TVET & Community Education & Training Colleges migration; SETA overall performance: National Skills Authority briefing

Higher Education, Science and Technology

18 November 2015
Chairperson: Ms Y Phosa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Adult Education and Training / Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) migration
The Department of Higher Education and Training present the requested progress report on the migration of Adult Education and Training (AET) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) from the provinces to the DHET. Staffing numbers for Community Education and Training Colleges (CETC) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) were provided. Also discussed were queries from Adult Educators about human resource matters and salaries which appeared to be manageable and under control. The Task Team findings and recommendations about the Community Learning Centres (CLCs) in KZN were outlined. On the construction and refurbishment of TVET campuses. As at the end of October 2015, 85% of construction had been put in place at the campus in the Thabazimbi district and the anticipated date of completion is February 2016. The Nkandla district campus was 30% completed and the anticipated completion date is June 2016 whilst the Bhambanana district campus had a progress report of 43% and the anticipated date of completion is later in 2016. Given the increase in construction costs, the available budget may only cater for four campuses whilst DHET would have to get additional funds from other sources for the other five campuses. The Minister had approved the Delegation of Authority to College Principals to appoint and process all HR related issues including the appointment and management of staff for Salary Level 1 – 8 and Post Service Level 1 – 3. DHET had made a submission to the Minister requesting approval of the process and conditions for making lecturing staff permanent. The Department had started a process of identifying the backlogs of pay progression with a view to correcting them.

The Chairperson cautioned that the zero percent no fee increase would have a spiral effect on the TVET colleagues if not proactively attended to. The R2.3 billion to offset the cost of no fee increase was only limited to universities and did not apply to TVET colleges. These issues could not be dealt with piecemeal. TVET college fees must not be increased or else the country would experience another protest.

The Chief Financial Officer confirmed that the Task Team was aware of the impact of the zero percent increment in fees. DHET had previously submitted documentation to National Treasury on below the baseline funding for TVET colleges. This had been a DHET concern for the past two to three financial years. DHET had not only motivated for additional subsidy funding, but also on the increase of NSFAS funding for the TVET sector and also infrastructure grants as there is no dedicated infrastructure grants for TVET colleges, unlike at university level. The current ability of the Department to reprioritise is almost zero and if the Department should reprioritise from one sector to another sector, it would certainly damage the sector from which funds were being reprioritised. Currently, the DHET has a sum of R300 million to offset the cost of the zero percent increase. It is therefore needful that the baseline for the Department be increased.

The Chairperson replied that DHET did not give accurate figures as to as to the exact amount needed to offset the 2016 zero increase for both universities and TVET colleges. Additional protests must be prevented from springing up in the TVET sector as it would be difficult to manage.

Members asked what the legal standpoint was about the availability of facilities being dependent on Centre Manager; what the baseline shortfall is for TVET students eligible for NSFAS funding; what percentage of students would be underfunded or unfunded in the TVET sector in 2016; how building tenders were cancelled due to unsuitable contractors; the dangers of delaying building; why there were double parkers if there was a high unemployment rate and what would happen to them. Members commented that DHET must be sensitive to the previous experiences of the people in KZN about Adult Education when dealing with the task team recommendations; the outstanding funds in KZN should be tracked, as they could not just disappear. The Chairperson said that the disturbing issue was that the relocation process of TVET colleges had only been conducted in four provinces. What about the other five provinces?

In its response, the Department proposed a timeframe of about two to five years to deal with double parking and unqualified educators. The shortfall on funding for TVET colleges in 2015 was R3 billion but this would increase to R4.7 billion by 2016. This amount did not include the shortfall that would be created by a no fee increment. In the same vein, the NSFAS shortfall for 2015 is R1.6 billion and for 2016 would be R2.3 billion. The Department could provide the Committee with the full set of data with all the numbers and motivations that were previously submitted to the Treasury and which had not led to increased funding in past years.

The Chairperson suggested that the proposal by Mr Patel to create a balance between infrastructure, lecturers and the budget by slowing down the enrolment process was not a practicable one. The clarion call being made by the Government is that every young person must be educated either through the universities or through the colleges. The Department must therefore come up with innovative and radicalised interventions to ensure this. Another Member asked what type of recourse would be available to students in these colleges who had been asked to pay some form of upfront fees that they were not supposed to pay.

DHET replied that the agreement reached with the colleges was that there would be no fee increases outside of the already adjusted CPIX increase even though the policy allowed the colleges to vary its fee increases within a ten percent range. This statement was vehemently refuted by the Chairperson who said that there was to be no fee increase at all and not an adjusted increase. DHET responded that no NSFAS student should be charged any kind of fee as NSFAS pays upfront to colleges to ensure that they do not charge the students who qualified for NSFAS. If a student experienced difficulties, it must be brought to the notice of the Department so it could intervene. The CFO replied that in terms of the adjusted estimates process there are specific criteria and limitations that exist in the PFMA and Treasury regulations for a department to be able to request additional funding and the Department was disqualified based on some of these limitations.

The Chairperson criticised the delayed TVET infrastructure. There was problem with the Department’s supply chain management in having only incapacitated service providers tender for the construction of colleges. As a result, the whole sector has been negatively impacted and there is no completed infrastructure to accommodate the increased enrolment. She recommended that 'consequence management' should be applied. She identified the following challenges from the engagement with the DHET:
- Strengthening of the nine district offices and nine TVET colleges
- Budgetary constraints for TVET colleges
- Increased access
- Quality education
- Infrastructure development
- Delayed infrastructure implementation
- Double parking of staff and management
- Unqualified staff
- Outstanding salary progression
- Outstanding pension updates
- Actual quantification of the zero percent increase at TVET.

SETA overall performance: National Skills Authority briefing
The board chairperson of National Skills Authority highlighted the Skills Development Act provisions that required the NSA to execute an oversight and advisory role over the NSDS policy and implementation. The NSA has begun a process of developing a business case on monitoring and evaluation to ensure full execution of this new role.

Despite the late appointment of the fourth term of NSA by nine months, the Authority had already made strides including determining the strategic focus areas on which to advise the Minister. Progress to date:
- Fourth term strategic focus areas had been approved and the work plans of the committees aligned.
- Terms of reference for the committees revised to achieve the Skills Development Act mandate whilst transiting into the new role of monitoring and evaluation (MandE).
- NSA Constitution and Code of Conduct were adopted whilst the relevant committee undertook their review.
- Work Integrated Learning workshop convened to solicit input into the Work Place Based Learning Policy framework and to encourage uptake of graduates into workplaces. This was also complemented by the research colloquium in which advice was provided on: the appointment of SETA Chairpersons; and the SETA Grant Regulations Court judgement.
- The extension of the NSDS III with additional priorities until 2018.
- The re-establishment of the current SETA landscape until 2018 to allow for the review.
- The release of the proposal document on the NSDS and SETA landscape beyond 2018 for consultation.
Recently the NSA project and activities were funded from the special NSF allocation for the NSA priorities which were the repositioning of the NSA through the MandE business case, the impact study on NSDS III, the development of the WPBL framework and the capacity building of constituencies

