Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Quarter 4 performance

Basic Education

22 August 2017
Chairperson: Ms N Mokoto (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to discuss the fourth quarterly report on its performance in meeting its strategic objectives. The Department provided a comprehensive breakdown of its five programmes, and details of the achievements and challenges during the period under review.

During discussion, Members commented that they were not confident that the picture painted by the DBE was a true representation of the situation on the ground. They pointed out that while the Department was trying to motivate schools to make greater use of information communication technology (ICT), there was a large number of schools, particularly in the rural areas, who still had no access to electricity. Another shortcoming was in the provision of water and sanitation at rural schools.

Other issues raised included the non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo, concerns over the implementation of the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, progress with the Second Chance matric programme, teacher unions’ opposition to assessment programmes, incidents of violence and robberies at schools, the need for more teachers of mathematics and science, and the need for more support for learners with handicaps.

 

Meeting report

DBE Quarterly Performance Report

Ms Montsho, Director in Strategic Planning Unit, Department of Basic Education (DBE) took the Committee through the activities of the DBE, which had been structured into five programmes.

Programme One: Administration.

The purpose of programme 1 was to manage the Department and provide strategic and administrative support services. The DBE had achieved its targets set for programme 1. In the human resource management sector, a total of 41 employees had attended skills development and training programmes. A total of 10 interns had been appointed, nine candidates were placed on learnerships, and 17 officials had attended internal induction programme. The Department, together with the Embassy of China and the Ministry, had co-ordinated the handing over of smart-boards and Chinese language textbooks to 10 schools in Pretoria that taught Mandarin.

Programme Two: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring

The purpose of programme two was to develop curriculum and assessment policies, and monitor and support their implementation. Under this programme, the DBE -- in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the LEGO foundation and Cotlands -- had launched a ‘Learning Through Playing’ programme, a free in-service training course that complemented existing and formal training. In partnership with Nal’ibali, it had celebrated World Read Aloud Day in Durban in support of the Read to Learn campaign. Kha Ri Gude had verified and registered 164 480 learners and appointed 14 767 volunteers. More than 92 000 candidates for the Second Chance Matric Support Programme had enrolled to sit for examinations at 5 928 centres across the country.

Under the Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) sector, 56 485 345 volume 1 and 2 Grade 1-9 workbooks had been printed and delivered to 23 544 public schools, while 3 989 900 Grade R workbooks had been printed and delivered to 16 524 public schools. A provision of Braille workshop had been conducted, where Grade 6 Home Language, Grade 5 Mathematics in Afrikaans, Grade 5 Home Language and Grade 6 Mathematics were printed and delivered to 22 schools for the visually impaired. In the development of digital content, five e-textbooks had been developed -- two learner e-books for Grade 11 learners in technical science and technical mathematics, and Grade 4, 5, and 6 mathematics learner books and teacher guides. The DBE had submitted a list of 1 541 schools to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to receive connectivity via the Universal Service and Access Obligation (USAO) project.

223 schools had been supplied with workshop equipment, tools and machinery for technology to support the curriculum and practical teaching methodology at the Further Education and Training (FET) level, and 296 schools had been supplied with laboratory equipment, consumables and subject-related apparatus. Approximately 120 subject advisors from various provinces had undergone mathematics, science and technology training aimed at uplifting the quality of teaching, as well as the success rate in these gateway subjects in schools at Grade 4 to 7 levels. A total of 3 641 learners had been funded to participate in mathematics and science competitions, including coaching and revision camps to improve their preparedness for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. Digital support and radio broadcasts to improve learner performance for candidates in the Second Chance Matric Programme and others had been provided. The programme had produced six 35-minute lessons for 11 high enrolment subjects through 27 community radio stations. Good quality LTSM had been provided, such as ‘Mind the Gap’ books to the value of R4.1 million, mathematics and physical science Siyavula textbooks, study tips, past exam papers and memorandums.

