Certificate backlog: Umalusi & SITA update; DHET Quarter 2 performance; Skills Development: HR Development Council

Higher Education, Science and Technology

21 November 2018
Chairperson: Mr C. Kekana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to hear briefings from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on its quarterly report, and from the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA) and Umalusi on the certification status for post-school qualifications. It also received a report from the Human Resources Development Council of South Africa.

The DHET said that it had achieved all the “milestones” which it had set for second quarter. These covered post-school education and training, and addressed the targets which looked at improving the provision of quality higher education, thereby enhancing the academic performance of students across the system. This ensured the provision of skills which would make a meaningful impact in dealing with unemployment, poverty and high levels of inequality. It highlighted its performance in each of its branches – university education, technical and vocational education and training, skills development, community education and training, planning, policy and strategy, and administration,

Members expressed concern over the high level of student and teacher absenteeism in the community education and training sector, and urged the Department to take action. They were not happy that the new final landscape document of the Sector Education Training Authority (SETA) was being gazetted without Committee input. Questions were raised about how targets were decided, and whether they were realistic or too low. Other issues were related to the limited information in the presentation, the nature of training for college lecturers, and the nature of disruptions at the colleges.

Umalusi, the DHET and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) presented a report on the certification backlog for the National Certificate (Vocational), the General Education and Training Certificate, the National N-Diploma and the National Technical Education Diploma. The partnership between the three organisations had yielded positive results in overturning a certification backlog. Challenges in information technology (IT) systems and difficulties in finding students were highlighted. The migration towards a new IT system in the future, as well as the phasing out of subject certificates, were mentioned as ways of consolidating records in the future and preventing certification backlogs from developing.

The Human Resources Development Council provided the Committee with context in terms of its history and role as an advisory body in developing a human resource development strategy. It had five programme areas covering a broad spectrum of the country’s educational landscape. It listed its achievements in those areas as well as the role of various social partners in assisting with the development of human resources.

Committee Members expressed concern about the certification backlog, and wanted to know how far the Department had gone in planning to simplify the system. They also expressed doubts about the Human Resource Development Council’s role, and whether it could claim some of the successes as its own, or whether it was merely a talk shop.
 

Meeting report

DHET: Second Quarter Performance Report for 2018/19

Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director General (DG): Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), said there had been 100 targets in the annual performance plan (APP) for the financial year. These were year-long targets, but the Department was reporting on the milestones that it had planned towards achieving these targets by the end of the financial year. For the second quarter, there were 32 milestones, and all had been achieved. The milestones, which cover post-school education and training (PSET), addressed targets which looked at improving the provision of quality higher education, thereby enhancing the academic performance of students across the system. This ensured the provision of skills which would make a meaningful impact in dealing with unemployment, poverty and high levels of inequality.

Mr Mahlubi Mabizela, Chief Director: University Policy and Development Support, DHET, said the purpose of the university education branch was to develop and coordinate policy and regulatory frameworks for an effective and efficient university education system and to provide financial support to universities, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the Centre for Higher Education (CHE) and the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS).

There were 15 targets for the financial year. A big part of the branch involved support for and oversight of a range of programmes and functions in the university system, and the status of these areas was captured in carefully compiled implementation and oversight reports. Two targets had to be met for the quarter, the first of which was the Higher Education HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS) programme, which had submitted its report on time. The programme was being implemented at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. 200 000 students and staff Members underwent HIV/AIDS testing and were screened for TB and sexually transmitted infections, mainly through the HEAIDS flagship programme, “First Things First.” 600 000 students had participated in health and wellness-related discussions and dialogue sessions through peer-to-peer education. There were peer educators at all university and TVET college campuses. Recently the Limpopo Provincial Department of Health completed the construction of 16 clinics at TVET colleges, the first such investment in South Africa.

Mr Mabizela reflected on some of the developments during the quarter under review. The HEAIDS programme had seen 2 154 lecturers participate in capacity-building exercises which were aimed at integrating HIV education into formal teaching curricula. A group of 11 university health clinics, which were accredited to provide antiretroviral treatment (ART), were among the first facilities in the country to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to HIV-uninfected young people. He elaborated on preparations for a cohort report on undergraduates entering university for the first time. Audited data from universities had been received as planned, and data verification and generation of tables was under way.

Significant progress was reflected in other developments during the quarter under review. Self-assessment questionnaires were submitted by University Councils for the first time from June 2018. This related to the Good Governance guidelines and the governance report which would be submitted by the end of the year. This served as piloting of the monitoring of achievements made by the Councils, and a first assessment of their performance to enhance good governance at the institutions. The United States-South Africa Higher Education Network was launched in July 2018, and the first phase of the University Staff Doctoral Programme was being implemented through the network. This involved supporting 140 university academics to obtain doctoral degrees through United States-South Africa collaboration.

Ms Gerda Magnus, Acting Deputy Director-General: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), DHET, said that the purpose of the TVET programme was to plan, develop, implement and monitor policy and programmes in the TVET system. There were 25 targets in total, most of which were around oversight reports covering examination infrastructure and TVET college performance. She would provide an update on the various issues.

The first area of focus for the quarter under review was a certification backlog which would be elaborated on later in a full presentation, which would provide updated figures. The other area of focus was addressing the conduct of public TVET college examination centres during exams. The exam cycle reported on in this quarter was April 2018. Of the 158 513 students who completed examinations during this quarter, 467 candidates were impacted through irregularities. The Department felt that this was a small component of the number of students who wrote the exams, but was still trying to reduce that number. However, it was normal for some irregularities to take place.

Monitoring and evaluation reports of TVET colleges were completed quarterly. This had been completed. This report covered issues of governance and management; access and growth; system efficiency and partnerships. The Department found that colleges were around 90 percent compliant in submitting reports on time and with the various datasets which were required. The report highlighted some colleges which were slow in their NSFAS disbursements. The Department was aware of the difficulties NSFAS was facing. Some colleges were facing difficulties, but the monitoring reports helped the Department to zoom into those areas and help.

She said that 343 lecturers underwent workplace exposure during the quarter. This was a system target for the Department and was something it was measuring. She made note of the audit reports of colleges, with 19 colleges receiving unqualified audits, 24 receiving qualified audits, five colleges receiving audits with disclaimers and two with outstanding audits. Most of the difficulties in terms of audit qualifications were around assets and revenue recognition issues.

