Council for Quality Assurance (Umalusi) & SA Council for Educators on their 2016 Annual Performance Plan

Basic Education

07 April 2016
Chairperson: Ms N Mokoto (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Umalusi and the South African Council for Educators (SACE) presented their strategic and Annual Performance Plans and budgets for 2016/17 to the Committee. Umalusi had revised its five year strategic plan covering the period 2015 to 2020, in the 2015 year, in order to address audit findings from the previous year, as well as to create better alignment with key government mandates and to create S-M-A-R-T measurable objectives. He explained what the National Development Plan, the Medium Term Strategic Framework and the Government Plan of Action demanded in relation to education quality improvement and access, and said that these goals were now incorporated into Umalusi's work. It sought, overall, to improve its organisational management, governance and financial viability, and to achieve  improved assessment and relevant and benchmarked quality assurance, which also supported the national interests in building a skilled workforce. It operated under a number of programmes which were described. Particular challenges were described as lack of succession planning and retention practices, as well as insufficient funding, delays in implementing new qualifications, some uncertainty about roles and responsibilities in the sector, and the need to make sure that research translated into proper strategies in plans. A particularly important programme was its Statistical Information and Research programme, which allowed Umalusi to draw analyses on emerging needs in order to enhance systems and projects and then inform its own strategic direction. One of the indicators that was particularly difficult was one that set targets for numbers of certificates to be produced annually. Programme 3 targets said also that assessments must lead to award of certificates, although the whole evaluation and accreditation process looked also to capacity and ensured quality assurance. The main challenge here lay with inadequate Human Resources. Umalusi then presented its financial projections, noting that the allocations for 2016 were projected to be insufficient, which meant that Umalusi would have to dip into the surplus from past years. Its revenue came from administration fees, accreditation fees, which were difficult to predict, and certification fees. Over the next three years it was expecting allocations of R155 million, with 6.6% and 6.8% increases thereafter. It had obtained approval from National Treasury to retain a surplus to spend on the purchased building's renovations and contingencies.

Members asked if there were joint discussions between the Department of Basic Education and Umalusi on the National Senior Certificate results, asked about the results of discussions and called for any reports to be supplied to the Committee. There was concern that some analysts were criticising the methodology and this did not augur well for Umalusi's credibility. Members questioned how Umalusi would address risks about leakages of question papers, why it aimed only to have unqualified rather than completely clean audits, asked if it could not expand its scope to also deal with foundation phase education, and whether it was ready to assist the DBE with implementation of home languages. They questioned the apparent bias in recent papers that seemed to disadvantage learners with lesser knowledge of current affairs, and also asked if the progression of some learners was resulting in overall drops of results in the more successful schools, and made suggestions for how different intellectual needs might be served at examinations. They asked how and where parents would be able to get information about accredited and legitimate institutions, and asked that moderators and markers in full-service schools and special needs schools should be brought on par. Members also asked how announcement of austerity measures would affect its work.

The SACE focused on teacher registration and had changed its working methodology in order to verify more teacher qualifications. However, there was an increase of complaints coming forward to the SACE, although not more instances of breaches of the ethics. SACE had also increased its advocacy, to try to improve professional development. It had an excellent working relations with the Departments of Education, and was able to request direct funding to ensure that it could fulfil its mandate. The plans were aligned with the National Development Plan and departmental goals. The income projections had dropped from the previous year in recognition that last year's targets had been too ambitious and were not achieved. Most of the income was derived from membership fees of R10 per educator but the real income had decreased because of inflation and this might need to be reviewed. There was a major focus on verification, particularly liaison with the provincial departments. SACE was looking into questions raised on the Postgraduate Certificate in Education. It was also focusing on trying to ensure that any educator found to have been guilty of sexual misconduct would have their names put on the Child Protection Register and would be prosecuted. It was aligning its work with that of the departments of education to avoid duplication. The efforts in professional development were outlined but part of the problem was that some teachers were not participating. A draft of professional standards was being prepared.

