Vuwani: report back; Supplementary Exam / Second Chance Programme; National Education Collaboration Trust progress report

Basic Education

30 August 2016
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) said the supplementary examinations provided an opportunity for learners who could not write examinations in November to write the examinations at a later date. It also provided an opportunity to rewrite for borderline cases who failed in the November examinations.

A total of 115 966 candidates registered for supplementary examinations but only 75 824 candidates wrote the examinations. The supplementary examinations had resulted in the national pass rate increasing by 1.4%. In total, 10 131 more candidates had passed the NSC as a result of the supplementary examinations.

The Second Chance Programme provided support to learners who sat for the supplementary examinations. The support package comprised face to face teaching, learning and teaching support materials (LTSM), technology broadcasts and self study (at centres). The programme was piloted in seven subjects. These were Mathematics, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Geography, Business Studies, Economics and Mathematical Literacy. A total of 19 827 learners were involved in the pilot.

Members asked about the national roll out and about the challenges of the lack of face to face teaching time and the need for high performance teachers in the Second Chance Programme as well as the costs involved. They asked about catching up programmes for learners in rural schools and possible merging of the supplementary examinations with the June examinations. The DBE was requested to provide a rollout plan for the Second Chance Programme before the end of the year.

Teaching and learning activities in six circuits in Vuwani were disrupted from 3 May, when the school burning protests started, until 10 August, when teaching and learning resumed. Almost 53 000 learners were affected and 42 000 of these could not sit for the mid-year examinations. A total of 29 schools were burnt and vandalised. Three centres were set up in order to provide secure sites for Grade 12 learners to be accommodated and taught for the duration of the protest action. The centres catered for 1 968 learners.

A total of 31 school days was lost. The Provincial Education Department was trying to make up for these hours. The full content of the curriculum would be taught. But formal assessments were reorganised. Learners in Grades R to 11 did not write the mid-year examinations. For these learners there were no high stakes linked to the mid-year examinations but the teaching of the content would be completed.

The costs attached to this intervention would not exceed R35 million. R27 million had already been spent and another R8 million in accounts were still outstanding. Funds to cover these costs had to be taken from other programmes. There was also support from the private sector.

The National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) supports the implementation of chapter 9 of the National Development Plan which aims to have 90% of learners achieve more than 50% in literacy, mathematics and science by 2030. The Minister of Basic Education was of the view that there were too many small projects which took up the time of educators. The NECT was set up to better coordinate the efforts of the private sector. The programme reaches almost two million learners in 4 362 schools. In 2015, the NECT had 24 private sector organisations that contributed R186 542 790. The auditors issued an unqualified audit opinion for 2015.

Members asked if NECT was not duplication of the same function; how were the districts selected; would other districts be prioritised in the future; how impact of NECT programmes on learner performance was measured; what was the staff budget of NECT; what was the salary of the CEO; were board members paid; only five provinces were involved so when would this programme be rolled out to other province.

The progress report on the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign had to be shelved due to time constraints.

Meeting report

2016 National Senior Certificate Supplementary Examinations and Second Chance Programme
Ms Palesa Tyobeka, DBE Deputy Director-General: Planning and Delivery Oversight, apologised on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Minister and the Director General for their inability to be present at the meeting. She handed over to Dr Poliah to make the presentation.

Dr Rufus Poliah, Chief Director: Public Examinations and Assessments, said that the supplementary examinations provided an opportunity for learners who could not write examinations in November to write the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. It also provided an opportunity to rewrite for borderline cases who failed in the November examinations. The supplementary examinations were written from 10 February to 17 March 2016. The DBE had intensified its monitoring of these examinations.

Dr Poliah reported that 115 966 candidates had registered for  supplementary examinations but only 75 824 candidates wrote the examinations. He pointed out that despite the Second Chance programme, many learners lacked the confidence to participate in the supplementary examinations.

Dr Poliah indicated that the supplementary examinations had resulted in the national pass rate increasing by 1.4%. The national pass rate achieved in the November NSC examinations was 70.7% so this had increased to 72.1%. The Bachelor pass rate and the pass rate of all other qualification types had increased as well as the pass rate in Mathematics and Physical Sciences. In total, 10 131 more candidates had passed the NSC as a result of the supplementary examinations.

Ms Zarene Govender, DBE Director: Second Chance Programme, reported that the programme provided support to learners who sat for the supplementary examinations. The support package comprised face to face teaching, learning and teaching support materials (LTSM), technology broadcasts and self study (at centres). The programme was piloted in seven subjects. These were Mathematics, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Geography, Business Studies, Economics and Mathematical Literacy.

