At the first meeting of the Select Committee on Basic Education of the Sixth Parliament, The Committee was briefed about the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) Annual Performance Plan and budget for the 2019/20 Financial Year.
The Committee was provided with details of the Department’s policy priorities, the overall budgets, and the five programmes which the BED was focused on in this financial year. The strategic objectives of these programmes were explained and key indicators to monitor their performance were outlined. Allocated budgets for each programme were provided as well.
The Committee expressed their concern about the increased focus of learners on their cell phones in school and therefore asked how the Department was planning to improve learners’ performance from Grade R-12 given this problem. Of major concern to Members was Gangsterism in schools; the increased suicide of young learners and the disqualification from transport for some learners. Members asked for specific responses and plans to address these concerns as young learners were more vulnerable to threats in these areas.
Members asked about the ECD migration project and for more clarity on the project; if the Department could give the Committee some of the figures such as how many schools there were this year; how the Department is going to implement National School Safety Framework (NSSF); how the ECD programme will be incorporated; if the training would be done by the ETDP SETA and what level of qualification would those teachers be getting; and if the Second Chance Programme was a re-write of the same exam or a programme designed to accommodate learners. The Department was asked if it had specific plans to ensure the safety of learners especially with regard electronic devices used at school by learners.
With regard to children on the streets, the Department suggested to the Committee that maybe the Child Grant authority could make sure that children of age are at school before releasing the grant.
The Minister of Basic Education Angelina Motshekga and the Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule were present at the meeting. The Chairperson made apologies for the absence of the DG as he was not in the country, and thanked the DDG for his presence.
Annual Performance Plan and Budget briefing
For the first meeting of this Select Committee in the 6th Parliament, Dr Mamiki Maboya, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, Department of Basic Education (BED) briefed Members on the Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP). The key aspects covered are the following:
- Progress on selected key deliverables;
- Key government priorities in relation to SONA;
- Priorities of the Education Sector for 2019/20;
- Key improvement plans of the department towards MTSF and NDP;
- Key strategic plans of the DBE;
- Programmes of the DBE with strategic objectives, programme performance indicators; and
- The Department’s annual budget.
On the progress made in the 2018/19 financial year, the speaker presented the Committee with graphs illustrating the performance of the 2018 matric class for the country’s nine provinces. Ms Maboya compared statistics of the National Senior Certificate percentage from 2012 to 2018 as well as the bachelor rate pass percentages per province. She briefed the Committee Members on the statistics of Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities in the country from 2002 to 2017 as well as the participation rates of ECD from 2009 to 2016. She spoke about issues of equity, LSEN, filling of teachers, and Funza Lushaka Placements.
Ms Maboya then moved to outline the key government priorities set by the Department of Basic Education. The emphasis was made on key links between sector priorities and the issues raised in SONA 2019 by the President. Ms Maboya highlighted the issues of ECD migration, pro-poor programme, and the improvement of reading comprehension, e-learning platform through digitalised school facilities and learners, as well as adapting the curriculum for the outside changing world.
In order to accomplish these goals, Ms Maboya then took the Committee through the Department’s action plan. The Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030 is the sector plan for basic education. It has been reviewed and strengthened for the 2020-2024 planning cycle. The plan is based on 27 national goals of which 13 are output goals. Following this, the speaker briefed members about the strategic outcome oriented goals which were linked to the five budget programmes of the Department.
- Programme 1: Effective and efficient governance and management
- Programme2: Effective development, monitoring of curriculum implementation and support
- Programme 3: improved teacher supply, development and utilisation
- Programme 4: Effective systems for planning, coordination, information management, assessment and district support
- And Programme 5: improved social cohesion in schools and wellbeing informed by SONA 2019 and NDP, DBE dedicated to work on implementing the followings:
- EDP Function shift
- Early Grade Reading
- ICTs in Education
- Violence and Social Cohesion in schools
- SAFE Initiative
Having briefed the Committee on the broader objectives of the Department, Ms Maboya focused on specific priorities for the 2019/20 financial year. It was envisaged that by the end of 2019 ECD function shift, early grade reading support, ICTs in education, numeracy at foundation level, assessments of teaching and learning environment, history and languages and the curriculum, psychosocial support services, health and safety at schools, school nutrition, international and national partnerships and infrastructure would be achieved.
Following this, Ms Maboya explained to Members the process that the Department used to draft the Annual Performance (APP). The first and second drafts of the APP had been analysed by the Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DPME) with recommendations made.
Moving on to the Annual Performance Plan (APP), Ms Maboya summarised the priorities of the DBE and the relevant aligned policies. The activities of the DBE can be categorised into five programmes: 1) administration, 2) curriculum policy, support and monitoring, 3) teachers, education human resources and institutional development, 4) planning, information and assessment and 5) educational enrichment services. Ms Maboya explained that in total 43 indictors had been used to assess the performance of the Department. Then the Committee was taken through each programme explaining strategic objectives and their Programme Performance Indicators.
