Department of Basic Education on its 2015/16 Annual Report, in presence of Minister & Deputy Minister

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

26 October 2016
Chairperson: Ms L Zwane (ANC; KwaZulu-Natal)
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Meeting Summary

Annual Reports 2015/16 

The Department of Basic Education, in the presence of the Minister, Ms Angie Motshegka, and the Deputy Minister, Mr Enver Surty, presented the Annual Report to the Committee. Achievements and areas of difficulty were explained in great detail. Some of the achievements included a mentoring programme supporting districts and circuit managers in identified districts, to improve management practices for effective support to schools. Over ten thousand newly qualified educators entered the schools in South Africa. The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) had reached an average of 9 630 590 learners. The pass rate for the National School Certificate had, after the supplementary examinations, risen to 72% with 455 825 candidates passing. South Africa had been placed first in an international Moot Court competition. In this year, Technical Vocational and Technical Occupational Streams were introduced to cater for learners who had an aptitude for technical and vocational education or who could benefit from applied knowledge beyond what is offered in the National Curriculum Statement. This would meet the demands of the economy and was in line with international trends. Detailed summaries of each of the programmes was then presented.

The financial statements were tabled and explained. There had been under-spending on Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring mainly on EPWP Grant for Kha Ri Gude. This had been due to delays in finalising the calculation and late submission of data in the EPWP electronic system. The major problem was the delay in submitting the certified ID Copies to EPWP. There were discussions ongoing on revising the forms. There had also been under-spending on Planning, Information and Assessment, mainly in the ASIDI programme. The process of consultation on rationalisation of schools took longer than anticipated and impacted on the spending trends for the ASIDI project. Consultation on rationalisation of schools had been completed in some areas but there were still those who were unhappy. The Department had needed to correct material misstatements in the statements, in relation to immovable tangible capital assets, accruals and commitments identified by the auditors, but once that had been done the Department received an unqualified audit certificate, but with matters of emphasis. There were deficiencies in the process of establishing national catalogues of text books to be procured by provincial education departments for distribution to schools. The Department had not complied with certain aspects of the supply chain requirements as prescribed by the National Treasury, and there had been irregular expenditure of  R599 million, unauthorised expenditure of R153 million, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R44 million.

Members discussed the Minister's remarks about decolonisation of sport; one Member urged that colonial systems not be abandoned as they had provided excellent literacy levels and the Minister said that she had been misunderstood and was referring to the need to move away from a purely academic focus to one that also stressed the important of technical and vocational education and training. Members thought six month contracts for teachers would lead to loss of morale and urged that sports must be used to foster more security amongst learners. Textbook distribution was still a concern and scholar transport, especially in the Eastern Cape, was another. The Department was urged to communicate better with the public on schools closures and to be cautious that unintended consequences, such as transport difficulties, would not result. The status and recommendations for the performance award were questioned, and Members asked what was now happening with the Annual National Assessments. They urged that the issues identified by the Auditor-General must be corrected and that there should be a more serious emphasis on consequences for officials who are not compliant and that wasteful, irregular and fruitless expenditure must be reduced.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and Deputy Minister of Basic Education to the Committee meeting.

Department of Basic Education 2015/16 Annual Report
Ms Angie Motshekga, Minster of Basic Education, introduced the Annual Report of the Department of Basic Education (DBE or the Department) and noted that the Basic Education sector required greater development in areas such as the curriculum. DBE is engaged in discussions with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to alter the curriculum landscape to align with the internationalised frameworks, which were resources-intensive. She noted that the reality of the need to achieve social cohesion and align with constitutional values informed the work of the Department. Racial bias in curriculum materials is being addressed currently. She had recently convened a round table conference which created discourse around the importance of history. She concluded that in the past, cooperative governance had been neglected and that the achievements of the Department had contributed to a community of good practice.

Mr Hubert Mweli, Director General, Department of Basic Education, said that he would report on the performance of the Department against the objectives set out in the Annual Performance Plan.

