SACE & Umalusi on their 2015/16 Annual Reports; Department of Basic Education audit: Auditor-General briefing

Basic Education

12 October 2016
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) found the Department of Basic Education’s overall outcomes remained unchanged from the prior year with all entities achieving unqualified audit outcomes with findings. The outcomes can be improved by:
• Implementing monthly disciplines of record keeping, reconciling and reviewing transactions to ensure the credibility and completeness of monthly financial information.
• Enhancing skills and resources in the infrastructure and internal audit units to address capacity challenges.
• Monitoring progress in implementing audit action plans.

The regression in key controls was mainly because audit action plans to address deficiencies are inadequately monitored resulting in recurring audit findings. There was also lack of consequence management in the past where staff was not held accountable for unsatisfactory performance and transgressions.

DBE's annual performance report (APR) contained material misstatements, this was due to inadequate management reviews when performance information was reported quarterly. Performance planning and reporting can be improved b: reconciling the reported performance results to verifiable evidence and against the technical indicator descriptions and implementing proper record keeping.

The South African Council for Educators (SACE) had no findings on performance reporting. Umalusi, on usefulness, had material findings reported due to the changes made to the indicators and targets in the annual performance report without the necessary approval. There was slight improvement in compliance with legislation and quality of financial statements for the Department. There was noncompliance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) as there were material misstatements in submitted annual financial statements. There was also noncompliance leading to unauthorised, irregular and/or fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Also challenges related to the management of procurement / contracts, this unfortunately occurred for DBE and SACE. For DBE this was recurring and for SACE this was for the first time.

Members asked what accountability measures are in place to ensure that negligence does not become a norm in that Department. There was concern over the usage of ASIDI funds to purchase furniture for non-ASIDI schools while there are schools without water, sanitation or access to electricity. Members said DBE needs to capacitate the internal audit unit.

SACE highlighted the challenges experienced in the past year as
• Large number of unregistered educators and SACE is working with DBE to try rectify this;
• There were fraudulent registrations and SACE is trying to deal with this through verification of qualifications;
• There were inadequate submission of Continuous Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) programmes by departments;
• Low uptake on CPTD programmes and activities; Inadequate promotion of professional ethics;
• Disjointed approaches by authorities to professional misconduct and slow turnaround times;
• There was insufficient capacity in research and advocacy sections;
• There was also slow  movement on Provincial offices; and that was due to inadequate revenue. 

SACE assets increased by 10.7% from the previous year, from R92 million to R102 million. Cash equivalents decreased by 53%, this was brought by the settlement of the building purchase price from the previous year, which was only concluded this year. Included in the asset amount is R2.3 million which came from DBE as a subsidy for the CPTD, which was not spent, but deferred to this year. The financial position was positive.

Members were interested in SACE’s involvement with the Ministerial Task Team report of the jobs for cash saga and any contribution they had made. They were concerned with the idea that SACE was dominated by SADTU and that they were not as independent as desired. The lack of mention of Special Schools was also highlighted. Everyone was concerned with the large number of fraudulent registrations and that more needs to be done to address that and deal with perpetrators.

Umalusi said they have been able to quality assure examinations by both the DBE and the DHET for TVET colleges and Adult Education and Training Centres and independent assessment bodies. In the quest for improved quality, it has strengthened its senior management by filling some critical posts. This will assist in improving performance reporting and internal controls. Umalusi achieved its 15th unqualified opinion since 2001. In terms of the pre-determined objectives, it is looking at improving on the usefulness of indicators and making changes to indicators and targets not approved. Umalusi has since strengthened its capacity on the management of performance information. Umalusi’s hosting of the International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA) in August 2016 had enhanced the standing of Umalusi in the community of assessors.

Members asked about late payments by TVET colleges to Umalusi, if underperformed targets were due to the shortages in staff; on the problem of the leaks of NSC examination papers what plans are in place to prevent cheating and the leaking of papers for the coming exams; after the drop in performance last year, Umalusi met with the DBE to look at what went wrong, what was the outcome of that meeting and what challenges were contributing to the drop; on the new Three Tier System there have been concern that the non-academic streams will be less challenging and has Umalusi been involved in the process; are Umalusi staff members receive proper training; and what was to be done about compensating for English being the medium of testing for rural learners.

Meeting report

Department of Basic Education audit: Auditor-General briefing
Mr Godfrey Diale, Senior Audit Manager presented 2015-16 audit outcomes and key messages
The DBE’s overall outcomes remained unchanged from the two prior years with all entities achieving unqualified audit outcomes with findings. The outcomes can be improved by:
• Implementing monthly disciplines of record keeping, reconciling and reviewing transactions to ensure the credibility and completeness of monthly financial information.
• Enhancing skills and resources in the infrastructure and internal audit units to address capacity challenges.
• Monitoring progress in implementing audit action plans.

Compliance with key legislation
Non-compliance by the DBE is an indication of deficiencies in the monitoring of compliance with legislative requirements in financial and performance management and procurement of contracts. Monthly and quarterly management reviews were also not adequate at the department entities to ensure credible reporting. The controls can be strengthened by monitoring and enforcing compliance with procurement processes, when appointing implementing agents and ensuring that the procurement processes followed by implementing agents are aligned to the supply chain management (SCM) policies.

Quality of annual performance plans and Quality of submitted annual performance reports
• An annual performance report (APR) submitted for auditing contained material misstatements, this was due to inadequate management reviews when performance information was reported quarterly and in the annual report. The performance planning and reporting can be improved by:
• Reconciling the reported performance results to verifiable evidence against technical indicator descriptions.
• Implementing proper and timely record keeping to ensure complete, relevant and accurate information.
• Developing and monitoring of action plans to address control deficiencies identified relating to the planning, credibility and completeness of the performance reported.

The regression in key controls (Leadership; Financial and performance management and, Governance) was mainly due to the fact that action plans to address deficiencies reported are developed but there is inadequate monitoring of the implementation of these which results in the recurring audit findings. There was also lack of consequence management in the past where staff was not held accountable for unsatisfactory performance and transgressions. Interventions were still required to improve the key controls relating to:
• Daily financial management and performance management disciplines.
• Coordination between the various departments to ensure credible reporting.
• Monitoring and evaluation: all information must be thoroughly reviewed to ensure it is credible and reliable.

AGSA looks at assurance providers: Despite senior management being constantly informed about the importance of proper record keeping; it was still a challenge to obtain information relating to infrastructure and performance reporting at DBE. The Director-General provided some assurance mainly because of his efforts following his appointment during the current financial year. His impact was limited on the areas of non-compliance and deficiencies in the control environment that existed prior to his appointment. The Minister was assessed as providing some assurance due to a number of recurring findings from the prior financial years. The performance of the internal audit unit, as a second level assurance provider, against the annual internal audit plan was not satisfactory due to challenges in the capacity of the unit. The audit committee operated effectively and executed their responsibilities as required during the year, however their effectiveness and ability to influence improved audit outcomes was negatively impacted by the functioning of the internal audit unit. Although the Portfolio Committee held the department accountable to achieve improved outcomes, this has not yet translated to desired outcomes.

