SACE & Umalusi 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan

Basic Education

27 August 2019
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Government Departments & Entities 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan (APP) 

The Committee was briefed on annual performance plans by South African Council for Educators (SACE) and Umalusi which provided details of their mandates; programmes, plans and performance indicators; as well as their financial information.

Members commended the good work performed by the two entities. They were particularly interested to know their mechanisms for combating fraud and corruption in their area of work.

Members asked SACE for the minimum qualification for teacher registration, registration of Early Childhood Development practitioners, the backlog and time frame for teacher registration, as well as the accessibility of SACE services. Concerns were raised about access to the two registers: Sexual Offences Register and National Child Protection Register to probe the possibility of someone guilty of offence returning to the teaching profession. The delay in TVET certification by Umalusi and enforcement of SACE recommendations were questioned.

Members asked Umalusi about its unqualified audit in previous years, its ad hoc staffing and the possible accreditation of certification for lower grades. The release of matric results which had caused some suicidal incidents was raised. The budget cuts announced for all government departments had hit Umalusi hard and this was discussed. 

Meeting report

South African Council for Educators (SACE) 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan
Ms Gaylin Bowles, SACE council member introduced the SACE delegation team.

Ms Ella Mokgalane, CEO at SACE, spoke on the history and legislative mandate of SACE as well as the revisions to the legislation. SACE derives its core mandate from the SACE Act of 2000, as amended. SACE has the mandate to enhance the status of the teaching profession by registering educators, managing a system for Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) for educators and setting and maintaining the ethical and professional standards. The mandate is further strengthened in Chapter 9 of the NDP.

In the last two financial years, SACE had initiated a process of professionalising the teaching profession. This will take it a step further in gazetting the professional teaching standards during 2019/2020 and implementing them across the entire teacher professionalization path from  2020/2021. This means:
• Determining criteria for entry into initial teacher education,
• Provisional registration of student teachers,
• Professional certification and awarding of the professional designation that is dependent on the mandatory induction process, and
• Periodic re-certification that is linked to fulfilling the requirements of the CPTD system.

The Council has a staff complement of 104 employees. It has appointed 13 co-ordinators to facilitate and manage CPTD and support other SACE mandates at provincial level. As indicated in the previous financial year, there was a need to improve case management to process the increasing number of reported cases. The Council had appointed two full-time investigators, a para-legal clerk and increased its pool of resource persons.  Currently there were three provincial offices (Free State, Limpopo, and KwaZulu Natal) operational this year. There were plans to open additional offices in Western Cape; Limpopo and Eastern Cape during 2019/20. SACE generally suffered internal capacity challenges throughout 2018/19 due to lack of staff in key positions. This had an impact on divisions such as Ethics and Teacher Professionalisation. However, Council mitigated that through a job evaluation process that resulted in additional staff at strategic level, especially at senior management and ethics levels.

Ms Mokgalane briefed the Committee of the SACE five programmes. Within each programme, she identified the purpose of the programme, the key areas of focus, strategic objectives, performance indicators as well as their quarter and annual targets.

Programme 1: Registration of Educators
The professional registration mandate of Section 3 of the SACE Act applies to all educators appointed -
• in terms of the Employment of Educators Act, 1998, school and office-based educators, including therapists
• in terms of the South African Schools Act, 1996 as amended at an independent school;
• in terms of  the Further Education and Training Act, 1998 and FETC Act, 2006 as amended;
• at a further education and training institution – TVET Colleges;
• at an adult learning centre – CET Colleges.