Ms Govender indicated that three teachers per subject were allocated to venues where the programme was piloted. The teacher to learner ratio was 1:30. In addition to face to face teaching, the Telematics Broadcasting Solution (TBS) was offered at 322 schools, the Internet Broadcasting Project (IBP) was offered at 60 schools in the Free State, and Mindset Broadcasts on DSTV and HD Open View was offered at 828 schools. There were also 74 Vodacom Teacher Centres.

Ms Govender reported that 19 827 learners enrolled for the programme. There was an increase in the uptake from 80.5% to 83.9% from the previous year. There was still a problem with the “no shows” for the supplementary examinations. The national rate of “no shows” was 34.6% which was up from 26.6% in the previous year.

Ms Govender said that some of the lessons learnt included:
a) the limited contact hours for face to face classes cannot yield improved performance;
b) a large number of incomplete combinations resulting from failures in one of two subjects;
c) in most cases there was an increase in the performance in pilot districts but a drop in performance for Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy and Business Studies;
d) limited capacity and availability of high performance teachers;
e) low morale of candidates resulted in erratic and poor attendance;
f) the success of the programme is highly dependent on increased ownership and support of the programme by provincial education departments; and
g) the public at large, especially the targeted candidates have limited information regarding the programme.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked Dr Poliah and Ms Govender for the presentation.

Mr H Khosa (ANC) asked if the DBE had the necessary resources such as quality teachers to assist the large numbers of learners.

Mr D Mguni (ANC) asked that if the supplementary examinations were to take place in June, whether the DBE would have the financial muscle to ensure this. What support was there for Mathematics? What, in addition to motivational speakers, was being recommended to deal with low morale?

Ms N Mashabela (EFF) asked what the DBE was doing about the large number of learners who enrolled for the supplementary examinations but did not write. Are learners required to pay a fee to register for the Second Chance programme?

Mr G Davis (DA) noted the increase in the numbers of registered learners who did not write the supplementary examinations. He asked what the reasons were for this. He asked what the cost per learner was for the Second Chance programme. Was there a plan to get more high performance teachers into the programme.? When would the pilot be rolled out nationally and what would be the cost?

Prof T Msimang (IFP) asked if there were catching up programmes for learners in rural schools. Does the DBE have the available resources for when the supplementary and the June examinations were merged? Will the merging not result in a cumbersome examination?

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) asked how the supplementary examinations would be linked to the June examinations. She noted that there was not a huge uptake for the Second Chance programme in some provinces. What were the reasons for this? Was there enough canvassing done for this programme? Is there a way in which registration can be automatic? Is 12 hours of face to face teaching sufficient? How did the DBE deal with textbooks not being available since learners had to return textbooks to the schools at the end of the year? Did the DBE consider the skilling of learners who were not going to universities?

Ms J Basson (ANC) expressed concern about rural areas and asked if it was possible to compare results for urban areas versus results for rural areas. She asked why in the Western Cape the number of learners who enrolled were more than the number of learners who qualified to enrol for supplementary examinations.

The Chairperson asked what the rationale was behind the merging of the supplementary and the June examinations. Which examination was being sacrificed? Was it the one in March or the one in June? Has profiling of learners been done? What is the problem for students registering but not writing the supplementary examinations? Can the “no shows” be attached to profiles of learners?

Dr Poliah replied that supplementary examinations have a history of their own and existed in the absence of the June examinations. The intention was to reduce the three examinations to two. The DBE was of the view that “no shows” were linked to low confidence and the timing of the supplementary examinations. The learners involved in the supplementary examinations were weak learners. For them to pass they need added support looking at specific areas. The June examinations provide six months for learners to prepare. Doing away with one of the three examinations will be a cost saver and additional resources would not be required.

Dr Poliah said that learners are advised on the reverse side of their results notice if they have qualified for the supplementary examinations. There is not automatic qualification for supplementary examinations. The supplementary examinations are for learners who missed the November examinations due to valid reasons, or who failed a maximum of two subjects and those who did not qualify for university admission by one subject.

Dr Poliah explained that in the Western Cape there were more learners who enrolled than who qualified to enrol for the supplementary examinations because progressed learners were also included. Progressed learners were out of school learners who had another opportunity to complete the NSC. In that province all affected learners also had to rewrite one of the IT papers because of a problem.

Dr Poliah noted that there was still an ongoing discussion on the merging of the supplementary and the June examinations. The Higher Education sector was being included in these discussions. The biggest concern was about learners who missed the November examinations due to ill health.

