The WCPP Standing Committee on Education met to discuss the 2017/2018 Annual Report of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) with the Minister. The Minister provided a short report of the performance of the Department during the year under review, key achievements and challenges.
The Committee then engaged in lengthy interrogation of the Department where questions covered a wide variety of performance areas of the Department. This included the influx of learners, water-wise initiatives, retention rates, the apprenticeship game changer programme and e-learning. Members also questioned the maintenance of school infrastructure, teacher-learner ratios, literacy rates, the drop in the Bachelor pass rate, systematic tests, vacancies and the funding for Grade R.
Matters relating to funding of the Department were integral to discussions along with school safety especially in relation to gangsterism and violence in communities.
Other points of discussion included the workbook for pregnant learners, grievances in the Department, public-private partnerships and collaboration schools, support provided to independent schools, programmes to minimise barriers to learning and support mechanisms for teachers. Members sought more information on principal appointments, school management training, transport of learners, replacement schools and schools under construction, disaster management, invigilators trained and the mandatory resignation age.
Due to the absence of both the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Standing Committee, Mr M Wiley (DA) was appointed Acting Chairperson.
Western Cape Education Department 2017/18 Annual Report
Ms Debbie Schafer, Minister of Education in the Western Cape, highlighted that the Department does not get sufficient funding for the number of students it gets which is at least 18 000 new learners. This year the Department received 25 000 extra learners, however the Department has maintained a good pass rate and has managed to shift in ranking,
The Department achieved a 64 percent retention rate from Grade 10 to 12 which is the highest in the country - is a commendable achievement. She also mentioned the province has the highest mathematics pass rate and there is improvement in the number of students taking mathematics and science which are crucial subjects to the economy. The Department continues to improve in education, attracting funds and managing money.
Mr Brian Schreuder, WCED Head, said the Department needs to be a client-oriented, focused organisation - this can be achieved by improving the culture of the organisation. The Department needs to serve the people of the Western Cape as best it can and provide the best education in the country. There are two things to be proud of, one, the effort of the Department to improve the culture of the organisation and reemphasise the values of the organisation and, two, the award the Department received after an automatic nomination for good financial management, especially since there are 198 provincial departments in the country. The award motivates the Department to continue to serve the people, change the culture of education and encourage young people who have lost hope due to their social economic realities. The Department aspires to change the mindsets of young people and keep them away from drugs and gangsterism.
The Department is one of the largest employers in the province and that is a huge responsibility. The Department therefore has to make resources count and ensure teachers embrace their roles, believe in learners and recognise their value. Safety in schools was highlighted as a priority. Reference was made to gang related shootings in the province, besides safety. The Department also faced other challenges including increasing class sizes especially because the Department cannot afford teachers to compensate for this increase. The Department has developed e-learning and other strategies as a means to offer support. There has been good performance in the 2017/2018 financial year.
The Acting Chairperson congratulated the Department on the award it achieved.
Mr F Christians (ACDP) asked about the influx of learners, He heard from the MEC the previous day that the Department gets additional funding – how does this assist with the influx of learners? Did the funding help this year as the Department had 25 000 additional learners? He asked how this now affects the quality of education learners receive.
Mr R Mackenzie (DA) thanked the Minister and Department for printing in black and white as this saved money. He asked about the water-wise initiative and how it impacted finances of the province given the need for water-wise equipment in order for schools to save water. Did the water-wise initiative change behaviour going forward for the next few financial years? Given that the Department was the largest employer in the province, did this contribute to saving in the province given the R63 million budget? Did the Department share its practices with other departments in the province?
Mr T Olivier (ANC), realising the 64% retention rate is determined from Grade 10 to 12, asked why the rate was not determined from Grade 1 to 12. He also asked about the safety in school parameters and about specific measures in place for safety. He agreed with the head of the Department about a mindset shift and the need to create hope for the kids. Large class sizes are a problem and sourcing funding from finance needs to be addressed.
Ms L Botha (DA) asked about support given to learners doing mathematics and science to ensure they succeed. What number of schools are connected to broadband? How did the Department support learners in terms of their safety when trying to get to examination centres?