Performance management
Quality of annual performance plans improved and quality of submitted annual performance reports remained unchanged for DBE. Programme 1 was not audited in context of service delivery, but as a support programme. The rest of the programmes were audited against service delivery criteria. Programme 5 had no material findings and actual reported performance could be supported with source documentation that was verifiable and credible. The other three programmes experienced challenges with reliability where the reported performance information was not reliable when compared to the source information. That was an area that the Department needed assistance with in ensuring monthly reporting and financial reconciliation.

With the South African Council for Educators (SACE), there were no material findings on both usefulness and reliability and this was commended. Umalusi on usefulness had material findings reported which was due to the changes made to the indicators and targets in the annual performance report without the necessary approval. There were no findings under reliability.

Financial management
Findings on compliance with key legislation

There was slight improvement in compliance with legislation and quality of financial statements for the Department. There was noncompliance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) as there were material misstatements in submitted annual financial statements. There were also instances of noncompliance related to unauthorised, irregular and/or fruitless and wasteful expenditure; this should not be the case. Also challenges related to the management of procurement and/or contracts, this unfortunately occurred for the DBE and SACE. For the DBE this was recurring and for SACE this was for the first time.

Findings on compliance with key Supply Chain Management (SCM) legislation
Umalusi had findings for uncompetitive and unfair procurement processes. There is a requirement for all entities that conduct business with an organ of state to declare their interests and that did not happen in some cases. For DBE, there was noncompliance with SCM regulation and irregular contract management which related to infrastructure contracts with Implementing Agents (IAs).

For the DBE, there was a vast increase in unauthorised expenditure, this rose from R6 million to R160 million. This was related to furniture purchases for schools and the building of 18 libraries (2 per province). This was deemed unauthorised because spending was not in accordance with the budget vote. Funds that were ring-fenced for the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) were used for this.

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure was reported on the Kha Ri Gude programme and the Department was to follow up on this. A service provider was sourced to manage the programme but there was a lack of oversight from the Department to ensure compliance and delivery of services. There was also a policy change for the programme which was not approved at Cabinet level.

Irregular expenditure for the Department was mainly as a result of numerous discrepancies on compliance with the SCM regulation but the trend is decreasing. This was not a result of new contracts, but contracts that were running for multiple years. This expenditure is recurring as those contracts were not regularised.

Root causes
There were slow response by management (accounting officer and senior management) and lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions within the Department. Monitoring and evaluation processes particularly with regard to the implementation of the action plan developed should be strengthened by frequent monitoring of progress made to address internal control deficiencies and communication of the action plan to address internal control deficiencies to all levels of staff. The performance management system must be strengthened to ensure alignment of the annual performance plans to the performance contracts of employees. Performance reviews conducted must thereafter focus on officials being held accountable for poor performance and transgressions. This will ensure that officials are held accountable and to minimise the environment where poor performance and transgressions will continue.

Status of key commitments by Director-General
These commitments were made by the Department last year to ensure compliance with future audit outcomes; they are currently in progress and have been for 2 to 3 years;
• Ensure that effective internal controls are implemented across all 3 levels (financial administration, performance information and compliance with laws and regulations) at the DBE.  
• DBE to prepare complete monthly financial and performance reports that include disclosure items and also encourage this to all provincial departments of education.
• Ensure alignment of strategic objectives to all individual’s performance contracts
• Implement daily, weekly and monthly checks and balances to ensure the credibility and completeness of financial and performance information presented to management and oversight committees
• Appoint suitably skilled officials for all phases of the infrastructure delivery process and strengthen leadership oversight in this area, including review of quarterly reporting on performance by the monitoring and evaluation unit.
• Continuous oversight monitoring of provinces on areas affecting the management of predetermined objectives (service delivery) and management of conditional grants.
The Director-General undertook to personally oversee the development and implementation of the audit action plan to address the root causes of outstanding and new issues reported. This affirmed the commitment from the leadership to address challenges impeding on the ability of the department to achieve improved audit outcomes.

AGSA proposed these as new commitments:
Daily management disciplines
Getting the daily disciplines of management right is critical for an improved audit outcome. This will ensure that staff is held accountable and the Department is able to timeously identify issues that require correction so they are not revealed by the audit.

Coordination between the various departments within the education sector and principal actors
One of the root causes of poor service delivery in the education sector is lack of clear coordination among national and provincial education departments, implementing agents, districts and schools. The limitations in dealing with concurrent functions will need to be appropriately addressed and oversight of deliverables by implementing agents must be prioritised to ensure credible financial, performance and compliance reporting.

Monitoring and evaluation processes
The monitoring and evaluation of all information received internally and externally must be thoroughly reviewed, monitored and evaluated to ensure it is credible and reliable.

Slide 16 provided a snapshot of audit outcomes for provinces with one province achieving a clean audit, five had unqualified audit outcomes with findings, three qualified and one disclaimer. 

Key projects/programmes
ASIDI: Projects exceeded their agreed timeframes and budgets because project managers did not monitor and report on the performance of contractors and take corrective measures when needed.
also needs to be elements of compliance and also reporting on performance. R2.46 billion was allocated for the programme and 93% was spent. The underspending of R 447 858 00 was due to the process of rationalisation of schools.

National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP): Assessments were purely based on the activities of the Department and not provinces and there were no findings identified on the spending, financial management, compliance and performance information as reported for the Department. However, this was not an indication that the programme is functioning at provincial level.

Kha Ri Gude spent 90% of the R 504.6 allocation. The underspending was due to significant underperformance of the cumulative total number of volunteers on the EPWP grant.

The Chairperson noted that there were a number of areas of negligence by the Department, where record keeping is the major contributing factor. She was worried about the contractual issues that continue to be problematic and said that the audit outcomes of the provinces did not paint a good picture.

Ms D van der Walt (DA) started by saying that AGSA also looks at the value for money when it comes to spending. The fact that there are no building inspectors on projects is a continual problem, as the first thing one does after building is check if foundations are properly built. There should be a means of checking on contractor jobs. The implementing agents as also a cause for concern as in a province you can find that the same IA is building six schools, with Public Works being the main culprit. The ASIDI programme has much unauthorised spending, with R803 million of wrong spending for 2015/16. There is an increase of R17 million of wrong spending under ASIDI. She asked which province asked for assistance and asked the DBE’s Chief Financial Officer to respond to that question. The fact that there are still a number of schools without water, sanitation an electricity and a number of learners still attending mud schools, but ASIDI money is used for furniture is an issue. There should be other avenues to find funds for furniture using conditional grand funds is fraudulent.

