Rural Education: recruitment, rural allowances & incentives; Kha Ri Gude Programme: DBE briefing

Basic Education

14 March 2017
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)

Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee met with the Department of Basic Education to discuss progress on Rural Education as well as receive a report on the Kha Ri Gude Mass literacy programme.

Issues raised on the Kha Ri Gude presentation included:
Causes for the decline in the recruitment of learners, especially those living with disabilities.

There was an uncertainty on the amount that the Office of the Auditor General reported as fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The Department was disputing that amount and hired an independent consulting firm to conduct an investigation on the fraudulent cases. Members asked how the company was appointed and why it was appointed given that the AGSA gave the report.

Members wanted to know if there would be any criminal charges against fraudulent volunteers and if anyone would be held accountable for the mishap.

On the Rural Education presentation, issues Members raised include:

The type of training provided to professionalise rural education and the lack of information regarding Information Communication Technology training in the presentation and how that could be factored into rural education;

Why schools are quintiled differently even though they are in the same community or vicinity, sometimes separated only by a fence;

Members raised a point that accommodation is usually a big problem for teachers living in rural areas and that if no incentives were provided for the teachers then they will lose the teachers working in remote rural areas as some had to travel long distances;

The kind of system or criteria the Department uses to identify the kind of incentives to be issued to educators;

A Member said rural education is going through a crisis, this is evident from media reports and from visiting a handful of schools. The Committee had found a distinct lack of urgency on the ground among district directors and representatives from the Department and there seemed to be a level of complacency, which was unacceptable.

Members asked if beneficiaries of the Funza Lushaka bursary were allowed to teach in other provinces or had to teach in the areas that they come from, because some student teachers did not go back to rural areas once they were exposed to urban settings and schools.

The Department was asked if it could implement effective distant learning programmes for people living in rural areas so that people remain in the areas and are encouraged to give back to the communities that they come from; what immediate strategies the Department is looking at to curb the poor quality of teachers in rural areas; did the DBE have any plan to recruit international educators, because there is already a good number of Mathematics and Science educators from other African countries in South Africa.

Members wanted to know if the workbooks in rural education were different from the workbooks given to urban schools and if so, what was the difference. 

The Committee also adopted minutes of 07 December 2016, 14 February 2017.  28 February and 7 March 2017. Minutes of the 17 and 21 February were not adopted as some changes needed to be made.

The three reports considered by the Committee were adopted. 

Meeting report

Briefing on Kwa Ri Gude
Dr Mamiki Maboya, DDG: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, Department of Education (DBE) explained that the conceptualisation of the Kha Ri Gude campaign came as a result of the level of illiteracy reported from the census in 2001, where 9.6 million adults were reported to be functionally illiterate. Of the 9.6 million adults, 4.7 million could not read and write.

South Africa instituted four projects after 1994 in an effort to eradicate illiteracy among adults. These projects include: Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) 1995; Ithuteng “Ready to learn” Campaign-1996; South African National Literacy Initiative (SANLI) 2000; and Masifundisane in KwaZulu-Natal in 2006. The rate of adult illiteracy remained significantly high despite the efforts mentioned above. A Ministerial Committee on Literacy was established in June 2006 to help advise on the efforts to reduce illiteracy in South Africa.  On 23 November 2006, Cabinet approved the Kha Ri Gude (KRG) Strategy to implement a national literacy campaign on 23 November 2006.  In August 2007, a plan to rollout the KRG campaign was approved by Cabinet and was launched in February 2008.

The campaign aims to teach people to read and write in their mother tongue and to use spoken English to develop a basic number concept and apply arithmetic operations to everyday concepts. It aims to achieve an equivalence of Grade 3 of the schooling system as well as create job opportunities for the unemployed youth with matric certificates and graduates. The campaign covers all eleven official languages, further promoting the right for all citizens to gain access to basic education in their own language, and also caters for people with disabilities. The key factor that made the campaign work was the Ministerial roadshows in provinces which maintained interest in the campaign.

The total number of learners enrolled from the start of the campaign in 2008 to 2016 is 4 386 251. The campaign has two sectors, the disability structure with over 31 000 learners, as well as a non-disability structure. The recruitment of female learners has been 62% in 2016. The total number of volunteers recruited so far is 341 087, with 7 947being from the disability sector. Per gender the Department was proud to announce that there is an 86% female percentage of volunteers in the campaign.

