The Department of Basic Education briefed the Committee on school readiness for the 2018 academic year and learner transport. The presentation included giving Members the assurance that more than 28 million volumes 1 and Grade R workbooks for 2018 had been printed and delivered to 23 565 school countrywide for Grade R to Grade 9 learners. Members were informed on the incremental introduction of African languages and the incremental implementation of the South African Sign Language Curriculum and Assessment Policy; as well as Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements 2. The Committee heard that 11 of the 17 schools for the deaf that offered Grade 12 would be writing the first National Senior Certificate examinations in 2018. Furthermore, the presentation prioritised fencing to reduce school safety challenges.
Members asked whether there would be enough teachers in terms of posts to cover the extra subjects in the form of the introduction of African languages. Members questioned the type of training given to South African Sign Language Curriculum teachers and asked about the prioritisation of the shortage of maths and science teachers. Members also asked the Department about their plans in response to the drought and requested progress on the joint proposal (with the Department of Transport) for learner transport funding.
The Committee was told on the issue of teacher provision for the introduction of African Languages, the majority of the schools are in urban areas hence they do not need a teacher per school, they can utilise an interim teacher who can service the cluster. On the training for sign language and what it entails, the Department has been using experts from Wits University to develop the material for SA Sign Language and the content of the training is informed by what is in the curriculum; and the Department also draws experts from schools, experts from the provincial level and Department level.
It was reported that the Department does continually monitor the impact of the drought and in 2016 they made R52 million available for schooling in the whole country in this regard.
On the shortage of Maths and science teachers, maths and science teachers were prioritised on the Funza Lushaka. The Department was working towards improving the quality of teachers through various programmes, including the implementation of international agreements, such as the one with South Korea and Cuba, to improve the quality of maths and science teachers.
On the proposal for learner transport funding, an evaluation study would be conducted to provide recommendations on what would be an effective way of ensuring an effective programme and services are provided regarding learner transport, with that, the outcome might be a conditional grant or it might not.
The Committee also highlighted a few areas in which the Department had failed to report on but during the engagement committed to monitor in the future, these included a focus on bullying as a safety hazard; failure to provide a comprehensive report on learners with disabilities relating to statics on their access (and lack thereof) to transport; and a breakdown of placed and unplaced disabled learners in the different provinces.
Members identified a number schools in a few provinces that are still in need of adequate infrastructure, sanitation and are still awaiting textbooks.
The Chairperson said she had read an article where the Provincial Department of Education in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) was taken to court, the High Court, on the same issue that would be discussed in the meeting, being Learner Transport. In the court case, Equal Education was taking the Department to court because so many learners are not being taken care of, more so the physically disabled, and taken out of schools.
School readiness of 2018 includes a number of topics. Each year the number of topics concerning school readiness expands, such as registrations, Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSMs) and delivery; but it becomes interesting year after year as new initiatives are introduced and how teachers need to be ready for the year. The issues of modularisation are new topics that are introduced and if protests affect school readiness, those are the type of issues that Members expected the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to brief them on.
Mr Mathanzima Hubert Mweli, Director-General (DG), Department of Basic Education (DBE), said one presentation would be made and the second presentation would expand on what was outlined on the first presentation with regard to the issue of Learner Transport. The first presentation looks at three issues: the readiness of the system; providing national leadership of provincial efforts; and planning for re-opening schools through identifying key strategic areas of focus for the beginning of the year. He invited Ms Tyobeka to start the presentation which would be followed by the learner transport presentation conducted by Mr Mafoko.
School Readiness assessment for 2018 academic year
Ms Palesa Tyobeka, Planning and Delivery Oversight Unit: DBE, said she would speak on the national coherent programme that the DBE together with their provincial colleagues aligned and the approach to school readiness. In terms of the approach to monitoring readiness as of the end of October 2017, the provinces are already doing their readiness assessments. As of the end of October 2017 and November 2017, the DBE will conduct sample readiness assessments ahead of school closures.
In the beginning of the year in 2018, the sector wide readiness for learning and teaching will commence. In the telephonic monitoring, the DBE looks at issues such as whether LTSMs were not delivered and whether teachers are there and whether the schools had toilets. The assessment of readiness focuses on the following key areas that have to be in place in any given year: Admissions and registration, teacher provisioning readiness, LTSM availability, curriculum readiness and minimum infrastructure needs (fencing and usable toilets that provide privacy).
In 2018 critical system priorities will also be assessed. These include readiness for Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL); sign language teaching in special school; as well as Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) 2 implementation.
In addition to school readiness, the presentation would also include issues that the committee would be interested in as well as learner safety. She directed the members to slide number nine of the presentation, which consisted of the timelines for admissions per province. An application period determines the sector plan which is supposed to end by the end of September 2017. Some provinces had their admissions slightly over the application period (September 2017). The DBE has monitored those provinces as they may be experiencing some challenges and the Department is expecting those provinces to have a management plan. In the case those provinces do not close their admissions by September the DBE asks, what is their management plan and is it tangible? The DBE also asks all provinces to have the information on the webpage so that everyone has access to it by September. The DBE is still working with the Free State and Mpumalanga because those provinces had still not loaded their information on the website.
