to Umalusi.
The Department of Education conducted a state of readiness and Umalusi also conducted a state of readiness. The centres were classified into three levels: the high-risk centres, medium risk and low risk centres. Attention would be given to the medium and high-risk centres. In some ca from the provincial and education departments would administer centres. Structures had also been put in place at different levels to manage the irregularities. A day had also been set aside (23 December) for all assessment bodies to come to Umalusi in order to submit their irregularity report long before the approval meeting.
The issues raised over the two-week period highlighted in the CEO’s report were on four provinces. Issues regarding staffing were being discussed for the Eastern Cape, security for two of the districts, the sectors delayed in terms of printing, the availability of government vehicles for monitoring the examinations were issues currently been discussed. Ms Modimakwane and Mr Thomas would be visiting the province on Friday. The problems identified in Limpopo were with the appointment of markers, security systems, staffing and problems in some of the districts. A team of subject specialists responsible for accreditation would be visiting Limpopo to look at the whole process of appointment of markers. The main problems identified in Free State related to staffing, security, as well as transport issues. Umalusi would be visiting the Free State on Monday. The main challenge with KZN was on staffing. A visit would be made to KZN around 28 or 29 October. The CEO had communicated directly to the heads of departments in all these four provinces, highlighting the areas of concern. Provinces were to ensure that an improvement plan was ready before the Umalusi visits to them.
Umalusi planned to embark on an accreditation programme in order to address the issues around accreditation. All schools accredited with Umalusi were placed on the website. It was nonetheless important for Umalusi to conduct an advocacy programme in this regard, and also on registration. An institution had to be registered first by an assessment board or by the PED, before it could even come to Umalusi.
It was pointed out that the GETC was an ABET level 4 qualification, and not Matric. People usually confused it to mean NQF level 4. NQF level 4 was equivalent to Matric, but ABET level 4 was equivalent to NQF level 1, which was equivalent to grade 9.
The last examination for the adult Matric, which was report 550, was set in June 2014. For June 2015, it was the amended SC that was administered and the qualification was based on the CAP curriculum.
The DBE would be able to advise on when the grade 9 certificate would be implemented, since it was one of the recommendations from the ministerial task team.
SACE was basically responsible for the verification of qualifications for educators. Umalusi was however in partnership with SACE, since one of its accreditation criteria for independent schools were whether the teachers were registered with SACE. 80% of the staff in independent schools must be registered with SACE before such school could be considered for accreditation. Verification carried out by Umalusi was for the certificates issued by Umalusi itself. Particular clients of Umalusi placed requests for verification of the Matric certificates, and other certificates issued by Umalusi. SAQA was one of such clients. SAQA was responsible for the verification of international or foreign qualifications.
Candidates who involved lawyers in cases of irregularities would be given the benefit of the doubt and therefore allowed to write exams, because the cases were yet to be concluded. A decision would however be taken once the whole process was concluded.
The language compensation was only applicable to candidates who offered the subject content in a second language, at the set additional language level. The language compensation was reduced to 4% in 2014; it was 5% in 2013; and the decision was to phase it out by 1% per annum. This meant that it would go down to 3% in 2015.
In terms of the grade 11 common examinations, it was pointed out that Umalusi’s mandate focused on exit qualifications, which meant that for the NSC, it only focused on assessment at grade 12 level. The common paper was for maths and physical sciences for grade 11. This paper was however not made compulsory. Provinces and schools opted to conduct this examination. Umalusi was not involved in the moderation or setting of the paper, and as a result, it received a letter from Afriforum but the letter was addressed to DBE.
Umalusi in collaboration with the QTCO was working towards the replacement or review of the N1 to N3 engineering programmes. The QTCO was tasked with the development of occupational programmes. The proposal was yet to be finalised. The proposal was that as the occupational programmes were being developed by QTCO, the NATED programmes would be phased out. The second proposal was to redesign the NCV so that it could accommodate some of the needs of the NATED programmes.
Umalusi established a reference book containing some of the special lists of vocational and occupational qualifications. Once the report was concluded, the proposal would be made and tabled to council, and also presented to the Minister.
Prof Volmink said a meeting was held with DHET on the irregularities of N1 to N3 of 12 subjects, and they were flagged because there was an issue concerning performance. An investigation was conducted and it was discovered that out of the 12 cases, dishonesty was only found in three. Most of the other cases were because of the moribund nature of the curriculum that had never been revised. Umalusi was working towards changing the curriculum.
Ms Ramatlhale,, said what Umalusi had done to address the issue of imbalance in difficult and easy exam questions was to train its moderators for the various subjects so that these moderators could interpret the cognitive demands of the subjects at the same level, as well as the level of difficulty amongst all moderators so as to ensure uniform interpretation by all moderators. The training was done early this year, prior to when the moderators went to DBE to moderate the questions. Umalusi’s assessment standard committee had also collaborated with its research unit to develop the difficulty levels for question papers, so that it could be applied consistently across all the papers. The developed levels would be used because there was a certain percentage based on the statistical method that was developed. Umalusi also had a separate group of evaluators that conducted post-examination analysis. This group was different from its regular evaluators and was not privy to the examination questions. The results of this group of evaluators were then compared with the results of Umalusi’s external moderators and the reasons for the difficulty in questions were identified in a bid to strike a balance.
