The Department of Basic Education replied to questions remaining from the previous meeting on infrastructure, mismatch of skills, accountability and new teachers.
The outstanding information from Limpopo on its School Nutrition Programme tenders was supplied to answer the questions dealing with a petition from Limpopo Province that the DA had brought to Parliament. It was made clear that members of the department who were identified as being involved in family or personal tenders had been suspended. Links to the politically connected had not been established. There was general agreement on the need for greater accountability. The Deputy Minister spoke of the need for Parliament to exact oversight over the provincial departments of education.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented its performance for the second and third quarter of 2015. A detailed description was given of the Department’s five programmes, highlighting achievements against targets and drawing attention to challenges. Among the targets met were projects such as Funza Lushaka Bursary, the Kha Ri Gude programme, the introduction of African Languages and sanitation in schools. Challenges that faced the department included the lack of Annual National Assessments (ANA) written, the underspending seen by different areas and provinces and the drop in National Senior Certificate results for 2015.
The Committee expressed concern by the large drop in results for 2015 and even though the department report noted many positive figures and good results, there is clearly a great deal of action that need to be taken. Learner pregnancy was a major concern and needed to be dealt with not only by DBE but across departments. Concerns were expressed about the lack of communication between the national department and provincial departments; the quality of teachers and the lack of quality controls for new teachers entering the system; accountability and how to achieve this became a major topic in the meeting.
DBE response to outstanding questions from previous meeting
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) replied to questions remaining from the previous meeting before moving on to the set agenda for the day:
Mr Mpumi Mabula, Head: Infrastructure, Department of Basic Education (DBE) dealt with infrastructure in terms of furniture, storm damage and the accessibility of schools. Mr Mabula assured Members that DBE has entered into contracts with the Departments of Labour, Environmental Affairs and Correctional Services. Many concerns had previously been raised by Members about the lack of rehabilitation of damaged furniture. One way they are dealing with this is to ensure collection from schools is efficient. DBE is also engaging with Further Education and Training (FET) colleges who deal with carpentry to ensure that they are involved with the rehabilitation of furniture for DBE. However, DBE found that when dealing with FETs, the cost often becomes more than buying new furniture. In an interprovincial meeting a few weeks back, the importance of encouraging community members to engage in rehabilitation was addressed. Thus with a combination of inter departmental collaboration, use of FETs and the encouragement of community involvement, rehabilitation of furniture is being addressed. He said that although the uptake was not initially good, it is improving. Rather than merely purchasing new furniture, DBE is focusing on rehabilitation, as previously suggested by Members.
On assessing schools damaged due to storms, Mr Mabula said that funds have been redirected to provide temporary or mobile classrooms. Although it is not part of the anticipated budget for the department, he stressed that they cannot wait for the new financial year. They have thus given permission for the reallocation of funds for these temporary or mobile classrooms until the necessary assessments have been done and fully addressed.
On road access to schools, DBE has been grappling with this for some time. While it is easy to factor in the construction of access roads to newly built schools or schools that are currently being built, access roads to old schools is more difficult and has become quite a challenge. DBE has had meetings with National Treasury to assist with looking at allocation of funds. Mr Mabula did however stress that they are coming up with alternative methods to tackle the problem because when dealing with intergovernmental institutions, it can take a long time. Thus, in the interim, the department is looking at reallocation of funding within the department itself. They are also looking at the affected municipalities and referring to the Department of Roads and Transport within the municipalities to assist with the building of access roads. Consequently, this was discussed in the interprovincial meetings to fast track discussion with specific Departments of Roads and Transport in specific provinces as well as National Department of Transport.
Afrikaans Teaching and Mismatch of Skills
Mr Themba Kojava, Deputy Director- General (DDG): Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development, addressed teachers who are teaching Afrikaans in an African context. The problem has arisen because teachers are teaching subjects for which they are not qualified to teach. DBE has entered into a process of inquiry, as they do from time to time, to find out whether teachers are qualified to teach the subject they are teaching. The intention of such an inquiry is to assist provinces on the acceptance of teachers. DBE then provides a report to the provinces to deal with acceptance of teachers and the mismatch of skills. This information can give power to district directors to move a teacher from one school to another. In one school, for example, you might have more maths teachers than required and the findings of the inquiry will allow provinces to deal with this problem of mismatch. Mr Kojana spoke about the Incentives Policy which talks to areas where it is hard to get teachers to come and teach. The department is still going through the policy but he assured the Committee that this policy is in its final stages before it is ready to be put forward to the public.
On questions of accountability, Mr Kojana said that DBE has a document on Personnel Administrative Measures (PAM) which guides people on management. It also provides guidance on the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS). Problems surrounding the quality of principals, teachers and management have recently become apparent and DBE is looking into trying to finalise the quality management system. This encompasses the important role of the principal so that management can be heightened. The IQMS does not only pertain to the principal but extends all the way down.