If the DBE states that the final date for admissions is the end of September, they then work with the provinces to produce monthly reports as to how many unplaced learners each province has. With each province there is “placed” and “unplaced” and although all grades are monitored, the critical grades are grade R, grade 1 and grade 8. Those are the major areas that the DBE monitors because they are the key entry points into the system.
When looking at grade 1, Gauteng province receives the most admissions at over 120 000 learners. The hotspots are in Gauteng and the Western Cape with regards to admissions. The challenges that face the DBE is the unplaced learners in grade 1 and grade 8. The common challenge is that when schools are doing very well, parents do not want to apply anywhere else and that causes particular challenges in those schools and particular provinces as well. The issue of those coming from outside who still do not have citizenship and therefore do not have correct papers, also put a lot of pressure on the system.
On the issue of Post provisioning, the Provincial Educational Departments (PEDs) have issued their staff establishments, with the exception of Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). In the same way, when looking at admissions, there are key milestones that the DBE has to track such as the approval of the Post Basket. With KZN, it had not been finalised by the time the presentation was made, yet as of the day before the meeting, processes in KZN were no longer outstanding. Limpopo did not declare a new establishment for 2018.
LTSM has a sector plan; it is a national plan to which provinces are guided by and she confirmed that it was finalised. The sector plan outlines timelines as to when schools should place orders, when PEDs should place orders with publishers and when publishers need to deliver to PED warehouses.
The DBE is committed to universal coverage and has outlined factors that affect universal coverage. One factor is migration, particularly at the start of the year, an influx of learners particularly into Gauteng. Late registrations are another factor, and the issue of retention and retrieval of textbooks, which is an issue the DBE continues to monitor and work on. Ms Tyobeka guided Members to slide 20 of the presentation which is a provincial breakdown of the progress on the LTSM sector plan for 2018. The DBE was slightly worried about the Eastern Cape and the Free State which were still in the process of placing orders.
In relation to workbooks, a total number of 28 282 615 grade R to 9 volume 1 workbooks have been delivered to 23 565 schools. Due to the migration and movement, sometimes when visiting sites, the DBE finds there are children that do not have workbooks yet in terms of the schools themselves, they would have been delivered. The DBE has already started with the printing of volume 2, they are hoping that the delivery of volume 2 will be completed by the end of November 2017. She invited Members to look at the provincial breakdown of the delivery status of the volume 1 workbooks on slide 22 of the presentation. She reported that 99.41 percent of the books were delivered and added that the statistics were based on the projections that schools had provided the DBE for the coming year.
In terms of Braille textbooks, 223 braille textbooks have been adapted into braille. The Braille textbooks are procured by the provinces directly from Pioneer Printers. Braille Printers are being serviced and will be provided to the 22 schools for the blind for use in 2018.
Introduction of African Languages (IIAL)
Dr Mamiki Maboya, Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, DBE, stated that IIAL would be implemented incrementally in target schools in grade 1 in 2018 and subsequent years until grade 12 in 2029. In 2017, 968 schools are implementing the African languages and the total target is 2844 schools by 2018.
The IALL Second Additional Language (SAL) toolkit comprises of big books, conversational posters, an anthology of songs and stories in all 11 languages, lesson plans and an audio compact disk with songs and dialogues. She invited members to turn to slide 31, which documented the distribution of the IIAL toolkits in the nine provinces.
Sign language curriculum
The incremental implementation of the South African Sign Language Curriculum and Assessment Policy (SASL CAPS) commenced in 42 schools for the Deaf in January 2015. In 2017 the SASL CAPS are implemented in the Senior Phase and grade 11 and will be implemented in grade 12 in 2018.
Ms Tyobeka on basic infrastructure, said the 2018 readiness monitoring will focus on mainly two areas, availability of usable toilets and the fencing of schools. The broader issues relating to infrastructure will be managed through responsible branches.
Mr Ramasedi Mafoko, Head of planning at the DBE, on the storm damage in KZN, said a total of 494 schools were affected, 170 schools were affected on the 9 and 10 October and 324 schools were affected on 17 September. The affected schools have been allocated to the Department of Public Works for urgent repairs. Furthermore, mobile classrooms have been provided to affected schools.
He reported that a further 210 fencing projects and 1 356 water and sanitation projects have been prioritised for school readiness for 2018.
Ms Tyobeka on school safety, said the DBE is looking at prioritising fencing to reduce safety challenges, strengthening collaboration with the South African Police Services (SAPS) in high risk areas. The DBE is also addressing implementing the protocol for dealing with incidents of corporal punishment in schools, as well as managing sexual abuse and harassment in schools.
Scholar Transport presentation to Portfolio Committee on Basic Education
Mr Mafoko, on the institutional framework, stated that four provinces were using the DBE to implement the institutional framework and five provinces are using the Department Transport.