The independent team of Umalusi, and not its external moderators would carry out a system analysis, at the end of the year. Meetings were held to resolve issues of difficulty level of cognitive demand, and also verify the findings of the two teams involved.
With regard to strengthening security measures, the provincial departments had done their best by putting systems in place to curb leakages. Umalusi had visited provinces such as Limpopo where it felt that there was a threat in respect of security. As at the time when a state of readiness was conducted for Limpopo, there was no security measure in place, neither did the province have a place to keep question papers because they had recently moved to a new building. The province promised to address the issue and Umalusi would go back to check if it could approve the keeping of the exam questions in that province. Issues of alarms were raised in other provinces, and Umalusi felt that such issues could be addressed within a short period of time. Districts were also monitored. The schools Umalusi monitored had adequate spacing and furniture to manage the examinations, even though the state of these schools could not account for all schools in the country. Umalusi expected the provincial departments of education to conduct audit prior to the writing of exams. Based on the reports presented to Umalusi, most of the provinces had conducted audits and they were very promising.
Prof Volmink said this was the first year that Umalusi would have the CAP. It usually standardised on a five-year cycle.
Mr Thomas said the shortage of staff for five months reflected under publication was due to a 5-month gap, and Umalusi could not follow up on some particular posts in the PR unit but the issue had been resolved.
With regard to the outstanding certification backlog of TVET colleges, there was a current project and a steering committee that monitored the way SITA was fixing the certification programme used by DHET to certify these learners at colleges. It seemed like the backlog would be completely eradicated by December 2015, and from January 2016 onwards there would be sufficient systems in place to ensure that the backlog was kept at zero. This was based on the condition that SITA continued to do what it had promised to do. The CEO of SITA had obtained the services of software AG, who had brought in a team of experts to address the certification programme and to identify the root causes of failures of the programme. Hopefully, some of the lessons learnt from this process could be used to interface the current DBE programmes.
Umalusi’s IT programmers were also providing input and support to the SITA AG software team. It had provided its resource up to the end of October, after which they would be withdrawn to focus on the NSC results and standardisation.
Mr Padayachee said the DBE was yet to totally deal with all the learners who may have incompleted SCs, but the amended version allowed them to continue with some of the subjects that were there. 14 of the NSC had been taken on an abridged curriculum. In the amended SC, there were some concessions with regard to SBAs. The amended certificate was referred to by the Minister as ‘second chance’ because the SC could be written in June and the NSC, written in November. DBE was however working towards a single examination.
The challenge that would be faced in this regard would be in respect of providing materials for these learners. Some provinces had made an attempt to assist these learners but there was a need to have a concrete plan to assist these learners.
The history of the DBE grant started mainly in 2012/13, and it was basically an arrangement with National Treasury. When DBE got into this arrangement with National Treasury, it had to follow the rules that national Treasury used for all government departments. Any entity that wanted additional funding would have to join the bidding process, and if the country were facing any fiscal crisis, every department would be affected.
DBE tried to get furniture for learners for the 200 days, as the 200 days were key for a child to have furniture. The exams itself was a three to six-week period and from DBE’s state of readiness, provinces did not consider furniture as a problem. Whether the furniture was a single or double combination was not as important as the learners having a place to sit to write their exams. DBE’s priority was for the 200 days. Provinces would always make a plan for the exams. Based on the assessment of DBE, provinces had stated that they would be able to manage the shortages in relation to furniture. The single combination was preferable for exam purposes, as it assisted in terms of spacing and curbing of copying.
DBE would respond to Umalusi on the issue of delays in printing. The DBE team was also going out like the Umalusi team to follow up in terms of the issues that were raised.
The DBE had conducted its own audit on the appointment of markers. Because of the increase in the number of learners, there was need to either extend the time for marking (but no approval was given in that regard) or to recruit more markers. DBE was also looking at positioning the time for marking to start a bit earlier than usual. Shortages of markers were recorded in certain subjects but provinces with surplus markers had been encouraged to assist other provinces with shortages.
One of the situations with irregularities was the absence of adequate evidence where results had been previously withheld. Such results had to be released afterward. A date had been set for the completion of all investigations on irregularities, and where there was no evidence, results would be processed.
In terms of security measures, burglar systems had been identified and instances that warranted 24-hour gadgets were also picked up.
In terms of the issues around grade 11, DBE had also written to higher education institutions that whenever they received results, they had to give the learners the benefit of the doubt.
The mantra emphasised by DBE was basically on monitoring. The next financial report would show the overspendings of the Department on irregularities of examinations.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Umalusi 2014/15 Annual Report presentation
- Umalusi 2014/15 Annual Report
- South African Council for Educators (SACE) 2014/15 Annual Report presentation
- South African Council for Educators (SACE) 2014/15 Annual Report
- Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) 2014/15 Annual Report presentation
- Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) 2014/15 Annual Report