In summary, the NSA had observed that:
▪ The planning capacity of SETAs is weak
- a number of SETAs have misaligned goals, objectives, outputs, indicators and targets, SETAs should improve the quality of indicators and targets, which are often not SMART
- there is widespread challenge to meet targets.
▪ Planning documents did not always reflect the analysis of and responding to the implications of national development strategies such as the NDP.
- little attention is paid to tracking and reporting on performance against the impacts
- this reflects a lack of appreciation of the important role that SETAs has to play in the pursuit of national development priorities.
▪ The constitution of SETA boards was largely in line with the standard constitution.
- SETAs were generally in compliance in terms of established board sub-committees.
- There were few cases where the number of board meetings was excessive. This may indicate a failure to separate responsibility for governance and operations.
- SETAs under administration have shown a general trend of improvement under administration in terms of audit findings. It is not possible to say whether administration has improved performance by studying one year of plans and reports. There would need to be a review of at least two years.
▪ Audit findings for SETAs are generally positive.
- There is a general problem in the area of budget management with SETAs showing huge negative variances between budgets and actual.
- It was noted that SETAs are sitting on significant amounts of surplus funds.

Members raised concerns about monitoring and evaluation. What happened when the NSA realised that the SETAs were failing to deliver their mandate or working according to plan. At what point did NSA intervene when they noticed underperformance with SETAs. What measures had been put in place by the NSA to ensure improved performance. The shift in the budget trend of the NSA budget expenditure was queried due to a huge increase in personnel expenditure but a decrease in the operational budget in 2014/15. Since most of the SETA targets were not measurable, how does that NSA hold the SETAs accountable? How huge were the SETA surpluses? Would it be legal for this surplus to be reprioritised for another sector such as paying for the university shortfall that came from the zero fee increase?

The Chairperson said that the White Paper on education and training had been adopted and officially launched, that meant that it was now at its implementation stage. The White Paper states that the NSA should concentrate on the evaluation and monitoring of SETAs. The NSA must get a monitoring and evaluation tool that could be used to monitor the SETAs. No excuses were tenable. The NSA must be radical and innovative in assisting the government to carry out its mandate through the SETAs.

The Chairperson in her closing remarks emphasised that the NSA must no longer delay in its advisory role to the Minister as this delay could inhibit his proper decision making on skills development in the country. There should be no more excuses as excuses do not help the country. It is apparent that there is an ineffective evaluation and monitoring of SETAs hence their poor performance. She stressed that the Committee needed value for money and the NSA must continually prove its reason for existence. It was sheer wasteful expenditure when there was no impact or benefit from overseas trips. She appreciated the advice that the NSA gave to the Minister on the extension of the NSDS III and the SETA landscape. She however hoped that it was not for personal gain as the Committee was not sure of what informed the decision to extend the tenure. The Committee would want to get the report on the post 2018 SETA landscape at the next engagement with the NSA. The National Skills Development council must also be invited to the Committee to present their extension strategy on NSDS III.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson requested that everyone observe some moments of silence for prayers and meditation. She gave a brief rationale for convening of the meeting. On 5 August, 2015, the Committee met with the Department (DHET) and the Committee requested a report on the challenges encountered with the payment of salaries of the Adult Educators. This request was informed by letters and queries received from the public that teachers were resigning because they were not being adequately paid. The Committee also requested a progress report on the function shift of TVET and CETC sectors from April to date. The National Skills Authority was requested to report on the implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy III (2011-2016; extended to 2018) for the period 2013 to 2015. SETA licensing would come to an end on 31 March 2016 and it was imperative for the NSA to report on SETA performance. She however noted that the licensing of SETA has been approved for another two years.

Adult Education and Training / Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) migration
Mr Firoz Patel, DHET DDG: Planning and Monitoring, Dr Bheki Mahlobo, Acting DDG: TVET, Ms Lulama Mbobo, DDG: Corporate Services, gave a progress report on the migration of Adult Education and Training (AET) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) from the provinces to the DHET.

Mr Patel presented an overview of Continuing Education and Training Colleges (CETC) and the TVET staff,  the filling of function shift posts, the function shift queries as at 30 October 2015, the Task Team report on Community Learning Centres in KwaZulu Natal, the interventions initiated to resolve delays in payment of claims, the future plans to make the payment method more efficient and the priority areas moving forward.

Total number of staff is 36 394. CETC staff in posts are 10 178, 7 403 being claims for KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape and 1 735 for fixed stipends in the Northern Cape and North-West. TVET college staff are 16 690. CETC staff in Regional Offices is 276, whilst TVET has 112 in Regional Offices. Total posts created on the filling of Function Shift Posts is 147, posts withdrawn – 3, posts re-advertised – 1, total posts advertised – 143, interviews finalised – 113, short-listing stage – 30, appointments made – 63 and recommended appointment made – 50.
 

Total queries received as at 30 October 2015 were 362 with human resource administration (HRA) queries and  salary related queries were 222 (of which 86% resolved and the provincial breakdown was KwaZulu-Natal were 173, Limpopo – 24, North-West – 12, Free State – 7 and Mpumalanga – 6).

He reported on the Task Team findings on the Community Learning Centres (CLCs) Operations in KZN Region. The Acting Deputy Director-General: Vocational and Continuing Education and Training (VCET) commissioned an investigation into the operations of the Community Learning Centres (CLCs) in KZN. The task team consisting of Western Cape, Gauteng, Head Office, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape officials, conducted an investigation from 29 September 2015 to 1 October 2015 and focussed on the possible clustering of CLCs; the replacement of claims system with fixed-term contract system; and the possible termination of the contracts of double parkers. The Task Team Report findings on CLC Operations in KZN Region were:
- More than 50% of the educators in the region are unqualified with most of them in possession of a Grade 12 certificate only. Some of them are in possession of a one year or two-year certificate. In most cases, the Centre Managers are “double-parkers” as they are full-time educators at the host institution and educators at the CLCs.
- The total number of educators is 3 256 out of which 22% are “double-parkers” whilst 78% are dedicated educators.
- Most CLCs are hosted by public schools. Access to the facilities is, in some cases are linked to the availability and appointment of the “double parker” as Centre Manager.
- The KZN Region still uses the monthly claim system which makes educators receive their payment extremely late. For most of the educators in the region, this is their only source of income.
- CLCs do not have staff establishments; as a result, the region does not have proper control over the number of educators being appointed and on the management of the CETC budget.
- With an average of 6 000 educators and 49 797 learners, the region effectively operates on an average learner-educator ratio of 1:8 and this is not cost effective.
- There is no differentiation in the appointment of Centre Managers. All Centre Managers, notwithstanding the difference in size, are remunerated at two hours per day, four days a week.