Ms J Basson (ANC) said it was problematic that DBE presented its annual report before the AGSA presentation. On Kha Ri Gude, what is the role of the districts in monitoring the programme and therefore reporting? There is also an issue with the two top provinces in bad reporting, the DBE should have a closer look and better system of accountability for funds that have been distributed. On conditional grants, there seems to be better performance this year, but the DBE should also monitor this closely. There was not much said on Special Schools and this is a bit worrisome.

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) welcomed the report from AGSA, and said that there were no real indicators of corruption, but rather of negligence and mismanagement. If the Department had been able to do 100% consequence management, what would have been the result? When the DBE provides unverified financial information, there seems to be a change in reporting when AGSA has intervened, what is the cause of this? What is the problem with the DBE’s internal audit unit, is it human resourcing or actual ability to do the work? With ASIDI, could AGSA give examples of what supply chain management processes were not followed?

Mr G Davis (DA) was personally worried by what happened under the Kha Ri Gude programme as it is a flagship programme of the Department and has great merit and if funds are not being used properly, then millions of South Africans are losing out. What is the role of AGSA in ensuring that investigations of corruption is undertaken and done independently? At the school level, Corruption Watch found that education is the most corrupt sector in the country with principals operating with impunity; this was also augmented by the jobs for cash saga. What role does AGSA play in school budget oversight and management? In provincial audits, only the Western Cape came out clean, what is the Western Cape doing differently and how can this be replicated across the country?

Ms H Boshoff (DA)  said it is clear this sector is facing some problems through unreliable performance reporting. This has major effects on planning and delivery and increases decision making risks, what is AGSA’s role in terms of oversight of DBE management and leadership?

Ms C Majeke (UDM) asked what happens in a situation where information is not credible, what steps does AGSA take to ensure that information is reliable. What steps are taken to ensure non repeats? Which programmes had performance information that was not reliable when compared to the source information?

Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) said that the DBE gets the biggest share of the budget, but also has a lot of mismanagement. The AG indicated there was a lack of authority in terms of identifying what should be submitted. Do they know exactly what should be submitted?

Ms N Mashabela (EFF) asked what role the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluations (DPME) has played in ensuring the Department improves in the monitoring of performance.

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) said that AGSA spoke about credibility a lot during the presentation, what were his observations on that matter? With the internal audit unit, the DG admitted to challenges. She raised the problem of skill shortages within the sector and asked if these could be highlighted. With regards to concurrence, there is always the indication that provinces decide on how to use their budgets, but how would AGSA advice the provinces on reporting and also to deal with the lack of reporting from provinces? Is there amnesty in AGSA which would allow past mistakes and faults from being raised? There should be a way to give the Department amnesty so historical faults do not affect what is happening now.

The Chairperson thanked the Mr Diale for the clear provincial picture they painted. There are challenges on how they were performing. She asked the AGSA to speak specifically to Mpumalanga and the Free State as they are areas of concern for her. What should be done by National to assist provinces, what should be done to keep provinces accountable? The level of audit seriousness is very important, but school audits are not going well. There also needs to be a better representation of what is happening at all levels.

AGSA response
Mr Diale replied about the value for money for the audit service, saying it is correct that the audit service should be adding value particularly on big projects such as infrastructure. AGSA looks at the value for money concept, where they go as far as visiting the project to identify what needs to be brought to the attention of the Department. AGSA has at times done the work of a quantity surveyor with insights of infrastructure and engineering. As much as teaching and learning are the priorities of the Department, if it spends R2 billion on a project, quality assurance needs to be done. There are challenges with DPW as an implementing agent and definitely the Department and provinces are aware of that. It is upon the leadership of the Department to take action against those who are bringing the DBE into disrepute. The use of conditional grants for furniture should not be happening. The root cause of unauthorised spending is lack of planning. One cannot wake up one morning and remember a school needs furniture; therefore there should be more careful planning from the Department. The PFMA allows for deviation, but the law and deviation processes through Treasury need to be followed.

He did not know which provinces needed assistance; those would come from the Department. Kha Ri Gude is a national programme and monitoring can be done by districts and National, so where a programme is located in a remote area, it would be easier for a district to have oversight on it. There however needs to be coordination between National, Provincial and Districts. From the work done on the programme and findings reported, it cannot be concluded whether money was stolen or not but there was the finding that for the projects they visited, there were instances where stipends were paid for learners that were deceased. Whether these were matters of intent or oversight, that is unclear as the audit process was not meant for that but to check compliance with policy. The follow-the-money concept is important for provinces that are achieving qualified and disclaimer opinions. The National office needs to ensure that it monitors conditional grant funds transferred to province are used for intended purposes. This could be done quarterly; before a province can receive its next tranche, it has to report on expenditure and usage and the Department has to ensure that funds have been used for the objective.

Special Needs Schools were not a focus of the audit for 2015/16 and perhaps in the coming years, it will be an area of focus as part of the sector report.

On its call for consequence management, this was informed by recurring findings for over three years. This shows slow response and slow implementation of consequence management within the Department. When the internal audit unit within the Department was formed, some staff members were transferred to the unit, but they were not individuals with requisite skills to execute internal auditing. Aggravating that, there were not enough people within the unit. There is however already movements to transform the unit and to resource it with capacitated people with the skills required for different programmes, as one required different skills to audit infrastructure.

Corruption Watch had approached AGSA in attempts to highlight their concern about what is happening in the sector. AGSA is concerned with the management of school funds and what AGSA could do. For the 2015/16 audit AGSA scoped on management of school finances as a focus area in their sector reporting with an intention to table that report during the last quarter of this year. The MEC of a province has to authorise the AG to investigate a school if they see any form of mismanagement of funds, but that has not happened. Going forward AGSA will be looking at the governance of schools.

Mr Diale said he was not directly involved with provinces, but the trends in the Western Cape according to his colleagues were based on the province ensuring regular reporting, reconciliation of transactions and spending and robust processes for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations were happening. There were also regular meetings across all levels of management on finance, monitoring and evaluation.  

DBE determines what the source documents should be to corroborate actual performance achievement. When the Annual Performance Plan (APP) is prepared there is “Annexure E”, which defines what the indicator is about and also indicates what the form of evidence will be. The DPME’s role is to hold regular meetings where AGSA is sometimes invited where departments report their performance and DPME assesses if there has been achievement of indicators. In some instances DPME also played a role in reviewing APPs and made inputs on what should be added to those plans in some cases. The audit was not geared to assess skills availability but there is a separate mechanism that has been designed to measure and articulate this. The redirecting of earmarked funds to other projects by provinces needs to be intervened on from the highest level, as these funds are provided to meet a need that has been identified as crucial.

