The Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented its annual performance plan (APP) for the 2019/20 financial year, including a broad overview by the Minister highlighting some of the challenges, including shortcomings in respect of resources. She outlined the shape and the size of the basic education sector, giving a comprehensive breakdown of the number of learners, educators and schools in the ordinary school sector by province. She further sketched the education sector priorities, based on the national development plan (NDP) vision 2030, the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2019 and the Action Plan to 2024. Uppermost in the list of priorities for the basic education sector in the short to medium term would be reading and comprehension in the first years of school.
The Minister said that although all parties were aware of violence in schools – involving both learners on learners, and learners on educators – it was not the intention of the Department to militarise schools. Provinces had been instructed to ensure that schools started with basic safety measures such as fencing, because some schools were not fenced at all.
The Department’s APP indicated it would double its efforts to achieve both the short and long term goals of the education sector, in collaboration with provincial Education Departments (PEDs) and partners. It had been allocated R24.5 billion for the 2019/20 financial period, R26.0 billion for 2020/21, and R28.2 billion for 2021/22 financial periods.
The Department reported that over the next 5 years it would work on implementing the following priorities: the Early Childhood Development (ECD) function shift, early grade reading, information communication technology (ICT) in education, assessments, violence and social cohesion in schools, and the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative. It would develop and adopt a national reading plan for primary schools by the end of 2019. It would complete and digitise Computer Applications Technology (CAT) and IT in Grade 10 -12 state-owned textbooks; assess 10% of the special schools for connectivity and ICT infrastructure deployment; assess a further 10% of the special schools for connectivity and ICT infrastructure deployment; and provide 100 schools with e-Library solutions by the end of August 2019.
110 schools would be monitored for the provision of nutritious meals. 7 500 learners, teachers, officials, school governing bodies (SGBs), parents and community organisation members would be participating in social cohesion and gender equity programmes. 48 “hot spot” schools in terms of safety and violence would be monitored towards the implementation of the National School Safety Framework (NSSF).
Members wanted to know if there was an intention by the Minister to allocate a separate budget for safety and security in schools for monitoring purposes, because it appeared the bulk of the budget went to nutrition; wanted to find out if there were any plans in place to improve teacher training on ICT, because the provided training of two days was not adequate; asked if the social support grant would cover social workers coming to the schools and school psychologists; wanted to know if the matter of the medium of instruction was covered in the language policy because if it was not monitored, it would take SA back. The Minister responded that the language policy usually elicited a heated debate. Black parents were insisting on their children being taught in English, but it had been proven that they performed better when taught in their home language.
Ms Carol Nuga-Deliwe, Chief Director: Strategic Planning and Research: Department of Basic Education (DBE), said that over the next five years the DBE would work on implementing the following priorities: the Early Childhood Development (ECD) function shift, early grade reading, information communication technology (ICT) in education, assessments, violence and social cohesion in schools, and the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative.
The DBE would develop a comprehensive plan for the different work streams involved in the ECD function shift -- Grade R, Grade RR, and birth to age four -- in collaboration with the relevant partners in government. A costed plan for the ECD function shift would be finalised by March 2020.
The DBE would develop and adopt a national reading plan for primary schools by the end of 2019. It would encourage schools, parents and communities in the target areas to actively participate in the reading movement to establish a reading culture, and actively establish partnerships and raise funds to support the reading movement. Reading norms would be deepened to strengthen existing curriculum delivery, building on the DBE norms already in use in different African languages.
The DBE would complete and digitise Computer Applications Technology (CAT) and IT in Grade 10 -12 state-owned textbooks; assess 10% of the special schools for connectivity and ICT infrastructure deployment; assess a further 10% of the special schools for connectivity and ICT infrastructure deployment; andprovide 100 schools with an e-Library solution by the end of August 2019.
It would develop a numeracy programme for teachers in the foundation phase. Experimental innovations would be conducted for collecting information about what worked in numeracy. Mathematics instructional support would be costed and used to secure support and to start implementation. Lesson plans would be delivered to all the schools in the two identified districts at the start of every quarter, thereby improving the quality of teaching and learning.
It would expand protein alternatives in the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). It would support the pilot in the Northern Cape to improve the quality of school meals, and better education and health outcomes; and a breakfast guideline, including the mapping of partner breakfast programmes, would be finalised and distributed to provincial education departments (PEDs) for implementation.
