MECs for Education on Matric results; LTSM centralised procurement; National School Nutrition Programme

NCOP Education and Recreation

27 June 2018
Chairperson: Ms L Zwane (ANC) (KwaZulu-Natal)
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Meeting Summary

The Select Committee on Education and Recreation was briefed by the Members of the Executive Committees (MECs) and officials of provincial Departments of Education on matric results, the centralised Learner Teaching Support Material (LTSM) procurement systems and the National School Nutrition Programme. The meeting followed oversight visits, where the Committee had identified these aspects as main areas of concern. The provinces were not performing in respect of matric results, and the Committee needed to know the plans and mechanisms of provinces to address the challenges.

Members welcomed the presentations, but felt that the rosy pictures painted were not supported by the evidence of what was actually happening. The competitive spirit amongst the provinces was good, but they also cautioned the provinces not to hide the details for the sake of competitiveness, where certain issues were highlighted and others were not. The presentations had underplayed some issues which deserved more attention. In rural areas, there were no storage facilities for food, and that was a reality which had not been incorporated in the presentations.

Gauteng was praised by all the Members. Instead of doing international site visits to learn how things were being done in the rest of the world, Gauteng should be a case study for the other provinces to copy. The Gauteng Department of Education was asked if it had the infrastructure to ensure kitchens were up to Department of Health standards? Did they buy food or did they have food gardens? What did they use for food storage, so other provinces could copy? Did it have a policy on retrieving textbooks? Was it not experiencing the same challenges as other provinces when it came to retrieving textbooks? How did they ensure learners returned text books? What secret ingredient did Gauteng use to monitor performance at schools?

The Committee commended Limpopo and North West on their improved results, notwithstanding the challenges the provinces were faced with. The Eastern Cape was applauded for undertaking a benchmarking process with other provinces, and the efforts taken to improve matric results were noticeable. Regarding the Western Cape, the Committee said it needed to conduct oversight visits for further engagement, focusing on certain areas of concern, particularly schools located in rural areas and the townships. The Committee observed that the challenges among the provinces were generally similar in the areas of school nutrition and LTSM.

In its input, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said the engagement had revealed that there were embedded challenges that provinces had identified. These were major challenges which could not be resolved in a year, and it would take time to resolve them. One of the programmes that addressed learner performance was the National Strategy for Learner Attainment, and on a quarterly basis the provincial departments reported to the DBE on progress made. Monitoring the progress had enabled the identification of challenges which had been dealt with, and the major issue now was putting in place early detection mechanisms in order not to have to wait for examination results to indicate the problems. Monitoring on a quarterly basis had been assisting in this regard.

The Committee urged the provinces to promote agriculture sciences and geography at schools. The Chairperson pointed out that the country was going through a process of public hearings on land expropriation, so it was important that the subject was inculcated at schools. South Africa needed skills, and they had to be developed from a young age. It was good that the DBE had come up with the wisdom of the progression policy, which was working in all the provinces, and provinces had to make sure the foundation phase and lower grades were also focused on, so that when learners reached matric they would be able to cope and achieve good results.

Monitoring and evaluation was key to the success of schools. Provinces that were struggling needed to strengthen their monitoring mechanisms at the district level in order to address and meet its set targets. Parents should be involved in all areas of the education system -- teachers and learners on their own were not sufficient. Business also had to be part of education. The Committee was confident that in time the quantity and quality of output in matric would drastically improve.

The Chairperson said the Committee looked forward to improved results in 2018. No province must backslide -- all provinces must improve, and there should be no more 0% schools in 2018. The Committee would provide all the support it could to make sure the curriculum was finished, that there was revision, and that candidates were fully prepared to sit for their matric examinations. South Africa must aim for a 100% matric pass rate.

 

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks

The Chairperson said this was the first time the Committee had called for a meeting of this nature, and she was pleased that the majority of the provinces -- eight out of the nine -- were present and represented. Although there were many other important issues which concerned the daily operations of provinces, the Committee felt that since final exams were approaching it was prudent to review and look at the goals for improvement in the quality of education in South Africa.

The Committee had conducted site visits in all provinces except the Western Cape, which it would visit later this year. During the visits, several problems were identified and the purpose of this meeting was to follow up whether the issues had been resolved, and any other progress. The provinces were not performing well on matric results. In some provinces there were improvements and in others rollercoaster improvements -- one year there were improvements and then in another year, a decline in performance. The intention of the meeting was to create solutions for the way forward to improve matric results.

It was of great concern that a number of schools could not even reach 40% for matric passes. The Committee did not know what provinces were doing to ensure these situations were mitigated. People were paid good salaries every month yet results showed poor performance. Another issue identified was the procurement of Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM). Procurements were not being made in line with specifications. The Committee wanted to know the plans in place to ensure that LTSM was delivered on time; who got delivery, how procurements were made, and what the challenges facing procurement and delivery of LTSTM were. After visiting some schools, it was clear there were also problems with the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) such as no kitchens, food being stored in hazardous environments, and service providers not being paid.

Those were the three issues for deliberation, and the outcome of the meeting was to satisfy the Committee of the plans to improve these situations.

Gauteng Department of Education (GDE)

Mr Panyaza Lesufi, Member of the Executive Committee (MEC): Education, Gauteng, said the 2017 Grade 12 learners represented the tenth cohort of learners who benefited from the changed National Curriculum Statement (NCS). This was important, because these were the same learners who, in 2014 and in Grade 9, became part of the plan that saw the NCS for Grade R to 9 and Grade 10 to 12 being combined into a single document known as NCS for Grade R to 12. There had been a lot of policy amendments, and key was the progression policy for Grade 10 and 11 learners. Progression meant that learners who failed in a manner that was not bad could progress to the next grade. This was an important aspect of ensuring a decrease in school dropouts. There was also a policy amendment which resulted in multiple examinations, so learners could choose whether to write examinations for four, five or six subjects.

The compulsory offering of mathematics with accounting was also crucial, and if the intervention was not effected, accounting was going to vanish as a subject. In Gauteng, accounting was starting to take a dip and something needed to be done, so pure mathematics was now no longer a pre-requisite to do accounting. It could now be taken with mathematical literacy. In 2013, more than 32 000 learners were enrolled for accounting, but in 2017 it was almost half that number, with 18 196 learners enrolled. The policy change would assist in resuscitating interest in accounting.

It was important to clarify the misconception that 30% represented a pass in South Africa. There was no such thing. If one got 30% for all one’s subjects, one failed matric. To obtain a Bachelors pass, one was expected to pass four subjects with 50%, and the rest with 30% and above. It was a huge task to run an examination in Gauteng. 108 522 learners had been enrolled to write full time examinations in 2017, of which 97 284 had written. Gauteng was second to KwaZulu-Natal in enrolment numbers.

The pass rate numbers remained nearly the same in 2016 and 2017. GDE was not holding back any learner from writing matric examinations. Matric was an important certificate and everyone must be provided the opportunity to write. Any learner who qualified to write must write matric examinations. No learner would be denied the opportunity to write in order to glorify the matric results.

In 2015, 30 subjects had been adjusted upwards -- Umalusi had added marks for learnewrs to pass. In 2016, there had been 28 adjusted subjects and in 2017 it had gone down to 16 adjusted subjects. It showed that increasingly Umalusi was taking the raw marks, and the majority of learners were able meet the required standard and did not need additional or external support to pass. This was important to disclose as there had been pleas in the media for transparency with the moderation of matric results.

Gauteng was one of the few provinces that had more than 100 000 learners writing matric examinations. This was the debate to be taken up with the Committee and the Department of Higher Education. One could not continue to have a high number of learners registered for matric, but Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) not being expanded to accommodate them. To achieve the targets in the National Development Plan (NDP), HEIs needed to expand. The number of first year enrolments in all universities combined were fewer than, or equal to, the number of learners who passed matric with Bachelors in Gauteng alone. The question arose as to where all the other learners were going. Learners were being closed out of higher education and this debate must be taken up so that all learners were given an opportunity to enrol in HEIs. The Gauteng Department of Education aimed to ensure that learners could compete against the best in the world so that they would be able to enrol in HEIs in other countries.

 

Of the 97 284 learners who wrote matric examinations in 2017, 82 826 learners had passed. For every 10 learners who wrote the matric examinations, almost nine had passed. This was a major achievement, taking into consideration the introduction of technology, new educators and digitalised material. Mr Lesufi said, “for you to change the engine of the airplane when the airplane was flying, and still maintain the results…is something we believe had assisted us to ensure we remain competitive at all times.”

