The Department on Basic Education (DBE) met with the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education to present itas fourth quarterly report for the 2017/2018 financial year. DBE reflected on the fourth quarter outputs achieved in comparison to the planned targets of the pre-determined objectives for the year; as well as the Department’s expenditures.
The major highlights as indicated by the Department were as follows:
The National Senior Certificate class of 2017 saw a pass rate of 75.1%, an improvement from the previous year. As of April 2018 the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) budget vote 14 has been operational after being finalised and tabled in February. The Department succeeded in printing and distributing over 58 million workbooks for Grade R to 9 learners. In addition, more than 15 000 Funza Lushaka bursaries have been awarded to students for Initial Teacher Education.
The Department discussed its achieved targets in accordance to the objectives of each of its programmes. The Members all agreed that the DBE had had a successful year. However, the Members shared similar concerns for the under spending on crucial grants that affect the most vulnerable of learners.
Members noted the improved matric results in the rural areas, but wanted to know why urban areas were regressing. The Committee sought clarity on the programmes of the DBE, such as the modernisation of the LURIT system as well as the pathway of improvement of the facilities and education of the teachers. DBE stressed the importance of ensuring child safety, through different multiple means. Overall the DBE and the Portfolio Committee agreed that the successes outweighed the downfalls and the Department aimed to complete all unachieved targets in the next financial year.
The Chairperson explained that the Portfolio Committee would continue to motivate for an oversight visit to the Free State province which has been turned down. One of the main intentions was to visit schools for learners with disabilities, and to assess how preparations for exams where proceeding.
Mr Hubert Mweli, Director-General, DBE, gave apologies for the absence of the Minister and Deputy Minister. He said his team would be presenting the fourth quarterly report, keeping in mind that this final report would also be based on what was achieved in the first three quarters of the 201718 year and the Annual Performance Plan which had been presented prior. The first part of the presentation would cover the performance indicators and targets and the second part would cover the financial aspects of the report. He said that this year the Department had achieved better results than last year.
Ms Nthabaleng Montsho, Director: Strategy Planning Unit, DBE, touched on some of the major highlights:
-The National Senior Certificate (NSC) class of 2017 achieved a pass rate of 75.1%, an improvement from 72.5% in 2016
-15 134 Funza Lushaka bursaries where awarded to students for Initial Teacher Education
-School Readiness Oversight and Monitoring visits Programme was rolled out at the beginning of the academic year
Ms Montsho focused on the performance of matriculants in rural provinces. The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo achieved an improvement of 5.7%, 6.4% and 3.1% respectively; with a national overall improvement rate of 2.6%.
Programme 1: Administration
Ms Montsho said that the purpose of this programme was to manage the Department and provide strategic and administrative support services.
Within the DBE 10 appointments were made, including the post of the Chief Director of Partnerships which had been finalised in April. No new disciplinary cases were lodged for the fourth quarter. There were two grievances lodged in March and those would be finalised in the quarter.
She said that the BELA Bill received more than 5 000 submissions from the general public and education stakeholders. A task team comprised of representatives from the provincial education departments had already started on the process of perusing the comments and consolidating the Bill.
Programme 2: Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring
The purpose of this programme was to develop curriculum and assessment policies, and to monitor and support their implementation.
For the academic year of 2018, DBE printed and distributed a total of 58 285 270 workbooks, for students in Grades R to 9, to 23 565 public schools. The Draft Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Strategy had been finalised and was awaiting approval. The framework for teaching mathematics has been completed, and aims to develop a common approach to the teaching of the subject throughout South Africa.
Ms Montsho said that the Rural Education Policy aimed at improving access to rural schooling and the quality of education in schools in rural areas has been gazetted for public comments. A total of 2 083 teachers in multi-grade teaching and on the Multi-grade Toolkit were trained through the Teacher Union collaboration. The Rural Assistant Project was reconfigured to target three provinces namely, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo. Unemployed youth will be recruited to serve as assistant teachers in rural schools – 8 000 copies of the Multi-grade Toolkit had been printed and distributed; this toolkit covers Foundation, Intermediate and Senior phases on the subjects: English First Additional Language (EFAL), Home Language, Life Skills, Mathematics, Social Sciences and Creative Arts.