He directed Members to slide 14, which documented the number of learners being transported. The number of learners transported has increased slightly from quarter 1 to quarter 2 but there are still learners that are not being transported. KZN has embarked on an intensive audit around the learner numbers, there have been queries around the numbers that have been presented by KZN and they have started the process of that intensive audit. The DBE would report back to the Committee and other structures as soon as the audit is finalised.
The Chairperson interjected and asked Mr Mafoko what that meant, should the Members ignore the number that was currently being presented by KZN?
Mr Mafoko responded that the number presented is the current number that KZN is working with in terms of learners being transported, however, on a number of occasions it has been reported that a lot of learners are not being transported and the DBE does not have an actual quantum of those learners. Furthermore, the province itself did not have the numbers, which is the purpose behind the audit.
On the evaluation of the learner transport programme, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) is leading this exercise and the DBE, the Department of Transport and National Treasury are also partners in the exercise. A technical working group was established, the Terms of Reference were developed and a Service Provider was appointed in October 2017.
In the previous two days, all the departments met with the Service Provider, sampling of schools started taking place. The Service Provider had started with a literature review and in the next two weeks they would be starting with data collection. The data collection includes visiting different schools and different stakeholders that have been identified and interviewing these stakeholders.
Ms C Majeke (UDM) thanked the Chairperson and the DBE for the school readiness report and the manner in which it had been generated. On LTSM, the DBE has set the LTSM sector plan with the provinces in order for the provinces to align with the LTSM sector plan by the DBE, she asked how are section 21 schools informed, especially those found to not use their allocatives accordingly?
While the presentation stated that workbooks would be delivered by the end of November 2017, she asked, what was the 2017 retention and retrieval rate?
On scholar transport, in the Nqutu district (KZN, she understood that schools have been waiting for transport for two years, why is it taking so long for that area to get transport? According to the news she heard on that day, there were about 12 schools that would be addressed in court because they are demanding scholar transport. Why does it have to get to that level and why are children walking by foot to school, because scholar transport is their basic right. Not forgetting the disabled children who are not getting scholar transport in their areas.
Mr I Ollis (DA) stated that he has a cousin who had been teaching at primary school for 27 years who is at a former Model C school had said that the quality of the workbooks in terms of the content is not of a high standard, hence the schools do not use them. He suggested that maybe the DBE can look at the quality next year.
In terms of the introduction of African languages, the question about the teachers in terms of the posts and the proficiency of teachers, are there going to be enough teachers to cover the extra subjects? The issue is that there is the same number of teachers but with extra languages which affects the posts.
He asked what was the” technical occupational pilot”, mentioned on slide 38?
The drought in Western Cape will affect schools, and in other provinces floods are a problem regarding infrastructure. He asked if the DBE is providing any support to the Western Cape. It is fine for now but for the following year, no water at schools, what support is being provided because the DBE needs to devise a plan for that.
The learner transport evaluation technical group was established in 2017, he understood that they did a literature review, it is now November and the progress does not look like much. If all they did was a literature review from January to November that is not a lot of work, a university student can do a literature review in a month, what did they do for the rest of the year? He reiterated that their progress is too slow.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) on transport, said once again there is no mention of transport for learners with disabilities who are in dire need of transport, specifically their transport needs to be adapted. She asked to see a report on how the Department of Transport and the DBE are engaging to adapt the transport for learners with disabilities. The DBE has to come in with their provinces to ensure there is some sort of security in the transport mode, supervision needs to be looked at e.g. An adult or guardian needs to pick them up, she asked for a report on special needs transport?
She also asked for feedback on the transport matter in Mpumalanga in the Mbombela and Nkomazi areas; she wants to know whether or not the transport issue was resolved.
With regard to special needs education in school readiness, applauded the DBE for their presentation because for the first time, they provided some report on special needs, particularly the blind and deaf. It is very costly to develop braille books, and every book that is developed requires a person that is able to see and a blind person to ensure that it is properly copied. She asked if there is a budget available to develop these books or is Pioneer Printers still going to develop the books?
On the braille embosser, is there a budget for the maintenance of these embossers because they are very expensive and are there officials trained to use these machines? 337 braille machines will be provided to schools, she asked if they would be used by learners and if so, 337 machines equate to how many learners? Which provinces have their own printers or is it going to be centralised?
Ms Boshoff expressed concern regarding deaf learners, it was said that training was given to South African Sign Language Curriculum (SASL) teachers, what was the training and what did the training entail?
When looking at a report by DeafSA, in 2015, in the grade 12 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams, there were 13 schools for the deaf, 82 learners enrolled and 54 passed which gave a 50 percent pass rate. But, in 2016, there were 143 learners enrolled for the NSC exams and only 43 passed, giving a 28.67 percent pass rate which is absolutely shocking. Somewhere along the line, something is wrong, the country does not have SASL teachers with the right training. If one compares it with the national pass rate, then it really indicates that they are lacking with the country’s deaf learners. She would like to see a more comprehensive presentation for blind and deaf learners.
