The Deputy Minister of Basic Education gave an overview of the size and shape of the sector, highlighting the successes achieved in the sector. For example, Grade R participation in 2002 was at 40% access, but now is almost universal. Statistics South Africa in their Household Survey indicated that 92% of all children in South Africa have had at least one year of pre-school learning. The strategic outcomes of the Department and its planning process has been guided by the Audit Committee. Further guidance and leadership on the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) has come from the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) within the Presidency and National Treasury. The planning process for the Strategic Plan was therefore under the guidance of the DPME, to ensure that the department plans aligned to the objectives of the MTSF.
The Department of Basic Education stated that the DBE has revised and updated its action plan in order for it to fit in with the new administrative period to 2019, entitled Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030, which is in line with the National Development Plan. The CFO went through each programme and noted whether its budget allocation has increased or decreased. She spoke about the merging of the Schools Backlog Grant with the Education Infrastructure Grant next year and this has influenced the increases in Programme 4.
The Committee asked questions about the DBE bursary scheme and teacher training and deployment, DBE’s provincial oversight particularly in the Eastern Cape, provincial allocations and subsequent monitoring. The topic of school infrastructure was looked in to at length, in particular the provision of schools in rural provinces. The Deputy Minister responded to the questions posed by the Committee.
The Chairperson asked that there be a moment of silence and mediation. She welcomed the engagement with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the importance of these proceedings. She noted Minister Motshekga’s apology as she was in a Cabinet meeting, the Director General who is not in the country. The Chairperson mentioned the role that the NCOP Committee plays and its interest in not only the national DBE office, but also the provincial sphere as the Members represent provinces. They are interested in finding out what the national department has planned for provinces and how they will support the provinces that are having difficulties and challenges.
Deputy Minister of Basic Education briefing on the sector
Deputy Minister Enver Surty introduced the Acting Director General, Mr Themba Kojana, Ms Vivienne Carelse (Deputy Director-General, Education Development) who would be presenting and Dr Mantlhake Maboya, the new Deputy Director General for Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring. He gave an overview of the sector in order to get a sense of where the department is. He started with Early Childhood Development (ECD), as the Chairperson is very interested in the topic. The programme is shared with the Department of Social Development as they are responsible for children between the ages of 0 and 4 years old. He said that there have been vast improvements in the sector between 2002 and 2014, where the number of children that received ECD training in ECD facilities increased from 8% to 40%. The country is currently sitting at 60%. With regards to Grade R participation; in 2002 the country was at 40% access, but now is almost universal, meaning there are more than 875 000 children who are in Grade R. Statistics South Africa in their Household Survey has indicated that 92% of all children in South Africa have had at least one year of pre-school learning.
With regards to access, the Deputy Minister said that the country is at 99% when it comes to children between the ages of 7 and 13, which is the highest on the continent and amongst the highest in the world. The big challenge however is between grade 10 and 12, where they are faced with teenage pregnancy, repetition and lack of confidence. He admitted that there is still work to be done in that area even though some progress has been made. In the 14 to 18 age group, the country had been at 88% but has been able to increase access to 91% in 2014 and is currently at 93%. What is encouraging is that girl learners are doing better than boy learners in access, retention and the quality of their passes.
The Deputy Minister mentioned how important Inclusive Education is and that sign language is now formally part of the curriculum with Braille workbooks having been provided to partially sighted learners and that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is being used as a learning tool. DBE is working closely with the Department of Social Development and the Department of Women in the Presidency and DBE job applications are made available to those departments that work closely with people with disabilities. It is encouraging that 84% of children with disabilities are in the system as of 2014. He mentioned that a challenge still lies when it comes to gaining educators for deaf and visually impaired children and that DBE needs to attract people for these roles. The number of out of school children was 300 000 in 2002 and the number has decreased to less than 100 000 learners in 2014. For youth between 15 and 24 years, 95% have had completed Grade 7 and higher, where more female youth have done so, 84% of adults aged 20 and above have completed Grade 7. With regards to the Kha Ri Gude programme, DBE has made more than three million adults functionally literate and numerate. The programme is however coming to an end.
