The Committee met with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to be briefed on the Department’s second quarter performance for the 2018/19 financial year. The presentation addressed major highlights for the quarter before delving into the performance with regard to the specific indicators of the five programmes of the Department. The presentation also covered the financial report for the second quarter.
Members had a number of questions in relation to the need for the Department, and Department of Social Development, to focus on the 0-4 year age group in terms of development, the 25-year review, systematic intervention models and the role of LTSM coordinators. There was discussion on teacher development, underperformance in maths, accounting and physics, specific underperformance in particular targets, the rise in home-schooling and the current state, and lack of funding, of schools hosting hostels. Members questioned the underperformance of KZN, offline digital content, great rollout of electricity and water services, salary negotiations and what informed the declaration of a non-official language in the curriculum.
Concerns were raised around the placement of graduates of the Funza Lushaka bursary, contractors not paid within 30 days, holding implementing agents accountable for learners using open toilets and delivery of textbooks and workbooks – the Committee was concerned by errors in and the need for quality assurance of workbooks. The Committee also raised the need for increased attention on bullying and violence in schools especially because of its correlation with suicides.
Matters in the public domain
The Chairperson noted the Committee would today be briefed on the report for the second quarter performance of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in meeting its pre-determined objectives for 2018/19. Last week, the Committee heard about the incident in Gauteng – the Department would be given a chance to explain to the Committee how acute the damage is and whether something like that could be contained.
It was also noted there is a gentleman from the University of Cape Town (UCT) who has been communicating with the Department on a number of matters but who has not been given adequate responses to his concerns – the concerns of the public ought to be better addressed.
Mr Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, Director-General of the DBE, stated the Department would provide brief responses to matters raised – the principal, who happens to be a geography teacher, went into two exam rooms to explain the rules to the learners. The papers were not opened before the start time but the principal was not supposed to move between rooms. A parent notified the Department about the misconduct and the principal has been suspended with immediate effect and staff from labour relations has been sent out to mediate the conflict.
Regarding a certain Mr Eric, the gentleman’s construction company was engaged by the Department where delays happened in terms of payment. After contracts were finalised, he was paid R4.7 million, including interest of R67 000 for those delays. Mr Eric maintains that he is owed an additional R90 000 and the advice has been issued by the Department that he ought to go for mediation.
The Department is embarrassed and terribly exposed by the incident covered in the City Press of learners having to use open toilets. For some reason, this school is not on the Department’s list of schools in the Eastern Cape which are deserving. An investigation has been established to determine why the school has been overlooked. A team has been sent out to scope out the project. All contractors are doing work for the Department and a meeting was scheduled for Friday. Other projects in the Eastern Cape have been disrupted by trespassers entering sites. Mr Mweli intended to have regular meetings with contractors to ensure their payment and the continued smooth operations of the projects. On each of those cases, reports can be made available.
Ms J Basson (ANC) had a question on the learners using open toilets - what can be done in order to determine how many unlisted yet deserving schools have similar issues?
Mr Mweli responded that the Department would have to go back to HEADCOM to ensure the data is accurate. The National Infrastructure Education Management System (NIEMS) might also be able to give a better sense of what is happening in the country. It would help to build an infrastructure system that can better provide data to the Department. One might have to start from scratch and build-up reliable data rather than being constantly surprised about lackluster providers.
Second Quarter Performance of the Department in Meeting its Pre-Determined Objectives for 2018/19
Looking at the major highlights of Quarter Two, a total of 14 appointments were made. Amongst others, the key post of DDG for Branch: Finance and Administration, the Chief Director post for Education Human Resource Development, the Director post for Assessment and Administration and the Director post for Implementation, Monitoring and Support Delivery were filled. In support of rural education the Rural Education Assistant Project (REAP) was officially launched on 27 September 2018. A total of 258 education assistants participated in the launch and 750 education assistants were appointed. 102 schools were provided with connectivity through the SA Connect initiative in KZN, Mpumalanga, North West and the Free State. In the area of Early Childhood Development, the Deputy Directors-General of the Department of Social Development (DSD) and DBE met in July 2018 to develop the framework for the transfer of responsibilities from DSD to DBE. The Minister approved the listing of kiSwahili in the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) as a non-official language. There are 18 non-official languages, of which kiSwahili is the only African language. The second chance matrix programme reached a total number of 18 242 learners. The LURITS 2 system received 11 602 730 learners from 25 106 schools. This data will form part of the final submission combined with Tested Rejected Learner (TRL) records identified in the Provincial Data Warehouses (PDWs) to National Treasury. A total of 207 schools were trained in the prevention and management of bullying.
Tables for the achievement of departmental goals were presented for quarters one and two. There had been some improvement between quarters. Indicator tables were also presented and Member’s attention was drawn to deviation indicators.
