Equal Education presented their submission on safety at schools, and focused their presentation on the research that they had conducted on school safety and school violence, which showed that one in five learners were victims of violence each year. It had come before the Committee because it was of the opinion that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was not doing enough to ensure safety in schools. They wanted the Department to follow up on the plans and measures that they implemented, and to make public their findings and reports on progress, if any, so that this could be a mechanism to hold them accountable.
The DBE explained the reasons why school safety was important, as well as the measures that they had put in place. It remained positive that the National School Safety Framework (NSSF) was the best policy to ensure school safety, but agreed that it needed to be better implemented. It had also adopted two protocols – one to deal with incidents of corporal punishment in schools, and the other for the management and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in schools. The DBE said that they were doing their best, but that they needed assistance from other stakeholders to tackle this issue. They also highlighted that as much as physical safety measures were necessary in schools, changing the mind-set of the learners, the community and improving the efficiency of the school’s management was of paramount importance in ensuring and maintaining school safety.
The Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP) Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) focused mainly on how they received funding, and the difficulties this presented. They said that if the government was serious about a skills revolution, then it needed to develop a better strategy on how best to contribute the required funding, and in the relevant financial year. They also outlined their partnership with the DBE and how they assisted the Department with teacher development. They said their main focus was on teaching practitioners, and not learners.
The main concerns of the Committee were that there were many stakeholders involved in ensuring school safety, and emphasised that it was not the responsibility of only the DBE. The different stakeholders needed to communicate and develop relationships between each other, as they were inter-dependent on this issue. The Committee also expressed its concern over the quality of data provided. It said that more detailed and relevant data was needed if the problems of school safety were to be resolved.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson acknowledged that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) had a huge task in having to deal with school safety. The topic was very broad and there were many stakeholders involved. She appreciated the work organisations such as Equal Education did in fighting to ensure school safety, which was still a difficult issue to manage around the world. Instances of violence and the use of corporal punishment, as well as infrastructure issues, all fell under the broad banner of school safety. The Committee was interested in finding solutions, and to hear what plans there were to ensure school safety throughout the country.
School Safety: Equal Education submission
Ms Noncedo Madubedube, Head: Equal of Education (EE), Western Cape, said that different provinces were working on different province-specific campaigns. In Limpopo, they were working on sanitation, proper toilets and water security; in the Western Cape, they were concentrating on school safety at a broader level, involving infrastructure, the learner experience and the teacher experience as well; and in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) the focus was on scholar transport.
All the above aspects addressed the safety of the learner, and that they were conscious of the learner because that was their primary membership base. They were a membership-based organisation, with branches in different provinces, and the mandate for campaigns that run in provinces and in local school environments come from the members directly.
To tackle the issue of school safety, the organisation had looked at how to use the law -- the regulations and policies on school safety already existing -- and how to hold different stakeholders accountable for the different elements that help the school environment remain safe. However, they had been unable to use any litigation strategies to to pressurise the process. The National School Safety Framework (NSSF) and regulations were there, but this was not translating on the ground.
Equal Education had come to the Portfolio Committee to ask that the Heads of Departments (HODs) and school principals should have specific roles in implementing the framework and regulations for school safety measures, such as access control, ensuring violence and drug-free environments, and rules against corporal punishment and against sexual violence. Currently, learners still raised these as issues when EE interviewed them. This meant that an accountability tool was needed to hold HODs and school principals responsible -- and maybe even other stakeholders that interact with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) -- to ensure that school safety was given the necessary attention.
One of EE’s greatest demands was for the DBE to convene an integrated, inter-ministerial committee that would look into these issues and bring in the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Social Development (DSD), if necessary, but a convenient structure was needed. This was because the DBE was always passing on responsibility to the next department, and this did not assist in changing things on the ground. EE wanted to pose questions and also contribute to how one could find solutions to the issue.
Ms Stacey Jacobs, Researcher: Equal Education, said that her focus would be on the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP) and the studies that they had conducted around school safety and school violence. The CJCP had conducted a national school violence study (NSVS) in 2008 and 2012, which explored the prevalence of four specific types of violence amongst secondary school learners occurring within the school grounds (refer to document).
The study showed that one in five learners were victims of violence each year, with the Western Cape and Free State featuring as the provinces with the highest rate. The level of violence reported in the Western Cape schools was consistent with the findings of EE’s 2015 social audit report, which also revealed worrying safety conditions and environments not conducive to teaching and learning.
