Department of Basic Education Quarter 3 performance

Basic Education

19 February 2019
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) briefed the Committee on its third quarter performance and some of the aspects highlighted were: 

  • The National Senior Certificate examination was administered to 624 733 full-time and 176 110 part-time candidates.
  • The Department held an Indaba on 12 October of the previous year to engage on the professional development of teachers and initial teacher education models.
  • The rural education policy was revised and 24 schools in four provinces were being monitored.
  • The e-Library solution was installed in 27 schools.
  • A Reading in African Languages, workshop was convened with the aim of developing a facilitators manual.
  • A collective agreement was reached to regulate the appointment of temporary educators to permanent posts.
  • 101 schools were under construction during the third quarter. There was a challenge of delays by implementing agents related to water and sanitation.
  • The Department conducted an awareness campaign on healthy lifestyles and nutrition.
  • An Anti-Gangsterism Strategy Implementation Plan was finalised.

At the end of the quarter, the DBE had spent about 80% of the total adjusted budget for the financial year. Audit findings were related to accruals, the asset register and the commitment register. 

Some of the concerns raised by Committee and discussed, related to the development of staff, braille books for blind students, maintenance of school assets, what was being done to counter violence and sexual misconduct, vetting of teachers, the Reading in African Languages project, the deployment of Cuban mathematics and science teachers, compensation of employees; temporary educators; rural education, and the number of teachers employed.

Committee members were not pleased with all the responses from the Department of Basic Education, notably the slow response in addressing the concerns raised on providing braille textbooks for the blind, as well the adverse audit findings. 

 

Meeting report

Introduction by the Chairperson

The Chairperson welcomed the Department of Basic Education, and asked that the presentation be as brief as possible, as some members had to attend another meeting at 12h30.

 

The third quarter report amounted to a summary of the entire year until 31 December, hence discussion could not be confined to the third quarter alone. Performance for the whole year had to be taken into account.

 

Ms H Boshoff (DA) presented flowers to the Chairperson on behalf of the DA, to extend condolences for the passing away of the Chairperson’s husband.

 

The Chairperson thanked the DA, and asked the DBE to proceed with the briefing.

 

Briefing by the Department of Basic Education

A large delegation from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) attended the meeting - these were:  

  •  Dr Mathanzima Mweli, DG at DBE
  •  Dr Granville Whittle, DDG: Social Mobilization and Support Services
  •  Dr Mamiki Maboya, DDG: Curriculum Poicy, Support and Monitoring
  •  - Ms Palesa Tyobeka, DDG: Planning and Delivery Oversight
  •  - Mr Solly Mafoko, Chief Director: School Infrastructure;
  •  - Dr Taylor, Advisor and Researcher in the office of the DG;
  •  - Ms Nosipho Mbonambi, Acting Director for Strategic Planning
  •    and Mr Patrick Khunou: CFO.

The DBE briefing was done by Ms Mbonambi and Mr Khonou and they highlighted the aspects below:

  • The National Senior Certificate) examination was administered to 624 733 full-time and 176 110 part-time candidates.
  • The DBE held an Indaba on 12 October 2019 to engage on enhancing the professional skills of teachers  and initial teacher education models to complement the Funza Lushaka bursary programme.
  • The Department received a notice from the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) which applied for an order to declare that failure to provide braille textbooks to learners was unconstitutional. An order of court compelled the Department to conduct an audit of 22 schools for the blind.
  • Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) implementation plans were completed and submitted by all Provincial Education Departments (PEDS) .
  • The Rural Education Policy was revised and 24 schools in four provinces were monitored. The e-Library solution was installed in 27 schools. A Reading in African Languages workshop was convened to develop a facilitator’s manual.

Some other important matters the communicated to the Committee was:

  • A collective agreement was reached to regulate the appointment of temporary educators to permanent posts.
  • The Department had conducted a study tour on play-based learning and capacity development in Early Childhood Development (ECD), in New York and Boston.
  • The Department was developing strategies to minimise the impact of protests on the right to basic education.
  • 101 schools were under construction during the third quarter, however some challenge encountered due to the delays on water and sanitation by by implementing agents
  • The Department conducted an awareness campaign on healthy lifestyles and nutrition.
  •  An Anti-Gangsterism Strategy Implementation Plan was finalised.