A review of the matric results over the years showed that the performance results and the Department were stable. In the last three years, the results had stabilised and the institutions had matured. What excited the GDE the most, was that its matric results always remained above the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE’s) average matric pass. Gauteng produced the highest number of Bachelor passes, followed by KwaZulu- Natal. In 2017, the 35 012 Bachelor passes achieved were equivalent to all the Bachelor passes achieved in Limpopo, North West, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape combined. Only four schools in Gauteng were performing below 40%, and the majority of the schools -- 641 out of 874 -- were achieving between 80% and 100% matric passes.

Regarding the quality of passes, the gap between township education, non-fee paying schools and fee paying schools was closing at a fast pace. No matter if one was poor or rich in Gauteng, one stood a better chance of achieving a Bachelor pass in matric. He commented that one could not break the shackles of poverty if the quality of education did not “penetrate the poor.” The rich had alternatives but the poor did not. The outcomes were almost the same whether one went to a poor school or a rich school in Gauteng. The 641 schools that had achieved matric pass rates of between 80 and 100% included schools in the townships. This was how to break poverty, inequality and homelessness, where people did not rely on social grants but on the quality of education to shape the future. No public schools in Gauteng were performing below a 40% matric pass rate. It was only independent schools that were underperforming.

There were two extremes in Gauteng. Township schools were doing very well and rich schools were also doing very well, but it was the centre -- former model C schools -- that were not doing well. The Department was now investing in and targeting these schools which had been predominately white until 1994, and were now predominately black. This was a challenge and an area that needed to be improved on. People believed that if education was free then the quality goes down. Gauteng was demonstrating that even if one did not pay fees, the quality and outcome of education was the same.

Females were performing far better than male learners. This was also important to break the shackles of poverty. The investment in female learners was yielding the necessary dividends, so that female learners could participate in the economy as equal partners. Also, the investment in Saturday school programmes and winter schools had yielded dividends, as learners who attended the extra support programmes achieved more than the learners who did not attend.

 

Since the introduction of information technology (IT) in schools, there had been a noticeable improvement in performance. Even though the margins were not huge, there was indication that confirmed that the investment in IT was not wasteful expenditure. Technical high schools had also been adopted and were performing above an 80% matric pass rate. These schools were very important and must be resourced. They were an important intervention and gave value for money. There were also schools called “ROs”, where a township school was merged with an urban or town school and become one school. with one School Governing Body (SGB). The results from the mergers had been positive. Urban schools could provide resources township schools did have, such as sports fields and laboratories. The well-off school could pull up the poor school.

All the districts except one were performing above an 80% matric pass rate. The director of the district that was not performing well had been removed, because if there were no consequences for poor performance it would continue. Of the top ten districts in South Africa, seven came from Gauteng. The district performance was indeed encouraging. The number of distinctions obtained were also spread across rich and township schools. Distinctions were not influenced by only affordability to have tutors -- they could be obtained from normal school attendance. Gauteng was the only province that offered all African languages. There was no learner that had failed an African language. This was very important, because African languages deserved attention and support.

 

LTSM

The GDE’s LTSM procurement was centralised, and was working with National Treasury. There were two categories of LSTM. One was given to section 21 schools, who buy LTSM on their own. The Department simply transfers money to 1 877 of these schools and the other 202 schools were without section 21 functions, and the Department buys on their behalf. These were schools with poor financial management, who had problems in the SGBs, or did not provide audited financial statements. The centralised system promoted the local economy and empowered SGBs to be responsible in terms of financial management, and builds Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). The majority of the schools in Gauteng were now dealing only with textbook top-ups.

There were a few compliance measures that had been put in place to ensure resources were not abused. There were strict deadlines and schools were visited to ensure they would have all the required textbooks. The only challenge was that the number of orders in December of the previous year and the number of learners in January of the following year were usually different. In January, there had been a huge number of learners who had come to Gauteng, and the majority were undocumented. In the first 10 days of school, they had been counted and new orders for textbooks were made. Otherwise, there were no problems or challenges with LTSM.

There were advantages to both centralised and non-centralised LTSM procurement, which was why both were adopted. The schools were given their budgets in April/May so they became aware of what they had and did not spend what they did not have. Orders were placed in June and delivery was received between August and October, and in November there was a top-up process. There was a clear plan of how LTSM was managed and who was responsible for what in terms of the process. The way forward for schools opting for a central procurement was to fill in a binding agreement with the Chief Financial Officer, who had a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that verified whether the schools had an accountant, the SGB had gone to training, and there was history of financial mismanagement. Schools opting for decentralised procurement also had to write a declaration that there would be no shortages, and textbooks would be delivered to schools by 1 November each year. All schools had to complete the same forms for procurement, regardless of how they procured LTSM to enable accurate reporting of school readiness to the DBE.

 

School nutrition

The NSNP was also centralised. 900 service providers tendered, but all of them were buying from four big service providers. The Gauteng Department of Education then issued a directive for the service providers to form big cooperatives, so there were now 20 service provides to avoid a monopoly of the industry. Since then, service providers were being paid on time -- within 15 days -- and the quality of the food had improved. The only challenge was the menu, and this had been raised with the National Department of Education. The majority of learners do not eat soya and were not eating on Fridays due to social pressures, as lining up for food on Friday implieda learner would not be afforded weekend entertainment, like going out to the movies.

KwaZulu-Natal

Mr Mthandeni Dlungwane, MEC: Education, KwaZulu-Natal, (KZN) said the province currently had a total of 6 053 schools, which on its own showed it was handling a different administration to any of the other provinces. There were about 2.8 million learners, and there had been an increase in the matric pass rate from 60% in 2015, to 72% in 2017. The number of schools not performing reducing from seven schools in 2016, to three schools in 2017. The three schools were of serious concern, and faced numerous challenges. Some were non-viable farm and rural schools which ought to close.

Overall, the performance had improved and the increase in Bachelor passes was impressive. The KZN Department of Education (KZNDOE) was currently not participating in the centralised LTSM procurement system because of the nature of administration in the province, as mentioned. Some section 21 schools, which numbered about 2 000, were procuring for themselves.

In terms of school nutrition, 2.3 million learners were being fed daily. There was also no centralised procurement system, 1 800 SMMEs were supplying food to schools and payment was also being made on time. The major challenge was that not all schools had the infrastructure to deal with and store food, but this was being resolved.

Matric results

Dr Barney Mthembu: Curriculum Director, said there was an improvement plan to improve the overall KZN matric pass rate by 10%, from 66.4% in 2016 to 75.4% in 2017. The matric pass rate had improved overall, and in the districts. No districts had declined in performance in 2017. The number of 100% schools had also increased by 28.2%, and Bachelor passes increased by 4.23%. All the 0% performing schools in 2016 had been done away with, but unfortunately three new ones had emerged, which was a challenge.

 

All the gateways subjects, expect for languages, had improved and achieved the target of 60% and above, but not for mathematics. There was a decline in performance in two gateway subjects, agricultural science and business science. The target of 90% was achieved in all languages. Afrikaans and English home language were the only languages where this was not achieved. This was because examiners, when setting the papers, tended to forget that some learners spoke a different language at home and so the level of exposure was not the same. It was a problem in all provinces. In all arts subjects, the target of 90% was achieved. There was a problem with computer application and information technology subjects, and the 90% target was not achieved. Accounting and business studies were also below the set target of 60% in some of the districts. The improvement in mathematics was very slow and the 41% pass rate in 2017 was ascribed to interventions put in place to improve performance in the subject. All social science subjects were above the 60% target.

During the Easter and winter school programmes, attention was given to the gateway subjects. The special attention schools were the schools with between zero and 29% in the gateway subjects. Content and methodology workshops had been rolled out to address the schools with 0% in the gateway subjects. In February 2018, all the principals and senior management teachers in the zero to 29% schools were called in for capacitation, curriculum management and leadership development. The 2018 academic improvement plan set targets and created solutions to some of the challenges identified.

 

LTSM

Dr Enock Nzama, Head of Department (HOD), said the KZN Department of Education agreed with Gauteng, that LTSM became problematic at the beginning of the year. This was especially the case in KZN. Looking at the districts, there was an exodus to the financial corridors where there was a lot of economic activity emerging. Most families were now moving to these areas. The schools would order LTSM, but one would find the schools had more learners at the beginning of the year because of the push and pull factors related to the survival of the population.

 As the MEC had mentioned, there were around 6 000 public schools in the province, and 3 000 of them were schools without Function C, and 2 700 schools with Function C. Schools without Function C participated in central procurement, whilst schools with Function C undertook school-based purchasing but also had the option of central procurement. Currently LTSM was running well, and delivery takes place from August, and by the end of November there is 100% delivery to all schools. Most schools participate in central procurement because of the discounts and other advantages that come with it. It was more manageable to monitor deliveries to schools participating in central procurement, since all proofs of deliveries were scanned and filed electronically for inspection. It was also easier to report on the availability of stock and delivery rates to schools. There were a few challenges, but the system was currently running smoothly and no problems had been experienced. The book coverage had improved dramatically, and the retrieval policy was being enforced.