The Western Cape Education Department had developed a provincial education Safe Schools Programme (SSP) to confront and alleviate school safety issues in the province. This was integral, because intervention by the Provincial Education Department also played a crucial role in alleviating school violence and fostering safe school environments.
Ms Madubedube said that the NSSF had a blanket approach, which was not appropriate because of the way schools were set up in quintiles, and how it geographically impacted on the manner in which school principals were able to implement the safety framework. She gave an example of how a school in Khayelitsha would state that it needed fencing, whereas a school in Hanover Park may need bullet-proof windows, because they experienced high levels of gangsterism.
She added that an inter-ministerial grouping convened by the DBE was important, as it needed political will and accountability measures for the governance aspect of the safe schools programme, together with prevention measures, in order for it to be effective.
Oversight of this Committee would really be appreciated to ensure that things like training, which were said to be provided from district to provincial level, was actually being done, and that public access to the training was available so that they could help in figuring out what was not working, because school safety was still an issue today and their audit had been done in 2015.
The Chairperson commented that she knew that the DBE would touch on some of the things said by EE,.
Department of Basic Education presentation
Dr Patricia Watson, Chief Director (CD): Social Inclusion and Partnerships in Education, DBE, gave an overview which revealed the reasons why safety in schools was required, as well as to what informed the Department’s approach to school safety.
She said that overall there had been a decline in the percentage of learners who experienced any form of violence, corporal punishment or verbal abuse. The highest prevalence was found in the Eastern Cape and in KZN, and the lowest prevalence was found in Gauteng and in the Western Cape.
Included in the violence was bullying. She explained that bullying was a pattern of events and not an isolated event, involving a real or perceived imbalance of power. She gave details of the Trends in Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015 report (refer to document), and said that the other form of violence that was undermining school performance was that of sexual abuse and harassment.
The prevalence of substance abuse, crime and violence in schools was a reflection of the environment the school was in. The last reliable data that the DBE had on this issue was from the national school violence survey of 2012 (refer to document). In response to these issues, the Department had established an inter-departmental anti-gang strategy.
Dr Watson mentioned the school safety priorities that were supposed to be implemented to assist in reducing the issues outlined. The short term priorities for 2018/19 were essentially that all schools should collectively commit to prevent bullying, eliminate sexual abuse and harassment, and deal with incidents of corporal punishment. She described what means had been put in place to ensure that these priorities were addressed (refer to document).
The Minister of Basic Education had approved of two protocols – the protocol to deal with incidents of corporal punishment in schools, and the protocol for the management and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in schools (refer to document).
The school principals and general school leadership were the main custodians for creating and maintaining safe, inclusive and supportive schools. She quoted the Good Schools Report on how school leadership could ensure safe and inclusive schools.
The Chairperson asked what could be done to ensure that all that had been proposed was effectively implemented and followed by schools and their management.
Dr Watson replied it was good and well to present what needed to be done, but what was important was how to make sure that schools adhered to what had been agreed upon. She gave the example of the NSSF, saying that that it was the framework that had been agreed upon, but if there was no adherence to it then they would continue to sit and talk about the same thing.
She recalled a campaign called the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) which had been developed by the DBE to make sure that everyone was on board by going out to inform the schools and the public of the commitments. She asked what had happened to that campaign. These were the things they should be talking about to ensure that their great ideas were put into practice.
Mr I Ollis (DA) said that the EE had given data reporting that the Western Cape had one the highest rates of school violence, whereas page 5 of the DBE’s presentation told a different story. The data was conflicting and horrendous, and that he did not know how they would deal with this problem if they could not even get the statistics right.
He and his colleague, Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA), had been travelling the country in the past three months, driving this issue of school safety; and what they had seen on the ground was not reflected in the statistics. They had gone to Eldorado Park to meet with the police, due to the amount of drugs and violence in schools there, but this was not reflected in the statistics. Instead, Gauteng was represented as the safest place to send your children to school. He commented that there was not a single drug-free street in Eldorado Park. This was a colossal problem, because the drugs were infiltrating the schools -- there was a drug problem in every single high school in Eldorado Park. He reiterated that this was not reflected in the data, but when they had sat with the SAPS team there, they had been given a blow by blow account of the drug problems in that area.
