[Kindly note that there is no audio for this meeting and PMG missed the opening remarks by the Deputy Minister]
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented its Annual Performance Plan (APP) and Budget 2017/18 to the Select Committee on Education and Recreation, and said it had prioritised higher levels of competence and enhanced Institutional performance. Monitoring of the educational system still showed a number of challenges across the country, and learner performance was not yet optimal. The DBE was still beset with unacceptably high drop-out rates. Despite all the challenges, the DBE was confident that it would deliver on its 2017/18 APP, because it had adequate personnel and sufficient financial resources.
Members reminded the DG of the workshop that had been held with the Committee at the DBE’s headquarters in Gauteng, where there had been a resolution relating to the lack of Afrikaans teachers, and asked why this challenge was still persisting. Questions were also asked why the Kha Ri Gude literacy programme had been stopped, and whether it had been replaced with the “Second Chance” programme. Could learners who dropped out at the Grade 9 or 10 level jump into the “Second Chance” programme replacement?
The Department agreed that the Kha Ri Gude programme had not covered everyone, because according to Statistics SA, 4.7m South Africans still could neither read nor write. The Treasury had said the programme had run its course after five years, but if the DBE had its way, the programme would have continued. Corruption had started to creep into the programme, and government now needed to redirect its priorities to other areas.
Department of Basic Education: Annual Performance Report and Budget 2017/18
Mr Hubert Mweli, Director General (DG): Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented the Department’s annual performance report and budget for 2017/18, and said that the DBE had prioritised competence and enhanced institutional performance at all levels of the education system, and that monitoring of the system still showed a number of challenges across the country. Learner performance was not yet optimal, and the DBE was still beset with unacceptably high drop-out rates. Challenges relating to a conducive school environment and infrastructure in some parts of the country were still continuing, and community protests were still leading to disruption of schooling and destruction of public property and school infrastructure. It was not all doom and gloom, however, as there were signs of quality and improvement in the sector despite the challenges.
All the provinces reported a healthy access to mathematics and language workbooks in 2015 and a 100% delivery of other workbooks to all grades in 2016. Some provinces, such as KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape (EC) had not yet met the target for learner transport provision against the need in the fourth quarter (Jan- Mar 2017). Provinces were still struggling to make considerable progress on the Accelerated School Infrastructural Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). As at 31 March 2017, more effort was needed from the provinces.
The National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA) was an overarching integrated framework used to address all issues that contributed to under-performance in the system and included a reporting tool which informs provincial and district activities and programmes to improve overall learner performance in line with Action Plan to 2019 – Toward Schooling 2030. Its objectives were sustained improvement in learner outcomes or performance from Grade R – 12:
- Enhanced accountability at all levels of the system;
- Greater focus on basic functionality of schools;
- Protecting time for teaching and learning;
- Improved support for teaching and learning;
- Increased efforts on time on task; and
- Resource provisioning
The DBE had undertaken the following activities to improve Performance Information Reporting:
Regular engagements with the office of the Auditor-General (AG) and Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), strengthening the capacity of the internal audit in the Department, enriching internal operational planning and evidence-based quarterly reporting that tracked achievements and milestones, quarterly branch reviews used to track progress and indicate potential risks, and analysis of provincial education departments’ and public entities’ plans and reports that would continue to strengthen the quality of plans and reports in the sector.
The following reprioritisation would take place in the 2017 budget:
- In 2017/18 an amount of R2.6 billion was shifted to the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant for the completion of outstanding ASIDI projects;
- Kha Ri Gude was reduced by R765.6 million over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) to fund the National Senior Certificate learner retention programme (“second chance”) and the new conditional grant.
- An amount of R45.7 was allocated from the DBE to the South African Council for Educators (SACE) to fund the Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) programme.
- An amount of R42 million was allocated for Operation Phakisa over the MTEF period.
- A new conditional grant for learners with profound intellectual disabilities was allocated an amount of R478.3 million over the MTEF period;
- An additional R390 million was allocated for the National School Nutrition Programme over the MTEF period to ensure that the grant could continue to provide meals as specified in the light of the high food inflation.
Cabinet had approved budget reductions as follows:
- For the 2017/18 financial year, an amount of R2.6 billion was shifted from the Education Infrastructure Grant to the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant for the completion of outstanding ASIDI projects;
- The Compensation of Employees (CoE) budget was reduced as follows: R5.3 million in 2017/18; R5.7 million in 2018/19; and R5.98 million in 2019/20.
- An additional R364 million was taken away from the Education Infrastructure Grant over the MTEF years: R115 million in 2017/18, R122 million in 2018/19 and R127 million in 2019/20.
- Kha Ri Gude had R765.6 million reallocated to other activities over the MTEF period due to the phasing out of the programme in 2016/17: R98.8 million in 2017/18, R293.9 million in 2018/19 and R372.9 million in 2019/20.
- Goods and services amounting to R51.5 million was reduced as follows: R16.9 million in 2017/18, R15.5 million in 2018/19, and R19.1 million in 2019/20.
- Capital assets were reduced by R295 000 over the MTEF period: R131 000 in 2018/19, and R164 000 in 2019/20.
Mr Mweli said the DBE was confident that it would deliver on it 2017/18 APP because it had adequate personnel and sufficient financial resources to deliver on the plan. It would support, monitor and oversee the sector to strengthen accountability at all levels of the system and continuously seek to improve and implement ways to make the system more efficient. The DBE would always persist in placing improved learner performance and quality basic education at the centre of all that it did.
