School Sport: facilities; championships; sport federation collaboration; DBE MoU review

Sports, Arts and Culture

12 September 2017
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received briefings from the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on their plans to review the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two departments. SRSA indicated that DBE was not as appreciative of the importance of school sport as SRSA was. This was because SRSA had a smaller mandate, focusing on sports only, whereas the DBE was focused on academics and improving results, and ensuring that matriculants passed. However, the DBE was coming to the table and had ensured that three hours a week were dedicated to physical education (PE) as part of the life orientation (LO) subject.

SRSA and the Committee had been stating the importance of having PE as a standalone subject, but the DBE had indicated that changing the curriculum would be a costly exercise that involved retraining teachers and sourcing new teaching materials and textbooks. SRSA was, however, optimistic that the curriculum would eventually change, and they would be waiting to ensure PE was offered as a subject on its own when the time arrived.

The DBE and SRSA were committed to increasing the number of schools registered for championships, as well as the number of participants in school sports. They acknowledged that boys were more active in sports than girls, but there were fewer boys than girls enrolled in South Africa’s schools. Boys also had a higher dropout rate than girls, which often led them to turn to delinquent behaviour.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson said that the Western Cape and Free State were doing well with school sports, but other provinces were not. She thanked the Deputy Minister, Mr Gert Oosthuizen, for making time to attend the Portfolio Committee meeting.

Mr Oosthuizen said that the Department of Sport (SRSA) had referred to a report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which emphasized that the lack of school sport caused inactivity and led to chronic diseases. Physical education was therefore very important in schools to counter early deaths in childhood and adult unhealthiness. 21% of SRSA’s budget went to school sports for all the nine provinces, and Minister of Sport Nxesi, being a former teacher and activist himself, understood the importance of emphasising school sports.

SRSA Presentation

Mr Alec Moemi, Director-General (DG): Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) said that SRSA had conducted a workshop with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to acknowledge the successes and shortfalls of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) over the past five year cycle since it was implemented. The DBE had not appreciated sports as much as SRSA did, because they had a much larger mandate focusing on academic education and end of year results, especially the matric pass rate.

The MOU had originally proposed a three-pillar approach to school sports -- championship, mass participation, and physical education. SRSA were not where they would like to be with making physical education (PE) a compulsory subject in its own, but they had made strong progress and now it was part of the Life Orientation subject, with three hours a week set aside for PE.

One principle SRSA wanted to adopt was to champion sport focus schools and ensure that schools that were specifically maths and science schools excelled in those subjects, since they did not focus on sports.

In the last four years of the implementation of the MOU, SRSA had managed to accredit 34 schools. They were convinced they would meet their target in the second set of MOU plans. They were lagging far behind in the roll out of the coaching structure, and they were working to improve this.

SRSA was convinced that by working with schools and helping them to implement local championships, they would succeed. SRSA did not have the capacity to monitor everything and therefore needed the help of the DBE.

Mr Moemi said that SRSA had a challenge with funding. The coordination of tournaments needed to be facilitated by the DBE, and SRSA would in turn pay for the tournaments. National Treasury (NT) had asked SRSA to look at further ring-fencing in order to curb the 30% budget for school sport. Due to budget constraints, SRSA was not able to reach all the schools they had intended to reach.

SRSA realised that if they were only to provide sport kits to schools, then they would be able to meet their targets within two years, but they could not just give kits to schools that had not participated in sports before. They needed to provide all the equipment, from kits, whistles, balls, etc. Because of the current budget cuts, they could not reach all the schools, but they would ensure that the schools they assisted were fully supplied.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had received the report that SRSA had presented, but they wanted the DBE to be present as well so that the two departments could both be in front of the Committee.

DBE Presentation

Dr Granville Whittle, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Care and Support, DBE, said that Mr Moemi had been quite right in his assessment that the DBE had not previously appreciated school sport as much as SRSA had, but they were committed turning that around.

South Africa was one of the only countries on the continent that had more girls at school than boys, and the dropout rate was higher for boys than it was for girls. School sport was an important initiative to try to keep boys in schools, because they more active, whereas obesity was more common in girls. Often when boys dropped out of school, they turned to delinquent behaviour, so encouraging sport was very important.