On new teachers entering the school system and ensuring that these teachers make an effective and easy transition into the Basic Education system, Mr Kojana said that DBE has developed an orientation booklet which can be used to train new teachers. The booklet encourages the need for a mentorship programme to guide new teachers. This is an ongoing process that the department is dealing with. On the question about the preparation and training of teachers, DBE have been engaging with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) which is responsible for the training of teachers. It is important to focus on the process of training and practice and not only the actual content to ensure the best results moving forward.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) referred to the rehabilitation of furniture and said that it is important to see proof of this progress with community furniture rehabilitation that is taking place that Mr Kojana mentioned. According to oversight done by her team, this is not happening. She encouraged DBE produce photo albums or alternative methods of proof such as contracts that have been entered into with Correctional Services. She requested that a complete and comprehensive report on furniture rehabilitation is compiled.
The Chairperson thanked Ms van der Walt for her valid point and suggested that this report she had requested can be presented in March when DBE will have a three day strategy workshop. The Chairperson requested DBE collect the relevant information so that committee members can be given a clear picture, from the provinces themselves, about all the progress being made.
Limpopo School Nutrition Programme Petition: DBE Response to Questions
The Chairperson said that the Committee had dealt with the most of the petition except the tenders for the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in Limpopo. The petition alleged that tenders were awarded to family members, friends, those politically connected or previous political members (including the previous ANC Youth League Leader, Mr Julius Malema). DBE did not give an adequate response in the previous meeting and she had requested DBE go to the Limpopo department of education to finalise its response to the question raised. They will now present the findings.
Ms Neo Rakwena, NSNP Director, acknowledged that tenders were not touched on in the petition report. This was due to the delay in information from the Limpopo province. She referred to question NA942 and NA943 and indicated that most of information is sourced from the Limpopo Department of Basic Education (LDBE) and DBE relies on this information. It is hard for the national department to corroborate with the provincial branch as most of the documents are located at the Limpopo department. Information on question NA942 and NA943 was pursued through the acting head of the Limpopo department. On NA942, the names of officials related to the tender allocation as well as suppliers who were contracted in the period 2011-2014 financial years have been given. Thus LDBE has supplied all information required under question NA942.
On question NA943 and the accountability of the suspected members involved, Ms Rakwena assured the Committee that the necessary disciplinary measures were taken. The departmental official in the LDBE, whose family was connected to some of the awarded contracts, has been suspended for 12 months and has subsequently been removed from the department. The official in mention is Ms L Kekana. DBE has also responded in NA943 on the specific question relating to the connection or involvement of Mr Julius Malema. The acting head of the Limpopo department responded that the department could not establish from the information whether the directors in the two mentioned companies are related to Mr Malema in any way. Ms Rakwena reiterated that it is difficult to source comprehensive information from the Limpopo DBE and corroboration has proved to be a challenge. She said that they had given the LDBE until the previous weekend to agree to attend this meeting but they were unsuccessful.
Ms van der Walt responded by saying that this was as expected, The LDBE ignored requests. She wanted to know if Ms Kekana and her family (as mentioned in NA943) and Mr Malema and his family have been fully blacklisted from doing any further business with government. She highlighted DBE’s ordering of tender audits and the lack of depth of these. She said that provinces that do not take information requests by DBE seriously, needed to be held responsible and they must feel compelled to respond to such requests. She said that there is a currently a case with the public prosecutor but no one can be prosecuted because the provincial department does not fill out the necessary documentation and so there is no proof. She strongly advised that they do not see the same thing happening in the DBE. She pointed out that the audit of all tenders is still outstanding.
The Chairperson replied that although she is not defending DBE, she feels that if the report said that there was no proof of connection between the two, then this responds to the question of further investigation.
Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, responded that he fully understands the anxiety of Ms van der Walt. He said that the Committee itself must bring the provinces to book. They have the authority to do this and it requires accountability and transparency. He explained that the National Department’s hands are tied as they rely on information supplied by the province and they cannot inquire any further into the information and statistics supplied by the provincial departments. Thus, it is the responsibility of the Committee to summons any officials from any province to answer questions and elaborate on problems or lack of information that the Committee may have. They have observed on many occasions that some provinces do not fulfill their responsibility and he says that they will get the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) involved to investigate and rectify this problem.
Report on Second and Third Quarter Performance
The Chairperson said that the second and third quarterly report is of vital importance because they give DBE and the committee a platform to assess the progress of DBE and move forward. The breakdown of the year into quarters allows the committee to look at the targets set by DBE itself and evaluate if they are on track. The Chairperson reminded members that although the second and third quarters have passed and this is an in depth analysis of what has previously happened, it is still important to look at the current quarter and keep on track with what is happening now.