The DBE would embark on broader advocacy campaigns to popularise and gain buy-in of all stakeholders with regard to history, languages, and the curriculum. It would finalise training and materials, including the guide for schools on providing psychosocial support to learners to improve standards of practice on psychosocial support at school level. It would further support the provision of school health services to 200 000 learners in Grades R, 1, 4, 8 and 10, including the human papilloma virus (HPV) in Grade 5.
Ms Nuga-Deliwe said the Department was aiming to monitor 27 schools -- three per province -- on the utilisation of ICT resources during the current financial year. It was also targeting to achieve 100% provision of home language workbooks for learners in Grades 1 to 6 in all public schools. The target was also to reach 100% provision of mathematics workbooks for learners in Grades 1 to 9 in all public schools. 20 schools would be monitored on the implementation of the Incremental Introduction to African languages nationally. 100 under-performing schools would be monitored on the implementation of the Early Grade Reading Assessment. 30 000 learners were targeted to obtain subject passes towards a National Senior Certificate (NSC) or extended Senior Certificate, including upgraded NSCs per year. 3 327 learners/children with severe to profound intellectual disability who utilised the learning programme would be reached.
80% of the 2 000 sampled school governing bodies (SGBs) would be targeted to meet the minimum criteria in terms of effectiveness. 13 000 Funza Lushaka bursaries would be awarded to students enrolled for initial teacher education. Six PEDs would be monitored on the implementation of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) and the Education Management Information System EMIS: Performance Management and Development System (PMDS).
In general education and training, 250 test items would be developed in Grades 3, 6 and 9 for mathematics and languages. 40 new schools would be built and completed through ASIDI. 717 schools would be provided with sanitation facilities through the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), while 225 would be provided with water through ASIDI. All nine provinces would be monitored by DBE officials for the implementation of the Learner Unit Record Information and Tracking System (LURITS) annually.
110 schools would be monitored for the provision of nutritious meals. 7 500 learners, teachers, officials, SGBs, parents, and community organisation members would be participating in social cohesion and gender equity programmes. 48 “hot spot” schools in terms of safety and violence would be monitored towards the implementation of the National School Safety Framework (NSSF). Nine PEDs had been targeted to have approved annual business plans for the HIV/AIDS life skills education programme.
Ms Nuga-Deliwe said the DBE would double its efforts to achieve both the short and long term goals of the education sector, in collaboration with PEDs and partners. The Department had been allocated R24.5 billion for the 2019/20 financial period, R26.0 billion for 2020/21, and R28.2 billion for 2021/22. Included in these allocations was the compensation of employees (CoE) amounting to R547m, R588m, and R626m for the three financial years respectively.
(Graphs and tables were shown to illustrate budget allocation)
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) wanted to know if there was an intention from the Minister to allocate a separate budget for safety and security in schools for monitoring purposes, because it appeared the bulk of the budget was going to nutrition. She also wanted to establish what the hurdles were regarding the LURITS, because it did not appear to be operational or fully functional. Were there any plans in place to improve teacher training on ICT, because the provided training of two days was not adequate?
Minister Angie Motshekga said it was important to be clear in terms of the concurrent functions, because the bulk of the budget and the responsibilities were in the provinces. The budget of the education sector was R26 billion. However, there were many challenges in the education sector and it was becoming difficult to fund some priority areas because the sector was working with the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Sport and Culture, the Department of Social Development, etc., and for social cohesion they were relying on partnerships.
The DBE did not want to militarise schools. The bulk of the work lay with the provinces, especially on safety and security. What was important, as the first step for safety and security, was the fencing of schools. Unfortunately, very few schools were fenced, and that was the responsibility of the provinces. That was why the provinces were instructed to do fencing first. Sometimes some matters were beyond the Department’s control, because stabbings happened outside school premises. She said if Members wanted a full presentation regarding school safety, a separate meeting could be arranged with the Committee, because the Department had detailed plans.
She said the LURITS has been completed, especially the transition from LURITS 1 to 2. Unfortunately, the details had not been included in the APP presentation. The Department was looking at modernising information collection and verification. It had been put to use for implementation in the system, and it was linking the Department with the South African Social Security Afency (SASSA), Home Affairs and Social Development, on learners receiving grants.