With regards to curriculum innovation and eLearning, a total of 850 schools and teachers centres were provided with Broadcast. A total of 152 offline e-Library Information Communications Technology (ICT) Units have been provided and 300 schools have been connected through the Universal Services and Access Obligation initiative.
A total of 39 951 participants registered for the P.L.A.Y on-line training course, of which 24 555 have completed the course. The Early Childhood Development (ECD) Human Resource Development Strategy was developed and has been circulated for inputs. In terms of inclusive education, a ministerial task team was established to oversee the implementation of the Three Stream Model and the technical vocational subjects will be examined at the NSC in 2018. All PEDs have appointed and trained transversal outreach teams and have begun collecting data from the 320 targeted care centres. Thus far 220 of the 320 care centres with an enrolment of 8 124 children have been audited. The National Catalogue for South African Sign Language (SASL) Grade 4-12 was released in January 2018. Circular S1 of 2018 on the prescribed SASL literature text for the FET phase was released in February 2018 and the first NSC for SASL is being administered in 2018. A final Policy for Home Education has incorporated progressive comment and is being prepared for tabling and for promulgation.
She said that, with regards to FET, three writing sessions were conducted to develop the Business Studies Mind the Gap Study Guide (17-21 January 2018; 1-4 March 2018 and 16-20 March 2018).
Ms Montsho referred to the Second Chance Matric Programme. She stated that Revision Booklets of the 11 Home Languages had been developed for implementation in 2018/19. There has been continuous monitoring of face-to-face classes for the supplementary examinations in Western Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng to ensure effective implementation. The Department printed 900 mathematics textbooks, 900 physical science textbooks, 56 400 Mind the Gap for eight non-language subjects, 51 700 question papers and memoranda booklets for the 11 non-languages and 5 600 for 10 000 11 home languages, 51 700 Revision booklets for the 11 non-languages as well as tips for learners and distributed to provinces.
The Department has not achieved its goal with regards to the number of mathematics training sessions monitored. During the fourth quarter, the Western Cape and North West, the two provinces which adopted the Block Sessions to rollout could not be visited as the sessions were cancelled the sessions which were set to happen in this quarter, the Department redirected its focus and financial resources to conduct training workshops for technical mathematics and technical science due to poor performance on the subjects.
Programme 3: Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development
Ms Montsho explained that the purpose of this programme was to promote quality teaching and institutional performance through the effective supply, development and utilisation of human resources.
She said that 3 895 (preliminary figure) young and qualified educators were appointed in the posts in Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) of which 599 were permanent and 3 141 were temporary, and 141 were substitute/relief appointments.
There were 38 queries with regards to labour relations issues received and all were attended to and finalised. Those that were found to be more relevant to the provincial administration were referred to the relevant employers for action. She said that letters were sent to the Director-Generals of the Department of Social Development and Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, including the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Council for Educators (SACE) regarding the implementation and/or utilisation of the National Child Protection Register and the National Register for Sex Offenders.
Ms Montsho stated that 15,134 Funza Lushaka bursaries have been awarded to students for initial teacher education by 31 March 2018.
A total of 2 000 schools were surveyed; 1 720 (86%) of schools were found to have required management documents to guide the management of the school; 280 (14%) of the surveyed schools indicated a need for extra support on development and implementation of required standards of school management. The survey on the functionality of School Governing Bodies (SGBs) was completed with 2 000 survey schools captured and analysed; 1937 (96.84%) of the surveyed schools were found to be having functional SGBs.
She continued to say that 700 FET mathematics and sciences Heads of Departments (HODs) were trained on curriculum management, with the goal of promoting oversight, support and monitoring at school level. An impact study on teacher development programmes was completed, this managed to asses teachers on EFAL, mathematics and physical sciences, though this failed to assess teachers in accounting due to lack of service providers
Programme 4: Planning, Information and Assessment
Ms Montsho explained that the purpose of this programme was to promote quality and effective service delivery in the basic education system through planning, implementation and assessment.