Infrastructure continues to be a problem, but DBE has already delivered 138 state of the art schools across the country, with the majority of them being in the Eastern Cape, given the fact that mud schools have been eliminated in the other eight provinces, but persist in the Eastern Cape. The Western Cape has also benefited with more than 17 state of the art schools. These schools have access to ICT services, a library, laboratory, a playing field and dance rooms. DBE has spent over R35 million for each school and they are placed in historically poor areas with predominantly Black and Coloured learners. On average DBE has been delivering a school per week, with the plan to deliver 55 schools in the Eastern Cape alone this financial year. The National School Nutrition Programme has made significant progress where less than 10 years ago DBE was feeding less than one million children for only three days of the school week and only targeting primary schools. This figure has increased to 9.3 million children who are being fed across the board in Quintile 1 to 3 schools and getting a meal every day of the week.
With regard to curriculum reform, DBE has recognised that there was too much emphasis on the academic stream and that not everyone wants to attend a university. There needs to be more attention paid to the intermediate skills that the country desperately requires. This has been provided by Technical and Vocational Education Training (TEVT) centres, where the headcount has increased by more than 500 000 within five years. DBE has over 2000 technical schools and is currently recapitalizing these schools. DBE has therefore introduced the Vocational stream this year: electrical, mechanical, civil engineering and technology. The Deputy Minister sees this as an important shift and was happy to have attended the training sessions in Gauteng and the Free State. The third stream, Occupation Vocational, will be introduced next year. There will also be an introduction of technical mathematics and technical science that will be appropriate for learners who are interested in that stream. DBE is working closely with the Department of Higher Education and Training to complement and augment the work that DHET is doing. This is in effort to ensure that the two departments do not compete or create a disjuncture between their two visions.
ICT is viewed as an important area, where the Minister and all the department leaders are looking at ensuring that all schools are connected by 2019. The DBE has digitized their entire curriculum content and have developed an opportunity through Mxit and UNESCO for learners to access and download all past papers and more than 200 readers at a minimum cost. The DBE is currently working on an Education Cloud which will cover all subjects and all grades’ material. All content, including text books, will be available through ICT and it hopes this will be completed by the end of the next financial year. DBE already has a collaborative agreement with Vodacom who is currently providing ICT data in Mathematics, Science and Technology from Grade 10 to 12. The arrangement will be that whoever downloads content from the cloud will not pay for data usage. DBE is also moving towards centralising text book procurement to ensure uniform standards in textbooks. There will therefore be a core textbook for each subject per learner per grade across the board with schools free to procure any additional material they see as necessary.
Operation Phakisa which is driven by the Presidency in collaboration with National Treasury, as it relates to Basic Education and the Department of Postal Services and Communications, has looked at five areas: infrastructure, connectivity, device access, curriculum content and professional development. With professional development, the DBE has established 140 teacher resource centres, where 70 of them are fully connected with the required technology in partnership with Vodacom, MTN and UNISA, with the hope that all 140 will be connected by the end of 2016. Forty of these centres will be dedicated ICT hubs, which will empower educators and learners.
The Deputy Minister mentioned the Funza Lushaka bursary, which is one of the best schemes in the country, offering accommodation, tuition, text books and a subsistence. Beneficiaries of these bursaries have work for the department as a ‘paying back’ mechanism. 13 980 students were beneficiaries of the bursary with 5 066 expected to graduate in 2015. With regards to libraries, the Minister had committed herself to 1 000 libraries on Mandela Day and the department has exceeded themselves and will continue to provide libraries to communities and schools during this financial year. The DBE is working closely with the Department of Arts and Culture to ensure that new libraries, particularly those in rural areas are in the periphery of school premises so that they are accessible to both school learners and community members. The Deputy Minister noted the screening programme where over 800 000 learners have benefited from the school health programme. Sports participation across schools has increased significantly with over 12 000 schools participating in soccer and netball. The involvement of the Patrice Motsepe Foundation has helped propel this initiative further. With regards to human rights, the Moot Court initiative has yielded wonderful results where South Africa achieved first place in an international competition.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister for his remarks and mentioned that there is no legislation or policy that directs on how to go about intervention and how it is an issue the Committee needs to look into as an oversight structure.
Mr Kojana noted that the DBE is not only here to provide the committee with the Annual Performance and Strategic Plans, but also to give them a sense of how the sector is performing. It will also be a chance for DBE to show where it is going in order to see if it has the human capacity it needs to meet its strategic goals properly. The presentation will speak to the size and shape of the sector with specific focus on the provinces.