Dr Whittle said that South Africa had had four rounds of curriculum reform in the last 20 years, and this involved retraining teachers and printing new curricula, and this was an expensive exercise. Physical education was currently housed as a subject in life orientation. The problem was that not many people took life orientation very seriously as a subject.

The DBE was looking at allowing students who graduated in sport science and movement sciences to do a post-graduate certificate in physical education so that they could teach PE in schools. Only the University of North West was currently giving such accreditation, and they were looking at ways to work with all the other universities.

Changing the mindset so teachers was no easy task, but the DBE was committed.

Mr Sifiso Ngobese, Director: School and Enrichment, DBE said that 13 500 of 24 365 schools (or 55.4%), were registered and participated in school sports and championships. Of the schools participating, some had fewer than 100 learners actively participating in school sports, and this was a key area the DBE was looking at to ensure that participation numbers were higher, and it was not just registering schools.

Government departments could not do enough to activate the school sports programmes at the local level, and therefore partnerships were necessary to ensure facilities were provided, and that there were incentives for schools that participated. Cricket South Africa (CSA) had taken quite an initiative in rolling out cricket to township schools. The DBE had partnerships with SuperSport and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to build fields, the Motsepe Foundation, which focused on football and netball, and Dreamfields, which focused on five-a-side football and mini-netball. This programme was focused on enhancing township schools.

The DBE was not happy with the league system and its participation numbers. More could be done to ensure that schools in nearby areas could play with one another.

It was currently engaging with their counterpart in sports, and they were hopeful that they would come up with an improved MOU and come up with concrete plans on issues that had not worked so far.

The DBE was working on a school sport calendar for predictability of all sports activities. A step by step guide was needed to assist struggling district officials on the role they needed to play in the implementation of the school sports programme.


Mr D Bergman (DA) said that he had been expressing the need to push physical education over the past three years, and with Dr Whittle saying that changing the curriculum was costly, he was crashing on everything the Committee was trying to achieve. The Committee needed to question schools that had gone through the national schools championships to receive feedback so that it could determine why some schools were not participating, since it was indicated that only 55% participated in school sports.
The DBE needed to be providing the communication and enforcing learners to participate, and SRSA would be training the coaches.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) asked how the 30% ring-fencing would affect SRSA, and how far the implementation of the pilot project was. What was the view of the DBE regarding combining sport and education together? What was the strategy to address the soft issues, such as boys dropping out of schools? Would the misunderstanding over the MOU affect the timeline that had been set?

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) said that the Committee had been saying for years that there was a need to have a sports day. He asked what the Motsepe Foundation entailed. Certain projects did not work out for poor people, because once sub-partners discovered that some people were in deep rural areas, they often abandoned the projects. He understood that the DBE and Higher education met regularly to discuss what courses were offered and available to learners. Did the DBE have instances where they would incentivise the participation of educators in the school sport system? What did school sport do for learners with disabilities?

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) asked what criteria were used for budget allocations to the provinces. Was participation by learners done by sport code or group?

Ms D Manana (ANC) said that maybe the DBE should ensure that the MOU would further assist schools in Mpumalanga. She suggested that the DBE should make PE a stand alone subject, because at events such as cultural day, learners had to pay for participation. Looking at the school sport budget, Gauteng had almost 90%, but the Eastern Cape had a very low budget. The percentages and budget allocations in the presentations did not correlate. The various sporting codes needed to be prioritised as well.

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) said that he appreciated the presentations, because the Committee now knew what would happen going forward. He had thought the DBE would have touched on the budget for school sports in the districts and at lower levels. Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape seemed to be the three problem provinces with regard to participation. These provinces also had a higher number of schools than any other province. He asked if there were plans in place to change the pattern of township schools being dysfunctional, and more people traveling to the suburbs.

Mr Mmusi said that he had met with various teachers who would love to implement PE, but they questioned the manner in which it would be implemented.