She said that a total of 179 question papers were set and 157 internally moderated. A total of 17 Practical Assessment Tasks (PATs) for 2018 Grade 12 were developed and handed to the PEDs. Test items per term were completed for Grades 3, 6 and 9 for Language and Mathematics. Term diagnostic testlets were produced that are ready for versioning.
A Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) Field Trial (Pilot Study) was conducted on a sample of 20 schools and 20 teachers within the school in the target grades in all the provinces.
Educational Management Information Systems (EMIS) Data Verification Audit in 9 Provincial Education Departments and in approximately 90 schools conducted and completed. A total of 11 942 747 learners uploaded to LURITS from 25 189 schools with 498 740 educators for 2017.
She said that the DBE finalised appointment of the 10 Cuban Specialists who commenced work supporting the Curriculum Branch in January. An additional four Cuban Specialists were supporting the Eastern Cape Department. The DBE also concluded negotiations and finalised drafting of Memorandum of Understanding with the governments of France, Turkey, Zimbabwe and Angola. The concluded MoUs cover various areas of work such as curriculum matters; Mathematics, Science and Technology; and Teacher Development.
With regards to the Presidential hotline, the average resolution rate for the last quarter was 99.66%. This is an improvement from 99.63% in the third quarter. Eight cases were resolved and only one was still outstanding. The Provincial Education Departments were consistent in ensuring that they exceed the 90% benchmark set by the Presidency. KwaZulu-Natal was the only province that did not reach the benchmark. It resolved 79.52% of the cases.
She said that the Department has made a proposal to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to consider conducting the 2019 national elections either on a Friday or during school holidays in order to minimise the loss of teaching and learning time.
The National Education Evaluation and Development Unit team guided the principals of underperforming school show to incorporate best practices from the ‘Schools that Work 2’ study as part of the school improvement planning cycle
Programme 5: Educational Enrichment Services
Ms Montsho explained that the purpose of this programme was to develop policies and programmes to improve the quality of learning in schools. A total of 72 schools and 25 districts in seven provinces were visited. The purpose of the visit was to monitor and support schools and districts on the implementation of the National School Nutrition programme. A total of 6.1 million learners were de-wormed in the 2017/18 financial year.
Three provincial advocacy workshops were conducted in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape to support the HIV and TB Policy implementation and to discuss the Learner Pregnancy Policy.
Ms Montsho said that school safety has developed and distributed to all districts and schools, the protocol dealt with Incidences of Corporal Punishment and e-Safety Guidelines. The protocol essentially highlighted the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools and provides clear guidance to provinces, districts and schools on how to address issues of ill-discipline by learners. It also promoted alternatives to corporal punishment through Positive behaviour Intervention Support (PBIS) programmes.
Ms Ntsetsa Molalekoa, CFO, DBE, stated the total adjusted appropriation budget of the Department for the 2017/18 financial year amounted to R22 994 billion. She said that 82% of the budget was allocated to transfer payments as follows:
-Conditional Grants: R17 576 billion
-Transfers to Public Entities: R134 760 million
-Other Transfers: R1 225 billion
The remainder of the budget was allocated to the following:
-Compensation of Employees: R423 305 million
-Examiners and Moderators: R15 458 million
-Earmarked Funds: R1 120 billion
-Office Accommodation: R184 639 million
-Specifically and Exclusively Appropriated: R1 758 billion
-Departmental Operations: R257 558 million
-Departmental Projects: R298 736 million (inclusive of Kha Ri Gude and National Assessment)
She stated that the total actual expenditure of the Department in the 2017/18 financial year amounted to R22 932 billion.
Ms Molalekoa explained the deviations as such:
The remaining budget allocation on this programme was due to Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy project, after investigations were conducted on eligible learners in the campaign. Payment for stipend for volunteers reduced drastically and savings were realised.
Funds were withheld for Learners with Profound Intellectual Disability Conditional Grant to the Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Western Cape provinces due to low spending. The provinces were requested to submit commitments for rollover request. Only the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Western Cape provinces submitted the commitments and R3 048 million was requested to be rolled over to the 2018/19 financial year. The Department awaits National Treasury approval.