The Task Team made these recommendations:
- A management plan should be developed by the Region giving effect to the proposed clustering of Centres and termination of contracts of double-parkers, where possible.
- Such a plan must stipulate, amongst other things, clearly identifiable milestones. 
- All lecturers to be appointed on a fixed-term contract from 1 January 2016 and paid via PERSAL.
- The current claiming system should be terminated. 
- Each CLC should be provided with a staff establishment in order to control/manage the number of educators being appointed in the Region.
- The provision of educational services to the Department of Correctional Services, funded by the Region, must be investigated urgently so that due processes could be followed to ensure such funding is terminated as at 31 December 2015. 
- An in-service training should be developed to address the needs of unqualified educators. 
- The clustering of centres should be revisited to further reduce the number of centres to less than 135.
- Rolling-out the capturing of data on Excel spreadsheet for bulk upload to District Offices where automatic interface was not taking place.
- Filling of newly created posts to manage the workload.
- Exploring the most efficient and sustainable payment method for CETC lecturers who are still using the claims system.
- Investigating the salary queries related to under payment of salaries in Limpopo. This process is currently underway.
- The cost implications of standardising conditions of service to be calculated for the Minister’s consideration and processing. This process of standardising the conditions of service is underway.

The Task Team also recommended future plans to make payment method to staff more efficient:
- Rolling-out the capturing of data on Excel spreadsheet for bulk upload to District Offices where automatic interface was not taking place.
- Filling of newly created posts to manage the workload.
- Exploring the most efficient and sustainable payment method for CETC lecturers who are still using the claims system.
- Investigating the salary queries related to under payment of salaries in Limpopo. This process is currently underway.
- The cost implications of standardising conditions of service to be calculated for the Minister’s consideration and processing. This process of standardising the conditions of service is underway.

The Task Team reported on the High-Level Milestone Plan Achievements that were made:
- The inauguration of CETC Councils - 5 September 2015.
- The appointment of CETC Councils - 4 September 2015.
- The induction of Councils - 15 August 2015 and 4 September 2015.
- Concurrence of the Minister of Finance on the National Funding Norms and Standards for CETCs.
- National Funding Norms and Standards for CETCs published in Government Gazette - 9 November 2015.
- Post-function shift induction workshops 7 September to 30 October 2015 for 50 TVET colleges, 9 CETCs and 9 Regional Offices.
- A total number of 778 delegations were covered inclusive of TVET and CET Colleges, Regional Offices, TVET College Staff and CETC District Officials.
- The strategic plan workshop for the 9 CETCs was held from 15 to 17 October 2015.

The priority areas were enumerated. Some of which were:
- The CETCs must submit their four year plans and Annual Performance Plans (APP) for Minister’s approval before end of November 2015.
- A working session had been undertaken to confirm internal DHET sign-off of the policies. Policies to be finalised by end of November 2015. The policies would be consulted with labour and Principals with a view to implement in April 2016.
- Finance (VCET: Financial Planning) has revised 29 policies to enable standardisation of conditions of service. Labour Relations has also revised 45 policies to enable standardisation of conditions of service. Determination of costs associated with standardisation of conditions of service yet to be finalised.
- Proposal on both CET and TVET colleges post provisioning norms to be presented by the end of November 2015 for Minister’s consideration and approval.
- Determination and sourcing of funds for backlogs and bringing up to date of the non-implementation of collective agreements liability up to 31 March 2015 and updating it for 2015/16 going forward.
- Process is underway to make all contract appointments permanent according to LRA amendment criteria.
- Procurement instruction had been sent to the Department of Public Works
- Tender processes commenced for securing offices for nine regional offices
- All files of transferred staff to be submitted to the Department by November 2015.
- The relocation process has been conducted in Free State, Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

Dr Bheki Mahlobo, Acting DDG: TVET gave a presentation on the infrastructure of TVET, saying DHET had made a commitment to the construction and refurbishment of campuses. As at the end of October 2015, 85% of construction had been put in place at the campus in the Thabazimbi district and the anticipated date of completion is February 2016. The Nkandla district campus as at the end of October was 30% completed and the anticipated completion date is June 2016 whilst the Bhambanana district campus had a progress report of 43% and the anticipated date of completion is 2016. The starter budget for the three campuses from the NSF is R300 million which would be used for the initial operation of the three campuses. Additionally, given the increase in construction costs, the available budget may not be able to cover all the other nine campuses. The available funding may only cater for four campuses whilst the Department would have to get additional funds from other sources for the other five campuses. With regards to tenders, initially, the Department got its tenders evaluated but the Department could not find suitable contractors. So the initial tenders were cancelled and a new set was published so that the Department could get contractors for the four campuses whilst sourcing funds for the other five campuses.

Ms Lulama Mbobo, DHET DDG: Corporate Services, said the Minister had approved the Delegation of Authority to College Principals to appoint and process all HR related issues including the appointment and management of staff for Salary Level 1 – 8 and Post Service level 1 – 3. DHET also embarked on the process of addressing the Relative Value Coefficient (RVQ) qualifications backlogs. The Department hoped to finalise this process by the end of February 2016. DHET submitted a submission to the Minister requesting approval of the process and conditions for making lecturing staff permanent. Therefore whilst the moratorium is being put in place on the terminations of staff, the DHET had requested that the Minister approve a process that would lead to their permanency. A number of colleges have not been complying with performance management and as a result there would be backlogs in terms of pay progression. DHET thus started a process of identifying such backlogs with a view to correcting them. It also inherited some pension staff who were promoted by colleges but not promoted by the provincial departments, as a result their pensions were not paid because they were being paid on two different salary scales. This issue was also in the process of being rectified.

The Chairperson requested that the Chief Financial Officer give his report. She cautioned that the zero percent no fee increase for universities would have a spiral effect on the TVET colleges if not proactively attended to. The R2.3 billion needed to offset the cost of no fee increase in universities was only limited to universities and did not apply to TVET colleges. These issues could not be dealt with piecemeal. The CFO should therefore present how much it would cost to offset the zero percent fee increase in TVET colleges. She stressed that the fees of the TVET colleges must not be increased or else the country would experience another protest and that must not happen.

Mr Theuns Tredoux, DHET CFO, confirmed that the Task Team was aware of the impact that the zero percent increment in university fees would have. The Department had previously submitted documentation to National Treasury on the below the baseline funding for TVET colleges which had been DHET's concern for the past two to three financial years already and this had been communicated to Treasury. DHET had not only motivated for additional subsidy funding, but also for an increase for NSFAS for the TVET sector and also infrastructure grants as there is no dedicated infrastructure grants for TVET colleges as existed at the university level. Even when the TVET colleges were under Provincial supervision, only the Western and Eastern Cape were given very minimal allocation for infrastructure development. Additionally, the current ability of the Department to reprioritise is almost zero and if the Department should reprioritise from one sector to another sector, it would certainly damage the sector from which funds were being reprioritised from. Currently, the DHET has a sum of R300 million to offset the cost of the zero percent increase. It is therefore needful that the baseline for the Department be increased.

Discussion
The Chairperson appreciated the additional information provided to the Committee to make informed decisions although the information did not give accurate figures as to the exact amount needed to offset the 2016 zero increase for both universities and TVET colleges. She emphasised that additional protests must be prevented from springing up in the TVET sector as it would be too great to manage. Leaders must be proactive and must not allow students to force or dictate events. The recent happenings at campuses were a wrong precedent that must not be allowed to continue.