Members asked questions about foreign teachers in schools who were difficult for children to understand and how this might affect their results, raised questions around the length of time of work permits for educators, how financial management at SACE was to be improved, whether membership was compulsory, its provincial outreach, and a comparison of resolved and unresolved cases. They asked how exactly the screening process worked, emphasising that this was particularly important for teachers dealing with special needs children. The comment was made that perhaps the Certificate in Education was too theoretical and needed a larger practical component or better induction processes to follow. They asked if there was a website to check teachers' status, what sanctions had been imposed for fraudulent qualifications, whether sexual misconduct was always addressed, and whether there was work also with the Department of Justice. Members also asked how it would implement research and how it was responding to the call for austerity.

Meeting report

Appointment of Acting Chairperson
The Committee Secretary tabled an apology for Chairperson Ms N Gina (ANC) and the Committee unanimously elected Ms N Mokoto (ANC) as Acting Chairperson

Council for Quality Assurance (Umalusi) Strategic and Annual Performance Plans and 2016 budget overview briefing
Dr Mafu Rakometsi, Chief Executive Officer, Umalusi, opened with an overview of Umalusi, and he stated that Umalusi revised its five-year strategic plan for 2015/16- 2019/20 in 2015.The rationale for doing this was to address the audit findings raised during the 2014/15 external audit, as well as to create better alignment with key government mandates and to create S-M-A-R-T measurable objectives. He amplified that by alignment, he was referring to the National Development Plan (NDP), the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and the Government Plan of Action to 2019. The NDP spoke to improving the quality of education, skills development and innovation, as well as the quality of underperforming schools. Furthermore it spoke to high-quality school education and enabling people to reach their full potential through encouraging them then to higher education. The MTSF spoke also to increasing access to high quality education and training, improvements in Early Childhood Development (ECD), use of international benchmarks and improvement in Annual National Assessment (ANA) performance. The Action Plan demanded that the results of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) should be improved, and also spoke to higher quality of learning as well as monitoring of quality ECD.

Dr Rakometsi then outlined Umalusi’s strategic goals (see attached presentation for full details). Goal 1 spoke to improved organisational management, governance and financial viability to ensure high quality delivery of the Umalusi mandate. Goal 2 spoke to improved assessment and quality assurance that is relevant and internationally benchmarked, and that supported national interests for a highly skilled workforce and well qualified citizens. Dr Rakometsi explained the strategic planning process that Umalusi used – which was to have well-facilitated consultation with business units to determine the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats facing the organisation. The strategic plan was discussed at the Council level in February 2015, then drafted and subjected to risk assessment, then the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budget were developed. Engagements with the Department of Basic Education (DBE or the Department) were held, and following the approval of Council, the plan was finally submitted to National Treasury (NT) and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME).

Dr Rakometsi took the Committee through the programmes. He set out the sub-programmes for each of the Programmes presented (see attached presentation for  full details).  Programme 1's objective was to  improve administration and government services, provide ICT infrastructure and business applications and promote efficiency through ICT. Dr Rakometsi stated that the main risks for Programme 1 were associated with lack of succession planning and retention practices, as well as insufficient funding, and appealed to the Committee to support Umalusi's plea for extra funding.

Ms Zodwa Modimakwane, Executive Manager, Umalusi, stated that Programme 2 focused on qualifications and research, with the aim of enhancing the status and quality of Umalusi qualifications. In summary this programme ensured the development, quality and standards of the general and further education framework. In its sub-programme for Statistical Information and Research (SIR), Umalusi conducted research and drew analyses on emerging needs to enhance systems and projects, and this would inform the strategic direction of Umalusi. Programme 2 overall had one objective to effectively manage the general and further education and training qualifications sub-framework, and the other related to the number of certificates to be produced annually, which was a difficult indicator. The risks involved with this programme were the delay in implementation of new qualifications, lack of agreement regarding roles and responsibilities, and the risk that the research did not adequately inform strategic directions on paper.