On Safety, she asked if the DBE made provision to ensure that schools maintain their fencing because if one goes to rural schools, one sees that the fencing is down and damaged. She wanted to know what the budget is around that? Also on the topic of safety, there are schools in Mpumalanga that have asbestos buildings, which is something she has mentioned some time ago, has something been done about the structures?
On sanitation, at Sidlamafa High school in Mpumalanga, sanitation there is absolutely disgraceful, it is not acceptable, and there is no running water. The school premises are filthy as well, they do have janitors and general workers but they just do not do the work. Has the protocol on the reporting of sexual abuse been finalised or when will it be finalised?
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) on learner transport, slide 14 of the presentation, KZN the target is still quite low, she wanted to know what is being done about it. KZN is sitting at 53 percent in terms of the target compared to other provinces that are striving for a hundred percent. But also the Eastern Cape and North West is relatively low. If a province like Mpumalanga that has infrastructure problems can achieve a target of about one hundred percent of their targets, how come the Eastern Cape and North West are unable to manage their targets?
In Quarter one, in the Eastern Cape 80 427 learners were provided with transport and in Quarter two the number is reduced which is the same thing that happened in Mpumalanga, she asked for clarification on that.
On slide 15, the Free State spent 91.5 percent of budget in Quarter two, she asked what was going to happen on provision for the following two quarters.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi would have liked to see how many learners are being killed on the road and what is being done for that. A while ago she gave Director-General (DG) Mweli a name of a school in Vuwani, and they said that they have not received any textbooks, and have always relied on photocopies. There was also an issue this year where top-up books were not received in the Eastern Cape. She had raised the issue before and raised it to the Human Rights Commission and they said that they have not received anything yet from the Eastern Cape. Yet again, they are sitting with the same problem whereby learners are not receiving textbooks on time, she asked what it is that the DBE will do regarding that matter?
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) said, on the post provision, during the previous week he found out that ages zero to four are on South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) and then the rest come to the DBE, he asked if the DBE is including these children in the post provisioning, if the DBE does, then he knows that there are provinces that do not include them and if the DBE does not, his question is why do they not include them?
On the issue of the rate of retrieval on textbooks last year, how was the rate? If the rate was documented, how did that affect the top-up processes?
When oversights were done, Members found that management plans were lacking in many schools, what is the success now? When speaking of management plans he referred to annual plans, curriculum delivery plans and assessment plans.
He stipulated that there was a strike that was looming on that Friday, a taxi strike, everything will come to a standstill and one of their demands is that they want to be included in the learner transport.
On the issue of modularisation, he had asked before, are parents buying it and the answer was yes. Yet on the presentation on slide 47, the DBE stated that parents are objecting to modularisation. He found in his constituency that parents state that they were not told about modularisation, which he believes is because they do not attend school meetings, he advised the DBE to address the issue now rather than later.
He claimed that under safety a number of issues were covered, yet bullying was left out. The issue of bullying is a major safety hazard, some children are unable to attend school because of it.
In terms of monitoring, he is happy that a number of stakeholders are getting involved. Yet, he was embarrassed on a school visit when the principal told him that he was the fourth stakeholder to come to that school in that week and pointed out that it seems as though stakeholders were not communicating to one another. He requested for the DBE to control the monitoring process, stakeholders cannot all go to a school and disrupt the school four times in a week.
On learner transport, when talking to the Department of Transport, he was still concerned about road worthiness of the scholar transport, are there any plans to add monitoring mechanisms?
He wanted to report on two schools, one is Barberton high school, a dangerous double storey school, and it is cracking. Another school is Red Hill primary school in Mpuluse in Mpumalanga, it has a problem with sanitation and the school is overcrowded.
Mr Mweli responded on the issue of teacher provision. The DBE mapped out the location of all of the schools that require the introduction of African Languages (IIAL), and they found that the majority of them are in urban areas. They will not need a teacher per school, they can utilise an interim teacher who can service the cluster. Some of the schools will be offering it as a second additional language, and they can even use Information and communications technology (ICT). ICT will be used, particularly in the Western Cape.
He expressed appreciation to Ms Boshoff on highlighting special needs learners. On who developed the braille books, three provinces have already started implementing ICT for braille, these are, Limpopo, Gauteng and the Western Cape. They are monitoring those provinces quite closely and that seems to be going very well.
Mr Mweli wanted to show the Members how a braille textbook looks like, hence he circulated braille textbooks so that Members can touch it and see it. On the training for sign language and what it entails, Wits University is an institution of higher education that focuses on SASL. The DBE has been using experts from Wits to form part of a ministerial task team that develops the material for SASL. The content of the training is informed by what is in the curriculum and the DBE also draws experts from schools, experts from the provincial level and DBE level.
On pass rate of deaf learners in 2015, he asked the Chairperson to be afforded the opportunity to understand the factors for poor performance in special needs schools.
The chairperson requested for the DBE to study all the provinces not just deaf leaners in Mpumalanga but all the provinces.
Mr Mweli responded that as part of prioritising special needs learners, the study shall be carried out. Many of these things are not funded by the DBE budget, rather they are part of the equitable share, which is an allocation made to each of the nine provinces which includes the running costs of schools for learners with special needs. What must he acknowledged as a way of confession was that periodically they have been checking which facilities are in need at schools but they should strengthen their monitoring.