Mr Y Cassim (DA) raised questions about the investigation conducted at TVET centres in KZN. In terms of the unqualified educators and double parkers, did DHET have any information for other parts of the country since this investigation was limited to KZN. The severity may be different in other provinces and so this state of events in KZN may not be a true representation of what exists in the country. What is the legal standpoint on the availability of facilities being dependent on the Centre Managers as these facilities are not owned by the Centre Mangers? What is DHET doing about the unavailability of facilities so that it does not negatively impact the effectiveness of the program? On the educator-learner ratio of 1:8, what is the target ratio that would ensure quality within the sector? What steps would be taken to move towards that targeted ratio? The Appropriations Standing Committee reported about two weeks ago to this Committee that about R30 billion was the baseline shortfall in the TVET sector. What then is the shortfall with regards to students eligible for NSFAS within the TVET sector in terms of fully funded students? What percentage of students has the Department anticipated would be underfunded or not funded in the TVET sector in 2016?

Mr E Siwela (ANC) raised queries on the tenders cancelled due to unsuitable contractors. How is it possible that in a country like South Africa, there is an unavailability of contractors? He said contractor prices were skyrocketing, and any further delay would be detrimental to the vision of the Department. When would the new tenders be adjudicated? He asked why South Africa with a high unemployment rate would be encouraging double parkers. What would happen to the people with a Grade 12 level, would they be trained or dismissed from employment?

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Siwela on the cost implication of delayed projects. These projects are time bound and must be implemented to the letter.

Mr M Mbatha (EFF) gave a brief statement on the history of Adult Education in KZN. Between 2004 and 2009, there was a political campaign aimed at educating young and old rural women and men. This campaign was initiated by the former premier with the aim to educate about 3 million citizens. Unfortunately, this did not work out as all the education centres were closed down. The interventions put in place did not work despite the fact that they were well intended. However, more than 3 million people today could at least write their names and append their signatures. He emphasised that the Department must be very sensitive to the previous experience of the people in KZN when making their plans there. On double parking, the ideal would be to find out whether there were available funds from the previous period that were interlinked with a non education department. Did the former premier budget for the office? After restructuring, what happened to the outstanding funds? These funds should be tracked, as they could not just disappear into thin air. The three TVET colleges scheduled for completion in 2015 must be built on time so that there will not be an overflow of people without a training venue. DHET must adhere to the plan and give access to young people so that they can be educated. On the conditions of service in community colleges, most of the contracts differ from region to region because the training capacities of teachers are not the same. These issues must be considerated by the Department.

The Chairperson said that an aspect of the Department’s priority areas moving forward, was the disturbing fact that the relocation process of TVET colleges had only been conducted in four provinces. What about the other provinces in the country. In essence, the information given to the Committee so far was incomplete because not all the provinces were considered.
 
Ms M Nkadimeng (ANC) asked what would happen to the unqualified educators in KZN. What plan was the Department making to get rid of double parkers? Would DHET train the unqualified educators to replace the double parkers? It is apparent that scarce skills gave rise to double parkers in TVET colleges. If DHET gets rid of the double parkers, are there proper arrangements for the replacement of such scarce skills?

Response
Mr Firoz Patel, DDG: Planning and Monitoring, agreed that DHET indeed had to be sensitive to the context in KZN that gave rise to double parkers and unqualified educators. DHET did not blame the provinces because the Constitution allowed provinces concurrent functionality in crafting service delivery according to their provincial contextual needs. The Department therefore is not really opposing double parking and DHET is proposing a timeframe of about two to five years to plan and deal with double parking and unqualified educators. He affirmed that the exercise had not been carried out in all the provinces, however, this was in the pipeline. Each province had its own peculiarity. For example, Western Cape did not employ educators in the public centres but we accepted how they governed the sector in the past and the Department absorbed those that had been paid by governing bodies. There is no good or bad learner-educator ratio in Adult Education. This ratio is highly dependent on the circumstances on the ground and the availability of funds. Adult Education should not be a permanent position in the country because at some point illiteracy and lack of schooling must be totally eradicated. The double parking must be balanced as long as it does not interfere with the educator’s full time job. The Department would need to put timeframes in place in which unqualified educators would no longer be employed and the unqualified educators on ground should be educated. We are working with our skills development and our human resource development units and our premier offices so that the additional funds they have could be used for skills development.

Mr Patel said that in the next two to three years, one of the fundamental questions that must be dealt with is the balance between enrolment and facilities, funds  and lecturers. He proposed that before enrolment is increased, facilities and lecturers must be in place.

He noted that it is more efficient to use existing facilities for adult education but currently the facilities are under the provincial authority, therefore it is not automatic that DHET has access to use the facilities. There is an agreement to continue using the facilities until the Department had concluded its plans. In terms of the South African Schools Act, after the current Department’s agreement lapses, the schools are not obliged to grant us access to their facilities. Therefore, there is a need for a continued arrangement between the two for the use of the schools after the expiration of this current agreement. It is also important to ensure that the employees of the Department do not damage any of the facilities and some costs like maintenance and paying for electricity are borne by DHET.

Dr Bheki Mahlobo, Acting DDG: TVET, replied that the shortfall in the current funding for the TVET colleges this year was R3 billion but it is envisaged that this amount would increase to R4.7 billion by 2016. This amount did not include the shortfall that would be created by the no fee increment. For a few years now, the Department had raised an increased budget with National Treasury but up until now, the Department had been unsuccessful in increasing its funding. In the same vein, the NSFAS shortfall to enable the Department to fund students appropriately for 2015 is R1.6 billion and for 2016 this amount would increase to R2.3 billion. It is therefore apparent that if the Department's budget remains as it is, the students getting subsidies and being exempted from paying fees would reduce drastically. When DHET gets a budget allocation from Treasury, it is always adjusted upward by the CPIX, the total programme cost is then adjusted in a similar way. There is therefore a strict instruction to the colleges when the Department gives the allocation to the colleges, even though the policy allows them, they are not to increase their fees further than the CPIX adjusted provision by Treasury. On adjudicating the tenders, the Department advertised the bids, they were evaluated but at the point of due diligence, it was realised that the service providers had no capacity to deliver at all or on time. Hence, the Department had to re-advertise. DHET took a position on the TVET colleges, since some of the programmes have to be offered in the afternoon, that it was improper for the same teacher to teach in the morning through the afternoon and yet again teach in the afternoon/evening session. The quality of teaching would obviously be compromised. Therefore, DHET decided to source qualified personnel to teach and they were appointed on full time basis. The Department allowed colleges to bring in scarce skilled individuals who may be working in the industry but their skills were highly needed.

Ms Lulama Mbobo, DDG: Corporate Services, replied on the other five outstanding provinces, saying that there is a plan on ground. However, the migration in these provinces were delayed because the provinces themselves were being audited and the provinces requested that the migration be delayed. There is a challenge for space both for the finance and the HR registry. Our target however is that by the end of January 2016, the registry would be fully operational.

