WCED Districts on status of schools in Cape Winelands, Eden, Central Karoo, Overberg & West Coast

Education (WCPP)

20 August 2019
Chairperson: Ms L Botha (DA)
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Meeting Summary

The Western Cape Education District (WCED) officers of Cape Winelands, Eden and Central Karoo, Overberg and West Coast presented an overview of their district, academic results, teacher/learner ratio, school infrastructure and maintenance, feeding schemes, Mass Participation and Opportunity Development (MOD) centres at schools, After-School Game Changer, transport of learners, hostels, online applications, school safety, farm school support, and their challenges and achievements.

The ensuing discussion dealt with teacher/learner ratios; decline in Grade 12 pass percentage; coding; MOD centres; timeframe for completion of new schools; replacement of schools; psycho-socio matters; online applications; unplaced learners; internet access; farm schools; foreign learner permits; the progression rate; Literacy and Numeracy (LITNUM) percentage; special schools; hostels; school governing bodies; language of instruction and re-introduction of Afrikaans; infrastructure; monitoring of service providers; merging of schools; dropout rate; improving the quality of the pass rate; lengthy transport routes; Safe Schools cluster meetings; oversight visits.

The School Governing Body of Esselen Park Secondary School in Worcester requested and were allowed to present their concerns about the school which had been ongoing since the previous year.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the Committee meeting and asked for everyone to introduce themselves for the record. The Committee had an agreement with the Department, that the Department would send the presentations at least five days before the Committee meeting. However, the Department had not stuck to the time limit and the Committee had received presentations up until the day before. She asked what the reasons were for not receiving the presentations timeously.

Mr Alan Meyer, Chief Director: Districts, WCED, apologised profusely for not sending the required presentation to the Committee five days in advance. It is the Department’s practice that they adhere to this as strictly as possible. Members may not have been aware that the Department was out of office the previous week for the WCED Strategic Planning 2019-2024 session. This meant that all Heads, Managers, Directors, Chief Directors and Board Management were out of the office as per the requirements. Unfortunately, it is on this basis that members of the Department were tied up. Most Department members were involved in various commissions which demand quite a lot of time. The Department had been in a meeting with the commission until after 8pm Thursday evening. Mr Meyer welcomed Committee visits at any time to any of the districts so that the Committee could verify the information that the Department had shared with them.

The Chairperson asked that when the Department knows that they will not be able to adhere to the timeline, to communicate this to the Committee immediately and not wait for a few days to pass. She asked if the Committee could have this commitment from the Department.

Mr Meyer confirmed the Department’s commitment.

The Chairperson was mindful that the districts present in the meeting were the rural districts and that officials had travelled. The Committee had received some of the presentations the previous day and some today. The Committee would go ahead with the presentations.

Mr M Sayed (ANC) welcomed the Department officials, particularly those who had come from far and wide. He supported the Chairperson. Receiving presentations the day before was unacceptable as it affected the nature of Member’s questions. For political parties, Mondays are constituency days where Members interacted with communities. Although he was prepared, he emphasised that Members had to prepare under extremely difficult circumstances which made it difficult to interact constructively and exercise proper oversight. This was not to happen again and was completely unacceptable. As officials had come from rural areas far and wide and the Committee did not want to incur wasteful expenditure in terms of travel costs, Mr Sayed would refrain asking that the meeting be called off and rescheduled to prepare.

He proposed that a letter goes from the Chairperson to the Department about the timeframes, sticking to the timeframes, and what should be done if the Department knows they will not be able to adhere to the timeframes. Members sat in the meeting as politicians doing oversight and did not want to victimise officials as it is consistently seen as though the Committee is fighting with officials. He proposed that a letter go to the Political Head of the Department, which is the Provincial Minister of Education.

The Chairperson ask Mr Sayed if his points could stand over until the Committee got to recommendations. She said if anyone else wanted to comment they could do so now as the matter would not be revisited.

Mr G Bosman (DA), as much as he wanted to agree with Mr Sayed, said that the Committee had to be mindful of the dynamic as well. He was grateful the presentation had arrived the previous night and although he was on a plane, it was easy for him to read. The Committee was aware that they had to be agile in their approach as well. Teachers sometimes had to work under very difficult circumstances and still had to go to class – this was something that the Committee had to include in its approach as well.

Mr R Allen (DA) appreciated the introductory comments and took note of Mr Sayed’s comments. Although this was frustrating, as a way forward and as the material presented was contained in the document from which the Committee could easily get to the information, he asked if the Department could be brisk  with the material presented and not hover.

Mr M Kama (ANC) agreed about the time spent on the presentation so that a fair amount of time could be allowed for engagement on the reports knowing that there was limited time.

The Chairperson knew that the Members were all politicians and said that sometimes they had to act in heat – this was one of those times. She asked if Mr Meyer would be doing all of the presentations.

Mr Meyer said that the officials from each district would present. He would be moving the slides along, giving the officials an indication of how quickly they needed to move. The Department would stick to the timeframe.

Cape Winelands Education District
Mr John Goliath, Head of Management and Governance: Cape Winelands, WCED, provided the overview.

The Cape Winelands district has 324 schools which consists of 269 Public Ordinary schools, 11 Special Needs schools, 19 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, and 25 Independent schools. There are 148 436 learners from Grade 1-12, 2629 Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN), 12 751 Grade R learners, 3831 Independent school learners in Grade 1-12 and 395 Independent Grade R learners. There are 4625 teachers in the district and 10 circuits.

Academic results for Grade 12 over the past three years: there was a decline in the average district and provincial pass percentage from 2016-2018. In 2016 the average pass percentage was 84.7%, which decreased to 82.4% in 2017 and 80.7% in 2018. The Grade 3 Literacy and Numeracy (LITNUM) results for 2016-2018 consisted of those learners who had obtained more than the 50% pass rate and showed a general improvement over the years. In 2013 the results showed 47% of learners in Maths and 28% in languages, following which 2016 showed 50% of learners in Maths and 35% in languages, 2017 showed 51% of learners in Maths and 38% in languages, and 2018 showed 50% of learners in Maths and 38% in languages. The Grade 6 LITNUM results for 2016-2018 also showed a general improvement over the three years. In 2013 the results showed 19% for both Maths and languages, which improved to 31% for Maths and 29% for languages in 2018. The Grade 9 LITNUM results for 2016-2018 also showed an upward trend although Grade 9 learners faced different challenges. In 2013 the results started with 15% for Maths and 44% for languages, which has improved to 25% for Maths and 50% for languages in 2018.

The Learner/Teacher ratio was 34.8 learners per class group. This consisted of 150 975 learners and 4338 class groups as consideration should be given to those teachers who did not teach full-time. For the 2019/2024 period, 14 new schools were envisioned and almost five have already been built and were performing well. This new schools included were: Somerset High School (HS); Zwelethemba HS; Jakes Gerwel Technical; Lingomso Primary School (PS); Stofland PS; New Wellington PS; New Klapmuts Secondary School (SS); New Klapmuts PS; New Nkqubela HS; New Robertson HS; New Stellenbosch HS; New Mbekweni HS; New Nduli PS; and New Kouebokkeveld PS. The Department also planned additions and expansions at Boy Muller, Williams Lloyd PS, Nederburg PS, Le Chasseur PS, and Tulbagh HS. The list of replacement schools include: Bonnievale PS; PC Petersen PS; Waveren CS; Da Josaphat PS; Roodewal PS; Langeberg HS; Wemmershoek PS; Ebernezer PS; Dagbreek PS; Magnolia PS; Charleston Hill SS; Paarlzicht PS; Victoria Park PS; Mooi Uitsig PS; Morrisdale PS; New Orleans PS; De Tuine PS; and Wakkerstroom Wes PS.  

