Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC); 2017 National Senior Certificate Consolidated Results, with Minister

Basic Education

28 August 2018
Chairperson: Mr H Khosa (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign is geared to mobilising stakeholders to play a role and take responsibility for the attainment of quality learning and teaching. The QLTC has been repositioned to respond to the dictates of the Education Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030. Some progress has been made on the implementation of the QLTC strategic framework, including the convening of all-inclusive stakeholder meetings to familiarise them with the results of their respective matric results both at school and district levels and the sharing of their turnaround strategies. Additional progress has been made in the form of strengthening the collaboration with the National Education Collaboration Trust; establishment of District Steering Committees in underperforming districts; collaboration with the Eastern Cape and Limpopo Education Departments in setting up functional and all-inclusive QLTC structures; rationalisation of schools in the newly configured districts; and collaboration with SACE in identifying cases of learner abuse in the Eastern Cape. The programme is biased but not limited to the seven underperforming districts of 2017.

Members addressed a number of questions especially about accountability and maintaining momentum.

The Minister of Basic Education responded that QLTC is a campaign not a department programme and as a result there is a lack of structures to ensure its full implementation. QLTC does not need to be in every locality because when everything functions well you do not need an intervention. When there is a challenge, QLTC should come in and ask what it would take to resolve the conflict. QLTC ought to go to those schools that are underperforming and discuss what needs to be done to raise standards, and make agreements about what can be done in partnership. QLTC has been successful in restoring schooling where it has been suspended due to local conflicts. On the question of accountability, officials are broadly responsible. There are ongoing problems in special schools that are being addressed, but there are not dedicated teams for them. The campaign changes according to particular challenges that need to be addressed.

The Department added that all provinces have committed themselves to implementing QLTC. The role of the school governing body is to ensure that all stakeholders are onboard with the development of QLTC programmes.

The Consolidated Report on 2017 National Senior Certificate Examination Results was inclusive of the November 2017 exams and February 2018 supplementary exams. If one wants to gain a holistic picture of examination results one had to combine both sittings. This second set of examinations allows students who did not meet the NSC requirements by one to three subjects, a second chance. These supplementary examinations were fully administered across all PEDs.

For the NSC supplementary exams, DBE recorded an enrolment of 93 338 candidates of which 52 214 wrote. Comparing the NSC November 2017 results and the combined results, there had been an increase in examination achievement from 75.1 to 76.3 between November and March and this showed that the introduction of supplementary examinations had increased overall levels of achievement across examinees.

In the case of the Eastern Cape, 2 544 more candidates were added to the number who wrote, compared to the other PEDS, where the additions were less than 1 000. However, Eastern Cape in the main failed causing the final combined percentage in the Eastern Cape to be lower. On gender performance in the consolidated report, female learners are presenting higher average scores in examinations but more males are passing overall.

The Minister responded to Members' questions saying that DBE had tried to understand the shortcomings. In particular, the language of instruction from the Foundation to Intermediate stage leaves many children with deficits - it needs to build better structures. On similar schools performing differently, it is a school leadership and competence matter - that is to say, the solution lies in the school and not due to any external factor.

On Gauteng and the Western Cape having fewer matriculants in, observers tend to ignore urban poverty and overcrowding. Urban families are smaller. Some children carry such serious deficits past the intermediate stage that they become discouraged in their education and drop out. DBE consults with different stakeholder groups to continue to improve overall results. On the gender disparity in overall achievement, the DBE needed to address socialisation and examine gender roles.

 

Meeting report

Mr H Khosa (ANC) accepted the invitation to be Acting Chairperson. He announced that the Committee  would be joined for the day’s proceedings by the Minister of Education, Ms A Motshekga, who would be aiding the session’s speakers in responding to member’s questions on the presentations to be given.

Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) progress
Mr Thula Nkomo, DBE Director: QLTC, asserted that the material conditions on which the QLTC was founded have changed hence the need to refocus its priorities on the quality of education or the curbing of social ills. QLTC was conceived and subsequently launched as a social compact ten years ago by the then Department of Education, education stakeholders and communities. Its primary goals were to inform citizens about the importance of education, and their roles, responsibilities and obligations towards education; communities should be the catalyst for positive change, quality improvement and transformation by becoming actively and constructively involved in the improvement of teaching and learning.

He stressed that the QLTC is not a DBE programme but a campaign geared towards mobilising every stakeholder to play a role and take responsibility towards the attainment of quality learning and teaching. He noted that there are experts who are implementing the technical aspects of these programmes.