School nutrition

The School Nutrition Programme had since grown from providing nutritious meals to 1 251 140 learners in 3 090 schools in 2004/2005, to 2 332 514 learners in 5 272 schools in 2017. The programme targets schools in the poorest communities and benefits a multitude of learners. It also contributes to the economic development of local people through co-operatives and small enterprises such as service providers, and the employment of Volunteer Food Handlers (VFHs) who prepare meals for the learners. The system had been changed into a centralised procurement model in which districts were responsible for the evaluation bids and the province for awarding and approval of appointments. The centralised model culminated into 2 029 service providers appointed in January 2013, including 263 co-operatives. Currently the programme had 1 885 contracted service providers. There was a nutritious menu and where schools deviated from it, the Department was quick to intervene. Monitoring was very important and this was done by sending teams to schools to monitor whether they still adhered to the standards set by the Department. In every district, there were officials who were directly responsible. When it came to payment of service providers there had been a lot of improvement, and they were now paid on time. Invoices were processed at Head Office, and payments were expected as quickly as possible, and non-payments were responded to swiftly.

Limpopo

Mr Ishmael Kgetjepe, MEC for Education: Limpopo gave an introduction to the presentation, which was then led by the Head of the Department (HOD), Ms Ndiambani Mutheiwana.

The presentation gives a historical review of how the province had been performing since 1996. In 2017, it had picked up from the continuous declines in 2014 and 2015, and had moved up to a matric pass rate of 65.6% in 2017. In total, there were 100 052 full time candidates in Limpopo who wrote matric examinations in 2017. Multiple Exam Opportunity (MEO) candidates were registered in 2016 and 2017 for those who opted for a multiple examination opportunity. There were 13 305 of these candidates who were writing examinations in June 2018.

There had been some challenges, particularly in areas with service delivery protests, but something was being done to address this with law enforcement agencies. In 2016, there was one district -- Sekhukhune --which had performed below the national norm of 60%, and although it managed to improve in 2017, it still performed below the national norm. Capricorn registered a decline of 1.1%, and Vhembe an increase of 6.3% in matric passes. The number of Bachelor passes achieved picked up from 18.4%, in 2016, to 21.4% in 2017 – 17 790 learners obtained Bachelor passes. The performance of the progressed learners had picked up to 47.8% in 2017. Agricultural sciences had experienced a decline of 6.7% in performance, followed by accounting, with a 6.3% decline, and then mathematics with a 3.9% decline.

The number of under-performing schools in the province increased with the change of criteria used to identify under-performing schools. Even if the criteria had not changed, there still would have been an increase. In 2016, there had been two 0% schools, and in 2017 only one school.

According to the DBE and Umalusi findings in 2017, there were credible and incident-free examinations and no exam paper leakages. There had also been improved and reliable organisation of the marker database as compared to 2015 and 2016. An internal challenge was that more principals were applying to be markers, and this compromised the management of the schools during the end of year period. Another challenge was security threats because of the service delivery protests, but this was being addressed with law enforcement agencies. There was also concern about the high level of School-Based Assessment (SBA) rejections due to the sub-optimal capability to develop quality assessment tasks among teachers. The quality of educators was being enhanced to deal with issues around the SBA.

LTSM

2017 was a good year, in that a ten-point plan was developed and implemented to ensure timeous delivery, and reports to the Premier in terms of implementation. One of the points included a monitoring and evaluation function to enforce compliance and initiate intervention measures where necessary. Another point was having preliminary meetings with the DBE to confirm the phasing in of a new syllabus for setworks for Grade 10 and technical subjects for Grade 12. There was also the establishment of district LTSM co-ordination committees to assist schools in conducting needs analysis and placing of orders. The Committee also provided LTSM support to schools. The Provincial Committee was chaired by the CFO, with the district committees being chaired by the chief directors from the provincial office. The committees monitored and enforced adherence to timelines and implemented intervention and corrective measures in case of deviations. LTSM Committees meet on a weekly basis. Five warehouses for each district had been identified across the province to fast track delivery in respective districts. One of the previous challenges was that SLAs were not favouring government but suppliers, but this had been negotiated out and punitive measures had been implemented.

 

The LTSM delivery plan was being implemented and enforced. 99% of textbooks had been delivered with outstanding delivery by one publisher (for 2 201 books) due to pending litigation. Alternative arrangements had been made to procure the outstanding books from booksellers to close the gap; and stationery delivery from district warehouses had been delivered to all schools on time. There had been a move from a manual ordering system to an electronic one, which was working well and the Department would continuously improve on the system. Stakeholders’ engagement meetings also take place to outline the textbooks delivery plan, and clarification of roles and responsibilities. The correct placement of orders by the school remained a challenge, but the provincial and district committees were beginning to address the challenge and could pick up which schools had not placed orders. Schools were requested to sign a certificate to confirm that they did not have orders for the following year. The same ten-point plan would also be implemented in 2019. There had been concerns regarding what happens to the refunds that would be due to schools if their orders cost less than their allocation. All funds for LTSM were centralised and all schools were covered through a consolidated budget. Budgets were not allocated per school. School principals had been requested to check and confirm deliveries against their orders, and were not to accept deliveries they did not order. The intention was to retrieve a minimum of 95% of textbooks, so top-up was as little as possible.

NSNP

Learners from disadvantaged communities, particularly those in quintiles 1- 3 primary and secondary schools, and learners in special schools, were benefiting from the NSNP. Over 1.6 million learners were benefiting. 283 service providers had been appointed to buy foodstuff according to the approved menu, and to deliver to the schools. 10 559 VFHs) had been appointed at the schools to prepare and cook food for learners.

There were still serious challenges in terms of storage facilitates for the food. Unfortunately, some schools did not have proper storage facilities and R5 billion was needed to address the backlog. Going forward, as and when schools were built, proper storage facilities were being provided. The Department transfers funds to schools to procure eating utensils for learners according to specifications provided by the Department. The NSNP delegated educators and facilitators receive the food and check the expiry dates to avoid receiving expired food and also that products were in their original manufacturing packaging.

Department of Basic Education: comments

Dr Rufus Poliah, Acting Deputy Director General: Planning & Assessment: DBE, said that the Department was working extremely closely with all the provincial departments regarding the analysis of the 2017 data. It was looking at the limitations and putting proper programmes in place to address the shortcomings.

One of the programmes that addressed learner performance was the National Strategy for Learner Attainment and on a quarterly basis the provincial departments report to DBE on progress made. Monitoring the progress had enabled the identification of challenges which had been dealt with, and the major issue now was putting in place early detection mechanisms to not have to wait for examination results to indicate the problems. Monitoring on a quarterly basis had been assisting in this regard. The progression policy was based on the principal that a learner should not spend more than four years in a Grade. In addition, new criteria have been brought in relating to learner attendance and assessments. The expectation had been for the number of progressed learners to decrease, however the opposite was happening -- the number was increasing. A case study and evaluation was being done to find out if the criteria was been applied accurately. The DBE was aware that progression must be accompanied by learner support, and commended all MECs for providing support to the extent the province was capable, which was evident in the performance of progressed learners. Overall, 40% had passed matric this was a significant achievement as the learners could not meet the necessary requirements in Grade 11, but with the support provided they could pass Grade 12 -- and some had even obtained distinctions and Bachelor passes.

It seemed the policy on progression was working, but there were areas that had to be attended to and to ensure the policy was closely managed. The moderation policy, where progressed learners could split the opportunity over two years, also needed to be closely monitored. There were reviews with each of the provinces to look at the challenges on exam readiness and how things could be improved. There was an improvement in LTSM from where it was to where it was now, and improvements were continuous.

Discussion

Mr C Hattingh (DA, North West) made three general remarks. He was impressed with the progress presented by Gauteng. There was progress and there were problems, and he raised an issue on LSTM. The presentations had reported everything was going well, but the reality out there on the ground was totally different. The Committee’s engagements with the provinces, districts and schools during oversight visits painted a totally different picture to what had been presented. The rosy picture was not supported by the evidence of what was happening out there. He also raised point that the progress of learners who sat for examinations did not give the full reality, as an undesirable number of learners drop out and do not write the exams. The competitive spirit amongst the provinces was good, but he cautioned the provinces not to lose the details, for the sake of competitiveness, where certain things were highlighted and others were not. He was also of the view that it was difficult to ascertain what exactly was happening in the provinces. Some things which deserved more attention were being underplayed. In rural areas, there were no storage facilities for food, and that was a reality which had not been incorporated in the presentations.