Department of Basic Education Second and Third Quarter 205/6 report
Ms Vivienne Carelse, DBE Deputy Director- General (DDG): Strategic Planning, said that the report was designed in a way that one can look, at a glance, at both quarters and look at all the performance information. Part A of the report captures all the performance indicators and targets for Q2 and Q3. Part B of the report deals with financials and expenditure for both quarters. She pointed out the status bar for indicators as shown on page four of the report. The performance indicators are in support of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and delivery agreement. Each level of performance is indicated in a different colour:
White: Status of Annual Target; Red: 50% of the target has not been reached; Amber: 50% or more of the target has been realised, supported by credible evidence; Green: Target has been fully achieved.
The results of DBE’s five programmes were elaborated on:
Programme 1 Administration
On slide seven the performance indicators show that the number of staff development opportunities has exceeded the target by 15. The number of internships implemented is indicated in amber. She noted here that in the fourth quarter (first term of the year) the Department usually sees an increase in the number of interns as new graduates are taken up in various positions. Both the signed financial disclosure forms and the signed performance agreements were achieved in Q1 and have been left there for indication. Both legal resources and media liaison were dealt with under Programme One.
Programme 2 Curriculum policy, support and monitoring
The percentage of public schools with mathematics workbooks from Grade 1 to Grade 9 indicates a 100% performance. Although the number of learners completing the Kha Ri Gude programme is an annual target and figures are not released yet, she noted that learners have been registered, the registration processes have been certified, volunteers have been recruited, service providers are being managed on a weekly basis and material and stationery is being delivered to volunteers.
Programme 2 encompasses the Library and Information Services and Early Childhood Development. Ms Carelse stressed that the 2016 Read to Learn campaign which was rolled out by the Deputy Minister, is now in full action and is receiving great support. On Inclusive Education, the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) training sessions for Grade 9 and 10 teachers were held and the South African Sign Language (SASL) national catalogues have been screened. There has also been an increase in Incremental Introduction of African Languages.
DBE is monitoring the 1+4 intervention model in all provinces with regard to Maths Science and Technology (MST). With the remainder of the academic year, the success of DBE can be accurately measured.
Programme 3 Teachers, education human resources and institutional development
The purpose of Programme Three is to promote quality teaching and institutional performance through the effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources. A positive report for both quarters was indicated. Targets on the Funza Lushaka bursaries have been exceeded and the number of bursary holders being placed within six months of graduation has increased. Although they are confined by the period under review, Ms Carelse said that usually Q4 will show the more positive results with this indicator.
She said that in terms of the self diagnostic assessment, it is a process which she believes is gaining momentum in provinces but once again, this will be more accurately reflected in Q4.
Programme 4 Planning, information and assessment
The purpose of Programme Four is to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through planning, implementation and assessment. Strategies include the National Senior Certificate (NSC) and ANAs. Ms Carelse noted that due to procedural constraints that lead to ANAS not being written, they will reflect in the fourth quarter exactly how this will affect the reporting system. Performance on the NSC has previously been discussed and once again the full report on this performance indicator will be given in the fourth quarter.
The percentage of schools provided with water, electricity and the percentage of schools that use electronic methods to provide data have been positively indicated (green status bar).
The Financial Planning Economic Analysis and Provincial Budget Monitoring is an important instrument used by the National Department to provide oversight on how provinces are using allocations. It helps DBE look at work being done on a provincial level in implementing and checking the adherence to national norms and standerds of the school funding policy. She said that they do make follow ups with relevant provincial departments on a quarterly basis and this is then presented and reported back at a national level. This was done in both Q2 and Q3 where teams went in to provinces to work with provincial departments and deal with any problems. These Educational Management Information Systems teams visited all nine provinces to check and audit all statuses.
With regard to school furniture: In Q3 the Department dealt with delivery of furniture to schools and numbers are all listed. She noted that the provinces that were further behind were Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
Programme 4 also deals with partnerships where in terms of the National Development Plan (NDP), DBE had a strong obligation to ensure that a database of partnerships was built on and that partner support, geographical support and monetary support was given. The Department created a database of contact persons and relationships due to these partnerships have grown in Q3. This will help with future partnerships and relationships moving forward.
DBE has also seen support of district level planning implementation. In this area, the quarterly meetings with district leaders have resulted in strong district culture as an important unit of delivery for the National DBE. Here they developed a draft for recruitment and selection requirements for competency assessments. These can be used to strengthen the appointment of the correct people in correct roles. A survey was done to track filling of vacancy of district officers as this was a particular concern in terms of district effectiveness. Baseline information was also collected to use in order to place competent officials. Ms Carelse said that this was a strong development in Q2.
With regard to customer relations, through the call centres, DBE successfully managed to resolve queries received on the toll free line. At the end of December 2015 there were no outstanding queries.
Programme 5 Educational Enrichment Services
The purpose is to develop policies and programmes to improve quality of learning in schools. The health and wellbeing of learners is attended to and support for social cohesion and mobilisation is given.
Ms Carelse said that the deworming programme which was at an advanced stage in Q2, has now officially been launched. The Medical Controls Council had approved the donation from the WHO for tablets required to implement this programme. This has cost implications for the ongoing sustainability of the programme but DBE needs to enter into discussion with other involved departments.