Feeding schemes at schools: the number of learners fed daily were 87 821 learners and number of volunteer food handlers were 548 persons. The training and capacity building are done on-site and through cluster engagements, with the provision of five different daily menus. The Department had 218 schools on the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). Quintiles 1-3 consisted of 156 primary schools and 23 high schools, quintiles 4-5 consisted of 23 primary schools and four high schools, and there were also four combined schools.

There were 24 MOD Centres at schools, which consisted of 13 primary schools and 11 high schools. In addition, there were 40 neighbouring schools linked to the MOD centres. There were 16 priority sports codes in which learners participated on a league basis. This included Football, Netball, Hockey, Cricket, Chess, Gymnastics, Aquatics and Volleyball. Learners progressed on an annual basis to compete at national level and the Boland and CW sport leagues also stemmed from this. The Afterschool Game Changers were linked to the MOD centres but were something different.  

For Grade 4 Maths and Languages, there were six schools, 23 classes, 460 learners, and 23 tutors who were ex-Grade 12 learners. Mathematics tutoring in Grade 8/9 took place at 16 high schools with 1525 learners. Mathematics tutoring for Grade 6 took place at five primary schools with 400 learners. Lastly, the nine achiever hubs in Grades 7-9 consisted of 270 learners.

The District had a pilot project team for the 2019/20 online applications. In the 29 pilot schools, 13 158 applications were confirmed, 497 were unconfirmed of which 488 were confirmed without letters, and there was 1 709 pending applications.

Transport of learners: Total budget for the Learner Transport Scheme (LTS) is R108 million. There were 172 schools on the LTS, 35 devolved routes, 137 WCED managed routes, 422 Grade R learners, and 16 585 learners transported per month. There were 55 contractors, 250 busses and the longest route consisted of 160km return.

School Safety was a space they could never be comfortable with saying that they have arrived. The total budget is R2.3 million, which would be split into R1.73 million for crime control and R567 000 for crime prevention. Crime prevention would include holiday programmes, after school programmes, back-to-school-drives, youth leadership camps, conflict management and mediation, Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), drug testing and screening, search and seizures, National School Safety Framework (NSSF), and cluster development. Crime control would include alarm systems linked to armed response, intercoms, fencing repairs, safety gates and burglar bars, access control, and holiday security.

Hostels in the district: There were 39 hostels at schools with 4155 residents and 26 special schools with 826 residents. The District had provided for ten major repairs, four serious repairs and two urgent repairs to hostels. The scheduled maintenance for 2019/20 was four, for 2020/21 it was one, for 2021/22 it was two, for 2022/23 it was one, and for 2023/24 it was one.

Farm schools support: There were 106 farms schools which consisted of 20 350 residents. Whilst the support to farm schools was mostly multi-grade, WCED had also provided for: In-classroom Support; Multi-Grade Resource tool; and Professional Learning Communities (PLC). In addition, the Department shared videos of lessons; established E-classrooms; ICT integration in classroom software and E-resources were loaded on the smartboard which were previously not in use. Teachers were collaborating to compile appropriate assessment activities for informal and formal assessment; and 23 schools have Learning Support teachers.

Cape Winelands district achievements: Top 10 district in 2/4 years on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) inclusive basket of criteria; Third place in the 2016 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Maths and Science; First place in the 2018 NSC Maths and Science; South African Council for Educators (SACE) Top provincial district in 2019; Multiple achievements by schools; Integration of technology across the district; National award winner at National Testing Agency (NTA) 2018 - Lifetime achiever; Inter-State Agency Liaison committee; Private-Public Partnerships; and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) videos for schools.

Cape Winelands district challenges include: Online admissions; Unchanged NSNP menu since 2006; Menu-culture clashes; Food wastage; Poverty and hunger; Psycho-socio issues; Foreign learner permits; Municipal services costs; School Governing Body (SGB) functionality; and Financial management at schools.

Eden and Central Karoo Education District (ECKED)
Mr Meyer provided the overview for District Director, Mr Desmond Maarman, who was unable to attend.

The district covered approximately 50% of the Western Cape Province which consisted of roughly 60 000km. NSC district results for 2016-2018. In 2016 the Grade 12 pass percentage was 84.8%, which dropped to 81.7% in 2017 and stabilised to 81% in 2018. For Grade 1 the pass percentage was 90% in 2017 which carried through to 90.8% for 2018. At Grade 3 level there was little variation, with 94.6% for 2017, 94.4% for 2017 and 93.4% for 2018, and the same variation applied to Grade 9 and Grade 11. The Teacher/Learner ratio was 34.7, which consisted of 129 998 learners and 3747 class groups.

Infrastructure development: the District envisioned two new schools, three replacement schools, five upgrades and seven expansions. There would be continual collaboration between the ECKED and municipalities across forums through the Spatial Development Framework and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) meetings of all local and district municipalities in the area attended by district officials.

NSNP feeding scheme: There were 162 schools on the NSNP which consisted of 72 740 learners. Quintile 1-3 has 135 schools with 67 487 learners and quintile 4-5 had 26 schools with 5 253 learners. The three pillars of NSNP were: (1) Feeding; (2) Food Production; (3) Nutrition Education and Deworming. Classroom feeding improved the number of learners who ate at schools. Schools and learners were encouraged to have food gardens at school and home. Social Workers reported learners were much healthier than prior to the feeding programme. 20 Schools were to receive new stoves before the end of 2019 and all volunteers and school coordinators are trained on gas safety, food safety, food storage, hygiene and completion of 3-monthly forms.

MOD Centres: There are 29 centres with 13 in Central Karoo and 16 in Eden, as well as 32 neighbouring schools in the district. Principals and educators are to assist with discipline whilst general workers ensure that facilities are clean and available. Learners were to practice and participate in various sporting codes and Arts and Culture events. The After School Game Changer has 16 priority sports codes in which learners participate on a league basis in sports such as Football, Netball, Hockey, Cricket, Chess, Gymnastics, Aquatics, and Volleyball. 100 learners progressed on an annual basis to complete at a national level. In addition, schools participated in Students With Disabilities (SWD) Sports Council leagues and farm schools participated in an intra-schools league.

Online Admissions pilot project for the 31 participating pilot schools: There was a total of 13709 applications received, 11400 confirmed applications, 70 unconfirmed applications, 65 unconfirmed applications without letters, 5 unconfirmed applications with letters, and 107 pending applications. There were joint efforts to ease access between ECKED and local government providing access to parents at provincial/school libraries and municipal sites. There was excellent collaboration and joint initiatives between WCED, Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS), South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Home Affairs, and local municipalities. The advantages include: (a) Reduced Red Tape by limiting paper and time resource wastage; (b) Alignment with Centralised Educational Management Information System (CEMIS); and (c) Reduce the number of “double-parked” and unplaced learners.

Learner Transport: Total distance covered by all routes in the district was 6371km. The total number of learners involved were 6904, with 105 Grade R learners and 6799 Mainstream learners. There were 261 schools with routes, of which 211 were contracted and 50 were devolved. The District had a total of 197 busses and an average expenditure per month of R1 510 264. The safety of learners is paramount and there was now collaboration between ECKED and the District Road Traffic Management Coordinating Committee (DRTMCC), traffic authorities and South African Police Service (SAPS).

School Safety: There were 15 functional clusters in the district which were managed by Safe Schools fieldworkers. All schools had Safety Committees and all circuits trained in Occupational Health and Safety. All schools had access control gates and were supported with installation of security mechanisms to improve safety and security. All schools had attendance registers, fences were repaired up to 30m and all safety incidents with reference to access control are submitted to a call centre. Truancy was a standing agenda item at all Safe Schools Cluster Meetings and was supported by Safe Schools fieldworkers addressing truancy. Networking was done to assist schools with specialised interventions. The School Safety Committees (SSC) and School Based Support Teams assisted each other with intervention processes performed by schools, departments and external service providers. Training in learner attendance policies were performed and all truancy cases were reported to the call centre and followed up by fieldworkers. There was a district learner retention strategy in place and ECKED would be the lead department for the Joint Provincial Initiative (JPI) for learner retention as from January 2020.