 

Ms P Samka-Mququ (ANC, Eastern Cape) complimented Gauteng, saying it was evident that the MEC, was committed and passionate about his role and he must continue with the good work. This did not mean that the other MECs were not doing their jobs, but the outstanding work by Gauteng had to be applauded. Instead of doing international site visits to learn how things were being done, in the rest of the world, Gauteng should be a case study for the other provinces to copy. Gauteng had the most districts but no district had achieved less than a 70% matric pass rate. This meant that other provinces should learn from Gauteng how it was doing things.

She asked whether all the African languages that were being taught in Gauteng were also the primary medium of instruction. If that was the case, all the other provinces should do the same. The Gauteng presentation did not give details on NSNP. In Limpopo, school nutrition was a crisis -- no storage facilities and food handlers were not being hygienic in their handling of food. Did Gauteng have infrastructure to ensure kitchens were up to the Department of Health standards? Did they buy food or did they have food gardens? She requested Gauteng to clarify how and what they used for food storage so other provinces could copy. Also, did Gauteng have a policy on retrieving textbooks? Was it not experiencing the same challenges as other provinces when it came to retrieving textbooks? How did they ensure learners returned text books? The centralising of LTSM seemed to be assisting them. What secret ingredient did Gauteng use to monitor performance at schools? Lastly, she commented that none of the provinces had highlighted their goals and targets for matric results this year, expect Limpopo. What steps were being taken to ensure the goals were obtained?

Ms T Mampuru (ANC, Limpopo) also felt compelled to commend what Gauteng was doing. When a person had a plan and sticks to it, the results would show. She was comforted to know that under-performance had consequences, and agreed with the decision to remove the district director in this instance. She also appreciated that all languages were included in the curriculum because Gauteng was for all ethnic groups, and it was good to teach learners in their mother tongue. Limpopo Province was purely rural, like the Eastern Cape, and it was vast. The Limpopo Department of Education was under administration, and she encouraged and applauded its efforts to make improvements. Accounting, geography and mathematics, in some instances, were fading and now one had the land question – was the nation ready to focus on developing agriculture and encourage the future generation to become agricultural scientists? Gauteng did not have land, but that did not mean it should not focus on agricultural sciences. She also congratulated Limpopo on LTSM, as there had been no problems or complaints of non-delivery. Finally, she reiterated that Gauteng should be a case study and benchmark for other provinces.

The Chairperson observed that Members had given words of encouragement and guidance, and a few questions and issues needed responses. She approved the presentations, and said a picture that all was well operationally on the ground had been reported. As mentioned by one of the Members, however, the glossy and good reports were encouraging but the reality was not as good. The provinces were encouraged to be honest about what was actually happening on the ground, as it would be beneficial for them to get the assistance and support they needed. She had also been impressed with Gauteng’s presentation, as it included interventions and solutions to the challenges. It was particularity pleasing that township schools were also performing well, and she hoped that Gauteng would have a session to share with the other provinces on how to improve.

The higher performance by female learners was also wonderful to hear, especially in an era where girls were no longer taught to get married but were taught to be independent in all spheres. However, Gauteng did not provide its performance goals -- what matric pass rate were they excepting this year? It was important to look not only at Grade 12, but the intermediate and lower grades were also equally important. The foundation phase and all the phases that followed were critical, and MECs were encouraged to focus on these grades as well, to further improve the quality of education.

The Chairperson said that the other provinces, Gauteng excluded, had not included adoption of technology to assist with teaching and learning, and they were urged to do so to dispense the curriculum. Her concern was with gateway subjects -- were there qualified teachers teaching the gateway subjects? The improvement was a bit slow. There was a need to reignite the love for agriculture sciences, as the issue of land expropriation would be useless if there was no cohort to ensure sustainability of the land.

Officials were correct that the issue with LTSM involved wrong orders and non-collection of the wrong orders by service providers, and all MECs were called to pay close attention to this matter, as well as insufficient textbooks. There must be consequences for the non-return of textbooks, otherwise other learners would be disadvantaged. Limpopo was complimented for the improvements made, notwithstanding the challenges of protests and the subsequent destruction of classrooms. There being no kitchens at schools was an infrastructural issue, but it did have an impact on school nutrition. It was a health issue and learners could die if food was not properly handled or stored.

Provinces’ responses

Gauteng

Mr Lesufi appreciated the Members’ support, and was encouraged to work even harder. He believed in his argument that the increases in the social grants and the reconstruction and development programme (RDP) houses budget, and the decrease in the education budget, indicated that the battle against poverty had not been won. This was the obsession with the poor, because the poor did not have options and the only major thing that could take them out of poverty was education, education, and education. Gauteng had over 4 900 progressed learners in 2017 and lots of resources had been invested because the profile of progressed learners were poor learners. To have 4 300 passing matric was something it cherished, because it meant a learner that was supposed to be in Grade 10 or Grade 11 had now passed matric and could go to university. The phenomenon of progressed learners must be appreciated, because learners would rather be in the classroom than outside the class doing wrong things. The Department did not get funding to offer all the support and special programmes to progressed learners, and had to make budget cuts when it came to office equipment etc. It was an important programme that dealt with the imbalances in society, and if no investment was made then the desired outcomes in education and beyond would not be achieved. The GDE’s target was to reach 90% by 2020, but in the corners and corridors, if it could beat Western Cape it was fine, he said jokingly.

The monitoring of districts took a lot of hard work. The MEC meets with all districts every Monday from 07:00 religiously. In the meetings, a certain problem was taken up and analysed and then worked on, which was why the districts were so in sync. After July, until the end of year examinations, the focus was school-based, and all district directors must support schools. Those were the two monitoring mechanisms the province was utilising. It had strong monitoring institutions and delegated personnel who monitored performance and could intervene immediately when issues were picked up.

On gateway subjects, what needed to be reviewed were the institutions of learning for teaching professionals. Teachers were all taught at the same institutions, but were not taught how to teach in township and rural environments. The law passed to remove foreign teachers had had a negative impact on the teaching of gateway subjects.

African languages were a medium of instruction up until Grade 3. From Grade 4, English comes in but it was ‘English of African languages,’ because teachers still translated into African languages. The challenge was that now other languages, from Nigerian and French etc, were being requested to be included in the curriculum. Generally, African languages must be protected at all costs and this was an important intervention. All schools offer one African language in Grade 1 and 2, and next year this would extend into Grade 3.

On the issue of LTSM, it must be monitored and evaluated, as huge amounts of money were given to the schools. Strong systems needed to be in place in order to qualify as an SGB member. Gauteng had introduced the SGB Dispute Resolution Council, which was legislated to regulate members of SGBs. It was a targeted intervention to not allow wrong members to be part of SGBs, which was why the law was passed at the provincial level so disputes with SGBs could be resolved, and not have to wait for three years to have members guilty of wrongful conduct removed and replaced.

Retrieval of textbooks was not a problem in Gauteng, because it had introduced a paperless system. The problem was the return of tablets -- learners get used to using them and find it difficult to return them and go back to writing and not typing. Learners had called for the Department of Higher Education to also provide tablets in HEIs.

All new 57 schools built since 2015 had dining halls to eat, and this must be incorporated within plans to build new schools. There were workshops conducted for food handlers and if a person did not attend the majority of the workshops, they would not qualify to be a food handler. The workshops teach the basics of handling food and food equipment. A lot of money had been invested to provide school nutrition to quantile 3 and 4 schools, which also had poor learners.

KZN

Mr Dlungwane responded on what happens to the refunds when schools’ orders cost less than their allocation. The allocation was sent back to schools in the case of section 21 schools -- all money was sent back to them. In the case of non-section 21 schools, all money was distributed to the district for schools to access.

The province was improving in performance, from 68% to 72.8%, and the target was to improve to 80% at the end of this year. Strategies that were put in place after the decline in performance had enabled an improvement of about 6%, and he was sure KZN would be able to reach the target of 80%. He commented that it was important to clarify what constituted a district. In KZN, one district had 700 schools and so the districts were heavy and rural. Strategies had been put in place which referred to the location of schools which had yielded improvements, The focus was on the four districts that were performing at 60%, to move to 80 per cent, and also to further improve the other eight districts that were performing above 70% and 80%.

Limpopo

Mr Kgetjepe answered on the areas of concern in the province. The infrastructure for the NSNP could not be divorced from the infrastructure for schools. There were overall challenges in school infrastructure. The Department was making sure it spent any funds it had towards infrastructure, and did not have to return unused funds to Treasury. The monitoring of the NSNP was being rolled out to make sure challenges were identified and the necessary support was provided to address those challenges.

