Umalusi and SACE on their Annual Performance Plan

Basic Education

04 May 2017
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The South African Council for Educators (SACE) briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on its 2017/18 Annual Performance Plan (APP). Special attention was paid to the issue of fraudulent qualifications. SACE as an institution did not have internal capacity to be dealing with these issues  and the need for a formalised kind of collaborative governance, specifically with higher education institutions, to address these issues was proposed. The low levels of reporting by various stakeholders were also highlighted, because it remained a recurring challenge. Registration was divided into three main indicators: the number of educators being registered, provisional registration and verification of qualifications.

Registration fees will remain the same but necessary budget adjustments will be made to increase capacity for delivery. The Council was considering increasing the annual membership subscription from R120 to R180 to counter the effect of inflation and to increase delivery capacity at provincial levels and this will be concluded at the next Council sitting. Registration fees will remain at R400 for foreign educators, R200 for South Africans and R50 for renewals.

Variation of the approved government subsidy shows R9.7 million for 2018 (a reduction of R69 000), R16 million for 2019 and R20 million for 2020. The provincial budget for the two provincial offices amounted to just under R4 million, with the Council renting provincial office spaces. Processes were underway to establish offices in the Western Cape, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. The establishment of the planned offices will be financed through the increased subscription which was still under consideration. The surplus in 2019 and 2020 was to build reserves towards acquisition of provincial offices buildings and mobile offices will be an option for the remaining three offices.

The Committee wanted to know how long it took to verify the credibility of the qualifications of an educator, whether SACE had statistics on the number of educators they had identified as fraudulent and what measures they had taken with this information. The yalso wanted to know whether SACE had access to check the accreditation of educators in private schools.

Members said it was unacceptable for educators who had been struck off the registry to be deemed as having resigned. Where educators had been found guilty of an offence, they should not be deemed as having resigned as this allowed them an opportunity to re-apply for another position without a record. Members also wanted clarity on the distinction between definite and indefinite periods where teachers are struck off the role and on the progress of the amendments to the SACE Act.

Umalusi also briefed the Committee on its 2017/18 APP. Umalusi was 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 ensured 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.

Governance had been a critical area of improvement as they had developed a number of revised policies to guide the organisation. A number of regulations had also been put in place. Financial management, specifically in how to deal with tenders, had also been improved. On curriculum matters it was explained that research was conducted every year to determine immediate needs. A database of learner records was kept and external researchers are partly relied upon. Officials actually went into exam rooms to determine the standards of accreditation. Full accreditation would not be given where institutions were clearly not ready. Group copying was an issue that continued to compromise the credibility of results.

DBE’s three-stream model was highlighted and a systematic approach was needed as part of the larger process of rationalising and articulating the entire education system between DBE and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Umalusi strongly supported the principle of diversification in the last three years of schooling.

Revenue projections over the MTEF was R162.9 million (2017/18), R172.4 million (2018/19) and R182 for 2019/20, indicating a growth rate of 5.5%. National Treasury and DBE approved Umalusi’s request to retain surpluses for renovations of purchased building and contingency expenditure. The funds for the renovations were committed before 31 March 2017 and request to retain surpluses will be made to National Treasury. The vacancy rate had reduced to 12%. The budget was prepared with 144 posts in 2017/2018 and some positions were converted to ad-hoc employment to save costs.

The Committee asked how paper leakages could be avoided, what the impact was on learners with certificates from unaccredited institutions and how Umalusi dealt with unregistered institutions. The Committee questioned the delay in the appointed of the new Chief Financial Officer, the way Umalusi handled controversy in the public domain, the three-stream model and the organisation’s position on the poor mathematics results of last year.

Members also touched on the importance of the introduction of African languages to the curriculum, how independent schools were accredited, and the language competency of teachers. Members are of the opinion that paper leakages were a direct result of mismanagement and they wanted to know what role the organisation played in these investigations. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson greeted members of the Committee, departmental officials and guest attendees. She opened the meeting by asking the delegates of SACE to begin their presentation.

SACE on its 2017/18 Annual Performance Plan

Dr Louis Swanepoel, Deputy Chairperson, SACE, highlighted the main points of the presentation. These were listed as the professional development of teachers, reporting, registration, implementation and delays. He noted that these issues had been discussed in terms of a special Council meeting. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had retired and the Council had appointed Ms Ella Mokgalane as the Acting CEO until the election and appointment process would be completed. He also noted the process of nominating three new Council members as being a priority. Until the investigation by the Public Protector is over, the Head of Ethics and Registration are on special leave.