Programme 3 related to quality assurance and monitoring, and this related to external moderation and monitoring of the examination processes, and the required standard was that the assessment must then lead to an award of certificates. The evaluation and accreditation process looked also to capacity and ensured quality assurance. The main challenge here lay with inadequate Human Resources.

Ms Jacomien Rousseau, Financial Manager, Umalusi, noted that the funding to be received in 2016 by Umalusi was projected to not be sufficient, and Umalusi would have to use its surplus. The revenue estimates had been classified into administration fees, accreditation fees (which cannot be predicted) and  certification fees collected by private associated bodies. The 2015/16 budget had dropped but this would be corrected in the coming years. The budget was projected at R27.7 million. The projected total revenue for the next three years would be as follows: 2015/16 - R134 million; 2016/17 - R155 million; in 2017/18 this would increase by 6.6% and then by 6.8% for 2018/19. Umalusi decided to set its expenditure and depreciation in line with the income, to avoid deficits and surpluses.

Ms Rousseau noted that National Treasury had approved Umalusi’s request to retain the surpluses for   renovations of the purchased building and contingency expenditure. Since the renovations were due only to start in the 2016/17 year, a further request would be made to NT nearer the time.

Expenditure goals had also been set. Umalusi wanted to improve its organisational management, governance and financial viability to ensure high-quality, effective and efficient delivery of Umalusi’s mandate. Secondly, it aimed for improved assessment and quality assurance that is relevant and internationally bench-marked and supports the nation’s strategic interests for a highly skilled workforce and well qualified citizens.


Mr G Davis (DA) stated that he had submitted a Parliamentary question as to whether there is a joint team of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Umalusi, and was told that there were bilateral discussions on the NSC results. He asked what the findings were from these discussions around the drop on performance, and he asked to see any report that Umalusi may have put together. He also posed another question on the credibility of Umalusi, arising out of the process of revision of the NSC results, because analysts had said that the results were weaker although that was not what was reported. He said it was not good for Umalusi's credibility when respected analysts raised questions around the methodology.

Ms C Majeke (UDM) asked about the risks of the leakage of question papers when Umalusi is not in full control. She asked what alternative plans would be put in place to manage the situation when Umalusi was not able to get sufficient resources to curb the problem.

Mr H Khosa (ANC) noted that Programme 1 had a target of having “unqualified” audits and he wondered when it would aim to present “clean” audits, and why it did not aim for this higher target. He was pleased to see that it was achieving some good work but wondered if it was not time for it to expand its scope and cascade that work down to lower grades, even from Grade 4.

Ms J Basson (ANC) asked how ready Umalusi was for the implementation of home languages in schools, where it should be ready to assist the DBE to do assessments in the different languages. She noted that there had been some complaints about the advanced question papers and their apparent bias in that they disadvantaged those learners who were not exposed to as much media as others. Ms Basson made an example of the question on the BRICS. She asked how Umalusi could assess or notice that certain questions might be above or below the standard expected. Ms Basson also spoke to the fact that many schools claimed that progressed learners resulted in an overall dropping of their results and asked how the support and monitoring systems would work to ensure that any learners who had been progressed were not causing dropping of results generally elsewhere.

Ms Basson supported Mr Khosa's suggestion for Umalusi to cascade its work to learners at the lower levels also. She further suggested that there was a need to have a  plan to support full service schools having different types of learners with different intellectual levels, with the rider that at examination time the same paper would be written, but schools may make application for allowances of extra time for the disadvantaged learners. Ms Basson reminded Umalusi that last year it had reported on phasing out language dispensation, and asked how far Umalusi was on this issue, as she said it appeared that the status quo remained exactly the same at the schools. She noted that every parent tried to find good schooling for their children, but some became embroiled in the traps of schools that subsequently were found to be not legitimate. For this reason, she asked how parents could find out about the accreditation of various institutions. She asked if Umalusi was involved in Kha ri Gude. She finally asked what informed the decrease on the administration budget.