Indeed, there were challenges with the retrieval of textbooks, and the Department was working with the SGBs and principals to retrieve them all. The provinces were unique, and the distances covered and location of schools was a challenge. Since the criteria for districts had changed, Limpopo would now have 10 districts and the issue of resources was being worked on to ensure functionality, from five to 10 districts. It accepted the advice and comments to learn from Gauteng and other provinces.

The Chairperson thanked the Provinces for the presentations and responses, and was looking forward to improved results in 2018. No province must backslide. All provinces must improve and there should be no further 0% schools in 2018. The Committee would provide all the support it could to make sure the curriculum was finished, that there was revision, and thatcandidates were fully prepared to sit for the matric examinations. South Africa must aim for 100% matric pass rate.

The meeting was adjourned for lunch.

Eastern Cape

Mr Thando Ngcolomba, Member: Eastern Cape Portfolio Committee on Education, gave an introduction and overview of the presentation, which was led by Mr Raymond Tywakadi, Deputy Director-General: Institutional Development and Coordination for the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDOE).

Matric results

The number of candidates enrolled for matric examinations had decreased substantially, from 92 867 in 2016 to 82 257 in 2017. There had been a steady growth in the improvement of the performance in the province. Only two districts had fallen below a 60% matric pass -- Amathole East and Amathole West. Nelson Mandela Metropole produced 2 448 Bachelor passes, followed by Buffalo City, which had 2 139 Bachelor passes. Those two districts were almost performing at the national level in terms of the number of Bachelors in 2017. In 2016 and 2017 there had been eight schools that performed at 20% and below. There had been a noticeable decrease in the between 10% and 20% matric pass from 32 centres in 2016, to 20 centres in 2017. More exciting was the pass rates between 80% and 90%, where the number of centres had grown from 87 to 125, which showed a phenomenal growth. The number of centres failing was decreasing while the number of centres passing was increasing.

In 2016, 49% of learners in quintile one had passed, and in 2017 that had improved to 59%. These were township and poverty-stricken schools. There was an even greater improvement in quintile 2 -- from 50% in 2015, to 61% in 2017 -- whereas quantiles 3 and 4 had slight declines in performance. There were only two centres with zero pass rates, and they had subsequently been closed and were no longer operating, because they were not sustainable. Learners had been integrated into other schools.

There had been a decline in subjects were there were low enrolments, and improvement in subjects with high enrolments except for two subjects, business studies and accounting. The main concern was Afrikaans as a second additional language, where the numbers were low, but it also did not perform well. There had been an improvement in both mathematics and mathematical literacy. Strangely, the number of children who took mathematics exceeded the number of learners who took mathematical literacy in the Eastern Cape. Now the challenge was to increase the number of learners who passed the subject. None of the home language subjects were performing below 95%, which was a huge improvement, but the concern was English as first additional language, which was done by many learners, including learners in township schools. There was a growth in the number of learners who had obtained distinctions.

The Eastern Cape Department of Education was benchmarking from Gauteng on monitoring, as they had a very good monitoring system. It was also benchmarking from Free State in terms of curriculum development and teacher support, as well as benchmarking from Mpumalanga on the creation of technology centres and boarding schools. Northern Cape had also been assisting them with school governance. The Province was not afraid to ask for assistance, and did so.

In 2018, the plan had been based on two pillars, focusing on the foundational phases and Grade 12. In matric there were two phases. The first was the early support phase, which was the first 100 days in matric, and which were now busy with winter schools. The last phase was called the ‘last push,’ which focused on the last 100 days before examinations.

LTSM

The province was not participating in the national LTSM centralised procurement system. All quintile 4 and 5 schools were given money to go and buy books. For Quintile 1-3 schools that were not doing well in terms of financial management, the ECDOE procures and manages the delivery of LTSM. The advantages of the current ECDOE system was that the Department places orders with publishers and suppliers on behalf of schools, which means the Department takes administrative responsibility for the procuring of LTSM. Another benefit was that the costs of LTSM were reduced, because the Department benefits from economies of scale. The ECDOE arranges for the picking, packing and delivery of LTSM to schools through SMMEs. Both the schools and the local economy were beneficiaries. There were too many small schools in the Eastern Cape who could not afford to buy textbooks for learners, so budgets that should normally go to big schools were being used to subsidise the small schools. When books were purchased centrally, all schools could get textbooks, so, there was never change in the procurement of textbooks, as ‘Paul was being robbed to pay Peter’. The province was ready for 2019 in terms of procurement. All stocks had been ordered and delivery of textbooks was expected in July/August, and the target was for all stocks to be in schools by November.

School nutrition

The issue of school infrastructure in the Eastern Cape remained a challenge, which was also linked to school nutrition. However, for the past three to four years the province had never had a problem of learners who were not eating. The province had a different model. It had first started with cooperatives to provide food to the schools, but they had failed dismally and learners were not being fed. Cabinet had taken a decision to decentralise the money to schools. So, it was the schools that fed their own learners. In 2017/18, expenditure for school nutrition had been at 96.6%. The Department had focused on food handlers and food handling as part of hygiene training, and it had resourced 46 schools with mobile kitchens. Some schools had been provided with water tanks as they had no water at all, and gas stoves had also been installed to make sure schools could provide meals. There was a move to involve small scale farmers in the provision of school nutrition. The Department of Agriculture had been called upon to capacitate them to be able to meet supply demands.  

Discussion

Ms Mampuru appreciated the ECDOE for undertaking the benchmarking process and for the efforts taken to improve.

Ms Samka-Mququ commented she came from the Eastern Cape. After the intervention by the national Department of Education, the province had shown improvements in education. The top management -- the office of the MEC, the Director-General and senior managers -- had turned around the dire situation. The way the MEC for Education was so ‘hands-on’ went a long way in assisting the Department. Comparing the 2017 matric results to other years showed that on the ground, there had been improvements. She was not giving them praise because she was also from the Eastern Cape. She had also been ‘hands-on’ in ensuring improvement in the quality of education in the province, and her complaints and concerns had lessened. The decrease in the number of districts, from 23 to 12, had also assisted with implementation and monitoring. The improvement did not now mean the Committee would relax its oversight role. It wanted the province to be number one, instead of being known for being last, but it was important to also encourage them and not to always criticise.

The Chairperson said that the assistance from the national Department and bringing in senior managers from other provinces had indeed assisted the Eastern Cape. She was pleased that the rate of expenditure on the NSNP had improved. It was the top province in terms of the rolling out of infrastructure, but she stood to be corrected. This meant it was also improving in terms of proper and adequate spending. The province was also improving on matric results, but was not yet there. The Committee expected them to be in the region of 80% and above. Not all was bad -- the Eastern Cape was making improvements and the Committee recognised them. The level of oversight of the Department was very important. It had to conduct vigorous oversight and guidance to ensure performance.

Western Cape

Mr Tau Matseliso, DDG: Institutional Development and Coordination, Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said the Department was focusing on quality education for every learner in every classroom in the province. It had three strategic goals -- the improvement of all languages in all schools, an increase in the number and quality of passes in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination, and an increase in the provision of quality education in poor communities. The presentation showed the endless efforts the Department had taken to ensure the realisation of these goals.

Matric results

Ms Tina Singh, Chief Director: Examination and Assessment, summarised the WCED performance in the 2017 NSC examinations. The province had had a pass rate of 82.8% in 2017, a slight decline from the 86% of the previous year, but with the marking of the supplementary exams there had been an improvement of 1.6% in the pass rate, taking it up to almost 85%. The Western Cape had achieved the highest Bachelor degree access in the country, with 39.1% achieving this level of pass in 2017. The province had also had the highest mathematics pass rate of 73.9%. Seven of eight districts had achieved over 80% pass rates. The pass rate of special schools had gone up from 93.6% in 2016, to 95.1% in 2017. The Western Cape Department aimed to support special schools with technology, and learner and teacher support material. 16.8% of schools had achieved a 100% pass rate, while more than 40% of schools had achieved a pass rate of 90% or above. The WCED had the highest retention rate of 64.34% between Grades 10 to 12 from 2015 to 2017. The retention rate was something that needed attention, however. The progression policy in the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges would take care of the retention rate as those were the learners who would ordinarily drop out, but progressing them to the next grade would encourage them to stay.

In terms of the magnitude of the exams, the numbers were low in the Western Cape compared to the other provinces like KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, so the examinations were manageable. The 2017 NSC examinations were written across 452 examination centres. External invigilators were involved in the conduct of the examinations to bring credibility, and the examinations were also monitored by the DBE and Umalusi.