Limpopo had multiple qualification and some of the challenges related to legacy issues. There was that instance where documents from the Department were taken by law enforcement agencies and they did not allow for a register to be compiled of what was taken. There could be a case of some of those documents being needed for the audit, resulting in qualified outcomes. 

The DBE CFO, Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, responded that Mpumalanga requested assistance in writing, but there was also assistance given to other provinces. The Western Cape made a comprehensive presentation to the DBE showing just how they gained the clean audit.

The Chairperson thanked the AGSA for giving such comprehensive information. The Committee gained critical information on how to ensure that the Department responds to the matters raised by AGSA. They were interested in the Kha Ri Kude programme and when the finalisation of the investigation will be reported by the Department.

The Chairperson articulated the role that SACE plays in developing teachers and ensuring further development of educators and professionalisation of teachers. It has also become a very important accountability and oversight office.

South African Council for Educators (SACE) presentation
Mr Rej Brijraj, SACE CEO, noted that the chairperson of the Council is not an employee of Council, but is there to represent Council to stakeholders. The four year term of office ends on 31 July 2017.

In reply to the Chairperson of the Committee asking where the chairperson was, Mr Brijraj said that Ms Gaylin Bowles was present as the Executive Committee representative.

He continued that there are still challenges in predicting numerical targets for the divisions. It is still difficult for SACE to set numerical targets for number of cases or number of registrations that should be achieved over a specific time period.

SACE participated in the African Forum for Teacher Regulatory Authority (AFTRA) and the International for Teacher Regulatory Authorities (IFTRA) and has been an integral part of these forums; SACE initiated the African Forum in partnership with the Nigerian Teaching Council and there are now 20 countries that participate in the forum. He is the President of the Forum trying to promote professionalism in Africa.

There has been talk of the review of SACE and the time has come for the organisation to renew itself and for it to become far bigger and more relevant to the needs of the education sector. SACE’s role on Initial Teacher Education (ITE) categorization of registration and professional designations needs to be asserted and fast tracked.

SACE is 20 years old and was formed in 1996, but conceptualised in 1994, it has been forging ahead in delivering satisfactorily on its mandates of registration, professional development and ethics in the profession. SACE’s head office is in Centurion and provincial offices in Durban and Bloemfontein. In terms of challenges that remain in SACE:
• There was a high number of unregistered educators and SACE is working with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to try rectify this;
• There were fraudulent registrations and SACE is trying to deal with this adequately through the verification of qualifications;
• There were inadequate submission of Continuous Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) programmes by departments;
• Low uptake on CPTD programmes and activities;
• Inadequate promotion of professional ethics;
• Disjointed approaches by authorities to professional misconduct and slow turnaround times;
• There is insufficient capacity in research and advocacy sections and the office has not done enough to fill these branches since they last met with the Committee;
• There was also slow  movement on Provincial offices; and
• This was due to inadequate revenue, but there will be a Council meeting in November which will address this issue and will take away a lot of stress as a lot more outreach can be done.

SACE has had a number of significant engagements and interactions in the last financial year and these were noted. SACE is well received by constituency stakeholders and authorities.

Mr Morris Mapindani, SACE CFO, presented the financial statements. SACE assets increased by 10.7% from the previous year, from R92 million to R102 million. Cash equivalents decreased by 53%, this was brought by the settlement of the building purchase price from the previous year, which was only concluded this year. Included in the asset amount is R2.3 million which came from the DBE as a subsidy for the CPTD, which was not spent, but deferred to this year. The financial position of Council was positive. The Statement of Financial Performance shows how SACE received its income and spent it;
• Revenue decreased by 1.9 % (reduction of interest received).
• Interest of the building trust fund was waived against 18 month occupational rent
• R9.2 mil of R11.5 million CPTD grant was spent on CPTD.
• Unspent funds of R2.3 mil deferred to the following year.
• Planned surplus of R9.8 mil is towards the establishment of further provincial offices
• Provincial offices opened in two provinces in 2015 (KZN and FS).
• Council used the two establishments as pilot to inform the discussion regarding the remaining six provinces. Discussion is scheduled for November 2016.

He noted a finding raised in the audit report on procurement and contract management. The issue raised was that not all suppliers were made to fill the conflict of interest form, which indicated any form of relationship with SACE. The policy has been updated to include this declaration.

Ms Matseliso Dipholo, Chief Operating Officer: SACE presented on the number of registrations SACE had done in 2015/16. There had been a large increase in the registration of educators; this was done through the skills audit conducted by the DBE which helped educators identify the need for them to register. There was also an audit done by Umalusi to all independent schools, which helped with the registration figures.

Vetting and verification was a new target for 2016/17. For 2015/16 the following were key focus areas:
• Cleaning the database;
• Setting up meetings with different stakeholders that will assist in ensuring that the process goes smoothly;
• Samples of the new applicants were also being vetted. Those that were found wanting will be subject to a fit-to-teach hearing where all their qualifications verified.  The registration statistics to date were;
- Full registration: 552 263
- Provisional: 103 706  ( 21 473 foreign educators)
- Incomplete: 32 944
- Total on data base:  688 913
The new application form is in place and is being used. Information on the form is analysed so as to assist in verifying educator information.

For 2015/16, there were not that many issues with fraudulent registration, but for the current year SACE is having major issues, especially from the University of Zululand where 90% of people coming from there have fraudulent qualifications. SACE is working with the university and the Gauteng Department of Education as many of the educators were found to be working there.  On ethics, SACE had decrease in the number of cases received, usually in a year there are about 650-700 cases but only received 593 such cases.  Much advocacy was done during outreach in the following provinces: Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape. Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal and North West are targeted for 2016/17.

Continuous Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) management system
The programme is being phased in, in terms of orientating and signing up teachers to participate in the CPTD management system and earn 150 points in 3-year cycles and approval of service providers and endorsement of all professional development programmes (PD) that are presented to teachers.

Key Functions are:
• Orientate and sign-up teachers
• Approve providers
• Endorse professional development activities and
• Monitor professional development uptake by educators

CPTD Challenges
Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, and Limpopo did not do well in terms of the implementation of the CPTD system. There was a 0% Professional Development Budget in Limpopo – bearing on the implementation of the CPTD management system.  Provinces that implemented the CPTD system manually (KZN/EC in particular) could not submit forms within the financial year (delays in the electronic data capturing and subsequently the end of financial year statistics and performance). 27 914 uncaptured forms were delivered to SACE at the end of the 4th quarter of 2015/16; this was as a result of mop up sessions conducted between January and March 2016. Student teachers orientation and sign-ups targeted the last quarter of the calendar year. The Fees Must Fall campaign impacted on access to the Higher Education Institutions and the planned sessions. Professional Development uptake exists in various forms. However, the culture of reporting and reflecting on participation in the PD activities by teachers / schools / PEDs remains a challenge.