The wellbeing of students on an overall level, including the issue of bullying and homophobia, has been supported by work in this particular branch. In terms of peer education, the re-configured conditional grant has been packaged in terms of supporting the survey for educators and officials around HIV and AIDS. With regard to this particular approach, DBE has focused on keeping girls in schools (through prevention and management of pregnant school girls). World Aids Day was commemorated; calling learners to take action collectively was used as the activating campaign.
Pregnant school girls is an ongoing problem and challenge for DBE and one that is shared with communities and sister departments. They need to find ways to actively address concerns about this.
There has been a huge success for the Department on an international level (such as the Moot Court Competition) and this must be celebrated.
In conclusion, Ms Carelse said that DBE has looked at the progress of annual targets and looked at areas of concern and underperformance lie and how they can improve progress. The indication of time frames is important for DBE in moving forward and setting goals. Areas of responsibility and accountability (including names of related officials) are included so further information that is required for the fourth quarter is available.
Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, DBE Director of Financial Services, presented the financial report for Q2 and Q3, saying she will focus on Q3. The bulk of DBE spending goes to transfers which are conditional grants and transfers to public entities. The remainder of the budget left for departmental operations is R4,477 billion and the details are indicated in the report. According to expenditure, DBE should have spent 75% but the reason DBE has higher expenditure on some items is not unexpected. For example, conditional grants are transferred at a particular time in the financial year and each unit decides on how the transfers are made for the various conditional grants.
Programme 1: Remainder of budget will be spent on the building that the department occupies.
Programme 2: 96.3% of allocation is for Kha Ri Gude and workbooks and MST conditional grant.
Programme 3: Shows high spending due to transfer to Funza Lushaka. The bulk of this transfer is made in April but the remaining amount was kept for January, where it will be used for enrollment of new academia.
Programme 4: There was a delay in the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) project due to rationalisation of schools and this impacted on spending trends. Even though low spending is indicated, if you consider what has been paid from January until now, and the invoices that are about to be processed, there has been a huge improvement.
Programme 5: Last and final transfer to provinces for HIV and AIDS conditional grant and NSNP conditional grant were made in January and they do not form part of this expenditure.
Goods and services shows high spending and it is expected to increase even further. The remainder of spending will be on workbooks. Transfers to public entities: Umalusi and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) transfers have been scheduled to take place in January and February and then all money will be spent. Capital Assets shows low spending initially but it will increase in the fourth quarter.
Ms Molalekoa discussed progress per economic classification and what remedial actions are being taken. Some areas require no remedial action, such as compensation of employees and expenditure is at an acceptable level. These areas are being monitored throughout to ensure that overspending does not occur.
Spending on goods and services is high but it is being monitored at this time of year on a daily basis (usually it is only monitored at particular intervals). It is then discussed at senior management on weekly basis. Thus monitoring continues with regards to expenditure. Transfers and Subsidies require no remedial action.
She said that for the payment of capital assets, spending is high at this time but DBE is working to ensure invoices are processed on time.
Under Departmental Operations, a high over expenditure was reflected but she clarified that some of the information was incorrectly captured. Expenditure for the library and reading campaign was captured against the wrong allocation code and it has subsequently been rectified. This expenditure will reduce.
The breakdown of earmarked funds and conditional grant show that the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) is overspending. DBE is busy going over the budget to identify savings that will cover this over expenditure. All others will be spent by the end of financial year and are going according to schedule. With regard to transfers to Public Entities and Other Transfers, it is important to note that all items that were not paid, such as UNESCO, DBE has now received all invoices and these are being processed. Thus in the fourth quarter these figures will be shown.
Under Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP SETA), payment is based on compensation of employees in the department and so this was budgeted lower than what was paid. Ms Molalekoa assured the Committee that DBE has written to National Treasury to request approval to increase this amount in order to cover the shortfall.
Households, as previously indicated, cannot be budgeted for and it can only be allocated at the end of financial year. They are unaware of who will leave the service of the department and who will join. It is thus not easy to budget for households but she assured them that it was done in terms of the guidelines that were given by National Treasury.