The gap of performance between quintile 1 and quintile 3 schools had narrowed significantly. In 2017, the quintile 1 performance had been much better than in quintile 3. The pass rates and Bachelor degree access rates had decreased in all quintiles in 2017, compared to the previous two years. The only district below 80% had been District East, at 77.7%. Overberg District was in the country’s top 20 performing districts.

A lot of emphasis was placed on mathematics and physical sciences participation. There was a challenge of learners changing from mathematics to maths literacy, and that was something that needed a lot of attention. Support for learners in respect of subject choices needed to be strengthened at the end of Grade 9.

The WCED had 30 schools below the 50% pass rate distribution, and only one school with the lowest of rate of 22.2%. The Western Cape had 3 280 progressed learners in 2017, compared to 4 852 in 2015. It had 25 progressed learners achieve Bachelor passes in 2017, which showed that if sufficient support was given to these learners they would be able to pass matric with a Bachelor pass.

It was very important to note the interventions that had taken place after the 2017 NSC results, and that was the feedback to the districts and schools. The WCED had provided schools with a summary page of results and a full set of candidate advice of results. In addition, schools were also provided with an enhanced per question analysis of each question paper that was written at the school. Districts were supplied with their overall circuit and school performance, as well as a detailed analysis of the performance in subjects at the district and school levels. This included a comparative analysis of the examination and school-based assessment for each subject. Also, focused interventions at under-performing schools were being supported by the district. Schools were being closely monitored in respect of school management, teacher and learner attendance, and a strong focus on subject intervention and performance at the school level. Further, there was the high school improvement plan, which supported learners at risk and learners requiring support to attain better examination results. The district also co-ordinated the ‘second chance’ matric programme.

Service delivery protests and land invasions had impacted on the writing of examinations, especially in June 2018. This had resulted in a shift of examination venues to safer areas and short notice to candidates. However, the attendance by candidates was generally poor because of late notification, and the Department could not control the fact that not all were able to attend and write the examinations.

LTSM

Mr Archie Lewis, DDG: Education Planning, said the Western Cape did not make use of central procurement of LTSM. It did not make use of national tenders for the procurement or distribution of books. Two years ago, it had done an assessment on the transversal tender for the distribution of books. Its findings were that it would eventually cost more to get the books to the schools. The reason why the WCED had its own LTSM system was that it was more cost effective -- it excluded the costs of warehousing books. It had found that schools could exchange books more quickly if incorrect orders were made, without cost. The Department could have peace of mind that books were at schools on time, and it had close relationships with the publishers which had assisted in greater efficiency in ordering, delivery and the payment processes. The WCED had used the term contract system for LTSM and cleaning materials for three years, and the other for textbooks, which was also a three-year tender. The tenders had been concluded at a fixed cost, and the costs of textbooks do not change from year to year. The contracts also placed the responsibility of the delivery of the textbooks on the publishers. Other advantages were that bulk buying resulted in economies of scale for individual schools -- more textbooks could be purchased per school due to lower costs and faster ordering and delivery of textbooks, due to the contract. Orders for additional textbooks could be placed without undue delay, especially in January when shortages were discovered.

The balance of the norms and standards allocation were paid back to the schools towards the end of the financial year for non-section 21 schools. The balance of the allocation for section 21 schools was transferred to schools in two tranches at the beginning and middle of the financial year. There were two opportunities for schools to order stationery and cleaning material -- in April/May and August. All ordering was online in an automated system, which had assisted with previous problems experienced with lost requisitions. All schools, section 21 and non-section 21, had to complete an order form -- even schools that would not be placing any orders. Ordering time for textbooks was June for schools, and official orders placed at publishers happened in July. This allowed for the timeous delivery in October/November, to assist schools to be ready by January the following year. There were monitors who closely tracked and followed up with publishers on the delivery of textbooks. The Department had a close relationship with the DBE in respect of workbooks, and had experienced no problems with the workbooks supplied by the DBE.

The WCDE was in the process of procuring eBooks, but this was still in its infancy.

School nutrition

Lindelwa Sopotela, Director: NSNP, presented on the NSNP in the Western Cape. It had three functions in the province: school feeding; nutrition education and de-worming; and facilitating food gardens and other food production projects in schools. Feeding accounted for 96% of the budget, 0.5% went towards education and de-worming. and sustainable food production was not funded. However, it had over 500 food gardens planted over the last three years. More than 400 gardeners had been employed to nurture the food and were paid the minimum wage through the expanded public works programme (EPWP). The grant purpose was to provide nutritious meals at targeted schools. The targeted outcome was to enhance learning capacity and improve access to education. Outputs were the number of schools that prepared nutritious meals for learners. All primary and secondary schools that were categorised as quintile 1-3 (most deprived schools) and more than 300 quintile 4 – 5 schools, were provided meals daily, feeding 474 828 learners in 999 schools. The menu served two meals a day -- breakfast and a main meal. Breakfast was served before 8:00am, and the main meal was served not later than 12:30pm. The WCED complied with the recommended food specifications and approved menu. 2 755 VFHs cook the food and were paid an honorarium of a minimum of R1 188 per month for 12 months.

The WCED followed a centralised model, where an open tender system was applied and service providers were contracted for a period of two years. The service providers buy the food and supply the schools directly. Currently, there were three service providers that supplied food to schools. The average WCED current cost (per meal is R3.02 per primary school learner per day, R3.85 per secondary school learner per day, and R2.68 in quintile 4-5 schools per learner per day.

The majority of the schools had adequate infrastructure to support the effective implementation of the NSNP in the province, especially the new schools. They were built with kitchens and storage facilities, but all schools had kitchens because the WCED supplied them with mobile kitchens. Very few schools had storage facilities. This was a problem, as storage was not prioritised due to budgetary constraints. The WCED had received R2 499 679 in 2018/19 financial year for kitchen equipment. In 2018, it had prioritised the purchase of gas stoves, and would procure a total of 400 gas stoves.

The principal was the accounting officer at the school level. Most schools tasked the receipt of food and the checking of expiry dates to the caretaker or the volunteer food handler responsible for storage. NSNP district monitors check the store rooms and the stock forms to monitor stockpiling and expiry dates.

The challenges in the province were that it had a large number of quintile 4 and 5 schools, especially since new schools were classified as quintile 4, and it would like to include these schools in the programme. Lack of appropriate storage facilities was another challenge. as well as theft escalating in some areas, especially in the metro districts.

Mpumalanga

Matric Results

Ms Mahlasedi Mhlabane, HOD: Department of Education, said there had been a time when Mpumalanga was in last position in terms of performance in matric results. It had since moved up some positions, but it was not happy because in 2015 it had nearly reached a target of an 80% pass rate. Performance in this regard had also declined and it was something it was working to improve on. It had also declined in performing above the national average in 2017.

As part of cultural practices, there were initiation schools for the Ndebele community which took place every five years in June. So, the difference between 2013 and 2017 was that in 2017, the Department had budgetary constraints and could not go out to provide learners in initiation the required academic support. There had been a slight improvement in the quality of the passes and an increase in the number of learners who obtained Bachelor passes, and after the supplementary examinations it had gone up to 30.7%.

The province had four districts, and three of them were managed by acting district directors. She hoped that the Executive Council meeting taking place in the province today would approve the recommendation to fill the vacancies. The Department had received approval to appoint circuit managers from the beginning of 2018. It wanted to stabiise both the district and circuit levels to ensure that the necessary support was provided and there were no declines in performance in 2018.

The performance of progressed learners had also improved and in 2017, 56.4% of progressed learners had passed and 5.5% had received Bachelor passes, so the progression policy was really working. Learners who would have been retained in Grade 11 and had more money spent on them, were now passing and studying at universities in 2018.

Mpumalanga did not have a district that performed below 20%, and it did not have 0% performing schools. It was not happy that there were some schools performing below 70%. Only content subjects showed an improvement in performance, and all the other subjects had declined. What was encouraging was that the number of learners taking mathematics was increasing and the number taking maths literacy was decreasing. However, the Department had to make sure that learners were provided with the necessary support to pass the subject at the end of 2018 academic year.

After comparing the difference in performance between 2016 and 2017, a learner improvement plan had been developed which set a target of 80% and above matric pass rate for the end of 2018. It also wanted to increase learner performance in all Grades by 10%. The plan targeted learner and teacher support as well as parents’ involvement, to make sure that at the end of the year, learners passed. It had started implementing the plan in January 2018. The winter school programme had been running since 25 June, to 6 July, and was compulsory for 20 000 learners from all the schools who performed below 70% in 2017. Term one and two performance would be reviewed with the districts immediately when marks have been captured and schools re-opened. The risks against the achievement of the plan had been identified as destruction of schools due to natural disasters, and the partial implementation by the schools, and issues of service delivery and initiation schools.