Ms Govender said that some learners who were interviewed felt that they would have done better in the final examinations if they had had the same high quality teachers throughout the year as the ones they had on the Second Chance programme. The DBE provided textbooks for the learners. Provincial Education Departments had the task of retrieving these textbooks. There are no costs for learners to enroll in the programme. Rural areas will receive priority for face to face teaching. R15 million was allocated for the programme. It was not possible to break this cost down per learner. The DBE was still waiting for the final allocation from National Treasury for next year. The pilot would be rolled out nationally in 2017. A plan would be presented before the end of the year. The DBE had requested R100 million for the roll out of the programme. There was little time between the release of the final NSC results and the writing of the supplementary examinations. The allocation of 12 hours of teaching time was based on this reality.

Dr Mamiki Maboya, DBE Deputy Director-General: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, said that the Second Chance programme was being piloted. For this pilot it was necessary to have a representation of urban and rural areas. When the programme is rolled out it will be to all areas. The challenges relate to face to face sessions. There is not a large number of quality teachers. It might be possible to standardise the experience by using technology. The DBE was putting in place programmes to improve Mathematics. The challenges were also about psycho-social issues. This will be addressed through more than just motivational speakers.

The Chairperson said that the issue of quality teachers was quite important. She requested that a plan for the roll out of the Second Chance programme had to be presented before the end of the year.

Vuwani schools catch up intervention
The Chairperson said that the actions which resulted in the disruption of teaching and learning in the Vhembe district attracted national attention. She invited the DBE to outline what the current challenges were now that schools had reopened.

Ms Tyobeka acknowledged the colleagues from the Limpopo Department of Education who were part of the delegation.

Ms Tyobeka indicated that the Vuwani issues were not entirely educational ones. Those issues however affected teaching and learning activities in six circuits. Activities were disrupted from 3 May, when the protest action started, to 10 August, when teaching and learning resumed. Almost 53 000 learners were affected and 42 000 of these could not sit for the mid-year examinations. A total of 29 schools were burnt and vandalised.

Ms Tyobeka reported that the Minister of Basic Education made a commitment to Cabinet to intervene in the crisis and to ensure that the possible negative impact on learners would be minimised. The DBE set up a task team to work with the Limpopo Provincial Department of Education.

Three centres were set up in order to provide secure sites for Grade 12 learners to be accommodated and taught for the duration of the protest action. The centres catered for 1 968 learners. A total of 19 DBE officials visited the centres a total of 27 times. These visits excluded visits by the Minister and the Director General. The DBE Communications team was deployed to the area. The team also acted as liaison between the DBE and the community.

Ms Tyobeka pointed out that one of the major costs was catering. The costs incurred at the centres were unplanned. Funds to cover these costs had to be taken from other programmes. There was also support from the private sector. Those donations were redirected to the affected schools.

Once it was confirmed that learners could return to schools, the DBE intensified preparations. The DBE worked closely with the Department of Correctional Services and parents in the communities in order to clean up the schools. The Department of Correctional Services made use of parolees to assist with cleaning up. Mobile classrooms were made available and provision was made for desks to make up for furniture shortages.

Schooling started in earnest on 10 August. Learning and teaching were back to normal. There are still outstanding accounts estimated at about R8 million to be settled.

Ms Tyobeka said that the DBE had learnt important lessons. It was reasonable to assume that community protests would continue and that there might be future instances of protests impacting on schooling. The DBE had to work closely with communities. Communication had to be ongoing. Some of the education structures and programmes – such as school safety committees – had to be strengthened.

Discussion
Ms D van der Walt (DA) asked what the results were of the examinations that were written at the centres during the protests. What was being done about the learners who could not write the mid-year examinations? She reported that she had heard that the Grade 12 examinations were postponed. Was this true? What was going to happen to the schools that were burnt? Will they be closed? Schools are soft targets. What was being done about security? How many mobile classrooms had been delivered? How many were still required? How much money will this cost and how much had been set aside for this? 

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) said that the Vhembe district was known for its good results. What was the performance of learners in the mid-year examinations? Could the DBE prepare the Portfolio Committee for what could be expected in the audit outcome as a result of the expenditure for this intervention.

Mr T Khoza (ANC) asked if the DBE could establish where members of the community who helped during the cleaning up were during the acts of vandalism. Why did they allow this to happen? Were members of the community compensated for cleaning up? When will the outstanding payments be made? Are there any gaurantees that this will not recur?

Ms N Mashabela (EFF) asked when all the schools would receive furniture.

Mr G Davis (DA) said that incidents like this could increase. Had the DBE engaged with the South African Police Service to identify similar hotspots?