The Second Chance Matric Programme had been launched as a pilot in January 2016 and at the time, not all systems had been in place to track learner performance. The target of 10 000 had been an estimate, as no baseline was available, as part time learners entering this programme were out of school youths. The candidates were not able to complete all the requirements of the NSC in one year, as they registered for a few subjects over a few years. Although they were unable to complete the qualification, candidates had passed the subjects which they had registered for. Measures had been put in place by the DBE to ensure the training of staff took place so that there was effective and efficient management of the database and the provision of verified data, as well as strengthening of the monitoring and quality assurance of data.

The DBE had conducted training for teachers and deaf teaching assistants for the senior phase and Grades 11-12 between February and March 2017, where 37 schools had participated with 51 teachers and 38 teaching assistants for the senior phase, as well as 24 teachers and 18 deaf teaching assistants. The Department had also developed sector plans for 2017/18, where key interventions regarding inclusive education would be conducted, as well as the monitoring and implementation in terms of the Screening Identification Assessment & Support (SIAS) policy and curriculum differentiation. The Department had developed subject interventions for sector gaps and created 18 subject improvement plans based on an analysis of the 2016 National Senior Certificate.

Regarding rural education, bilateral meetings with teacher unions were held, and the inputs received had been used to strengthen the rural education policy framework. The DBE had monitored the grade 12 examinations in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Based on the investigations into the allegations of wasteful expenditure around the Kha Ri Gude mass literacy campaign, the Auditor General South Africa had reported that there had been fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to R 44 million.

Programme Three: Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development

The purpose of programme three was to promote quality teaching and institutional performance through the effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources.

Monitoring visits had been conducted at all provincial education departments (PEDs). An approved monitoring tool had been used to collect information on the implementation of a post provisioning policy (focusing on compliance with the norms and standars). The DBE had managed to appoint 8 409 educators aged 30 and below. It had facilitated the testing of 1 892 teachers in mathematics and 2 242 in English First Additional Language, in collaboration with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT). Out of the 147 teacher centres, 135 had ICT connectivity. 5 225 newly appointed educators in all post levels had received training and support on the implementation of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS). 3 061 of the 5 225 educators were new entrants to the profession. 11 898 appointments of qualified educators aged 30 and below had been recorded.

There had been engagement between the DBE and the ELMA Foundation Internship Programme, which was a first-time foundation currently being piloted in the Free State that aimed to identify, train and place interns.

The Funza Lushaka Bursary allocation from National Treasury for 2016/17 had been R 1 043 611, which translated into about 14 000 bursaries awarded to students in 2016. Preliminary data from the consolidated 2016 awards lists showed that 14 323 Funza Lushaka bursaries had been awarded for initial teacher education. 89 % of the graduates had been placed at the end of December 2016. The DBE and ABSA bank had launched a training programme to strengthen financial management in schools. More than 10 500 school governing body (SGB) members and 1 146 school circuit managers from 2 700 schools in 38 districts from Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape had been trained. The NECT had collaborated with teacher unions, in an attempt to find practical solutions to improving the quantity and quality of learning in schools. The initiative had involved 700 teachers. The DBE, in collaboration with the NECT, had hosted the second phase English First Additional language (EFAL) workshop for 256 foundation phase subject advisors who had been capacitated to train and support 10 000 Grade 1 to 3 teachers from 1 670 schools and 256 subject advisors across provinces, in teaching EFAL effectively.

Programme Four: Planning, Information and Assessment

Programme four’s purpose was to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through planning, implementation and assessment.

The setting and moderation of the expected 128 question papers for the Senior Certificate May/June 2017 examinations had been completed. In terms of the National Assessment and public examinations, test items for diagnostic assessments were pre-tested in grades 3 and 9 for language and mathematics. 701 test items had been developed, together with teacher manuals and a test item tagging framework. A tender for the development of test items in the General Education and Training (GET) and Further Education and Training (FET) bands had been successfully gazetted.

The number of candidates who had achieved the NSC had increased from 442 672 to 456 056, which was an increase of 13 384 candidates. This summary also included the supplementary examinations. The number of candidates who had obtained the Higher Certificate had increased from 100 486 to 109 831, an increase of 9 343 candidates. The number of candidates who had gained admission to diploma studies had increased from 179 619 to 182 138. The number of candidates who had gained admission to Bachelor’s degree studies had increased from 162 374 to 163 875.