20 managers were trained in the management of discipline in the Department. They attended a three day workshop on initiating and chairing of disciplinary hearings. Two arbitration hearings were set down on 12 July and 14 September 2018. These matters were finalised. The assets management sent additional Section 42 transfers to other provinces where projects have reached final completion stages. A total of 233 events were arranged with a total cost of R23.8 million. A settlement has also been reached on the Centre for Child Law vs MEC Social Development.
On the case of Equal Education vs Minister of Basic Education and others, the Constitutional Court dismissed the appeal in the matter indicating there are no prospects of success. On the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, a task team continues perusing public comments and consolidating the Bill. It is anticipated that the sorting and consideration of comments will be finalised by the end of February 2019. It was also agreed between the DBE Deputy Minister and the SA Human Rights Commission that the existing admission policy must be amended to cater for undocumented learners. Some learners come from Mozambique to Mpumalanga to collect free text books and materials for two months at the beginning of the year – laws to mediate this are required.
The Quarter One reports for 2018/19 and the 2018/19 Annual Performance Plans for Umalusi and the SA Council for Educators (SACE) were analysed and submitted to Finance. The 2017/18 Umalusi Annual Report was tabled in Parliament on 20 September 2018. The 2017/18 SDIP Annual Report was approved on 5 July 2018. The RCME, in collaboration with SPR, sourced inputs from branches and drafters for a 25 year review report.
The purpose of Programme Two is curriculum and policy assessments. Again, tables for the achievement of departmental goals were presented for quarters one and two. In terms of learning and teaching support materials, volume one workbooks were packaged and delivered to 99% of schools while printing and delivery of volume two continues. In terms of ICT, monitoring and oversight visits were conducted at nine schools in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KZN. 102 schools were provided with connectivity. Technical occupational subjects for Grades Eight and Nine were gazetted for public comment on 21 September 2018. 156 of the targeted 280 outreach team members were appointed to provide outreach services to 320 care centres and 79 special schools. 241 of the targeted 320 care centres were audited.
On Programme Three, annual post-provisioning implementation plans were received from seven Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). Two outstanding PEDs, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, have not finalised their consultations and plans. The Department will use the plans to monitor and support development. The Education Labour Relations and Conditions of Service (ELRC) held its 2018 Education Idaba in August 2018. Special training sessions on the modernised Funza Lushaka information system for Funza Lushaka co-ordinators, based at universities and PEDs, were held. There has been implementation of the English First Additional Language Strategy (EFAL). 979 Departmental Heads for Mathematics and Physical Science from 12 under-performing districts were trained on curriculum management. Training was provided to 450 teachers in Accounting and economics.
On Programme Four, a national sample of 100 schools was completed and communicated to provinces for the SE pilot study. Training of provincial coordinators took place at the DBE offices regarding the conduct of the pilot study. The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) was conducted successfully in all provinces in the sampled schools from 13 August to 20 September 2018. The Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA) and DBE have intimated work on the secondary analysis of the PIRLS 2016 study. A bulk certification of the NSC 2017-11 exam for November has been completed by all provinces. The goal EIG allocation for the 2018/19 is R9.9 billion. As at end of August 2018 a total of R6.2 billion, which translates to 62.5% of R9.9 billion, was allocated to the sector and had been transferred to respective PEDs. The remaining two installments, R2.5 billion and R1.2 billion, would be transferred to PEDs on 16 November 2018 and 31 January 2019 respectively. LURITS 2 system had received 11,602,730 learners from 25,106 schools by the end of the quarter. An analysis of the 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) budget has been completed. The DBE participated in a number of international relations programmes. On-site visits were conducted in the Free State and Northern Cape to monitor and support provinces on the implementation and development of plans for the amended Districts Policy. There was a convening of the Circuit Management Roundtable that resulted in establishment of the Circuit Management Task Team (CMTT). 853 schools have been disrupted by community protests from January to August 2018. A study on the use of DBE workbooks was conducted to analyse and prepare a report on how teachers use the DBE workbooks in schools. Data has been collected to prepare a ‘Districts that Work’ report to determine what measures have been successful in high-achieving districts.
On Programme Five, 92% of the 54 schools serving meals were nutritionally compliant. 19 districts were monitored on implementation of the National School Safety Framework (NSSF). The total appropriation budget of the Department for the 2018/19 financial year amounts to R22.722 billion. 83% of the budget, amounting to R18.953 billion, is allocated to transfer payments. The total actual expenditure of the Department for the 2018/19 financial year for the first quarter amounts to R13.591 billion.
The Chairperson wondered how the two Departments, Social Development and Basic Education, could address the issues of the 0 - 4 year olds. The DBE does not consider them and makes no real measure of developments for that age bracket.