The statistics on gangsterism were also incorrect, because Limpopo was not included, whereas there had been children dying due to gangsterism there. Gangsterism was rife in that area, and he gave an account of a school they visited, just outside of Tzaneen, where a child had been stabbed. Every child was involved and it was partly because they were bored -- there were no extra-mural activities, libraries, sports activities, cinemas etc, in those rural areas of Limpopo -- so the children found things to do by getting involved in gangs. The list of children who had been stabbed and/or killed in Limpopo, published by the newspapers, was a long one. He described an incident of a gang appearing at the school gates and stabbing a child, and yet Limpopo was not reflected in the data as one of the provinces with a gangsterism problem.
His main issue was that the data was not accurate, but he was not blaming any particular department because he understood that gathering data could be difficult. Sometimes the police did not want to give access to their reports because they did not want to people to think that they were not doing their job. The data provided was at times very broad, so that one might not actually know what exactly was happening in a particular area because one did not have the specific detail of exactly where the problem was. The data problem was a problem not only for the Department, but for the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and well-meaning politicians who had anecdotal evidence. He suggested that the Committee needed to demand that SAPS, Stats SA and other research bodies that were paid for by taxpayers, should at least supply the Education Department with very detailed statistics of what was going on.
Another issue that he and his colleague had noticed was that the departments were not talking to each other, and that they had had press releases and sent out a petition on this. He asked EE what solution they had to deal with sexual violence on school property, because when they had met with the SA Council of Educators (SACE), the SAPS, the Department of Social Development and people from the Department of Justice, they had found out that these departments did not even talk to each other. SACE had even admitted that they had not once been able to get accurate data (names and details) from the Department of Justice on people who had committed sexual crimes, so that they (SACE) could use that data to vet applicants who wanted to become educators. He expressed his disbelief that governmental departments did not communicate or have relationships so that they could have access to the necessary data in the relevant departments. He suggested that this be fixed, and that SACE must have permanent access to the necessary data so that they could effectively vet applicants who wanted to be teachers, to prevent having convicted rapists teach children.
The other issue was that SACE was committed to vetting new applicants who wanted to be educators and were committed to removing a person from Personnel Administration System (Persal) if there was a conviction etc. Once SACE had access to the Child Protection Register and the Sexual Offences Register -- which they did not yet have -- they must commit to vetting the already existing educators, as there could be current educators who had previously committed sexual offences and might commit that crime again. Therefore SACE needed to change their policy to vet every single teacher, new and old, and they should not be allowed to on school property if they had committed crimes.
He also agreed with the DBE’s notion that violence escalated when the teacher was not in the classroom, but that they needed to find a way to drastically reduce the opportunity for learners, in particular, and other members of the public as well, from getting on to school property with weapons and drugs. He understood that it might be costly, but it was necessary. Although the DBE had said that violence was not increasing, they should not be comfortable in it not growing, as their aim should be to ensure that it decreased.
Ms J Basson (ANC) said that these were burning issues, for both the Department and the community. A Safety Schools Framework had been introduced by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in schools throughout all provinces. That had been a good programme, and she enquired whether it was still operational. She said the Education Department always developed good programmes, such as “Adopt a Cop,” where the police personnel were visible on the school grounds. She asked whether that programme was still active also.
Across all sectors, it seems like community and parent involvement was limited, and she asked the Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP) Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) representative how to ensure that the community understood that school safety was a societal issue, and involved them. She then referred to schools which were built 500m from taverns, and wanted to know how that issue would be solved -- which would close, the tavern or the school? She said that the Department failed to do research on the surroundings of an area before they built a school.
Among all the measures that the Department had mentioned, she had not heard anything about situations where the educator was the victim of a crime. What was to be done in such circumstances, to ensure that the educators were protected?
What measures had to be put in place to screen NGOs that were working with the children? She said the basis of this question was due to a senior member of EE who had been accused of sexual harassment. She questioned the safety of the children in the hands of EE.
She asked how many provinces EE worked in, and why they were not working throughout the country.
Mr D Khosa (ANC) said the DBE presentation indicated it had more challenges than solutions, and where solutions were there, they were not practical. He cited an example about the partnership with Justice, SAPS and Sports, saying that the presentation was biased towards ex-Model C schools and did not reflect much on schools in deep rural areas. In most rural areas one would find that there was one police station which was under-resourced, in an area of about 90 schools. Thus programmes such as “adopt a cop” were not practical, because the police stations were mostly satellites and there was not enough police personnel.
DBE had said in their presentation that bullying issues were more prevalent in non-fee-paying schools, and he was not sure whether or not they were suggesting that all schools should be fee-paying in order to reduce bullying and crime.
Regarding taverns located near schools; he said that the sectors that were partnering with DBE, such as Justice and SAPS, should assist in this regard.