Ms Magnus elaborated on new TVET college infrastructure. The Thabazimbi campus was now running and had over 400 students. During the quarter, there were difficulties with water at the college. This was not unique to the college, but was a problem throughout the area. The Department was looking at boreholes and other measures to deal with the problem. Nkandla had some occupancy, with roughly 230 students already at the campus. There would be a partial handover of the Bambanani campus on 27 November.

She felt that everything was proceeding nicely and according to plan for the remaining campuses which the Department had started building processes on. Work had started at the last two sites which were handed over, Kwagqikazi and Greytown. There was some difficulty at the Balfour and Giyani sites, both of which were contractual problems. The provider who was contracted for Balfour was liquidated and the Department was in the process of re-contracting, resulting in some delays. Giyani had been a joint venture where the main partner withdrew. The Department decided to start with maintenance of that site, with R55 million needed to go into that.

Ms Magnus elaborated on the maintenance work the Department was doing. This was broken up into three phases. For the first phase, each college was allocated R500 000, which was a small amount compared to the total budget for maintenance. The Department wanted to make sure colleges were spending the money according to what the priorities were and the standards which were implemented. There had been significant training with colleges for them to understand the standards, how to go about procurement processes and how to prioritise buildings. Within the first allocation the Department wanted to be sure and monitor closely that TVET colleges were following the correct processes. R8.6 million would be given to colleges in the second phase.

The colleges had all completed maintenance plans and the Department was in the process of working through the plans, which had been slower than anticipated. She praised the Department for doing due diligence regarding the maintenance plans. It was a process to make sure that plans were made a priority according to the standards the Department had set. The Department was looking at quantities and prices quoted for items, and whether these were reasonable relative to what needed to be done. Sometimes plans were sent back, colleges were asked to make changes, and the plans would be re-evaluated. Quite a number of these were in progress, and work on the maintenance plans had started. In terms of infrastructure, there was a maintenance checklist which needed to be completed. Bulk and essential services needed to be highlighted and maintenance plans checked against the checklist.

The South African Institute for Vocation and Training (SAIVCET) had not been established as a standalone entity yet due to budgetary constraints, so it was still managed by the Department. The Minister had requested that the Department relook at how it deals with SAIVCET, and rather consider strengthening other units and chief directorates instead of having SAIVCET as a standalone entity. It was looking at a proposal which would be submitted to the Minister. The main work at SAIVCET had been around a lecturer development strategy. Significant work had been done on a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) strategy. There was a CPD framework document which had been published and if everything went well, the CPD would be piloted in a few colleges in 2019. A lot of curriculum, learning material and lecturer development was housed in SAIVCET.

Ms Magnus reported on the issuing of certificates, observing that many of the targets were annual targets. Looking at the June exams, eligible students were certificated within a three-month period. The Department would have to measure this across the exam cycles for the year, but it was confident that it was meeting the criteria of certification within three months.

Mr Maliviwe Lumka, Chief Director: Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) Coordination, DHET, said that the purpose of the skills development branch was to promote and monitor the implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy and to develop a skills development policy and regulatory framework for an effective skills development system. There were eight targets for the 2018/19 financial year. The programme’s area of focus was on oversight of skills development, efficiencies in artisanal trade testing, success in artisan development, which was measured through pass rate, and the information management system for artisanal development.

Mr Lumka reported on progress around the new Sector Education Training Authority (SETA) landscape. A new draft SETA landscape document had been gazetted for public comment on 22 August. Public comments were being analysed and the final SETA landscape document would be gazetted in the fourth quarter. The Department had targets for developing a report on the implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS). He emphasised that the report presented to the Committee was for quarter one. The Department still needed to validate what had been achieved. The Committee had requested that information be extracted from the quarterly reports which could be submitted to the DG for approval.

Not all the programmes in the strategy were used. The target for the number of firms reporting on Workplace Skills Plans (WSPs), Annual Training Reports (ATRs) and Professional Vocational Training and Academic Learning (PIVOTAL) training was 28 786, the actual number was 15669 for the first quarter. The annual target for the total number of unemployed people entering learning programmes was 123 107, and the actual number for the first quarter was 25 575. He elaborated on the number of unemployed people entering learning programmes in the first quarter by category, against the annual targets for that category. 14 169 entered learnerships against a target of 60 047. 2 057 received bursaries against a target of 16 810, 3 351 entered internships against a target of 13 860 and 5 998 entered skills programmes against a target of 32 390.

Mr Lumka elaborated on the processing of trade test applications. He said it took an average of 37 days to process applications from the receipt of trade test applications until the trade test was conducted. This was an improvement from the 42 days reported in the first quarter. The Department was on track to achieve the annual target of 80 days to process qualifying trade test applications for trade testing. He elaborated on the development of a single national information management system for artisan development, noting that the data load specifications and the draft design of the database had been completed as planned. There had been an increase in the trade test pass rate, increasing from 57% in the first quarter, to 61% in the second quarter.

He outlined significant developments in the programme for the quarter under review. The National Skills Authority had completed their evaluation of the revised National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) and findings had been considered for the development of the revised National Skills Development Plan (NSDS). The NSDS report would be made public in early 2019 for the National Skills Conference planned by the National Skills Authority. Public comments had been received and analysed. A submission was on its way to the Minister with recommendations, taking into consideration the comments which had been received. 14 463 new artisans had been registered in the previous two quarters against an annual target of 28 750, with 4 965 being registered in quarter 2.

The Chairperson reminded Members to write down their questions

Dr Bheki Mahlobo, Deputy Director General (DDG): Community Education and Training (CET), DHET, said that the purpose of the CET programme was to plan, develop, implement, monitor, maintain and evaluate national policy, programme assessment practices and systems for CET. There were six targets for the financial year which all dealt with oversight reports. The oversight reports focused on governance in CET colleges, teaching and learning -- which had two reports produced a year -- CET college sector performance, infrastructure maintenance, as well as the implementation of partnerships by CET colleges.

Dr Mahlobo said that for the quarter under review, the focus was on oversight of governance and teaching and learning in CET colleges. At the time the report was compiled, eight of the nine CET colleges had adopted all the recommended governance policies, with only the Western Cape having not complied, but it had since done so. A challenge was that until CET colleges were running their own systems, some of the policies would not be easy to implement -- for instance, if the colleges’ budget was held elsewhere. The capacity of CET colleges was to be tested to ensure the colleges could manage their own budgets. This was why the Department had initiated a capacity building project through the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) to improve on implementation. SAICA should not fail the Department, so colleges can receive their own budgets by the end of the financial year and operate in a manner befitting of educational institutions.