Mr A Botes (ANC) noted the DG spoke about the 25 year review report - some clarification was needed on the key variables that would be reflected on in this report. Would the Millennium and Sustainable Developmental Goals be used as a benchmark? What is the role of the Department’s high-panel explanations? He regarded it as important that some inputs be made by Members, as well as stakeholders. He also had a concern about the Funza Lushaka graduates - 860 have been rendered unemployed since they have not been placed. Theses graduates may have temporary replacement but a more comprehensive understanding is needed on why this number, with this skill-set, are not placed. On, the international assessment tool, the Department did not mention work done on the systematic intervention model. There are challenges with deciding on an appropriate international association to partner with. Finally, targets demonstrate the attitude of the Department.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) had a question on the matter of contractors that have not been paid – comments have been seen in the Annual Report on government paying invoices within 30 days. This brought into question whether the Committee was receiving accurate information. She requested a breakdown of the contractors who have not been paid. LTSM coordinators need to ensure their reports are accurate, especially in the distribution of textbooks. What do these coordinators actually do? Do they have any accountability? Who is auditing the textbooks? On the matter of the learners using open toilets, implementing agents urgently need to be held accountable.
Ms N Mokoto (ANC) thanked the DG for the presentation and asked that that level of preparation be maintained in the future. She asked about challenges raised in relation to teacher development – there has also been a lot of underperformance in mathematics, physics and accounting. What measures have been put in place to prioritise this area of education? She noticed a large amount of annual targets but which were diminishing as a reflection of individual performance within the report. She noted that Programme Two had three targets – what is the reason for this underperformance? How would it be turned around?
Ms C Majeke (UDM) asked if monitoring was been done on technical schools and if there was any timeframe as to when the reports would be finalised.
Ms Basson commented that 99% of volume one workbooks have been delivered. What number of schools are represented by the neglected 1% and why have they not yet received their textbooks? How can it be ensured that as many schools as possible receive training on bullying given that a number of victims of it have already committed suicide – she emphasised this mist be prevented. The Department spoke to hostels for special schools but schools hosting hostels are suffering with their allocation – why is there not more allocation for the maintenance of hostels? Many are dilapidated.
Dr D Khosa (ANC) was unaware of penalties imposed for late payments – such waste must be avoided. What type of sanctions are there for those not performing? The matter of waste must be dealt with religiously. Clarity was required on the reason for underperformance on slide 30. On slide 62, with regards to 99% of schools provided with sanitation, water and electricity, is this 99% referring to all schools or just the targeted ones?
Ms C King (DA) thought the workbooks were a waste of time. As a former maths teacher, she had to correct them in the past. Who had been certifying these books for publication? Which provinces were being evaluated with regards to hotspot schools? Why is KwaZulu-Natal underperforming according to national norms and then devaluing their standards accordingly and acting as if nothing is wrong? There are a number of new teachers without higher-level experience in subjects teaching outside their field of expertise, for example, English degree holders teaching maths – how can this be fixed? She commended the Departments measures on teaching coding.
The Chairperson asked if the Department is closely monitoring the Funza Lushaka bursaries – who is this money being given to? The Department cannot afford to spend so much money so wantonly. She asked if the DG was observing the rise in home-schooling. Programme Two spoke to 15 packages of offline digital content - what is this? What informs the declaration of a non-official language in the curriculum? Where are matters in ensuring there is greater rollout of electricity? Would the targets relating to water be achieved? Where is the matter of the salary negotiations?
Mr Mweli thanked Members for their questions. His understanding was that salary negotiations were concluded earlier in the year. It is a three-year agreement. In addition to improving conditions of service, there is a 0.5 component to the agreement. The DBSA raised concerns that teachers will not have received their 0.3% raise. From the Department’s side, it has done what needs to be done. The Department is waiting for associated departments to finalise their parts of the negotiations.
The Department is doing fair better on water and sanitation than it was before. Previously it failed in meetings its targets and so the targets would have to be added to the next year. The targets are big which results in a cumulative effect. There is no target for the electrification of schools.
An identified need informs the addition of non-official languages to the curriculum. The Department wants it to be easy to communicate with partners. KiSwahili is a pan-African language that allows for communication with other Africans. He noted that Committee Members similarly regarded it as long-overdue.
Home-schooling seems to be a phenomenon of the rich as well as those with ideological convictions.
Strengthening conversations on 0-4 year olds does seem like a good idea and the Department would take the Committee’s advice to look at this age group closer.
Regarding, maths, science and ICT, these subjects are still at the forefront, though there is a shortage of African teachers. The Department is working with the provinces to improve this.
The Department was given a framework by government for the 25-year review report. The report is currently in draft form and it would be provided to Members for them to provide their inputs.
Mr Mweli agreed with the matter of the Funza Lushaka bursary. Systemic reviews, when implemented properly, will give the Department data on all sorts of matters and areas.