CPTD Management System Progress to end March 2016
• 97 324 PL1 teachers signed up, however 88 211 captured on the CPTD Information System (CPTD-IS)
• Analysis Report on the 2180 deceased educators on the CPTD-Information System
• Enhancement of the CPTD-IS with the Business Intelligence Tool (BI Tool) to track individual, schools, districts and provinces’ participation in the CPTD system, Professional Development uptake
• Institutionalising the CPTD System Implementation and Reporting Requirements into the system through:
HEDCOM Sub-committee on Teacher Development and Curriculum
HEDCOM Sub-committee on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and Reporting (PEDs Planners)
HEDCOM Sub-committee on Skills Development, IQMS, PMDS and WSE
Collaboration with Teacher Unions
• Leveraging on the e-education / e-administration systems (especially in WC, FS, GP, NC, MP)
• Development of the CPTD system APP

CPTD Management System Progress since 1st April 2016
• Commenced the orientation of the teachers in the Primary, Special Education Schools and therapists / psychologists in schools
• Established Forums on: Inclusive Education, Schools of Skills, Focus Schools, Therapists and Psychologists
• Planning the Professional Development Teacher Conference in February 2017

Professional Standards progress
SACE is working collaboratively with stakeholders and partners in setting, upholding and monitoring professional standards to enhance teacher professionalisation. The Professional Standards National Advisory Committee and Steering Committee met regularly.

Policy and Research
These were the research projects conducted:
HODs Needs Analysis project
Post Level 1 Teachers Needs Analysis project
Deputy Principals CPTD Signup Data Analysis (Principals and Deputy Principals Profile)
HODs CPTD Sign-up Data Analysis (HODs Profile)
Comparative study on national professional councils and international teaching regulatory authorities
Five year analysis of the educator misconduct cases referred to SACE.
Teacher Professionalisation Report

Ms Gaylin Bowles, Member of the SACE Executive Committee, said that there has been a strong tightening of the different committees within SACE and looking at best practices they are steering towards new avenues. The SACE Code of Professional Ethics is something that is a high priority as there are gaps in the code. One of the big things for SACE is readying itself for an ever changing education system as there are new programmes coming in, specifically the Three Stream Model from the DBE, there is also Grade R, the technical schools and social partners which all have implications on protecting the child in the classroom. From the registration side the organization is looking to ensure that it is ready for what is coming their way. One of the biggest lessons from the Executive Committee is to produce relevant research from internally. The executive is strong and does see SACE going forward.

The Chairperson thanked SACE and added that the she was waiting for them to speak about the targets they could not meet during the financial year.

Ms Majeke (UDM) thanked SACE for the report and asked about the setting of targets. When does SACE assess if they are realistic or not? What informed the setting of those targets? Are there any measures set in place to ensure that those set targets are met?

Mr Davis (DA) said he was glad the CEO mentioned the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report, as he has a few questions around SACE’s involvement in the investigation. The report singled out the CEO as a person who was hugely dominated by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), how true was that statement? In the jobs for cash report, it came out that SACE conducted its own investigation, primarily in Umlazi in KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga, the report states that SACE only produced a synopsis. Has SACE released a full report to the Minister, if not, why? Will the report be made available to the Portfolio Committee? A City Press article published on 12 July 2015 stated SADTU officials pressurised SACE to drop the investigation, is that true? With regards to the remuneration of top management, the presentation shows that the CEO earned R1.6 million and the CFO earned slightly less. There is a line item under salaries for the CEO where R439 559 was marked as other and for the CFO, R671 000 was marked as other, what was the money for? Is there a performance management system in place for top managers?

Ms Basson (ANC) thanked the team for the presentation and noted that the presentation mentioned Inclusive Education as part of future plans. Has SACE ever considered to include the Special Schools educators in the CPTD in the last three years? Are they aware of the challenges those educators in those schools face? If yes, what have they done for them? There is mention of a conference planned for April 2017. For the past three years, there has been a concentration on three provinces, and will that conference be for those provinces only? There has been talk of opening new offices in other provinces, when will this materialise? How far is SACE in acquiring a building? How is SACE to people in other provinces?

Ms Boshoff (DA) said that every year SACE produces one of the worst presentations of any entity of the DBE and this year there has not been improvement. For under qualified educators who have provisional or temporary registration, what are the time limits for getting the relevant qualifications? Is that not a reason why some schools are doing very badly because they do not have properly qualified teachers? How far is SACE in streamlining a full register of all educators; full-time, foreign and under qualified? How many educators were workshopped on the code of ethics with regard to corporal punishment and how many have then been found in contravention of this code? In page 30 of Annual Report, there was mention of two racial acts; but only one in Gauteng could be found. There was also mention of educators who were struck off lists, but given opportunities to reapply; what were those transgressions that allowed them to reapply? On Special Needs Schools, what programmes are in place for educators, inclusive of those at Full Service Schools? How many of those signed up for professional development? What was that target? How much has been put aside for the capacitation of those educators?

Mr Mnguni (ANC) asked if there is any strategy in place to resolve the unresolved cases. Are they unresolved due to lack of evidence or victims are afraid to come forward? Are there plans in place to protect under age learners? Are there any control measures that monitor staff performance? If yes, how effective are they? Finally, how does SACE vet qualifications?

Ms Mashabela (EFF) said her questions were covered by other Members.

Ms Mokoto (ANC) said there were areas of good performance and wanted to find out how the online tool enhanced the registration process? There was mention of unresolved issues with the budget, which has hindered some of the work of SACE, but in certain instances there was deferred funds, how is that the case? There was also talk of expanding the policy and research unit, how far is SACE eith that? In many of the set targets, there is mention of a lack of administration capacity, how does SACE plan to resolve that? On consequence management, there was noncompliance with Treasury regulations, particularly in declaring conflict of interest, what action was taken to remedy that?

The Chairperson said that nondisclosure of conflict of interest is not seen for the first time and it is not a difficult thing to enforce, there seems to be an issue of negligence. On CPTD, the role of SACE is management and quality assurance, but the report stated there were challenges, but they need to understand what the challenges were. The University of Zululand issue of fraudulent degrees needs to be followed up and looked into, what can the Committee expect to see and under what timeframes?