Mr Theuns Tredoux, DHET CFO, added that the shortfall amounts given by Mr Mahlobo were just to access the current baseline and did not include additions or expansions. It is true that the Department needed to improve its efficiency, but without the increase in the budget, this would be impossible. Student debt is greatly increasing currently because not all the NSFAS students could be fully funded or assisted and the various institutions had no choice but to carry the debt burden. This is a huge pending issue that would have to be dealt with shortly. There has also been certain limitations on expansion and additional resources would certainly be needed. He proposed that the Department could provide the Committee with the full set of data with all the various numbers and motivations that were submitted to Treasury.

The Chairperson suggested that the proposal by Mr Patel to create a balance between infrastructure, lecturers and the budget by slowing down the enrolment process was not a practicable one. The clarion call being made by the Government is that every student must be educated either through the university system or through the TVET colleges. The Department must therefore come up with innovative and radicalised interventions to ensure this.

Mr Patel clarified that what he meant was that it was impossible to budget for enrolment whilst additional lecturers and facilities were not similarly budgeted for.

Mr Cassim asked what increases were taking place in the TVET colleges currently. He welcomed the proposal by Mr Tredoux of the full set of data being made available to the Committee. This would enhance a more informed discussion and oversight over the Department by the Committee. On the function shift at the TVET colleges, how was DHET monitoring compliance within these colleges? What type of recourse would be available to students in these colleges who despite being NSFAS beneficiaries were asked to pay some form of upfront fees that they were not supposed to pay? In certain instances, these upfront fees were registration or accommodation upfront fees. What type of monitoring capacity exists within the Department to curb this in the over 250 university campuses and TVET colleges in the country? To what extent were the targets in the White Paper, NDP and DHET being met? Were there specific interventions that would have to take place on those targets? Why had DHET not requested additional funds from the adjusted appropriations process which was currently before Parliament, in light of its inability to reprioritise its funds?

Mr Mahlobo explained that the agreement reached with the college principals was that there would be no fee increases outside of the already adjusted CPIX increase even though the policy allowed colleges to vary its fee increases within a ten percent range. On compliance, if there are colleges that were charging upfront fees from returning students who in the previous year qualified for NSFAS, then that situation must be brought to the notice of the Department so it could intervene on behalf of the students. No NSFAS student should be charged any kind of fee. NSFAS pays upfront to colleges to ensure that the schools do not charge the students who qualified for NSFAS. Students that were likely victims of being charged upfront fees were basically the new students that had not had a previous determination of whether they would qualify for NSFAS funding. Part of the additional funding DHET had been requesting from Treasury was to strengthen its capacity to effectively monitor the system. However, with the lack of additional funding, DHET staff which were closer to these schools were instructed to monitor the schools on a frequent basis. On the revised targets for next year, the targets set by DHET for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) in its Annual Performance Plan (APP) presented earlier this year, have not been revised for 2016.

On the adjusted appropriations process currently before Parliament, Mr Tredoux explained that there are specific criteria that exist in the PFMA and Treasury regulations for a department to be able to request additional funding. Treasury also prescribed certain limitations on requests for additional funding and the Department was disqualified based on some of these limitations.

The Chairperson commented on the delayed infrastructure in the TVET sector. From the report given by DHET, it was obvious that there was problem with the Department’s Supply Chain Management Committee as that committee is in charge of appointing service providers. How did DHET find only incapacitated service providers and as a result, the whole sector had been negatively impacted. Now there is no completed infrastructure to accommodate the new increased access. She recommended that the SCM committee at DHET should be reviewed and if need be 'consequence management' should be applied. She emphasised that there must be no fee increase in the TVET colleges for now until the presidential task team informs the country on the way forward.

In summary, the Chairperson said that it was indeed obvious that some progress had been made. She reminded the Department that the matters raised by members should be acted upon because at the next engagement with the Committee, these areas would be revisited to assess progresses made. The following were the challenges that the Committee observed based on the presentation and engagement with DHET:
- Strengthening of the nine district offices and nine TVET colleges
- Budgetary constraints for TVET colleges
- Increased access
- Quality education
- Infrastructure development
- Delayed infrastructure implementation
- Double parking of staff and management
- Unqualified staff
- Outstanding salary progression
- Outstanding pension updates
- Actual quantification of the zero percent increase at TVET.
She said that the Committee would respond appropriately to the challenges uncovered by the engagement.

National Skills Authority (NSA) on Sector Education and Training Authorities overall performance
The Chairperson invited the National Skills Authority to present its performance report, noting the impact and challenges of the SETAs and how the NSA assisted SETA in achieving its mandate and strategic objectives. The Committee wanted to know how the NSA had radicalised its interventions on SETAs.

Mr Thulani Tshefuta, NSA board chairperson, noted this engagement was the first since the new board had assumed office. He noted the mandate, functions and structure and provided background on the NSA. The Skills Development Act required the NSA to execute an oversight and advisory role over the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) policy and implementation. The NSA has begun a process of developing a business case on monitoring and evaluation to ensure full execution of this new role. Monitoring and evaluation is imperative as it measures impact and this is reliant on the integration of varied sources of data. The Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC) is appointed to assist the NSA to align its new function with the current M&E framework of government. GTAC would need to:
- conduct a diagnostic analysis to confirm the need for a repositioned NSA whose role focused not only on monitoring and evaluation (MandE) for the SETAs, but also for the whole skills sector; information and knowledge management; policy dialogue facilitation and macro-level planning;
- determine the capabilities required by the NSA to deliver on these priorities;
- complete a costed business case with comprehensive risk assessment and a cost benefit analysis;
- include an implementation plan, with a MandE plan to manage the implementation process.

The NSA's third term strategic areas were highlighted. The Minister had been advised over the transition period on these strategic areas and these remain the bedrock for the fourth term focus areas. These are:
- Review the skills development legislative framework to support integration of Education and Training and national government (inclusive of the National Skills Fund (NSF) framework)
- Coordinate consultation process on the review of the Skills System, NSDS III and the SETA landscape with stakeholders and the Provincial Skills Development Forum (PSDFs) to provide advice to Minister by 2016.
- Develop and implement M&E framework in terms of the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training including the development of the business case.
- Mobilisation of business, government, community and labour to take full ownership of the NSDS III and the development of the related framework (including mobilisation of the SADC Region).
- Strengthen M&E functions, particularly in respect of the performance and governance of the NSDS III.
- Coordinate and promote research, development and innovations so that business enterprise opportunities would be created to benefit communities and the vulnerable in particular.