Since the beginning of this year there have been no challenges from teacher unions. Recently, during a service delivery protest, six schools had been torched. A strong message had been sent to communities that the government was not going to rebuild or reconstruct the schools, but it would mobilise the same communities to rehabilitate the schools as a way of learning, and discouraging them from torching schools.

LTSM

In Mpumalanga, all schools were section 21 schools, but it did not give them the power to deal with LTSM that had been centralised at the departmental level. It was utilising the contracts the DBE had with publishers to get textbooks and procure centrally, to benefit from the economies of scale. There were advantages for the province in using the national catalogue on textbooks where there was a new curriculum, as it allowed them to buy all the textbooks for all the schools regardless of their quintile. The retrieval system was still a challenge -- quintiles 1-3 were not doing well with the retrieval of textbooks, which was costing a lot of money. It had engaged SGBs to minimise the high level of topping up. Other than stationery and textbooks, it had a huge backlog on providing other LTSM, such as library books and reading material for Grades 4 to 9. When savings were realized, the backlog assists in determining which items should be prioritised.

School nutrition

In 2017, 95 884 learners were provided with nutritious meals over a period of 191 days. 4 899 VHFs were paid by the SGBs, and 116 gardeners were paid through the EPWP grant. The Mpumalanga National Training Trust was being utilised to train food handlers on how to cook food so it did not lose nutrition, and for the handlers to be in a position to run their own catering companies at the end of the two-year contract period. The Executive Council had resolved on a government nutrition programme as the model to roll out school nutrition in the province. Schools and hospital patients and youth centres procured fresh produce from local farmers, supported by the Department of Agriculture in the province, so they have a market from the Departments of Education, Health and Social Development.

Northern Cape

Matric Results

Dr Michelle Ishmail, DDG: Curriculum & Assessment, started off by confirming that the Northern Cape Department of Education’s (NCDOE’s) plan fell within the ambit of the national plan of the DBE, and was guided by its policy prescripts. In 2016, there were 11 821 learners registered for NSC exams, and the numbers had dropped in 2017. It worked very closely with the DBE, which provided oversight and quarterly performance reviews to monitor and improve performance in the province.

There had been a slight decline of 3.1% in the matric pass rate from 2016 to 2017, with a 75.6% pass in 2017. Systems had been put in place to try to address the decline. The province had also just come out of a period of disengagement with the biggest teachers’ union. Since the end of March, no departmental officials had been allowed into any space occupied by SA Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) members.

In quintile 1 schools there had been an increase in performance and this showed the interventions were working, but were also dependent on funding. The concern was with quintile 3 schools, which had declined in performance. Males were still outperforming female learners in the Northern Cape. There had been a decline in the number of Bachelors passes from 2016. In 2017, 2 205 had obtained Bachelor passes. Mathematics and physical sciences were taken very seriously and budgets had been adjusted for support programmes in these subjects. 52.8% of progressed learners had passed in 2017 and 22 of them had obtained Bachelor passes. Progressed learners were given more than academic support, including psycho-social support. There had been a 7.6% decline in passes for Afrikaans Home Language, and a very slight decline in isiXhosa Home Language, with a 0.5% failure rate. There was also a drop in performance in key subjects: accounting, business studies, economics, geography, life sciences and mathematical literacy.

Frances Baard District had 10 schools under-performing in 2017, but 19 schools had a 100% matric pass rate in the province. Reasons for underperformance were:

  • Learners chose subject combinations which had a high failure rate as a combination;
  • Poor performance in Afrikaans Home Language, accounting, business studies, history and agricultural sciences compared to 2016;
  • Increase in the number of novice teachers across all subjects, especially high enrolment subjects;
  • Teachers teaching subjects where they were not qualified or under-qualified (including educators with primary school qualifications);
  • High number of migrant teachers, resulting in a high percentage of absenteeism, which subsequently impacts negatively on both curriculum and school-based assessment coverage;
  • Huge number of progressed learners and child-headed homes, resulting in poor learner attendance;
  • Provincial subject co-ordinator and district subject advisor vacancies; and
  • Inflated school-based assessment – sub-standard assessment tasks and lenient marking.

All these challenges were being addressed through the national strategy.

LTSM

Mr H Esam, Chief Director: NSNP, presented on LTSM and school nutrition. The Northern Cape participated in the central procurement system of LTSM. The advantages were the benefits of the administrative responsibility that had shifted from the small capacitated province to national. The biggest advantage was the savings realised by bulk procurement. He explained what happened to the refunds that were due to schools if their orders cost less than their allocation. For stationery, schools who had procured from the centralised contract had the procured expenditure deducted from their allocation. The balance of the allocation was paid over to schools. From 2018 the Northern Cape province would not participate in centralised procurement for stationery due to the number of schools indicating their unwillingness to participate. Systems had been put in place to make sure that learners received the required stationery with a specific focus on quintile 1 and 3. For textbooks, the NCDOE withheld all allocations to procure for all schools, irrespective of the allocation, since the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) implementation. This had been done to ensure universal coverage, which had still not been achieved. CAPS 2 implementation had further motivated the need to continue with this approach.

The DBE sector plan clearly guided the process on the correct time of ordering books. A provincial sector plan had been developed to align with the DBE’s sector plan. The NCDOE started its processes as early as March the previous academic year for the following year’s orders. The processes of ordering, verification, consolidation, supply chain processes, delivery, picking and packing, and delivery to schools were all time consuming and therefore stretched to November/December of the previous year. Orders with publishers would be placed by the NCDOE in July 2018. A big challenge with stationery was the issue of the quality of the procured material. With textbooks, minimum challenges were experienced with emerging or smaller publishers. Challenges were also experienced in the first two years with the South African Post Office as the delivery agent. This consequently had been resolved.

A number of factors had contributed to schools getting books that they had not ordered. A number of schools from the onset had ordered incorrectly. The NCDOE attempts to address wrong deliveries by both district and provincial verification processes, which quality assures data even before orders were placed with publishers. Errors could also be made during the picking and packing processes by the delivery agent. Monitoring and checking processes by the NCDOE attempt to mitigate these errors. Schools were reminded annually to not accept wrong material. The NCDOE’s policy was that no school should accept any wrong delivery. The wrong material should be returned with the delivery agent.

The province monitors the implementation of the retrieval system of LTSM, and even had retrieval campaigns annually to aim for 100% retrieval of LTSM, which was yet to be achieved. The role of the districts was to receive and verify school retrieval reports annually, to identify flashpoint schools with critical shortages, and support schools to complete reports correctly.

School nutrition

255 000 learners were benefiting from the NSNP in the province in 303 schools, and there were over 1 000 volunteer food handlers. It had provided meals over 191 days for quintile 1- 3 learners who were the primary beneficiaries. Primary and secondary school learners in targeted quintile 4-5 also benefited. Secondary beneficiaries were unemployed parents, and VFHs, especially mothers who were contracted to prepare meals for learners and were receiving a monthly stipend. Local SMMEs also benefited by selling groceries to schools.

Each school had a sub-committee of the SGB responsible for NSNP administration. The committee buys monthly or weekly groceries based on the menu. The VHF prepares and serves the food. Learners were expected to be fed by 10:00. There were some schools where they were serving breakfast and the time was moved up to 11:00. The aim was for all schools to have a designated area for the storage of food. The storage area should be adequately secured at all times. The food storage area should be kept hygienic and safe. Food should not be stored directly on the floor, but rather in cupboards, on racks/shelves or on pallets. This was continuously monitored by the educator responsible for the programme and the school’s nutrition committee. The stock control sheet should be updated on a daily basis and regular checks should be made to compare the stock on hand to the stock control sheet. Expiring dates and quality of items were checked, and district officials also did regular inspections in this regard. Schools were allocated a small percentage from the grant for utensils annually. The DBE had issued a booklet as a guide to schools and provinces in terms of what type of cooking and eating utensils to buy.

The challenges were that not all schools had kitchens and storage facilities. Human resources at all levels remained a challenge. Volunteer food handlers were receiving a small stipend, and the feeding rate was inadequate because of high food prizes.

North West Province

Matric Results

Mr Prince Masilo, DDG: Curriculum Management and Delivery, presented on the North West 2017 matric results, and said it was common knowledge that the province had not performed well. The main challenge had been the rejected school-based assessments (SBAs). If the formal and informal assessments were not tightened, it affected the final exams. The reasons Umalusi rejected some of the SBA processes were highlighted:

  • Agricultural Science was a big contributor to the rejected SBAs in the province -- 50 cases had been rejected;
  • Common tasks were not well managed or administered at school level;
  • There was inflation of marks and poor quality of marking, and recycling of tasks; and
  • Moderation was not done at all the various levels.