Mr Brijraj, SACE CEO, responded that it was true that the office had not met its targets but in some cases have exceeded them. SACE does not have an optimum resource base in terms of revenue and increasing it was not a simple matter, but there is hope of rectifying that by end of year which will then allow it to meet the areas where they are falling short. Targets are not an exact science and it is therefore difficult to estimate how many educators will take up CPTD or any other matter. The role of SACE vis a vis SADTU is separate even though he is a product of the union. He added that he was also an active member of a political party, but has ensured that his work is separate and impartial. It is a good idea to reconceptualise SACE in order to find out how it can perform better and how Council is made up, there also needs to be a renewal of the SACE constitution. SADTU has more teachers than any other union and from that fact alone, most of the members will come from there. There is however no domination of SACE by SADTU.

SACE is currently investigating four cases in the selling of teacher posts, with one already concluded. If the Minister requests a report from them, they will produce one and if the Committee requests a report, it will be provided within a week. It is an ongoing task even though teachers are very reluctant to come forward, the MTT report has not found one person to blame, but rather referred the matter to the South African Police Service and the Forensic Department. It is unfortunate to hear that the presentation was one of the worst ever seen in the Committee, as SACE has on previous times come with lengthy and glossy presentations, but was advised against that. If the Committee would lead them on how presentations should be compiled they would be more than happy to follow their advice. Council has looked into the matter of contractors not declaring any conflicts of interests which is a matter that has come up twice, and there have been measures of consequence taken.

The COO responded on the standards, saying in the presentation there were timelines given, so from November 2016 there will be the 2/3 day summit, which will establish the writing teams according to ITE, continual professional development induction and other areas. Then there will be a final draft ready to hand over to the Minister around April 2017. On the CPTD targets not being met, the challenges are:
1 Budget - there is the national budget that goes to SACE to manage the CPTD system, but PEDs also have their own professional development budget. Out of that process, it depends on when SACE reserves funds from DBE to implement the programme. SACE does not contribute to this programme, but out of the R9 million from the DBE, around R3.5 million is for CPTD management system staffing, then the remainder is left for the actual spending divided across all nine provinces.
2 Training - this is the responsibility of PEDs as SACE does not train but is responsible for orientation schools with regard to participating in the system. Provinces have not institutionalized professional development CPTD systems except for the Western Cape. If it is not institutionalised, it is not in the APP, if not there, it will not be reported on.
3 Capacity - SACE has around 10 people in the national office that are working on the system for around 500 000 teachers and there is one person per province. Due to this, there is reliance on the PEDs to deliver on SACE’s behalf. It is the big provinces (KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo) that have huge numbers and if they do not do well, then the performance average gets pulled down.

SACE is working with the DBE to ensure that goals and targets are met and achieved.

The CFO responded firstly to the salary package questions and said that SACE pays salaries through a system which is structured within parameters allowed in terms of the South African Revenue Service. Under ‘other’, those are added benefits: car allowance, medical aid and other benefits. The question went hand in hand with the performance benefit package question, in that particular year, management was only given a 1% performance bonus and the CEO got nothing. It is true that everyone expected the Council to move faster in establishing more offices, which was due to leadership deciding to first observe the two offices and them move forward with opening other office in other provinces. There is a report out that speaks on that observation and the recommendation of opening other provincial offices. The November Council will take a decision on which provinces will be prioritised, the costs involved and how SACE will manage that. SACE has bought the building in question and the only reason it was mentioned is because the transaction took longer than expected and therefore fell within this time period of reporting. There is an instrument in place that measures staff performance which is management by Council. In terms of audit findings, that matter came out in the June 2015 report, after the financial year had started.

Ms Ella Mokgalane, Senior Manager: Policy Development and Research, SACE responded about the selling of posts, saying that SACE had met with the MTT and at the meeting there was an agreement of conducting separate investigations and for them to share notes which was on 20 May 2015. The follow-up meeting was to produce a progress report on what all had been done. Unfortunately before that could happen, the City Press article was published which put a brake on anything else. There has then been no follow-up meeting since that initial one. With the Code, outreaches have been done in provinces, but educators are only available to meet with SACE after 3pm so it not easy for them to leave school and attend presentations, so the resolution was to have Code and any other information delivered to the schools whilst SACE is there. There have been a number of charges brought against educators; there was a case of both the principal and deputy principal of a school being charged for impregnating learners in their school. On the unresolved cases, there has been headway on them, but it is important to note that by the time cases are reported to SACE, the Department has been made aware of the investigation. SACE only gets the case at its conclusive state after the learner has had to deal with the DBE and the courts, if it goes that route, and parents are skeptical of putting their child under any more scrutiny.

Educators are given an opportunity to reapply when they have proposed relations to learners; this is done after they have been struck off and suspended with a fine. The educator is then suspended for a period of 5-10 years; this is to ensure that the learner is not subjected to seeing that person at school while there. Re-admission is not automatic, an educator will have to prove rehabilitation before being given an opportunity to re-enter the profession. With regards to registration and the database, it is being streamlined and there is work to remove deceased educators. When the 2016/17 Annual Report is tabled, the progress made on the database will reflect. With under qualified teachers, this is a bit tricky as SACE does not employ, so when they go to register, they are already employed. What needs to be decided on is what needs to be done by both entities; prior to employing, qualifications need to be looked at. The success of a school is a shared responsibility between SACE, the DBE and School Governing Bodies (SGBs), as some educators are employed by SGBs.

Ms Bowles responded about unqualified teachers that particularly with distance learning, once they register for the Bachelor of Education degree, they apply and get provisional registration at SACE. What is a trend, is they register and then get employed in private institutions. There is a routine of this student failing, but then just re-registering the next year, there will then be a time limit on how long SACE will continue to register students as there is abuse of the system. There is a perception of SACE being SADTU dominated, that is not the case and people are there for the work of Council, not individual unions. The whole Executive Committee is made up of different unions.

The CEO concluded by adding that the Council tries really hard to do the best it can and takes all comments from the Committee seriously. The Council was unhappy that so many cases were left incomplete and have appointed a special committee headed by the chairperson of the Audit Committee to ensure that the best is done to conclude cases.

The Chairperson thanked SACE for their presentation and for responding comprehensively to all questions,

Mr Davis (DA) asked if the Committee would get the interim report on jobs for cash and when that would be.

The Chairperson asked for confirmation and the delegation committed to handing the written report to the Committee by 15 November 2016.

Afternoon Session
The Chairperson said Umalusi is held to a high standard and the Department is measured by what is produced by Umalusi, which should not be the case as the focus should not be only on matriculants, but all grades in the system. However, Grade 12 is still the yard stick that the DBE measures its performance.

Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) presentation
Chairperson of the Council, Prof John Volmink, in his opening remarks said Umalusi obtained an unqualified audit report for the year under review. Umalusi continues to be a reliable quality assurance body for Basic Education in South Africa. They have been able to quality assure examinations as administered by both the DBE and the DHET for TVET colleges and Adult Education and Training Centres. Umalusi also qualifies quality assurance examinations that are administered by independent assessment bodies such as the Independent Examinations Board (IEB), the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) and Benchmark. Over and above the quality assurance, it also evaluates and accredits independent schools and private TVET colleges and Adult and Training Centres. In the quest for improved quality, it has strengthened its senior management cadre within the organization by filling some critical posts.