Programme Five: Educational Enrichment Services

The purpose of programme five was to develop policies and programmes to improve the quality of learning in schools. In terms of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), the DBE had targeted 19 800 schools for nutritious meals, mostly in the 1-3 primary and secondary schools, and including identified special schools.

A total of 52 schools and 10 districts in six provinces had been visited. 35 of the schools in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga were for the purpose of monitoring and supporting NSNP implementation, while 17 schools in North West were for monitoring school readiness. A total of 35 schools and eight districts had been visited out of the planned target of 40 schools. The target had not been achieved due to a shift from NSNP implementation to school readiness.

Under the promotion of the health sector, a total of 20 district coordinators from 12 districts in KZN had been trained. In terms of the Learner Pregnancy Programme, the policy was approved by the Council of Educators on 9 March 2017. The next steps would be to initiate the Socio Economic Impact Assessment (SEAIS) approval process, and to solicit the Minister’s approval for gazetting for public comment. Various media interviews on SAFM and Power FM had been conducted on the policy and learner pregnancy challenges in South Africa.

The DBE, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Adopt-a-School Foundation in partnership, had adopted 30 schools across the nine provinces. To date, a total of R78.4 million had been spent on the overall programme for 30 schools since 2013, and R9.9 million had been spent at Mpumalanga schools.

Fourth Quarter Expenditure Report

Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, Chief Financial Officer, DBE took the Committee through the DBE’s expenditure report.

The appropriation budget of the Department for the 2016/17 financial year amounted to R 22.413 billion. 80 % of the budget had been allocated to transfer payments, such as conditional grants (R16.586 billion), transfers to public entities (R1.167 billion) and other transfers (R98.699 million). The remainder of the budget was allocated to:

  • Compensation of employees (R395.659 million)
  • Examiners and moderators (R24.794 million)
  • Earmarked funds (R1.132 billion)
  • Office accommodation (174.662 million)
  • Specifically and exclusively appropriated (R2.181 billion)
  • Departmental operations (R171.698 million)
  • Departmental projects, including Kha Ri Gude and Annual National Assessment (R 481.586 million).

The Department had underspent in some programmes, such as the monitoring of the Kha Ri Gude Project, and the Second Chance Matric Programme. Under the Kha Ri Gude programme, the Department had conducted an investigation into the legitimacy of the number of learners, so the payments had not been processed as had been estimated. In the Second Chance Matric Programmme, only 7 015 of the 85 000 progressed learners had been targeted to participate in 2016. Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo province did not have learners registered for the June examinations, and there had been no face-to-face classes.

In programme four, the under-spending had been due to poor performance by implementing agents, professional service providers and contractors, which had necessitated the termination of contracts and the process of appointing replacement contractors. The process of rationalisation and mergers of schools, especially in the Eastern Cape, had also delayed the achievement of targets.

In programme five, the under-spending had been lower than 1%, with the main reason being no spending on the HIV and Aids conditional grants.

The DBE had overspent in the goods and services sector because it had appointed a team to fast track the rationalization of Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) schools in the Eastern Cape in order to meet its target. Projects terminated from implementing agents such as the CSIR had, in the interim, been managed by the DBE through the Programme Support Unit, so additional resources had been solicited to manage these projects.

Discussion

Mr D Khosa (ANC) asked how many of the 8 409 appointed teachers specialised in mathematics and science. The provision of sanitation in schools was at a snail’s pace, and from his observation it was because a lot of contractors were employed who do not have the capacity to complete the required jobs -- it took them months to complete the construction of the toilets. That issue needed to be looked into.

Mr I Ollis (DA) said his information might not be 100% accurate, because he was new to the Committee, but since there had been an improvement in learners’ performance, his concern was that the DBE and Umalusi and other stakeholders involved had adjusted the marks at the end of the year through some process. He asked what the impact of the adjustments was, and how people actually knew that the learners were improving.