There had been a 3.1% decrease in the matric pass rate and all the districts had declined in performance. First term results of 2018 also showed that most districts were under-performing at below 70%.

The province faced systemic, school-based and social challenges. There was a loss of teaching time where some schools were not functioning for up to three months due to community protests. Superficial curriculum coverage, and schools not analysing diagnostic reports from DBE and Umalusi, were the identified school based challenges. There was minimum use of a valuable report from Umalusi which highlighted serious matters that needed to be attended to, which could assist the schools to improve on matric results. All schools in the province had been provided with annual teaching plans (ATPs), which prescribe that 50% of the syllabus and SBAs must be covered in the first term, 30% in the second term and 20% in the third term so that in the fourth term there could be revision. The processes were being tracked to make sure that the syllabus was covered as per the timelines given in the ATPs. All grades had received common programmes of assessment to ensure coverage. Common mid-year exams had been provided to ensure standardised assessment and all schools affected by protests had developed plans to recover lost time to prepare learners for exams.

There were on-going enrichment camps in areas for burned schools, or schools which had been disrupted for a long period. The Grade 12 learners had been taken to special camps from the 1 June to 22 June. Some camps were used to recover lost contact time, while others were for intensive revision. The camps were catering for 28 751 learners from under-performing schools, progressed learners and technical schools, and 480 learners for talent development, the global linkage initiative programme (GLIP) and the Thuthuka development programme. This translated into 83.7% of the total Grade 12 enrolment attending the camps. R52 million was being spent on camps alone to ensure that learners improved their performance. It did not mean that schools did not have a responsibility, as these camps were an enrichment to what should already have been taught.

The province conducts accountability sessions with districts, principals and head of departments to see that they understand their roles and responsibilities. All the interventions had yielded good results. In 2017, after the supplementary examinations, North West had achieved an 81.5% matric pass rate. There was value for money for all the efforts made. In the province, there was also the inclusive Basket of Performance Indicators, where the pass target was 85%. It was also about the quality of passes.

LTSM

Mr K Moepedi presented on the province’s LTSM, and said the province had adopted a centralised procurement model for over 10 years. Three LTSM service providers had been appointed by the province for a period of three years. Publishers were appointed through national contracts, and the province signed service level agreements (SLAs) with them. Stationery manufacturers and publishers supply and deliver stationery and textbooks to appointed distributors. Distributors deliver both stationery and textbooks directly to schools. There were approximately 50 publishers supplying textbooks, three stationery manufacturers supplying stationery, and seven distributors had been appointed across the province. The correct time for ordering by schools was May/June – in line with the DBE sector plan. It had just completed the ordering of stationery and only the ordering of textbooks was outstanding, which would be done after the June/July holidays. The province had developed its own stationery catalogue, and used the national catalogue as a guide.

Last year, the province had introduced a new internally developed electronic system (e-LTSM system), which it would also use for the retrieval of textbooks. Wrongly delivered books resulted from incorrect selection of books by schools during on-line ordering. Once wrong deliveries were detected, replacement was done. An advantage of centralised procurement, which had not been mentioned by the other provinces, was that it minimised irregularities compared to when schools procured on their own, and the risk of transferring LTSM funds to schools with poor or inadequate financial management. The challenges were delays of deliveries through central procurement, which were mainly due to delays in tender processes and disputed tender awards by service providers. However, this was a once-off instance and had not happened again.

Unspent LTSM funds by schools were prioritised for stationery packs and textbooks for all learners and what was left was then spent on other supplementary LTSM items like dictionaries etc. With implementation of the e-LTSM system in the past financial year, schools’ unspent funds would be reimbursed going forward. Currently, the province did not have a uniform or standardised retrieval system, but the introduction of the e-LTSM system would take over. The province would implement the e-LTSM retrieval system to ensure satisfactory textbook retrieval for 2018. The province would also monitor the implementation of retrieval by reports drawn from the e-LTSM and other plans to address improve the retrieval system.

School nutrition

The province had decentralised the implementation of the programme. It transferred money to the schools monthly. Out of 1 454 schools in the province, 1 334 were serviced, comprising of 737 551 (86%) learners receiving meals through the NSNP. 25 special schools were also benefiting from the programme. There were also secondary beneficiaries, who were the 4 387 VFHs trained in how to handle, prepare and serve food. The programme was wholly funded from the conditional grant by National Treasury.

The mandate of the programme was to provide one nutritious meal to quintile 1-3 learners per day on all school days, but it was looking into servicing poor learners in quintile 4 and 5 schools. The biggest challenge remained infrastructure, as most of the schools did not have appropriate infrastructure to prepare and serve food. The Department had committed to make available the necessary budget to erect more nutrition centres to enable schools to provide meals from acceptable facilities. Of the 1 334 schools participating in the NSNP, only 43 had proper nutrition centres. In the new schools, there were kitchens and dining halls.

Mismanagement of food and deviation from prescribed menus had also been identified challenges. There were full time field workers who did the monitoring and were quick to intervene in such instances.

Discussion

The Chairperson commended North West on the progress and improvements achieved, despite the administrative problems. She believed that there would be further engagements with them on the issues in order to come up with proposal together on what needed to be done to ensure all issues were resolved. The magnitude of the administrative problems needed the attention of the entire NCOP. The good work done that had been reported brought confidence that things would eventually turn around.

Ms Samka-Mququ observed that Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and North West had similar challenges in LTSM and NSNP. The presentation by the Western Cape had failed to provide detailed results per district and areas, and the township areas were not highlighted. These were the areas where community protests were prevalent and impacted on learner attendance and performance. It was necessary for the Committee to visit the Western Cape and engage with them in the presence of the MEC for Education in the province, to fully understand the issues in the townships.

The presentation by North West showed that the presenters loved their jobs. The province had a lot of challenges. The situation was not normal in North West, and would require close monitoring and a follow up to fully diagnose the problems. Sometimes officials find it difficult to talk on issues in the absence of political heads, so the issues in the province should be revisited. The Mpumalanga presentation also gave assurance that all officials who presented today were passionate about their work. She said it appeared that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Ms Mampuru agreed that the challenges across the provinces were similar. She encouraged Mpumalanga to have higher targets for mathematics and other subjects, just like it had for the home language targets, and echoed the Chairperson’s words to “aim for the sky.” There was not much to comment on North West, because the Department was under administration. Perhaps it was important for the Committee also to go to North West and further engage to understand what the problems were.

DBE’s response

Dr Poliah spoke on behalf of the DBE, and welcomed the engagement that had taken place in the meeting. It had been extremely fruitful and the questions and comments that had been raised were appreciated. It could be agreed that the provincial departments could not be faulted for the energy and efforts put into improving learner performance. Unfortunately, there were certain embedded challenges which the provincial departments had identified, and they were dealing with them very decisively. Given that the challenges were major, they would not be resolved in one year and would take time. The departments should continue with their efforts into improvement, and most importantly, similar efforts must be put into the lower grades. Provinces were at different levels of performance, and their performances should be measured within the particular contexts. He thanked the Committee for their support and assured them the DBE would go back and consider what had been said and raised.

The Chairperson was encouraged by Dr Poliah’s comments that the DBE had taken note of the issues raised, and that an appropriate forum would consider them and devise strategies on how to support the provinces. The DBE was putting a lot of effort into ensuring it supported the system from the ground upwards. The presentations were very useful and detailed and the Committee would keep referring to the documents when it neededs to know the status quo in the provinces. The Western Cape township and farm areas needed the Committee’s attention, and a week’s oversight visit would be conducted. The affluent areas in the Western Cape should be expected to achieve 99.9% matric pass, so there was scope for improvement. She applauded Mpumalanga on its refusal to solely fix damaged schools due to service delivery protests, and sharing the responsibility with the community was a good initiative.

In general, parents should be involved in all areas of the education system, as teachers and learners on their own were not sufficient. Business also had to be part of education. A centralised LTSM system seemed to be preferred, but there must be close monitoring always. It was good that the DBE had come up with the wisdom of the progression policy, which was working in all the provinces. The Committee was confident that in time, the quantity and quality of output in matric would drastically improve. It stood in full support of making sure the lower grades were also focused on so as to make sure that when learners reached matric, they would be able to cope and achieve good results. South Africa needed the skills, and they had to be developed from a young age.

Lastly, she agreed that access to higher education should be increased, along with the increase in access to basic education. The matter had been deliberated at length, and there were new HEIs emerging to address the issue and increase the number of distance learning institutions.

The meeting was adjourned.

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