The Committee met with the Gauteng Provincial Government to discuss the responses to resolutions that came about after the Portfolio Committee conducted its oversight visit to Ekurhuleni North, Ekurhuleni South and Tshwane North Education Districts in Gauteng. It also met with the South African Council for Educators (SACE) to discuss the Entity’s 2016/17 Annual Report Presentation.
On the DBE presentation, Members asked if there was an example in the archives of the Department of what an ACT type school looked like? What type of monitoring was being used by the Department regarding scholar transport? How did the Department ensure that schools had proper security and were protected from theft?
How did Gauteng use their nutritional grants to build kitchens? How many of the asbestos schools had not been attended to? There has been no feedback on Inclusive Education. Was there any intention to request funding for the learners who get transferred, since the province already had many learners who came to the province every year? How did the learners perform in maths and science subjects in the pre- examinations? Did the Department see itself moving to soft copies of LTSM? Did the Department make any suggestions to the budgetary authorities, given that Gauteng and the Western Cape received less funding from the equitable share compared to other provinces? Had the issue of learner transport at the school in Duduza been addressed? Why did Chief Albert Luthuli Primary not have a kitchen?
On the South African Council for Educators Presentation, Members asked for clarity on the issue of SACE not being able to fund sign-up sessions. Was SACE’s role not to do vetting on people who were found guilty of crime such as sexual assault and if that was their role, why was the system not working? What processes were in place to ensure that educators who were provisionally registered got full registration? In terms of the advisory letters given to educators during the disciplinary processes, what did the advisory letter entail and what was the transgression? Did SACE work with a discipline code? When last was payments received for performance evaluations for senior management, middle management, lower management and what was the budget for performance monies paid out? Did the CEO, CFO and COO receive annual bonuses? Were the CFO, CEO and COO positions coupled to a five-year contract? When was the Minister going to indicate the appointment of the new Chair? Was the AFTRA body already based in South Africa and how many African countries were affiliated to that body? How accessible was SACE countrywide? What informed the reduction of funding, especially in the CPTD programme? How many of the unsolved cases were continuously carried over throughout the years? What was the difference between full and provisional registration? How protected were the underage learners where cases were unresolved and perpetrators were still at the school and the victim was exposed to the learners? What was the minimum qualification for teachers now? Was there a clear plan of action on how to address the findings of the Auditor General (AG) regarding issues around CPTD? What steps would SACE take to try and verify the truth to the allegations that teachers in a school in Kuruman allegedly impregnated 16 learners. What psychological support had been provided to the learners at the school? What was the number of vacancies that the organization had. How soon would those be filled and were the vacancies budgeted for? When would SACE would move to other provinces. What was the turnaround plan regarding the unresolved cases? Were there replacements for the positions where people had resigned? Was SACE not to blame for the reduction on the CPTD subsidy because of non-spending of funding in the previous years which now led to the reduction in the subsidy? How was the issue regarding lack of internal controls, as identified by the auditors, going to be addressed? Had SACE ever thought of having the Department of Social Development’s gender based violence call centre number put up in schools so that learners who were afraid could call that number. SACE was requested to provide the Committee with the Audit Action Plan with reasonable targets and timeframes.
The Chairperson welcomed the delegation and reminded the Committee that at the beginning of the year the Committee conducted an oversight visit to Gauteng to assess the state of education in some areas of the province. The Gauteng Provincial government had put together a presentation for the Committee, to update the Committee on the progress made after issues had been identified on the oversight visit.
Mr Albert Chanee, Deputy Director General: Planning from the DBE tendered an apology for the MEC of Gauteng who was unable to attend the meeting. The first recommendation of the Committee dealt with ICT shortages and connectivity at some of the school that were visited. It recommended that the Department should take the necessary steps to ensure that challenges such as internet, smart-board connectivity, laptops and tablets shortages at specific schools identified in the report be addressed.