One of the concerns emanating out of the report was teaching and learning, which highlighted poor attendance from students and in some instances, lecturers. This was attributed to weaknesses in supervision by centre managers. The report highlighted the under-preparedness of lecturers when lecturers went to classes to teach. These were matters the Department must deal with -- the quality of lecturers and the strength of centre managers.

Dr Hersheela Narsee, Deputy Director General: Planning, Policy and Strategy, DHET, said that there were 11 annual targets. All the milestones toward the targets had been achieved for the second quarter. The areas of focus for the second quarter were open learning; recognition of prior learning; social inclusion in PSET, career development services, international areas, skills supply and demand identification, information management systems and statistics on PSET.

Dr Narsee elaborated on National Quality Standard articulation. The monitoring report on articulation stated that although there were examples of good practice in relation to articulation, implementation at institutional level continued to be an uphill battle because this meant engaging with every institution to make it happen. The Department was continuing to promote articulation in the system through workshops with providers. She said the open learning was being undertaken as two European Union-funded projects which had been adopted to facilitate and promote open learning in PSET. The prototype for the National Open Learning System (NOLS) had been reviewed and recommendations were being considered. The Department hoped that by June 2019, the NOLS platform would be operational.

Materials were developed for the National Occupational Certificate: Electrician, Mathematics and Physical Science for the National Certificate Vocational or NC(V); National Senior Certificate for Adults (NASCA) and materials were being developed for the Technical and Vocational Teaching (TVT) Diploma for TVET College Lecturers. Three national capacity building workshops were taking place a week for DHET staff in materials development. Technical assistance had been conducted through an international service provider. Provincial capacity building workshops for TVET and CET college staff in understanding open learning in institutions were taking place, with technical assistance through an international service provider. A draft policy on open learning was being consulted with and revised. It was planned to be finalised by March 2019.

Dr Narsee spoke about recognition of prior learning (RPL). Three new applications for RPL centres had been processed. The Minister had established an RPL reference group, and members had been appointed. RPL workshops had been held with stakeholders. A register to recognise RPL providers had been established. RPL applications for recognition were being received and processed.

A National Social Inclusion Forum had been established. HEAIDS had prepared a document on Gender Based Violence (GBV) which the Department was using to draft a policy on how it should respond to gender based violence. Career Development Services had seen 10 340 clients assisted through different channels, excluding radio. 3 492 were assisted via SMS, there were 223 walk-ins, 2 731 were assisted via telephone, 1 737 by email, 1 229 via Facebook, 77 via Twitter and 851 via livechat. 78 career events had been held in the previous quarter, which took the form of information sessions, training sessions and exhibitions. There had been 5 265 visits to the CareerHelp website, and 21 760 visits to the National Career Advice Portal website. The careers development support service function for the country had not been established yet. The Department was approaching the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to see where the function would be allocated for government in general.

Various international relations activities had taken place, including a meeting between the Minister and the High Commissioners of Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, France and the European Union (EU). There was a meeting of Brazil-Russia-India-China-SA (BRICS) education ministers with agreements on planned activities and various declarations with international partners had been signed, including with the G20. A report on skills supply and demand had contributed to labour market intelligence. It was produced every two years and informed the planning for PSET, particularly in rural planning. The Department was on track for the development of the report by the due date.

Dr Narsee informed the Committee about the implementation of the Management Information System (MIS). The Department was trying its best to strengthen TVET MIS, and was working with consultants to get it on track. There had been a huge leap in the quality of data received from TVET colleges due to the establishment of TVET MIS. For the first time since 1994, the Department was receiving individual level record data from TVET colleges. There was still a long way to go, but the DHET was on the right track. For 2018 data, 34 of 50 colleges had declared their data submissions at that time.

Regarding CETMIS, the Department undertook measures to audit SETAs to look at their CETMIS readiness. So far, 18 out of 21 SETAs had submitted their data through CETMIS in the second quarter. The Department was on track to produce its annual statistics report on PSET for 2019.


Another member of the DHET delegation gave a presentation on administration and financial information He said that unfortunately the DDG for corporate services could not attend the meeting. There were ten annual targets for the 2018/19 financial year. Areas of focus included the filling of funded vacancies, management of disciplinary cases, Information Communication Technology (ICT), payment of invoices and management of audit findings.

For the quarter under review, audits were finalised and the Department achieved an unqualified audit opinion. Since then it had compiled an audit action plan based on the audit findings. This had been approved by the DDG for implementation. Branches were already in the process of implementing the action plans. The Department would start with the ICT procurement plan for the 2019/20 financial year, which had commenced.

Other achievements during the quarter under review included the filling of 91.85% of funded vacancies, which exceeded the target by 1.85%. At that time, it took an average of 159 days to fill advertised positions, which exceeded the target of 180 days. 76.36% of disciplinary cases had been resolved within a 90-day period, although the target was set at 100%. 99% of valid invoices from creditors had been paid within 30 days. There were a few invoices which could not be processed within the 30-day period and these were reported to Treasury every month. On IT networking connectivity, uptime had been reported at 98%, which exceeded the target by 3%.

He elaborated on financial information, reporting that the Department had reported expenditure amounting to R36.85 billion in the first quarter, which increased to R61.749 billion at the end of the second quarter. The total drawing for the period until the end of September against the National Revenue Fund was R65.558 billion, representing 73% of the funds available to the Department until March 2019. Considering the expenditure of R61.749 billion, it represented an under-spending against the drawings of R3.809 billion at the end of the second quarter. The under-spending amounted to 5.8% of the total amount drawn, compared to the Treasury limit of 8%.

The reason for under-spending was that there had been a delay in earmarked grant transfers to universities due to the finalisation of allocations. Each university must submit reports on the utilisation of previous funding. Institutions submit plans which were evaluated and, on that basis, final allocations and transfers to universities were made. Because of non- or late submission of plans, transfers could only be made when everything was finalised. Capital grant transfers to TVET colleges were made when all plans for maintenance and other processes had been completed. There had been an under-spending of R109.6 million on compensation of employees due to unfilled vacancies and an under-spending on the 63% provision for TVET colleges. This was receiving attention and a lot of the payments based on council-employed staff will flow in the last quarter. There were delays in transfers to CETs due to capacity constraints, but there were plans for payment to take place in the last quarter of the financial year. There were outstanding invoices and commitments on goods and services totalling around R75 million.