Despite the late appointment of the fourth term of the NSA by nine months, the Authority had already made strides including determining the strategic focus areas on which to advise the Minister and to enhance the skills development environment. The third term of the NSA ended on 30 June 2014 and due to delays, the fourth term of the NSA commenced in March 2015 and had their inaugural meeting on 29-30 April 2015. Given the anticipated backlog, the NSA was workshopped on the previous third term, inducted on the role and mandate as well as updated on the pressing issues requiring advice. These included:
- Review of the NSA strategic focus areas,
- Update on the service level agreements of the SETAs as well as their performance
- Sector skills plans (general undertakings – Minister and Chairpersons’ meetings)
- Update on the work of Human Resource Development Council (HRDC)
- Development of the NSDS IV and SETA landscape process
- Governance and performance of the SETAs including appointments of chairpersons
- SETA Grant Regulations Labour Court judgement

He highlighted progress made to date:
- Fourth term strategic focus areas had been approved and the work plans of the committees aligned.
- Terms of reference for committees revised to achieve the Skills Development Act mandate whilst transiting into the new role of MandE.
- NSA Constitution and Code of Conduct were adopted whilst the relevant committee undertook their review.
- Work Integrated Learning workshop convened to solicit input into the Work Place Based Learning Policy framework and to encourage uptake of graduates into workplaces. This was also complemented by the research colloquium in which advice was provided on: the appointment of SETA Chairpersons; and the SETA Grant Regulations Court judgement.
- The extension of the NSDS III with additional priorities until 2018.
- The re-establishment of the current SETA landscape until 2018 to allow for the review.
- The release of the proposal document on the NSDS and SETA landscape beyond 2018 for consultation.

The NSA convened workshops to address strategic matters and some of these were:
- Meetings with the Minister on the SETA Grant Regulations, SETA landscape and NSDS proposal, and other priorities in skills development.
- Addressing the Public Service Trainers Forum (HRD managers of all provinces and national government departments) on the need to open workplaces for the WIL and to fast track implementation of NSDS III. Consultation on the envisaged NSDS and SETA landscape made.
- Meeting with the SETA Chairpersons and the CEOs to address MandE matters related to NSDS III implementation, governance and also to initiate the consultation process.
- Working session with the SETA MandE managers to ensure common understanding in reporting against the NSDS III.
- Meeting with the Provincial Skills Development Forums (PSDFs) from all provincial on MandE of the NSDS III and consultation on the NSDS and SETA landscape proposal.

Scope of the work required to undertake SETA Landscape-NSDS Review Process include:
- Analysing key legislative prescripts impacting on the NSDS and SETA landscape to ensure that the review responds to the needs of an integrated post-school education and training system: White Paper for Post-School Education and Training; Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report on the performance of SETAs; Skills Development System Review report; National Development Plan (NDP); Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP).
- Developing criteria for the review of the SETA landscape and the NSDS
- Consulting NSA Constituencies, PSDFs, and other interested stakeholders on the NSDS.
- Consolidating public comments on the NSDS and SETA landscape review
- Providing advice to the Minister.

An invitation had been extended to the Portfolio Committee for the unveiling of the new NSA board which would take place on 26 November in Midrand.

Mr Zukile Mvalo, DDG: Skills Development, clarified that the NSA was different from other public institutions as listed in Public Finance Management Act. As the NSA is an advisory body to DHET it does not present audited reports to Parliament. There were still ongoing discussions on whether the NSA would be an expert NSA or be the NSA as it has already been constituted. These discussions were informed by the NSA's new MandE role.

Dr Thabo Mashongoane, Executive Manager: NSA Secretariat, presented NSA performance vis-a-vis its goals and targets and also gave an overview on the assessment and performance of SETAs on three specific focus areas:
- Governing of the SETAs,
- Performance of the SETAs, and 
- Financial information of the SETAs.

He said NSA receives a budget allocation from DHET through voted funds and these funds are for administration activities such as personnel expenses for Secretariat staff, administration and logistics such as printing, travelling, venues, and subsistence. The NSA Secretariat housed in the Skills Development branch of DHET, is responsible for the allocation. Recently the NSA project and activities are funded from the special NSF allocation for the NSA priorities (repositioning of the NSA through the MandE business case, the impact study on the NSDS III, the development of the workplace-based learning (WPBL) framework and the capacity building of constituencies and Skills Development system).

Emanating from the NSA key strategic objectives, the NSA identified a number of projects that needed implementation to achieve the strategic objectives. The details of the projects were:
- Constituency Capacity building project which was aimed at building the capacity of the NSA constituencies on the post-school education and training system and the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III) objectives.
- Skills marketing and communication aimed at promoting and advocating the NSDS and the work of the National Skills Authority.
- Provincial Skills Development Forums targeted at driving the implementation of the skills development agenda in Provinces.
- Skills research and legislative review targeted at improving the effectiveness, efficiency and relevance in the skills development and training system.
- Strengthening the institutional capacity of the NSA Secretariat which was intended to build and strengthen the capacity of the NSA and Secretariat so as to effectively execute its legislated mandate.
- Monitoring and evaluation aimed at aligning the mandate of the NSA as per the Skills Development Act and the White Paper for post-school education and training.
- Stakeholder mobilisation/National-Public Dialogue and Advocacy aimed at creating awareness and mobilising business, government, community and labour to take full ownership of the NSDS III and the development of the related framework.

Dr Mashongoane touched briefly on the NSA Budget Estimates between years 2009/10 and 2014/15. Compensation of employees in 2013/14 R2 758 221 whilst in 2014/15 it was R4 372 000. Goods and Services in 2013/14 R1 772 000 whilst in 2014/15 it was R1 418 000. There had been a decline in the allocation for goods and services between 2013/14 and 2014/15, however there was an increase in the amount expended on employees and this was as a result of more personnel being employed.

Ms Sally Mangubewa, NSA Deputy Director: Administration, presented the NSDS III Implementation Progress 2013-2015. The NSDS goals were:
- Goal 4.1 - Establishing a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning
- Goal 4.2 - Increasing access to occupationally‐directed programmes
- Goal 4.3 - Promoting the growth of a public TVET College system that is responsive to sector, local, regional and national skills needs and priorities
- Goal 4.4 - Addressing the low level of youth and adult language and numeracy skills to enable additional training
- Goal 4.5 - Encouraging better use of workplace-based skills development
- Goal 4.6 - Encouraging and supporting cooperatives, small enterprises, worker-initiated, NGO and community training initiatives
- Goal 4.7 - Increasing public sector capacity for improved service delivery and supporting the building of a developmental state
- Goal 4.8 - Building career and vocational guidance.

It had been observed that there had been an issue about target setting. There had been a shift to the uptake of bursaries, the uptake of internships and less focus on skills programme. She indicated the targets set and the performance. In terms of learnerships, 108% was achieved in the enrolment target. The unemployed target increased by 6%. In terms of learnerships for the unemployed, a 97% target was achieved. For bursaries, a 96% target was achieved. There was a decrease in support given to the NGOs. Other increases, decreases and achieved targets were listed in the presentation. On career guidance, the NSA indicted that there was a misinterpretation on what a SETA was reporting as booklets and events which was an aspect that needed to be looked into so as to decide what must be monitored in that aspect.
           