There were 37 hostels at ordinary schools with 3778 residents, and 5 hostels at special needs schools with 530 residents. Hostel policies included codes of conduct and hostel guidelines and management encouraged a balanced learning environment of which infrastructure and safety were key drivers. The advantages of hostels were: (a) improved learner attendance; (b) higher pass rates; and (c) increased participation in sport, cultural and social activities.

Farm schools: There were 49 multi-grade schools, 2 closed schools, curriculum support and training, learner transport, and participation in intra-school sports leagues.

ECKED achievements: At the provincial NSNP competition, ECKED won seven of the 13 prizes in 2018. In category A, Olympia School of Skills came first, Amalienstein PS came third, and Isalathiso came fourth. In category B, Touwsranten PS came second. In category C, Restvale PS and Grootkraal PS came third. Two out of three of best practice school awards were also given to Olympia SOS and Carpe Diem SOS.

ECKED challenges and solutions: For the challenge of online admissions and the number of learners without required documents, the solution was to create a collaborative effort between ECKED, Home Affairs, SASSA and DCAS. On the challenge of online admissions and the poor quality of network connectivity in rural areas, the solution was to allow hard copy submissions and access to internet at provincial/municipal school libraries. For the lack of technological knowledge of parents, the solution was to provide assistance and support from district officials and school clerks. On the challenge of covering a large geographical area increasing expenditure, the solution was to promote effective use of technology and employ a multi-functional approach when visiting schools far from George.

The 2018/19 district profile was outlined and where a decrease had occurred in learner enrolment from 2018 to 2019, this could be attributed to learners moving in and around South Africa.

Ms N Makamba-Botya (EFF) mainly had questions for the Cape Winelands. On the teacher/learner ratio of 34.8 she asked if this was the expected average or a normal average rate. Were the teachers sufficient for the schools in that area? The District spoke to a decline in Grade 12 results from 2016. What were the challenges? What are the education matters that need to be approved? She did not understand acronyms such as “LITNUM” and “MOD centres”. On new schools, she asked what the timeframe for completion was. In speaking about replacement of schools, were they currently in operation? If not in operation, what was the current status of the learners in those schools? On psycho-socio challenges, what issues were being referred to and how are those being managed? There was a notion in 2006 of introducing comprehensive assessment agent in schools. She understood that this was rejected by parents but heard through the grapevine that some schools were doing it behind the scenes. Was this the case in these districts and, if not, how were life skills being handled?

Mr Kama asked both districts about online applications. On the data given to the Department for unplaced learners, can the Committee get this? Did they just take this from the applications made on the online system or were there other further considerations? The Committee received information on unplaced learners. However, when checking this in relation to the number of learners out there who do not have schools, it is found that it might be more. How did the district populate their data? Was this only from those learners who had applied online? What about those learners who had not applied? The Committee knows there were learners who did not have access to internet. How can the Committee ensure that this was also reported so that at a provincial level, when there is planning, this is taken into consideration?

What is the adopted definition of a farm school? From the Cape Winelands presentation, the Committee got a sense that there was quite a conversation on how a farm school is defined.

Mr Kama referred to the challenges where the District had mentioned foreign learner permits. To give a scenario, last week he had received an email about a learner from Lesotho who was in the South African education system. The learner had been studying at a particular school from 2007, changed to Vusisizwe SS in 2016, studied right through and now had to write matric but there is an identity document (ID) requirement. Although a partnership with Home Affairs was mentioned, how did the Committee and Department assist in the process? It was just before matric exams, he could imagine that the Grade 12 year was a very short academic year, and this learner now had to be frustrated.

His last point was the Eden and Central Karoo progression rate with Grade 1 having 12000 but Grade 12 had 5000. This meant that about 50% of learners were being lost throughout the cycle from Grade 1 to Grade 12. What were the systems in place to prevent this? It might be that learners have moved to other provinces, but how does the Committee keep check? His last point was that it would be good to receive the  actual numbers for the Grade 12 pass rate for the district as well.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) spoke to Cape Winelands. The Grade 12 percentage pass is going down. What was being done to reverse the drop from 85% to 81.5%? When looking at the Grades 3, 6 and 9 results, there was some improvement so the District must be doing something right. What was being done there because the LITNUM percentage was higher? When looking at the teacher/learner of 34.7, what was the ratio for ordinary public schools, for special schools and for private/independent schools? Could the District break this down? The special schools ratio should be smaller. There were 24 schools with MOD centres but there is access by 40 schools. Was there transport for these children to the MOD centres or must they make their own way? He asked for safety reasons as they wanted all children to have access to MOD centres. The longest route for learner transport was 160kms and the return was 80kms one way. This meant that the learners were spending over an hour in the bus. The odds are stacked against this child doing well at school. The District spoke about hostels. What was the solution?

Mr Sayed thanked the districts for the presentations. It was good that the Committee was listening to the districts in getting to the culprit's interface between what was being done and the actions of the senior officials. Did the Cape Winelands District have a mechanism or approach for managing the relationship between School Governing Bodies (SGB) and the principals? The Committee has come across such challenges and MPs have been contacted through their constituency offices, in the Cape Winelands district particularly, about this. What mechanism is there to get SGBs to understand their role and also to get principals to understand the role of the SGBs? When there is a conflict, how does the District deal with that? Could the District provide examples where it has been able to resolve this? For hostels, is there a standardised rubric for a management plan because there are cases where it is found that the hostel’s food supply is not enough? This again ties to SGBs. When there is an SGB and principal how is this managed?

On the Eden and Central Karoo presentation, where there is an increase in learners in a particular area that require to be taught in a particular language which may have not been the case previously, what is the approach taken? Is this accommodated or are the learners told they must go to a school in another area?  

On school infrastructure, the William Lloyd PS is quite an old school and the classrooms were built to accommodate a certain number of learners. With the expansion of learners, this was not really being spoken to. There are leaking ceilings and toilets need repair. When the district is requested to do work and improve infrastructure, sometimes shoddy work is done or there is a long turnaround time. How does the district mitigate against this? Does the district have turnaround times for a school’s request to fix infrastructure problems? How does the district ensure that they monitor the work of service providers at schools?

 In Eden and Central Karoo district, there was a bullying incident at Ladysmith HS that had trended on social media and went viral. It may have been sorted out, but the incident sent out a negative image of the good work that the District is doing. Both the presentations of Eden and Central Karoo and Cape Winelands, show good work is being done. What is the strategy for bullying, as well as bullying in mixed race schools? Racism is still a problem in our communities. How did the District deal with this? What were the consequences subsequently at Ladysmith HS as the Committee had seen the video go viral over the weekend?

Mr Bosman noted that the incident Mr Sayed referred to was not the Ladysmith HS in the Western Cape, but rather Ladysmith HS in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mr Sayed  mentioned the case of the Herold and Franken Primary Schools between George that had a 500m radius between the two schools which was brought to the Committee and raised in the House. There were good reasons why the District had chosen to close down a certain school and link it to another school, bringing two schools together. Has the Department and districts seen a need to merge these two schools given the small radius between the schools and given the calls from the community for a merger to take place? He emphasised that he was not saying that the schools needed to be merged right now but he wanted a sense as to the process that the Department and districts had undertaken in this regard.