Mr G Davis (DA) sought clarity on the figure for sanitation in schools. The report indicated that 99% of schools have received adequate sanitation. He asked if this means that the department is nearly at 100% (nearly all schools have sanitation)? If so, this is an excellent achievement. He also wanted to clarify if officials achieved less than 65% in the NSC mentoring and participating programme or what the figure was. He was unaware if targets were met; the figures seemed to be a negative and not a positive as indicated. He also looked at various conditional grants. When the budget adjustments were looked at in November 2015, they found underspending on the HIV and AIDS grant, the NSNP, the MST grant and the Educational Infrastructure grant. It was mentioned that for the Education Infrastructure grant, there will be a follow up in terms of DORA, but he asked for a follow up on what is being done to ensure that these four grants show no underspending going forward. He pointed out that the underspending (if he remembers correctly) came to quarter of a million rand in the previous budget. He finally pointed out that the general understanding of the report is that the Department is meeting all their targets and this looks like a ‘rosy picture’. However, when looking at the matric results, there were a number of problematic areas and drops in performance. Thus there seems to be a disjuncture between DBE performance and the actual reality in terms of results. He asked what the problem was. Are the targets set not ambitious enough, are the wrong things being measured or does the problem not lie with the department, thus questioning where the main problem with education lies? Finally, the report does not mention much about the quality of education in schools. He believes that a key problem with education lies in the quality of education and wants to know what DBE is doing to ensure that teachers are capable of teaching at the required level.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) referred to the sanitation indicator and said he is happy that they are at 99% level but there are issues that he feels need to be dealt with. The ANC had a meeting with DBE in Mpumalanga and there is a challenge with water borne toilets there because these areas do not have water. The toilets are built or recommended to be built in the new schools in rural villages but there is no running water. There is also the issue that these toilets require maintenance which skills the villages do not have. The users also subsequently need to be educated about how the toilets must be used and this is not being done. He asked what is being done about this and about the new alternative to the water borne toilets called Enviroloos. He also enquired about the provinces that are indicated to be underperforming and asked how this underperformance is characterised. Are the only defining factors of underperformance low and high spending or are there other indicators? This low or high spending requires intervention and support and does DBE have any plans in place to intervene and help with this underperformance?
Ms C Majeke (UDM) referred to the problem of deworming children in schools. Apparently the medical council has approved the World Health Organisation’s donation of deworming tablets but she was wondering what follow ups will be done. Often there side effects to these pills such as fever or rash? She suggested there are other ways to help students deworm by simple methods such as intake of papaya and lemon. Thus they could encourage children or schools to grow lemon trees to help with the deworming process. She advised the Department to place these new natural measures in the NSNP.
Ms D van der Walt talked about sanitation and said that she assumed when the report spoke about sanitation, it referred to any form of sanitation but her concern is that when the report represents a 99% delivery of sanitation to schools, it does not reflect the level of this sanitation. This level of sanitation is problematic in many provinces and she suggested that they need to be more innovative on where and how they deal with the problem of sanitation and hygiene. She pointed out that they can learn from many African countries on this aspect. She requested a breakdown on the level of sanitation in each province respectively (not just a general, national level of sanitation) and the methods that are being used. This oversight can reflect incorrect interpretation and incorrect action being taken. She pointed out that even though there is a decline in scholar pregnancy, it is still a concerning matter. It affects many parts in life. It plays on social matters and she is concerned that this problem of pregnancy in school has many implications and is not being dealt with adequately or efficiently. Lastly, on the level of norms and standards being used by different provinces, many have reached their goals but cut down on standards and norms. This needs to be addressed and upheld to ensure that there is no oversight.
Ms J Basson (ANC) thanked the Department for a very comprehensive report. She highlighted once again learner pregnancy and said that during the visits to the Eastern Cape, they noticed that there was a dire need for support staff, especially social workers. She gave the example of where in one school, the high failure rate was due to absenteeism as a result of pregnancies. She called for the need for therapists, specifically in the Eastern Cape. DBE had promised that they would advertise for therapists and support for pregnant learners but this year, no such advertising has been done. No appointments have been made. She requested that the department focus on speeding up delivery in this area and ensure that the necessary assistance is given to schools. She questioned why only 250 resource packs (as shown in slide 16) had been distributed. This represents slow movement. She pointed out that there was insufficient awarding of the Funza Lushaka bursary. This could be due to how broadly the department is advertising and said that perhaps the early closing date and lack of broad advertising is causing this.
Mr T Khoza (ANC) indicated that it would be wise if the delivery of desks and furniture first targeted grade 12 learners. This will ensure that when examinations arrive, the school is not experiencing problems in terms of the furniture. He requested a provincial breakdown in the future to indicate which provinces are delivering what amount of furniture (as opposed to a broad national figure) so that they can be in a position to make follow ups. He expressed concern about the slow moving provinces (Mpumalanga and Limpopo) that have not started the delivery process. He said that while he appreciates the department’s new programme of tracking learners, they are worried that many schools are not actually using this system. Thus, the question arises on how to strengthen an environment that encourages each and every school to use the programme so that the tracking of learners is easy. Ladtly, he asked for more detail on the Post Provisioning Norms (PPN) of MST schools. He understands this as a special project so is there a post provisioning allocation.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) thanked DBE for the insightful report that will help track progress and identify weaknesses in the Department. She wanted to check on the ANA tests not being written. How will the lack of these ANA assessments affect the department’s insight into the national level of assessment. How will they track progress and make decisions without full information from a full set of ANA tests. The second point was how the department is accounting for funds lost due to complications with the ANA assessments. Ultimately when the Auditor-General audits, there must be a way for the department to account for this.