Before the presentation started, the Chairperson addressed the DBE delegation on a few concerns the members have raised and hoped the presentation would address. These issues were raised after the committee’s oversight visits. She raised questions on teacher training and quality; how teachers are teaching subjects that they are not qualified to teach; teachers that are not paid on time; infrastructure - is there capacity in the Eastern Cape to drive those programmes and ensure the delivery of the 55 schools? Has DBE put in place plans to ensure that the Eastern Cape can receive funds and can therefore roll-out programmes; provincial departments' ability to meet plans and strategies set by national and what assistance has been put in place to ensure compliance. She asked about electricity, sanitation, text book delivery and shortages of classrooms. She mentioned the Auditor General audit report as there are provinces that are struggling and need to be supported, language proficiency amongst teachers who struggle to teach in English, the selection and training of markers for Grade 12; examiner experience and ability to set examination papers. She hoped that these issues will be covered in the presentation
DBE 2016 Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan presentation
Deputy Director General: Education Development, Ms Vivienne Carelse, said the presentation is different to that presented to the Portfolio Committee as it is more province oriented and will address the plan which will be rolled-out to the sector at large. The planning process has been guided by the Audit Committee and Auditor General of South Africa’s input and therefore particular emphasis has been put on the DBE’s role as national oversight department. DBE has had to look at the plan, focusing itself as the leader in the sector and in particular its work and how DBE will report on what their plans have set out to do. This is critical to DBE’s public accountability process. Further guidance and leadership in terms of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) has come from the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and National Treasury. DBE has developed these plans as an ongoing tool and instrument to guide the department’s actions in practice. The planning process for the Strategic Plan was under the guidance of the DPME, to ensure that the department plans according to the objectives of the MTSF.
Ms Carelse outlined the presentation which will cover the size and shape of the sector, progress in learning outcomes and will look at what has informed and guided this current planning process. DBE has used this opportunity to refine their strategic plan and to base their work on the audit profile of the sector. The presentation will cover an overview as well as background information and the department’s mandate, and look at the MTSF outcomes. The DBE has revised and updated its action plan in order for it to fit in with the new administrative period up to 2019, with the Goal to Realising Schooling 2030, which is in line with the NDP. The presentation will look at other priorities which they have labeled as ‘non-negotiables’ and strategic outcome goals of the institution. The presentation will then go over each programme, identifying key indicators that speak to the national purpose and mandate. The second component of the presentation will look at the budget.
DBE is committed to Sustainable Development Goal 4 to ensure that it serves as the bedrock to the planning process, which speaks to inclusive, equitable and quality education and the promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all. The size and shape of the sector is complex and does not just deal with the national department, but the sub-structures within provinces; circuit officers, schools, both public and private as well as Section 21 and 20 schools. The sector also has a large number of unregistered and independent schools and looks closely at the validity of what is being offered to the public. There are a number of instances where parents have been misled and misguided about the legal status of some schools. Financial autonomy of schools is also an area of focus. On the size of sector, learners are over the 12 million mark with roughly 416 000 educators (see document for breakdown of the sector statistics).
With regards to age enrollment, South Africa is almost at 100% universal access, with those few that are out of school being classified as those that have special needs. The country has done well in terms of equity, with a high number of learners benefitting from no-fee schools at 87.14% access. When looking at learner outcomes, the National Certificate and Annual National Assessments are great indicators which will show how provinces have responded in the 2014/15 performance period. Gauteng and the Western Cape are the strong provinces, with the Free State and North West starting to shift into a positive percentage category in performance. In terms of the audit profile, there was improvement in the 2014/15 financial cycle with a fewer provinces having qualified audits. There needs to be a mechanism in place to ensure provincial budget monitoring, which will lead to better audit outcomes and move towards clean audits, which is a target for both national and provincial.
DBE has revised its five year strategic plan, which was tabled on March 2015 and took advice from the Audit Committee with regards to the mandate, where it has to stress its oversight, policy development and monitoring and evaluation role. DBE has had to revise and sharpen their objectives in such a way that they are specific, measurable and attainable. DBE has aligned its objective with the National Development Plan (NDP), where Outcome 1 serves as a guide to the DBE’s strategic plan. The key project in terms of Operation Phakisa is ICT in education, which will be highlighted later. The MTSF and the NDP serves as the frame for the new annual performance plan and strategic plan.