Ms H Boshoff (DA) requested that the moderators and markers on full service schools and visually impaired schools should be brought on par and know what is expected of them.

Mr Khosa commented on the issues of monitoring yielding results. He noted that the areas that are doing well stay consistently high, or even strengthen, and he thought that this was perhaps not just to do with monitoring. He noted the comment about the risk involved with lack of succession and asked what Umalusi's conclusions were, after having conducted interviews.

The Acting Chairperson asked whether Umalusi is ready to support the Department on the three-string curriculum. She also spoke to the belt tightening proposals that were made by the Minister of Finance during his budget speech, and asked how these would affect Umalusi and its core mandate, and how it would ensure that its work continued. She asked to what extent Umalusi was being expected to use its surplus to make up for any deficits in the budget. She asked why Umalusi has not mentioned the International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA) conference and asked why it was proceeding with teacher awards rather than this money being perhaps redirected to more pressing issues.
Dr Rakometsi responded to Mr Davis that there have been sessions where the DBE and Umalusi moderators had met, under the leadership of Umalusi, to analyse question papers, and there would also be quarterly meetings with the DBE to review other issues.  He stated that many of those making negative comments about Umalusi do not understand its work. He said that Umalusi was trying to push the benchmarks all the time to be comparable to international standards, in order to avoid stagnation in the country, but the examiners did become ambitious and sometimes pushed it a little too high. Whilst that in principle was not necessarily negative, the pace of change would need to be measured. Quality cannot be compromised but the learners cannot be disadvantaged.

In terms of the question papers, he noted that South Africa did not have the luxury of testing questions in the field, to see how learners might respond to a certain question. The experts do, however, conduct reviews on the papers and those reviews are taken into consideration.

Dr Rakometsi assured Members that the credibility of Umalusi is intact, but at the same time it must be remembered that it is limited in the work it can do by its R100 million budget, which means that at some stage there might be some compromise, such as perhaps certifying qualifications erroneously.

He noted that Umalusi had hired a chartered accountant now to deal with its books.

He noted that Umalusi has looked at whether to also increase its scope down to the Foundation Phase but it has been limited in what it can do because of shortage of resources. In relation to the introduction of home language teaching, Umalusi will be ready to work with the DBE once it has developed the strategy. In relation to other points raised by Ms Basson, he said that all learners did have to be assessed on their familiarity with current affairs, and so the educators would need to stretch themselves. He repeated that because there was no such thing as a homogenous group of learners, and because it was not possible to do field testing, it was unable to address the issue. However, it could assess the numbers of progressed learners and deal with the issue that way.

Ms Rousseau said that the decrease in administration expenditure was because some items had not been properly budgeted for. Umalusi noted the Minister of Finance's remarks and was looking into how it could achieve savings. It would motivate any further requests to National Treasury.

South African Council for Educators (SACE) 2016 budget and Annual Performance Plan briefing
Mr Rej Brijraj, Chief Executive Officer, SA Council for Educators, noted that the Council (SACE) was set up and governed by the SACE Act, No 31 of 2000, and the National Framework of April 2007.  SACE  focused on teacher registration, and had managed to change its working methodology in order to verify more teacher qualifications. However, there was an increase of complaints coming forward to the SACE, because the departments of education were tending to now forward all complaints to SACE. The finding was not that there had been more instances of breaches of the ethics. SACE had also increased its advocacy, to try to improve professional development.  SACE was pleased to report an excellent working relations with the Department of Education. It was now able to request direct funding to ensure that it could fulfil its mandate. Mr Brijraj stated that SACE had aligned its mandate with the National Development Plan (NDP) and Departmental plans.

