Department of Basic Education on its 2014/15 Annual Report

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

28 October 2015
Chairperson: Ms L Zwane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) aims to provide:
- School Infrastructure Development
- Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)
- Data and information challenges
- Expansion of Early Childhood Development (ECD)
- National Senior Certificate Results (NSC)
- Annual National Assessment (ANA)
- Improve the number of young teachers entering the teaching services
- Aims for the learners’ well-being, meaning that there has been implementation to ensure the provision of nutritious meals on every school day. Also, DBE has improved the access to primary health care for learners in primary and secondary schools.
- Budget monitoring and proper administration of Post Provisioning Norms to provinces to ensure that budget and systems controls are in place.

The targets, accomplishments as well the reasons for deviation were provided for DBE’s five programmes:

1. Improvements in Administration programme: DBE undertook research/analysis on underperforming schools (pass rate of 40% and below). All DBE planning and reports for this programme have been successful and completed on time.

2. Improvements in Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring programme: DBE has shown improvements in learners’ performance and prompt distribution of materials such as workbooks. DBE has developed a math workbook specially designed for Grade 9 in order to help learners improve their marks. 98% of the workbooks have been printed and distributed. Other programmes such as reading promotion have been implemented and identified as one of the priority programmes for 2014/15, hence the development of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) project that focuses on four key reading components, namely phonemic awareness, phonics, word recognition and oral comprehension. Also, during the period under review, DBE managed to implement the South African Sign Language (SASL) CAPS in the foundation phase and Grade 9 in schools for the deaf in all provinces. Further, DBE developed and launched the "1+4 Model" during the quarter under review as a Math Strategy to improve the Grade 9 ANA results. A new math, science and technology conditional grant has been introduced. 82 out of 277 schools started offering mathematics in Grade 10 for the first time in January 2015.

3. Improvement in Teachers, Education Human Resources Development and Institutional Development programme: 10 788 young and qualified educators (30 years and below) entered the system, this was 2 788 above the annual target of 8 000. On the other hand, 1 321 young and qualified educators left the system. In addition to teacher training, there have been technological improvements. 60 teacher centres have been upgraded by Vodacom. The expansion of an extra 20 teacher centres has begun.

4. Improvement in Planning, Information and Assessment programme: DBE’s plan for collection of data has been successful and completed in most areas. Of the 81 districts, school profiles in 68 have been analyzed. DBE dedicated the beginning of the fourth quarter as a period of monitoring the reopening of schools for the new academic year and a total of 885 schools countrywide were visited.

5. Improvement in Educational Enrichment Services programme: DBE has increased the number of schools that provide learners with nutritious meals. The 2014/15 target was 19 800 and the actual output was 20 727. Also DBE has increased the number of learners participating in organized activities on citizenship, human rights and responsibilities and constitutional values; from a target of 2 500 DBE was able to accomplish an output of 8 305. Other achievements are the inclusion of the de-worming programme in January 2015. There has been a linkage of schools to local police stations and the establishment of safe school committees in all provinces. A total of 15 769 schools are linked to the local police and have established safe school committees.

Looking at the Annual Financial Statements, the focus was on providing reasons for deviations, which were:
- Programme 1: Administration (Unspent R2.780 million) Underspending is a result of delays in the submission of invoices for the department's server that resulted in the inability to finalize the processing of payments before the end of the financial year, as well as saving in respect of office accommodation due to fluctuation of the unitary fee.
- Programme 2: Curriculum policy, support and monitoring (Unspent R142.542 million) The under-expenditure is mainly due to funds withheld for the Dinaledi Schools Conditional Grant to the Limpopo province due to low spending. Further, there were delays on verification of learners registered in the Kha Ri Gude campaign; this resulted in under-expenditure for payments to volunteer educators.
- Programme 3: Teacher & education human resources development & management (Overspent R6.448m) Overspending is due to the National Teacher Awards expenditure that was higher than available funds.
- Programme 4: Planning, quality assessment and monitoring evaluation (Underspent R802 000) There were no material variances on this programme.
- Programme 5: Educational enrichment services (Underspent R21.344 million) Underspending is due to the transfer of funds withheld for the HIV and Aids Conditional Grant to the Limpopo province due to low spending.

A brief explanation was given as to why there was underspending in certain sectors such as: Compensation of employees including earmarked funds; goods and services; transfers and subsidies (conditional grants to Provinces); payments of capital assets. The DBE received an unqualified audit opinion although there were matters of emphasis.