Ms Carelse outlined what DBE views as non-negotiables to their planning and accountability process: Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM), infrastructure, improvement of district functionality in conjunction with social partners; teachers, ICT; Kha Ri Gude, which is in its last year and will transition to the Matric Second Chance Programme; library services, in conjunction with the read to lead initiative; rural schools, which speaks to rationalisation; curriculum; social mobilisation and learner well-being and safety factors. The outcomes goals of the DBE are linked to the department’s five programmes. There is currently a sharp look at how they can refine DBE’s structure. She outlined the merging of priorities for alignment purposes: Early Childhood Development (ECD), universal access to ECD, the policy for a pre-Grade 1 as well as the improvement of competency levels of ECD practitioners, the improvement of state funding as well as the provision of LTSM. With regards to Inclusive Education; the establishment of full-service schools and the provision of chapter 9 materials. DBE has also looked at early detection processes which will be encapsulated in the teacher development branch. There is a reconfiguration of the Naledi conditional grant, which deals with mathematics and science and the technical schools recapitalisation which together form part of Maths, Science and Technology (MST) conditional grant. Teacher recruitment and deployment is a big area of emphasis and alignment for the teacher development branch, where they work closely with the Department of Higher Education and Training regarding the Funza Lushaka bursary. Teacher development will also look at strengthening Inclusive Education as well as the monitoring of delivery of programmes.
School Governing Bodies (SGB) are seen as a critical part of the department’s social partners within the sector, as whatever may be proposed to the legislature, SGBs need to offer support and oversight given to schools through their governance. Infrastructure remains a huge area of the national intervention process with implementation of the infrastructure norms and standards. There has been focus on rationalisation process and the provision of infrastructure can both inform what DBE needs to do in terms of future plans for infrastructure delivery. There are many social dynamics that influence where schools need to be placed and provided. Sports as well as learner wellness also constitute as key parts of the planning process. Programme 1, which looks at compliance, accountability, and sound financial systems, informs everything else DBE does in its budget expenditure and whether they can account for their plans coming to fruition in terms of their implementation strategy. Does DBE reflect accurately and regularly on their deliverables? There will be a remodeling of ANA which is influenced by the teacher union’s strike that took place last year.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ms Molalekoa presented the budget, stating that the budget for 2016/17 was R22.528 billion. She went through the budget and the reprioritisation of some activities that were brought about by the economic situation in DBE. She highlighted the shifting of R50 million per year from the Kha Ri Gude programme to the Second Chance programme over the Medium Term Framework (MTF), making it R150 million in total. There was also a shifting of funds from the IQMS to NEEDU. The School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant (referred to as ASIDI) was not cut by DBE but by National Treasury, as the programme was always one with a life cycle. It will therefore be merged with the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) and become a conditional grant to provinces. There were also some baseline reductions implemented by Treasury and authorized by Cabinet. These funds are shifted away from DBE. ANA has been reduced by R100 million per year over the MTF. Slide 55 was referenced to show how allocations have been changing through the years. Programme 1 will see an increase over the MTF, with department accommodation getting the bulk of the increase. Programme 2 will also see an increase over the MTF mainly due to the inflation adjustment. Programme 3 will decrease in 2016/17 due to the baseline reduction set by Treasury as well as the reprioritization of compensation of employees that was shifted from IQMS to NEEDU. Programme 4 budget increases over the MTF, mainly because of the increase in EIG. Programme 5 budget also increases over the MTF, mainly due to inflationary adjustments. Ms Molalekoa went over the causes of increases and decreases in some of the budget line items in Slide 61. Under the Other item, responsibility has been shifted to Goods and Services, meaning there is only a shifting of funds, not a reduction. Slide 64 highlighted the four conditional grants and allocations for the MTF. The EIG grant has significant increases due to the shifting of the ASIDI grant. Slide 66 highlighted the transfers of DBE.
The Chairperson thanked the DBE delegation for the presentation, but highlighted that the issues she had raised were not covered during the presentation.
The Acting DG, Mr Kojana, replied that it was an oversight on their behalf that led them to not capture those concerns in the presentation. He asked if the Chairperson wanted them to respond now to those questions. The Chairperson said it was fine to include them in their overall response at the end.