He asked EE about their membership, and why they were in only five provinces.
Ms Marchesi said that it had already been mentioned that the issue of safety in schools was cross-cutting and that there were different departments that were supposed to be assisting the DBE. It could not be only the DBE’s responsibility, and other departments needed to pull their weight.
She had been shocked to find out recently that SACE was only about to start asking educators to write affidavits as to whether they had committed any sexual offence(s), and that was going to be applicable only in January. She thought that sexual violence would have been the EE’s and DBE’s number one priority.
Some of the demands of the EE were unrealistic, and they had put all the responsibility on DBE, whereas they needed to look at how to push other departments, such as SAPS, to pull their weight. There should be specialised narcotics training for SAPS to be able to deal with the issue of drug abuse, for instance. She did not see EE hitting hard on other departments, and there needed to be visible police on school grounds. It should be ensured that SAPS was well resource and trained.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) said the EE’s work was important in assisting the government and also in providing a different perspective on how to solve the issues. She asked what the finding of EE’s empirical research had been, and whether they had provided the DBE and other departments with that information so that they were able to take action. The issue of safety affected many departments, and should be raised at a higher governmental level.
What loopholes had EE identified in what the Department still had to do to try and change the situation?
She commended the Department on the protocols and asked when there would be a review of everything that they planned to implement. What difficulties had they faced in implementing their plans on the ground? The safety training of the DBE did not seem to involve the learners -- at what stage would they be included, particularly with buy-ins and awareness? She agreed that the safety of educators had not been considered, and whether or not the Department had considered self-defence as an additional measure. The next time the Committee met with the DBE, it needed to speak about its capacity and what it needed. There had to be more accurate and detailed data to assist the Committee to monitor progress.
The Chairperson said she pitied the DBE because they could never operate alone, and that when things happened to learners, even if they were not on the school property, the DBE got blamed. School safety was very complicated, and she agreed that educators needed to be screened and that everything should be done to ensure safety in the actual school. However, they needed to build relationships with other departments, such as transport, to ensure safe scholar transport.
More iimbizos were necessary, to sit with all the role-players and identify their roles. School safety was a national crisis, and the presentations needed to include their contributions nationally, as many sectors wanted to get involved.
Regarding drugs and violence, things were becoming more sophisticated as new drugs were coming every day, and this was a huge challenge for the DBE, which had to be updated and vigilant. The issue of cyber bullying was becoming viral, even in the rural areas. She was happy about the anti-bullying campaign.
Ms Madubedube said EE was a young organisation. They were ten years old and had identified the problem of growing too quickly, which was why they were not represented throughout the country. Capacity was also an issue because they employed young people and they would need money for infrastructure to build up centres in other provinces. They had a legal branch which was able to take up cases in other provinces. They had provincial and national campaigns.
She said that three of their heads had resigned due to sexual harassment claims, and internal investigations were taking place.
They had an open email where the Committee, or any other person, could email and enquire about anything that they needed addressed. They ran content and training around gender, power and consent, and were now in the process of reviewing such training. They also ran local campaigns to develop new ideas. The people who were dealing directly with the learners had been trained, and there was also a disciplinary committee if issues of sexual misconduct and general misconduct did arise.
Ms Jacobs said that she agreed that the data needs to be more detailed, and said that they had used data from the National School Violence Study conducted in 2012, which focused mainly on secondary school learners. The data used by the DBE seemed to be broader.
The NSSF also wanted to make regulations regarding access to schools, and they had asked the DBE to provide feedback on the measures that had been implemented. There may be a lack of resources to implement safety measures at schools, and they needed to know how the Department was assisting in that regard.
Regarding their solution for dealing with sexual violence at schools, they agreed with the DBE’s protocols and had asked it to explain their progress in implementing them. Having access to such information would assist EE in being able to hold the Department accountable.
Their audit report had been done in 2015 and had outlined their key findings (refer to document); and these had been given to the Department. EE encouraged the DBE and other departments to provide feedback on the work of the NSSF in order to know where and how to contribute.
Dr Granville Whittle, DDG: Educational Enrichment Services, DBE, said that the colleague from EE had clarified the issue of the statistics. He referred to the fact that DBE could not tackle the issue of school safety on its own. The DBE had worked very hard to reach out to other departments, SACE in particular.
Another challenge was the effectiveness of the registers, in that when a person committed an offence, it was not reported and therefore one could not screen that person. In certain circumstances, SACE blocked the person but then the person would show up in the independent school sector. These were the kinds of loopholes in the system that needed to be fixed.
