Annual Reports 2017/18
The Committee was briefed by the Department of Basic Education on its Annual Report for 2017/18. Members were concerned that neither the Minister nor the Deputy Minister was in attendance. The Minister of Education was called out of the National Assembly plenary meeting so that she formally appoint the Director-General to lead the DBE delegation.
Members raised the issues of education quality, delivery of workbooks, scholar transport, sports facilities and irregular expenditure. Members also raised the incidents of children dying in toilets and asked that sanitation and water shortages be addressed urgently.
Noting an apology from the Chairperson, the Committee elected Ms Dlamini as the Acting Chairperson. Ms L Dlamini (ANC) welcomed the Department of Basic Education (DBE) officials and asked if the Deputy Minister would be in attendance.
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, DBE Director-General, replied that the Deputy Minister is in Lesotho.
The Acting Chairperson noted that neither the Deputy Minister nor the Minister is present and asked the Committee if the meeting should proceed.
Ms Mampuru asked where the Minister is and Mr Khawula proposed that the meeting proceed.
The Acting Chairperson was informed that the National Assembly is having a plenary and the Minister is attending it. She agreed with Mr Khawula’s proposal.
Ms Mampuru replied that she is not happy to proceed with the meeting.
The Acting Chairperson asked Department officials to ask the Minister to attend and brief the Committee and then depart from the meeting early.
Mr Mweli said he had messaged the Minister and she is on her way.
The Acting Chairperson commented that the Committee has a good relationship with DBE and commended them on its stability. Members appreciated the schools which have been built in both rural and urban areas. The challenge of sanitation and water shortages remains. There is a lack of flushing toilet facilities in all of the provinces, particularly in the Eastern Cape, and the number of toilets is not adequate. There is a lack of monitoring in schools about human trafficking. She asked for clarity on children who register to write but do not end up writing the exams. What exactly is happening there? Are you holding back learners who you think will not pass the exams? She then handed over to the Department to begin their presentation.
Mr Mweli said the purpose of the presentation is to report on the Department’s performance against its pre-determined objectives and targets.
Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, arrived and apologised to the Committee. She explained that the National Assembly is in the process of voting. The Deputy Minister is in Lesotho and she does not know why his office did not inform the Committee.
The Acting Chairperson explained to the Minister that there needs to a formal appointment of the Director General so that he can brief the Committee in the absence of political leadership. She understands the importance of the plenary and the Minister may be excused.
The Minister appointed the Director General to lead the presentation and excused herself from the meeting.
Department of Basic Education on its 2017/18 Annual Report
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, DBE Director-General, highlighted the achievements of the Department and noted that there are still problems around the delivery of workbooks. Some learners do not receive workbooks as a result of challenges in delivering them. Employees were trained for skills development and the number of educators has declined. Teacher unions are allocated to do the training. There is a focus on school government bodies so that teacher unions become more engaged in professional development. DBE allocates money to them to do the training and they intend to engage with them more in future. The biggest challenge is the failure and retention rate of learners who repeat grades and are not allowed to progress.
In response to the Acting Chairperson asking him to clarify the retention rate, Mr Mweli replied that DBE had come up with a policy on progressed learners. The policy stipulates that learners will not be retained in a particular phase for more than four years. Learners must satisfy certain requirements in order to progress. The challenge is whether the school management team ensures adherence to these requirements.
Mr Mweli spoke about unachieved performance targets in 2017/18. In Senior Management Service (SMS), there is a challenge of female employees leaving DBE. In Early Childhood Development (ECD), the focus remains on the quality of practitioners and ensuring that facilities are conducive for learning. There have been challenges with this budget so DBE relies upon non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and donors to assist. There was a challenge in the Western Cape and North West which changed their dates for training. There is a programme aimed at offering African languages into the curriculum as well as sign language. On promoting quality of teaching, DBE underperformed and did not meet the targets. All five teacher unions do not support the involvement of Pearson. The unions have a particular stance against an organization which privatizes education and this influenced teachers not to participate. On promoting service delivery, there is a challenge around the use of implementing agents, contractors and officials. DBE spends more time working with them than with teachers. Some of the schools being built in the Eastern Cape are going to be empty as a result of people moving to areas of economic activity. Scholar transport cannot be provided because it is a mountainous area. In terms of expenditure, DBE has increased performance and underspent in some areas. DBE received a qualified audit. There have been difficulties in appointing psychologists and therapists to assist those with learning disabilities.
Mr D Stock (ANC, Northern Cape) asked about the annual expenditure as this does not appear in the presentation in detail. He asked how much irregular expenditure has been recovered by DBE and if action has been taken. He asked why steps were not followed to prevent wasteful and irregular expenditure. He referred to the lack of sports facilities and lack of support to schools in the North West. It is a continual concern that Members have been raising. How do you plan to encourage provinces to build sporting facilities in the future?