The Second Chance project realised a saving due to lower turnout of learners attending face-to-face classes. As a result, savings were realised on payments of educators.
The remaining balance in this programme was due to under spending on the Teacher Union Collaboration projects. The Teacher Union Collaboration allocation was based on whether the Department would realise savings on the baseline allocation. The savings were only realised in the third quarter of the financial year with training only conducted in the fourth quarter of financial year. Not all funds allocated to this project were spent.
The remaining budget allocation on this programme was due to the National Assessment. Due to the change in the modality of the Annual National Assessment, the National Assessment was not conducted in the 2017/18 financial year. The revised National Assessment would be implemented in the 2018/19 financial year.
The remaining balance in this programme was due to travel and accommodation invoices related to monitoring of conditional grants in this programme. Normally the invoices for the month would be received in the following month.
The Chairperson said that she was concerned about the under spending of the Department, especially on the important grants like the mathematics, science and technology aid and for students with profound intellectual disabilities. She said that there cannot be continuous under spending on these vulnerable learners.
Mr D Khosa (ANC) asked what the number of students in the backlog of the NSNP was. He questioned if three days of teacher development training was to ensure that that these teachers would be able to make changes in their classrooms. He asked how would the budget cut impact the bursaries that the Department awards.
Mr I Ollis (DA) asked for clarification on Initial Teacher Education. He said that if approximately 80% of teachers were educated during the apartheid government, it can be assumed that these teachers received an education of lesser quality. He asked what could be done to help these teachers. Mr Ollis asked if the BELA Bill would be amended according to the public comments that were received.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) expressed her concern about the matric results. There were improvements in rural areas, but she asked why urban areas were regressing in this. She asked if all teachers from the Lushaka Project who qualified where being placed; and for an explanation of what could be expected from the LURITS 2. She referred to the international specialists that were appointed and wanted to know if these specialists were assigned to schools in addition to Department placements. She asked what benefits/salaries volunteers received. She questioned what would happen with regards to infrastructure, sanitation and resources if the budget for those were completely spent but the target goals were not yet achieved.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) referred to school safety and asked how the Department would handle the vetting and verification of youth members who were being trained to be teachers. She asked what would happen to those who registered for the P.L.A.Y. online training courses but did not complete the training, and how many moderators, teachers and other staff were employed to all aspects of inclusive learning. She asked what the repercussions were for teachers who did not do the diagnostic tests and what the reasoning for these teachers refusal to participate in such. She expressed her concern for the under spending on inclusive education. She asked for clarification on the HIV and TB allocation, i.e. how was this distributed and utilised; and on the KZN feeding scheme as there has been a tender discrepancy found.
Ms J Basson (ANC) referred to rural schooling and the three provinces that are benefiting from assistant educators and asked when the other provinces would receive this rollout. She expressed her concern for the under spending on crucial infrastructure and resources in schools. In KZN, the rural schools were in serious need of the NSN programme. She asked if it was really a saving experienced if poor students were being disadvantaged. How does the Department plan to uplift learners with profound disabilities if under spending on grants for these vulnerable learners was experienced in the financial year? She asked for any preliminary feedback on the supplementary exams and if these results were showing improvement too. She also sought clarification on the Cuban specialists that were enlisted, i.e. what their specialities were and why they were all placed in the Eastern Cape.
The Chairperson asked why there has been a low turnout of learners and teachers to the Second Chance face-to-face classes, and what the Department did to change this. With regards to the management of underperforming schools, she asked what more would DBE do to help and she also wanted to know more on the quality of the results of matric students in rural and urban areas. With the incremental introduction of African languages, she asked what DBE was moving towards achieving in 2018.
Mr Mweli reminded Members that the Second Chance programme was a new one, and it had not yet been rolled out to all deserving students. The supplementary exams have shown an overall improvement. He agreed that it should not be considered a saving when under spending on vulnerable learners has happened, but he explained that much of the savings was a result of foreign exchange fluctuations. Teachers had not participated in the self-diagnostic assessments as those were voluntary; however there were mandatory assessments in training initiatives that assess teachers’ initial and final standing.