He said that when one was accused of sexually violating a child, one must be immediately removed from the system and be criminally charged. There were too many instances where that was not happening, such as in circumstances where a teacher gets into a “relationship” with a student and the student gets pregnant -- the student gets moved to another school, the teacher is asked to resign and move to another school, but is never reported. The DBE was going around the country, talking about labour relations and what the Department was implementing now was that if cases such as that occurred and the school principal knew about it and did not report it, then he or she would also be charged.
The protocols spelt out the responsibilities of the various stakeholders. The school principals in particular were specifically provided for.
He said it was true about what was said about SAPS in rural areas. They were understaffed and under-resourced and may be too far away. He gave an example of a school shooting in Texas, and said that certain security measures such as metal detectors, search and seize systems etc., may not be helpful and at some point people’s mind-sets needed to be changed. One of the areas that they needed to do more about was developing extra-curricular activities.
He said the issue of drug abuse was more prevalent in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
Mr Ollis interrupted to say that the reason other provinces did not appear on the statistics was because the drug abuse was not reported, not because it was not there. The first time it got reported was when a child was stabbed or died. There was underreporting of gansterism in the statistics. There was no formal mechanism in the rural areas to find out how many children were involved in gangs in Limpopo.
Dr Whittle said one of the ways in which they collected data was to do surveys, but the difficulty with surveys was that they were expensive, so they had to source the money to conduct national surveys in order to provide the detail that was needed in the statistics.
The Chairperson said that the point that needed to be driven home was that, whatever intervention there is, it needed to be implemented throughout the nation and not just in the provinces reported to have the highest prevalence of such crimes.
Dr Whittle agreed with the Chairperson, but said that school violence was often linked to where the school was located. If there were high crime levels in an area, this was bound to be reflected in the schools. It was not necessarily about putting up physical security measures, as that may not decrease school violence. What was necessary was to work systematically with the learners and the community and other stakeholders such as EE. The National Department had created a work group on school safety that involved civil society organisations, SAPS, the Human Rights Commission, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), SACE and others. Part of the reason for creating this group was to acknowledge that the DBE could not handle this issue on its own.
There was a lot more that had to done in working together to find solutions, as well as implementing them. The NSSF was still the best policy to deal with this issue.
He concluded that the DBE’s focus had been to fix the management of the schools and to train principals, because if one had a good and efficient principal, the school would operate properly regardless of the environment that it was in.
Mr Paseka Njobe, Director: School Safety, DBE, said that a conference had been organised where a review was set to take place, to check on progress over the last five years. The conference would also bring all the involved stakeholders under one roof to decide on the way forward.
The Chairperson commented that the conference would save them time. Instead of organising an iimbizo, this could be the platform. She promised that the Portfolio Committee would be doing a follow up and keep having the meetings with them to monitor progress.
Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP) SETA: Presentation
Ms Nombulelo Nxesi, Chief Executive Officer: ETDP Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) said the previous presentations had been an eye-opener on how they could improve the relations with other stakeholders to ensure a holistic approach in improving teacher and learner development.
The ETDP SETA was one of the 21 SETAs, and that their focus was education (formal and informal), starting from early childhood development (ECD) until higher education and training. Their scope was much broader compared to other SETAs. It was governed by the Skills Development Act, the Skills Levy Act and quite a number of other Acts, but those two were critical. The revenue of SETAs was collected from the levies paid by employers, which were collected via the SA Revenue Service (SARS). Government departments did not pay levies, but made contributions directly to the SETAs. This difference was crucial.
She said that part of their constituencies were the government departments -- Higher Education and Training, the DBE, and the nine provincial departments of education. In addition there were the universities, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, NGOs etc. She said that her focus was on the partnership with DBE at the national and provincial levels.
There was a perception that SETAs had a lot of money, and she would explain how all of that money was spent. She outlined the relevant provisions of the Skills Development Levies Act. Essentially, if employers did not pay their levies (1% of their salary bill if it exceeded R500 000), then SETAs would not have money. The SETA line department (DoE) contributed 10% of the salary budget as an administration contribution to the SETA, but the DoE and PED’s contribution had subsequently been increased to 30% through a Cabinet memorandum. Based on this increase, the SETA had taken a strategic decision to absorb one-third of the 30% as administration, and to plough back two-thirds of the 30% to the DoEs to be used to address their skills needs. They contributed directly to the SETAs, and this may pose a challenge as to when the money would come in.