In terms of Learner and Teacher Support Material (LTSM), learners and teachers have been provided with the necessary material. Learners are tested continuously through a portfolio called Learner Assessment Portfolios (LAPs) containing 10 literacy assessment activities. The LAPs are marked by the volunteer, moderated by supervisors and controlled by coordinators of the campaign. Marking is graded in terms of adequacy and level. Once the marking has been done and scripts moderated by external verifiers, a process of verification takes place which is done by South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). Learners who have completed the LAPs are awarded certificates and are entered onto the National Learner’s Record Database (NRLD) which is managed by SAQA. Learners are encouraged to register for AET at the Department of Higher Education’s Community Knowledge.

4 386 251 of the 4.7 million learners have completed the programme. Kha Ri Gude has created job opportunities for 341 087 volunteers. R 2.910 billion stipends were paid to these 341 087 volunteers, thus impacting positively on the socio-economic status. Through the experience of teaching adult learners in the KRG programme, 217 volunteers have been awarded Funza Lushaka bursaries. Through the NLRD, KRD graduates’ contribution to the country’s skills base is recognised.

KRG received a number of awards such as the National Ubungcweti award in 2009, GCIS award for the communicative teaching materials in 2009, PANSALB award for Kha Ri Gude 11 official languages materials, Braille and South African Sign Language in 2010. KRG also received an Expanded Public Works Programme Kamoso award in 2012, the Department of Labour Gauteng Youth Employment Award in 2014, and the UNESCO Confucius award in 2016.

The KRG campaign enabled learners and educators to form a community that becomes innovative, for instance the singing team in Limpopo, the Siyakhulisa Kha Ri Gude bakery Co-Op-EC; pottery in the North-West Province and the Beadwork and Jewellery in Limpopo Province.

In the 2015/16 performance report of Kha Ri Gude, the Office of the Auditor General’s (AGSA) findings showed fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R44 305 million which was paid to volunteers. The campaign instituted an internal investigation in order to confirm the actual amount of the fruitless and wasteful expenditure. An amount of R202 297 23 was found to have been paid to 6172 fraudulent volunteers. The campaign was able to recover 99.84% (R281 838.53) of the money to date. The AGSA requested documents for verification and the campaign complied, the documents were collected by AGSA in February 2017 and the DBE is awaiting results on the 6172 cases linked to the fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The Department appointed the Grinco Consulting Group to independently investigate and validate the R44 million query. SCOPA recommended that the Department involves the HAWKS in order for a forensic investigation to take place. HAWKS advised that the relevant body that needs to deal with the matter is the Asset and Forfeiture unit.

KRG’s expenditure per annum has always been close to half a billion rand. Total budget allocation for the 2016/17 financial year is R450 545 million and is also receiving funding from the EPWP incentive grant.

The phase out implementation plan is to ensure that classes for the current financial year have been completed. KRG classes started on 1 November 2016 to 23 March 2017 and will end on 04 May 2017 for learners with disabilities. Once the classes have come to an end SAQA will moderate and verify LAPs in July 2017.

Discussion
Mr D Khosa (ANC) commended the Department on the work done with the programme and the progress made to recover the money spent on fruitless and wasteful expenditure. He asked, now that the programme is ending, what plans were in place to help those who have not benefited from the programme, especially people living with disabilities who are hidden by their families, leading to missed opportunity?

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) wanted to know the causes for the decline of recruitment of children with disabilities, and asked what new form the programme will take since KRG is holding its last classes this year.
In terms of the fruitless and wasteful expenditure, was anyone held responsible for the mishap that took place which led to payment of fraudulent volunteers?

Mr G Davis (DA) said the KRG programme is noble and seems to be doing a good job in expanding literacy in the country, he supported the programme.  He asked what actions had been taken against those who were found to have committed fraud. The issue was quite confusing because the Auditor General had his findings and the Department also had its findings, which both confirmed the fraud, so why hire a consultant to perform another investigation to validate the findings of the Auditor General?

He asked if there were people who are deserving to benefit from the programme but have not due to other circumstances and was there a plan to involve them going forward.

Ms J Basson (ANC) commended the Department on the work done in the programme and the amount of money recovered from fraudulent behaviour.

Ms N Boshoff (DA) noted a significant drop in enrolment and requested a report on the reasons for that. She doubted there were competent trainers to assist learners with disabilities and had enough LTSM.

Prof T Msimang (IFP) commended the Department on its achievements with the programme, his concern was that the report shows the number of people who enrolled and there is no clear picture of how the learners had performed.  He asked for clarity on the actual amount that the AGSA reported to have been wasteful and fruitless expenditure, since the report reflected R44 million and recovered thousands.