Ms Mokoto also raised a point about the competency tests and making sure that the right people are placed in the right position. She asked why it is that the Western Cape is the only province that is implementing this policy. It is a departmental policy and all provinces must implement this. There must be some sort of binding action that goes to provinces and tells provinces that if they do not follow an course of action, there will be consequences. She asks how this will be corrected and stressed that the DBE needs to come up with a better way to solve this matter.
She raised teenage pregnancy and asked if this is included in the Life Orientation curriculum. There needs to be a holistic approach to deal with this increasingly worrying issue. With regards to the policy on bullying and safety of students as well as the recent xenophobia attacks, it is important for the department to include this component into the relevant areas of this strategy. She feels that it is very important because South Africa is a multinational country. She proposed that xenophobia study is included in education.
The Chairperson said that when looking at 2015 NSC targets, although the targets have not been met and 2015 results saw many declines, comments on certain issues are necessary. She said that there has been an increase in budget allocations to NSC and this is significant. Looking at the long term target for 2019, the department has targeted about 250 000 bachelor degree passes and are now only at 166 263. This shows that DBE is highly ambitious but as a Committee and as a Department, there is still a great deal to be done to reach targets. This is reachable but there is still much to work on. Working together will help ensure oversight and success.
She further commended the department on the increase in the number of learners who have passed maths and science. She did however express concern about the underutilisation in some provinces for the budget on maths and science. These are problematic areas and the department need to focus on those provinces that are not taking this need for progress seriously. She reiterated the need for accountability and the need to come closer to provinces.
The Chairperson then focused on ICT and said that there are still some outstanding issues. Next week DBE will get a chance to look at sister departments in a joint meeting and look at ICT. She requested a report about the utilisation of the administration and management devices that have been distributed. She wants to see which schools are using these new methods and how schools are responding to the electronic administration and management. On the introduction of African languages, she thanked the department for the information given but she stressed that adequate information was not supplied. She needs to see what is really happening and how challenges are being met.
She noted that one of the points raised was about absenteeism of educators. The Committee had previously asked for a detailed report moving into Q2 and Q3 on this but this was not produced.
The Chairperson highlighted a problem with school nutrition programme. Targets are indicated but then it is stated that only five provinces in Q2 and six provinces in Q3 have signed their report. This is problematic and national department once again needs to ensure that provinces do give accurate reports. It means that the Committee and the public are not getting a clear picture of what is happening.
She said learner pregnancy was touched on by Members. She stressed the need for sister departments to work together to tackle this challenge. She was concerned by the poor spending on infrastructure. She said that they want to see a speed up of rationalisation. It is one point where one can never say that they have done enough. Although there are issues that are hard to deal with such as the movement of learners and teachers to urban areas it is important to try and find out what is really going on and finalise it. DBE must assist provinces to rationalise and finalise so that they can see money being spent correctly.
Deputy Minister Surty replied that the Chairperson’s question about infrastructure in combination with the realities of mergers and rationalisation is very important and it is a big issue that confronts DBE. He pointed out that two years ago there was a big lull in infrastructure development and DBE and the Ministry took necessary steps to ensure that this issue was pushed. As a result of this intervention they were able to provide greater outputs per week. They are now exceeding 137 schools. There has however been a lull again and he is as concerned as the Committee is. Part of this concern however is the reality of migration and non-viable schools. Many schools need to be merged or closed down. DBE has developed many beautiful and very large schools and because of migration, they are not nearly being occupied at full capacity. This is a waste and migration to large urbanised areas needs to be accounted for. Both internal and national migration are a challenge to the department and with regards to infrastructure. There has been a firm handle by ministry on a rational and well designed format for infrastructure. There has also been a discussion with Treasury about the utilisation of infrastructure resources so that they can address the demands that the department has.
Deputy Minister Surty dealt with teenage pregnancy which was raised by many. It does not only contribute directly to school dropouts and learning but it is also a health risk. He praised the department’s consultation and action on HIV, STD and TB. They need to include sexual education in Life Orientation. He does raise the point that this is a taboo matter and difficult to deal with. Many teachers are uncomfortable to address the subject and it is worthwhile to provide a report on the actual content of what is being taught. He said that the solution lies in advocacy, providing alternative opportunities for learners in terms of extra curriculum activities, promoting academic excellence and motivation from society. He points out that he liked what was done by the Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, over the weekend where he held a talk with a community of learners in Soweto and directly addressed issues of sex. He said that there needs to be a more direct approach about the discussion on teenage pregnancy with the youth.
Deputy Minister Surty moved onto nutrition. In terms of numbers the department feeds more than 9,2 million learners and this is a remarkable number and has improved. He recognises the call from the Committee for more detailed numbers so that they can understand which provinces and which districts need to be focused on during oversight. He touched on absenteeism, which he said needs to with be linked to the importance of SA-SAMS (South African School Administration and Management System). This is a critical platform to acquire information and he said that they are aware that the world is moving to a more web based system. It allows the department to capture biometrics, monitor learner profiles, look at absenteeism and get information in real time. The Eastern Cape figures linked via ICT has increased dramatically. He has strong views that a web based information system is the solution to deal with these issues. They have discovered that districts that are data driven are doing better. For example, in Gauteng where there were the four best performing districts, they are all data driven to the extent that they can tell you the exact performance and attendance of each learner. They could thus do analysis, have an intervention and carry out the necessary remedial work. He encouraged all provinces to share the achievements made.