Mr M Khawula (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) was pleased to see focus on the strengthening of management at the school level. He was of the opinion that effective principals made schools more effective, while poor management had the opposite effect. He reminded the Department of the workshop that had been held with the Committee at the DBE’s headquarters in Gauteng, where there had been a resolution relating to the challenge of the lack of Afrikaans teachers. Why was this challenge still persisting? He also wanted to know how the new grant aimed at learners with profound intellectual learning disabilities would be implemented, and what informed the allocation for this grant.
Ms L Dlamini (ANC, Mpumalanga) wanted some clarity on where the funds for scholar transport were coming from. On infrastructure development, she contended that teaching was what took place at the provincial level, and not nationally, so she wondered why the provinces should be further burdened. Building was not a core function of education, nor was it the responsibility of the educational practitioners, but rather this lay with the national Department.
She wondered why the Kha Ri Gude literacy programme had been stopped. She was interested in people and not money. There were people in her province who could neither read nor write. She wanted to know, now that the Kha Ri Gude programme had been replaced with the “Second Chance,” if learners who dropped out at Grade 9 or 10 could jump into the “Second Chance” programme replacement? She suggested that a report was required on all people in SA who could not read or write, and only when everyone was covered could the Kha RI Gude programmed stopped.
The Chairperson said that with the provinces not reaching the scholar transport targets, engagements were needed between the Committee, the DBE and the Department of Transport to clarify who was responsible for what. Further, the component of the DBE dealing with districts needed to be strengthened. She was concerned about the issue of textbooks, as an oversight visit to the Northern Cape had revealed that wrong textbooks had been delivered. She believed this was fruitless expenditure that needed to be addressed. Another concern of the Committee was safety in schools, because learners and teachers were dying in school precincts. She hoped that the rate of drop outs and rationalisation would not be negatively affected by budget. She asked what effect the reduction in the budget for compensation of employees would have, and when declared vacancies would be filled.
Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) said that one of the targets was to resolve the number of disciplinary cases in 90 days, and asked if the Department had any such cases, and what their nature was.
Mr Mweli said that the reduction in the compensation of employees’ budget and the salary bill meant that vacancies would not be filled. This would mean that some departments would have to retrench or else budget deficits would persist. The reduction in wage bills affected all national and provincial departments, and said that the Department of Public Service and Administration was exploring the possibility of a retrenchment tool, such a negotiated settlement package with employees close to retirement age.
The Chairperson asked if this meant this would affect the quality of service.
The DG replied this was what it effectively meant, although he could not say so with certainty.
On the question of dropout rate in SA, he said that it was comparatively high at 14 to 16% in SA, compared to 5 to 6% in the rest of Africa. The global narrative that the dropout rate was 50% was an inaccurate assertion by academics, and was not backed by empirical evidence. However, SA was also beset with a very high repetition rate -- repetition was only allowed once globally, but in SA it had become a historical norm.
He spoke of the major challenges around school safety, and said that provincial departments of safety needed to take the lead because the DBE’s main focus had to be on improving the quality of education. The Western Cape was leading other provinces in schools safety, and could be used as a benchmark, as the core focus of the DBE was not school safety.
Referring to the budget, the DG said that key parts of the DBE relied on donor funding, and not only on line budgets. This was controversial and risky, as donor funding was coming to an end.
Mr Mweli said that Kha Ri Gude was concerned with basic numeracy and literacy, and he agreed that the programme did not cover everyone because according to Stats SA, 4.7m South Africans could neither read nor write. The Treasury had said the programme had run its course, now in its fifth year, but if the DBE had had its way, the programme would have continued. However, corruption had started to creep into the programme, and the Department had to find other ways to redirect priorities.
He clarified the confusion around the textbook/workbook deliveries to schools by saying that the national department delivered textbooks, while the provinces delivered workbooks. The achievement of targets indicated that there had been 90% of deliveries to 100% of schools, and the variance could be explained by the fact that sometimes deliveries were signed by someone other than the principal, and then kept the books where teachers could not locate them.
Funds for learner transport were sometimes inaccurate because of a lack of proper accountability from the Department of Transport, coupled with the nomadic lifestyle in rural areas.
Some targets were still uncaptured, especially performance agreements with principals, which was still in progress. It was also often part of APP indicators, which had been explained to the AG, and other indicators formed part of the provincial APPs.
Mr Mweli promised to provide the information to the Committee on training information and pending cases. The challenge regarding pending cases was that often these matters often involved lawyers who dragged out cases, which led to finalisation after the Department’s 90-day target.
The infrastructure mandate was the responsibility of the Department of Public Works. Further focus should be given to quality control, and the number schools visited increased, to ensure quality control of school infrastructure. The DBE also said that ASIDI was not the core business of the DBE, but should rather be that of Public Works.
The oversupply of teachers in some provinces was being dealt with the HR department. Mpumalanga results were improving over the last 4-5 years which record had indicated a record of improvement from 50% to 77%. As the Deputy Minister had informed the committee, this was one province that was doing fairly well.
The Department was encouraging the merger and consolidation of small schools across provinces.
The Chairperson called for the adoption of the minutes of 3 May 2017 (morning session).
Adoption was moved by Ms Moshodi and was seconded by Mr C Hattingh (DA, North- West).
The adoption of the minutes of the meeting on 3 May (afternoon session) was moved by Ms P Samka-Mququ (ANC, Eastern Cape) and seconded by Ms T Mampuru (ANC, Limpopo).
Both sets of minutes were adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.