Ms Nuga-Deliwe explained there were new things that were coming up in the system for teacher training on ICT. Challenges that had been identified would be addressed, because ICT moved forward all the time.
Ms C King (DA) asked if the social support grant would cover social workers coming to the schools, and school psychologists. She also enquired how the Funza Lushaka bursary was structured, because maths and science teachers needed to be attracted.
Mr Paddy Padayachee, Acting Director-General: DBE, said the Council of Education had decided to fund the social support initiative. All the provinces were in the process of establishing itinerant teams of school psychologists and social workers. The Department has been approached by the Department of Social Development (DSD) to come up with a programme to develop a curriculum for school social workers. The DBE had managed to speak with universities to develop these needed school social workers.
Minister Motshekga explained that one got a Funza Lushaka bursary only when one had the intention to teach maths and science. It was a specific-directed bursary, but the Department had decided to consider funding other areas that had been found to be lacking, like languages and vocational skills.
Ms N Shabalala (ANC) asked what was being done to ensure illegal schools were not allowed to exist.
Minister Motshekga responded that this was an on-going struggle. Parents also had a responsibility to alert the Department if they suspected something illegal. The DBE did not have the capacity to monitor its thousands of learners.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) wanted to know if there was a monitoring system to ensure money was going where it was supposed to go on the infrastructure grant. She asked if there were plans in place to monitor the implementation of the ECD programmes because if there were no plans, many qualified people were going to be lost.
Minister Motshekga said the infrastructure grant had been transferred to the provinces. Treasury had to rewrite the plan to see how money was going to be spent and monitored. Money for special schools was going to come from the provinces because the national Department was just the holder of funds.
She pointed out the ECD framework was a huge area. The Department was not likely to succeed in its quest for quality education. The focus was on Grades R to 2 and they were working with the DSD. The ECD space was an area of great investment for companies in the private sector. The DBE was careful of how it was going to do ECD migration, because many stakeholders were involved in this programme. An update would be done with the Committee on the ECD framework.
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) said there should be tangible details on what was going to be done to address violence and social cohesion in schools. It should be admitted that many teachers and learners had been lost within the school premises. The security personnel at the schools were not well armed to fight violence. In fact, there were schools without security personnel. He wanted to know if the matter of the medium of instruction was covered in the language policy because if it was not monitored, it would take SA back. The Committee was interested to see the position of the DBE on mother tongue education. He said the Department should be commended for addressing infrastructure challenges. It was doing its best and not allowing learners to study under the trees.
Minister Motshekga commented that the language policy usually elicited a heated debate. Black parents were insisting on their children being taught in English, but it had been proven that they performed better when taught in their home language. This was a big debate, and the Department could report back to the Committee with full details. She added that the education sector had to agree on how to improve infrastructure and involve the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).
Mr T Malatji (ANC) commented that school safety could not be reduced only to security personnel in schools, but it was a societal concern. Two-thirds of the time was allocated for teaching, while the rest was spent on disciplining the children. Most children were looking after themselves because parents left home early for work and then came back very late. The children were left with only the teachers most of the time, and were always on their own.
Mr Padayachee said that school safety was a bone of contention. It was a matter not to be dealt by the Department only, but by the whole of society. Violence was migrating to the DBS because the violence and gangsterism that children were seeing in communities was being taken to the schools. The safety programme of the Department would be presented to the Committee when the time was opportune.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi said she was glad the matter of school social workers had been brought to the attention of everybody. The Minister should update the Committee on what had worked, and what was supposed to be done regarding mitigation. There was a need for a concerted effort from SAPS and the Departments of Health, Justice and Social Development, to present to the Committee their approaches regarding school safety.
The Chairperson asked how the school nutrition project piloted in the Northern Cape was going to unfold, and what the target for it was. She commented that the Department was not doing enough to look after special needs schools regarding ICT because there were schools in the Northern Cape that did not have enough Braille machines and as a result, three children were sharing one machine.
Minister Motshekga said what was being piloted in the Northern Cape was the breakfast item for what was already being done. There was nothing new. Lastly, she said that some of the items that had not been mentioned in the APPs would be presented to the Committee when it engaged with the Department at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.