Mr P Marais (FF) asked why there was such a huge district. Who determined this and what were the criteria? Did it negatively affect the schools and the way that things were managed within a specific area? He knew that the Department had said that the Municipal Demarcation Board played a role in this. To what extent was this negative and how could it be corrected? What is the dropout rate from the time the child enters Grade 1 until Grade 12? What is the effect of the flocking of Sotho speakers and people from other areas to the Western Cape into predominantly Afrikaans speaking communities? Did this lead to a drop in the number of Afrikaans schools and to what extent? What is being done about this? He asked because Afrikaans is an official language of the Western Cape, in terms of its Constitution, not Sotho. What was the Department going to do about this? It was good to say that 80 to 85% of people passed, but how good was their pass or did they just make it? Was the Department happy with the quality of education there? What could be done to improve the quality of education, not only how much is pushed through. There was a time when people said that the University of the Western Cape was a “wors-machine” because learners go in one side and come out with a BA degree on the other side. What is the quality of the education currently at our schools and how does it compare with Model C and private schools? The Department should spell out the acronyms as not all Members knew what MOD or LITNUM meant.

Mr Allen understood the enormity of the task and thanked the officials for being present. The number of volunteers and everything the Department was doing should be commended. Mr Goliath spoke passionately about the new schools being built that are in partnerships in the Cape Winelands. What are the partnerships and with whom? Almost 7000 learners are transported, this was a huge number. What mechanism is in place to deal with complaints or queries on learner transport?

Mr Christians asked Eden and Central Karoo to elaborate on the learner/teacher ratios for special schools and other schools. It was one thing to report on the number of Grade 3 passes but the quintile four and five schools brought the average up. In the quintile one to three and the poorest of poor schools, how were they doing in terms of the pass rate? Truancy was specifically mentioned and he saw that it was an agenda item at the Safe Schools Cluster meetings. Is this bringing results? Truancy is deeper than a child just staying out of school, so surely the Department needed to work with sister departments to deal with the social ills as the Committee and Department wanted to keep children in school. Were these efforts fruitful and was the Department working with sister departments?

Department Response
Mr Meyer noted the question on the quality of the passes in quintile one, two, three, four and five. The Department was not able to give this kind of detail now but would respond in writing to that.  On learner ratio, as Mr Goliath and he had mentioned in the presentations, they had taken the number of learners and the numbers of classes that they had within a particular district and did a rough calculation to say this number was about the average. As had been indicated, average was a very difficult thing to apply. He could say that the average was 34.8 but he could also take the Committee to schools in some of the areas in George where the average is much higher in a particular school. For example, when WCED did the post-provisioning, the Department worked on a transversal kind of average number of learners per teacher and that in a PS it must be 1:35 for example. In reality it could be the school has a ratio of 1:35 but in Grade 1, where more learners were being taken in, the ratio might be 1:50 whereas in Grade 7 the ratio might be 1:28. Working with an average was really very difficult, and the answer to this would be to look at each individual school to see the kind of spread of teacher/learner ratio within those schools.

He confirmed that the results were declining across the province and the Committee would notice there had been a decrease from 86% to 83% and 81.5% for the previous year. The efforts that had been done this year were slightly different – every district has to know exactly at each school who the learners are. The learner must be identified by name by the District Directors and their teams, and it must be known which subject is causing a problem for that learner and what particular interventions is that learner assisted in attending. For example in the Overberg or Cape Winelands, learners were bussed to a venue where they are tutored from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. In Thembalethu where Mr Meyer had visited the previous day, they had a programme from Friday afternoon. The learners slept in the hall after school and they were there Saturday morning. Only nine of the learners did not stay over because they were ill but those nine learners presented themselves every morning for an intensive programme. What the district did was they took teachers from schools that had very good results in a particular subject, for example Life Sciences. That person would then go to Thembalethu and teach Life Sciences to those learners during vacation. A very specific timetable is followed, and they work through past papers with those learners over the weekend – this was a residential kind of programme. There were also programmes centralised in the district, were learners are bussed in and put up in a hostel and go through an intensive tutoring program over the weekend. For example, the September holiday period would be a holiday for most people. However for district officials, schools and FET officials there would not be a holiday. All District Directors would be on task to ensure that every single HS within the district is offering a programme to the learners – whether it is to take learners from 60% to 80% or to take learners from 20% to 40%. This is what the focus of the Spring School would be within the province. It was a programme that the Department was driving really hard to up not only the number of learners who pass but to improve the quality of the pass rate as well.

The standard for a Bachelor’s pass has changed slightly. In the past subjects such as Mathematics and Physical Sciences were required. Now the requirement is any four subjects at 40%. What this will do is allow more learners the possibility to do tertiary study. Of course, universities will still look at the subjects of the learner and make the final decision for acceptance into certain programmes such as Engineering. The focus now is really on the individual learner, who they are, where they are from, what are the subjects at risk. The Department even had a programme called the ICU, and in the last week of the September holidays the learners had arrived school providing more information just prior to the exams. There were even schools that had tutoring programmes while writing matric – where Mathematics is usually written on a Friday and the second paper on the Monday, over that weekend there would be a number of interventions to prepare and support learners as they prepare. There were some schools that offered their facilities such as Masikane PS in the Gansbaai area which is closer to where the matriculants live. The principals and governing bodies have agreed that the matriculants could study at the PS with a teacher from the HS to support the learners while they write. These were the kind of partnerships that provide learners with the space to do so.

The turnaround time for new schools from planning until when the school is delivered is about five years. It was just the normal process of the approval of the sale of the property, the deed registration that have to go through the tendering process which takes about a year. Then there would have to be an adjudication, identification of the service provider, agreement on the work-site, and local employment, after which it took about a year and a half for the actual building of the school. Replacement schools are for those schools which were built with asbestos cladding, sometimes referred to as “plankie schools”. So, there are some schools with wooden inserts and asbestos sheeting used in the past because it was cheap and quick and these pose a health risk to learners. Thus, there is a programme to remove the asbestos using very specific service providers when the learners are away from school in summer.

On online applications and unplaced learners and from where the Department received its data. The Department had also asked that if a parent is unable to access the system that they must still go to the school. This was a clear instruction to all schools. The schools will ask the parent to complete the necessary forms and may even assist the parent to capture it on the system. It is explained to the parent that this school processing the application is full and that the child will not get a space at this school, but the information will be captured so that the district knows exactly, through the online system, how many new learners have been added over the past few days and are unplaced as well. Thus, the parents are to go to the schools, give the information there and that information, once uploaded onto the system, is reflected in the district. Parents can also go to the district office to register children who are unplaced so that the district can assist the children to get into schools. The data source is not only the digital system but is also information from school about unplaced learners within their particular areas.

On foreign learners and permits, Mr Meyer had indicated that the Department had a very strong relationship with Home Affairs within the Western Cape. The Department and Home Affairs had an extensive meeting the previous week and lots of commitment was given by Home Affairs to say that any foreign learner requiring an ID needed to contact WCED Head Office. There was a specific person by the name of Lance Edwards who sat in Mr Meyer’s office, and he would assist that learner to get the necessary ID through a fast but legal channel. If there were any requests, Members were welcome to Mr Meyer’s details and he would facilitate in assisting that particular learner.

On SGB/principal conflict and how the Department dealt with this, he pointed out that the SGB has a term of three years only, therefore the new SGBs were inducted in the previous year when elections had taken place and the new SGB was put in place. An intensive programme of training was offered, not only by the Department but also by service providers to provide clarity on the role and functions of an SGB. The role of the SGB is that of governance of the school. The professional management of the day-to-day functions of the school is the preserve of the principal and is not to be affected by decisions or any influence of the SGB. For example, there were cases where the SGB wants teachers to report to it on leave that want to take. This is not allowed as it is the day-to-day managerial realm of the principal. The SGB is there to assist with the policies of the school such as admissions and language policy. The long list of policies of the school is approved and supported by the SGB and the SGB as a juristic person will also make appointments for staff at the school. If the SGB is able to generate income, they are able to pay for extra teaching posts at the school and the contract will be between the individual teacher and the SGB which they will be held to account for. Some schools paid teachers R6000 per month, some paid R2000 while other SGBs paid R20 000 - it depended on the funds that the SGB has available. There were teachers in some rural areas that did not wish to move out of the rural areas, or even within the metro areas, and the school may only be able to offer them R2000-R3000 but these teachers are prepared to work for that because they are unable to find a permanent position within the system.