All outstanding deliveries of tablets and laptops to teachers was completed in April/May 2017. All targeted schools were provided with smart-boards including schools that suffered theft. Where affected schools had experienced internet and smart-board connectivity challenges, the Department had provided the schools with 3G Modems as a temporary solution.
In respect of Chief Alert Luthuli Primary School, Wide Area Network (WAN) and Local Area Network (LAN) was installed. However, there were constant power supply issues that interrupted LAN connectivity. This was being addressed through an electrical upgrade by the provincial Infrastructure Department. A content server was successfully installed at the school and 22 Triumph Smart-boards were installed in various classes from Grade 1 to Grade 7. The school had a total of 103 tablets for Grade 7 learners. The Phomolong Secondary School was a mobile school and the Department decided to build a replacement school on the same site which would be e-ready. The design phase was completed and procurement would be completed before the end of this financial year, with construction beginning in the 2018/19 financial year. All new schools being built in Gauteng were made to be e-ready.
The second recommendation was that the Department should ensure that identified schools were supplied with functioning kitchens, storage facilities and adequate utensils.
The Department was committed to ensuring that all schools had food preparation, storage and dining facilities. The Department, in compliance with the requirements of the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure, had made provision for the building of kitchens and store room facilities at all new schools. Schools that were constructed prior to the promulgation of the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure did not have dedicated functioning kitchens, storage facilities and adequate utensils to meet the requirements of the National School Nutrition Program. The Department was engaged in budget discussions with the provincial treasury to secure funding to build kitchens and storage facilities in future. At Hammanskraal Secondary School, a kitchen was being completed with plumbing works still outstanding. The project would be completed within three months. A kitchen for Mvelaphanda Secondary School was being delivered through a donation. During the 2017/18, the Department, through a grant was building 60 kitchens with stoves and utensils at a cost of R30 million. All no-fee schools received R9 000 as a once allocation to top up on cutlery and utensils in the 2017/18 financial year. Generally, where there were shortages due to loss, theft or learner growth, the Department topped up in response to school requests.
The Third recommendation was that the Department should intensify its measures to ensure that schools receives adequate and focused assistance and interventions to improve their performance in mathematics at grade 10 and lower grades generally.
The Department was implementing a mathematics, science and technology strategy. The province had a special program for Grade 10 and 11 mathematics and science learners during the July vacation. Educators were provided with lesson plans for Grade 10-12 and were given support on how to use it. The schools would be visited by the Head Office mathematics coordinator to provide the necessary support.
The Fourth Recommendation was the Department should ensure that, where reported, schools with LTSM shortages, should receive any outstanding LTSM as a matter of urgency.
The Department always ensured that all subjects were adequately resourced, especially in respect of technical mathematics and technical science textbooks which were out of print. The Department has requested DBE to source and prescribe alternate tittles. In the short term, the Department requested that the Grade 12 textbooks be printed by the Government printers with permission from the publishers. In respect of Grade 10 and 11, the Department requested schools to print it for themselves while permanent solutions were sought out. In Katlehong Technical Secondary School there were currently shortages of five technical maths and 10 technical science textbooks. The school made copies to address these shortages. In Dinoto Technical High School there were currently shortages of technical science textbooks. The school made copies to address these shortages. At Mvelaphanda Primary School, shortages were experienced for life skills textbooks in the intermediate phase. District officials addressed these shortages by using surplus textbooks from neighbouring schools. At Masiqhakaze Secondary School shortages were experienced in tourism grade 10. Orders were made in January 2017 and delivered in March 2017 to address the shortages.
The fifth recommendation was that the Department should ensure that, where reported, posts were filled as a matter of urgency.