Ms Ella Mokgalane, Acting CEO, SACE began the presentation by discussing the issue of professionalism. She noted the need to improve the participation and professional development of all teachers. The National Development Plan (NDP) was clear in ensuring the quality of professional standards. She then moved onto the issue of low levels of reporting by various stakeholders and noted how this remains a recurring challenge. The third issue of registration was divided into three main indicators: the number of educators being registered, provisional registration and verification of qualifications. Special attention was paid to the issue of fraudulent qualifications. SACE as an institution did not have internal capacity to be dealing with these issues seriously. She proposed the need for a formalised kind of collaborative governance, specifically with higher education institutions, to address these issues. She then explained how the issue of implementation was being addressed through effective participation with different cohorts.

Mr Morris Mapindani, CFO, SACE, said registration fees will remain the same but necessary budget adjustments will be made to increase capacity for delivery. He explained that the Council was considering increasing the annual membership subscription from R120 to R180 to counter the effect of inflation and to increase delivery capacity at provincial levels and this will be concluded at the next Council sitting. Registration fees will remain at R400 for foreign educators, R200 for South Africans and R50 for renewals.

He gave an overview of the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) projections, detailed operational expenditure and the provincial budget. Variation of the approved government subsidy showed R9.7 million for 2018 (a reduction of R69 000), R16 million for 2019 and R20 million for 2020.

The provincial budget for the two provincial offices amounted to just under R4 million, with the Council renting provincial office spaces. Processes were underway to establish offices in the Western Cape, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. The establishment of the planned offices will be financed through the increased subscription which was still under consideration. The surplus in 2019 and 2020 was to build reserves towards acquisition of provincial offices buildings and mobile offices will be an option for the remaining three offices.

Discussion

Ms J Basson (ANC) asked how long it took to verify the credibility of the qualifications of an educator, especially those who are foreign. She also asked whether the delegates had statistics on the number of educators they had identified as fraudulent and what measures they had taken with this information. In terms of newly appointed teachers, it was asked how long it takes to train them before they started working and whether there were statistics on the number of qualified and unqualified educators. She also asked whether there was a working relationship with the Department and the South African Police Services in order to prevent fraud. She wanted know whether SACE had access to check the accreditation of educators in private schools.

Ms C Majeke (UDM) said it was not fair children to be taught by unqualified persons. She referred specifically to the incident of a fraudulent educator who had simply moved from one province to another and asked whether there was a way to immediately flag such persons.

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) said she was happy with the direction the SACE had taken on professionalism. In terms of delays, she asked whether any policy change had been considered to deal with the problem. She asked what steps had been taken against SACE’s own legal representatives who had unfairly prolonged cases. On the issue of fraudulent qualifications, she asked whether there had been any interactions with those institutions involved in order to cap the risk of it recurring. The presentation had raised it as an issue of concern but failed to address it effectively. It was evident there had been an interaction with the Department of Justice, but asked whether other means had been considered to address the problem. She asked whether this had been budgeted for and asked for clarity on their commitment to this. She asked for clarity on the mobile offices and whether this had been budgeted for.

Ms H Boshoff (DA) asked how the CEO would be appointed within three months. She noted that the turnaround time had been reduced significantly and she requested that the Committee be supplied with a report on this. Officials had been trained to assist with investigations and she also requested a report on the identities of such officials. She then referred to page eight of the presentation and requested a report on what the steps were taken in those proceedings. It was unacceptable for educators who had been struck off the registry to be deemed as having resigned. Where educators had been found guilty of an offence, they should not be deemed as having resigned as this allowed them an opportunity to re-apply for another position without a record. She agreed with Ms Majeke’s statement on the issue of fraudulent teachers and asked what action was being taken against provincial departments who perpetuated the problem. She then referred to page 11 and said SACE was misleading the Committee on their “lack of capacity”. There needed to be a system in place to check that classroom environments are of a certain standard. She asked how many courses endorsed by SACE catered for those with disabilities. She wanted to know who the verification agencies were and whether they were private agencies. She asked for clarification on the surpluses.

Mr H Khosa (ANC) asked how the percentage increase was meant to counter inflation when inflation affected SACE members as well as teachers. He asked whether there had been any consideration of policies and penalties to hold those who were found to be fraudulently qualified accountable. Lastly, he wanted to know what would happen to provinces that will not receive mobile offices.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) raised budgetary concerns. She noted that there would be R2 million spent on the code of conduct and R1 million spent on registration. She asked what exactly the code of conduct entailed and why these two amounts had been allocated respectively. 