Dr Matu Rakmetsi, Umalusi CEO, said Umalusi is the Quality Council responsible for qualifications registered on the General and Further Education and Training Qualification Sub-Framework (GFETQSF) on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The Council ensures that the providers of education and training have the capacity to deliver and assess qualifications and learning programmes and are doing so to expected standards of quality. Umalusi’s mandate is determined by the National Qualifications Framework Act of 2008 (NQF) and the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance (GENFETQA) Act of 2001 amended in 2008.

They are also mandated to:
• Develop and manage a sub-framework of qualifications in collaboration with South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the other two Quality Councils; the Council of Higher Education and Quality Council for Trade and Occupation. This is supported by the necessary quality assurance policies and processes.
Develop and implement the necessary quality assurance policies in respect of quality assurance of provision.
• Maintain a database of learner achievements and related matters; and submit such data in a format determined in consultation with the SAQA for recording on the national learners’ records database.
Commission and publish research related to the development and implementation of the sub-framework of qualification.
• Formalisation of relationships which include:
advice to the relevant Minister on matters relating to the GFET sub-framework of     qualifications;
collaboration with the SAQA and other QCs in terms of the NQF; and
• Advocacy of the sub-framework and its qualifications.

He explained the disclosure note on Page 17 of the Annual Report: the 2015/16 Annual Report is based on a revised strategic plan 2015/16-2019/20 and an annual performance plan 2015/16. In July 2015, the entity submitted its first quarterly report to DBE for analysis and the feedback from the Minister indicated that the entity did not comply with the requirements of National Treasury and Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. Umalusi then revised its plans based on the Treasury Framework for strategic plans. The revised strategic plan and APP were submitted to DBE in November 2015. Umalusi then started to report according to this revised APP in Quarter 2, hence, this report is also based on the same document.

Audit Report
Umalusi achieved its 15th unqualified opinion since 2001. In terms of the pre-determined objectives, it is looking at improving on the usefulness of indicators and making changes to indicators and targets not approved.

Ms Stella Mosimege, Umalusi Senior Manager: Strategic Planning, took the Committee through the performance information report. Of all the targets on the APP, Umalusi were able to achieve 68%. The reasons for those unachieved are highlighted in the report. There were a total of 22 indicators, two of which could not be measured in the year under review. Of the 20 indicators, there were four unachieved targets in Programme 1: Administration; one unachieved in Programme 2: Qualifications and Research, and one unachieved in Programme 3:  Quality Assurance and Monitoring (see document).

She said Umalusi has strengthened its capacity on the management of performance information; Council has approved a policy on performance information; any changes in indicators will be reported accordingly; planning and reporting is done using Treasury and DPME templates; performance outputs are verified on a quarterly basis; all indicators have technical indicator descriptions; standard operating procedures are in place; and an audit tracking register has been developed for findings raised by internal and external auditors.

Ms Jacomien Rousseau, Acting CFO, continued the presentation:
During the year under review there were 5 newly created positions on senior management level and the process of filling 4 of the 5 positions has already been finalised. 8 staff members were promoted. There were a total number of 110 employees at Umalusi, with 34 vacancies, which means a 24% vacancy rate.

There were 114 employees at Umalusi as of April 2015, there were then 21 appointments; 25 terminations with a resulting employment total of 110 on 31 March 2016. Of the terminations, there were 17 resignations; 5 retirements; 2 dismissals and unfortunately 1 death.

Statement of financial position
Umalusi had current assets totaling R61.7 million and non-current assets at R35.6 million, which was a good of 2:1. The current liabilities which were from exchange transaction resulted at R84.4 million and reserves, made up of revaluations and accumulated surplus, totaling R84.4 million. That means that accumulated surplus was at 78%; liabilities at 13% and revaluation reserve at 9%.

Statement of financial performance
Total revenue was at R146.03 million, this was made up from; revenue from exchange transactions, revenue from non- exchange transactions, other income and investment income. Expenditure from operating expenditure (59%), depreciation and amortisation (3%) personnel costs (38%) totalled at R141.3 million.

The DBE assisted with the request to retain surpluses and this has been granted by National Treasury. A revised budget for 2016/17 was then submitted to DBE.

Irregular expenditure
There was a case of non-compliance with SCM regulations. AGSA found no official liable in terms of law for the irregular expenditure. A condonation was given by Treasury. There are SCM improvement plans.

Current issues and the way forward
Dr Matu Rakmetsi, Umalusi CEO, said that AGSA noted about governance at Umalusi : “The accounting authority did not ensure that an adequately skilled and dedicated resource was in place to manage performance reporting and related internal controls.” This statement was true for 2015/2016, but with the appointment of the senior manager for strategic planning and reporting, a lot of progress has been made in this area, and a lot more will be done in the months to come. The external auditors raised the following findings, amongst others, in the management report: assets with a net book value of zero and subsequently updated asset register; accreditation incomes recognition; supply chain management policy issues; and internal controls regarding the management of performance reporting. Management is already in the process of addressing these findings in the current financial year.

He spoke about hosting the International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA) Conference which had 400 delegates from about 41 countries attended the conference held in Cape Town from 21 – 26 August 2016. The hosting of the IAEA conference enhanced the standing of Umalusi in the community of assessors and also enhanced our brand as Umalusi. Umalusi received letters of appreciation from various attendees, assessment bodies and assessment associations.

Ms Majeke (UDM) commended Umalusi for the work they have put into achieving key targets. It was also good to hear that the entity is operating under good financial control, where assets outweigh liabilities. What plans are in place to ensure that late payments by TVET colleges to Umalusi do not disadvantage the students in terms of results being released?

Ms Basson (ANC) asked about the underperformed targets, were those due to the shortages in staff numbers at Umalusi? Under programme 2, there was also underperformance, how long was the researcher hospitalized for? With the irregular expenditure of R81 704, who was liable for that in the office? Lastly, under which category did the markers fall?

Mr Davis (DA) asked about the problem of the leaks of NSC examination papers as was the case last year. What plans are in place to prevent cheating and the leaking of papers for these coming exams? What will be the punishment for teachers and learners found guilty of cheating? After the drop in performance last year, Umalusi met with the DBE to look at what exactly went wrong, what was the outcome of that meeting, what challenges were viewed as contributing to the drop? One of the reasons used was that the increased cognitive level of the papers contributed to the drop, but there were also mark adjustments given to learners, with those two there should have been equilibrium reached in results, can they explain how the two work? Why are papers only seen as difficult after the fact, which then results in adjustments? On the new Three Tier System there has been concerns raised over the non-academic streams, specifically the occupation stream which offers subjects like hair dressing, nail and beauty, that it will be less challenging than the other streams, has Umalusi been involved in the process?