He referred to the expenditure trends, noting that the highest spending programme, at 78.9%, remained university education due to the subsidy payments to universities and NSFAS. The TVET programme stood at almost 50 percent in terms of subsidies being paid. Consequently, transfer payments comprised the spending item which reflected the highest spending trend. Expenditure for normal Departmental operations stood at around R4.4 billion. Normal subsidy payments to institutions and entities were all made as planned. In most cases, transfers were at 50% by the middle of the year. Because universities were paid in terms of the academic year, the subsidy transfer was close to 71%. Due to the NSFAS link with activities in the academic year, 95% of funds were paid to NSFAS.

He reported on the adjusted estimates, which only happened in October. The adjusted estimates increased by R486 million to reach R90.4336 billion. The reasons for the increase were that Treasury increased the estimated levy collections for skills training -- an increase of R382.778 million. When collected, those funds would be transferred to NSFAS and the National Skills Fund. As indicated previously by the Minister of Finance, funds were allocated to the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme. In the adjusted estimates, a total of R103 million was allocated specifically to three universities for student housing. The Department reprioritised funds within the Vote, according to the prescripts to address key delivery areas including examination services.


Discussion

Dr B Bozzoli (DA) felt that the Department would inevitably present what the targets were, and whether the targets were met in the sessions. This raised questions of what the targets were. She would appreciate it if these comments were taken forward in target setting. She asked what the workplace exposure of TVET lecturers consisted of? Did lecturers receive a certificate as a result? What do the lecturers do? How long are they there for?


She said there was a huge disjuncture between reports on university education and what happens inside universities, and what happens inside universities did not look like what the Department said was happening. She understood that universities were autonomous, but felt that it would be good if the Department could extend its consideration to questions of the culture of universities and the toxic nature of what was going on and whether Department could have any effect on that. She felt that the governance document could include questions of day to day university life, and how one got the sense that this was not pretty.

Dr Bozzoli stated that while she had not seen the draft SETA landscape document, the Committee had been presented with the draft landscape document to provide its comments. She noticed that this had not been done and the Department was going to go for the final document without the Committee having seen it. She commented that the Committee had had quite a few concerns with the previous landscape document and would appreciate seeing it again before it was finalised. She expressed concern that there was not a word on corruption in the SETAs. The Services SETA and the Media, Information and Communications Technology (MICT) SETA had demonstrated serious corruption. She felt that the targets did not seem interested in dealing with this.

She asked whether the record of artisans was related to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) database. What would the database be doing? A few databases had been mentioned in the report -- what was the relationship between these and SAQA? She noted that the target for new artisans was met, but felt that the target may have been too low.

She noted that CET teachers were not pitching up to teach and asked whether the teachers were qualified to teach. Had the teachers had training? Do CET teachers know what to do when they teach or were they self-appointed? The only segments in the report on learning and teaching was the little bit about teachers not showing up at CET colleges, and open learning. She asked whether there should be a teaching and learning policy for TVETs, or whether there was one, but the Committee had not heard about it. She had been consistently worried that the Committee never gets a report on the Humanities Institute. The Committee did not know what it was doing. It seemed to receive R38 million a year, which was a huge amount of money. What was its impact? Was it worth R38 million?

Ms J Kilian (ANC) shared the concerns expressed about targets. She felt that when targets were compiled going forward, the Department needed to look at what the most critical interventions in each branch were which would make a significant difference. These would have to comply with the SMART principles and be measurable. She expressed concern that reports were compiled to tick a box. What had changed except ticking the box?

She felt that the Committee had focused far too much on universities. The TVET, CET and skills sector could resolve critical skills challenges in the country. When would the TVET MIS be complete? It was no good hearing it was in progress -- the Committee needed a deadline. She expressed concern that the Committee had wasted its energy. The Committee wanted to feel that it had contributed. It had been asking about TVET MIS. Without information coming out of the sector, how do you know how to address the shortcomings? She was glad that there was progress, but it was inadequate.

Regarding the TVET college reports, she was unconvinced by the 90% compliance to governance standards unless the governance standards were extremely low. According to the Committee’s information, there were governance councils which had run out their time. What was happening in those colleges? She noted Bozzoli’s comment about large scale corruption, and while she had no evidence of corruption, the Committee knew what happened when there was inadequate governance and strict adherence to the auditor general (AG). While there was progress on audit reports, it was not good enough. To have two disclaimers and 24 qualified AG reports was not good enough. The Department had basically two of the 50 colleges which had made the grade, so clearly there was a lot to be done.

Ms Kilian expressed concern about the challenges in construction at Balfour and Giyani. What lessons were learned? How would this impact on how construction companies were appointed going forward? She praised the fact that maintenance plans had been put in place.

She expressed serious concern about skills development. Was the Department going to achieve its targets by the end of the year? As the Department moved towards the end of any academic year, it tended to lose track and not achieve its targets. This had happened repeatedly. She wanted a commitment from the skills development branch -- would it make or overreach its targets? This was where South Africa could be turned around. It felt too much like there was a desktop management approach, with a lack of touching base with the colleges and their challenges. The attendance records were appalling from lecturers and learners. She insisted that the Department and the Committee could do better by focusing on critical interventions.

She concluded by commenting on the lack of systems and controls to operationalise the policies in most colleges mentioned in the presentation, and asked the CET branch to elaborate. There was no sense of a managed approach to those critical sectors.

Chairperson asked Committee Members to limit questions, and handed over to next speaker

Mr R Mavunda (ANC) asked about the construction at Balfour and Giyani, and what the nature of the civil disruption was. The Committee needed a picture of what took place, and the report did not provide this. He observed that 78 career development events took place. Where did the events take place? How many participants were involved? What was the impact when looking at before and after the intervention?

He had been listening to a radio programme run by Sydney Baloyi (Africa Speaks) the previous week, where a learner complained about Mopani TVET college. She was enrolled there and when she went to get her certificate, she was told that they were too busy to attend to her. Could this happen in an institution of that calibre? Could the Department follow up? Maybe this was not peculiar to her or Mopani TVET college alone, but this could be evidence of what was happening at institutions.

The Chairperson suggested that the Parliamentary Constituency Office (PCO) follow up on this, stating that this was unacceptable.

Ms S Mchunu (ANC) felt that the presentation left much to be desired. She asked for specifics on lecturers’ work placement. She was happy that there was progress with the construction of new TVET college campuses. Was the Department on track with the building of the 12 new colleges? Was Richmond part of that programme and what was the progress in construction?