Under programme 1, the objective is to improve administrative and governance systems through compliance to the key legislations.
For Programme 2, seven objectives were outlined.
- Develop and distribute digital content annually to promote e-learning in schools;
- Develop, print and distribute workbooks for Grades R—9 to support teaching and learning;
- Monitor and support the implementation of the National Curriculum Statements (NCS) to improve teaching and learning;
- Develop and review the framework to support provinces in improving maths, science and technology subjects;
- Develop, monitor and support the implementation of policies and programme for education in rural areas;
- Provide support to second-chance learners through Second-Chance Matric;
- Ensure learners with Severe to Profound intellectual Disabilities access to public education and support
For programme 3, five objectives were outlined. These were
- Monitor the basic functionality of schools and SGBs
- Identify and recruit the youth from all provinces for the Funza Lushaka Bursary to increase the output of teachers in education system;
- Monitor the content knowledge of teachings in certain subjects
- Monitor the implementation of Performance Management Systems
- Monitor the implementation of the Post-Provisioning annually per province
- Under programme 4, four objectives were outlined. Those were
- Provide data on learner performance through setting of questions papers, administering exams and data analysis of the National Examinations periodically
- Provide basic infrastructure services to replace schools built using inappropriate materials annually to enable a good learning environment
- Promote the functionality of schools through institutionalising a standardised school administration system
- Mentor and assess the performance of districts annually
- Under Programme 5, there were also 4 objectives and these were
- Monitor provision of nutritious meals in public schools
- Promote participation of learners in enrichment and co-curriculum activities
- Monitor the implementation of the NSSF in 185 Hot Spot Schools by 2019/20 in order to attain safe, caring and violent-free school environments
- Contribute to the reduction of new infections and the impact of HIV and TB by providing an enabling environment for learners.
Mr Patrick Khonou, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Finance and Administration of the Department of Basic Education took members through the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) of the Department.
For Departmental appropriation, DBE has been allocated R24, 5 billion in 2019/20, R26 billion in 2020/21 and R28.2 billion in 2021/22. This allocation covered the compensation of employees as well. The figures are R547 million, R588 million and R626 million respectively.
For each programme, Mr Khonou briefed the Committee on the budgets for 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years. To compare the expenditure, Mr Khonou showed the Committee budgets from 2018/19 financial year and indicated the percentage increase/decrease.
Following this, Mr Khonou provided the Committee a breakdown of the 2019 MTEF on Economic classifications allocations and compared the figures with that of the 2018/19 financial year. Percentage increase/decrease was also indicated.
Mr Khonou went through details of earmarked allocations for the 2019 MTEF and compared to figures from 2018/19 financial year with differences indicated. Details of Conditional Grant and transfer were explained in a similar way.
Mr Khonou finished his presentation with budget approved cuts and general budget support for 2019 MTEF.
The Chairperson invited Members to ask questions. He enquired about the ECD migration project and asked for more clarity on the project.
Mr N Ndongeni (ANC, EC) asked the Department how it was planning to improve learners’ performance from Grade R-12 as many children are focusing on cell phones these days. She asked about how the Department is going to implement the National School Safety Framework (NSSF) and asked if the Department could give the Committee some of the figures such as how many schools there were this year. Ms Ndongeni enquired about the difference of the APP figures of the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years and if improvements had been made. Speaking about children’s’ right to education, she asked what the Department planned to do if children were prevented from attending school. Regarding ICTs in learning places, she asked if the Department had any programme designed to train and upskill teachers in this respect.
For the 48 Hot Spot Schools indicated in the APP, Ms M Gillion (ANC, WC) asked if the Department would be able to give a list of these 48 schools. Coming from the Western Cape, a province plagued by gangsterism, Ms Gillion said that thousands of learners in Mitchell’s Plain were out on the streets and if any measures had been taken to address the drop-out. She also brought the issue of suicide among learners in the country to attention and asked if the Department had a plan to deal with that. For instance, she told the Committee that there were 6 learners having committed suicide between Grades 10-12 in her constituency. Ms Gillion asked about the transport assistance. Because the Department has a minimum distance required for transport and thus some learners are disqualified from transport and are vulnerable to other threats. She asked what the Department’s plan on this was. She asked the Department to give an update on the Sanitation Programme that was rolled out. She was curious to know why some schools were being closed down when the Department claimed that they were undergoing refurbishment.
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) asked if the Department was able to track the progress of learners from ECD level right up to matric. In rural areas, he asked expanding learning technology if the Department had checked with the Network availability in those areas. He asked if the Department had collaboration with the Department of Health on issues of HIV and TB.
