Early Childhood Development; Adult Basic Education: briefing

Basic Education

12 May 2003
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 May 2003
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT; ADULT BASIC EDUCATION: BRIEFING

Acting Chairperson: Mr R Van den Heever (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Early Childhood Development Delivery - One Year Later
Adult Education presentation

SUMMARY
The Department of Education briefed the Committee on progress on the implementation of White Paper 5 and adult basic education programmes. They outlined funding sources, systems development and integration with other programmes. Members enquired whether disadvantaged communities benefited from such programme. They were also interested in practical ways that the Department was carrying on in the implementation of both programmes.

MINUTES
The Department was represented by Mr Duncan Hindle: Deputy Director, Ms Samuels: Director, Early Childhood Development, Mr Diale: Director, Adult Basic Education, and Mr Jacobs: South African National Literacy Initiative (SANLI).

White Paper 5: Early Childhood Development
Ms Samuels conducted a presentation on the successes of the first year of the implementation of the White Paper 5 on early childhood development. She began by outlining the key elements of the White Paper 5. She outlined the Department's progress in conditional grants and the development of policy, curriculum, systems to co-ordinate the programme. In summary: 100% of funds have been transferred to provinces, 90% of target reached for payment of subsidies and 84% of tenders have been awarded. There has been rigorous management of the process at national and provincial level. She also outlined targets for the next phase, for instance, securing funds for expansion plans and developing an integrated service delivery plan for children from birth to four years. She pointed to some of challenges that the Department needed to attend to. (Please see attached presentation)

Discussion
Ms M Mentor (ANC) asked if there were any policy reviews yet for the implementation of White Paper 5.

Ms Samuels explained that there was no policy review and that instead the Department has been working with other Departments in trying to develop a legislative framework - such as the child rights policy and the Child Bill for the protection and welfare of children.

Mr K Moonsamy (ANC) asked whether the whole implementation process includes tendering, supply of basic equipment and training of practitioner was geared towards uprooting poverty by focusing of disadvantaged groups.

Ms Samuels assured the Committee that, like many other government programmes, the implementation of the White Paper was centered on delivery, poverty alleviation and development for women.

Ms M Olckers (NNP) asked how provinces could secure funding for conditional grants if they depended on national government transfers.

Mr Hindle explained that conditional grants essentially belonged to provincial governments and were just administered at national level. He added that the process of directly handling the funds at provincial level was underway.

Ms Olckers asked how the Department was dealing with managerial incompetence at provincial and district levels.

Mr Hindle thought that to speak of provincial managerial incompetence was too sweeping a statement. Instead, it had to be understood that there were provincial managers who were doing a great job and that problems of inefficiency would be dealt with as they arose and also in the process of staff development.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked why the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had problems in getting their conditional grants.

Mr Hindle explained that the Eastern Cape application included items that were not meant to be included. As soon as the application was modified the grant would be awarded. With KwaZulu-Natal the problem was that they asked for an additional funding which was not standard protocol but subject to negotiation.

Mr R S Ntuli (DA) asked if the Department had done any audit of schools and wanted to know if there were any plans to upgrade schools.

Ms Samuels explained that there was an audit of schools and she added that there was a programme underway to upgrade public schools and make better use of under-utilised public schools.

Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked if there was any budget earmarked to upgrade schools to accommodate pupils from special education schools.

Mr Hindle explained that there was no budget per se, but that it was integrated into the upgrading and development of public schools in general.

Adult Education
The Deputy Director, Mr Hindle, conducted a presentation on the progress of the adult basic education programme in terms of funding, systems development and literacy programmes. (Please see attached presentation)

Discussion
Mr R Ntuli (DA) asked if there were any differences between the conditions of service of adult educators and that of grade R to grade twelve educators.

Mr Diale explained that there would be no difference between the two groups as they would all be regulated under the Employment of Educators Act.

Mr Ntuli asked the Department to elaborate on the R5 million received from the Independent Electoral Commission for voter registration.

Mr Mpontshane (ANC) asked whether the R5 million could be distributed to avoid political affiliation bias.

Mr Hindle explained that the funds would be used as part of the literacy project but specifically for voter education so that it could not be manipulated along party politics lines in any way.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) was concerned that the IEC R5 million funding was given for voter registration. He suggested that the money should be for voter education.

Mr Hindle agreed and said that the funding was basically for voter education too.

Mr Kgwele suggested that the Department should expand partnerships with the private sector in its implementation programmes.

Mr C Aucamp (NA) asked if the Department had any collaboration with the mining industry.

Mr Hindle explained that the private sector was a significant player in literacy programmes. He also mentioned that the private sector constituted 50% of the players in the SETAs and that the Department's role was primarily quality assurance.

Mr Kgwele asked what the benefits would be of improving the conditions of service of adult basic education practitioners in terms of eliminating fraudulent claims.

Mr Diale explained that the improvement of the conditions of service would promote fair conditions, stability and ensure the employment of professionals. He added that it would also mainstream the system to phase out the claims system which enhanced fraudulent claims.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked Mr Hindle to explain what sort of problems they experienced with conditional grants.

Mr Hindle explained that the problem was with not following the government tender processes and also that funds could not be released until the National Treasury confirmed that availability of such funds.

Ms M Mentor (ANC) asked how much funding the Department of Education contributed towards the adult basic education programmes.

Mr Hindle said that R 10 million was contributed to the South African National Literacy Initiative (SANLI).

Ms Mentor asked if there was any security for female learners.

Mr Hindle said that there were security measures taken within the school premises and that the school governing bodies took care of security needs outside the school premises.

Adoption of minutes
The minutes of the Committee meeting of 15 April 2003 were adopted with minor alterations.

The meeting was adjourned.

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