 At the end of the quarter, the Department had spent about 80 percent of the total adjusted budget for the financial year. The Auditor General of SA (AGSA) audit findings for the department, were related to accruals, the asset register and the commitment register.

Discussion

Ms Boshoff remarked that there had to more emphasis on the development of non-educative staff. It was stated that provinces had not sent invoices for braille textbooks. The Minister had said that she would apply her powers to hold provinces accountable (for non-delivery) - and that there had to be consequences for provinces did not comply. In Gauteng, seventy schools were in dire need of maintenance and the budget for maintenance was insufficient. Some school buildings were build more than 40 years ago and now unsafe. She referred to violence and abuse and sexual misconduct, at schools -  and said that this was also a stakeholder responsibility. Teachers had to have SA Police Service clearances. She asked if teachers in the system were vetted. Another concern she raised was the severe water shortage at Makanda, in the Grahamstown area. She asked what the Eastern Cape Education Department was doing to assist on the matter.

Ms C Majeke (UDM) asked about improvement in infrastructure backlog grant spending. She said that during a Committee oversight visit it became apparent that there were challenges of teacher development. She asked how the third quarter report prioritised schools without textbooks.

Ms L Meso (ANC) asked if expectations of the Teaching Indaba were reached and what the Departmental plans were to absorb interns?

Ms M Basson (ANC) referred to safety in schools, and asked if there were strategies to improve transport conditions. Children were transported on overloaded buses, on which abuse also occurred. District offices were understaffed. On health promotion, she asked if there were plans to build kitchens at schools. Only 80  - out of the initial target of 150 schools -  had been built. She wanted to know if the target could be reached?

Other queries she raised were:

 - how many educators were produced in 2018/19?

 - if the Department satisfied with progress made with Reading in African languages?

 - why were rural schools not targeted for the second chance project?

Mr A Botes (ANC) noted that the Department had  received a qualified audit on infrastructure spending and wanted to know what  remedial actions were taken to address the findings raised. She also wanted clarity on aspects in the APP (Annual Performance Plan)

 - indicated that 50 schools had to be replaced and wanted the progress on this

 - what the progress on16 action plan goals related to learner performance (page 31on the APP)

 - she wanted information on the tracking system of learners leaving school (“drop outs”). Statistics indicated that around 75 000 children, aged between 14 and 17 were outside the education education system. 

Mr H Khosa (ANC) wanted more information on the nine Cuban mathematics teachers that were to be deployed. He was critical about officials who spent the budget improperly - e.g. an official was ordered by the court to re-pay R25000. He wanted more information on the matter - was it to be a replacement of money not well spent, or was it a fine? He said that these were challenges that repeatedly cropped up and needed serious attention.

The Chairperson said that she was concerned about infrastructure spending. Other concerns she wanted clarity were:

  •  the large salary bill (cost of employment, CoE) - especially how the aspects was being mentioned in the provinces
  • what progress was on the collective agreement about temporary educators
  • the policy was submitted on rural education. How did the DBE propose to manage the shift in approach?
  • what were the benefits of implementing the Reading in African Languages project? It was meant to promote social cohesion.
  • what the problem was in the Eastern Cape regarding non-compliance on some Departmental policies and directives.

Dr Whittle responded that monitoring of teachers were a challenge. Profiling of teachers were being done. He admitted that sometimes mismatched occurred in matching teacher skills with teaching subjects , e.g. teachers trained to teach mathematics sometimes ended up teaching history (due to resource and other constraints).

On sexual misconduct, he said that that it was difficult to obtain SAPS clearance for teachers, however new teachers had to obtain it. The DG had written to the provinces about the matter. More co-operation was required with other organisations to enable better management and monitoring on the matter (eg. Departments of Social Development as well as Justice and Constitutional Development). More work needed to be done by the Department and it stakeholders to address the matter (e.g. a sexual offenders register). He said that, ideally everyone who came into contact with a learner had to be vetted. The ELRC (Education Labour Relations Council) wanted to amend the Appointment of Teachers Act to address the problem of sexual offenders in the education sector.