[The Minister arrived apologising for her lateness due to the visit of the UK Prime Minister that morning].

Mr Nkomo stated that the QLTC has been repositioned to respond to the dictates of the Education Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030. QLTC concerns itself with quality public education through campaigns and community engagement forums. The education system has now stabilised and schools are now performing in the region of 80% to 100% in terms of their learning outcomes.

He highlighted a number of programmes to be implemented including a focus on two critical areas: social cohesion and nation building. The repositioned QLTC had to pay special strategic attention to the following campaigns and activities to enhance implementation of DBE programmes: stakeholders engagement and community participation, parental involvement in education, interventions in education emergencies, quality public education initiatives and innovations and the reading and interpreting of various DBE reports.

QLTC is also to be geared towards the mobilisation of stakeholders and communities to play their part in other DBE programmes such as the turnaround of under-performing schools and districts, the three tier model of technical, vocational and academic training, Matric Second Chance and Funza Lushaka bursary programmes, and the 2018 national elections of school governing bodies and their advocacy and induction.

The QLTC programme is being rolled out to seven underperforming districts.

Some progress has been made on the implementation of the QLTC strategic framework. This includes the convening of all-inclusive stakeholder meetings to familiarise them with the results of their matric results both at school and district levels and the sharing of their turnaround strategies (District and/or School Improvement Plans). The stakeholders had to identify their roles and responsibilities in contributing towards turning around these underperforming districts.

Additional progress has been made in strengthening the collaboration with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT); establishment of District Steering Committees such as Sekhukhune, Mopani and Dr RS Mompati Districts; collaboration with the Eastern Cape and Limpopo Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) in setting up functional and all-inclusive QLTC structures; rationalisation of schools in the newly configured districts; and collaboration with SACE in identifying cases of learner abuse in the Eastern Cape.

Mr Nkomo noted that the programme is biased but not limited to the seven underperforming districts of 2017. Mobilisation and engagement strategies have been developed and each QLTC structure has been tasked with overseeing the implementation of their turnaround strategy.

Discussion
Mr A Botes (ANC) remarked that it had been 10 years since the launch of the QLTC in 2008, and so wanted to know if the campaign around school governing bodies (SGB) had been taken to task. Social creation and developing social cohesion, African language education promotion presently seems to be lacking. He wondered what measures QLTC planned to implement that might develop this kind of education. On educational infrastructure, he asked if the rolling out of library facilities in communities across the country had had a positive impact on those communities.

Dr H Mkhize (ANC) told the Committee  that in the North West province, she had visited several schools and none of those schools seemed to have QLTC initiatives in place. She asked if QLTC had been properly costed and who is accountable in ensuring it is implemented and sustained properly.

Ms J Basson (ANC) asked what exactly was meant by repositioning. She asked what lessons have been learnt from the QLTC implementation so far, especially in the provinces. She was concerned about how to ensure that it functions well and she asked what will guide the campaign in future.

Ms H Boshoff (DA) maintained that a campaign like QLTC must be measurable and so asked what targets were to be set to measure its progress. Had QLTC guidelines been translated into the official eleven languages to encourage accessibility? She asked how communities are mobilised and if the Committee  might be provided with the outcomes of these mobilisations. On the learner abuse cases, she requested that the Committee  be told what has happened so far in the Department’s response to the problem.

Ms N Mokoto (ANC) asked which provinces are not doing well in ensuring QLTC is being implemented. On accountability, some provinces had not appointed dedicated persons to oversee QLTC implementation. She asked who it fell to do this. How rigorously was QLTC conceived and for how long is it supposed to run?

Mr D Mnguni (ANC) pointed out that QLTC has only recently been formalised. It was something that schools were doing before as a part of their ordinary practice. It requires that everyone be involved and ought not to intimidate schools and businesses. He therefore wondered how the implementation of QLTC had gone. There had been a lot of learner abuse in the schools. How far had QLTC gone to address this? He noted a trend where underperforming schools subsequently over perform and then after they stop receiving these incentives, they begin to underperform. This was due to funding allocations being redistributed in subsequent years to other underperforming schools. How can DBE ensure that they all perform well?