The role of the SGB is very clear in its role and function and they must be trained. In the last round financial training was offered by ABSA. South African Institute of Chartered Accountants also offered training on finance to SGBs to ensure that there is better management of the school’s finances. SGB foundations like Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools were also offering training at no cost to the SGB because it had an agreement with the Department of Basic Education (DBE). The Department also provided funds to schools to pay for their registration to participate in such bodies as well – whether FEDSAS or the Governing Body Foundation of South Africa. The Department supported the governing body to register with one of these bodies because it is within these bodies that there is also a collective support. For example, the Chairperson of FEDSAS was from the Western Cape and he intervened in a number of matters to support governing bodies when they raise contractual issues between staff and the governing body.

The lines between SGB and principal are thus clear. Where it becomes blur is when there is no clarity on role, and the overstepping of the governance and professional functions at the school. When this arises, the first call is for principal to go. SGBs are up in arms because they are unhappy about the principal. The principal is the representative of the Head of Education within that particular school, has ex officio membership to the governing body at the school as the representative of the Head of Education. If it is the Department’s staff member that is problematic, the governing body needs to follow the channels through the disciplinary procedure with the circuit manager, informing the district that there are professional challenges with that particular principal.

Mr Meyer has received many of these queries and immediately sent it back for a disciplinary investigation or asked the provincial forensic services to do an investigation into the school where there are questions about how money was spent there or equipment was removed from the school. The provincial forensic services go in and do an audit investigation at the school and the Department would then follow the normal procedures of the disciplinary code with the staff member. Governing bodies are slightly different. There are governing bodies that want to dictate what the culture is within a particular school because it is convenient and expedient to promote a particular agenda. There are schools where the governing bodies have told the Department that the legitimately appointed principal of the school cannot enter the school grounds.

The Department has now set up a specific unit within Mr Meyer’s component in Head Office dedicated to dealing with these conflicts between governing bodies and school management. The number of incidents and cases between governing bodies and school management is increasing alarmingly. If Members can provide the Department with specific guidance on this, it would be much appreciated as sometimes things happened within the political realm that officials did not necessarily have access or exposure to. To the Department it appeared to be a simple matter when meanwhile there was a much deeper political agenda at a particular school. The Department invited comment and support from Members on  that.

On the learner/teacher ratios at special, independent and ordinary schools, WCED would reply in writing and give a clear indication of exact numbers per category, as well as the quality of passes in quintiles one to three schools and quintiles four to five and for literacy and numeracy speed testing that the Department did.

On working with sister departments, the districts were very much involved with all the municipalities. For example, the Woza Project. Another project in the Vredenberg-Saldana Bay area has brought municipalities as well as provincial/national government departments together within that particular area. It is these kinds of opportunities that present itself for government departments to work together. In the Tulbagh area, there is an agreement between the Departments of Health and Education for a an ad hoc clinic to be housed in a room at the school to ensure that people get services closer to where they live. It is thus about facilitating these kinds of agreements on the ground.

Many learners that are at risk are normally flagged by the Department of Social Development. WCED assists in placing those learners at a school.

The SGB of the school is responsible for hostels. However, the Department is responsible for the upkeep of those hostels via  scheduled maintenance. This fell within the U-AMP document which specifies which infrastructure projects will happen over the next three-year period. This document is a public document available to all Members and he hoped that it would be presented to Members on how it is arrived at. There had been an issue with food at the hostel in the Winelands area. The districts and Chief Director had to take a very quick decision as they needed to feed those learners at the school. While politics had been going on at the school, with two parties lobbying against each other, the Department had to feed the children and therefore they found a mechanism, negotiated with another governing body and hostel to prepare the food and provide it to the learners.

Mr Meyer was pleased with the comments that Members had made about the work being done at a district level. He was glad that the district officials were present and could give the Committee this kind of perspective. The monitoring of service providers for building activities at schools was the responsibility of the WCED Chief Director: Infrastructure and Branch Planning. The districts did not deal with a contractor one-on-one. Infrastructure has a delivery unit which works with Public Works to identify a service provider and monitor them while on site. Districts could not get involved with this because the contractual agreement is between the Department of Transport and Public Works and the WCED infrastructure component, who would be in the best place to answer this.

When determining and starting a new school, Mr Marais raised the question about Sotho. When Mr Meyer used the example of Sotho learners, they were not asking for it to be the language of learning and teaching. In this province the language of learning and teaching is English and Afrikaans at schools, but learners are allowed to do a first additional language like isiXhosa, isiZulu, French, Spanish with the home language. The Department was not saying that in Malmesbury they would teach in Sotho. The learners will still do their subjects in English but the Sotho learner will have the opportunity of doing Sotho as a subject as a first additional language. The demand within the province is leaning more strongly towards English as the medium of instruction. Even in some historical Afrikaans communities such as the Parkwood and Grassy Park area, Afrikaans was once the medium of instruction at all of the primary schools in the area. As the years have gone on, the only school that is still offering Afrikaans was Montagu’s Gift Primary. Most of the requests coming from parents are that their child be taught in English. This is seen in the results. In foundation phase learners are taught in Afrikaans, then immediately in Grade 4 they are switched to English and this where some of the challenges can be seen. Therefore, the Grade 4 results are always an indicator of the number of learners that struggle at this point.

Mr Meyer noted the Harold and Franken schools were dropping in numbers. The one property is owned by the Department, but the other property was owned by a church, and the Department would always choose to build on the property that they owned because it is quicker to expand the school. There is a conversation about a merger of the two schools with the SGB and the principal of both schools. The governing body needs to make a decision with their constituency on whether they are interested in such a merger. If there is congruence from the two parties that they believe this is in the best interest of education to merge, they will indicate that to the circuit manager who will present it to the District Director who writes a submission to the Minister of Education to say that they have started the process with the two SGBs and that there is commitment from the two governing bodies that they are keen to explore a merger of these two schools. The Minister then says that she is prepared to discuss this possibility. The schools will go through a public hearing and public participation process that must be recorded to get feedback from the community on whether they support the SGB and the merger of the schools and what their arguments are. As everything is recorded and transcribed, it is presented to the Minister to make a final decision on the merger of the schools.

Recently, in the Overberg, the Minister provided indication to close a school but the community in the public participation process made a strong case for why the school should stay open and the Minister reviewed the decision and kept the school open. He noted in other provinces such as Limpopo there is normally one district municipality per educational district whilst in Eden there are six district municipalities forming one educational district. The use of the satellite circuit offices has helped WCED to bring the service delivery point closer to the communities they are servicing thus the Department did not feel that this geographical distance was too significant. Mr Meyer would provide a written response to the dropout rate of learners at schools.

Mr Goliath apologised for the use of acronyms. MOD stood for Mass Operation Development and this was where a lot of people came together and had a mass opportunity to participate. LITNUM stood for Literacy and Numeracy i.e. Mathematics and Language which are combined and referred to as LITNUM. U-AMP stood for User Assets Management Plan which was where scheduled maintenance, new schools and building additions were compiled in a document and accessible to Members.

On the quality of passes, the Department put the bar higher than 60% and had 70% as their performance indicator. He confirmed that the Department was not only focusing on passes but on quality passes. There were schools that had a 100% pass rate and the Department would have a different intervention for such  schools which would up the quality of the pass.

Mr Goliath replied that the Department definitely needed to look into learner transport policy for the longer routes. What should be the shortest route and the longest route? However, WCED did have a handle on the routes because schools must monitor and give a monthly report on incidents and it did log this information. The system the Department was using and that was available to Members had all of this information. Members could, with the click of a button, open up the system and click onto route number 102 and see whose busses are there, which schools and how many learners there were. This was the system that the Department had built in because it is not an ideal situation to transport them.