Ms C Majeke (UDM) said that this matter was not only the responsibility of the DBE. Would it be possible to have ongoing programmes in all provinces in order to educate communities so that they could own the facilities?

Mr H Khosa (ANC) asked what the DBE was planning to do to try to educate learners about how to deal with challenges affecting education. Were any learners arrested? Was the DBE in a position to give an indication of the size of the donations?

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) asked what the legal opinion was on how to approach this matter. What was the status of existing contracts where service providers could not continue to provide services? Were those contracts cancelled? What is the plan of the DBE regarding replacing assets? Has the DBE taken insurance on its assets? Did the DBE comply with Treasury Regulations when services were procured during this process? Will the audit be affected? Has quality assurance been done on the work that took place at the centres? Were learners ready for the mock examinations?

Professor T Msimang (IFP) said that the matter was broader than just for the DBE. Were the state’s safety and security departments equally involved in creating a climate conducive to examinations?

The Chairperson asked what role the QLTC would play in these events. What happened to school records that were destroyed? How huge is the challenge of teachers and learners who did not go back to school?

Ms Beauty Mutheiwana, Acting Head: Limpopo Department of Education, responded that the results of the examinations that were written at the centres during the protests were processed at the schools and they were thus not available. All necessary Supply Chain Management processes were followed since Treasury Regulations made provision for steps to be followed in emergencies.

Ms Mutheiwana said that members of the community who assisted with the cleaning up were not compensated. Funds were necessary to rebuild the schools. No schools would be merged or closed. A total of 76 mobile classrooms were required. They were all in the process of being delivered. The costs attached to this intervention will not exceed R35 million. R27 million had already been spent and another R8 million in accounts were still outstanding.

Dr Nthambeleni Rambiyana, Director: Vhembe District, Limpopo Department of Education, said that concessions were made only on assessment tasks and not on teaching tasks. A total of 31 days was lost. The PED was trying to make up for these hours. The full content of the curriculum would be taught. However, formal assessments were reorganised. From past experience it was learnt that where learners and teachers had education disrupted, they were motivated to make up for this. About 27 learners were not in the camps. All of them could be accounted for.

Ms Tyobeka replied that only learners in Grades R to 11 did not write the mid-year examinations. For these learners there were no high stakes linked to the mid-year examinations. But the teaching of the content would be completed. The DBE was part of the security structures that were set up during the protests. The SAPS presented a report to the Inter-ministerial Committee and they would be better placed to provide the Portfolio Committee on safety and security measures.

The Chairperson indicated that there would be two presentations on the Education Collaboration Framework. The first presentation would be on the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) and the second would be on the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC).

National Education Collaboration Framework (NECT): implementation
Mr Godwin Khosa, NECT CEO, explained that NECT supports the implementation of chapter 9 of the National Development Plan which aims to have 90% of learners achieve more than 50% in literacy, mathematics and science by 2030.

Mr Khosa said that the Minister was of the view that there were too many small projects which took up the time of educators. The NECT was set up to better coordinate the efforts of the private sector.

The education system is quite big. The focus of the NECT is on some areas. The programme reaches almost two million learners in 4 362 schools.

The themes of NECT are:
a) professionalisation of teaching;
b) promotion of courageous and effective leadership;
c) supporting the capacity of the state;
d) parent and community involvement; and
e) learner and welfare support.

Mr Khosa reported that classrooms implementing the NECT programmes had increased curriculum coverage by up to two fold by May 2016. In 2015, the NECT had 24 private sector organisations that contributed R186 542 790. The auditors issued an unqualified audit opinion for 2015.

Discussion
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) asked if there was not duplication of the same function. How were the districts selected?

Mr G Davis (DA) asked if other districts would be prioritised in the future. How was the impact of NECT programmes on learner performance measured? What was the staff budget of NECT? What was the salary of the CEO? Are board members paid?

Ms J Basson (ANC) noted that only five provinces were involved in the programme. When would this programme be rolled out to other provinces?

Mr Khosa replied that the thread that runs through the National Development Plan is collaboration. This is what NECT was about. The opposite if this was to let 85 companies spread their resources without coordination. This initiative brings in more than just money. Everything that is done is decided through the education system so that teachers are not taken away from teaching in the classroom.

Mr Khosa said that the districts were chosen to represent a mixed profile. By the end of the year, it will be known which aspects would be infused. The staff budget was 5% of the budget. R2.4 million was paid to the CEO. Board members are not paid.

The Chairperson indicated that due to time constraints, the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign presentation would be shelved. She requested committee members go through the strategic plan and annual performance plan in order to meet the following week to finalise the committee’s programme.

The meeting was adjourned.

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