She said the non-submission of marks by lecturers was leading to the non-issuing of certificates. This impacted on the backlog of certificates not awarded to students. There needed to be some form of consequence management, as it was not enough to say there were measures in place for lecturers to submit marks. This was not what she expected from the Department -- it needed to instil discipline and compliance. She asked about the new database system which had been implemented and what the progress was. The Committee had been told that there would no longer be database challenges in TVET colleges.

She shared Dr Bozzoli’s concerns about the draft SETA landscape document. There was no indication of when the Committee could interact with final draft. The Committee did not want to be surprised by the contents of the document. She shared concerns around poor attendance, lack of supervision and inadequate preparation from lecturers in CET colleges. What was the Department doing about this? CETs offer second chance matric programmes. Those short courses were important in assisting communities to fend for themselves.

She asked for comment from the Department on the poor performance management around registers. What was the Department doing about this? This meant that the regional offices did not have the right people to monitor and supervise the institutions. Those people must be removed so the Department can have the necessary support. At this level of the Department, the Committee could not speak about poor management. The Committee understood that this was a new thing, but she expressed concern about the support system.

The Chairperson felt that Members should also suggest better ways of running things. Their duty was not only to question, but to help come up with solutions.

Ms Mchunu clarified that she had suggested conducting performance reviews at the centres. If people were unable to provide support, those people must be demoted, and capable people promoted to offer the necessary assistance. Centres must be innovative to see what the community required in the area and think of things which would assist those who were not skilled to become better people. While there was not a lot of data, this did not only rest with the higher levels of management in the Department. People who were given positions must be creative enough to come up with new ideas to make the community colleges special.

Ms B Ndlovu (ANC) welcomed the report, despite its limited information. She congratulated the Department on its unqualified audit and the filling of advertised positions. An important element highlighted in the Constitution was section 59 – public participation. The presentation was silent on public participation. How did the Department go about engaging the public on issues in education?

She referred to skills development targets for new artisans, and said she presumed that those targets emanated from the Department’s strategic planning. She felt that the targets were meant to be realistic. There was a target of 28 750 new artisans, but only 19 428 had been achieved, resulting in a shortfall of 9 322 artisans. What challenges had prevented the Department from meeting its target?

How did the Department anticipate improving the poor preparation of lecturers? How did it plan to motivate lecturers to be up to scratch in their work? The Department had conducted workshops, but she was concerned that learners suffer when the Department conducted workshops. What time of the day were the workshops conducted so the learners did not lose valuable class time? She concluded by asking about the capacity building workshops and the rationale for international consultation. Could the Department highlight memoranda of understanding which were signed to the Committee?

Mr M Wolmarans (ANC) also shared the sentiments of Dr Bozzoli. He wanted to go into the background, as he was not sure whether the targets set were low or high. The Department had set 110 annual targets and planned how it would achieve those targets per quarter. The quarter under review had 32 milestones and the Department had said it had achieved all of them. He commended them for this. The Committee could not disagree that it had achieved them, but he bemoaned the lack of detail in the presentation.

He asked about the HIV/AIDS programme and collaboration with the Limpopo provincial government to build 16 clinics. Would this programme be rolled out in the whole country? If it was, what progress was there to that effect? This was a programme the Committee had engaged the Department on at some stage.

He noted that 343 lecturers were placed in workplace exposure, which was low against the target, but interventions were being developed. He asked the Department to expand on what kind of interventions these were? He felt that the 54% attendance figure was a scary one, and expressed concern about lecturer absenteeism. How did this happen? He asked whether it was it by design or whether there needed to be disciplinary action against the site manager. He explained what he meant in asking whether it was by design, noting that there was a lot of informality taking place at community colleges. Some people may be coming there to pass he time, or perhaps it was the design of the institution that people came to it when they had time. If this was the case, it was not absenteeism but the way the programme was designed. He asked the Department to expand on this. If it was happening at the TVET level, he would be even more concerned.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee receive answers to the questions before moving onto the next items on the agenda. He handed over to the DG and the delegation to answer questions.

DHET’s response

Mr Qonde clarified that the reporting was on predetermined targets which were enshrined in the APP of the Department. Members had made valuable comments and suggestions which the Department needed to reflect on. There was work the Department was doing where it needed to account for each point in detail. There was work it did in respect of its oversight role that it needed to plan over the entire PSET system.

The Department allocated funds for infrastructure and determined conditions under which funds should be utilised by each institution. It monitors and holds institutions accountable in respect of the utilisation of those funds. The issues at Balfour and Giyani TVET colleges were that there were disruptions by interest groups, protests for employment and in some instances, councillors got involved in advancing their own preferred individuals and how some tenders for sub-contracting should be allocated. This resulted in some projects being stopped. This happened at Balfour when the site was handed over to the construction company. Two months later it came out that the main contractor was undergoing liquidation and could not continue with the construction. DHET had to engage with Treasury in to find a mechanism of procuring other services for construction to take place. Treasury agreed on the processes which needed to take place. In the case of Giyani, the main contractor pulled out of a joint venture. The small contractor which remained could not continue since the awarding of contracts was based on grading which was determined in a meeting of the technical requirements at the point the contract was awarded. There were some disruptions in the construction at Aliwal North led by various factions of councillors and leaders in the area. As of the previous day, the Department had been told that some of the disruptors had been arrested and construction had resumed. These were challenges which were beyond the control of the Department, but it worked hard to resolve problems as they crop up.

Mr Qonde noted that Dr Bozzoli raised critical issues that the Department needed to look at. It worked out enrolment targets with institutions and what programmes would be prioritised in terms of enrolment with respect to the available infrastructure and human resource capacity to offer those programmes at institutions. The Department would want a number of medical doctors and engineers in various disciplines to be enrolled in a particular institution. Once the targets were met by an institution, questions around pass-rate and throughput were considered. In the process of the operations of the institutions, there would be other operational matters which the Department did not have the power or authority to manage on a day to day basis, such as labour-related issues and how various formations in an institution conducted themselves in competing for resources. When there were problems, the Department would step in to help institutions resolve them. He accepted that perhaps when the Department set targets, there were aspects it needed to look at in respect to the operations at an institution.

There were processes in place to deal with corruption and it got the attention of the Department, whether at an institution or an entity such as a SETA. The accounting authority had been asked to attend to MICT SETA and the Department followed this closely on a daily basis. The same approach was applied to the Services SETA. The Department could not just walk in and do what it wanted to, but acts according to the prescripts of the legislation. This had been brought to the attention of the National Skills Authority to look at and provide a report. The Minister had instituted actions which managed those processes. These were being rolled out and monitored closely. A lot was being done about corruption.