The Department intervened in several identified cases which include: in Ratshepo Secondary School, two Deputy Principal posts and two Head of Department posts were advertised in the Vacancy Circular 03 of 2017, dated 24 July 2017 for filling in October 2017. Recommendations were received and appointments would be made before the end of October. In Hammanskraal Secondary School, two posts were advertised in Vacancy Circular 01 of 2017, dated January 2017. After the School Governing Body (SGB) was disbanded and the school placed under administration, an interview panel was constituted and interviews were conducted, the Department was awaiting the recommendations for the two posts from the panel. At Esibonelwesihle Secondary School, the vacant promotional posts were filled with effect from 1 May 2017. The school also received two additional growth posts as from the 1 March 2017 and these have been filled with temporary educators pending the advertising and filling of the posts.
The sixth recommendation was that the Department should ensure that, where reported, steps be taken to address overcrowding in schools.
The Department conducted a capacity audit on an annual basis to determine classroom shortages in schools. This influenced the priority list for Alternative Construction Technology (ACT) schools where overcrowding had to be addressed. The provision of additional ACT classrooms to schools with the highest classroom shortages was currently in progress. During the year 2017/18, the Department would construct 10 brick and mortar schools, 10 new ACT schools, 603 additional ACT classrooms and 312 Grade R Act classrooms to address admission pressure and overcrowding in schools. The Department had taken delivery of two schools that were practically complete, 189 out of the 603 additional ACT classrooms and 184 of the 312 Grade R ACT classrooms.
The seventh recommendation was that the Department should consider investigating the reasons behind dwindling learner enrolments between Grade 10 and Grade 12, which raised questions related to progression and gatekeeping of learners in these grades.
The Department was undertaking an internal study to investigate the reasons behind dwindling learner enrolments between Grade 10 and Grade 12. The internal report would be completed at the end of March 2018 after considering the 2017 Grade 10 and 11 learner performances.
The eighth recommendation was that the Department should ensure that, where reported, appropriate steps were taken to replace any inappropriate school structures, supply classrooms, libraries, laboratories, storerooms, staff-rooms and computer laboratories.
Regarding the provision of libraries, storerooms and computer rooms, it had to be noted that in terms of the regulations relating to the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public Schools Infrastructure, the eradication of inappropriate structures was the first priority. Schools, such as those transferred from North West, without administration blocks and specialist classrooms, were being prioritised based on affordability. The Department had already commissioned the replacement of the 29 Asbestos schools in the province, with the first 17 schools budgeted in the 2017/18 MTEF. Phumulani Secondary School and Ratshepho Secondary School were currently receiving ACT Classrooms. Dan Radebe Primary School and Sekampaneng Primary School were currently receiving ACT classrooms for Grade R. Phomolong Secondary School was earmarked for replacement with a new school building. The design had been completed and the budget for 2018/19 had been appropriated. The replacement school would be built on the same site.
The ninth recommendation was that the Department, in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs, should provide access points for registration services of undocumented learners. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the two departments (the Gauteng Department of Education and the Department of Home Affairs) to assist with the verification of documents parents needed to provide schools in the application process. A follow up meeting was held on 16 August 2017 to discuss the management of learners without documents. This meeting was postponed due to the unavailability of DHA officials. Another date was requested. The Department also made arrangements with affected parents, who had prepared the necessary supporting documents, for the visit by DHA to Dan Radebe Primary School to document learners. The Department was awaiting confirmation of their visit.
Ms J Basson (ANC) thanked the Department for the comprehensive presentation and the swift response. She said she was glad that the Department put Hamaanskraal into administration because the status quo of the school was displeasing. Was there an example in the archives of the Department of what an ACT type school looks like? Where did the Department get the money to build a school like Albert Luthuli? She added that the school was more than just a state of the art school. How did other schools with poor infrastructure benefit from the progress that the Department was making?
Mr H Khosa (ANC) thanked the Department for the presentation and said the Department was the first province to respond to the Committee after the oversight visits. The Gauteng Portfolio Committee had accompanied the Committee during the oversight visits which hardly happened in other provinces. He said he now understood why the Department was performing better than the other provincial departments and this was evident from the hospitality of the Provincial Portfolio Committee who accompanied the Committee to every school that they visited in Gauteng. What type of monitoring was being used by the Department regarding scholar transport? How did the Department ensure that schools had proper security and were protected from theft?