Ms T Mpamba-Sibhukwana (DA) was happy to hear about the strategy set up to respond to the training for deaf educators. She asked if the Deputy Minister could provide them with a timeframe for provincial roll-outs. Her main issue with DBE is oversight, that there needs to be strengthening especially in KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape and follow-up on the funds that are transferred to provinces. During an oversight visit, she saw three learners sharing a text book in Lady Frere and in Thembeni. This was cause for concern as the budget allocation says one text book, one learner. She also found that learners were using non-scientific calculators even though they are meant to be funded by DBE. She asked the Deputy Minister for an update on court cases within DBE. She mentioned rationalisation in Eastern Cape moving very slowly specifically in Thembeni. Nutrition and food security needed to be encouraged with specific mention to DBE of one high school, where the land is bare and there is a water shortage. Another concern is the cooking in shacks which is a health hazard. Road are also an issue which is a collaborative effort with the Department of Transport – it needs to facilitate access to schools as a priority. There is also the issue of teachers leaving early on payday every month. In KZN there was copying during matric examinations, can there be a strengthening in the national efforts on this? The indefinite leave of some teacher in KZN needs attention and intervention.
Mr M Khawula (IFP) referred to slide 22 of the presentation and stated that the strategic outcome oriented goals are good, particularly in governance and management, curriculum and teacher supply, they speak right to the core of what needs to be addressed. On the topic of enrollment, KZN tops enrollment figures with 2 800 000 learners having 6 000 schools. What is interesting is that Gauteng has 2 200 000 learners but only 2 700 schools, the Eastern Cape has 1 900 000 learners with 5 700 schools. This speaks to the rationalization of schools in the Eastern Cape which leads to transport concerns; DBE needs to address this in a way that does not develop new problems for the community. Slide 24 on the mathematics and science programme speaks of increasing the number of schools that offer these subjects – he asked if there are no contradictions across provinces? On slide 25 on teacher recruitment and development through the bursary programme, he asked if there is quality in the education received by students who only attend teacher colleges for one year and are then put in classrooms the next. DBE needs to look into that programme as he sees it as a disaster. On Slide 30, under Programme 5, he asked what social capital is. On the budget, can DBE include the previous year’s budget in their presentation so it is clear from where DBE is coming?
Ms P Samka (ANC; Eastern Cape) said that she is happy with the political overview provided by the Deputy Minister and his addressing of the challenges in KZN, Eastern Cape and Limpopo. She is worried about the EC and asked what the challenges in Eastern Cape are; is it political leadership or the administration? Regarding infrastructure in the Eastern Cape, the EIG has been cut by 12% (from R1.7 billion (2015/16) to R1.5 billion this year) because of slow spending, what is the cause for slow spending and what plans are in place to address this? School furniture is also a cause for concern and there needs to be plan and a timeframe to provide furniture to schools timeously.
Ms M Moshodi (ANC) welcomed the presentation and addressed the cost cutting measures of departments presented by the President during his State of the Nation Address and by the Finance Minister; how does this budget respond to that call? Poor project performance is still a concern at provincial level; DBE has to intensify its support. She asked how the APP and budget are linked to the NDP.
Ms L Dlamini (ANC) welcomed the DBE team and the presentation. She did not see the provincial focus in this presentation as stated by Ms Carelse at the start. She would have wanted to see a situation where DBE shows how many teachers they will train per province, and at what cost. She would have liked to see the budget presented together with the programmes, not separately so that they know how much will be used for specific projects, such as the building of schools in the Eastern Cape. The budget did not speak to the programmes but gave an overview that was not very helpful in gaining understanding. This way of presentation makes accounting for cost difficult, making follow-up also difficult. With regards to ECD, the DBE is only responsible from Grade R, age five and up, but is still responsible for the curriculum for lower age groups. She does not see that highlighted in the presentation. She mentioned the presentation by the Department of Social Development which said how many ECD centres they will build during this financial year. What is DBE’s response to the curriculum and the number of educators they are going to train? With regards to LTSM, there needs to be a dedicated effort to deal with the provincial shortages in delivery. National can say they have delivered LTSM, but schools do not have due to different reasons. There also needs to be measures in place to follow up on learners that do not return books. This then causes new learners in the grade to end up sharing books. The quality of delivery in the Eastern Cape needs to be followed up. With Funza Lushaka, the challenges raised in KZN and Eastern Cape is the lack of experience that these new teachers have. There needs to be a system in place where you cannot put a new teacher in a Grade 12 classroom, they should however progress through the grades with time. DBE needs to have a closer look at the Eastern Cape.