Deputy Minister Surty said that with regard to African languages, there needs to be a celebration. South Africa is a diverse country and there needs to be parity of the language, social cohesion and a promotion of awareness. This African Language teaching is offered in about 4 500 plus schools. As of yet there are no complaints but this will be reassessed at the end of the first quarter of 2016/17 in June.
With regard to ICT, the Phakisa initiative was important because it brought private and public stakeholders together and across ministries. The Minister of DBE has appointed a ministerial task team to guide this process. He said that we cannot have a delay in speed on this and broadband must be delivered. The Phakisa initiative looked at many areas and it cannot have a one size fits all. Some areas will make optimum use of the new initiative but in other rural areas where it is not a viable option, alternatives need to be made.
The Deputy Minister said that all textbooks need to be digitalised. Currently more than 200 readers are digitalised. E- libraries are also becoming realities across districts. They are working hard to ensure that all textbooks are digitalised by no later than June 2017. Other wonderful achievements are the new partnership with Vodacom who have created a cloud for learners. Thus, the “reality of being able to access all information and data, that is interactive, free of charge to every citizen in this country is not a remote reality and it is almost there through the creative use of partnerships with service providers”.
MST was previously a dedicated fund only for Dinaledi schools which grew to 500 but the department has realised that maths and science cannot be only in these schools and should be made broader. Thus, textbooks have been provided to all provinces and training of new teachers across country has taken place. DBE has realised that a concern is that provinces are not doing enough to promote maths and science and so the department needs to promote maths and science.
Deputy Minister Surty said that South Africa is the only country that has done ANA at this scale and scope. Last year 9 million ANA assessments were conducted. Although there was a dispute with the unions on the writing of ANA, he assured them that there has still been about a 25% sample. This is still a large enough sample with which to conduct analysis. Results will be distributed so that provinces can get an indication of the areas that they are doing well in or the areas that they are facing challenges. 1,8 million learners wrote the ANA and they will not ignore these results. Beyond this, they need to come to terms that the ANA cannot be finalised in terms of frequency, scope and content at the end of the year. It needs to be done immediately. There is no disagreement in terms of the value of the ANA but rather about the frequency and scaffolding. They have seen that districts have indeed used the results of ANA to improve their performance. In maths for example, they managed to see that the problem areas lay in fractions or that multiplication was easier than division and they could use this to readjust the curriculum and improve the level of education. They are concerned with the underspending in this area but they are also concerned with the motivation of stakeholders so that they remain on board with the ANAs.
On xenophobia, they are dealing with creating awareness. This year is a celebration of 20 years of the Constitution and he stressed that children must be aware of the importance of tolerance and the need to embrace its values. Thus they will use the 20 year celebration to create further awareness. He also mentioned the Moot Court competition and said that this year will be about race, language and ethnicity.
The Deputy Minister said that Funza Lushaka has already been dealt with as DBE has spoken to the deans of education to say that they cannot, without consent from the department, allow a Funza Lushaka student who is enrolled in a certain stream or curriculum to change their stream or curriculum specialisation. It goes against what the department wants to provide with the Funza Lushaka bursary.
The spike in spending on Funza Lushaka is stressed as an important one as money must be spent for real reasons. They do however have 142 teacher resource centres, with fully available data and trained people so that information is readily available. Much more can be done here but progress is here.
Furniture is a huge challenge and the Deputy Minister accepts that it is a huge challenge but he does recognise some strong points. Over 85 000 units of furniture have been provided and more than 55 000 units have been procured by DBE mainly through the Department of Environmental Affairs. The double desks that Mr Khoza mentioned have been delivered. The problem in the Eastern Cape is being dealt with by a team of 12 people assisting the Eastern Cape in managing their furniture delivery.
On the deworming programme, the Deputy Minister said that DBE has a competent official, Dr Faith Khumalo, who is a medical doctor and is working hand in hand with the World Health Organisation. She has a team of officials that are ensuring that deworming is solved. He is aware that deworming works hand in hand with nutrition and he can assure them it is accompanied with sound development, oversight and monitoring.
On toilets, the Deputy Minister said that indeed they need to distinguish between water borne systems and Enviroloos and other alternatives. The access to water and electricity will dictate this and they have learned a lot about collaboration with provinces and districts. The answer lies in alternatives.
The retention of skilled personnel has posed a problem and is seen as part of the migration away from rural areas. Deputy Minister Surty said that the solution to this problem is to create incentives. Both Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal were paying incentives but the challenge arises in what one determines as 'rural'. They have asked the heads of department to come up with recommendations on finding a uniform standard.