The purpose was to register qualified educators and create sub registers for special categories; maintain and update the educator database; and enhance the quality of the registration of teachers by introducing standards. The key focus areas were:
- Consider and decide on any application for registration
- Keep a register of the names of all persons who are registered
- Determine period of validity of the registration
- Determine minimum criteria and procedure for registration
- Maintain and update educator database

Programme 2: Legal and Ethics
SACE must compile, maintain and from time to time review a code of professional ethics for educators who are registered or provisionally registered and SACE must determine fair hearing procedure. SACE may:
(aa) caution or reprimand;
(bb) impose a fine not exceeding one month’s salary; or
(cc) remove from the register for a specified period or indefinitely or subject to specific conditions, the name of an educator found guilty of a breach of the code of professional ethics and
(iv) may suspend a sanction imposed under (bb) or (cc) for a period and on conditions determined by it.

The frequency of misconduct cases by Province from 2014 to 2019 were given to the Committee. The highest number misconduct cases were reported in Western Cape (1109) followed by KZN (363) with the lowest reported in Northern Cape (16 cases). These figures may point out to the culture of reporting. This means we may have cases of misconduct elsewhere but the culture of reporting is low.

The purpose is to promote ethical conduct among educators through the development and enforcement of the code of ethics and facilitate interventions and support for schools, educators and school communities on ethical matters. The key areas are:
- To receive and record all complaints lodged with SACE;
- To investigate complaints of improper conduct against educators;
- To mediate over disputes where a disciplinary hearing is not warranted;
- To institute disciplinary hearings at the behest of the Council where evidence of a breach of the Code of Professional Ethics for Educators has been found; and
- To process appeals lodged with the CEO.

Programme 3 Continuing Professional Development Management System
The basic structure of the CPTD system was explained.

Programme 4 Professionalisation
, drawing on National Development Plan: Vision 2030 and NQF Act, Ms Mokgalane clarified the position of teaching as a profession. The purpose of developing professional teaching standards for SACE was explained. Programmes 4 aimed to:
- To develop a set of professional standards for teachers’ practice that is theoretically informed, contextually appropriate and widely accepted by stakeholders;
- Develop various strategies and processes of assisting and supporting educators with regard to professional matters and needs;
- Improve and maintain the status and image of the teaching profession;
- Facilitate processes of ensuring that more and better teachers join the teaching profession; and
- Ensure the quality of initial teacher education and ongoing professional development through quality assurance mechanisms and standards. 

Key areas of focus in 2019/20 were:
- Consultation of the teacher professionalisation programme which will assist with the risk of buy-in.
- Maintain strategic structures where the SACE mandate in the form of teacher professionalisation can be advocated with updates on SACE programmes
- Develop, implement and maintain professional practice standards across the teacher education continuum; - Develop the framework for certified teacher professional designation.

Programme 5: Research Policy and Planning
The research projects undertaken by SACE by emphasised teachers’ rights and safety were outlined.

Financial Information of SACE
Mr Morris Mapindani, Chief Finance Officer at SACE, said SACE received R108.7 million in 2019/20. Registration fees for foreigners and South Africans and for all renewals and updates were outlined. The main funding for  operations was annual membership fees. The current determined membership fee would remain the same during the MTEF period (sufficient for operations). Approval had been obtained from Treasury to subsidise CPTD implementation for 2020 – R20m. It was expected this funding will remain the same for the entire MTEF.

The three current operating Provincial offices budgets are included in the 2019/20 budget. Council is on track to open the remaining two offices in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. Our bid processes could not secure offices, hence the delay in the two provinces. Alternatives are  being implemented to start the operations in these provinces with immediate effect. Outright purchase of offices will continue to be explored while operating through other means for economical sustainability. All mandatory functions are delivered at provincial points. The surplus retained in the building reserve account is sufficient for the acquisition of provincial office buildings. Council will continue with its mobile services to universities and provinces without SACE service points; and it is in the process of acquiring its own fleet to mitigate rising travelling costs.

Umalusi Annual Performance Plan
Dr Mafu Rakometsi, CEO at Umalusi, said the Umalusi mandate was determined by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act of 2008 and the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance (GENFETQA) Act of 2001 as amended in 2008. The objectives of the NQF Act was to have an integrated framework of learning achievements; access, mobility and progression; enhance the quality of education; and accelerate redress – to contribute to the full personal development of each learner, and the social and economic development of SA.

