Basic Education Budget Review and Recommendations Report

Basic Education

21 October 2015
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

BRRR 2015-2010: Budgetary Review & Recommendations Reports

The Committee considered the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) on the performance of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for the 2014/15 financial year. Some errors were identified and corrected. The report was adopted after careful consideration and proposals for the correction of the highlighted errors.

Minutes of the Committee meetings that took place on 4 August 2015, 11 August 2015, 18 August 2015, 1 September 2015, 22 September 2015, 13 October 2015 and 14 October 2015 were considered. Some issues were identified during consideration and noted for necessary correction.

Members adopted the said minutes accordingly.

Meeting report

Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the performance of the Department of Basic Education for the 2014/15 financial year
The Committee considered the report page by page.

The Chairperson called the attention of members to the ‘1+4 model’ that was introduced but was referred to in other provinces as ‘1+9’, as well as other names (see page 18 of the report).  However, the Committee felt it should refer to it as ‘1+4 model’ since that was what it was called when it was introduced. Members agreed with the Chairperson on this point.

Mr G Davis (DA) sought clarity on the process of adopting the report. His understanding of the process was that the report would be sent to the Minister for input in his medium-term framework policy statement, and the policy statement would be given by the afternoon of that day. He wanted to know if the Minister would get the report in good time for him to make the requisite amendments to the report.

The Chairperson replied that the same question was being asked throughout Parliament and did not only affect this Committee. There were issues that had arisen from the report that needed clarification, but the Committee could not do so much when it came to the scheduling of the process, and why consideration of the report was scheduled on the same day as delivery of the Minister’s policy statement. Usually, the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) was considered within two weeks. This issue was also being raised in other committees. One of the issues that came up was the need to reflect on the findings and happenings of the previous financial year.

Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) referred to the last page of the report on the allocation of more money to finalise the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme on infrastructure. ASIDI had a very late start two or three years ago, and did not make adequate progress. The Department of Basic Education was certainly aware and would therefore request for more funds for the programme. It was opined that it was not the request for additional money that was important, but there should be some serious conditions attached to the allocation of additional funds, and such conditions must be adhered to. Otherwise, the consideration of the report in the house would raise some serious questions.

The Chairperson agreed that issues would arise and still be debated in the House, but wanted to confirm if Members agreed that the report reflected the issues as deliberated upon by the Committee.

Ms Van Der Walt pointed the attention of the Committee to the bullet point on ‘processes followed by the Portfolio Committee in arriving at this report’, and noted that although the Committee had two meetings the previous week where the Minister, Auditor-General (AG) and other delegations from DBE and Treasury were present, the reports that were considered from those previous meetings had not been analysed by the Committee. The State of the Nation Address (SONA) on education matters had not also been addressed. It was proposed for next year that the National Development Plan (NDP) should be analysed after the SONA. MPs should get the documents, read them and refer to them.

The Chairperson replied that the relevant documents had been referred to. Nevertheless, the contribution made would be taken into account for future purposes.

Mr Davis pointed out that the bullet point 3.3 referred to in page 42 with respect to ASIDI did not exist.

Mr D Bandi, content advisor replied that it was an error.

The Chairperson requested that the error be corrected and the appropriate reference should be indicated.

The Chairperson thereafter proposed the removal of the last sentence on page 42 of the report, noting that the report was introduced with the same statement, and the statement only amounted to a repetition.

Ms J Basson (ANC) replied on behalf of other members, that the proposed removal was accepted.

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) proposed the removal of the bullet points on page 41 and 42 that did not capture any important point.

The Report was adopted with corrections.

Mr Davis objected to the process being undertaken as it looked like a box-ticking exercise, and also because it would not be possible for the Minister to take the report into account while preparing his medium-term budget policy for later in the afternoon. The process did not seem to be a legitimate process and could not be supported.

The Chairperson sought clarification on whether the objection was to the report and the processes carried out by the Committee or it was to the entire process of the BRRR by the institution.

Mr Davis clarified by saying that MPs reserved their right to approve the report because Members were not given ample time to discuss the report with their caucus. The report was only received the previous day and MPs needed enough time to discuss the actual substance of the report with their caucus.
The BRRR process was however objected to, because it did not seem to be a legitimate process and it felt like MPs were forced into a box-ticking process.

The Chairperson agreed that it was indeed a box-ticking exercise, and all the processes would still lead to the Minister of Finance. However, the reservation of the right to approve the report based on the point that the report was received the previous day and members needed more time to deliberate could not be accepted.

It was agreed that the report had been adopted.

Adoption of minutes:
4 August 2015: Department of Basic Education on: School Safety/ Violence in Schools/ Bullying at School; Progress in Implementation of Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC)
The minutes were adopted.

11 August 2015: Department of Basic Education on 1st Quarterly Report 2015/16
The Chairperson said there was a need to go back to the matters that had been concluded on and carry out a follow-up on them. An update would be given next week.
The minutes were adopted.

18 August 2015: Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Provincial and District Monitoring and Support and update on Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) De-Listing; Follow-up briefing by the South African Council for Educators (SACE) on Progress in respect of Planning and Reporting; Consideration and adoption of outstanding minutes.
The minutes were adopted.
1 September 2015: DBE on annual national assessment 2015 readiness and national senior certificate (NSC) exam readiness; Briefing by Hon Lovemore on Petition.
The minutes were adopted.

22 September: DBE on status and functionality of teacher centres in the basic education sector.
The Chairperson said she was opportune to be with the Portfolio Committee on Postal services and telecommunications, where the issue of service providers (such as Vodacom) working on teacher centres, gadgets, connectivity, and other related issues were discussed. It was one of those meetings that considered the progress or otherwise of connectivity for schools to benefit from. What was picked up from the oversight conducted by that Committee was the slowness of the connectivity being provided. This was one of the main issues that were raised in the report of the said Committee. The service providers were indeed doing their job, but the slowness of connectivity and ability to pick up signals was very weak, to the extent that the connectivity could not benefit the schools and teacher centres at the desired pace. The issue was already being worked on. The Chairperson had met with the Minister of Communications and the same issue was raised. The Committee was not privileged to inspect the speed of connectivity, and it was important for it to meet with the aforementioned Committee, as well as the service providers to find an appropriate solution to the problem. This would assist the Committee in its next oversight to the teacher centres, to check the speed of the connections. It was also necessary to find out if the managers and users of the teacher centres were aware of this problem, so that they could give the Committee feedback on it.
The report referred to above would be made available to Members for consideration at the next meeting.

Ms Mokoto wanted to know if the Department of Communications would brief the Committee before it embarked on oversight to the teacher centres.

The Chairperson replied that Members would get the briefing at the meeting that would be organised with the Department of Telecommunications and service providers.

Mr Mnguni also said that the Committee should identify some teacher canters and visit them to check for issues of connectivity.

The Chairperson said that teacher centres would be visited after deliberations with the relevant departments had taken place.

The minutes were adopted.

13 October 2015: Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) on DBE audit outcomes; DBE on Annual Report 2014-15;
Ms Van Der Walt pointed out that by the date of this meeting, Mr C Msimang (IFP) was already a non-member, and his name reflected on the minutes.

The minutes were adopted with the correction.

14th October 2015: Annual Report Briefings: South African Council for Educators (SACE); Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC); Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi)
The same point raised in the minutes of the meeting held on 13 October 2015 was identified.
The minutes were adopted with the correction.

The meeting was adjourned.

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