Meeting report

Department of Basic Education (DBE) on its 2014/15 Annual Report
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, DBE Director General, began by highlighting various aspects of the General Household Survey (GHS) that he felt deserved attention, and that the members should look at in further detail once they have the report. He noted:

- Direct correlation between the accessibility of family planning services and the increase of learners
- The reduction of learners with special needs
- Increase in number of female learners that become pregnant
- Access to textbooks is improving
- Increase in number of learners that are recorded as absent
- Learners that have to walk for more than 30 minutes to school
- Prohibition of corporal punishment has not entirely eradicated its presence in schools especially in schools in Northern and Western Cape
- South Africa ranks amongst the top in school provided nutrition programmes
- DBE is in the process of developing a skill or vocation based curriculum, providing more options for learners

He noted DBE's statutory role is to formulate policy, norms and standards as well and monitoring and evaluating policy implementation and impact. The DBE aims to provide:

- School Infrastructure Development
- Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)
- Data and information challenges
- Expansion of Early Childhood Development (ECD)
- National Senior Certificate Results (NSC)
- Annual National Assessment (ANA)
- Improve the number of young teachers entering the teaching services
- Aims for the learners’ well-being, meaning that there has been implementation to ensure the provision of nutritious meals on every school day. Also, DBE has improved the access to primary health care for learners in primary and secondary schools.
- Budget monitoring and proper administration of Post Provisioning Norms to provinces to ensure that budget and systems controls are in place.

Mr Mweli moved on to Part B of the presentation which centered on Programme Performance. To aid the member to navigate the performance of each of the programmes he explained the colour coded method which acted as status indicators.

The targets, accomplishments as well the reasons for deviation were provided for DBE’s five programmes:
1. Improvements in Administration programme: DBE undertook research/analysis on underperforming schools (pass rate of 40% and below). All DBE planning and reports for this programme have been successful and completed on time.

2. Improvements in Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring programme: DBE has shown improvements in learners’ performance and prompt distribution of materials such as workbooks. DBE has developed a math workbook specially designed for Grade 9 in order to help learners improve their marks. 98% of the workbooks have been printed and distributed. Other programmes such as reading promotion have been implemented and identified as one of the priority programmes for 2014/15, hence the development of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) project that focuses on four key reading components, namely phonemic awareness, phonics, word recognition and oral comprehension. Also, during the period under review, DBE managed to implement the South African Sign Language (SASL) CAPS in the foundation phase and Grade 9 in schools for the deaf in all provinces. Further, DBE developed and launched the "1+4 Model" during the quarter under review as a Math Strategy to improve the Grade 9 ANA results. A new math, science and technology conditional grant has been introduced. 82 out of 277 schools started offering mathematics in Grade 10 for the first time in January 2015.

3. Improvement in Teachers, Education Human Resources Development and Institutional Development programme: 10 788 young and qualified educators (30 years and below) entered the system, this was 2 788 above the annual target of 8 000. On the other hand, 1 321 young and qualified educators left the system. In addition to teacher training, there have been technological improvements. 60 teacher centres have been upgraded by Vodacom. The expansion of an extra 20 teacher centres has begun.

4. Improvement in Planning, Information and Assessment programme: DBE’s plan for collection of data has been successful and completed in most areas. Of the 81 districts, school profiles in 68 have been analyzed. DBE dedicated the beginning of the fourth quarter as a period of monitoring the reopening of schools for the new academic year and a total of 885 schools countrywide were visited.

5. Improvement in Educational Enrichment Services programme: DBE has increased the number of schools that provide learners with nutritious meals. The 2014/15 target was 19 800 and the actual output was 20 727. Also DBE has increased the number of learners participating in organized activities on citizenship, human rights and responsibilities and constitutional values; from a target of 2 500 DBE was able to accomplish an output of 8 305. Other achievements are the inclusion of the de-worming programme in January 2015. There has been a linkage of schools to local police stations and the establishment of safe school committees in all provinces. A total of 15 769 schools are linked to the local police and have established safe school committees.

The DG then turned over the presentation to the Financial Officer to continue, with the Annual Financial Statements, which were Part C of the presentation. Most her focus was given to the reasons for deviations.

The reasons for deviations per programme were:
Programme 1: Administration (Unspent R2.780 million) Underspending is a result of delays in the submission of invoices for the department's server that resulted in the inability to finalize the processing of payments before the end of the financial year, as well as saving in respect of office accommodation due to fluctuation of the unitary fee.

