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EDUCATION AND RECREATION SELECT COMMITTEE
25 March 2003
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT & BUDGET: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr Kgware
Documents handed out:
Presentation of Annual Report 2001/2
Presentation on Department Budget
Education Budget 2003: Vote 17 - programmes and allocations
The Department presented their annual report and budget to the Committee. The budget presentation indicated a steady nominal increase and plans for better service delivery. However, the Committee felt that the information was too compact and needed to be unpacked in future discussions. The Committee found the national budget to be impressive, but the provincial service delivery was not as impressive as it was expected to have been by this time in 1997.
Annual Report and Department budget
The Director-General, Mr Mseleku, introduced the annual report presentation by explaining the background to the Department's principle of Tirisano (working together). The year 2001/2002 was the second year of Tirisano, which focused on three goals. Firstly, improving equity and quality of learning conditions. Secondly, improving standards and learner outcomes. Finally, deepening reform of institutional processes in nodal areas. He then listed key features of the Department's plans, which were as follows:
-Access of disadvantaged and girls to gateway subjects.
-Mathematics and Science Strategy (102 schools).
-Values and anti racism in education.
-Language in Education implementation programme.
-Implementation of White Paper 5 (Early Childhood Development) and adult literacy.
-Implementation of Higher Education Plans.
-Rationalisation of technical colleges.
He positively evaluated the Department's progress in the following areas:
-In the area of higher education (HE).
-Revised National Curriculum Statements (RNCS).
-Process of Nation Curriculum Statements (NCS) for FET started.
-Unit Standards for Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET).
-Improvement in learner achievement.
-Improved participation in Mathematics and Science.
-Improved Infrastructure delivery and planning to meet President's injunction, for "no learning under trees".
-Reducing the number of under-qualified and unqualified teachers.
He concluded with some challenges facing the Department in pursuing its plans and goals.
With respect to the Department budget, Mr Mseleku presented statistics which indicated a steady nominal increase in the national budget since 1997/98 to the projected increase for 2005/06. He noted that he could not speak for provincial budget without statistics and progress from provincial governments. He was confident and impressed with the progress of the national budget for education.
Rev Chabaku (ANC) commented that the national budget was impressive but that the Department had presented the information in a very complex and compact manner. She would like to have more time for the Department to unpack the issues in future discussions. She asked what the Department was doing with unused classes and.
Mr Mseleku agreed that there was a need for more time to unpack the compact information presented. On the issue of empty classes he said that the primary matter was to find out why the schools are being deserted so that they could be reoccupied. He suggested that lack of good quality education was one reason the demand for public schools was decreasing. He agreed that in the meantime the Department should looking into ways of using the classrooms, perhaps for adult education.
Mr Tlhagane (UCDP) asked why the Thulamakote project should be phased out when there was a need to rebuild dysfunctional schools.
Mr Mseleku explained that the issue was not only to rebuild schools but to continue with infrastructure building and maintenance.
Mr Tlhagane was not impressed by the report of underspending of R118 million. He maintained that the country could not afford underspending when there was service delivery was urgent. However, he expressed his delight with the Department's progress with the national budget.
Mr Mseleku agreed. The primary issue was the need for accountability for service delivery.
Mr Tlhagane pointed out that while the Department looked at HIV/AIDS in schools, it should also focus on issue of morality facing the youth. Rev Chabaku agreed.
Mr Raju (DP) asked how trusts, such as the Jacob Zuma Trust, were named.
Mr Mseleku explained that some trusts were independent and that their naming was a private matter and others depended on the goal of the trust as exemplified by Thulamakote, which is Setswana for overcoming obstacles.
A Member observed that there was a high drop-out rate even at lower levels of education and wanted to know why that was not attended to as it was for Grade 12.
Mr Mseleku pointed out that such an argument was based on a false assumption that everyone would end up in Grade 12 and not move to other strands of education. However, he did not dismiss the fact that dropout rates should be dealt with at lower levels of education.
Mr Van Niekerk could not understand why the operational costs were increasing instead of decreasing, as personnel become more efficient.
Mr Mseleku explained that the matter could only be resolved if the issue of efficiency was linked to accountability for service delivery. He maintained that the Department should look into ways of instilling the culture of accountability.
Mr Van Niekerk commented that he could not understand why the budget for HIV/AIDS was not was decreased.
The Chairperson concluded the meeting by noting that the budget presentation was impressive at national level, but more needed to be done. There should be more communication with the Committee regarding provincial budgets and plans. He also observed that the Department had many projects going on and that the Committee needed frequent briefings and outlines of some of the projects. The Committee should try to educate the public about the Department's projects.
The meeting was adjourned.
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