Mr Morris Mapindani, Chief Financial Officer, SACE, presented the budget figures. He highlighted a slight decrease in the 2016-18 projections compared to 2015/16, and this was because the projections for 2015/16 had assumed increased membership fees, which were in fact not achieved, hence the reason for dropping that projection in the following years. He noted that SACE's revenue was largely derived from the membership fees, amounting to R10 per educator. Furthermore the real budget was decreased due to inflation and the Council had taken note of this trend and set a meeting to review its sources of funding.  Mr Mapindani stated that SACE wanted to align continuous funding with inflation, to avoid going back to having to raise the membership charges substantially.

Mr Themba Ndlovu, Liaison Officer, SACE, stated that the issue of verification has become very important as there had been an increase in fraudulent qualifications. He stated that the SACE was working very closely with the provincial departments of education to try to deal with this, and three provinces in particular had been very helpful. For this reason also, verification was being treated as a priority in the coming year.

Mr Ndlovu alerted the Committee to the fact that there had been much questioning recently around the Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and SACE was currently looking into this following concerns from some stakeholders. SACE had been working on child protection issues with the Department of Social Development, in order to check the Child Protection Register, and any teachers whose names appeared on that, or who were found to have committed offences against children would be struck from the roll and SACE would ensure that their names were recorded on the Child Protection Register. SACE intended to reach out to 20 000 educators to appraise them. SACE and the departments of education were also holding discussions to ensure that there would not be duplication, and was arranging that SACE should deal with some cases, whilst the relevant department would attends to others. SACE had a register of teachers, and any prospective employers were able to go and check the status of the teacher.

Ms Ella Mokgalane, Senior Manager: Professional Development and Research, SACE, stated that SACE does not have enough providers to provide professional development. SACE is also focusing on student teachers in the last two quarters of the year, but in the last year it had not been as successful as hoped, largely due to the Fees Must Fall campaign. There was another issue when SACE teachers were not signed up, and thus not participating. Follow ups by SACE would still need to be done on about 318 teachers and deputy principals.

She explained that the three year cycle is set to ensure professional development and in terms of new providers, SACE needs to do site visits to conduct quality assurance. SACE has the responsibility of ensuring professional standards, and by the end of the current financial year there should be a draft of professional standards ready. The areas of policy and research had been the most seriously affected by the minimal resources.

Ms Gaylin Bowles, Council Member, SACE, noted that in 2015 the SACE had held a lot of consultation because SACE had to meet its mandate. All the working committees have held workshops to discuss the vision, mission and direction, and this had assisted the Council as a whole. Sometimes SACE may be accused of being cautious, but it is concerned that it should act always in a way that does meet its mandate.

Ms Majeke conveyed a concern about foreign teachers teaching mathematics in schools, for parents complained that the children do not understand them, and she feared that this might result in a drop in mathematics results. She asked that SACE should look into that issue. She thought that the reference to five years was perhaps too long and that a three year period might be more appropriate.

Mr Khosa asked if there were mechanisms or plans in place to try to improve the financial management capacity in SACE. He was worried to see that the programme performance indicators suggested that a number of teachers had not signed up with SACE. He asked whether this was voluntary or compulsory and why  people had not signed up. He asked in how many provinces SACE had offices and what the time frame might be for it to extend to other provinces if this was not the case.

Ms Basson asked for a comparison of resolved and unresolved cases. She also wanted more information on the verification of foreign certificates, and asked if all teacher qualifications were screened and checked prior to employment, and whether it was possible to trace people later for any follow-up processes. She felt it particularly important that any teachers who were involved in educating children with special needs to be screened, to avoid “stranded teachers” being moved into these posts. She then commented on the Funza Lushaka post-graduate Certificate in Education programmes and thought that this was too theoretical with insufficient emphasis on practical work, and suggested that until it could be changed, there was perhaps a need to hold inductions to try to boost the practical application. She asked   if there was an existing website from which the track record of teachers could be seen, and asked how parents could be protected from sending their children to a school where educators are not properly qualified.

Mr Khosa asked when SACE had plans to meet with the nine provincial heads of departments to facilitate working relations.  He further asked for clarity on the membership fee and the registration fee. He asked if any sanctions were imposed for educators who tried to present fraudulent qualifications.