Mr C Hattingh (DA) complimenting DBE and the Deputy Minister on the presentation and applauded the Education Cloud initiative. He mentioned his trip to the Eastern Cape where there are more than 5 000 schools and how he has only seen four, so cannot offer a fully educated or informed opinion. Going back to the Education Cloud, he does not see it being realized by the end of the next financial year, March 31 2018, as the country is faced with the reality of mud schools and bucket toilet systems in schools. He mentioned a classroom situation where only five learners had a desk and chairs and the other 30 were standing, but a few kilometers away there was school with locked classrooms and furniture stacked to the ceiling. The quality of the pass is also an issue, not the pass rate. Also the absenteeism of educators is an issue, where on average they are absent for 4 days a month; this means that the learner-educator time is cut by 20% from the start. The cut in spending on Programme 3 is a concern as there needs to be more money there in order to up the efficiency of educators. Also, the influence of some trade unions needs to decrease. He asked who the stakeholders are who wrecked the ANAs in 2015 and what was the reason behind it. He added that as much as ANAs assess the standard of learners, it also assesses the standard of educators and the efficiency of educators.
The Chairperson noted that she is open to having written responses to some questions the DBE cannot answer now. On Slide 25, she asked about the priority of functionality of districts and schools because during their oversight visit, they could see that there was a management problem regarding circuit managers. The system is in such a way that if districts are not strong, we will not get results, as circuit managers play a vital role in ensuring delivery at school level. Management by schools principals is also a critical issue –, the capacitation of school principals to manage their schools properly and the accountability. How has DBE ensured that districts are strong? On the curriculum dispensation, some teachers are teaching subjects they are not qualified to teach or are teaching too many subjects. Some schools have an oversupply of teachers and some have a shortage; the distribution of teachers needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency. The DBE has said that they have curtailed the budget for ANA, what is the rationale behind that? The dropout rate is being reduced, however DBE needs to check where those that drop out end up. If the DBE decreases the budget for employee compensation, how is DBE going to come out when people want their increases? How is the budget pro-poor? On support to provinces that are not performing, such as Limpopo, KZN and the Eastern Cape, how does DBE plan to follow up with them and ensure that they deliver?
Deputy Minister Surty welcomed the engagement the Committee has had with the realities on the ground through their oversight visits. He replied that the budget is clearly pro-poor because of the number of no-fee paying schools in the system, as 8 out of 10 children in the country attend these schools. The allocation of resources to Quintiles 1, 2 and 3 schools is far higher than that of Quintile 4 and 5 schools or an independent school. The fact DBE distributes 55 million workbooks each year free of charge is an indication of a pro-poor budget. In terms of the infrastructure investment as well, 90% of it goes to the poor to ensure that the environment is conducive to learning. The CFO could give the Committee a better sense of this in the budget presentation as it does not reflect on this clearly enough. With regard to ANA, there is no intention of eliminating the ANA and it will continue. The content, frequency and quality are the areas that need discussion, so that DBE ensures that it is universally accepted and has the appropriate impact. A task team has been set up and DBE is looking at their report and suggestions. The reduction comes in because of the disruptions last year and the ‘left over’ funds and the fact that they did not do what they had planned to do. Treasury will however want to know about the frequency of ANA, a decision that still needs to be taken.
With regards to the Second Chance programme, they allowed 65 000 learners to write, with the North West getting a 59% pass rate for their learners. The Free State also performed well. The learners need to have a minimum threshold in order to be allowed to sit for examinations. They are also looking at ways to assist learners with the demand, where they can divide the subjects into two parts; write four in December and the remainder in May. Many learners have gone to TVET colleges after Grade 9 which would also add to the dropout rate. Pregnant learners also play a role in this percentage. DBE is doing a critical study to assess dropouts and track learners. They are looking at the roll out of a web based tracking system which will look at absenteeism and will determine in real time whether a teacher is at work or not. The districts that have performed well (Gauteng, Western Cape and part of the Free State and Northern Cape) are those that have relied on data, not in Grade 12 only but across the system which allows them to pick up on issues.