He requested Dr Maboya to speak on the learner to machine ratio with regards to braille machines. He added that an outsider called Professor McQueen from Ireland when he looked at some of what the DBE was doing, he was quite impressed because some of things that the DBE was doing with regard to special needs were not even done in his own country. The praise he received was also due to the Committee’s oversight role.
Mr Mweli would go back and check on the schools that Ms Tarabella-Marchesi was referring to. Dr Maboya had informed him that they would be changing the curriculum because of many things, such as new developments and skills for a changing world.
On the retrieval rate on textbooks and how it affects top-up processes, what should be happening is providing top-ups and usually top-up is 15 percent of what would was ordinarily procured. There are instances where schools are extending the curriculum, he would like the details of those schools that Ms Tarabella-Marchesi was referring to. He has experienced schools extending the curriculum without following the formal programme and as a result of that, they would not get books, teachers, and they would not even get laboratories.
On the taxi strike, he did not understand why taxi operators choose this time of the year (exam time) to conduct the strikes. It is only in South Africa, in other countries, they value their children and call their children their future so they postpone such activities for another time. Children have attended school for 12 years and then they get disrupted on the last year.
He agreed with Mr Mnguni that the DBE is not doing well on modularisation when it comes to advocacy and communication. There are instances in Gauteng and Limpopo where there were some differences which indicated that communication was not where it should be. There needs to be some strengthening of policy which states that as the learners progressed in grade 11, there must be a commitment from the parent and the learner which states that the learner would modularise in the subsequent grade.
The Chairperson interjected on the modularisation response, it is not the communication with the parents per se, it is with the understanding within the Department itself. The teachers and the principals do not have an understanding of what is expected of them. Before engaging with the parents, much needs to be done with the Department. Have clear guidelines, people need to be trained as to knowing what is expected of them. Learners and teachers are frustrated, it is just a mess, clean up the Department.
Mr Mweli responded that there are concerns but it is not a “mess”, two provinces cannot be a “mess”. Yet, he accepted the Chairperson’s observation.
The Chairperson withdrew the “mess” part of her statement.
Dr Maboya appreciated the questions that were received. On the issue of the quality of the workbooks, the DBE would look into that.
Regarding the posts for IIAL teachers, in as far as the curriculum, any language at Second Additional Language (SAL) level, they have an allocation of one hour per week. As was indicated, the schools that were targeted are in urban areas.
On the Technical Occupational stream is, they are programmes offered at schools for skills. The programme includes 26 subjects, amongst the 26 subjects there are occupational specific subjects. Such as hairdressing or upholstery which you do not find in mainstream schools.
With regard to the maintenance of the braille machines, that is an area that the DBE will look at. On the training of the teachers of deaf learners and deaf teaching assistants. The training that was reported on, is training on the new curriculum of the SASL, and it is a common practice in the sector that as a new curriculum is introduced, they definitely need to train teachers on that. The DBE ensures that teachers understand the aims and objectives of that curriculum, the assessments on the curriculum and what type of learner they are expected to produce from that curriculum.
She noted the request to cover a more comprehensive report on special needs schools and learners.
Mr Allan Subban, DBE Director: LTSM, on the retention and retrieval of books, reminded Members that retrieval takes place at the end of the year and the top-up takes places from July. Whatever the retrieval rate is at the end of the year will affect the coverage in the beginning of the year. The cyclical nature of textbooks is problematic because if learners do not return the books at the end of the year, it creates shortages at the beginning of the year which is not factored into top-ups unless the provinces are able to buy more than what is required by the school. The rate is stable around 85 percent and as Mr Mweli has mentioned around 15 percent is what provinces factor in around top-ups.
On the quality of workbooks, books are looked at every year to improve the quality of workbooks. The DBE welcomed any comments regarding book quality and requested Mr Ollis to provide him with the contact details of the teacher that complained about the quality of the workbooks. In fact, they look at workbooks every year through inviting comments from different schools, which helps improve the quality of the books.
Braille books present storage issues as normal workbooks can be stacked on top of each other, braille books will be flattened and over the year that braille book will not be used again. Furthermore, the costs to produce braille books is huge and it is a monopoly at this point in time unfortunately.
On braille materials, the DBE is looking at different models, they are looking at ICT. He demonstrated a refreshable braille reader and stated that information could be stored on the device, module information could be accessible on the device and it also types. Unfortunately, there seems to be a battle between those advocating for braille books and those advocating for ICT solutions. The DBE is saying access should be the most important point not just printing braille.
On the school in Vuwani, DBE did an investigation into that matter and they pulled up all the textbook deliveries that had been made to that school. He committed to sharing that information with the Chairperson via email.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) appreciated that the DBE has established a directorate of rural education. Even when the matric results came, she was impressed that there were good results from those previously disadvantaged and remote rural areas, particularly in Limpopo where learners outperformed big city learners. She did not know how the DBE will work around this idea that Gauteng and the Western Cape are the only schooling areas that can provide the best education. She proposes that schools be offered the same allocations, that the same criteria are used and that teachers be taken from the same institutions of higher education, but what is the DBE doing and what is the DBE planning to circumvent this issue.