The Chairperson said the Committee expected each and every teacher to be registered and it was a requirement. She asked why provinces were taking teachers who had not been registered and expressed concern in the system. In the next meeting there needed to be visible improvements in the system. She asked whether it was expected for individual teachers to report back themselves, because this spoke to the issue of verification of qualifications. She wanted to know how long it will take for the subscriptions to be increased, because some of SACE’s plans and targets were linked to this.

Ms Mokgalane replied that the reason teachers are expected to report themselves was to ensure they took responsibility for their own professional development. On the relationship with the Department of Basic Education, she explained that this had been raised with the Director-General and it was agreed that there was a need for standard meetings to host bilateral discussions. Going forward, there would be attendance at Head committee meetings to discuss issues of registration. On fraudulent qualifications in specific institutions, she said there had been serious discussions with those institutions. She added that data over the past five years had been requested from them and it was agreed that such information would be sent. No action could be taken as the legal representatives who prolonged cases were not employees of SACE and merely represented the teachers. On the verification agencies, she responded that it was private agencies but they refused to go through them because it would not only be expensive, but there could be potential exploitation. In response to Ms Boshoff’s report requests, she stated that this could not be immediate and asked that these reports be sent as a follow up within the next two weeks.

Ms Boshoff agreed.

Ms Mokgalane replied that SACE was responsible for all educators, both public and independent and all measures are therefore applicable to independent schools. It was the role of the Department of Basic Education to accredit such institutions and that only educators remained the responsibility of SACE. On foreign educators, she said that it was a requirement to submit evaluations and that this requirement will in time extend to South African educators too. She assured Ms Basson that the statistics she requested would be provided. On training, she said that this was usually in the form of orientation but that the notion of teacher conferences has been introduced. She stated that these take place on Saturdays with about 800 educators having attended successfully so far. Verification happened internally as applications are processed. There is a need to re-define and create formalised relationships but until then, the way SACE has been operating will continue. She re-emphasized the issue of collaborate governance and proper monitoring and evaluation of SACE itself.

Mr Mapindani responded and said training for officers have been budgeted for and sundry surpluses were those incomes which are small and undefinable. He used donations as an example and explained how it did not form part of material expenditure. The increased percentage cannot be explained as it accumulated over a number of years. On provincial offices, he replied that there was a commitment to continue to establish these offices but in the interim it has been decided to do mobile services where the very same registration budget assistsed in this.

Dr Swanepoel referred to the appointment of CEO and responded that the process will be fair and transparent and the best candidate will be appointed. He then addressed the reasons for delays and explained that there was disappointment with the number of received applications and it was the intention of SACE to finalise this process within next few weeks.

The Chairperson said the Committee valued the critical role of SACE and asked Members if there were any follow up questions.

Ms Boshoff stated that she had not received an answer on the issue of catering for those with disabilities. She also wanted clarity on the distinction between definite and indefinite periods where teachers are struck off the role and on the progress of the amendments to the SACE Act.

Ms Mokgalane replied that legal opinion had suggested certain amendments to the Act but that the Ethics Committee was still in the process of finalising it. Definite periods are those where you may not return to the profession and indefinite periods as those where one is given a sanction and may apply for a re-instalment. A subcategory on inclusive education existed and a report on these activities will also be sent to the Committee.

The Chair thanked the SACE delegation.

Umalusi on its 2017/18 Annual Performance Plan

Prof John Volmink, Chairperson, Umalusi, said how the body had worked hard to deliver on its mandate. He stated that Council had approved the appointment of four senior managers and that this has shown remarkable improvement.

Dr Mafu Rakometsi, CEO, Umalusi, began the presentation by explaining its mandate in more detail and its role in assessing qualifications and learning programmes. Umalusi was 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 ensured 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.

 Ms Stella Mosimege, Senior Manager, Umalusi, continued with the presentation in stating its important role in the accreditation of institutions. She noted the importance of external moderators in training officials. On the governance, she stated that this had been a critical area of improvement as they had developed a number of revised policies to guide the organisation. A number of regulations had also been put in place. Financial management, specifically in how to deal with tenders, had also been improved. On the issue of cramped infrastructure, she explained how it was in the process of furnishing another building next door. It was noted that while renovation was underway, income was received from certain tenants who remained in the building. On the issue of curriculum matters and verification, she stated that research was conducted every year to determine immediate needs. A database of learner records was kept and that external researchers are partly relied upon. Officials actually went into exam rooms to determine the standards of accreditation. Full accreditation would not be given where institutions were clearly not ready. She stressed the issues of receiving incorrect data and how this meant that it could not give learners their certificates on time. She also stressed group copying as an issue that continued to compromise the credibility of results.