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, responded that the Ministry is closely associated with the QLTC, it is a campaign not a department programme and as a result there is a lack of structures to ensure its full implementation. QLTC does not need to be in every locality because when everything functions well you do not need an intervention. When there is a challenge, QLTC should come in and ask what it would take to resolve the conflict. QLTC ought to go to those schools that are underperforming and discuss what needs to be done to raise standards, and make agreements about what can be done in partnership. QLTC has been successful in restoring schooling in places where it has been suspended due to local conflicts. On the question of accountability, officials are broadly responsible. There are ongoing problems in special schools that are being addressed, but there are not dedicated teams for them. The campaign changes according to particular challenges that need to be addressed. It is not accurate to say that businesses run away from schools, they are generally supportive - they do tend to coordinate with education officials.

Mr Nkomo maintained that all provinces have committed themselves to implementing the QLTC framework. He emphasised that the role of the SGB is to ensure that all stakeholders are onboard with the development of QLTC programmes - those structures can coordinate some centrality, especially insofar as community involvement is involved. DBE needs to go back to examining how it can sustain momentum on programmes. There are ongoing investigations about learner abuse. The guidelines have been translated into all 11 languages and all districts have been given those guidelines.

Mr Paddy Padayachee, DDG: Planning, Information and Assessments, DBE, explained that DBE had introduced African languages into schools at the lower grades to improve general social cohesion. The Department of Arts and Culture had begun building libraries, and the communities where this had been done had seen general improvements. Communities seemed to be more engaged with the practice of reading after these developments. Although QLTC was due officially to end in two years, he emphasised that it ought to thought of as a framework whereby the priority is to develop educational strategies in an ongoing manner.

Dr Mkhize complained that North West learners were not receiving an education due to lack of water at their school. She asked if the Minister might intervene. There had been no response to the costing question.

The Minister replied that DBE will look into this, especially since she had seen the problem for herself on trips to the provinces. The costing policy was that officials sign off on projects on an ongoing basis - there is a need for money for travel costs and assessment measures.

Consolidated Report on 2017 National Senior Certificate Examination Results
Dr Rufus Poliah, Chief Director: National Assessment and Public exams, said the national results were an indicator of how the education system as a whole had been performing. The report was inclusive of the November 2017 exams and February/March 2018 supplementary exams. He stressed that if one wants to gain a holistic picture of examination results one had to combine both sittings. This second set of examinations allows students who did not meet the NSC requirements by one to three subjects, a second chance. These supplementary examinations were fully administered across all PEDs.

Dr Poliah emphasised that the only disruption to the examinations were the protest actions which resulted in some candidates not writing the examination in one or two papers. The supplementary examinations were conducted following the same standard and rigour of the November 2017 NSC examinations. On the scope and size of the NSC supplementary exams, DBE recorded an enrolment of 93 338 candidates of which 52 214 wrote. There were 128 question papers across 6 341 examination centres.

Dr Poliah presented a table to compare the NSC November 2017 results and the combined results. He stressed that this was perhaps the most important component of his presentation. There had been an increase in examination achievement from 75.1 to 76.3 between Nov and March and he took this to show that the introduction of supplementary examinations had increased overall levels of achievement across examinees. These combined results included all outstanding marks added between the official release of results on 5 January 2018 and the final combined results released on 7 May 2018.

In the case of the Eastern Cape, 2 544 more candidates were added to the number who wrote, compared to the other PEDS, where the additions were less than 1 000. The higher number of additional candidates added to the number of candidates that wrote in the Eastern Cape, who in the main failed the examination, caused the final combined percentage in the Eastern Cape to be lower, despite the increase in the numbers that were achieved.

Dr Poliah presented tables and figures to highlight other notable aspects of the data:
• On gender performance in the consolidated report, female learners are presenting higher average scores in examinations but more males are passing overall.
• There had been some drops in certain subjects compared to the 2016/17 examinations but there has been an overall small improvement in achievement levels.
• On performance in terms of poverty indicators, Quintile 1 and 2 schools were doing very well.

A summary of overall gains due to the supplementary examinations showed that:
• Total number of candidates achieving NSC increased from 401 435 to 411 523 (10 088 more candidates)
• Total number of candidates obtaining the Higher Certificate increased from 86 265 to 92 604 (6 339 more)
• Total number obtaining admission to Diploma studies increased from 161 333 to 163 702 (2 369 more)
• Total number obtaining admission to Bachelor studies increased from 153 610 to 154 980 (1 370 more) compared to November 2017 NSC examination results.

Discussion
Ms Basson asserted that the no-shows were a waste of money. There are District Improvement Plans (DIP) Provincial Improvement Plan (PIPs) and School Improvement Plan (SIPs) that are drawn up at the beginning of the year - yet at the end they do not yield good results. She asked what plans the DBE has to help learners and teachers perform better.