Mr C Dugmore (ANC) congratulated the Department on its achievement. He expressed that he found it challenging to assess the impact being made with regard to dealing with inequality in the province. The retention rate should not only be considered from Grade 10 to 12 but from Grade 1. Information was requested about learners who passed Grade 10 but do not make it to Grade 12. There are six Further Education and Training (FET) colleges - was there any synergy between the Department and the FET sector in order to find out the number of students that leave after Grade 9 and make it into these colleges? He asked to told the actual numbering of the apprenticeship game changer programme, the exact number of young people drawn to that programme on a yearly basis and how many have gone through the programme since it was established.
Mr Dugmore asked about the school evaluation authority as he wanted to get a sense of the number of schools targeted and those identified in the years under review. In relation to the e-learning game changer, how many schools were connected to the local network in the year under review? How many schools were not connected to the fibre optics grid and what are the specific plans for those schools? He also asked about safety and what the actual proposal for funding presented to Cabinet was. The reality is most of the no-fee schools are not in a position to pay for alarm systems and therefore additional funding is required.
Minister Schafer responded that the Department does not get sufficient assistance and last year, as a result of pleas and complaints, it did not get cuts even though other departments did. WCED received some additional funding for teachers but the money received was not just for teachers as that is not all the Department needs. The Department has asked for funding from National Treasury and while there has been progress, it was nowhere near what was required. The Department knows it needs more teachers but the problem is money. It is difficult to spend more money on safety because that means taking away money meant for teachers. The Department is not allowed to overspend even though other provinces, such as the Free State, overspend by up to R500 million hence they have low teacher ratios. She assured the Committee that the matter of class sizes and teachers are raised at every available forum.
Minister Schafer thanked Members for acknowledging the Department’s award noting the Department did share best practices with other department and there was a good working relationship. The Department had to diverge R300 million from its infrastructure budget towards water measures and this affected safety in schools as many schools no longer received fences they were scheduled to receive. It was difficult to get the infrastructure money back as it has already been allocated and committed.
Minister Schafer said there are many reasons why the retention rate did not start from Grade 1 - the Department focuses from Grade 10 particularly because there is a temptation that when learners get to Grade 10 and are not able to get decent marks in Matric or are prevented from writing Matric, this is where attention needs to be paid. It remains a concern that learners fallout from Grade 1 before they reach Grade 12 and this needs to be addressed.
Minister Schafer agreed that safety is a very serious matter including the behaviour of students towards teachers. The Department is doing as much as it can which includes sending a strong message that the assault of teachers by students will not be tolerated, She highlighted an example of a student that had been expelled by the Head of Department after the appeal made by the student was denied. There are several other measures taken by the Department but it is also the responsibility of society to instil values in their children.
Minister Schafer said the Department cannot keep replacing fences vandalised moments after they have been put up. She addressed class sizes and indicated that money is required for more teachers and classrooms and that without money there is not much that can be done. Values are not determined by the size of the class room but by the attitude of the people in the classroom. While the Department is certainly not happy with the ratio, it cannot do anything until more funding was received. The Department was more than happy to hear any ideas in this regard as it has gone through all known options.
The Minister indicated the school leaving evaluation has yielded excellent results. She highlighted an example of the good results achieved by the school leaving evaluation authority by making reference to one school where a full on assessment discovered that in seven classrooms, one teacher was actually teaching - the others were sitting in a classroom while the children were doing nothing while in one there was not even a teacher. The school leaving evaluation was part of a broader transforming school accountability project to use the data better. The Project Manager is working with consultants and helping the Department use data like dashboards which Circuit Managers can use to see which schools are doing well and some good practices happening in some of the poorest schools.
The Minister also spoke about collaboration schools and said there were some ideological and political issues. There have been amendments to the provision in the Bill from a majority of operating partners to 50:50. Any controversial decision it will be taken to the full parent body.
Minister Schafer agreed the impact on equality is one of the main challenges with collaboration schools and that different methodologies of working have to be adopted to be able to better address inequalities.
The Minister also addressed the apprenticeship game changer outlining it focused on technical schools, i.e. learners in Grade 10 and 12, but is also being brought to learners from Grade 8 and 9 for maths intervention. The intention is to align the quality of education with the economy by taking into account critical skills needed by the province.
The Minister addressed the matter of e-learning by saying there are 135 schools that have been connected and 191 are still not connect - in fact the number is 189. 140 schools were found to have nothing at all after an assessment but that there has been a proposal put forward in order to connect these schools.