He explained that the reason for the under spending for learners with profound disabilities was due to a lack of personnel that were able to work permanently for this; grants for these positions were allocated for staff that would be able to work permanently for two years under this contract.
He further explained that infrastructure and sanitation works that were marked as incomplete were only awaiting completion certificates so that the next steps could be followed on this. Targets that were not completed in the previous year spilt over into this financial year which meant the funds were divided so that those projects could be completed; this then meant fewer funds were available to finish the targets that were set for this year.
The Chairperson sought clarity on the completion certificates on infrastructure.
Mr Mweli said that though it may have appeared that the buildings were complete, these facilities could not be used until the occupational hazards had been ruled out. The Cuban specialists were appointed to bring support at a provincial and national level. He said that the specialists and volunteers received a salary and sometimes more benefits.
Mr Mweli said that the regression of results in urban areas was from a comparison point, the rural areas were most likely to show improvements as these learners were the primary benefactors from the DBEs projects.
Initial teacher training referred to tertiary education. Teachers who received an education during the apartheid government were disadvantaged and were set up to give students an inferior education.
Mr Ollis said that he did not agree that it should take many generations to combat the effects of the apartheid government and the quality of education that disadvantaged learners received. This was an issue that should not affect more than one generation of learners.
Mr Mweli said that the DBE was intervening now, these programmes act as a catalyst to an avalanche on the improvement of the basic education system.
Ms Boshoff suggested that the oversights be more intensive and frequent to ensure that the additional training provided to teachers was successfully implemented and utilized in their classrooms and that the teachers did not revert back to unsatisfactory methods they used prior.
Mr Paddy Padayachee Deputy Director General (DDG): Planning, Information and Assessment, DBE, said that the supplementary exams results was not a part of this quarterly report but there has been an increased pass rate of learners who passed the NSC exams. He explained that LURITS is the Learner Unit Record Tracking System, which was at a national level. At school level it would be referred to as the SA-SAMS which were the School Administration and Management Software which contained individual learner information which would be loaded to the provincial database and from then it would become the LURITS spoken of. Presently SA-SAMS was not compulsory but was promoted in opposition to other software systems. Modernisation from LURITS 1 to LURITS 2 entailed the change to an automated web-based system. The updated LURITS aimed to worked ease processes that would usually be done manually and were time consuming. Being based on an online platform would allow for information to be easily stored and transferred to other bodies that need that, for example students who receive grants. Marks and performance would be stored, as well as staff data.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi suggested that the use of the LURITS be made obligatory.
Mr Padayachee said that with the modernisation of LURITS would promote all schools to use this system instead of other third-party systems which have to be paid for by the schools. LURITS 2 would contain more crucial information than what was previously tracked.
Mr Seliki Tlhabane, Acting Deputy Director-General: Acting Chief Director for Maths, Science Technology, Curriculum & Quality Enhancement Programmes. DBE, said youth members appointed were required to submit a police certified clearance to ensure learner safety. National Treasury has approved the rollouts requested by the provinces. He said that Members must not forget that the budget cuts affected all the Departments, and funds would be divided accordingly so as to ensure no projects would be left underfunded. He said that there may have been a lower turnout to the face to face sessions as students who were repeating subjects and received the resources would not need to attend those, but this would need to be further investigated.
Ms Simone Geyer, Chief Director: Education Human Resource Management, DBE, said that the Department was committed to ensuring learners had qualified teachers in their classrooms at all times. Ageing teachers who neared retirement would be replaced with young qualified teachers. DBE sought to decrease the amount of unqualified and under-qualified teachers, and replace these with sufficiently qualified staff especially in rural areas that need them the most.
Dr Faith Kumalo, Chief Director: Care and Support in Schools, DBE, said that the HIV and TB allocation was based on the number of learners in each province. She said that the Department should also take into consideration the burden of infections in each province to allocate appropriately.
Mr Mweli said that the Members must keep in mind the comparison of what the DBE aimed to do for the learners of South Africa and what was occurring around the Continent and globe.
The meeting was adjourned.