Mr Meyer invited Members when travelling through the province to feel free to have a look at the condition of the learner transport bus when the bus stops and report it to the Department because the safety of the learners is paramount. When the bus stops they are welcome to have a quick look, check if the licence is valid, let the Department know and they would definitely do something about it.

Overberg Education District
Ms Helene van Zyl, Acting Director: Overberg, provided an overview on the Overberg Education District (OED). OED was the smallest district in terms of numbers and covered approximately 12 241 km2.

The academic results showed a decreasing trend in pass percentage. The Grade 12 results peaked in 2016 at 92.7%, decreasing to 87.7% in 2017 and 82.4% in 2018. This same trend occurred in Grade 1, 3, 9 and 11. The systemic results for Grade 3, 6 and 9 in 2016-2018 was concerning to the Department as it was constantly moving up and down. Grade 9 proved the biggest challenge to the district. The District outlined the Teacher/Learner ratio of different types of schools and their different sizes.

Infrastructure and maintenance: planned scheduled maintenance was to take place at seven schools: Die Bron PS; Greyton PS; Vleiplaas NGK PS; Bredasdorp PS; De Villiers Graaf PS; Emil Weder SS; and Okkie Smuts PS. There were ten planned new schools over the next ten years and various other infrastructure projects. Identified hotspots and challenges were Grabouw and Hermanus as they were under pressure due to there being no room for additional admissions in 2020. This created an urgent need for a new PS and HS.

NSNP: Successes include: Learners at 69 schools receive nutrition on a daily basis; Access to nutrition increased; 50 new stoves were delivered and 19 stoves were scheduled for this term; NSNP administration has improved after six NSNP assistants were allocated to assist selected schools; Gardens are in a very good condition and are being used for supplement feeding and as teaching aids. Challenges include: Shortage of plates and food; and 24 gardener contracts were terminated due to lack of funding.

There are 16 MOD Centres with different DCAS focus codes. Swellendam and Cape Agulhas focused on Chess, Volleyball, Cricket, and Rugby. Overstrand focused on Baseball, Hockey, Softball, Football, Tennis, Basketball, Athletics and Cross Country. Lastly, Theewaterskloof focused on Aquatics, Netball, Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Baseball, Hockey, Softball and Football. The MOD centre successes include: All MOD centres participate in at least 2 traditional and 1 DCAS focus code; MOD centre focus codes to schools participating in those code leagues; and good collaboration between DCAS, MOD staff and relevant OED officials in the district. The challenges include: Lack of school ownership of the program affects learner participation negatively; Lack of code facilities; Learner transport arrangements impacts negatively on the program; Access to administrative, storage and indoor to coaching space due to need for classrooms is becoming a growing concern; High turnover in young coaching staff hampers stability; and annual equipment delivery leads to neglect and theft.

Afterschool Game Changer: 87 schools participated in school sport in 2017, decreasing to 85 schools in 2019. 24 schools have participated in civic education and youth leadership from 2017-2019 and 17 schools participated in arts and culture in 2017, decreasing to 15 schools in 2019. The successes include: steady increase in schools offering and participating in school sports league programs; and codes such as softball, tennis, cross country, and girl’s rugby is finding food traction. The challenges include: Distance and high transport costs curbs offering and expansion of afterschool activities at no- and low fee schools; Very small district budget for afterschool program implementation; Lack of qualified/skilled arts and culture teachers in no- and low fee schools; and Learner Transport Scheme (LTS) arrangements negatively affects learner participation in afterschool programs.

Learner Transport Scheme (LTS): Total distance of 5307.9km return covered by all routes in the district. There were 4780 learners involved and 57 schools with contracted and devolved routes. A total of 165 busses were being used and expenditure for the current financial year was R12 975 624.69 for Mainstream learners and R519 241.81 for Grade R. Safety of the learners was paramount, there was collaboration between OED and District Road Traffic Management Coordinating Committee (DRTMCC), Traffic Authorities and SAPS, and there were no current challenges as complaints were promptly addressed.

School Safety: challenges included: political protests in Grabouw and Zwelihle which prevented children from going to school; gang violence in Gansbaai threatening learners and preventing school functions from continuing. The district intervened by providing emergency security to affected schools and temporary security, metal detectors and drug testing kits. Specialised Learner and Educator Support (SLES) officials also provided counselling. The successes included in 2017/18 20 schools were provided with safety infrastructure followed by another 15 schools in 2018/19; holiday security was provided for 15 high risk schools per holiday; various training sessions were presented for teachers and learners; monitoring and support visits by district officials led to increased awareness of school safety; decrease in incidents of vandalism, burglary and abuse reported to the call centre; and after school programme support to learners at identified school had a positive impact on behaviour.

Hostels: There were 14 hostels in the district with various identified needs. In addition, two new hostels were to be built for 2023/24. There were 656 residents at the ordinary school hostels and 115 at the special school’s hostel. Hostel policies include Codes of Conduct and hostel guidelines and management encourage a balanced learning environment. Advantages include: (a) improved learner attendance; (2) higher pass rates; and (c) increased participation in sport, cultural and social activities.

Farm schools support: There were 20 multi-grade (MG) farm schools in operation which were more favourable post provisioning. The Department provided support: School visits, rendering subject specific, in-class support; Professional developmental sessions per subject, in their geographical area dealing with the difficult and challenging content; Subject Advisors of the OED played a huge role in writing the provincial Multi-grade Resource; General Education and Training (GET) curriculum section have two engagements with MG/farm schools on MG teaching practices; Information and Communication Technology (ICT) usage in MG schools and successes of using the MG resources.

Challenges to the District included: The larger geographical area to cover increased expenditure; poor quality of network connectivity in rural areas for roll out of ICT development; influx and land claim protests in Villiersdorp, Grabouw and Hermanus; lack of technological knowledge of parents for online admissions. The solutions were: effective use of technology and to employ multi-functional approach when visiting schools far from Caledon; allow for hard copy submissions of documents and make internet access available through envisioned optic fibre; ongoing discussions and meetings with principals, leaders and community members; and excellent assistance and support from district officials and school clerks.

West Coast Education District
Ms Heather van Ster, Director: West Coast, WCED, presented.

There was a total of 126 schools in the district, split into 14 secondary schools, 100 primary schools, nine combined schools, and three special schools. The total number of public ordinary schools was 123 of which 69.9% were no fee schools. The district academic results for 2016-2018 had decreased over the period. In 2016 the Grade 12 pass percentage was 87.5%, decreasing to 85.9% in 2017 and 82% in 2018. A similar trend is seen in Grades 1, 3, 9 and 11. The LITNUM results for Grade 3, 6 and 9 had also decreased from 2016-2018. The DBE NSC awards include that of second place in highest overall quality score for 2016; second place for weighted average basket of criteria and third place for percentage bachelors passes from 2015-2017 for 2017; and third place for highest NSC mathematics and physical sciences passes for 2018. For the period 2016-2018 there were 11 identified well performing schools on the basis of Grade 12 results with a pass rate of over 90%. The five underperforming schools were those high schools with pass rates below 70% for the NSC exams. Teacher/Learner ratio was 30.4, consisting of 63 752 learners and 2 091 class groups. There were 18 classes with ratios higher than 1:50.

Infrastructure and maintenance: The number of mobile units requested for 2019 were 24 of which four were approved, and for 2020 there were 35 requests. There were plans for two new schools, four replacement schools, expansion of two schools and eight classrooms, additions to four PS, various schools were to receive maintenance, and new Grade R classes were to be provided to three PS.

Challenges included: Community pressure; Quintile 4 schools and hostels face funding for maintenance challenges; Impact on Learner Placement which may result in some schools being oversubscribed while other schools maintain a teacher-learner ratio of between 25-35:1; 37 Schools on leased property pose challenges for infrastructural improvements.