Ms Mashabela (EFF) asked how it was ensuring that all staff members receive proper training.

Mr Mnguni (ANC) welcomed the report from Umalusi and said that the entity has dedicated staff members and congratulated the management for that work. There is an issue with English being the medium of testing as learners in rural schools are not familiar with English which results in them not doing so well, what plans are in place to address this? Is there a succession plan to ensure that when Prof Volmink leaves Umalusi there is someone to fill his place?

The Chairperson asked how late payments affect Umalusi. With standardisation, is there a new benchmark for the next five years?

Dr Rakmetsi, CEO, responded that delayed results go hand in hand with exam paper leakages. If there is a suspicion of leaked papers, results have to be blocked until investigations are over. The way the DHET manages examinations is different to how the DBE manages theirs, which is through provincial offices, but DHET manages them directly through the colleges. In terms of certificates being handed over to students, Umalusi can only print certificates after receiving data from the Department, which is managed by SITA on the Department’s behalf. The problems seem to be with SITA and they have committed to ensuring they fix those areas. The question of non-payment by TVET colleges is mainly with private institutions, this is being debated as whatever the results, and learners are the ones who are disadvantaged. With past audit outcomes, the new reporting manner is catching up on them and they have requested Council to increase their capacity. Every year the work of Umalusi is increasing as their mandate is to take on new work incrementally and entering new areas of relevance. Markers do not fall under Umalusi, as they are not appointed by them. Umalusi does oversight on markers with the different assessment bodies to ensure they are appointed under the prescribed criteria.

With paper leaks and cheating; Umalusi engaged on the state of readiness and published their report last week. Umlusi wrote individual letters to each Head of Department (HOD) in each province giving specifics that were relevant to each province. A province has responded with a remedial plan to outline how they will respond to each issue raised. There has been a decrease in the number of people handling the paper before it is sent over to schools. It is also compulsory for all assessing bodies to have surveillance cameras in every room where question papers are handled and stored. Where that is not happening, a red flag is raised to bring that to the attention of the HOD. The drop in the pass rate was resultant of the cognitive increase, but also there was an increase in the number of writers compared to past years which was also a contributing factor. Test questions are not field tested and reliance is on experts and their judgement and if there is need for standardisation, then that is done through a process.

Umalusi is involved with the Three Stream Model and can reassure that it will not allow anything substandard to form part of any syllabus. Learners will enter streams suitable to them through evidence that shows that they perform better in a certain group of subjects. Parents will also be involved in the process to ensure that they best is being done for the learner and their ability. With staff training, performance assessment is done every quarter for new staff members until the person is done with the probation period. For other staff members it is done twice during the financial year, but gaps are identified and people are trained. In terms of staffing, the CEO meets with executive members every month to hear where they are in filling posts. The language compensation issue is one that Umalusi is looking into, a letter was written to Umalusi by the Department and will be tabled at the November council meeting with feedback to be sent back to the DBE before results are released.

The DBE’s examination system is strong, but that may not last as the overseeing DDGs are over stretched, there needs to be a capacity influx to ensure that the system continues to run well. Standardisation starts at the point where the paper is set, all the other proceeding reviews are all means of standardisation that takes place.

Dr Rakmetsi added that he is concerned with Fees must Fall and how it could impact NSC examinations and trusts that there are proactive decisions taken to ensure smooth operation.

Ms Rousseau responded to the questions around irregular expenditure and said that the R81 000 had no direct person liable in terms of law as when the papers were reviewed by the auditor, they did get the best deal but the problem was they did not follow the procedure of having it signed off. They are updating their policy to ensure that procedures are followed. There is an annual training that all staff must participate in; this includes compliance training in terms of PFMA regulations; as well as supply chain management, in ensuring that everyone knows what to do. The 30 day payments are a regulation and all suppliers who have been used have to be paid within that time frame. The issues that came about were due to improper records being kept. All suppliers were paid within 30 days; just the records of those payments were not kept well.

Prof Volmink said that the job of Umalusi is to certificate people and in order to do that, there needs to be necessary quality assurance. The supply chain needs to be functional; markers on the chain are the weak links as there is major unevenness across the provinces, where criteria are loosely followed. A succession plan is in place, but there is an over reliance on a small group of very experienced people which makes Umalusi vulnerable. There is a new system introduced to try deal with that issue, and the three most experienced people made the call based on what they saw, they make a call on each of the 54 subject offerings, but then go and motivate their decision so it is a shared consensus. The issue of language compensation is one that cannot be ignored and it is dangerous to view South Africa as a monolithic whole, but that diversity should be embraced particularly the rural spaces. The NSC examinations are high stakes for everyone involved and performance of schools is scrutinised, not just individual learners. It sets the scene for a lot of collusion that possibly could happen between people involved. Umalusi has given a directive to examiners and moderators to constantly increase the cognitive demand of papers; Umalusi does not work from a database of pre-tested items, so the first time a paper is written is during the actual sitting for it. The few things that make the exam difficult are not only the cognitive demands, but also the need to avoid predictability. So context and nature of questions are changed to deal with that, therefore the difficulty level can only be analysed once the results are in, then adjustments are made.

The performance last year was so bad, that even with the maximum adjustment that is allowed, 10% of the final score mark, it was nowhere close to the 5 year average. The issue may also lie with the number of progressed learners, which for last year was at 50 000 and this year, there are over 80 000.  

Ms Zodwa Modimakwane, Executive Manger: Quality Assurance and Monitoring, made an additional remark on the issue of cheating and that the problem is being looked at by categorising testing stations according to their history in irregularities; high risk centres will be those that have recurrent issues with irregularities; medium risk are those with irregularities over the past 5 years; and low risk centres are those that do not have any history of irregularities. In terms of high risk centres, resident monitors have been appointed at provincial level to monitor the examination, with medium risk centres, there are roving monitors and low risk centres fall under the normal strategies of the provinces. Umalusi keeps a record of all past centres that were problematic and places their own monitors and ensure that they include such centres in the sample size for monitoring.

Mr Emmanuel Sibanda, Executive Manger: Qualifications and Research, responded that the researcher who was hospitalized, was out for 2-4 weeks in February, the research was then completed in April/May, and this had impact on the reporting format more than anything else. Only 4 out of 6 research projects were completed last year, one of the two was due to the hospitalized researcher and the other was around the review of the monitoring instrument. Research is completed when it is signed off by the CEO; the research has been completed, but there needs to be engagement with internal moderators and examiners.  

The meeting was adjourned.

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