He outlined the legislative mandate, noting that the National Education Policy Act, No 27 of 1996, set out the policies for the national system of education, the legislative and monitoring responsibilities of the Minister of Education, as well as the formal relations between national and provincial authorities. He then described the delivery environment. The National Department focused on technical leadership, oversight, and the setting and maintenance of norms and standards in the basic education concurrent function. The Department subscribed to the National Development Plan (NDP), 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030. Its strategic outcome-oriented goals are linked to the six priority areas of the 2014  to 2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework, which are:
- Improved quality of teaching and learning through development, supply and effective utilisation of teachers
- Improving assessment for learning to ensure quality and efficiency in academic achievement
- Expanded access to Early Childhood Development and improvement of the quality of Grade R with support for pre-Grade R provision
- Strengthening accountability and improving management at the school, community and district levels
- Partnerships for education reform and improved quality.

He noted the following main achievements:
- Conducted mentoring programme aimed at supporting Districts and Circuit Managers in identified districts, to improve management practices for effective support to schools
- 10 216 newly qualified educators entered the schools in South Africa
- The 2015 National Senior Certificate (NSC) pass rate of 70.7%, which was achieved through 455  825 candidates passing the NSC examinations. This represents an increase of 51 952 candidate from those who passed in 2014
- DBE had implemented the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) in 1000 schools nationally, in all official languages in Grade 1-3
- It had implemented the National Curriculum Framework for Children from Birth to Four Years
- Technical Vocational and Technical Occupational Streams were introduced in this financial year to cater for learners who had a particular aptitude for technical and vocational education, or who could benefit from applied knowledge beyond what is offered in the National Curriculum Statement
- The Department had undertaken to strengthen ICT in education, including creating a content repository for free, offline, static and interactive digital educational resources to support teaching and learning
- School enrichment programmes gained traction with the Moot Court win in The Hague
- The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) reached an average of 9 630 590  learners

He then went on to describe the more detailed programme performance.

Programme 1: Administration
The main objectives of the Department’s skills development and training programme are to address skills gaps, training needs and poor performance due to lack of appropriate skills; to improve productivity by equipping officials with relevant skills; and to accelerate service delivery by addressing scarce and critical skills. To this end, 22 training programmes were arranged by the Department and 214 officials were trained in the 2015/16 financial year. Furthermore, the Department recruited 66 interns of whom 43 were funded from the Department’s vote, while the other 23 were funded through ETDP SETA.

The Department had 49 bursary holders of whom 18 were registered in the 2015/16 financial year and 31 were existing bursary holders.

In the area of labour relations, DBE reported to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on the management of grievances and disputes as well as on issues regarding the bargaining council. All quarterly reports were submitted on time, both to the DPSA and to the Office of the Public Service Commission. There was no financial misconduct. Details of the grievance meetings were set out in the attached presentation (see document for details). Generally, the Department has managed grievances well compared to other departments in the public sector.

Two disciplinary hearings were held during the 2015/16 financial year. These hearings involved an SMS member as well as a Chief Education Specialist (CES). Both cases were finalised within the 60-day prescribed period. A final written warning was imposed as a sanction in each case. The Department also presided over three disciplinary hearings for other government departments. This was in line with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) request that labour relations practitioners be used to eradicate the backlogs that existed in some departments.

A report was given on the position in relation to litigation. Legislative services had processed ten pieces of legislation (see attached presentation for full details).

Media liaison and communication activities were also summarised. The operational risk and audit committee activities were summarised.

In the area of international relations, the Department continued to forge relations with other countries to advance the education system and afford South African children the opportunity to be global participants. Relations are governed by cooperation agreements and Memoranda of Understanding, but this was a lengthy consultative process that was deeply dependent on political variables.

The Department concluded several agreements during the year, with China, Cuba, France and Japan which were more fully described in the presentation. The Department also hosted Nigerian, Norwegian and Swazi delegations.