She outlined what contributions had been made (refer to document) and said that what it showed was that government departments gave it money when they could, some even at the end of the financial year, despite the fact that SETAs were supposed to have annual working plans.
They have engaged the departments and had created relationships, but provinces did not give, as they claimed they did not have the money. That was the biggest challenge they faced -- the contributions were sporadic and may be less than the required 30%. It was a challenge, because teacher development was necessary. If the contributions made were 30% consistently, then the SETA would have much more revenue to support government departments on teacher development programmes.
She said that their focus was not on learners, their focus was on practitioners and mainly on teacher development. Nationally they were running a career development programme. They had been supporting the Department in terms of teacher development programmes, and had partnered with various sectors to assist.
Their role was to ensure that teachers were capacitated from ECD to higher learning. Quite a lot of educators had been placed in Grade R, with a diploma qualification. However, the challenge with Grade R was that educators who were pushing to be qualified were short of a year of their B Ed. As a Grade R teacher, one was not allowed to teach Grade One because they needed a B Ed qualification. The salary of ECD and Grade R practitioners was not enticing, as most were stipends.
The method of pedagogy needed to be relevant, and teachers had to be prepared to adjust to the current method.
The Chairperson commented that the Committee always asked what type of teacher was needed and what was required to ensure that teachers were equipped with the necessary skills to meet the changing methods of pedagogy, etc.
Mr Khosa asked what the relationship with SACE was, if it existed. He also asked how much time was used to capacitate and train teachers. After engaging with the practitioners, what level of progress had been observed since commencement of the programme.
Ms Basson wanted to know how the SETA worked with SACE, since their focus was also to develop teachers, even management at schools. Who did they report to, and in which districts did they operate? This was necessary for monitoring purposes. Did they focus on specific areas of career development?
Ms Marchesi said that the role of the SETA and SACE was confusing. It was difficult to grasp that a department/entity was depending on another department for funding. The departments had competing priorities, and teacher development was a crucial matter. She was disappointed to learn that they were working with a small and ad hoc budget. She asked what suggestions the SETA had to solve their financial constraints challenges.
The Chairperson also noted the challenge of funding, and asked how the ETDP SETA managed with that when it came to planning. She said that SACE was not doing any training, so maybe the relationship could be from the programmes that they run, but there was no relationship with SACE. SACE had their own mandate and it was not training. She also asked what National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level the practitioners needed to be on, to be considered fully qualified.
Ms Nxesi said that in regard to funding, there was no challenge with other employers and entities which were non-governmental, because they paid. The issue was with Government entities and if the government was serious about the skills revolution, they needed to reconsider their contribution to the skills development cohort. She admitted that its funding was ad hoc, and said the solution would be putting pressure on Government to pay the funds.
They planned jointly with the Department, but money was usually not available, therefore the targets set were not met within the financial year. What they did was to use the other funds that they got to continue with teacher development as it could not wait. If more money was available, then more could be done.
SETAs did not do the training, they facilitated the training. Their role was to monitor the service providers and ensure that they complied, and that the curriculum and qualifications were in place. SACE was a council for educators that looked at ethics, SETA was broader, and they were an authority. The relationship was that they were working together, as ethical conduct and the training could not be separated. Due to the fact that levies were paid to the SETA, that gave them a funding authority. Their role was more on the education and training of teachers, whereas SACE was more on the professional conduct of teachers.
The time to develop teachers varied, because the programmes were different. Critical skills programmes, where they added to the qualifications, were short term. The timespan for the programmes varied, depending on the institution.
She said that they reported to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), but they felt the need to report to the DBE. as the DBE decided on the programme, and their main function involved the quality of the programmes.
Regarding career development, she said that it was vast and the focus of operations was in the rural areas.
There was no relationship between ECD qualification and the Grade R qualification requiring a B Ed. It was the DHET that determined the qualification, assuming it was in consultation with the DBE. There was no salary as an ECD practitioner, and once one got ECD level 4, one did that within a period of twelve months. To get a diploma was an additional 24 months. However, they did not qualify to teach Grade R, although it was the equivalent of a diploma.
The ECD level 5 diploma was not recognised, and many practitioners in rural areas had that diploma. They had been trained but could not get into Grade R. Those in Grade R were unable to get into Grade One, as they required a B Ed qualification which may take an additional eight years to obtain, studying part time. The issues of articulation between ECD, TVET colleges, the DHET etc, were the biggest challenges.
The Chairperson said that the issues of articulation need to be addressed with the DHET.
The meeting was adjourned.