Ms H Boshoff (DA) said some provinces said that they could not use their nutritional grants to build kitchens. How did the Gauteng do it? How many of the asbestos schools had not been attended to? There has been no feedback on Inclusive Education.
With regards to the estimated 80 000 learners that moved to the province every year,
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked if there was any intention to request funding for the learners who get transferred, since the province already had many learners who came to the province every year. Given that the Department had a special program for Maths and Science, how did the learners perform in these subjects in the pre- examinations? Regarding LTSM, did the Department see itself moving to soft copies of LTSM?
Mr I Ollis (DA) said he was worried that Gauteng and the Western Cape received less funding from the equitable share compared to other provinces. Did the Department make any suggestions to the budgetary authorities, given that the two provinces get many learners every year who move from rural schools to the metropolitan schools?
The Chairperson asked if the Department considered other factors that cause overcrowding in schools and whether those factors had been addressed. Had the issue of learner transport at the school in Duduza, where it was said that the bicycle project was obsolete, been addressed? Why did Chief Albert Luthuli Primary not have a kitchen?
Mr Albert Chanee said the Equitable Share formula was adjusted annually according to the enrolment of the school. He did not know the formula in exact detail but it was enrolment divided by population of learners in the province aged between 7 and 15. The equitable share formula was sensitive to the enrolment pattern; however Treasury had decided to cushion the departments that were losing learners by not transferring the entire chunk of money in one year, but transferring it over a three- year phase. The major issue that the Department was raising as a limitation in the Equitable Share formula, was that there was not a capital budget to prepare to receive the new learners.
Between 2016 and 2017, the number of learners that the Department bussed increased by 8 000 and was now sitting at 110 000 learners because the settlement patterns were predominantly in informal settlements, where the Department could not build schools. Every year, for the first three months, the Department had to deal with such issues.
An ACT school was a completely new format with a lifespan of 30 years plus. Building a brick and mortar school from demand identification to completion could take anything between 18 to 36 months. ACT school could be delivered in six months at a lower cost. The Department’s typical school contained 27 classes plus administration, with all the norms and standards in place. A typical ACT classroom would cost about R 300 000 while a brick and mortar classroom would cost about R600 000. The Department would have to go out on tender to build a brick and mortar classroom, instead of getting a quotation for the ACT classroom.
In terms of the budget for nutrition, the Department negotiated with the National Department to have it included as part of the provincial department’s business plan.
The only way that the Department achieved what they achieved with the Albert Luthuli school was through reprioritisation.
The Department was running a maintenance program. Asbestos was not dangerous, unless it was damaged and the fibres lay around in the classrooms. Two methods were used to maintain schools, one was to prepare the asbestos with a preventative coating and then special paint was used which sealed the fibres. The Department has developed a Preventative Maintenance Policy, specifically for asbestos schools . The Department maintained all asbestos structures because of the risks around them and the school principal was expected to maintain small issues such as visual assessments.
The biggest issue that the Department had on Inclusive education was that universities were not putting out as many specialist teachers as the system required. The Department would have to look at how to get that supply right. In Gauteng, the Department has built 11 new special schools in the last two years to start dealing with the issues of backlogs. The biggest backlog was experienced around autism and the Department spent the last two years dealing with the challenge and had delivered 11 new schools. The Department had increased access into special schools by about 8 000 learners in the last three years.
The bicycle programme was one of the failures of intergovernmental work. The National Department and the Department of Agriculture which was responsible for rural development, thought it wise to introduce the program but DBE was not integrally involved in the planning and execution of the program. The Department would have preferred that a learner cycle from home to the pickup point of the bus and there should have been a storage facility where the bicycles could be safely stored.