The Department achieved its planning and reporting commitments. It also analysed and provided feedback on the draft Annual Performance Plans of all provincial education departments and public entities (Umalusi and SACE) to ensure compliance with the planning frameworks and alignment to the sector plan in their quarterly reports. Quarterly reports were made by different branches and information was verified against the evidence provided. The reports were compiled, consolidated, edited and submitted to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and National Treasury. Branch reviews wee held to address gaps and audit issues. A full list of the reports made was presented. A framework was provided to branches and provincial planners to produce an MTSF specific plan in order to strengthen programmatic reporting in the MTSF at national and provincial levels. Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) scores above level 2 had improved  from 54% in 2014/15 to 66% in 2015/16.

In the field of Research Monitoring and Evaluation, there had been evaluation of the Curriculum and Assessments Statements (CAPS), implementation of Funza Lushaka, and the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). A general household survey report, focusing on schooling, monitored the performance of the education sector.

DBE coordinated District Managers Capacity Building Workshops that were facilitated by the University of Stellenbosch, with financial support from UNICEF, in February and March 2016.

In Programme 2: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, targets were achieved except that the target number of learners in the Kha Ri Gude was not achieved. A Reading Promotion, and Library and Information Service was launched and the 1000 Schools Library Project was launched in July. An Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) was implemented successfully in 1000 schools in Grades 1 to 3, in all official languages. Implementation of a multi-grade and rural education toolkit started with the training of subject advisors and teachers.

The Minister had approved the establishment of a Research Team that will focus on the development of the Rural Education Policy, and this would also set  out incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) which had started with a pilot in Grade 1 classes in 264 schools across all nine provinces.

Training was conducted for 156 officials on Curriculum Differentiation and Policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAIS). 198 intermediate phase and Grade 9 and 10 teachers and Deaf-teaching assistants were trained in CAPS for SASL. A policy framework and learning programmes to support learners with severe and profound intellectual disability was developed and consulted on at the Ministerial round table in November 2015.

Mr Mweli then described the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme and said that 150 Phase 1 centres were provided with resources to support curriculum implementation, 100 000 copies of the National Curriculum Framework for children were printed, and 5 898 practitioners were trained and 3 558 job opportunities created.

Learner Teacher Support Materials were delivered in full. 595 schools were supplied with information communication and IT resources to support Maths, Science and Technology (MST) teaching at Further Education and Training (FET) level. In addition, 802 workshops were supplied with equipment, tools and machinery for technology subjects.

A guideline for Technical Schools was developed and distributed to schools to strengthen implementation of the CAPS for Technical subjects in Grade 10 in 2016. A Memorandum of Understanding was developed with Teach SA to deploy maths and science teachers to rural areas.

Mr Mweli highlighted the establishment of Focus Schools, which augured well for the quest in the sector to introduce the Three Stream Model of Basic Education. This called for the introduction of educational programmes that would enforce and encourage the acquisition of skills in selected subjects. The Focus Schools are all geared towards the application of skills. The call to publish the Norms and Standards was signed by the Minister on 02 April 2016 and will be published in a Gazette for public comments.

He then also highlighted efforts in ICT. The Department has set up free offline static and interactive digital educational resources including interactive workbooks, videos lessons, worksheets and state-owned core e-textbooks. A full description of digital resources was given. The Department started an awareness campaign to advocate dedicated educational channel broadcasting. 884 Schools, with own TV sets, across the country were provided with OVHD Decoders and Dishes to access the Educational TV channel broadcasting on OVHD platform, channel 201. 1 544 schools were provided with connectivity through the Universal Service and Access Obligation (USAO), benefiting over a million learnings.

The Kha Ri Gude campaigns attracted 41 642 volunteers and there were 329 641 learners. Kha Ri Gude classes took place from 1 September 2015 to 29 February 2016 for sighted learners and from 1 September to 30 April 2015 for the disability sector. To date 4 217 373 of the 4.7 million learners have completed the programme.