Ms Boshoff expressed the concern that the screening process was not thorough enough and that sexual misconduct is often swept under the carpet. She also asked if the SACE would pursue criminal charges  for any educator sexual offenders. Ms Boshoff recognised SACE’s work with the Department of Social Development but asked whether it was not also working with the Department of Justice. She furthermore asked whether the online registrations were successful. Following up on that, she asked how SACE intended to follow up on unregistered educators.

The Acting Chairperson asked whether schools will be directly connected to SACE in order to facilitate verification of employed teachers. She asked how prepared SACE would be, and how much it would be willing to spent, should professional standards and regulations be introduced. She believed that SACE could do more and she suggested that perhaps it should be repositioned. It also needed to attract more and relevant expertise. She asked what plans SACE had to implement the research done. Finally, she asked how far SACE had heeded the call for all institutions to tighten their belts, when considering the mandate and the budget allocations.

Ms Mokgalane responded on the research issues. She noted that the amount that could be allocated to research within SACE was minimal, and so for any research projects there was a need to partner with other institutions. Unfortunately, this did not always work as planned. The issue of professional standards was indeed affected by the budget, but here too, a lot of technical expertise was needed. She answered Ms Basson's concerns by saying that until teachers were registered with SACE they were not allowed to access its information systems. At the moment, teachers who were on the databases were being tracked. Induction programmes would be the responsibility of the educators and their employers because SACE had no jurisdiction to become involved here. She suggested that this question should be put to the relevant departments of education. SACE membership was not voluntary. However, as with any system, it would always be found that some people lagged behind in terms of their compliance. To date, there had not been severe consequences imposed, but it was recognised that this was a challenge and so SACE was trying to introduce more incentives to encourage people to register promptly.

Mr Ndlovu responded to the questions around verifying the qualifications, noting that when foreign teachers registered with SACE they would need an evaluation certificate for their qualifications. The main concerns seemed to be around language. Mr Ndlovu agreed that a five-year period was quite long, and perhaps too long, but the work permits for teaching would allow the educators to work for five years in that field. That did not imply that they were always being employed for a blanket period of five years. He added that the SACE Act required all teachers to be registered with SACE, and foreign educators, in order to do so, must additionally provide a police clearance certificate from their country of origin. Mr Ndlovu stated that it was possible for anyone to run checks, through the SACE website, to check the standing of educators, to ensure that the lives and wellbeing of children were not being compromised by any of the teachers. By 30 April 2016, the online programme would be fully developed to support online registration. He also claimed that SACE was planning to hold meetings with heads of provincial departments to address particular challenges.

Mr Mapindani responded to questions around the membership fees and said that if Council agreed on an amount, it could be brought back into play. SACE was not permitted to have a surplus after its operations. Registration fees were paid  and membership was continuous thereafter provided that payments were up to date. If the fees were not paid within two months of the due date, the member would be treated as non-active. Electronic payment systems were used in the private schools and for individuals. One of the problems related to having to call the individuals, and there were attempts to cut back on that. Provincial office set-up was hindered by shortage of funding but there were plans for some additional sites.

Mr Brijraj commented on the issue of research, and stated that he would convey the sentiments of the Members to the Council, agreeing that research was very important. It might even be able to highlight trends around the new teachers in the different provinces. He noted that the Council had taken a decision in principle to look into all cases where sexual offences had been committed, even those where the initial referrals or complaints had been closed off, and consider prosecuting.  Some teachers who had put forward fraudulent qualifications had been sentenced to prison terms. He noted that the SACE was dealing, on average with around 600 cases, and 25% of these cases might be carried over, although the majority could be dealt with in a three month period. He noted that the Office of the Chief Executive Officer could be contacted if there were any problems with delays in registrations.

Ms Bowles noted that in all cases, the SACE sought and took heed of legal opinions, and it was not correct that cases involving sexual misconduct would be ignored or swept under the carpet.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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