Mr M Khawula (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) said he is concerned that at the beginning of the year, teachers indicate which learners will pass and which will fail. This is unacceptable. He thanked DBE for confirming that practitioners were not trained. The way the Post Provisioning Model (PPM) is set up is wrong. The outcome cannot be the same for rural and urban areas. The circumstances are not the same in both areas and the PPM must consider that people are moving away from rural areas. The PPM should favour rural areas as the conditions are very different to urban areas. The same must apply to education quality. Education offered in rural areas is not of the same quality as that offered in urban areas. Teachers who are highly qualified choose to work in urban areas and children have to walk very far to get to rural school. It is not right that you have to have money to receive quality education. On delivery of workbooks, schools receive the wrong workbooks. On multi-grading, why do we still have multi-grading 24 years into democracy? The Eastern Cape went down but all the other provinces went up after the supplementary exams. How does that happen? He asked for clarity on the baseline. Does it mean that Kwa-Zulu Natal only has three schools? Why is it such a low number? DBE must prioritize learners passing. He said that the scholar transport programme opens up corruption. Can you attend to this and curb corruption?
Mr C Hattingh (DA, North West) asked how DBE defines “unwanted acts against children”. Is there a philosophy behind this that says consensual relationships between children and teachers are not unwanted? How do you ensure that educators are identified and a timeline is set for dealing with this problem? On educator diagnostic tests, the quality of education must be tested and controlled from time to time to identify weaknesses. What is going to change?
Mr Hattingh said that the DBE qualified audit opinion has become a perpetual problem. The poorest communities are struggling. What are you doing to break the trend of non-performance? On irregular expenditure, some amounts are not included in the total because they are still under investigation. Procurement and supply chain management must be seriously addressed. Poor communities will be disadvantaged if the pattern continues. Is there an intervention plan to stop irregular expenditure?
Ms T Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA, Western Cape) asked about DBE interventions in the Western Cape to address disabilities. There is only one school for deaf children in Khayelitsha. The schools in Limpopo are in an appalling state and are not conducive for learning. She spoke about the lack of security and said it impacts on nutrition provision and drug and substance abuse. Teachers are being attacked on school premises. Where was the security? It impacts on nutrition because the food is stolen by educators in schools. How do you strengthen security? He spoke of food being stolen in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha and the DBE presentation is silent on this. What has happened about the children dying in pit toilets in the Eastern Cape and in Limpopo? The family has sued DBE but the presentation is silent on this. She asked that the Mathematics Olympiad be introduced not only in Model C schools. On sanitation, she spoke in isiXhosa. On qualifications, only those who are qualified to teach a certain subject must teach it. Learners need scientific calculators as having Mathematics determines whether learners get into tertiary education as a result of the point system. She said that corruption must be seriously addressed.
Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) said the lack of security monitoring impacts on nutrition. The provinces must be visited to see what is happening and to assist them. Stealing food in rural areas is wrong and the manner in which food is delivered to schools needs to be checked. Provinces must be assisted.
Ms T Mampuru (ANC, Limpopo) said that the country is growing and during an oversight visit to Gauteng she saw that the primary schools are facing migration challenges. Most migrants go there and it has a negative impact on learner enrollment. It was affecting the budget of the school. How do you accommodate learners without the necessary documents and how do they obtain certificates once they have written matric examinations? Rural provinces suffer the most in terms of education quality. Limpopo is so rural there are unknown villages beyond the mountains. The road infrastructure is very bad. How do we keep teachers in rural schools? How can this be addressed? Lack of teacher retention and poor quality education is a continual challenge. Attacks on teacher are growing. Schools are provided but they are vandalized. What measures have been taken against officials who have behaved wrongfully? She asked where provincial departments get money to build schools and suggested that the national department should assist them. Service delivery is a continual process and not a once-off event. What are you doing to address people migrating and moving to urban areas?
The Acting Chairperson noted that some of the concerns raised are not from the Annual Report and DBE will have to come back and respond to them. Most concerns relate to the limited budget of DBE. When Members visited schools in Gauteng, the main concern was the educators who compromise the quality of learning and availability of food. It is not only in rural areas and it must be attended to urgently. On the delivery of workbooks, some learners were sharing textbooks and some are not receiving books at all. One school in the Eastern Cape did not receive any learning materials. There are also learners not returning books if they lost them. It unachieved gender target for Senior Management Service (SMS) is unacceptable and other strategies must be used to achieve 50%. How do you monitor ECD? There must be a reasonable delegation of powers to districts to procure materials and equipment. When looking at poor performance for some indicators against full budget expenditure, where is the money? Is it lost? This comes down to planning at project level. She proposed that DBE provide written responses to the questions.
Ms Mampuru suggested that DBE respond to a few now and the rest in writing.
Mr Mweli replied that budget performance will be addressed in a final report next week. On delegating to districts, delegations must be given on the basis of function and not personality. DBE is working on improving the percentage of women in SMS. DBE will continue to monitor challenges in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal. On schools being destroyed, he said learners burn schools and DBE has to rebuild them. The irregular expenditure was as a result of tenders not being properly managed and authorized. It happens with implementing agencies and DBE has taken a stance to discontinue business with those who incur wasteful and fruitless expenditure. This occurs mostly with the workbooks and the companies involved in the project are being engaged with. They are waiting for the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) finalise the irregular expenditure DBE presented to them in previous years. He pointed to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Sports and Recreation about school sports and said that provinces must be involved too. The rest of the questions will be dealt with in writing.
The Acting Chairperson thanked DBE. She asked Members to review the Committee Legacy and Annual Reports so they can be adopted at the next Committee meeting. She adjourned the meeting.