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) was worried about the lack of support for teachers in the Northern Cape as was reported.

The Chairperson commended the Department on its achievements and on the programme in its entirety and asked what DBE relationship was with the Department of Higher Education and Training as it would be nice for learners to progress to the next academic level.

She asked for a clear indication of the amount recovered from the fruitless expenditure and the outstanding amount.

Dr Maboya, on the decline in enrolment, said the reason is because the campaign is coming to an end and must also meet their target.

The Department was trying to make it a point that there is a three-stream model where they will be catering for people living with disabilities by starting to involve them at an early age to curb adult illiteracy. The Department also has a grant to cater for children with severe intellectual disabilities to help involve them in the education sector.

The Department currently does not have a programme in place to replace the KRG campaign in its shape and form, but has other programmes to compensate the KRG campaign.

The report was on R44 million but the Department has always disputed the amount and did not agree with the extent of money spent, but does admit that there was a level of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The DBE conducted an investigation and found that the amount that could be associated with fruitless and wasteful expenditure was over R200 000. The cases were investigated individually and found the amount to be over R200 000 in total. Since the Department was disputing the AGSA’s report on the financials of the campaign, it saw the need to hire an independent firm to perform the investigation. As much as it was indicated in the report that the Department is still doing an internal processing regarding the issue, the report from the independent investigating firm is that the actual fruitless and wasteful expenditure amount is R 1.2 million and not R44 million.  The R44million was based only on 6000 cases which were associated with decreased learners. The independent firm investigated the entire population of the firm but the 98% recovery is from the cases and not the entire population.

In terms of the LTSM for learners with disabilities, the Department translated its written materials into braille for blind learners. At the start of the campaign the Department bought a braille embroider and used it to print the material. Trainers in the disability sector are qualified trainers where some have matric certificates and some with tertiary education.

The Chairperson asked how the fraudulent cases would be dealt with to avoid the matter happening again.

Dr Maboya replied that the DBE is following up on the cases through the legal services and is looking at taking disciplinary measures because had the volunteers been dismissed immediately after the report from the AGSA it would have been difficult to recover the amount.

Mr Davis said it seemed as if it were the Department’s word against the Auditor General’s since the Department is saying that the AGSA’s report is incorrect. He asked if there would be another report produced by the AGSA since they were absent at the meeting, and if they would officially confirm that they were indeed wrong on the scale fraudulent activity in the report.

He asked how was the Grinco Consulting Company was appointed to conduct the investigation, and was a tender advertised. Was there going to be a criminal investigation against the fraudulent volunteers?

Dr Maboya confirmed that there would be a report on the investigation and the report from the AGSA and asked for patience from the Committee. The appointment of the independent investigating firm was not advertised but specifications were drawn up and quotations requested since the amount involved was less than R500 000.
The department will take the harsher route of laying criminal charges and is waiting on the legal team to finish its work on the cases.

Briefing on Rural Education
Dr Phumzile Langa, Director: Rural Education, DBE, said in line with the mandates of the NDP, the DBE has committed to improving the quality of rural education through undertaking several initiatives aimed at promoting access, equity and strengthening support to rural schools.

South Africa has a total of 47% of rural schools with Limpopo having the highest percentage of 86% being rural schools. The DBE provides support to rural schools in a number of ways, one being Professional Teacher Development. This form of support provides training on multi-grade teachings; training on the multi-grade toolkit and training on school-based assessment.

The DBE also provides eLearning support to the rural schools.  Each school supported was given 24 tablets, one data projector, one printer, 3 laptops for teachers and a server with preloaded content for Grade R, GET and FET brands. The schools were provided with Internet through a wireless access point.

Support was given in the form of LTSM, which provided workbooks to the rural schools where learners where given workbooks from grades 1-6 in 11 languages, mathematics grades 1-3 in 11 languages, mathematics grades 4-9 in English and Afrikaans, life skills books grades 1-3 in 11 languages and English First Additional Language books for grade 1-6 learners.

The main project that the DBE has regarding teacher recruitment and retention is the Funza Lushaka bursary programme. The bursary programme involves the recruitment of students from rural schools (from the quintile 1-3 schools which are in rural areas and some from quintile 4 and 5 from disadvantaged backgrounds).  The Basic Education Sector introduced in 2012 a district-based teacher recruitment campaign and in 2013 a community-based teacher recruitment campaign that target learners coming from rural and poor communities to assist them to access the bursary and to attract well qualified teachers to teach in rural areas. some provinces get allocated bursaries more than others and this is because some schools have more quintile 1-3 schools and so receive more bursaries.