He said he did not understand why Parliament was madly in love with Cuba, which was one of the smallest countries in the world. He was certain that South Africa could learn from other countries, and other countries could learn from South Africa as well. He asked for clarity on the union which had resisted the Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP) mentioned in the presentation, and some acronyms which he had not yet learned. He agreed with his colleague that the building 30 toilets in one year was unacceptable and the Portfolio Committee itself could do better than organising to build only 30 toilets in one year. He asked the DBE to include more graphs in its presentations so that the Committee could compare, and not just one graph that showed improvement.

Mr X Ngwezi (IFP) said he wanted to bring to the DBE and Committee’s attention that Funza Lushaka was being misused in KwaZulu-Natal. This was because some National Student Financial Aid System (NSFAS) beneficiaries had a way of getting letters to say that they were beneficiaries from Funza Lushaka, and there was evidence to prove this, so that they could be placed by the bursary and get employment. He added that the letter should not be the only proof of a beneficiary. He asked how many newly qualified young teachers had been employed in 2016/17 in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Acting Chairperson asked that all questions be written down so that the issues could be followed up.

Ms H Boshoff (DA) asked why questions were not being answered within the 10-day period, as this made it difficult for the Committee to do its oversight work. Were there any training manuals available in Braille and if so, how many were there and which printing house was being used? How many deaf learners were enrolled at the 22 schools for the deaf, and how many were enrolled at IE schools? How many learners with disabilities participated in the Second Chance Matric programme? How many had been successful? What was being done to support the learners?  Last year, the Committee had requested a separate report on the matric results for disabled learners, but the report was still not available and there had been no differentiation between the schools.

What was the DBE, in consultation with the PEDs, going to do to ensure that there was a safety network in schools and that the network was implemented, because the violence in schools was getting out of hand. The level of sanitation in the northern rural schools in Mpumalanga was shocking for both learners and educators, and she doubted that all schools had clean water and sanitation. What had the DBE done to assist the schools that were often robbed and had school equipment stolen?

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) said she had found out that learners at Vhudzani Secondary School in Limpopo had not received literature books. These were learners from Grade 8 to Grade 12. She asked if the Department could follow up on the matter. Did the Department have a preference when it came to placing graduates? It would be interesting to know of the number of Funza Lushaka, NSFAS and private supported graduates in a certain year, and how many had been placed in a particular job.

Did the DBE have the figures of learners enrolled in Early Childhood Development centres, and those were were not? With the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) job opportunities reported in most of the DBE’s programmes, what exactly did the jobs entail? She asked for the list of the schools that would undergo the rationalization process and how the process would affect ASIDI schools. The presentation created the idea that the DBE was doing very well and the country was on par in terms of service delivery, but the statistics on the ground told a different story.

Ms J Basson (ANC) asked why the infrastructure sector was so neglected, as the DBE was motivating schools to implement ICT when there were schools that still did not have electricity. What took priority? Since the DBE monitored the Funza Lushaka placement of graduates, were the beneficiaries correctly placed and working according to their field of expertise?

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) said he was happy to learn that 90% of SGBs were functional, based on the sample taken by the DBE. He asked how the sampling had been conducted and how that translated to practicality on the ground. He agreed with his colleagues that violence in schools was a big issue. It was unacceptable to hear that there had been shootings and stabbings in schools.

The Acting Chairperson commended the DBE on the progress that they had made, and asked what the status quo of the concept documents reported to have been introduced was. From the meetings that the DG had held with the PEDs, what kind of observations had come from the meetings and what lessons had he come back with? She commended the Department on the targets they had set regarding the issue of payment to suppliers and service providers. Was the Second Chance programme bearing the right fruits? What impact did the mark adjustment have on the programme? What was the outcome of the Kha Ri Gude investigations, and how far was the Department in terms of implementing the recommendations arising from the investigations?

Mr Mweli asked for the questions raised by the Committee to be sent to the Department, because some had been missed by the delegation as Members had spoken too fast. The Department would respond in writing.