The profiling of educators is one of the biggest challenges they face. They have however started on this process and have detailed information about the teacher; qualification, where the teacher has been teaching and what the teacher has been teaching. These will allow DBE to use the profile against the needs of a school. The timetable is also an important tool that all educators must have. DBE has helped teachers with this as the National Curriculum Assessment Policy states what will be taught, its content, when it will be taught and for how long and how a teacher would assess that knowledge. This enables DBE to go into a classroom at any point and see where the teacher is with regards to teaching the curriculum. This is to ensure they can monitor and assess the system. With Funza Lushaka, it is not just about mathematics and science, but about providing for the needs of schools. They know they require strong teachers in the foundation phase, teachers who are good in languages, teachers with mathematics, science and technology experience and also in Economics and Accounting. DBE tends to underestimate the importance of languages because if a teacher does not have a command of language, the learner will be at a disadvantage. The teacher must have that skill. On inspectors and school principals, what DBE is proposing is that all principals must be subject to performance appraisals, must be competent and skilled. There is draft legislation that says a person cannot become a principal without experience, qualification and competency.
District managers make a huge difference, when looking at a well performing district it is mainly due to a great management from both district and circuit managers. There is good correlation between the two of them and good working relations with the schools. In the Eastern Cape, the districts have been reduced from 23 to 12. With regards to furniture, DBE has 12 dedicated people that are permanently based in the Eastern Cape to do the assessment and audit of furniture there. They have already completed 1 220 schools in the assessment. Each school and every classroom’s needs are being assessed. Two years ago there were more than 140 court cases, there are now seven. DBE sent two dedicated lawyers to the Eastern Cape to handle litigation. The Eastern Cape has a significant number of schools that have fewer than 150 learners in them. When mergers were looked at, 2 400 schools in the Eastern Cape could be taken away. It is the only province that still has mud schools and DBE is working at eradicating that phenomenon. There needs to be proper planning as with ASIDI, of the 50 schools that were planned for, they would have not been viable because of the number of schools that had to be closed. The schools need to respond to the needs of the community. The Eastern Cape now has the human capacity to scope the provincial needs. ICT will make it easier to keep track of teacher attendance through an efficient monitoring. LTSM in the Eastern Cape has been raised by more than one Member. DBE is working towards a central procurement process which has saved them a lot of money. Eastern Cape had pulled out of a project that would deliver stationery to the provinces, this has resulted in less than viable stationery being delivered, such as non-scientific calculators. There will be an intervention in that province to ensure sound quality and delivery.
The retrieval rate of textbooks is also an issue; the life span of a text book is 5 years, with a minimum of 3 years. They work at 80% retrieval and 20% top up. They are busy with norms for the retrieval system to create incentives and rewards for schools that are able to retrieve textbooks. This means that the management is at fault, not parents. For the curriculum for lower grades, the NDP says that they must provide two years of pre-school. The DBE has been entrusted with the responsibility of Grade R learners. Six years ago, fewer than 60% of educators had a level 4 qualification, now more than 90% do, 35% have level 5 and about 30% have level 6. DBE is looking at having educators with at least a level 6 qualification. DBE now has a curriculum for Grade R where each learner receives four books for the year free of charge.
On cost containment, Treasury has put in austerity measures, that if a province is given resources and it does not utilise them, they will be taken away. In the Eastern Cape they have taken away R600 million in infrastructure, but the understanding from Treasury is that they will bring it back when the Eastern Cape is ready and can spend it through proper planning and management.
Ms Molalekoa stated that they have noted the comment about linking the budget to each project and programme and will do so in future presentations. The reduction in ANA was done through the directive of National Treasury and Parliament as they were asked to cut a certain amount from it. The reduction of compensation of employees was also cut by Treasury.
Mr Kojana welcomed the guidance offered by the Committee and the recommendation of how best to improve on their reporting to the NCOP as it has to be province specific. The DBE intends to continually provide the Committee with progress reports and information from oversight visits. DBE will provide the Committee with written responses to their questions once the teams on oversight visits have put reports together.
The Chairperson thanked the DBE delegation and the responses given to them.
The meeting was adjourned.