Minister Schafer said additional funding for security at schools was required. The Department established a pilot project at schools where additional security guards were placed. The Department is also working with the City of Cape Town. Many schools do have alarms but they are not used the way they are supposed to - sometimes the alarms do go off but security companies do not respond therefore better security contracts are required. In the meantime the City of Cape Town has allowed schools to connect alarms to their traffic management centres and that dual monitoring helps with rapid response.
Dr Peter Beets, WCED DDG: Curriculum and Assessment Management, discussed the financial impacts of prioritising the budget to deal with the water crises noting that the Department prioritised the budget around August of the previous year and managed to get R25 million. The Department developed water safety strategies such as smart water metres. It also carried out surveys of boreholes and found that 407 schools had boreholes however these were not operational. At the end of the financial year, R7.8 million was left of the R25 million. Reprioritising the budget stopped scheduled fencing and maintenance of schools.
Interventions that support learners include recording marks per question which helps the Department develop a detailed analysis of how learners per school performed in an exam. The Department uses this to design targeted support programmes per school and by seeing how learners perform it is able to identify where teachers need support. Other targeted interventions include tutoring programmes provided during the holidays for learners to make use of skilled teachers from other schools. The Department uses telematics in collaboration with Stellenbosch - the satellite feed is provided to 130 schools and is also provided via broadband to 160 schools. The Department further provides question papers that allow students to take responsibility for their own learning. The Department also provides help with exam techniques by providing a booklet that deals with exams.
With the apprenticeship game changer, the Department is responsible for academic support focusing on Grade 10 and 12, but also Grade 8 and 9. The Department is working with 58 schools in Grade 12 and also with technical schools in Grade 8 and 9. In Grade 12, the Department has 2 825 learners who are supported through revision. In Grade 8, there are 4 631 learners and the focus here is teaching and self-activity at home. There are also 30 learners in Grade 8 and 30 in Grade 9 that are supported after school.
Mr Schreuder explained the retention rate is actually 68% when the independent schools are not taken into account or 64% only when they are included. When it comes to retaining quality with growth in the number of learners, problems include getting learners placed in time as large numbers are not enrolled the normal way and the catch-up programmes for these learners are part of the problem. As class sizes increase the challenge that arises is that once the class size gets above 34, teachers begin to struggle. Part of the solution would be to get one parent to volunteer per day as that would impact on discipline and better order in class.
Mr Schreuder said e-learning is intended to help teachers as technology motivates learners. There was a slight drop in the Bachelor pass but this was seen nationally due to the attempt to make exams more rigorous to up the standards of examinations. This also had an impact as the Department began to see provinces that performed at the lower end improve and those that performed at the higher end drop slightly. The drop in the Bachelor pass is therefore not a consequence of quality degradation but is slightly technical. The Department would be concerned if the drop in the Bachelor pass was significant.
Mr Schreuder also talked about the values programme saying that after running it for more than a year, there have been positive outcomes. First, the behaviour of learners improved, there was less absenteeism, kids did their homework more and there was a general attitudinal shift. If driven over long periods, it has the potential to spill over into society.
Mr Schreuder addressed safety in exams and said that security around exam venues is very high and invigilators are trained around safety. Students should arrive on time and that the Department would manage safety issues dynamically should it arise.
Mr Schreuder said regarding the interlink with FET colleges, the Department spent R33 million on the youth programme but it is not able to track students that leave after Grade 9. Because the FET falls under higher learning, there is no linked data system and it is difficult to track learners specifically.
The context of e-learning can be found on page 58 of the Annual Report while that of safe schools can be found on page 62 and 63. The Department invested R4 million towards linking alarms with the City of Cape Town and it also requested a further R10 million for the 56 schools programme. Already the budget of the safety of schools was R36 million which was an increase. This is money that should be spent on curricula and teaching, He estimated emergency security at an additional R8 million to the budget.
Mr Olivier asked about reprioritising of infrastructure to support the drought and how that affects the current infrastructure as some schools can be declared unsafe due to poor infrastructure. What can be done about the gap that results due to the reprioritising? He also spoke about the language problem where Grade 4 learners are not able to read at that level - what kind of interventions are in place to ensure learners are able to read at an acceptable level?
Mr Christians asked about the Bachelor pass rate specifically, how many of these are the poorest schools and how the Bachelor pass rate affected these areas.