Programme 3 dealt with teachers, education, HR and institutional development. Mr Mweli noted that the investigation into the selling of posts has been completed and a report had been sent to the Minister’s office with a request for the extension of time for the forensic investigations.

On 31 August 2015, two weeks before Annual National Assessments (ANA) were to be implemented, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) issued a press statement announcing that it would not administer the tests.

13 980 students had benefited from the Funza Lushaka bursaries, and 94% of bursary holders had been placed in teaching positions, 87% of them within six months of graduation. Funza Lushaka recruitment in 2015/16 also focused on school-going youth in Grade 12 attending Quintile 1-3 schools and out-of-school youth from rural and disadvantaged communities. 1  074 applicants were recruited for the next cohort of bursaries.

Drafting training materials were developed for training of circuit managers and principals on financial management. Amended guidelines were also drawn to try to improve the participation of parents. IN 2015/16, 341 326 educators were evaluated nationally in terms of integrated quality management systems. Specific interventions in the different provinces were outlined.

Whole School Evaluations (WSE) had focused on implementation of External Evaluations and School Self-Evaluations (SSE) in the sector, using standard evaluating criteria. 493 schools were externally evaluated and the Department monitored the quality of WSE work of the supervisors. Five provincial oversight visits were undertaken in 33 schools and the Department implemented an online SSE instrument in more than 225 schools countrywide, which was found to be ideal by the schools who implemented the evaluation.

Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) continued, and national awards and celebratory days were held. The Department’s collaboration with SACE has continued to make progress in the registration of all categories of educators and 129 014 had been signed up by the end of the 2016 financial year. A wide range of CPTD programmes were made available. A policy for principal-ship was promulgated on 18 March 2016. This would serve as the basis for the implementation of the NPD requirements to ensure that suitably qualified and competent principals were in place. 2 000 schools were sampled in all the provinces to determine the functionality of their school governing bodies. Other training initiatives were fully described in the presentation (see attached document for Teacher Development details).

Programme 4 dealt with Planning, Information and Assessment. The Department agreed with teacher unions that there is a need to reform the current model of assessments and the Department is confident that, together with the Unions, an acceptable model for National Assessment will be developed. The 2015 NSC results were, after supplementary examinations, judged to reach a 72% pass rate, by 644 536 full time and 91 063 part time candidates. 130 marking guideline standardisation meetings were held between October and November, prior to commencement of marking of the NSC examinations.

A task team had been set up to remodel the Annual National Assessments. However, only 200 of the schools that did these in 2015 had submitted their learner schedules, meaning that no analysis was possible. 57 participants from the Department, unions and academia, attended the first working group session.

In the field of international assessments, the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) IV study was collected from a random sample of 298 schools. The results were currently being analysed and verified. Trends studies had been done and this would highlight learner achievement trends in Grade 9.

Educational Management Information Systems (EMIS) aimed to develop and maintain an integrated education information system for management of education, and 98.2% of ordinary schools were updated to the database.

Mr Mweli went on to describe some of the initiatives around physical planning and equipping of schools. He also gave the learner transport figures, noting that the target had been exceeded. Replacement of inadequate school structures  saw 163 schools replaced, and rationalisation of schools with low learner numbers was being done in the Eastern Cape. 412 schools have been provided with sanitation facilities, 605 with access to water and 294 with access to electricity.

Programme 5: Educational Enrichment Services covered a number of different sub-programmes. The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) provided daily nutritious meals to 21 177 Quintile 1 – 3 primary, secondary and special schools nationally, reaching an average of 9 630 590 learners. Generally, the programme was effectively implemented and good hygiene practices were noted. Common challenges included gas storage. Children had been de-wormed in 101 schools.

Health Promotion was another very important programme, with a evaluation being done on 229 554 Grade 4 girls who had received the Human Papilloma virus vaccination. Over 1.11 million learners received health services.

In the year under review several strategies geared at safety of learners were reviewed. A revised DBE/SAPS Collaborative Partnership Protocol had been developed and submitted for approval. Policies on use of alcohol and guidelines for drug testing and doping were drafted and submitted to UNICEF so that a consultant could be appointed to put them into operation.