Once the Department’s budget was tabled in February and adopted in April/May, money could not be shifted around randomly. The provincial treasury had a dedicated Chief Director whose work was to deal with the issue of needs analysis and the delivery of infrastructure. There was an information and planning gap between the Department and Treasury. What the Department then did was to apply for a deviation. Once Treasury approved the deviation, the Department could shift the money at an operational level.
The Department was funding nutrition for 160 000 learners out of the provincial budget which showed that the province’s treasury and premier really believed in the social, pro-poor interventions that the Department was dealing with.
Some schools did not have electricity and the main reason for that was bulk services from the municipality or Eskom. All schools were built fully wired for electricity but the power did not come to the facility where it could be connected. For administrative purposes at least, the Department had given every single school a generator. There was no school that could claim that it did not have an alternative energy source in Gauteng.
The big issue that the Department had on the mathematics performance of learners was that it has been discovered that the last push in the last quarter of school really made a difference. The Department was currently running the last camps for the grade 12 learners in preparation for final examinations. The last push average made a minimum 12 to 15% difference in the final examination results compared to the preparatory examinations.
Mr Mfanelo Ntsobi, Chief Director of School Support for the Gauteng DBE said the Department was experiencing challenges, which varied from school to school. The Department was having difficulties in the no-fee paying schools, especially from quintile one to three but the Department was leveraging on the Standard Public Works Programme and that was from where the Department had deployed security. The level of training that the security received was unsatisfactory. Schools that had the capacity to top up security and install alarms did so. The Department tried to cover the whole province in 2016, but there had not been enough funding and there was no provision in the budget. This was an area that needed major support. The need for schools to be protected was very urgent because schools were also used by the community and assistance needed to come from other departments as well, such as the Department of Community Safety.
Not all the buses were within the scholar transport program. The Department would include tight monitoring measures in new contracts, given that the scholar transport contracts were now in its final stages. Monitoring would involve collaboration with community safety and law enforcement. The Department had a joint task team with the Department of Transport and the Department of Community Safety and every year during June there was an independent evaluation of all the buses used on the roads. Buses were discontinued if they were not up to standard.
The biggest challenge was with private transport providers in the province, where parents choose to use alternative buses to transport their children to school and did not want to use the local schools. A small problem that the Department was trying to deal with was the issue of overcrowding where multiple buses were on a single route but learners did not want to take the earlier bus and this led to overcrowding on the next bus.
Ms J Basson (ANC) thanked the Gauteng Department of Education for making things easy for the Portfolio Committee during the oversight visit and for escorting the Committee to every visit.
The Chairperson thanked the delegation from the Gauteng Province for the presentation.
Briefing by South African Council for Educators (SACE)
Ms Ella Mokgalane, Chief Executive Officer, SACE, took the Committee through the presentation. On 4 May 2017, SACE presented the 2017/18 Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budget to the Portfolio Committee on Basic education. The Committee was briefed on the challenges experienced by the organization at the time and about the on-going processes underway to address those challenges.
The Council had not received feedback from the Public Protector yet. The head for Registration and Ethics, Ms Dipholo had resigned. The Parliamentary Question pertaining to Ms Dipholo and Mr Magalela had been responded to through the Minister’s office. Ms Ella Mokgalane had been appointed as the new CEO with effect from 1 August 2017. The Minister had appointed the new Council for the 2017-2021 term of office, with effect from 1 August 2017 as well. Council submitted five names to the Minister, for purposes of appointing one of them as the Chairperson in line with the SACE Act. In the interim, the CEO was acting as the Chairperson and the Executive Committee was in place to deal with governance matters in between Council meetings.
Overall, the Council performed fairly well during the period under review, and performance could still be enhanced in the 2017/18 financial year. There were some over achievement of targets in Program 1 (Registration), and indicators that dealt with quality assurance of professional development providers and provisioning in Program 3 (Approval of Providers and Endorsement of Professional Development Activities).