Mr Qonde said that when career services was introduced into the Department, its main objective was to assist high school students to make better career choices when they entered institutions of higher learning, with a view to minimise inappropriate career choices which resulted in them changing their course of study. The DHET had provided a lot of information, together with DBE, in reaching out to high school learners, particularly Grade 11s and Grade 12s, to make better career choices and following them through the processes of registration so as to provide support. The Department felt that if one made the right career choice at the beginning, it minimised instances of dropping out, failing or changing career path. It minimised instances of instability, disruptions and injuries at institutions because there would not be long queues at institutions because people wanted to apply by ‘walking in’. Campaigns around awareness and better decision making in respect to career choices were rolled out and were working quite well.

The HEAIDS programme looked at assisting institutions to manage and respond better to questions of gender-based violence (GBV) and subsequent effects. The Department was working with relevant departments and provincial governments to assist. The Limpopo government was coming in to give impetus to that initiative, so the health services were afforded to students at all TVET colleges and universities. The Minister hosted an imbizo at Venda TVET college where, in partnership with HEAIDS, the college and Limpopo Health Department, a clinic was established as a facility within the college itself. This campus had over 9 000 enrolled students. The Department received insights into what impact this was making. In the main, this was about making health services accessible to students. The Department was engaging with all relevant government Departments to ensure this issue was addressed. The Minister convened a roundtable to engage with vice-chancellors and other important stakeholders to find proactive measures it could put in place to address GBV on campuses, and what support structures needed to be put in place. What consequence measures and mechanisms were needed so that perpetrators were not allowed to get away with GBV?

Chairperson asked the DG to provide quicker responses.

Mr Qonde asked programme managers to respond to questions.

Ms Magnus responded to questions around the workplace exposure of TVET lecturers. The intention of workplace training was vocational, and lecturers needed to understand the working world and what had changed in industry. For that reason, the intention was to rotate all lecturers over a three-year period. There were no certificates being issued at that time, but this was one of the key elements the Department was developing into the CPD system. It would be covered in there. The Department ran pilot programmes on this to figure out what would be most meaningful, as it did not want to send lecturers into an environment where the lecturers did not learn anything. The Department needed to find out what lecturers needed and place them appropriately, which was part of what made the process difficult. The Department was working with SETAs to open up workplaces and had discussions with the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) for assistance from their side.

She responded to questions about teaching and learning, noting that there was a teaching and learning plan which was reported on annually. She agreed that teaching and learning was the core work of the Department, which had reported on everything else which was important in creating an enabling environment, but the Department must not lose focus on teaching and learning.

Governance standards had not been a focus for that quarter. The Department was in the process of appointing new councils. It had been quite rigorous, and the Department had done thorough screening to create an environment free of fraud and corruption. She agreed that the Department had to improve audit outcomes. Regarding the Richmond campus, there was a skills centre at there which had been handed over and was operational.

Dr Mahlobo responded to the question about teachers. 87% of the teachers were qualified by the standard of the personnel administrative measures. He explained what the teachers were qualified for in the context of the sector. This was one of the areas which needed to be dealt with -- to determine what it meant to be qualified for the CET sector. To be exclusively qualified with an advanced education diploma or with an advanced TVET qualification, would not take the Department anywhere.

Referring to the questions about the difficulty of implementing policies, he said there were technical policies such as how to compile financial statements. CET colleges could not do this because they did not have their findings with them. There were HR policies, but their HR was managed by the Department. Their supply chain management was done by the Department. Even though there may be perfect policies, the extent to which the policies could be implemented was when there was the capacity to manage them. Implementation must happen, and those functions must be handed over to the colleges.

Dr Mahlobo responded to questions about improving performance of lecturers. There was a need to hold centre managers to account in relation to the performance contrac,t based on which centre managers are paid. There was a need to strengthen management of CET colleges to improve attendance by lecturers. The absenteeism was not by design, but the Department wanted to create flexibility, so adults were not there from morning to sunset.

Mr Lumka noted that Dr Bozzoli had made a good point about the databases which he would bring up with the IT specialists so that the databases are linked.

Mr Mabizela elaborated on the HEAIDS programme which looked at health and wellness in general at institutions. The GBV policy was one of the requested outcomes which the Department was now looking at.

Certification: SITA and Umalusi briefing

Umalusi explained the reasons for a joint presentation. Umalusi worked closely with the DHET and SITA under the leadership of the DG, who coordinated the meetings the entities had every Monday, and which ensured there was delivery in this regard. The entities looked at the presentation together and agreed on all points. Good progress had been made in resolving issues through the Monday meetings.

The current challenge was the lack of consolidated records over multiple examination sittings. The Department was doing the consolidation, and SITA assisted by providing a consolidation report on the National Certificate Vocational (NC(V)) and the General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) for them to verify and formally request certificates for the candidates. Combinations were done using ID documents to link learners’ records across the year. The advantage of using IDs was that IDs were consistent with an individual, whereas an examination number could change from one examination to another. Consolidating records was easier using IDs. However, many candidates wrote without IDs, which created problems. He advised that it was better if candidates used IDs so that the records could be consolidated easier.

Umalusi performed quality assurance checks to verify that results were certified containing the certification data with the resulting data, which was important. The importance of including all learners had not been adequately emphasised. Going forward it would accredit all assessment bodies to send Umalusi registration data. The registration data would indicate who was absent against who was registered. Moving forward at the point of certification it could compare registration, resulting and certification data to identify gaps.

R5.1 million was owed to Umalusi from private colleges at that time. In order to resolve the issue of outstanding fees going forward, it was looking at having payment happen before certificates were printed and issued so that Umalusi would not face the problem of having to wait for payment. He said that there were 144 blocked private colleges affecting 8 965 candidates. 103 of the 144 had submitted requests for certification of learner records. As soon as those colleges paid Umalusi, they would receive their certificates. It was looking at a new system for examinations, and had the opportunity of testing the system and vouching for it.

Ms Magnus said the three entities worked well and hard together and met weekly to manage the exam backlog situation. This had yielded positive results. However, the long-term solution was to move to a new examination system. In recognition of certification backlog, there was an E-Query system which was a mechanism for students to log concerns. A lot of the concerns did not go directly to colleges but to the Department. However, the system had been set up and she had tested it personally. It worked, but it was a bit of a hard system because one had to register before logging a query. At that time, there was a 60% closeout of those queries, which was low and needed to be improved. Just short of 5 000 queries had been logged and just short of 3 000 had been resolved.