Culture and sport formed important work also for the Department and some of the initiatives were described in both. These included eisteddfods, the Fifth National Moot Court competition locally and internationally, where the South African team took first place out of twelve countries, on an assignment to do with aiding and abetting civilian war crimes. 64 learners and 13 educators took part in national finals in the Nkosi Albert Luthuli Oral History Programme. The SA Schools National Championships were held on 10–16 December 2015 in Pretoria with all provinces participating in their priority codes, including indigenous games.

99 schools in North West and 77 schools in Northern Cape were identified as needing flags and flagpoles. The Department of Arts and Culture was responsible for providing the flags.

Mr Mweli noted that there had been under-performance in some areas:
- Percentage of principals appointed based on competency assessment processes. Eight provinces had not implemented competency assessments.
- Public schools supported by external moderators – due to overlaps in the tour dates
- Lower than expected numbers of teachers who had written Self-Diagnostic Assessments for English First Additional Language (EFAL) and Mathematics. The targets were very high and the DBE did not have sufficient budget to pursue them. If no agreement could be reached with the Education and Labour Relations Council there would be a declaration of policy. A full description was given of current targets and endeavours.

Annual Financial Statements

Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer, DBE, presented the financial statements for 2015/16. Programme 1 showed no material variances. Programme 2 had underspent, mainly in the Expanded Public Works Infrastructure Grant (EPWP), due to the delays in capturing the required data into the EPWP electronic system, coupled with changes to the system. No material variances were seen in Programme 3. Programme 4 saw under spending, mainly on the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI) and consultations on rationalisation of schools took longer than expected, impacting on the spending trends.  No material variances were seen in Programme 5.

She described the actions taken to mitigate. In Programme 2, underspending mainly occurred in the Kha Ri Gude programme, and it was recognised that the major problem was a delay in submitting the certified ID copies. The DBE and Department of Public Works (DPW) met to agree on amendments to the application form, and the DBE would assign a dedicated Deputy Director to work on data submission. In Programme 4, most of the underspending was in relation to the ASIDI programme. The process of consultation on rationalisation of schools took longer than anticipated and impacted on the spending.

Ms Molalekoa noted that the Auditor-General (AG) had identified deficiencies in establishing national categories of textbooks to be procured by the provincial Departments of Education (PEDs) and DBE did not comply with certain aspects of the supply chain requirements prescribed by the National Treasury. This was due to lack of tracking and monitoring of compliance with Treasury Regulations.

Other matters identified by the AG included the following:
- Irregular expenditure of R599 million
- Unauthorised expenditure of R153 million
- Fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to R44 million
- Effective and appropriate disciplinary steps were not taken against officials who made and permitted irregular and unauthorised expenditure at the time, as it was not investigated during the year under review
- Fourteen contracts were awarded to bidders where preferential points were not allocated and/or calculated according to the requirements of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act and its regulations
- Memorandums of agreement with implementing agents were not amended or extended through approval by a delegated official, in contravention of the Department’s delegation of authority. The value of payments made in the current financial year to the implementing agents after expiry of their memorandums of agreements was R219.83 million, and this was disclosed as irregular expenditure.

There were material misstatements of immovable tangible capital assets, accruals and commitments identified by the auditors, but these were later corrected and the supporting records provided, which resulted in the DBE receiving an unqualified audit opinion.

The Chief Financial Officer then set out the remedial actions taken by the Department. DBE had written to National Treasury requesting approval to deviate from the normal procurement process, since cataloguing could not be done through the normal Supply Chain Management (SCM) process. If implementing agencies had not followed the correct processes, the Department would have the right to terminate their memorandum of understanding. Where fruitless and wasteful expenditure could be confirmed, deductions had already been made but other cases were still under investigation.