On the SETA Performance Review, Dr Mashongoane noted the sources of information used to conduct the assessment are SETA Annual Performance Plans (APPs), the Annual Reports, the Auditor General’s Report and the AG management reports. The review noted:
- 14 of the 21 SETA plans showed links between strategic outcomes oriented goals, strategic objectives, performance indicators and targets.
- 15 of SETAs have aligned their plans to the National Planning documents.
- Six of SETAs showed only partial alignment with national plans.
- The indicators of nine SETAs adhered to the SMART principle, six other indicators were deemed partially SMART whilst another six indicators of the SETAs did not comply with the SMART principle at all.
- Reporting on strategic objectives between the Annual Report (AR) and Auditor-General (AG) report was consistent for 13 SETAs.
- Reporting on outputs between the AR and the AG report was consistent for 18 SETAs.
- 3 SETAs had no consistency in reporting because the targets reported in the AR were not the same as those contained in the APP.
- There were 16 SETAs where performance against outputs was reported in the Annual Report.
- Partial reporting were observed in the case of four SETAs.
- The targets in the APP were met by seven SETAs.
- 10 SETAs, the extent of achievement were deemed to be partial because they missed a few of their targets.
- Reasons for deviation from targets are deemed credible for nine SETAs whilst in the case of seven SETAs, the reasons were deemed to be partly credible because it was only in a few cases where credibility was questioned.
- There were 6 SETAs where there were evidences that a plan to address the challenges identified in the annual report were developed and implemented.
- There is evidence of improvements in audit outcomes for 11 SETAs based on comparing AG findings for 2014/15 and 2013/14.
- There is evidence that performance against strategic goals is assessed for six SETAs.
(Additional information was included in the document).

With the exception of the SETAs that had no boards because they were under administration, the composition of all except the MICT were in line with the constitution. MICT had more employer representatives (7) than labour (5). The number of board meetings for all but two of the SETAs was deemed appropriate. The number of meetings for the FoodBev and AgriSETA were 13 each, which was deemed excessive based on the criterion. Three SETAs (CATHSSETA, LGSETA and SASSETA) were under administration and had no board meetings. All the SETAs except the three under administration all had board sub-committees. In the case of the MICT, the governance and strategy sub-committee had not been constituted. Of the three SETAs under administration, the AG reported improvements in the cases of the LGSETA and CATHSSETA. Adverse comments were given by the AG for internal control environments for six of the SETAs: CATHSSETA, EWSETA, FoodBev, FPandM SETA, merSETA and MQA.

The NSA Director said that the SETAs were faced with the challenge of linking budgets to strategic objectives and/or outputs. Majority of the SETAs had variances between budgets and expenditure. It was only in the CHIETA and EWSETA that according to the review panel, variances were less than 10%. All, except four SETAs reported surplus funds for the 2014/15 financial year. The SETAs that either had deficits or did not report surplus funds were AgriSETA, FPandM SETA, INSETA and SASSETA. Reasons provided included late receipt of levy income from government departments, the effect of new grant regulations that increased the discretionary grant allocations, National Treasury expenditure ceilings and transfers from the NSF that were not budgeted for.

In summary, the NSA had observed that:
▪ The planning capacity of SETAs is weak
- a number of SETAs have misaligned goals, objectives, outputs, indicators and targets, SETAs should improve the quality of indicators and targets, which are often not SMART
- there is widespread challenge to meet targets.
▪ Planning documents did not always reflect the analysis of and responding to the implications of national development strategies such as the NDP.
- little attention is paid to tracking and reporting on performance against the impacts
- this reflects a lack of appreciation of the important role that SETAs has to play in the pursuit of national development priorities.
▪ The constitution of SETA boards was largely in line with the standard constitution.
- SETAs were generally in compliance in terms of established board sub-committees.
- There were few cases where the number of board meetings was excessive. This may indicate a failure to separate responsibility for governance and operations.
- SETAs under administration have shown a general trend of improvement under administration in terms of audit findings. It is not possible to say whether administration has improved performance by studying one year of plans and reports. There would need to be a review of at least two years.
▪ Audit findings for SETAs are generally positive.
- There is a general problem in the area of budget management with SETAs showing huge negative variances between budgets and actual.
- It was noted that SETAs are sitting on significant amounts of surplus funds.

Dr Nashongoane highlighted more challenges and mitigation for the SETAs. There was insufficient capacity of the NSA Secretariat, the inherent structural conflict of the NSA Secretariat location within DHET, reliance on DHET for performance information of the SETAs until recently with the appointment of the current NSA in April 2015, delays in advising the Minister on Skills Development matters due to delays or insufficient information or as a result of NSA democratic processes and insufficient or lack of an effective MandE system. Funding was also a challenge for a long time until NSA received an allocation from the NSF this year. Once the repositioning/business case is concluded, the NSA would be appropriately capacitated to optimally execute its monitoring and evaluation as well as it advisory mandate.

Discussion
Mr C Kekana (ANC) asked why Ms Mangubewa was still using the old name, FET colleges, when referring to TVET colleges. The NSA must prove to the Committee that they knew their onions about the mandate given to them. He gave a brief history on the three economic policies that the country had since the advent of the new democracy and how the policies were specific in placing emphasis on skills training. In light of this, he asked how many engineers had been produced through the SETA programme. He gave the example of how a few years back, the nursing profession was highly strengthened by the college system in which nurses in training attended college to learn the theory but would then be allowed in the wards to put into practice what had been taught. Why could the SETA programme not produce artisans like plumbers which the country is in dire need of? More emphasis must be placed on practical training.

Mr Siwela raised concerns on monitoring and evaluation. What happened when the NSA realised that the SETAs were failing to deliver their mandate or working according to plan. At what point did NSA intervene when they noticed underperformance in SETAs. The Construction, Energy, Water, Health and Welfare and Public Services SETAs did not achieve their entire artisan development target, what measures had been put in place by the NSA to ensure improved performance.

Mr Mbatha said that the team had succeeded in providing clarity to some extent on the role of the NSA. It seemed that the SETAs were being given plenty of time to turn around. However, NSA did not give them warning signals so as to know what to do so as to curb underperformance. How does NSA intend to advise and assist the SETAs on the challenges observed? To what extent would the NSA give them the opportunity to turn around?

Mr Cassim raised questions about the NSA itself. If the trend in the NSA's own budget estimates were observed, it was apparent that on the compensation of employees, there seemed to be a clear trend from the 2009/10 to 2013/14 years when suddenly in 2014/15, the amount expended doubled whereas goods and services deceased in the same year. On the SETA achievement of targets in leanerships and internships, they were well below the targets even though the targets were modest and low and despite the enormous funds allocated to the SETAs. What is the plan to turn the target drop of SETAs around. What happened to individuals in the previous SETAs that were involved in financial misappropriation? Were they blacklisted out of the system and legal action taken against them? What would the NSA do to those kind of individuals? Since most of the targets were not measurable, how does NSA hold the SETAs accountable? As only seven of the SETAs met their targets in terms of their APP, was a consistent framework being developed on how targets would be set? What was the total amount of shortfalls and under expenditure in this financial year? What happened to the previous R2 billion?