Achievements include: 0 Unplaced learners in the district by 31 March 2019; 90% of Hostels are in a good condition; and funding was obtained from Mineral Sands Resources for the upgrade of Nuwerus HS hostel.

NSNP is provided at 96 schools (split into 68 PS for quintile 1-3, three SS for quintile 1-3, 3 special schools, 22 PS and SS for quintile 4-5. There were 28383 learners benefitting from the NSNP, 197 trained volunteers, 68 PS in quintile 1-3 where a deworming programme is implemented, and the budget for 2018/19 was R19.2 million.

Challenges included: The District covers an area about 13 times the size of the Cape Town Metropole District making delivery, monitoring and management very difficult; the nutritional programme's food quantities and learner numbers change daily; cable theft in rural areas hampers communication.

Achievements included: 100% of volunteers received training in gas safety, food safety, regulations and food groups; Elizabethfontein PS is the number one NSNP school in the Western Province; Steilhoogte PS achieved first place in the National Best School Awards in the Western Province; Elizabethfontein PS received silver in the 2018 Service Excellence Awards as the Best Implemented Program; the new kitchen centre at Steenberg’s Cove PS was officially opened in November 2018; received funding from Tshikilulu Social Investment. There were 16 MOD centres, 16 neighbouring MOD schools linked to the MOD centres and 16 MOD centres offering sport, cultural, e-resources and academic support.

Afterschool Game Changers had a 106 out of 126 schools participating in after school sport leagues, 119/126 schools participating in afterschool intra-school sports, 95/126 schools participating in after school cultural activities, 15 farms schools offering afterschool programmes and participation against other schools, and 117 schools that capture afterschool data on the Centralised Educational Management Information System (CEMIS). Arts and culture activities included: 380 learners participated in the Schools Got Talent shows; All 5 circuits participated in Public Speaking and two learners represented the District at the Provincial Public Speaking event; Two farm schools participated in the National Schools Choral Eisteddfod held in June in Johannesburg; Total number of learners doing performing arts grew by 20%; Vredendal SS represented the District at the Provincial YCAP competition in August. Sport included: Increase in schools participating in sport leagues and at provincial and national levels; 24 Learners will represent the District at the Provincial Basketball Tournament in August; 24 Schools received sport equipment (from DCAS) in June and will be playing in the Chess, Table Tennis, Softball and Tennis leagues; total number of girls playing football increased by 12% and football boys also represented the District at Provincial level; learners performed well in Chess, Football, Netball and Rugby in the National winter games held in Durban in June. Implementation of e-education in the district: There were two model schools, 63 enhanced schools and 61 universal schools. Teachers and officials were being equipped to strengthen afterschool programmes.

Online admissions pilot project for the year 2020: There were 13 117 captured applications of which 8 853 were successful applications, 7 770 learners were confirmed, 5 learners were unconfirmed, 2 544 received confirmation letters, and 57 were pending. Thirty schools participated in the pilot project and the Department explained the district process for managing admissions for 2020. A total of 1 390 School Admissions Management Information (SAMI) system requests had been sent where the learner is unplaced as at 12 August 2019. Unplaced learners are those who have applied at either a school/district but to date have been unsuccessful.

Learner Transport Scheme (LTS): There are 145 approved routes, 10 040 learners benefitting, 296 approved vehicles, 43 contractors, 25 devolved routes, and a budget of R6 million. Vehicles are inspected every second week and 100% of the vehicles tested received roadworthy certificates. Transport challenges included: LTS Policy concerning learners living less than 5km from school who are not registered for LTS; Gravel roads and wet conditions; Migration of learners; Learners collected too early, or too late; Service Providers from other provinces appointed as Contractors; and some principals who found it difficult to monitor service delivery. Transport achievements included: No fatal accidents over 20-year period; and a comprehensive database reflecting all LTS information.

School Safety budget was R1 466 422.80. Schools were fitted with various security services and the number of burgled/vandalised schools in 2018 was 22.2%. 18 schools had holiday security; 48 schools had holiday programmes concerning crime prevention. Challenges included: distances between schools impact on response time and limited service providers in rural areas. Achievements included: First District in the Western Cape to take learners on educational outing to Robben island for a Safe Schools Holiday Programme, in two consecutive years; successful Walking Buses ensure safety of learners.

Hostels: West Coast has 26 schools with hostels made up of 2548 residents.

Farm schools are schools where the location of the school is surrounded by farms and provides education to the learners of farming communities. There are 34 farm schools which represent 26% of the public ordinary schools. The District provided support to the farm schools through: scheduled and normal school visits; workshops and enrichment programmes; amalgamation of nearby schools where possible; schools receiving a toolkit with adapted content per subject and trained in its use; feeding scheme in all the schools; continual capacity building workshops for SGB members; providing learner transport; internet connectivity and computers for admin; help with establishment of professional learning communities with surrounding schools; and visit by a health bus.

Challenges included: Multi-grade classes and teaching due to small learner enrolment; Buildings are the property of land owners or religious institutions – infrastructure needs difficult to address; Geographical location is not attractive to new entrants or educators with specific skills; Struggle to generate much extra income; Socio economic problems in these communities with limited resources to deal with these; little parental involvement; learners do not always qualify to be included on the LTS; and poor internet connectivity in remote schools.

Achievements included: Good, collaborative relationships between district staff and school-based staff, and between district staff members; Many committed teachers offer up time to participate in various activities for themselves and learners; Good retention and results in Further Education and Training (FET) phase, with Grade 12 results being a highlight; many excellent academic and non-academic achievements at certain schools, including farm schools; Increasing number of successful afterschool programmes at rural schools. Continuing to build sound partnerships and collaborate on projects; and creative initiatives to drive education plans for their circuits.

The Chairperson note the time constraints and so Members would be limited to two questions.

Mr Christians stated that he could not just ask two questions.

The Chairperson replied that due to time, she had to limit the Members. What Members could not ask orally, would have to be done within a letter.

Mr Christians said it was not fair for the District to do a presentation and for the Committee not to ask questions. There were a lot of questions.

The Chairperson knew this but many questions had been asked generically during the previous presentations. This was why Members were being limited.

Mr Marais mentioned that the whole presentation was in English in an Afrikaans-speaking province. There was not one Afrikaans paragraph in the presentation which he thought was a shame. Why were parents being forced to send their children to English classes because the appointed teachers speak English or because the universities after Grade 12 are English? What was the Committee and Department doing to counter this? When listening to the submissions it was all in English, so no provision was being made for Afrikaans. He did not believe that areas such as Vredendal and Garies were English-speaking. What was the Department doing? He was going to submit a motion to Parliament.

Mr Sayed thanked the Department for admitting that there are shortcomings and challenges as honesty is deeply appreciated. In Porterville, what is being done to improve the performance of learners in Mathematics? With regard to Graafwater HS, this was a well performing HS but two months ago there were concerns that the school was going to be closed down. Could clarity be given about this?

The Chairperson had also wanted to ask about Graafwater as the matric results were 93% passes. If a parent asked why Graafwater is not being turned into a skills school when their performance is so good, what should their answer be? Of the West Coast schools that the district had listed as underperforming and well performing schools, where does Clanwilliam SS and Steynville HS fit in as they were not noted. She would email Ms van Ster as there was a concern about learner transport that did not pick up learners in the Saldana municipal area.

Ms van Ster replied that Clanwilliam and Steynville have been doing relatively okay given their performance to date and therefore they are technically speaking not underperforming schools although at the end of 2016 Clanwilliam did have an unexpected and unanticipated dip. Clanwilliam and Steynville both formed part of the District’s Grade 12/FET education programme. This referred to Steynville in particular because this year it has the biggest cohort in the history of the school. Although Steynville had not been doing too well, it was not so bad that they were listed as underperforming. Clanwilliam’s results looked okay today but because of the history of the school the Department kept them under their wing, so they are definitely part of the intensive Grade 12 programmes.