Dr Mkhize pointed out that there are schools in similar circumstances but there is a difference in performance levels. Thus what measures does DBE take to ensure these schools perform? Teachers are going for IT training but they are too short and lack lustre in terms of content. She asked what the DBE was doing to ensure teacher empowerment here. Finally she maintained that different provinces have different challenges and it is disingenuous to compare them against each other. What was being done to ensure their performance improves.

Mr Botes asked if there was a reason for different levels of enrolment across the years. Had research been conducted to understand why there are fewer matriculants in Gauteng compared to other provinces, given Gauteng’s larger population.

Ms Boshoff wondered if schools underperforming could be ascribed to teacher absences and what systems are there to hold teachers to account for their underperformance. She asked how many grade 10s there were there in 2015 in comparison to 2017. She maintained that there was a much needed report on the percentage of progressed learners. The Committee  had asked for a special report on our special learners - could it be seen?

Ms Mokoto’s greatest concern was about equality of outcomes. There is a shortage of teachers especially in the North West, schools rely a lot on foreign teachers. On Matric Second Chance, the second chance centres are based in certain areas that are quite far from where learners are. She asked if DBE reconfigured the centres to make them more accessible to those matriculants. The provinces that have performed better in November do not seem to retain their positions in the supplementary exams. On the no-shows, she asked why this might be.

The Chairperson commented that there had been a drop in Business Studies and Accounting results. He asked how this drop is being minimised as those subjects are cornerstones of the South African economy.

Dr Mkhize spoke about agricultural schools with no resources - students pay tuition but do not have adequate education despite their investment. This extended to there being no livestock or machinery available with which to teach students. This was a common challenge in such schools. She asked how it  measured learner improvements.

Ms Boshoff added that agricultural schools had a problem with budget allocations being delayed to them.

Mr Mnguni insisted that DBE needed to develop methods and commission research to ensure learners arrive to take their tests. He asked if the system of making our teachers accountable was working.

The Minister responded that there are lots of tools used to assess the Department's systems. On the gender disparity in overall achievement, the DBE needed to address socialisation and examine gender roles. On the general performance of the system, DBE had tried to understand its shortcomings. In particular, the language of instruction from the Foundation to Intermediate stage leaves many children with deficits - it needs to build better structures. On similar schools performing differently, a report will be shared. In summary, however, it is a school leadership and competence matter - that is to say, the solution lies in the school and not to any external factor.

On why there are fewer matriculants in Gauteng and the Western Cape, observers tend to ignore urban poverty and overcrowding. There are different dynamics, including urban migration which results in bearing fewer children. Some children carry such serious deficits past the intermediate stage that they become discouraged in their education and drop out. This includes social and academic factors. DBE consults with different groups to continue to improve overall results.

On teacher shortages, DBE is informed by specific needs at particular times. For example, medical practices could not absorb medical students due to a recent graduate surplus. It is currently providing bursaries to African language-speaking teachers, as well as teachers at intermediate levels. It is not particularly focused on agriculture, but the Minister would take note that agriculture schools are expensive and provinces need to budget properly and make more considered decisions. DBE does not have specialists for specialist learners but they are focused on it. On the no-shows, it focuses on engagement. On matriculation and whether they feel comfortable in their course, students get a sense of it after a while.

Dr Poliah referred to the gender disparity - there are more girls in the system but a greater percentage of boys passed - that would be investigated. Overall assessment of subjects is the best indicator rather than individual assessment in terms of measuring progress in education levels. Learner centres are not just concerned with face-to-face education, there is instead a new focus on online learning. On the improvements in the supplementary exams, some learners score better after more extensive revision. On Business Studies and Accounting, special improvement plans are implemented to address the deficiencies. In monitoring aspirational learners seeking to improve, generally the individuals who sit the supplementary exams have not achieved well in the first exams and so the two are combined to allow for a chance at improvement. On enrolment numbers, there has been a drop in 2018 because fewer students are taking supplementary exams. Monitoring of principles manipulating the system is ongoing. DBE will ensure a more detailed analysis of special education and is looking at learner achievement in a broader holistic context.

Approval of Committee Report and Minutes
The Committee approved the Committee Oversight to Mpumalanga and approved minutes of 15 and 22 May, 5 June and 21 August 2018.

Meeting adjourned.

 

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