The difficulties in certification across the board stemmed from the IT system and the consolidation of results. The NC(V) had been dealt with but to issue certificates manually was slow and difficult. With the National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) for 2018, there were minimal challenges but there was a historical backlog. She felt that the General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) had never really featured as a point in exam discussions, but the DHET had realised that the GETC also had problems which needed to be raised so that it got the necessary attention. There were similar IT system challenges. There was a certification backlog of 966 for the 2016 cohort, and a backlog of 4 413 for the 2017 cohort of students. This did not speak to the backlog before then. She noted difficulties with the GETC due to the provinces being involved. It was still managed by provinces, so data sets were coming from different points.

Ms Magnus referred to the NC(V) backlog, noting that from November 2007 to March 2017, 176 candidates still required certificates, which was quite a low number. For November 2017 and March 2018, 642 candidates still required certificates. She felt that the NC(V) was under control. She said there were difficulties in finding candidates. There had been engagements with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Issues like surname changes when candidates got married created problems. DHET, Umalusi and SITA had tried to exhaust that list and had said that the 176 candidates could not be found, but when those candidates came forward those queries would be resolved.

Ms Magnus elaborated on NATED. From May/June, SITA was able to give numbers for the first time in terms of NATED. The first numbers given were huge -- around 120 000 subject certificates were outstanding. Significant work had been done to try and understand who was eligible. It was a process of inserting particular business rules around eligibility into the IT system. The last record of candidates impacted was 15 862. This was a lot of candidates, and there was nothing good to say about it, because it impacted on students’ lives. The DHET had no desire to underplay the urgency of this and needed to work on it consistently to resolve it as soon as possible.
 
There were challenges in the consolidation of the IT system across different cycles and making sure that all the different business rules were put into the system to get accurate figures. This was challenging because the numbers seemed to change as business rules were put into the system. She personally found getting accurate data challenging.

The Chairperson suggested not repeating issues which had already been covered.

Ms Magnus said that the printing of subject certificates was being phased out, and they were working jointly to do so. Centres in arrears had been spoken about, and the Committee was concerned that students should not be disadvantaged. This work was happening with the colleges.

She elaborated on completeness checks. It was important that the data was clean and tidy considering the move to a new IT system, so that when the data take-on happens in the new system, data was as clean as possible. Umalusi had taken on a lot of this on itself to try and do the completeness checks, and it had helped them to get another source of data to verify some of the other data. Umalusi had taken all the records it had, almost 600 000 of them, and tried to consolidate them across the years to reduce them to the number of candidates affected. All the consolidated records stood at 53 360, and 26 699 certificates could be issued. The 10 476 figure was important, as it was where the DHET was sure that the previous levels had been completed and the candidate was eligible for that certificate. In 13 185 cases, the candidate was not yet ready to receive a full certificate.

Ms Magnus presented the consolidated records for GETC per province. On the National N-Diploma (NND), the Department had dealt with 16 017 applications between January and November 2018. 9 775 were issued, 6 242 were declined, while 1 118 new applications were still being processed. This was happening quite quickly as the volumes were not too big. Once the NATED certificates were sorted out, the pressure would come again for the diplomas

The new IT system had been developed over three years. 2019 was a crunch year for the Department, as it would start phasing the system in. At some point it would run concurrently to the SITA system. Modules on access and security, student management, examination centre management and payments had been completed. Modules on resulting and certification, timetable and examination preparation and irregularities were at 90%, 100% and 80% complete respectively. As the system was being developed, the DHET was ensuring that it talked to the Umalusi and Home Affairs systems. The DHET was trying to match the IT system to other IT systems. From early 2019, it would start with a comprehensive change management system in terms of the new IT system.

Briefing by Human Resource Development Council (HRDC)

Ms Brenda Ntombela, Head of Secretariat: HRDC, gave a background on the entity, and said it came from the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition which had ended in 2010, giving rise to the HRDC. It was a national advisory body established by Cabinet in 2010. It advises government on the Human Resource Development (HRD) strategy towards 2030. It identifies blockages and provides solutions for them. It coordinates the efforts of government departments and social partners in the implementation of the strategy. It monitors through its secretariat and reports on the implementation of the strategy. It evaluates the impact of the strategy against agreed indicators.

She presented the governance structure of the HRDC and elaborated on its strategic imperatives, which were the goals of the HRD strategy.

Ms Ntombela explained why the strategy was revised. Since the government launched the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), nothing guided the HRDC, which was why there was an HRD strategy towards 2030. Its outcomes were outlined as expanded access to quality education and training; increased access to work-integrated learning opportunities; and an improvement in throughput, pass rates and learning outcomes. Another outcome was for graduates to access the workplace. In addition, the system must produce more research and innovation and there must be a more effective education, training and skills development system. It also had to look at issues of digitisation. The strategy involved government, social partners, business, labour and communities.

She described the role of government in the HRD strategy. At the end of the strategy, there was an implementation plan which identified what should be done by which government department in terms of delivery. Eight provinces had launched provincial councils, through which the HRDC was able to see what the provinces were doing. Local government strategies were in line with the provincial strategies.

She referred to the role of business, and said the Youth Employment Scheme (YES) contributed a lot to what the HRDC was asking to be done. It should continue to support the Skills Accord which was signed by all the social partners and contributed to the work of the HRDC. Business could become more active in SETAs, including supporting the process. The strategy requested labour to do a lot of work.

At that time, the Council had a worker education committee to look at the labour issue. Labour should support an analysis of the requirements of the skills audit which was done by the worker education committee. Labour was encouraged to make resources available to support skills training as part of its commitment to job creation. It should advocate for the adoption of International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. Communities were able to voice their opinions on issues.

Ms Ntombela described the achievements of the HRDC. These included the establishment of technical task teams, the launch of the Council, the adoption of the five-point plan on the HRD Strategy, and the establishment of the technical working group which was responsible for advising what the HRDC was meant to do. There were 11 technical task teams which were doing the work of Council. All 11 teams had completed their work. The provincial coordination forum had been established in 2011, and coordinated the work of the provinces. The HRD strategy was launched in 2017 and three successful HRDC summits had been held biannually since 2014.