Ms D Christians (DA, NP) asked how the ECD programme will be incorporated. She asked if the training would be done by the ETDP SETA and what level of qualification would those teachers be getting. She commended the Funza Lushaka Bursary scheme. She expressed her concern for safety at schools. For those Hot Spot schools, she asked what the safety plans have been rolled out. She enquired about the progress of HIV AIDS at schools. She expressed her particular interest in the Second Chance Matric Programme. She said that many failed learners went to TVET colleges but failed to cope. She wanted the Department to clarify if the Second Chance Programme was a re-write of the same exam or a programme designed to accommodate these learners. She enquired about the Vaccination programme at school and how families of these learners were informed of the programme
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KZN) said that since she came from a rural area, some schools do not have electricity. She asked what the Department planned to do for safety. To roll out ICTs, she asked further what the plans are to safeguard these electronic devices.
The Minister replied to Members’ questions. To answer the Members’ questions, she said that some of the issues that had just been brought up were not the BED’s responsibilities. Speaking about the Appropriation fund and the Monitoring fund, the Minister explained that as soon as provinces were appropriated funds, the National Department could not give them instructions because the fund was subjected to the jurisdiction of the provincial policy. Thus the National Department can only give a framework in advance. That was why it helped to work with the NCOP.
On ECD migration, the Minister replied that the Department would like to integrate the system. The ANC government, the Cabinet and the President in SONA all agreed that ECD should be migrated to the DBE. She emphasised the vital role of ECD using foundation teaching in Finland as an example. It is important to have more qualified teachers in the ECD phase. On the resource for ECD, the Minister said that the Department had been in consultation with Department of Social Development. Resources are with local government and the Department of Social Development.
On issues of tracking and monitoring implementation, the Minister replied that the Committee had just been briefed on the APP and the slides are very clear. The Department is discovering new ways to find out the causes of the high dropout such as teenage pregnancy and delinquency, etcetera in order to address them more effectively.
The Minister reiterated that the Department is focusing on increasing the numbers of language teaching teachers such as for African languages as well as teachers in maths and technology subjects
On the issue of vaccination such as in the Western Cape, the Minister indicated that the major deterrent for implementing this programme was religious issues that made some parents refuse to sign consent forms. However, she noticed that 90% have consented. It was issues related to HIV and teenage pregnancy that were less likely to get parental consent.
On the issue of numeracy at foundation level, the Minister suggested that the Department can give a full plan of the strategy in the next meeting.
Speaking about safety ICTs, the Minister recognised that it was an important issue and the Minister indicated some causes as to why some furniture and facilities were missing. The Minister said that no matter how many guards one puts at schools, they still can be stolen or robbed. Using an incident that happened in Gauteng, the Minister said that some schools had to use taxi parking at school as a coping mechanism against theft and break-ins. She did know that it is not possible to practise such mechanisms in rural areas. Speaking about electronic devices such as gadgets, the Minister expressed her concern that giving learners devices would be akin to exposing them to crimes.
On the huge amount of children on streets, the Minister said that there was also the possibility that parents kept children at home for fear of their safety. Children may go to areas that are dangerous. And this is due to the rampant gangsterism and violence in the province which there is little the Department could do. The Minister used a recent anecdote in which she had to be chaperoned to a primary school because she was told that the learners in primary school were members of gangs. Invoking the Bill of Rights, she said that everyone could inform the police if they found that their neighbours’ minor learners were not attending schools.
About the Department’s Sanitation Project, the Minister replied that it has been successful and the project can be completed in 3 years.
On the issue of transport, the Minister said that resources given to the Government was limited thus there is a line to be drawn which was set at 5km. The unique case in the Western Cape is that for some learners, it was not the distance rather the road conditions that made it hard for them to go to school.
On the issue of closing schools, the Minister replied that it is a national problem. The principle here was about making sure that the Department needed to utilise resources effectively to maximise and to avoid overstretching budgets. She said that the Eastern Cape had over 1000 schools that were no longer needed but they were still open and thus it was a waste to pay for the entire staff and bills etcetera. The Minister also mentioned a case where a school only had 97 students and only 1 student is in Grade R and 1 at Grade 2. The key is to rationalise resources.
Reginah Mhauli, Deputy Minister of Basic Education said that the Department would need more time to brief Members on issues such as school safety, refurbishment, sanitation, SGB, etcetera. On the issue that some parents keeping children from going to school, she suggested that the Department needs to have initiatives in place to monitor and ensure all children are going to school. She stated that the issues related to safety, bullying and crime which affected both learners and teachers. Though the Department has a plan and will present it in due course, it is a broad social issue that needs more stakeholder involvement. At last, she said she hoped the Committee would understand that there may be occasions where only the Minister or Deputy Minister or DG would be present in future meetings because the others had commitments.
The Chairperson said that there are more issues to be discussed to ensure the APP and the budget are implemented. This is the beginning of the many meeting that the Committee will have in future. The Committee would like to visit the Head Office and interact with officials. With regard to ICT, e-learning might cause absence amongst learners. He expressed that he looked forward to working with the Department.
The DDG Mr Paddy Padayachee commented on the system evaluation and on the issue about children on the streets. He suggested that maybe the Child Grant authority needs to make sure that children of age are at school before releasing the grant.
The chairperson said that some questions may be sent to the department in written form due to time running out.
Meeting was adjourned.