The policy on incentives for educators was declared in December 2007 and published in the Government Gazette No. 30678. The main aim of the policy is to assist schools to attract and retain teachers in areas of need. Since its inception, the policy has been implemented rather inconsistently across the nine Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). The reasons for delays and lack of implementation in some areas were financial constraints and delays in reaching consensus on the criteria for identifying post for incentives within the provincial bargaining chambers.

A research team has been appointed by the Minister to help work on the Rural Education Policy, which will assist the DBE sector in giving direction in what the sector should advocate and promote in pursuit of closing the disparities between rural schools and urban schools and within rural schools.  The policy will assist in giving guidance to the development and context specific, relevant and sustainable strategies to deal with the monumental challenges in rural schools and provide a framework for improving the quality of education in rural schools that will allow for meaningful strategies and pragmatic intervention to improve the quality of education in these schools.

The research team used a substantiated knowledge consultative and research based approach to the development of the policy, which included: research and engagements with rural communities; submissions and consultation with key stakeholders; review of education policies in South Africa; review of national and international literature, research, documents and policies on rural education; to submit drafts of the report of the recommendations and to compile a final edited report on the recommendations.

Within the DBE there is a Multi-Disciplinary Education Committee (MREC) which ensures that all directorates within DBE report on the work that they do to support rural schools. The Department has a new agri task team that will advise on the establishment of a self-sufficient agricultural model school and conduct critical analysis of the current agricultural curriculum.  The DBE also has an Inter-Provincial Rural Education Committee (IPREC) made up of PED representatives, officials from DBE and teacher Union representatives. The IPREC makes recommendations for the provision of quality education in rural schools.

The DBE partnered with various stakeholders in its quest to support rural schools to provide quality education. These include; the Department of Science and Technology on the HySA alternative project; the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Rural Development and Land Reforms on the establishment of a self-sufficient agricultural school model; BMW involves on a project for the establishment of a BMW Academy of Excellence.

The development of strategies to support rural schools and the Policy on Rural Education will ensure dedicated programmes and initiatives which will improve the quality of education and subsequently the learning outcomes in these schools.

The Chairperson thanked the officials from the DBE on their presentation and said that although it is good to hear that the DBE has partnered with a number of stakeholders on the rural education programme, it would have been nice to know of the conversations and detailed plans that the DBE has with the stakeholders.

Discussion

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) highlighted that the Committee appreciates the strides made by the DBE regarding this particular sector and it shows that there is hope despite the challenges faced. She asked what kind of training is provided to professionalise rural education and mentioned that she did not see ICT training in the presentation and asked how it would be factored in.

Mr Khoza asked if the DBE sees itself doing away with multi-grade classes. He said the issue of incentives was very problematic and asked why schools are quintiled differently even though the schools are in the same community or vicinity sometimes, separated only by a fence.

Ms Boshoff said she picked up during oversight visits that learners cannot read, or write and perhaps the blame should be laid at the door of DBE, universities and training colleges. There was also a lack of organisational support for teachers. Another factor that influenced poor performance on learners is the late coming and absenteeism of teachers and the issue could be addressed if there were a direct impact from district and circuit.

Mr Mnguni said accommodation was usually a big problem for teachers living in rural areas, and if no incentives were provided for the teachers then they will lose the teachers in remote rural areas as some travelled long distances.

Ms Basson said she had heard a lot of complaints from learners from disadvantaged areas and asked how the system of education identified or categorised the quintiles of the schools. She asked what kind of system or criteria the DBE used to identify the kind of incentives to be issued to educators.

Mr Davis said rural education was going through a crisis as was evident from media reports and visiting a handful of schools, as the Committee did in KZN. They found a distinct lack of urgency on the ground among district directors and representatives from DBE and there seemed to be a level of complacency, which was unacceptable.

He asked if beneficiaries of the Funza Lushaka bursary were allowed to teach in other provinces or if they had to teach in the areas that they came from, because some student teachers did not go back to rural areas once they have been exposed to urban settings and schools. He asked if the DBE could implement effective distant learning programmes for people living in rural areas so that people remain in the areas and are encouraged to give back to the communities they came from.