There were some under achievements and partial achievements of certain indicators in Program 2 (Ethics) and Program 3 (CPTD System) in particular. Program 3 was suspended at one stage due to a reduced funding from the DBE and the late transfer of 2016/17 funds to SACE in February 2017. In terms of the audited performance information, there was a matter of emphasis on Program 3.
Furthermore, the first CPTD system cohort completed the first three-year cycle. A two-day national CPTD conference was held on the 6-7 September 2017 to take stock, reflect and analyse the implementation of the system during these first three years and lessons learnt for the next three-year cycle. As reported in the Council’s APP presentation to the Portfolio Committee in May 2017, Council reconceptualised its registration process in terms of, amongst others, on-the-spot registration, walk-in registration, vetting and verification, registration of final year students, once-off registration and other related matters. These processes would result in some indicators changing during the 2018/19 financial year and assist Council to focus more on the strategic ones within its capacity, mandate and jurisdiction.
Mr Morris Mapindani, Chief Financial Officer of SACE took the Committee through the audited financial statements. The organisation’s assets increased by 28% due to the retained surplus. Compared to the previous year the current liabilities were reduced by 16% and the net current assets increased by 11%. The accumulated surplus was 225% which was the result of the dissolution of building reserve account and the increase in non-current assets. The financial position of SACE was positive. The revenue from SACE transactions increased by 3% due to the interest and registrations fees which were corrected. A reduction in the CPTD subsidy was noticed due to the financial constraints from the funding institution. The total revenue for the organisation remained constant for the two financial years. The personnel expenditure increased by 8% due to inflation related increases. The total expenditure of SACE was reduced by 2% due to cost cutting measures that were implemented by the organisation. A surplus of R10 million was retained and approval was obtained towards improving IT infrastructure and increasing client provincial contact points.
SACE received an unqualified audit opinion from the AGSA auditor report. The report found that SACE’s reporting on CPTD was inconsistent with planning and reporting standards. It was difficult for the organisations to quantify the indicators.
Ms Mokgalane then took the Committee through SACE’s program performance report. Program 1 (Registration) exceeded the set targets in terms of its three indicators which were: number of newly registered educators in the reporting period; number of registration documents updated; and vetting and verification of new applicants. A total of 387 780 educators were registered by the end of the 2016/17 financial year. The 37 977 (9,79%) newly registered educators were further divided into 36 774 South African educators and 1 203 foreign educators. The registration process was being reviewed to move away from walk-in and on the spot registration because that was where fraudulent behaviour was evident. SACE was also looking at establishing an institutional network so that the registration process could be done seamlessly. SACE was piloting a reviewing process working together with the University of Kwa Zulu Natal and the University of Free State to look at the registration of student teachers and track them from the first year up to final year and the universities would be able to give SACE results on learners.
In terms of Program 2 (Ethics), SACE had 784 cases under review and there were 119 cases from the previous financial year that were carried over. 36% were completed with 248 cases now being carried over. Of the 248 cases, 154 were still being investigated and would be finalised soon. In terms of the total number of disciplinary hearings conducted and finalised, 52 educators were found guilty and two were found not guilty. The total number of cases finalised between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017 including disciplinary hearings was 536. SACE was recruiting more provincially-based panellists to address the issue of carrying over some cases to the next financial year. SACE observed, with great concern, the current educator misdemeanours and high-profile cases relating to Corporal Punishment and Sexual-Related matters in particular. In responding and addressing the issues, SACE released media statements; several radio interviews were held for engagement and educational purposes; collaborated with Provincial Education Departments on the matters; charges were laid and investigations and hearings were in progress; research was conducted on factors that enhanced the sexual-related cases between teachers and learners which would be released in November 2017 after Council approval.