Programme 2: Curriculum policy, support and monitoring (Unspent R142.542 million) The under-expenditure is mainly due to funds withheld for the Dinaledi Schools Conditional Grant to the Limpopo province due to low spending. Further, there were delays on verification of learners registered in the Kha Ri Gude campaign; this resulted in under-expenditure for payments to volunteer educators.

Programme 3: Teacher & education human resources development & management (Overspent R6.448m) Overspending is due to the National Teacher Awards expenditure that was higher than available funds.

Programme 4: Planning, quality assessment and monitoring evaluation (Underspent R802 000) There were no material variances on this programme.

Programme 5: Educational enrichment services (Underspent R21.344 million) Underspending is due to the transfer of funds withheld for the HIV and Aids Conditional Grant to the Limpopo province due to low spending.

A brief explanation was given as to why there was underspending in certain sectors such as compensation of employees including earmarked funds; goods and services; transfers and subsidies (conditional grants to Provinces); payments of capital assets.

The Department informed the Committee that the DBE received an unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA). There were matters of emphasis in the AGSA Report which Members were advised to read as contained in the DBE Annual Report.

Discussion
Ms T Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA) thanked DBE for the report so as to better understand the challenges facing basic education in South Africa. The first question she asked was how to align intervention in terms of Annual National Assessments (ANAs). She asked if it would be more prudent to conduct interventions other than just academic ones. What is being done about reducing the pregnancy rate, and is there a connection between this and the dropout rates? She asked for more detail on the training of invigilators, and what was being done to assess them. In conclusion she noted the protests including the ‘Fees Must Fall’ protest.

Mr H Groenewald (DA) raised the issue of three million students that do not make it to Grade 12. He asked whether there are plans in place to address this and drastically reduce this staggering number. He asked why pregnancy rates were higher in certain provinces. He raised the large number of teachers leaving the system, and asked how to address this problem. What were the impacts of underspending on the education system, and on students in general?

Another member asked about the introduction of a foreign language such as Mandarin to schools, which is not a South African national language. It seems like a waste of resources. He address the policy where not all students are permitted to pass, why is there a cap on the pass rate, why not 100% instead of 75%. Why cannot the system pass them all? Lastly, he referred to the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) situation, saying construction had started but there have been no reports of progress.

Mr L Dlamini (ANC) strongly questioned the policy of failing students once the passing benchmark has been attained. Why cannot 100% of the students pass? The report would have been easier to understand if it had been in a ‘dashboard’ format. This way the Committee could see the initial targets, then the actual outputs, as opposed to just the outputs. One needed to compare what DBE planned to achieve with what it was able to achieve. The use of abbreviations made it difficult to understand the report.

Mr D Stock (ANC) referred to slides 32 and 33 with specific reference to the Northern Cape, and asked DBE to verify those statistics, as they seemed unlikely. He questioned the number of students that migrated to attend the so called model schools, and how DBE was addressing the inconsistency within the system.

The Chairperson thanked the DBE for the report and congratulated the Director General, Mr Mathanzima Mweli, on his new position since August 2015. Her first question was to ask if South Africa has been able to accomplish the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education. She asked about the placement of teachers in schools, and how they were being placed in accordance with the needs of individual provinces. How is the curriculum determined for the people that are trained as teachers? She also suggested that the Department increase the number of school nutrition beneficiaries.

DBE response
The Director General began by telling the members that all of the targets discussed were based on historic data, and realistic projections. On any doubts about the statistics, the research was conducted by Statistics South Africa, so all data is collected and updated on an annual basis. The issue raised about a dashboard format for presentation is used for other report presentations but the DBE does not plot everything. Lastly, he touched on the Limpopo Province and how its statistics are always raised. He agreed that the Limpopo province decision to lift the Section 100(1)(b) intervention was not in the best interest of all the departments.

A DBE official addressed ghost teachers which has been a long and persistent obstacle. It has been discussed severally that the screening of teachers is necessary to prove location and attendance. This is where school governing boards should come in to oversee.

A DBE official addressed the question of high pregnancy rates in different districts. There is a correlation between high pregnancy rates and HIV incidence. This has led to the DBE looking into starting prevention programmes, through life orientation classes for girls. It was discovered that there has been a decrease in condom usage.

The Chairperson requested that any further responses be submitted in writing due to venue constraints, specifically the lack of air conditioning in the committee room. She concluded by asking the department to include in its written responses, an answer as to why Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers are not getting paid, regardless of what their qualifications are, if they did the work they should be paid for it. ECD is the most important part of the education system. She said the DBE has the Committee’s full support, and the written responses will be expected promptly.

The meeting was adjourned.

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