On the issue of rural incentive, she asked if it is really something that can be enforced into all provinces? On the funding in the process of the migration of learners, how does the DBE facilitate the budget? How can the DBE ensure that the budget per learner, for e.g. when the learner moves from North West to Gauteng it follows the learners so that the Gauteng provincial level does not get overburdened? Even last year, Gauteng reported that they are having to build extra schools, which is very expensive, so how can the burden be reduced for them?
She would have liked to hear about maintenance of schools in the presentation. She recalls a report stating that in KZN, R21 million is required or given for rehabilitation for storm damaged schools. She wanted to check if that R21 million includes the mobile classrooms? Where does the money come from? Is it coming from National Treasury, Provincial Treasury or the DBE?
In certain incidents, if learners do not bring back the books, how does the DBE deal with the shortages? What is the status of those learners that are unplaced, the table in the presentation indicates that some are in grade 1 and others in grade 8 which is a legal risk because the DBE can be taken to court.
Ms Mokoto was concerned about the deadline, if interventions need to be done, is May a reasonable time to act on the challenges identified during the monitoring process? By May schools will be ready to write their June exams, maybe another month, May is too late in the year. On technical occupational schools, she asked is there representivity in those schools with regards to the provinces?
Ms J Basson (ANC) stated that there is a lack of monitoring of the learner on the playground during recess which develops this issue of bullying to escalate. She advises that the DBE develops a monitoring tool that would be uniform for all schools when school readiness is being conducted. These issues like bullying and the retrieval of textbooks that is lacking in schools hamper the DBE’s report to the Auditor General (AG).
She was interested to know why the North West and Western Cape have such a low percentage on LTSM delivery? North West is at 20 percent and the Western Cape is at 29 percent. On sanitation, she noticed the zeros, do they mean sanitation is covered? She noticed that with Limpopo everything has zeros, does that mean Limpopo has the correct number for sanitation?
With the inappropriate school structure, Northern Cape has a low target of 9 percent, she asked what their reason is for this. Particularly because she knows that they have a lot of asbestos schools there.
Ms Basson was concerned by schools in Nkandla, there was a school which has a beautiful building but the building is not used because there is no furniture. Again the Northern Cape has not provided a transport plan, so what is their reason for this? Without a transport plan, she expects a clarification as to why the province has not submitted the transport plan.
She was also concerned by the large number of learners, in her calculation close to 93 000 learners, that are still not accommodated with regard to learner transport. How is it affecting the learners that are in need of the transport?
Are there officials at district and provincial level capacitated to ensure that learner transport is monitored? Are they trained? One finds that these transports are overcrowded with learners and there are no inspectors checking these transports.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) expressed that school readiness is conducted annually, but how are the findings used to inform the preparation for school readiness for the oncoming year. For example, the findings are submitted to the necessary officials but come the new year, nothing has happened.
Towards the closing in mid-term, many schools close a week before which he sees as a challenge. When engaging with the officials on this matter, they do not have answers. He is raising this matter for the second time and he requested serious monitoring on this issue because it affects the time allocated for the year for teaching and learning.
On school maintenance, why are general workers not getting training to conduct these functions? Surely they can attend to minor issues such as broken desks and broken door locks because schools wait for 20 desks to be broken until they call a service provider. Whereas general workers who are already there could fulfil this function plus these general workers do not have work to do because they only do cleaning in the morning and sit the whole day.
He requested clarity on subsidised groups versus non-subsidised groups with regard to learner transport. The policy is said to be assisting learners from grade 1 to 12, this includes learners with disabilities. He has not received a response from the DBE on the special school in Bohlabela and he has been raised this issue before. Each time scholar transport is mentioned, he raises this issue, he does not understand why the DBE is uplifting those who can walk to school and neglect those who cannot walk to school.
The Chairperson stated that the last time they had a meeting on learner transport, there was a proposal where the two departments (the DBE and the Department of Transport) committed to make sure that the allocation given to the provinces makes provisions for this issue, she asked how far have they gone with that, is it promising, have they gone to National Treasury yet?
She was concerned on the issue of IIAL, on slide 29 in the presentation relating to the coverage of IIAL, Western Cape and the Northern Cape show low statistics in 2017 but there is a huge jump in 2018, could that be explained?
On slide 33, it was stated that 11 out of 26 schools are not ready for sign language, what did the DBE mean when indicating that those schools are not ready, is it the schools themselves that are not ready or is it the department?
On the technical occupational subject training for teachers, it was indicated that training would be done in January in provinces, is January not late? January is when schools open, how prepared would the teachers be if training is done in the same month?
In relation to maths and science educators, there is a huge shortage, is the DBE waiting for a large number of newly qualified teachers? What are the hopes to ensure that maths and science teachers is not a problem again?