Mr Mweli said the matter of contract payment had been explained. A report has been put together and will be made available to Members. Moving projects from one implementing agent to another has occasioned the delay. It would be wonderful to bring implementing agents into ongoing consultations. Delays had also arisen from a cash flow problem and the Department had to request cash flow months ahead of due allocation. The Committee could be provided with a list of all of these delays.
There are incorrect deliveries of textbooks. The taxpayer gets better value-for-money when textbooks are purchased in bulk. The Department continued to deliver textbooks volumes one and two for 2019 but not 2018. The Department does need to push the LTSM coordinators more in terms of their delivery – the concerns of the Committee in this regard are noted. An explanation was provided on the open toilets – the Departments needs to do something so that it is not surprised by the public when these matters crop up.
Mr Mweli said there was improvement in three provinces - KZN has improved its results by 12.6% in 2016, but it is accepted there are still challenges. An example of such challenge was the recruiting of teachers to participate in the self-diagnostic tool – it can be inferred the increase in misplaced teachers is due to this. The Department’s milestones are not adequate in ensuring it is on course for meeting annual targets, including in water and sanitation. The R800 million was brought to fill a gap. The 99% textbook delivery does not reflect the Department being close to delivery of all books needed.
He emphasised communities need to come together to dissuade and educate people about bullying and violence. Schools with hostels are indeed struggling – the matter would be tabled at a later meeting with the heads. Unfortunately, undocumented learners would benefit from the generosity of the Department. There has been a resolution on occupation specific dispensation. A disparity has been created and a number of complaints have been lodged. He asked that Members made him aware of problems in the textbooks.
Ms Palesa Tyobeka, DDG for the DBE, on the matter of underachievement on Programme Two, said performance indicator 2.4.4 relates to training sessions omitted in training subjects. Because of the introduction of a new curriculum, it is imperative that teachers undergo highly specialised training. The Department has identified certain venues where there is sufficient equipment for this training to take place. Some training sessions are pushed back to accommodate delays in the signing of service-level agreements.
Regarding indicator 2.4.5, Members will recall this policy has previously been presented. Concerns were raised around the implication of this particular policy for the system. CEM has cautioned that it supports the principles contained in the policy but that the Department does need to be careful as it might come to be seen as guidelines instead of as a proper policy.
Indictor 2.4.3 relates to training in mathematics – the Department has trained 251 teachers in three provinces. Under indicator 2.4.5, the Department has visited two schools per province, targeting all provinces. On the quality of workbooks, quality assurance is an ongoing process. On homeschooling, the uptake is not that high but the Department is seeing some growth interest. Regarding the ECD, in the national policy, the rules and responsibilities of players are clearly outlined. The role of the DBE is to develop a reasonable curriculum. The offline digital learning content is a means of digitisation that allows for distribution to schools that do not have access to more developed digital systems. It is a means for increasing accessibility, especially areas where there is no connectivity.
Dr Mamiki Maboya, DDG for the DBE, commented that access, efficiency, quality of learning outcomes and efficiency have been studied over the 25-year review. On undocumented learners there has been a drive to look at polices that guide this area.
Mr Bheki Mpanza, acting DGG for the DBE, noted there was a concern of the failure of KZN to fund some of its learners. Inefficiencies have been identified within its system. On LTSM, a director from HEADCOM had suggested that a system be designed for the entire country. There is an ongoing process to automate this process.
On the question of the research study on development, the Department is looking at the experience of teachers with programmes that they have been exposed to. The Department is also trying to develop a framework for impact assessment.
The Department is administering pre- and post tests but is also trying to encourage teachers to engage in self-reflection and self-assessment to improve their own training and professional development. The Department wants to see as many provinces as possible come aboard. On the placement of Funza Lushaka, the matter of cutting back on the budgets has also impacted negatively on placement figures. A number of these earmarked posts for placements could not be filled because of those budget cuts.
Some electrification matters are being addressed with solar panels. The Department is confident sanitation targets are being met because a great deal of projects are at implementation phase. When the practical completion certificates have been received, the Committee would be updated on the reconciled numbers of the quarterly report.
The Chairperson emphasised the DG needs to ensure these reports are more competently gauged in the future.
Mr Mweli concurred.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi wanted some additional clarity on the LTSM and its functionalities.
Ms Basson wanted to add more on the matter of hostel problems - how are the hostels being supplied electricity? How can the Department ensure learners affected by community disruptions continue to receive their education?
Mr Mweli responded that if a community has put itself under siege, then Grade 12 learners ought to be protected in order to write their exams. There are worries for learners below this grade however, since their education will come to a standstill. Electronic systems are not a panacea in this regard.
Mr Mpanza added that the LTSM links data on SSMs and allows managers to check the correct book has been ordered. It ensures all the learners have been allocated the correct quantity of books. It also keeps track of learners and eliminates financial wastage.
The Chairperson commented that members will need a presentation on this system one day.
The meeting was adjourned.