The CPTD system program performed fairly well, given the challenges around funding. The indicators on the approval of the professional development providers and endorsement of the professional development activities did exceedingly well due to intense five-day capacity building and support sessions provided by SACE to the six Provincial Education Departments (PEDs), which were Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng Province and North West. The PEDs capacity building and support sessions focused on how to develop quality professional development programs that were fit for purpose. Follow-up sessions were held in all PEDs where the actual programs and materials were developed in line with the endorsement criteria and subsequently submitted to SACE for endorsement purposes. This move would go a long way in assisting PEDs to report to SACE on educator’s uptake in professional development participation in the three-year CPTD cycle. All in all, the CPTD funding challenges were resolved. The implementation of the CPTD system was improving, including the reporting of participation in provincial department activities by the educators, schools and employers.
Mr Ollis asked for clarity on the issue of SACE not being able to fund sign-up sessions as reported in the presentation when there was a surplus of about R10m. In terms of Ethics and Verifications, was SACE’s role not to do vetting on people who were found guilty of crime such as sexual assault and if that was their role, why was the system not working because it appeared as though people who were found guilty of crimes were still being appointed as educators. Educators who have been found guilty of assault could not work with children.
Ms Boshoff asked what processes were in place to ensure that educators that who were provisionally registered got full registration? Did the teachers have to inform SACE or was there a database to see which teacher qualified? Would stopping walk-in registrations not have a negative impact if it was completely done away with, because not all teachers had access to the internet to conduct online registrations? In terms of the advisory letters given to educators during the disciplinary processes, what did the advisory letter entail and what was the transgression? Of the 52 teachers who had been found guilty, were they only in KZN and what was the reason behind the teachers being found guilty? What was the transgression with regard to teachers being struck off but being able to reapply? It was alarming that there were cases that had not been finalised. When would the ethics division be capacitated, because learners could not be exposed and exploited by teachers any longer? Did SACE work with a discipline code, because teachers might not know the various forms of discipline that could be utilised to “punish” the learners. This could be why they used corporal punishment. What steps were implemented to ensure that provinces like KZN and Eastern Cape did not delay in sending in their forms again?
When last was payments received for performance evaluations for senior management, middle management, lower management and what was the budget for performance monies payed out? Did the CEO, CFO and COO receive annual bonuses? If yes, why was that not included in the financial report? Were the CFO, CEO and COO positions coupled to a five-year contract? When was the Minister going to indicate the appointment of the new Chairperson because it was strange for the CEO to take on the leadership on Council matters as it could be a conflict of interest?
Mr Khosa asked if the AFTRA body was already based in South Africa and how many African countries were affiliated to that body? How accessible was SACE countrywide?
Ms Basson asked what informed the reduction of funding, especially in the CPTD programme? How many of the unsolved cases were continuously carried over throughout the years? What was the difference between full and provisional registration? How protected were the underage learners where cases were unresolved and perpetrators were still at the school and the victim was exposed to the learners? What was the minimum qualification for teachers now? Was there a clear plan of action on how to address the findings of the Auditor General (AG) regarding issues around CPTD?
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi said she was interested in the case where about 16 learners were allegedly impregnated by the teachers in a school in Kuruman. The challenge was the courts might not have enough evidence to go ahead with the case. What steps would SACE take to try and verify the truth to the allegations? What psychological support had been provided to the learners at the school? What was the number of vacancies that the organization had and how soon would those be filled and were the vacancies budgeted for?
The Chairperson asked when SACE would move to other provinces. What was the turnaround plan regarding the unresolved cases? Were there replacements for the positions where people had resigned? Was SACE not to blame for the reduction on the CPTD subsidy because of non-spending of funding in the previous years which now led to the reduction in the subsidy? How was the issue regarding lack of internal controls, as identified by the auditors, going to be addressed?
Mr Mapindani said the CPTD budget came from the Department of Education which sourced it from the European Union. In previous years, the budget was unstable because of many factors. The Department of Education sought funding direct from Treasury for CPTD and for 2017/18 SACE received half the funding, but were now waiting for the rest of the payment.
In terms of Provincial Offices, the Council took a decision in July to start the three Provincial offices in Western Cape, Limpopo and Eastern Cape and there would be mobile offices that could travel to other provinces as no other provincial offices would be established. The current two provincial offices only had a manager, technical personnel responsible for registration, one field worker and CPTD.