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi, on placement for the Western Cape and Gauteng, what provision is made for the fact that there is learner migration where learners are moving to both these provinces? And what happens to the budget of the Eastern Cape because learners are moving out of the province. On the topic of learner placement, it would be good to have how many disabled learners are being placed or not being placed as well.
She was concerned about the inconsistency of water and sanitation figures, the annual report had different figures and on that day, different figures were presented in the meeting. It is frustrating and she has asked about that before.
On the ICT device for braille, she asked, do they only cater for one subject or many? Are they battery powered and what is their lifespan?
Mr Mweli, on learner migration from one province to the other, said National Treasury (NT) has resolved the mechanisms of the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) that have been used. The FFC formula has been used at an equitable share, they are now going to use a new funding formula to determine funding in education. That means that data on learner numbers needs to be absolutely accurate, otherwise it will create problems for funding.
On the comment of difference on sanitation, in his view, the figures that were presented are dependent on the situation identified. For instance the figures provided were qualified for the projects identified for school readiness which is different from the projects that have been implemented for the whole year. So if numbers do increase it is because there were issues such as storm damages and other issues that arose and hence they factor those developments in the figures.
Mr Mafoko, on the schools that have been waiting for scholar transport for two years, to preface that and other learner transported related comments, the biggest challenge is the fact that scholar transport is funded by the equitable share by provinces. So a certain amount of money is allocated and whether or not that amount is enough to cover the learner transport in that province is the problem.
On the Chairperson’s question relating to the proposal for learner transport funding, when they gave back feedback on the progress of evaluation, they received a number of inputs and feedback from the portfolio Committee, the Committee on Appropriations and Equal Education in terms of the conditional grant. The DBE presented this to National Treasury and the Presidency, the outcome was that they could not simply institute a conditional grant, they have to be informed by facts which is what this evaluation intends to do. The evaluation study would provide recommendations on what would be an effective way of ensuring an effective programme and that effective services are provided, so the outcome might be a conditional grant or it might not be. The study will provide the DBE with progression on that.
The chairperson asked for time frames on that matter.
Mr Mafoko responded that it is taking long because the evaluation is located in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the procurement service provided is located in that department. The first issue was the funding which took some time and the second issue was finding that service provider to do that evaluation. The service provider was procured in September 2017.
The DBE has made an assessment on all schools that are still asbestos schools and the timelines to deal with those schools. All those schools that are in the infrastructure plan in the 2018/9 term have been provided for infrastructure plans at the provincial level going forward. The DBE will ensure that implementation does take place.
On the question Sidlamafa High school, it is a case that the DBE will follow up.
On why the number of learners are dropping in other provinces, including the Eastern Cape, when it comes to learner transport, it might be a number of reasons, it might be a decline in learner numbers in particular areas or it might be that certain facilities are being offered in certain areas. When you look at developed countries like the Unites States and Britain there is still learner transport, but the ideal is that the number should be reduced, which is the DBE’s ideal.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi stated that it should not be affecting the DBE’s targets.
Mr Mafoko responded that from quarter to quarter, there are fluctuations in terms of targets so what they have requested from provinces is that if they have targets at the beginning of the financial year, they should stick to that.
Mr Mweli stipulated that the desirable situation is for provinces to increase their targets, in which they do but the problem would be if they perform below their target.
Mr Mafoko said that on the number of learners who have passed away on roads, on a quarter to quarter basis the numbers have dropped. At the moment the Department documents fatalities and accidents in subsidised transport what the DBE would be doing going forward, is asking provinces to document fatalities and accidents in non-subsidised transport.
The road worthiness of vehicles is everybody’s responsibility from the parent when the child is picked up from home, the local and provincial traffic officers and even when the vehicle reaches the school it is the responsibility of the school governing body to report on poor vehicles. It is not only the departments and the school governing body’s responsibility it is everyone’s responsibility.
With regard to the R21 million for the rehabilitation of schools, it is not the amount that has been allocated, it was what is required. The DBE does not have that money. It is an act of God, it is something that cannot be predicted, and the DBE cannot predict that a storm of that magnitude would occur. The DBE has had several engagements with National Treasury and the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) on what can be done to deal with issues of emergencies.
On the comment that no transport plan has been factored in the Northern Cape, Mr Mafoko stated that the DBE indicated in the presentation the challenges around that. He believes that the reason why the Northern Cape has resolved the function back to the DBE is because of the result of those challenges.
On overcrowding, in the provision of subsidised transport, when the DBE allocates a route, the route has a particular number of learners and areas that are catered for within that route. Yet, unfortunately what has been picked up is problems with the private transport that is organised by parents, it reverts back to what he mentioned earlier on the need to monitor transport from when learners are picked up at their homes to being dropped off at school. So it is unsubsidised transport that is overcrowding. In the subsidised transport, there are monitoring mechanisms to ensure the service providers do not break the contract.
On clarity on subsidised versus non-subsidised transport, he had already alluded to that but it distinguishes those that are subsidised by the DBE and the Department of Transport and the non-subsidised are private arrangements.