The technical task teams were appointed to do research, based on the blockages, and completed all their work. She listed the achievements of the task teams in terms of their reports which had been received. Early Childhood Development (ECD) had been expanded and there was an increase in Grade R enrolment. There was improved equity in learning outcomes and an increase in the percentage of learners achieving more than 60% in physical science and mathematics. A standing committee on maths and science was appointed, which would present its findings to the Council by the end of 2018. The Council had conducted research on pre and post-service teacher education, especially on teachers who taught mathematics. It had completed initial reports for pre-service education that provided suggested standards on the scope and depth of knowledge for mathematics and science teachers for each phase of education.

With Programme 2, a lot had been said by the DHET about governance and capacitating college councils, strengthening financial management, and the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme for the lecturers. The HRDC had launched the ‘Adopt a TVET College’ initiative in 2014. This was about partnerships with industries adopting a college. In this way, the HRDC was encouraging partnerships. ‘Friends of TVET Colleges’ was launched to assist colleges which faced problems.

Under Higher Education and Training, Research and Innovation, the nGap programme was doing well. A number of achievements had been presented by the university branch. The Maritime Skills Development Study had been launched in 2011. Maritime schools had been established in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), namely Umfolozi College and the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

In Programme 4, skills for the transformed society and economy, the Labour Market Intelligence Partnership was a result of the Skills System Review technical task team of the HRDC. The establishment of the Skills Planning Unit by the DHET was on the cards. The National Skills Planning Forum had been established by DHET. The HRDC had seen the establishment of centres of specialisation by the Department, which had come from the work of the Council. The Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) had launched a web-based platform which was a Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) portal. She described a number of achievements by artisans, including the single guaranteed Funding and Learner Administration, artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), and the data which had been presented by its skills development.

Ms Ntombela presented recommendations which came out of the Skills System Review, which had seen the establishment of a National School of Government, and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) driving the development and implementation of a public service HRD strategy which flowed from HRD strategies. Other recommendations were Career Development Services, established by the DHET and the development of a workplace-based learning policy framework. She concluded by noting that the HRDC was not an implementer, it was only responsible for advising government

Further discussion

Dr Bozzoli asked how many people, in the country at that time, had not received their certificates. She felt that this was disguised by all the tables. She asked whether the HRDC could claim the achievements listed as their own, since all the things the DHET had done were listed under HRDC’s banner. Would the Department not have done this anyway? Was the HRDC just a talk shop, or did it really influence policy? She noted very little mention of small business or any other initiative to deal with vast unemployment. All the cosy relationships between state, labour and business were between people who were already employed. It did not seem concerned with the unemployed. She expressed concern that the HRDC was a talk shop designed to make people feel better about themselves, and that many of the initiatives it claimed credit for would have happened anyway.

Ms Kilian felt that the minutes would not be able to be processed and suggested calling a special meeting.

The Chairperson said the Committee would decide.

Ms Kilian said was important to understand the HRDC’s origin and the far-reaching work it does. She said it was difficult for them to prove the work it does since it was not an implementing body. She expressed concern about the NC(V) certification, and noted the major backlog dating back to 2011, which was unacceptable. The Committee had to be given credit for forcing the marriage between SITA, Umalusi and the DHET. The NATED performance did not present a good picture, and the Committee needed to see additional efforts. Did it have the solution for this, because it could not have a situation where 15 862 individuals were affected? What would the Department do about that?

When the Committee had visited the Department there was mention of simplifying the system to not have open examinations in subject choices, only in the final examinations. How far were those plans? Was it feasible? Would it be achievable. The Committee agreed that it placed a significant burden on the Department to process all of them, and the impact on students was significant.

Ms Mchunu praised the phasing out of subject certificates, but questioned whether there was communication so that students and institutions were aware? She did not want challenges due to a lack of communication.

DHET’s response

Mr Qonde responded to question around certification. He felt that it was working well in terms of the processes and the work done. From the initial engagements between SITA, DHET and Umalusi, the issue was around NC(V) certificates. 400 000 certificates had been outstanding at that point. The work at a technical level at the three entities had paid off, as there were around 176 for November 2007 until March 2017. Those were technical issues which related to discrepancies in information which was being cleaned up manually. Regarding the NC(V), the DHET was working to finalise the outstanding certificates.

He said NATED became a problem during the over-concentration on the NC(V). On 29 October 2018, there were just over 64 000 outstanding certificates, which was alarming. This had activated extraordinary initiatives. As of 12 November, that number had been reduced to just over 15 000. The next session would be on 6 December, and the entities would see how much progress had been made in reducing the 15 000. That was not to say that the situation was rosy, but he assured the Committee that an enormous effort had been put into addressing that matter.

The HRDC’s objectives were to get all critical partners together in developing mechanisms which would assist in supporting the enhancement of training in the country. They would consider what the issues were at the school, TVET and university level, and what kind of partners were needed to address these challenges. In working with provincial government departments, one of the things which had been put on the agenda was that provincial administrations must take an interest in interacting with institutions within their jurisdiction with a view to determining what skills were needed in the economy and industry in those areas. The Western Cape had been doing quite well in working with TVET colleges and assisting them to respond to what municipalities needed in terms of skills to respond to its provincial development strategy. He felt the HRDC was doing its job well, but reminded the Committee that executing remained a responsibility of the Department.

Mr Qonde said the DHET was reviewing the examination system at TVET colleges. Seven examination cycles were onerous. Work was being consumed by writing examinations on a trimester basis and in a whole range of programmes which were being offered. The previous session with the Minister on the proposals had resulted in fruitful engagement and proper guidance from the Minister. It was looking at technical issues to bring reworked recommendations to the Minister for approval. Work was being done on this and it would be resolved shortly. He reminded Members that it would be a fundamental policy issue that the Department would have to work at phasing in its implementation, but making that determination was important.

The Chairperson suggested that the DG provide written responses if questions were not answered.

Dr Bozzoli asked for a response from the HRDC themselves. The DG did not speak for them, but for the Department.

Ms Kilian noted that eight provincial councils were established, and asked the HRDC which provincial council had not been established.

Ms Ntombela stated that only Gauteng did not have a provincial council. She elaborated on the issue of partnerships, noting that this was a deliverable for the Council. She commented on the work done by Harambee, which partnered the HRDC to see to it that learners who were not employed got employment. There were a few companies or industries which assisted with getting employment. Having a skills planning unit within the Department, it looked at supply and demand issues in the country. The third issue was about providing solutions. When it had people from business, labour, government and universities sitting together, solutions could be developed on how employment could be created, and it could advise on how challenges could be addressed.

Adoption of minutes

Because there were ten sets of minutes and two reports to consider and adopt, and Members wanted time to study them to ensure their accuracy, it was agreed that this would be deferred.

The meeting was adjourned.

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