In terms of addressing the unqualified audit opinion, the issue on assets was a matter of re-evaluating assets annually to ensure that those which were in use and had material value were given another life span. In terms of unquantifiable indicators, the process of revising them had already started for it to be easily reported and the targets would be cleared in the next report.
Regarding performance evaluations in 2016/17, the Council decided not to award any performance reward to any staff member based on its dissatisfaction of staff performance. That was why no performance evaluation figure was shown in the report. The new CEO was the only executive staff member with a five-year contract, the rest were hired on a permanent contract. SACE had 21 vacancies open in September, a couple were advertised although the Council had difficulties in advertising. 21 positions were quite a lot for a small organization like SACE.
Mr Basil Snayer, Audit Committee Chairperson, SACE said there were certain reasons that the cases of assault kept cropping up in schools and there were many factors which led to conditions in which sexual offences occurred. The sexual offenses register existed, but it frequently occurred that complaints landed on the desks of SACE after the Department had already executed disciplinary hearings against teachers and found them guilty. By law that outcome had to reach SACE. When SACE wanted to deal with matter, time had caught up with the organisation and witnesses were out of school, or parents were not prepared to assist. SACE lost cases if they did not have key witnesses when following up on cases that the Department had dealt with. SACE did not have the capacity and this had to do with funding. SACE was working on involving in-service teachers in the investigation of the cases.
Ms Mokgalane said they would send written responses to Ms Boshoff’s questions because it required specifics the Council could not provide immediately.
The KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo Eastern Cape delays were addressed and there was certain improvement made because the Head of Departments had been able to re-align the relevant professional structures in those provinces. A conference was held where Chief Directors and specific directors were appointed that would be able to work directly with SACE on their processes regarding the CPTD system.
While the Minister was still going through the process of verification and vetting Council members for the appointment of the Chairperson, the SACE Act said that the CEO act as the Chairperson with the help of the Executive Committee.
The previous week the Minister announced protocols to deal with corporal punishments. The measures to deal with corporal punishments were there but the problem was the application of the measures.
In terms of AFTRA (African Federation of Teaching and Regulatory Authorities), she said the body did not necessarily have a physical address. SACE, Nigeria and Zambia were rotating in terms of the use of office space and dealing with administrative issues. Currently there were about 16 countries and certain universities who were part of the structure which met yearly.
In terms of provisional registration, the category involved fourth year students who became registered into the system and once they received full qualification the candidates were classified as fully registered. The Act required that there be two categories of registration, full registration and provisional registration.
Concerning the issue around the Kuruman Case, SACE did have parallel processes and that was why educators were blaming SACE for triple jeopardy. The Department could make use of the justice system, but the justice system spoke of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ and perpetrators walked free but SACE made use of balance of probabilities. From what had been observed, SACE was likely to find the teachers guilty based on the balance of probability.
Given the issues of jurisdiction, SACE was working very closely with the Northern Cape Department of Education and Kwa Zulu Natal Department of Education, but dealing with the issues of learner counselling rested with the departments because SACE dealt with educators.
Ms Boshoff asked if the problem that was previously reported by SACE that provinces were at fault for not reporting transgressions had been resolved?
Ms Mokgalane replied that relations were improving but not 100% but there were attempts to find ways in which those cases could be brought forward.
Ms Tarrabela-Marchesi said she was not sure of the kind of working relationship that SACE had with the Department of Social Development (DSD) but there was a call centre that dealt directly with gender-based violence. She asked if SACE ever thought of having that number put up in schools so that learners who were afraid to come forward could call that number.
Ms Mokgalane said SACE would consider the suggestion and work on the working relationship with (DSD).
The Chairperson requested SACE to provide the Committee with the Audit Action Plan with reasonable targets and timeframes. It was important to avoid issues of overlapping and the Committee would assist where they could.
The meeting was adjourned.