The country is not producing enough quality teachers, particularly good maths and science teachers in the rural areas. An example was the visit to Isifiso Sethu school in KZN where not a single learner passed maths in grade 12, and the maths teacher only had a matric certificate and simply was not qualified to leach. He asked what immediate things the DBE is looking at to curb the poor quality of teachers in rural areas. He asked if the DBE had any plan to recruit international educators because there iwa already a good number of maths and science from educators from other African countries.

The Chairperson asked if the workbooks were different from the workbooks given to urban schools and if so, what made them different? It has been a challenge to define the extent of how rural a school is for a number of years. She asked, since there now is a directorate, if there were a clear definition of what rural education is and what kind of incentives the schools require.

Dr Maboya addressed the question on ICT training and said that there is a widespread acknowledgement that ICT are enablers and are more relevant than anywhere else in the rural area. The DBE is providing an end-to-end solution where the DBE avoids providing devices to schools without connectivity. The DBE is looking into integrating teaching and learning with ICT in the rural areas.

In the eradication of multi-grade classes and teaching process it has been evident that it is rather difficult and it seems as if the multi-grade teaching will be existing for some time but the plan is to have a multi-phased approach to it rather than having it eradicated.

The incentives are not necessarily for rural schools but apply across all schools and depend on the criteria that each province chooses to focus on. In terms of the issue of remoteness there is an automatic implication of scarce skills because the more remote one is the more teachers will not be excited about the idea of working at that particular remote school. Once the policy on rural education is finalised there will be criteria which focus directly on rural education. The DBE is still struggling to retain teachers with scarce skills even in urban areas.

The quintile system is problematic and the DBE has taken note of the fact that it affects the provision of incentives and quality education to schools.  The production of teachers and learners who leave school without being able to read and write cuts across South Africa and it is an issue that probably stems from the closing of teacher colleges and the fact that University graduates are focused more on theory and are not sufficiently equipped to be educators. Universities are not the best places to produce teachers but is the best place to conduct research.

The DBE identified that very little is being done to support and monitor rural schools and the Department is coming up with strategies to ensure sufficient support is given to schools and it is evident that the DBEs support systems are poor.

With the policy that is being developed a lot of the issues raised by the Committee will be addressed and will move away from looking at the rural situations as barriers but rather as an enabler.

Causes of delays in service delivery in rural areas could be that the country does not have a definition of ruralness which in itself remains a problem because people have different ideas of rural.  It is important for the DBE to have politicians who are committed to taking rural education to the next level.

The issue of incentives involves prioritising what is different for each person and for each sector and union and that is why there is always an element of contestation. The workbooks used are all the same and have the same curriculum as all other schools in the country.

The DBE is working with the Teach SA organisation where the organisation has a pool of students who have done very well in scarce subjects in universities like a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce and the department taps into the pool to place students in the schools where there is a need for such skills. Placement of students is dependent on the provinces and the DBE plans to recruit some of the Teach SA students who have developed a love for teaching and have them study towards a Post Graduate Certificate in Education.

The Chairperson said the Committee needs to wait on the finalisation of the policy to work on the drastic change of the rural education. She then excused the Department

The Chairperson said that the Committee received an invitation to attend the teaching awards on the 25th March 2017 and Members who are prepared to attend the awards will be assisted and the staff will ensure that Members have time to rest and prepare for the Committee’s oversight visit in Gauteng which begins on the 27 March.

Adoption of minutes
Minutes of 7 December 2016 and 14 February 2017 were also considered and adopted.

Minutes of 17 February were then considered and Mr Davis suggested to have the names of Members that raised points disclosed in the meeting rather than having “a member alluded or said”, it did not make sense why the names were not disclosed. Members were not happy with the idea and the Chairperson asked what it was that Mr Davis said at the meeting that he so badly wanted people to know because he did not raise this issue in previous meetings.

Mr Davis explained that he was not looking for fame nor did he want his name to appear but to rather have “it was raised” than having “a member raised” and the Committee understood and agreed to changing the style of writing the minutes.  The Chairperson suggested to set aside the minutes of 17 February 2017 and adopt them once the changes were made.

Minutes of 21 February 2017 were also set aside because they were missing a conclusion.

Minutes of 28 February and 7 March 2017 were adopted with amendments.

Adoption of Committee reports
The report on the Portfolio Committee on the Standardisation process 23 December 2016 was considered and adopted by the Committee.

The draft report on the visit by the Portfolio Committee on the Official release of the National Senior Certificate results of 2016 was considered and adopted.

The draft report of the Portfolio Committee on oversight to Port Elizabeth and Northern areas of the Eastern Cape was considered and adopted by the Committee.