On the issue of maintenance of schools, 20 percent of the Education infrastructure budget from the financial year is allocated to maintenance. The DBE have finalised the guidelines on maintenance, when clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the different parties, schools receive an allocation that is meant for maintenance. Unfortunately, some schools do not use that allocation or use it for other purposes. In the guidelines the DBE does stipulate who is responsible for what, like if a door hinge is broken, the school cannot expect the provincial government to step in.
On sanitation in Limpopo, currently, the DBE has 282 sanitation projects and the province itself has 101 sanitation projects. Hence, there is a lot of activity in Limpopo to address sanitation challenges.
On shortage of furniture, it is a big challenge they are grappling with, for instance currently in Mpumalanga, it has not allocated from their provincial budget the provision of furniture to schools. What they are saying is that schools will get it from their own allocation. The DBE has a committee on learner transport that also reports on a quarterly basis in terms of what progress provinces are making to provide furniture to schools. Unfortunately the uptake for provinces to provide furniture is a bit slow.
Mr Subban, on the drought in the Western Cape, said the DBE does continually monitors the impact of the drought and last year they made R52 million available. It is not only the Western Cape that is affected by the drought, but they continue to monitor the impact of the drought. He clarified that the R52 million was for the whole country not just the Western Cape.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked how much the Western Cape received.
Mr Subban thought the Western Cape got about R12 million.
On the protocol on sexual abuse, it is a document that the DBE is trying to finalise. It is difficult because the legislation is contradictory. For example, the age of sexual consent is now 12 years old, so in the protocol you cannot make new law. You can only clarify to the SGB what the law is. One key thing that the DBE is trying to clarify in terms of sexual abuse and corporal punishment protocols for principals is that they have a legal obligation to report if they become aware of the abuse. Often the leaders of the school want to protect the reputation of the schools so the DBE is working very hard to get this protocol approved.
On the matter of Grade R’s being included in the Post-Provisioning Norm (PPN), technically Grade R teachers will only be formally included in 2018.
He agreed on the lack of focus on bullying, there is a lack of guideline but early next year the DBE can start implementing guidelines.
Ms Tyobeka, on how to lessen the burden on provinces that have become provinces of choice, said the DBE is trying to work with districts to improve the quality of schools. This is also taking place with rural districts who are improving their quality immensely where communities are starting to see their fruits as quality schools. It is something that the DBE is still working on.
On the issue of the question posed by Ms Boshoff on Mbombela, the DBE is working with that area and they are hoping by the end of the week they will have a response for her with regards to progress in Mpumalanga.
Part of their function is monitoring and what was found in Limpopo specifically, in the Capricorn and Sekhukhune area, parents were not on board due to lack of understanding. It was very clear that they really did not understand, so the DBE came to recognise their role.
On whether May is too late in the year, the whole approach to school readiness is a problem solving one, so for now the issues are raised and sent to the appropriate level manager. Not waiting for a report, the DBE attends to the matters on the spot. There are issues that are resolved telephonically. So the May deadline is for issues that are picked up but needed extra time to be resolved.
Dr Maboya said ideally, they had planned to finish the training before the end of the year but unfortunately, the DBE received the list of schools quite late.
On representivity around IIAL, all the provinces are covered so it is representative of all the provinces. On the high number of target in the Western Cape and the Northern Cape for IIAL, those are the targets that the DBE sets based on the number of schools that are not offering any African language. The provinces, probably based on their ICT strength, have given the DBE an indication that they will be able to cover the target with the use of other modalities including the use of ICT.
Th DBE had an inter-provincial IIAL forum on the 31 October 2017, the number of schools that were targeted has actually decreased by 200. The figure seen on the presentation is the old figure, so the number is reduced by 200. The feedback from the IIAL forum was that the Western Cape was saying they were going to phase in 226 new schools in 2018 and the remaining 655 schools would be done in 2019.
The Head of Departments (HODs) have raised concerns around the provision of teachers despite the fact that the DBE raised that there are other modalities that could be used. So she acknowledged that yes indeed, it is a high number for the two provinces, Gauteng and the Western Cape, but the DBE will probably hear the final number at Curriculum Management and Development (CDM).
With regard to Gauteng, the province indicated in the last meeting she had with them that they developed a submission to provide teachers for all 517 targeted schools and that submission has been approved. So Gauteng will be able to meet their target.
In response to the Chairperson’s question on the readiness for sign language, it is the school that indicated that they were not ready.
On the shortage of Maths and science teachers, the DBE prioritised maths and science teachers on the Funza Lushaka. But it is not about the number of teachers, it is about improving the quality of teachers so they have implemented various programmes in place including the implementation of international agreements, such as the one with South Korea and Cuba to improve the quality of maths and science teachers.
Mr Subban said the braille machine is used for all the subjects.
Mr Mweli thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present. The discussion characterises challenges behind concurrent function in particular, chapter 3 of the Constitution.
The Chairperson thanked the DBE for all the responses that were given. Members are being flooded by questions regarding the draft Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill, she requested the DBE to engage the Committee on the bill as soon as possible.
The meeting was adjourned.