On teacher development initiatives, raised by Ms Majeke, he responded that the Department was working with the Department of Higher Education to build a teacher development model.

He said that there was partnership with the private sector on school kitchens - but that only 30 kitchens could be produced per year. The new Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI) schools included a cooking centre, and even dining areas in some instances.

25000 new teachers were employed over the year.

the tracking of teacher placement, he said that only Funza Lushaka (Departmental bursary scheme)  trained teachers were tracked. The Cuban mathematics and science teachers were not yet deployed in the provinces. He said that Cost of Employment was problematic.

The Department had improved on leave management, but there was still a high rate of teacher absenteeism. Redeployment of teachers was receiving attention.

On the implementation of the collective agreement on temporary teachers - he responded that that a teacher who occupied a vacant post for three months or longer would be appointed permanently, provided the post was permanent and vacant (i.e not being filled while a permanent incumbent was on leave).

Dr Maboya said that that the Department prioritised schools without textbooks all the time, not only in quarter 3. Learner Teaching Support Materials (LTSM) was being digitised.

She said that rural schools did benefit from best practices in the provinces, however progress with Reading in African Languages was not yet satisfactory.

She said that that the 16 sector goals included numeracy and literacy. There was a reporting framework for teaching mathematics and reading in African languages, and workbooks for numeracy and literacy were being produced. The Cuban teachers would be rotated. In addition an advocacy framework was being developed to cope with challenges in rural education. Five provinces were currently included in the programme.

Ms Palesa Tyobeka responded that progress was being made with textbooks and that teachers were being deployed to where there were shortages, working through the PEDS (Provincial Education Departments). She said regarding dangerous toilets, the Department of Public Works would have to assist.

Mr Mafoko responded that disasters related to ageing infrastructure at schools would be prevented through structural assessments. School principals had to be responsible for drawing attention to infrastructure that could pose dangers.

On water shortages at Makanda - he said that water tanks were being provided to schools (spme through donations by NGO’s) . Eight to ten water tanks were added to ASIDI schools.

A distinction had to be made between day to day and preventative maintenance (longer term projects). The Department wanted to increase the percentage of the budget devoted to infrastructure maintenance. Expenditure on ASIDI was 58 percent. Third quarter maintenance    always a challenge due to matters related to builders taking their normal annual leave on 15 December - this caused a lag in reporting. The Department had met with implementing agents to address the challenges identified.

Dr Mweli responded that that the LURITS report (Learner Unit Record Information and Tracking System - that aimed to collect unit record data for each learner in the country) was in line with indicators in the APP. He indicated that the report would be available at the end of 2019. Information would be verified with the Department of Home Affairs, to minimise the impact of  “ghost learners” in the system (ie. learners that did not exist) - including the use of the national population register.

Dr Taylor responded about teacher professionalisation - and said that there was a need to do more to prepare foundation phase teachers, especially for home language teaching. He said that the evaluation report on the Teaching Indaba would be made available to the Committee.

Mr Mweli told the Committee that the Department would respond (verbally) to any questions not answered or responded to properly.

He said that some interns could be absorbed into the Department. He agreed that some areas in the APP required more work.

He agreed with Mr Khosa that there were persistent challenges - but the Department was working hard to improve on these. The situation pertaining to the June exam had to be communicated to as many stakeholders as possible. Details could be given about progress with audit issues.

The Chairperson remarked that the Committee would engage with the office of the AGSA (Auditor General of SA) on 5 March on 2019. She invited the Department to attend. She asked about progress with supplying braille books to the blind.

Mr Mweli replied that in accordance with the court order, there had been an audit in some provinces, but not in others. Some managers in provinces were not assisting (in addressing the issue).  He indicated that the audit outcome could give a sense of problems related to providing braille books.

The Chairperson responded that the explanation was not acceptable and matter was taking far too long to be resolved. The DG had to answer about what was preventing the matter from being put to rest.

The Chairperson noted that an invitation was received from the Forum for Intellectual Disability, for a tour of special centre schools in the Western Cape.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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