Minister Schafer responded that there are two major interventions - the first is the 100 school intervention where for the past three or so years, the Department identified 100 of the worst schools and put in place programmes to improve quality of education. The Department also worked with NGOs to improve levels of reading. Reading challenges associated with Grade 4 are due to a transition from the home language to English. Poorer schools have improved in the Bachelor pass – in 2009, the pass for the first quintile was 8.1% while in 2016 it was 22.2%. In quintile two, in 2009 it was 9.9% while in 2016 it was 20.8%. In quintile three the pass rate in 2009 was 11.3% while in 2016 it was 22.6% - the Department has made substantial progress.
Mr Schreuder expressed that the digital support available for learners means they can access education throughout the e-portal. There are 11 000 to 15 000 resources on the e-portal that are available for Bachelors. Maintenance is a concern however the Department does not allow schools to deteriorate to an extent where they become a danger. When the Department says it is not maintaining it simply refers to painting, displacing gutters and fixing toilets. This is done much slower but the money taken from maintenance for drought will be replaced piece by piece.
Ms Botha asked about the reliability of the data and IT systems and what the Department had in place to protect against cybercrime, particularly hacking. She also asked how many school days were missed during the period under review due to gang violence and community protest.
Mr Dugmore asked for an update on systematic tests and the attitude of the unions in the Department towards administering these systematic tests. He wanted to get a sense of the Annual National Assessment and required an update as to what happened in that regard.
Mr Olivier questioned the under collection seen under interest, dividends and rent on land. He expressed the Department did good but there seems to be a lot of rolled over allocation which gives him the impression that there was a lot of under spending.
Ms Botha enquired about the MOD programme, specifically about successes of the programme and the effect t had on the Department. She also asked about the debts owed to the Department, impact vacancies had on learners and which schools were affected. Furthermore, she asked about learner equipment, the type of learning equipment, from which schools, the workbook for pregnant learners, which Grade it referred to and how many grievances there were for the period under review.
Mr Dugmore asked about public-private partnerships and the reference that there were no such arrangements in the period under review. There was however reference to other arrangements such as collaboration schools – was the collaboration with schools not seen as a partnership? The Report said no funding was received from donors – did this mean no donors contributed to the collaboration school project?
Ms Botha asked about support for independent schools and also what the number of dropouts, if any, for these schools was and the Grades affected. She also asked about programmes that minimise barriers to learning, if there were any teachers that were barriers to learning and interventions from the WCED.
Minister Schafer replied that the Department has had a few disruptions of systematic tests however after some robust discussion there was an agreement with the union with the majority objection in which they acknowledge the role of the WCED to decide on sitting tests and there was respect for each other’s roles.
Mr Schreuder added that in the year under review, the Department saw 100% participation in the systematic tests with no objections. In relation to reliability of systems, the Department is always updating systems and guards data carefully. The data used is as reliable as the data fed in to the system. The Department ensures the data is kept up to date. Ideally the Department requires an extra 1 500 people to run data but this is impossible under the current financial climate. With regards to school days missed, it is quite difficult to say as these are protests and violence flare-ups are sporadic and individualised. The only day missed by the entire province was due to a threatening storm – it was not an easy decision to make as entire school days lost are unusual. Days are mostly delayed due to gang fighting. Rollovers do not hide anything - the challenge is that the Department is part of a financial year that ends at the end of March but procurement processes do not run as nicely. Rollovers are due to processes that have not run to conclusion by that time. The Provincial Treasury does not allow rollovers that are not accounted for and if the money is not spent it is lost. This is a good thing because the Department still has to deliver for the money it was given.
Mr Leon Ely, WCED DDG: Finance, said the Department is not income-generating so interest observed is from the fact that the Department has a debt deficit and it charges interest on that. The Department estimates what it is going to charge and collect for that year.
Mr Schreuder mentioned that the Department has its first learners writing Matric in Sign Language this year. There is a programme in place where learners are trained to prevent pregnancy from Grade 7 to 12. The Department does not keep data on independent schools dropouts, He discussed the MOD centres and said the Department collaborated with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports to run successful afterschool programmes which aim to keep learners off the street and support them academically. He also made reference to Mitchells Plain and said that principals are again starting to own afterschool programmes. He addressed the matter of vacancies noting they exist because of a lag time in appointment and also due to people management and the financial climate. Vacancies have little impact on service delivery but the officials are aware of them. With regards to disabilities, there is support material and teens from specialised schools go out to support learners in schools with limited barriers to learning.