She highlighted the Department on Basic education’s three-stream model and said a systematic approach was needed as part of the larger process of rationalising and articulating the entire education system between DBE and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Umalusi strongly supported the principle of diversification in the last three years of schooling.

Ms Jacomien Rousseau, CFO, Umalusi, concluded the presentation with an overview of the organisation’s financial position by highlighting revenue projection, revenue estimates, expenditure estimates, projected surplus, expenditure per program and human capital. Revenue projections over the MTEF was R162.9 million (2017/18), R172.4 million (2018/19) and R182 for 2019/20, indicating a growth rate of 5.5%.

National Treasury and DBE approved Umalusi’s request to retain surpluses for renovations of purchased building and contingency expenditure. The funds for the renovations were committed before 31 March 2017 and request to retain surpluses will be made to National Treasury. The vacancy rate had reduced to 12%. The budget was prepared with 144 posts in 2017/2018 and some positions were converted to ad-hoc employment to save costs.

Discussion

Ms Majeke how paper leakages could be avoided, what the impact was on learners with certificates from unaccredited institutions and how Umalusi ion dealt with unregistered institutions.

Mr G Davis (DA) congratulated Ms Rousseau on her appointment as CFO and asked what had caused the delay in appointing someone permanently and whether the position had been advertised. He then referred to the increase in remuneration between 2013 and 2014 where the salary had increased by 20 percent. He asked if this could be explained and who was responsible for such a decision. On the issue of the standardisation process, he asked whether there would be more transparency regarding adjustment of marks for each subject and if reasons would be provided. The organisation refused to engage with controversy in the public domain and he wanted to know why the controversy had not been dealt with substantively and whether they had learnt from this. He then directed his attention towards Dr Rakometsi, and asked that he confirm whether he had sent the Minister the information answering his questions from last year. On the three-stream model, he said that this could be potentially good but that there were concerns of learners being victims of poor teaching. He asked what would be done to ensure that all the streams are of a standard that was cognitively demanding. He asked for clarity on the use of anchor items in standardising results and why they were not being used. Mathematics results had been poor last year but the Department issued a statement and he asked what role the organisation played in this and whether they were consulted. He asked how 100 percent of filled vacancies would be achieved next year.

Mr Khosa asked what the strategies and criteria were to identify those responsible for group copying so that learners who prepare properly would not be affected.

Ms Mokoto said language remained a political notion in the country. Some of the teachers are not competent in languages and it remained a problem for learners who are mother tongue speakers and are therefore more likely to fail. Results must be informing the actions and policies governing education and intervention programmes were not dealt with adequately in the report.

Ms Basson asked how long Umalusi took to accredit white independent schools. Some private schools operated in unconducive environments and she asked whether there was capacity to assess the papers of special needs schools. She wanted to know why it took so long to release the re-marking results, because learners wasted a whole year waiting. She mentioned incidents where results were released, but children would not be featured on the list nor receive certificates. She asked how this can be avoided and said that it should not state ‘pending results’ as this was traumatising to a child when it was the sole mistake of the teacher. She wanted to know what Umalusi are doing to avoid the selling of fraudulent certificates. Paper leakages were a direct result of mismanagement and she asked what role the organisation played in these investigations.

The Chairperson said the introduction of African languages to the curriculum was important for improving social coherence. She asked what the organisation’s views were in this regard.

Dr Rakometsi replied that there were reasons for the delay in the appointment of the CFO. Although they had conducted a cycle of interviews, there were no appropriate candidates and as a result, it was necessary to re-advertise the position. This was done through the national newspapers in the same way other positions have been advertised. On his salary increase he said that at the time he had just finished 30 years in the service and was therefore entitled to a bonus. This had been approved at Council level. Addressing transparency, he responded that the Committee needed to appreciate the complexity of responding to the media or anyone who made inquiries that are not exposed to such an area of expertise. He then replied to Mr Davis on the issue of last year’s meeting and stated that everything had been sent to the Minister. A unit has been established to look at the three-stream model. He ensured the Committee that the cognitive levels are not compromised and because learners are all gifted differently as human beings, the notion of a three-stream model will accommodate everyone. The organisation had not yet arrived at the point of using anchor items and that if this was to happen, the decision will have to be in partnership with the Department. Umalusi had not been consulted on the response to the mathematics results and had attempted to interrogate it thereafter. The vacancy rate remained stagnant as there were internal promotions at the time and the maturity level of the staff allowed for senior positions to be filled.