Mr C Hattingh (DA; North West) referred to debate on the decolonisation of sport, which he thought was nonsensical. A colonial education system in Botswana had produced the best literacy level on the African continent. He was impressed by the presentation and the focus of the briefing. However, there were numerous challenges and failures. Many schools not mentioned in this presentation experienced a lot of problems. He thought that having six-month contracts was unacceptable for the morale of teachers, especially if these were new appointments. He added that learner insecurity arose where there was lack of sporting culture. It was important that afternoon activities were oriented to community and learner involvement, to prevent learners being vulnerable to being drawn into crime.

Mr D Stock (ANC; Northern Cape) commented on the learner transport system. He noted that textbooks remained an issue; some learners had only one textbook shared between 15 learners. This would have to be followed up.

Ms C Dlamini (ANC; Mpumalanga) said that there were serious issues around scholar transport in the Eastern Cape. Interventions were required to assist the learners. Learners did not have birth certificates. She urged the Department to communicate better with the public on school closures, including those schools built by the community. She asked who was responsible for the provision of infrastructure of ECDs.

Ms Dlamini thought Mr Hattingh's remark was inappropriate. The debate around decolonisation was important and should not be dismissed.

Mr M Khawula (IFP; KwaZulu-Natal) thought that the Department’s reports did not agree with what is happening on the ground. The schools visited by the Committee exhibited issues with LTSM. He warned that rationalisation may have unintended consequences and if not well planned could give rise to the situation where no learner transportation was available, meaning that the children would have to stay at home. He asked about the results of the interventions by national government.

Ms T Mampuru (ANC; Limpopo Province) asked some inaudible questions.

Ms L Moshodi (ANC; Free State) enquired as to the status and requirements for the performance reward.

Ms PC Samka-Mququ (ANC; Eastern Cape) asked an inaudible question.

The Chairperson noted that the Department’s model will assist in exercising assessments of university entrance requirements. She agreed that the topic of decolonisation requires attention and focus. She hoped that the ANA had now undergone sufficient consultation to enable progress to occur.

The Chairperson referred to the banned schools and noted her appreciation to the Department for the efforts to provide accommodation during this occurrence.

The Chairperson was worried about the financial statements of the Department. Issues raised by AGSA remained uncorrected. She recommended a more serious emphasis on the consequences for officials who are not compliant. She also recommended that the Department must pay serious attention to reducing the wasteful, unauthorised and irregular expenditure so that it could achieve a clean audit.

The Minister said that the Ministry and Department would answer as many questions as possible now and would submit written responses for the remainder. She firstly spoke to the topic of decolonisation and said that this was not focused on colonial education systems, but the emphasis traditionally on academic education. The current economic landscape requires technical and vocation education opportunities to meet the skills shortages and demand in the economy. When the Department met with the EU it had observed that Austria has only 14% post school enrolment at universities. Nationally and internationally, there were shortages of skills that must be identified and met.

The Minister explained that there was a locus of power with regard to norms and standards; however accountability rested with the respective authority. Speaking to departmental interventions, she noted that the Department is required to submit the specific agendas for intervention, and the expected duration period, to the Parliamentary Committees. The Department is subject to constitutional limitations and the implications of the constitutional arrangements of power.

The Minister explained that the Kha Ri Gude project was prolonged despite being a five year campaign initially. Other programmes now required the funding, and there were areas of pressure.

The Minister said that the DBE is continuing with its consultations on the ANA. There is a need for a two year gap for remediation and assessment of the programme.

The Minister indicated that there is a positive correlation between a clean audit report and good learner performance.

She referred to the accessibility of textbooks and explained that the access to these resources is based on spending by the municipality and that such powers cannot be revoked. The Minister explained that the misallocation of funds in this regard is a failure by governing bodies.

In regard to the PPM in Eastern Cape, she said that training is required on the implementation of the instrument. Closure of schools is related to the lack of resourcing in schools with few pupils. The Minister DBE is removing the instruments and educators currently deployed to non-viable schools, which were defined as those with less than 135 learners.

The meeting was adjourned.

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