In relation to public-private partnerships, and collaboration with schools, it is the Treasury that defines such partnerships. Collaboration with schools do not fall under this definition - the Department simply pays what it would pay any other school while the partners contribute by financial top up.
The Chairperson asked how much the donors are giving – if this information could not be given now, the Department may relay a response to the Committee.
Mr Schreuder stated that the information will be relayed to the Committee at a later stage
Mr Olivier asked whether the collaboration schools can stand on their own without intervention if the amendment of the current Bill if it does not pass.
A Committee Member asked whether the proposal to initially have a majority or equal number of School Governing Body (SGB) seats was a demand in order to make funding available and if funding would be made available if they did not have half the governing body seats or a majority of seats.
Minister Schafer responded that the collaboration schools can continue whether the legislation is passed or not. Collaboration with schools is being done in terms of the existing legislation which she believed is adequate however she would like to specify more clearly in the Bill why the Department had made the provisions it did. Donors do not sit on the governing body but the operating partners do.
Mr Dugmore emphasised that he understands from the report those operating partners are funded by donors and the donors have representation.
Minister Schafer explained that yes, the donors do have representation as they want to make sure the money is used efficiently.
Mr Olivier asked a question relating to Grade 9 and the 25% achievement in maths at an external administrative test – what was this number in relation to an internal test mechanism? Was this measured against the Department’s own internal test or not?
Mr Schreuder clarified that the target set was 25%, or a quarter, of all Grade 9 students receive 50% in a test.
Ms Botha asked about the people management practices in the period under review and how many teachers accessed iCare as a support mechanism, if there were any other support mechanisms that teachers accessed and if any teachers were treated for substance dependency, either alcohol or any other substance.
Mr Mackenzie questioned the savings directed for schools facing financial challenges, specifically how schools with challenges would know they could apply for potentially another R500 000 or R1 million and if this includes teacher support.
Mr Dugmore referred to the indication of post allocation in 2018 and asked if the Department could provide Members with the current student teacher ratio for primary and high schools, how much it costs and how much more from the equitable share would be required to improve the ratio.
Minister Schafer highlighted there were efforts by the MEC over the last four years to get funding from Provincial and National Treasury. As a result WCED was the only province that did not get cut and in fact received additional funding – there was however still a shortage of around 2 000 teachers.
Mr Schreuder said the high school ratio of teachers to students is 1:35 while the primary ratio is 1:37 however this is worsening every year and it is estimated to be 1:35 in high school and 1:38 in primary school next year. The shortage of teachers Is 2 500 and that it is estimated to grow by 500 a year. The current cost is about R440 000 per educator at lower levels and to achieve 1:35 would cost R975 million a year.
Mr Olivier asked for clarification on the numbers under the principal appointment.
Mr Mackenzie asked if students not placed are somewhere in the database of the Department or any other department
Ms Botha wanted to know if any of the principals appointed come from other provinces.
Mr Schreuder replied that in the Cape Winelands, there were 272 in 2014 and 25 became vacant. Since 2014, 95 of the 272 are newly appointed in the past three years. The total of 1 400 means a third are new principals.
Ms Botha asked if the Annual Report was made available to schools, SGBs and other stakeholders and, if so, at what cost.
Mr Schreuder answered that the Report is only made available and distributed where it is complaint-driven. The largest group that receives it is the provincial parliament however it is available to schools and public on the website.
Ms Botha asked about the accountability of the Department and whether it has handled any grievances around performance agreements.
Mr Schreuder was not aware of any performance agreement grievances in the 2017/2018 reporting period.
Mr Olivier requested clarity on the systematic test on Grade 9s - the pass rate is 22% then goes up to 23% and then goes down to 20% and even lower. At Grade 6, it goes down up to 38.6% in both mathematics and the language. On the comparative NSC results, why there was an increase in schools that performed under 6%?
Mr Schreuder said that in terms of the NSC, upper provinces have come down slightly because of reasons mentioned earlier. The second factor is due to the influx in to the province over the past years. The increase from 19% to 33% was technical due to exam issues. Specific analysis and specific support has been given to the subject. Sometimes there is a problem with the teacher which impacts performance. The systematic assessment is external for Grade 9 and the target is 25%. The Western Cape is in the region of 22%/23%. In 2016, a number of schools did not participate – these were schools that performed poorly so the 2016 performance excluded poor performers. In 2017, these schools were back and the impact was a slight backward trend. There however seems to be improvement in Grade 3.