The Chairperson agreed on the shift in compensation budget raised by Mr Cassim. How could there be an increase in the budget of personnel but a decrease in the operational budget? What does this mean?

Ms Nkadimeng asked why some SETAs in the educational sector were doing so well and others were not. What were their challenges? Some SETAs recorded a high dropout rate. Why was this so? What could be done to guard against this? During the Committee oversight to the West Coast TVET colleges in September, it was reported that graduate placement was very low due to lack of stipend funding from SETAs, could the NSA explain this?

Prof B Bozzoli (DA) raised objections on the whole area of skills management as she termed it was murky and the NSAs presentation had further confirmed her concerns. Why does the NSA not report to the Committee on an annual basis? She proposed that the NSA must report on its activities periodically to the Committee. It was highly hinted in the report that the NSA was not run by professionals. Since the NSA is an advisory body, then it should be made up of experts. She also noted that no comparison was made to best practice around the world in terms of its skills development. It also seems that there is a lack of mission grip in the NSA because why would the NSA want to set up a capacity building organisation? The presentation did not report on the new strategy on SETAs, was the NSA involved in the new strategy? How big were the surpluses mentioned for last year and this year? Would it be legal for this surplus to be reprioritised for another sector such as paying for the university shortfall that came from the zero fee increase?

The Chairperson said that the White Paper on Education and Training had been adopted and officially launched, that meant it was now at its implementation stage. The White Paper states that the NSA should concentrate on the evaluation and monitoring of SETAs. Therefore in addition to NSA’s advisory role, it must start looking and working on a monitoring and evaluation tool that could be used to monitor the SETAs. No excuses were tenable such as the statement made that “once the repositioning/business case is concluded, the NSA would be appropriately capacitated to optimally execute its monitoring and evaluation as well as advisory mandate” or that the board was just six months in office. The board got its clear mandate and knew exactly what was expected of it. The SETAs need adequate monitoring because they receive about R13 billion. The Committee wants to see how radical and innovative the NSA would be in assisting the government to carry out its mandate through the SETAs.

Responding, the NSA Director apologised for the wrong use of FET colleges instead of TVET colleges. He said that the NSA engages the Department and the relevant units within the Department and the SETAs to get information. The NSA also advises the Minister about SETAs. The NSA investigates, engages and advises in terms of the Act. With regards to the increase in personnel expenditure in year 2014/15, the NSA appointed two people at the Deputy Director level, one of them on a 12 month contract and the other on a 18 month contract to assist the NSA but the NSA could not sustain it. In terms of the reduction in targets, the NSA had already engaged with the SETAs but there would still be a follow-up on the quantitative aspect so as to determine and understand targets not being met. The NSA would improve on its reporting framework because its had been observed that the SETAs attached different meanings to the indicators. It had been observed that sometimes, if adequate conducive environment is not given to learners, they drop out.

Mr Tshefuta replied that the NSA accepted the suggestion of giving warning signals for the SETAs so as to get them prepared for eventualities. The NSA is on the verge of breaking through the layer in which the SETAs feel that since they have their own boards that they report to, they were not obliged to report to the NSA. The NSA had advised the Minister that on the issue of graduate placement and lack of stipends, money unutilised by SETAs who failed to achieve their targets should not be left lying idle, it should be prioritised for other areas that could also promote skill development. These areas may not necessarily be in the sector in which the money was taken from. The NSA is happy to subject itself to continuous engagement as the Portfolio Committee deemed necessary. The fact that research is part of the NSA agenda showed that the NSA was open to be influenced by best practice. It was insufficient to just identify gaps through monitoring and evaluation and to end it there. There has to be mechanisms in which recommendations would be made for capacity building interventions so that those gaps could be closed. That capacity building intervention was what informed the Turin-like centre. The NSA advised the Minister that he should extend the lifespan of NSDS III whose lifespan was to come to an end by 21 March 2016, up until 21 March 2018 because that is the strategic instrument that would continue to guide the work of SETAs and other institutions of skill development.

Mr Bhabhali Ka Mapmkela Nhlapo, NSA deputy board chairperson and the chairperson of the monitoring and evaluation committee confirmed that the advent of the White Paper would give the NSA the authority that it did not have in the previous dispensation. He however stated that the legislation would still have to be aligned with the White Paper. Every quarter, the NSA ensures that SETAs submit their financials, vis-a-vis their targets and programme performance, and these reports assist to show clearly the SETAs that had drawn on some amounts of money but their target in learnerships and internships had not been met. The NSA insists that the SETAs must produce a clear alignment between these three areas.

The Chairperson responded emphatically that the NSA needed to be much more radical and proactive. There was a lot of money in the SETAs coffers that was lying idle. This was unacceptable. The NSA could not keep waiting for the legal framework and then put a hold on all that must be done. There has been a poor performance by the NSA in this area. The NSA must deliver and bear in mind that punitive measures could be meted out to those that do not deliver as they should. She stressed that everyone must seek to earn their salaries and ensure that SETAs are delivering. Everyone must therefore think beyond himself or herself and assist the country in meeting its targets.

Mr Kekana suggested more areas that the NSA could look into. For example, he had been informed that there is only one Spectrum Engineer in South Africa, why could the NSA not train more Spectrum technicians to fill the needed vacuum.

Mr Tshefuta appreciated the comments which would empower the NSA for its next engagement with the Committee.

The Chairperson thanked the NSA for the presentation, their advisory role to the Minister and the monitoring and evaluation role to the SETAs. She emphasised that there should be no delays in its advisory role to the Minister so that the Minister was not overtaken by events that would inhibit his proper decision making on skills development in the country. There should be no more excuses as excuses do not help the country. Progress is highly needed. It is apparent that there is an ineffective evaluation and monitoring of SETAs hence their poor performance. The Committee wants value for money. The NSA must continually prove its reason for existence. These issues were not about individuals but about inclusive economic growth and the development of the country. The research area is well appreciated as it gives room for new information that would enrich the programmes and the Minister’s decision. The workplace based learning policy framework had been mentioned by the NSA and the Committee was looking forward to its implementation. She emphasised that it was sheer wasteful expenditure when there was no impact and benefit from overseas trips. The effect of the trips should be obvious in the unit. She appreciated the advice that the NSA gave to the Minister on the extension of the NSDS III and the SETA landscape. She was not sure of what informed the decision to extend the tenure but she hoped that it was not for personal gain or selfish reasons. At the next meeting, the Committee would want to get the report on the post 2018 SETA landscape. She noted that the Skills Development Forum was mentioned in only eight provinces, why was one province left out? The National Skills Development Council must also be invited to the Committee to present their extension strategy on NSDS III. The Committee was in total agreement with the annual engagement with the NSA so that improvement and evaluation strategies initiated could be presented. Finally, there must be a shift from consumption to investment by the NSA.
 

Meeting adjourned.

[Apologies: Mrs J Kilian (ANC); Ms S Mchunu (ANC); Mr Blade Nzimande (Minister); Mr Mduduzi Manana (Deputy Minister) ; Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde (Director General)]

 

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