The Eastern Cape has a problem with availability of practitioners and Funza Lushaka has been a wonderful resource. What the department has noted is that the practical element of teacher training must not be lost. There seems to be a gap to do with actual training in the classroom itself. DBE does not want qualified teachers who lack experience. On principals and their competence, the Ministry has said that a principal must be qualified, experienced and competent. It is a combination of all three that will allow for effective leadership. Eligibility will be based on all three. It is critical for DBE to regulate the appointment of principals.
Deputy Minister Surty acknowledged that the department do have some responsibility in terms of the drop in NSC results. He said that the district based approach, as mentioned by Mr Davis is useful in responding to the drop in NSC results. The appointment of a district director has become critical because it has shown in the past that a charismatic and competent director can turn around a district and show positive results. The management of a district and its accountability is a key issue that needs to be addressed. He said that the problems of language is also an issue of great concern. If a student is writing a paper or learning in a language that is not their mother tongue, then this can have negative effects. Umalusi is in talks with the department to address language. They are working to ensure that the language of assessment, examination and study is addressed from Grade 1.
Ms Carelse said that the time frame for the 2017 Funza Lushaka intake that was cited was not the deadline date but rather the opening date for applications.
Mr Kojava replied that although the department allocates graduates to provinces, there is still an allocation left for provinces to manage. This is called an ad hoc post. It can deal with emergencies or specific cases where needs arise. Those posts can be used by provinces to augment areas that are lacking in maths, science and technology. There are two ways that the department is dealing with the regulation of the quality of teachers. These are in conjunction with the Department of Higher Education and Training. A study that was conducted focused on the quality of teachers in five universities in the country showed that different programmes had different levels of quality. They have started to institutionalise training of teachers. They have created the previously mentioned teaching hubs. These hubs are closer to where teachers are and deal with the needs of teachers. The low awarding of bursaries is due to tightening of policy. The issue of principal competency is an Superintendents of Education: Management (SEM) decision. It says that any principals that want to work in schools must undergo a competence assessment by the department. In terms of level of teaching, a self diagnosis assessment of teachers has been put into place. The department has focused on 40 000 educators and a report is beginning to speak on internal processes around item design, item evaluation and a pilot which had already been finished. The department is using teacher centres to pilot the assessment so that they can prepare the system for a massive roll out. This self diagnosis assessment will be highly beneficial for the department.
Ms Takwena said that in terms of the target for the School Nutrition Programme, they are still looking at the exact number of schools that have implemented the programme but it is around 19 800 and 9,2 million learners are fed by the programme. They are aware of the concerns of the Portfolio Committee about provinces not meeting their targets and the accountability for this. An agreement is in process with the Auditor-General. It is more of an administrative and technical arrangement that slows the process. DBE needs to take a lot more measures against provinces that do not hand in reports.
On de-worming, the administration of the pill was started on 16 February 2016. The de-worming is linked to the HPV campaign and like the administration of the HPV vaccination which requires a nurse, the administration of the de-worming pill will also involve a qualified nurse. The two will be done together. She has been told by Dr Khumalo that it is safe. There are isolated cases of dizziness as it must be taken after a meal.
Dr Mabula, Head: Infrastructure Development, DBE, emphasised a point on rationalisation, saying what they are doing differently in managing this process and moving forward is not to be lead by the provinces. Rather, a technical team has been included up front. Provinces that are struggling will be assisted.
A department official dealt with the slow delivery of furniture in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Both provinces were contracted in a procurement process. Mpumalanga had appointed a new contractor after the exit of the old contracts and by the end of the 3rd quarter, the service provider was busy with the manufacturing process and immediately after schools opened, delivery began. In a meeting with Limpopo officials on 11 February 2016, more than 50% of the furniture has been delivered. For Limpopo, at the end of the 3rd quarter, the award of contracts had not yet been done but this was done in January. Subsequently 13 service providers have been appointed in Limpopo and deliveries have gone out.
Ms Molalekoa replied to questions on the Auditor-General report. On supply chain management, the main issues are with implementing agents. Procurement challenges in the department itself are minimal. The solution DBE has taken is that regular meetings are held by the infrastructure unit with these implementing agents. A recommendation was made that all implementing agents must have auditing champions. This will help the problem of inadequate supply of information that is required. The department has developed numerous audit action plans that have been discussed regularly with various sections to check on progress and what has been done to improve on the findings that the AG raised. The updated report will be discussed at the next management meeting and hopefully these findings can be resolved.
The Chairperson thanked both DBE for their detailed report. She said that they are looking forward to the fourth quarter report and asked that DBE ensures that the areas discussed are dealt with in the fourth quarterly report. It will give us clear answers and please include follow up on the issues raised.
The meeting was adjourned.
- 2nd and 3rd Quarter performance: Basic Education briefing
- Report to Speaker of Parliament on Democratic Alliance petition on Limpopo DBE National School Nutrition Programme.
- Questions on NSNP tabled in Parliament due to delay in response from Limpopo province
- Overview and Analysis of the Basic Education Second and Third Quarter Report