Ms van Ster replied that the proposed closure of Graafwater High School forms part of a bigger plan for education provision in the area. Graafwater High School was currently a combined school having both a primary school and a high school. The primary school section of Graafwater High could be very easily accommodated 700 meters across the road at a primary school which was currently being revamped. The high school section of Grade 8 to 12 has the vast majority of children coming from the Lambert's Bay/Eland’s Bay area. At the moment there was also a huge cohort of Grade 8 and 9 learners at that are at De Bruyn Primary School in Lambert's Bay. Clearly there is a need for a high school in Lambert’s Bay and because Lambert’s Bay Primary School is so small it makes sense for that primary school section to go to the De Bruyn primary school and for the Grade 8s and 9s to come to the building as the new high school. This meant that all the children from Lambert’s Bay/Eland’s Bay currently being bussed into Graafwater or staying in the hostel could be accommodated in Lambert’s Bay. This could leave a very small cohort of high school learners at Graafwater High School. One of the possible options was that perhaps they should keep the small cohort and let them complete their schooling career. This could mean that four years from now Graafwater High School could have one class of 30-40 children with one teacher/two teachers. This would mean that the children would be disadvantaged by having no subject choices. How would two teachers cover the entire FET curriculum? The public hearing was that night and they anticipated that the community of Graafwater whose children are at the high school are not going to be happy when looking at the broader plan and access. The Department needed another special-needs school and school of skills. If looking at the broader area, more learners will gain as part of this plan. In fact, the parents of the small group of Graafwater high school children are only looking at their children now and perhaps do not understand that their children will not have proper subject choices in Grade 12 in three to four years if they are kept there for the duration of their high school career. Ms van Ster had a one-pager for public release with all the statistics and looking at safety and costs. Ultimately it was about opening up access to all children for education.

On Maths at Porterville High School, Ms van Ster asked for clarity on the question.

Mr Sayed explained that in the previous year there was either an oversight visit or officials had come in that were asked about Porterville in particular. It was not such a positive report for Mathematics performance. What is being to improve the general performance in Mathematics?

Ms van Ster replied that the District was not doing anything in particular for the Porterville area, however, support for Mathematics would come in different forms. There would be visits by the Subject Advisor where schools with low systemic results for Mathematics are prioritised for visits. The District was also going much deeper in terms of analysis where they actually, and confidentially so, had a list of teachers who need intensive support – whether due to lack of qualifications or not. One aspect she had not mentioned was that the District struggled with recruitment of suitably qualified teachers in rural areas. There were teachers who were perhaps teaching Mathematics but were not qualified either in the subject or in the grade or phase. Thus, the District had a number of upskilling programmes, workshops and symposiums.

Ms van Zyl added that Porterville Primary School, during the National Science Week, energetically participated for the first time this year and have indicated that this would be a yearly thing. There was definitely movement in the right direction. Another aspect was that the District’s focus is on capacitating the teacher to master difficult mathematical concepts and thus a series of workshops are held to capacitate teachers.

Mr Meyer responded to Mr Marais’ question. The presentation did not speak to Afrikaans directly and WCED can do a presentation on what is being done within the districts on the Afrikaans curriculum. It is normal for the Department to do these presentations to the Standing Committee in English. If Members required, the Department did have a language service and could ask for them to translate and forward it to the Members if they so wish.

Mr Marais stood on his constitutional right as an Afrikaans speaker. He spoke Afrikaans and it is an official language not just in country, but particularly in the Western Cape. He insisted on his right and wanted to live in Afrikaans as he was tired of English now.

The Chairperson mentioned that the Standing Committee also had access to translations which Mr Marais should remember for next time.

Mr Marais responded that he had said his say.

The Chairperson asked where the District was with the hostel’s kitchen.

Ms van Ster explained that there was now a mobile hostel with ablution facilities. For now, things were functioning and with the heavy rains there was a little bit of a knockage into that, but everything is functioning and running.

The Chairperson stated that there were some governing body members present from the Esselen Park Secondary School SGB from Worcester. They would like to provide some input and had a spokesperson.

Esselen Park Secondary School SGB Address
Ms Y Kannemeyer, SGB: Secretary, Esselen Park SS, said that she would be speaking between English and Afrikaans if possible.

The Chairperson confirmed that Ms Kannemeyer was allowed to speak in Afrikaans.

Ms Kannemeyer and the Chairperson spoke in Afrikaans. No translation was provided. [Audio Two: 1:21:55 – 1:35:00]

Mr Meyer said that the district had been engaging on this matter for eight months already and that the last meeting was the previous week with the District Director. If the Department was doing something that would prohibit children from receiving a meal within the hostel then this is problematic. It is always said that when elephants fight, the grass suffers. Mr Meyer did not want the learners to suffer because there is a conflict between the SGB and the signing of cheques by the management of the school. The decision to provide food was discussed with him and he gave the approval for the District to use another mechanism to ensure that the learners are fed. He would speak to the District Director that evening and provide written feedback to the Committee of the meetings and the manner in which this has been addressed over the past few months.

Mr Meyer said to the representatives of the SGB present, that the Department has a particular person within a district whose express purpose and function is to provide governance and support. The role that Mr Goliath filled in the district was the Head of Management and Governance and so, governing body functionality lay with Mr Goliath. This was probably why he was part of the meetings because Mr Goliath is responsible for providing training to governing bodies and to act as an intermediary between governing bodies and the management at the school. Mr Meyer would speak with the District Director that evening.

Mr Meyer said the SGB chairperson would receive formal, written correspondence inviting them to another meeting to clarify the matters raised about the 2018/2019 grievances and the responses. As the SGB Secretary indicated, the school was going backward and there was a need to take ownership of the school. The school is still the facility and under the ownership of the WCED. The WCED is an ordered department – the Department prides itself on the support it offered to all schools. It would never allow the facilities to go to ruin and would always step in to assist. Therefore, the district has been meeting with the governing body over a protracted period of eight months already.

Mr Meyer would insist that the District Director provided a formal response and would provide copies of the response to the Standing Committee as well as a timeline of events that have occurred with explanations on what the Department has done as an educational district to support the functionality of the school. It must be understood that Esselen SS is a big school with large numbers making it significant to the Department for the school to perform for those learners in that school. If the learners do not get an NSC pass at the end of the year, it would have huge implications for all of their families within the community. This was the driver of the districts to ensure that everyone passed as it provides the learners with a gateway to enter into other spaces within the work environment simply because they have a matric certificate. This is why the child is first, although adults differed with each other, but the advantages must always be focused on the learners within the class. Mr Meyer apologised for not having all of the information on the matters that had been raised but said that he would provide written feedback to the Committee as soon as possible.

Ms Kannemeyer and the Chairperson spoke in Afrikaans [Audio Two: 1:40:12 – 1:40:50].

The Chairperson said it had been an exhausting but a good meeting as the Committee had received insight into what happens in the districts. The Committee would be in the Eden and Central Karoo district the following week and would visit Laingsburg High School. The Committee would get to the districts piece by piece to see what is happening. She thanked everyone for attending and trusted that the Committee and Department would use the avenues available. She hoped that the challenges would be solved soon.

Recommendations of the meeting were noted by the Committee:
The Department would provide in writing statistics on the quality of pass rates for quintile 1-3 and 4-5 as well as the LITNUM and NSC tests in all of the districts. The Committee wanted a one-pager on the Graafwater closure. The districts  needed to indicate which schools they want to close permanently. The districts should also inform the Committee on the number of teachers currently on long sick leave.  

The Committee finalised arrangements for the upcoming Vredendal oversight visit.

The Chairperson said it was a good session. The next meeting would be on 10 September 2019 and Members should not forget that they had an oversight visit to Metro East the following week.

The meeting was adjourned.

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