Dr Rakometsi replied that officials are sent to observe where there are situations of group copying. No one had been arrested and that it was up to the Department to tighten security on who is employed to work in exam settings. The organisation plans to meet with the police commissioner, because it was a recurring problem. On the pass percentage, responded that the Minister held the authority to decide on policy. Those who passed at the bare minimum constituted 0.01% of the total learners and that therefore, in recognising that South Africa was a developing country, it was unnecessary to make a big noise for such a small figure. On language compensation, he said they had already begun a phasing out process in collaboration with the Department. Independent schools are schools are allowed to run without accreditation, as long as it was registered. It was not the role of Umalusi to police schools which are not accredited and that such schools must submit themselves to the organisation. When they failed to do this, they remained irregular with the law. An inclusive system already existed as those with disabilities have concessions. He used extra time concessions as an example to illustrate this point. The release of remarks was Umalusi’s responsibility as there is no need to approve the same results again. This concern must be directed with the Department. On paper leakages, he said that the organisation did not assist in the investigations but merely observed and performed an oversight function. Umalusi supported the introduction of African languages and argued that history remained an important subject in shaping well-rounded citizens.

Prof Volmink responded added that there was a difference between confidentiality and secrecy. Certain information must be treated as confidential and relevant information was available at public press conferences where no journalist was denied access of this. Umalusi remained fierce in protecting its independence and competence. The three-stream model was a great idea and he that Germany and countries within Europe used the same model. He cautioned against stigmatizing the different streams and re-emphasized the arguments put forward by Dr Rakometsi. Any curriculum must only be judged by three criteria: the purpose of personal development, social development and further learning and utility. Language compensation remained the job of the Department.

Mr Davis asked whether the newly appointed CFO had applied in the first or second round of interviews. He also wanted a commitment to making the adjusted marks for each subject available with reasons. He thanked Dr Rakometsi for confirming that he had sent the Minister all the information and requested he send the dates of this so that he may follow up with the Minister. He then posed the question of how to differentiate between learners who are taught badly and those who are gifted differently. Lastly, he asked for clarification on whether Dr Rakometsi himself was attesting to history becoming a compulsory subject and whether he would be making a submission to the task team who had been set up for this purpose.

The Chairperson asked that she may be excused as she needed to attend another meeting.

Ms Mokoto was elected Acting Chairperson.

Dr Rakometsi replied that Ms Rosseau had applied in the first round but did not qualify at that stage. If she had been appointed then, it would have been irregular. He addressed the Acting Chairperson and stated that Mr Davis had just emailed him. He argued that in terms of protocol, the request must go through the Minister first. He concluded by stating that as an individual, he supported the idea of history being a compulsory subject.

Prof Volmink replied that Umalusi did not need to take any other position on the public relations matter. He argued that the adjustments are available to access at the media release. The standardisation committee was fairly big and worked in pairs and each pair then gave reasons. At the end, the dominant view was embraced. He argued that to provide the adjustments was a fair request but to give reasons was impractical.

Mr Davis replied that he found the appointment of the CFO interesting. There was an unnecessary 13 month delay and asked whether they had waited for Ms Rosseau to qualify. He then directly asked Dr Rakometsi why he cannot respond to his email. If he were to write to the Minister every time then he would not be able to do his job properly and did not know of the protocol Dr Rakometsi was speaking of.

Dr Rakometsi replied that he had already adequately responded to Mr Davis.

The Acting Chairperson re-emphasized the agenda of the meeting and asked the Committee whether there were any relevant questions.

Mr Davis asked Dr Rakometsi whether he was saying that the Minister told him he cannot engage with parliamentary members.

Dr Rakometsi replied that it was the Director-General.

Mr Davis asked whether this had been verbal or written.

Dr Rakometsi replied that it had been verbal.

Mr Davis He asked clarity on whether all correspondents had to go through the Minister.

The Acting Chairperson stated that this was an unfair question. The entities had never not responded to questions raised by Members and that any procedural issues must be raised with the Department and not Umalusi. The meeting should.

Mr Davis said he needed clarity around the issue of standardisation.

The Acting Chairperson replied that this had already been answered.

She thanked everyone and the meeting was adjourned. 

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