Mr D Mitchell (DA) appealed to the Department to have its next round of pilots done in the Karoo.
Minister Schafer explained the volunteer did not want to go to rural areas because it is not attractive for them which made this difficult.
Ms Botha asked about the outcome, attendance and participation of the school management training.
Mr Mackenzie spoke to accredited qualification in reference to a teacher from Mitchell’s Plain who benefited from the programme but was now lost to another school. How did the Department ensure that once an individual was qualified and the school stabilised, the essence of stability is maintained when a new principal is appointed.
Mr Dugmore raised a matter concerning the complete anomaly in some rural areas, e.g. where a former model C school changes its demographics completely and is now comprised of poor learners but because of its infrastructure and location, falls under the fee-paying category.
Mr Schreuder stated this happens both in rural and urban areas. To deal with this, he requested Mr Dugmore’s assistance in persuading his party, the ANC, to change the national policy on quintiles. A number of fee schools have been made into no-fee schools. While the Department has requested funding, without money nothing can be done
Mr Schreuder was satisfied in terms of participation in the school management training and was humbled by people attending courses voluntarily. When it comes to good principals who turn schools around, it is up to the Circuit Managers, which move from school to school, to identify good practice and share them. The Department encourages a growing professional learning community where teachers learn from other teachers and principals from other principals.
Mr Olivier discussed class sizes in no-fee schools highlighting national intervention and policy change is required. He also discussed the transport of learners and said there should be a call to consider reviewing the learner transport policy to look into the radius for learners to get onto the bus. A formal request should be submitted to the Department with the support of the Members. He asked for clarity on the WCED conducting two investigations on allegations of improper financial management and what the outcome of these investigations was.
Ms Botha congratulated the winners in the provincial teacher’s ceremony and stated their excellence is the reason why young people still want to be teachers.
Minister Schafer agreed with the Committee on transport matters but stated that the problem is money. The Department calculated the cost of reducing the radius to 4km – this would be R6 million. With regards to feeding, the feeding is a conditional grant which is essential and should be covered.
Mr Schreuder said the only way to have nutrition is if the economy grows and jobs are available so that people can feed themselves better. Relating to interlinkage between hostel accommodation and transport, additional funding was requested in order to give a transport subsidy for kids in hostels. The challenge of making the radius smaller is that the nearer one gets to a school or town, the bigger the population - at some point there has to be a cut-off. If the radius is reduced to 4km, others will ask about the 3km and it therefore becomes a very complicated matter. With money it would be possible to have all the kids on the bus.
Ms Botha asked about the Rand value pertaining to burglary and vandalism in the period under review.
Mr Schreuder responded that the exact value is unknown but an answer could be provided to the Committee at a later stage.
A Member of the Committee asked how gang violence was handled on the school premises itself.
Mr Schreuder said gang violence is limited within school premises as there is no mass engagement. Usually it is just one gang member looking for another but on occasion there can be members looking for another member. Security matters must be addressed so that appropriate access control is achieved.
Ms Botha congratulated the Department on the South African Sign Language curricula.
Mr Dugmore made reference to the ramp and expressed that 33 schools are covered. He presumed the intention is to cover all schools. Was the 33 just the progress achieved so far?
A WCED official answered by confirming it is indeed the intention to have all schools covered eventually but the budget determines how many can be rolled out per annum.
Mr Dugmore questioned the expenditure sub programme to get an indication on the conditions grants and under expenditure.
Mr Schreuder answered that the under expenditure is just savings for part of the rollover for the support material in process and committed to spending.
The Chairperson, referring to the quintile figure, given the additional 25 000, asked if this made nonsense of all projections. He asked how the Department factored this in because it is getting a subsidy per capita under normal expenditure. There should surely be a second template of actual expenditure.
Mr Dugmore made reference to the Grade R funding seeking clarity on what seems to be a very small subsidy difference when one looks at the 5 200 which is the subsidy that schools are getting while the fee charged is 3 800. There appears to be a small difference in subsidy.