The Chairperson said that the DBE needed to have monitoring systems in place to monitor the funds given to the provinces. There was a need to persuade schools to change their policies.

SRSA’s response

Mr Moemi said that when budget cuts had been implemented, SRSA had lost R7 million. While projects were growing and expectations rising, departments were facing budget constraints. The forum of DGs had complained about the budget the cuts implemented by NT.The cuts had resulted in an internal freeze on vacancies, and the Department was not able to appoint any people until it had determined how much deeper the cuts would go. Critical posts had now been dispersed to current employees, and even he himself as the DG had to oversee the internal audit committee, since this was a role that could be not be delegated because the audit chief was a position that reported directly to him.

He had indicated to the Committee on numerous occasions that one of the reasons the DBE was not implementing PE as a standalone subject was due to curriculum burdens and costs. However, this was not a permanent situation, because the curriculum would eventually need to be reviewed and changed, and SRSA would be waiting to implement PE in the curriculum. SRSA was making gradual progress and was working closely with the DBE in spite of funding issues.

Mr Moemi said that there were programmes that did not work in rural areas due to space problems and the setting for development. However, there were other programmes such as ‘play sport’ and Siyadlala that did not require much development to allow children to participate.

Where there was commitment and willingness from schools to participate in school sport, SRSA was working with such schools and engaging in partnerships with them. It was no longer just managing compliance by provinces, but also managing value for money.

The Eastern Cape had received a significantly larger equitable share because their funds had to be considered in relation to the number of schools they had to reach. Provinces like the Western Cape received less than the Eastern Cape, but most of their schools were more developed and did not require as much assistance.

SRSA and the DBE had not engaged the Department of Social Development because they were not an easy department to work with. Social Development had their own programmes that they were implementing. SRSA worked much more closely with the DBE and the Department of Arts and Culture. They were not ruling out Social Development, but they would rather work with them when the opportunity presented itself. SRSA was working with the teachers’ union, and there were plans in place to sign some form of agreement to get teachers to do school sport at least three hours per week.

DBE’s response
Dr Whittle said that departments had different cultures, and when they were merged some aspects lacked, while others strengthened. The DBE had made an assessment of all the life orientation textbooks in the system, and none of them articulated any of the aspects of PE.  It was looking at various models to consolidate them in order to provide a good quality of PE for life orientation.

One of the most successful means of introducing PE in schools in the U.K. had been to have ‘Walk a Mile’ initiatives for an hour every day before school, forcing children to be active.

One needed to ensure that the PE teacher was a person who was also able to teach another school subject, like mathematics, science or geography. The system needed to be simplified for teachers to do physical education in schools.

Mr Ngobese said that budget allocations for provinces were allocated by the provincial sports departments, and not by the DBE.

Follow up questions

Ms Manana said that there was a need to revisit the issue of the MOU, because SRSA could have had impacts on the DBE after stipends to the DBE were cut.

Mr Mmusi said that the response indicated that things were bad for rural persons everywhere, and this explained why people were moving to the urban areas. He would have loved to hear the input of Dr Whittle on the impact of the DBE and Higher Education with regard to sport.


Dr Whittle said that the Minister had appointed a Ministerial Task Team, and it had recommended that life orientation in grade 12 should be done away with as an examination subject. The problem with this recommendation was that once a subject was not examinable anymore, it was not taken seriously by learners.

The DBE had called all 25 universities together at the end of 2016 to discuss improving the quality of physical education. They had spoken with the Department of Higher Education to improve the quality of physical education, since they trained the teachers.

Mr Moemi said that as there were few sport coordinators now in the provinces as a result of budget cuts, and the need to withhold filling certain vacancies and implementing programmes, they were more productive and producing better outputs.

Ms Abrahams thanked the Mr Moemi for being as honest as he was.

The Chairperson thanked SRSA and DBE for their presentations, and expressed appreciation for the fact that DBE officials were always with the Committee during their oversight visits.

Committee minutes

Adoption of the Committee’s minutes dated 5 August 2017 was proposed by Mr Mmusi and seconded by Mr Mhlongo.

The meeting was adjourned.

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