The 2016/17 annual report would provide a clear picture of expenditure within the Department, as the figures had been corrected. The R44 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure had now been reduced to R1.4 million, and this was because the rest had been classified as irregular expenditure. What had made it irregular was that the spending had not been approved by the appropriate authority. There had been a lack of understanding of the difference between irregular and wasteful expenditure.

The DG explained that Cuba was not the only country that the Department was learning from, adding that he had been to Germany more that he had been to Cuba, and that was why the Department now talked of a three-stream model.

One of the reasons why the answering of Committee questions took more than 10 days was because the Department also had to wait for responses from the provinces. If information had to come directly from the DBE, the Department complied.

The Acting Chairperson said there was not enough time left for another round of questions and comments from the Committee since members had to attend a memorial service

Mr Paddy Padayachee, DDG, DBE said he was not aware that the Department had 10 days to respond to questions raised in Parliament.

He addressed Mr M Ollis’s question on the adjustment of marks, and said that a workshop had been held where Umalusi and other stakeholders had been present and provided light on the standardisation process. The DBE would arrange for people to come to Parliament to explain and shed light on the matter. There had been no interference from the Department, and the decision to adjust and standardise rested purely on Umalusi, with its own rules, and the process was not done on a yearly basis.

The Department would do more work in tracking learners in the Second Chance Matric programme, as it was important to provide support to the learners.

Dr Granville Whittle, DDG: Social Mobilisation and Support Services, DBE said that the Department recognised that not all SGBs were on a par, and it was the responsibility of the DBE to ensure that the bodies were functional.

The DBE had developed an advanced certificate for school principals, and there was whole range of discussions around the accountability of principals and school teachers. It was important to improve the selection criteria used when appointing school managers, because that too was a factor in the performance of schools.

He added that he did not know the exact number of educators that had been appointed in the current financial year. The Department was doing quite well in placing Funza Lushaka beneficiaries, but KZN seemed to be lacking and any information from Parliament would be appreciated.

The DBE should do more to strengthen the school safety network, and was working together with other governance bodies to create a safer space for learners. There were some arrangements that the DBE had with the SA Police Service (SAPS), where the SAPS could conduct random search and seizure operations. The DBE had linked over 1 500 schools with the SAPS, but some of the relationships were not doing well and the Department was working on improving them. In the longer term, the solution to curbing the violence in schools did not lie in increasing policing in the schools, and evidence suggested that it did not necessarily change the culture of the school.

The only supplier of electricity was Eskom, and it was rather difficult to get documents from Eskom. The good thing about supplying electricity to schools was that the community, which was often in rural areas, also got provided with electricity.

Dr Mamikie Mboya, DDG: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, DBE addressed the question around the Second Chance Matric Programme and the Department’s failure to meet the set target. The target had been 10 000 learners, and the Department could reach only 5 645. The reason was because the number of learners had come from the adults and learners who were not at school. The system had now been reconfigured, and it would be easy to get the information from now on.

Mr Mweli said the set target for electrification had been 300 schools, but out of the 306 projects for 2016/17, only 29 projects had been completed. The Department had struggled to get confirmation of the completion of other projects during the preparation of the report, and the auditors had had to go to Eskom to get information which had been electronically archived. Over 90% of the schools were in the Eastern Cape, and the rationalisation process involving the merger and closing of some schools had delayed the process of completing the Eskom projects.

The DBE would follow up on the Vhembe school without literature books, and the schools with computers that were collecting dust and not being utilised. It would provide information on the process of training teachers in ICT to the Committee.

The standardisation of results was an international phenomenon, and there were various reasons as to why it happened, one being treating learners with fairness, and the other being curriculum changes which impacted on the way in which questions were asked. The process had existed for over 40 years, and the DBE had raised its own concerns regarding the process, which involved university professors with experience who would not tolerate being pushed around by the DBE.

The resistance from unions on the self-diagnosis tool was also linked to the Annual National Assessment, which was a problem. The assessment tool had been changed, and the new tool -- which was called ‘systemic assessment’ -- would be implemented next year.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the DBE officials for the presentation and said it was unfortunate that there was not enough time to answer all the questions raised by the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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