Mr Ely responded that the Department would like to have Grade R in schools as a normal subject and have teachers with resources however it only gives a subsidy and not the full cost for providing full Grade R. Quintile five has a challenge with non-fee paying and fee-paying schools. He emphasised the WCED provided a subsidy and not the full cost for providing Grade R.
Mr Olivier was happy to see replacement schools completed and asked what the cost implication of the delay was and who paid for the delay.
Mr Archie Lewis, WCED DDG: Education Planning, said the Department of Basic Education (DBE) paid and approved R68.8 million - R13 million for the Delft South primary school, R33.3 million for Scotsdene secondary school and R22.5 for Hawston Primary school. The additional cost was students were taken out of Scotsdene and two schools were established which cost R18 million.
The Chairperson asked the Department about disaster management and where the Department gets the funding for this.
Me Ely replied that the Department has to reprioritise in order to deal with disasters.
Mr Schreuder added that the Department has to push certain projects out to later if the money was required immediately.
Ms Botha asked if all of the 2 500 invigilators trained did duties during the external exam and what the cost of the training was.
Mr Schreuder replied that all invigilators must get trained after appointment.
Mr Dugmore made reference to the transfer for collaboration schools and asked what this money was spent for as the Department said it did not give any additional money to collaboration schools.
Mr Schreuder explained the Department provides normal funding to collaboration schools as it would any other school.
A Committee Member questioned the completion dates of replacement schools.
Mr Mackenzie asked if the schools mentioned in the Annual Report are the only schools under construction or if there are any new ones.
Mr Ely replied that there are 17 schools under construction - some will be completed this year.
There are seven replacement schools under construction - two will reach completion in the year 2018/2019. These two are Philippi high school and Qhayiya high school.
Mr Oliver asked about the protests surrounding the handing over of Umyezo Wama Apile high school after it completion.
Minister Schafer replied that there were a number of delays over the past five years due to the community interfering but that there was some mediation and the school has been completed. Challenges surrounding the handover remained.
Mr Lewis discussed the school handover process which includes handing over to the DBE by the Department of Public Works following handing over to the principal and SGB by the Department.
The Chairperson asked about snagging and who is responsible
Mr Lewis replied that snagging happens when the contractor hands over the school to public works.
Ms Botha asked for the number and value of vehicles involved in accidents in 2017/2018.
Mr Schreuder said the information would be made available to the Committee.
Ms Botha asked if the Department had made any use of consultants and if so for what purpose and at what Rand value.
The Department replied that consultants were appointed through Human Resources.
Mr Olivier asked if the 25% employee vacancy, referred to in the Annual Report, was normal.
The Department replied that it had difficulty filling infrastructure posts for the past four or five years. Posts that remain vacant are mainly those in engineering due to salaries offered by government and the need to register.
Mr Olivier asked for an explanation of the resignation and expiring contracts that got up to 87%.
The Chairperson asked about the mandatory resignation age.
Mr Schreuder responded that the mandatory resignation age was 65 years but teachers are allowed to complete the academic year.
Mr Mitchell observed that the bulk of resignations took place between the ages of 20 and 44 and asked how the Department fills this void.
Ms Botha asked how many people that resigned had access to iCare.
The Department replied that iCare utilises 5% and would give information on resignation and age groups. Educators resign for various reasons - some just decide it not the profession for them and resign. The large resignation of people aged 50 - 59 is due to people cashing in their pension.
Minister Schafer stated that the resignation is not as high as in the public service as only 63 out of 204 people resign and that is not a high a number.
Mr Schreuder said that young people leave for two reasons - one is because of the challenging economic climate and the other because teaching conditions are tough.
Mr Olivier asked if the large number of sick leave of highly skilled personnel is a cause for concern.
The Chairperson asked what staff wellness programs the Department had.
The Department replied that it had an external service provider appointed for the whole of the province that provides employee health and wellness.
The Chairperson provided the public the opportunity to ask questions
Mr Mlandile from the Nyanga tourism platform thanked the Standing Committee for taking time to go to Nyanga to get first-hand information. He asked the Department to incorporate a transport programme similar to what was called “the walking bus”. He also asked for the Department to consider building a recreational hall in Nyanga.
Minister Schafer was aware of the request to build a hall at the school at Nyanga and said the Department is working on it. She was not aware the walking bus had stopped and would look into it.
The meeting was adjourned.