Umalusi was the Quality Council responsible for qualifications registered on the general and further education and training qualifications sub-framework (GFETQSF) on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). It ensured that providers of education and training have the capacity to deliver and assess qualifications and learning programmes and are doing so to expected standards of quality.

Umalusi’s organizational structure was explained which covered the areas of human resource management, corporate governance, ICT, advocacy, office accommodation and financial capacity.

Programme 1 Administration covered the following sub-programmes:
• Strategy and Governance (S&G)
• Public Relations and Communications (PR&Comms)
• Information Communication Technology (ICT)
• Finance and Supply Chain Management (F&SCM)
• Human Resource Management and Development (HRM&D)

Programme 2 Qualification and Research had Part A Qualifications, Curriculum and Certification (QCC) to:
• Ensure and enhance the status and quality of the sub-framework of qualifications which Umalusi develops, manages and reviews;
• Evaluate curricula to ensure that these are of acceptable quality;
• Certify school learner and adult student performance for all GFETQSF qualifications;
• Verify all qualifications that it and its predecessor, SAFCERT, have issued since 1992.

Part B was Statistical Information and Research:
Umalusi conducts research analysis and reports on quality within the GFETQSF. The mandate is to:
• Conduct research that is informed by the emerging needs of the education system to engage stakeholders towards innovative thinking;
• Report on the key indicators of quality and standards in general and further education and training;
• Establish and maintain databases; and
• Lead research and analysis and provide statistical support and information across Umalusi.

Programme 3 Quality Assurance and Monitoring
It ensures that the providers of education and training have the capacity to deliver and assess qualifications registered on the GFETQSF and are doing so to the expected standards and quality.

Financial Information of Umalusi
Ms Jacomien Rousseau, Chief Financial Officer at Umalusi, said the budget cut of 2.5% had been implemented in December 2017 for the MTEF period. It meant R10.9m baseline allocation less was received from DBE. The process was run by the Presidential Fiscal Committee and reductions approved by Cabinet. VAT increased from 14% to 15% from April 2018 affected the budget of Umalusi negatively.

Revenue growth was projected at a 7% growth rate. The 2019/20 revenue estimates was R27.96m on administrative fees, R21.62m on other non-tax revenues and R134.63m on transfers. Expenditure was estimated at R100.28m for goods and services and R80.94m for compensation of employees.

In the 2019/20 budget, the administration accounted for 37% of the budget. Qualifications, curriculum and certification was 9% and statistical information and research was 7%. Both were labour intensive work. Quality assurance of assessment was 32% and evaluation and accreditation was 15%. This included employing of ad hoc monitors to do moderation work. Umalusi currently employed 1500 ad hoc monitors.

On 2019/20 cost drivers, compensation of employees accounted for 45% and 19% was for the 128 ad hoc monitors.

Ms Rousseau reported on the tender project. The tender for the renovation of Building 41 was awarded to a joint venture with three separate entities in March 2017 for R36 million. The project started in May 2017. Payments of R10.9m were made. Umalusi became aware of allegations of fraud about the submitted tender documents. One JV member reported the allegation pertaining to forgery of signature through his lawyers early November 2017. Umalusi followed due process, with advice from legal counsel, but the providers did not respond to Umalusi’s request for information on the matter. Consequently, the contract was cancelled on 23 November 2017. The matter has since been reported to: National Treasury in terms of PPPFA Regulations; Department of Basic Education as it is material; SAPS as a case of corruption in terms of Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act; and Portfolio Committee meeting of 27 March 2018.

Umalusi is in the process of instituting a civil claim against the Joint Venture.
• A preservation order will not be the correct process to follow – factually not in this case.
• Quantity surveyors’ reports have been completed.
• The process of compiling the court papers have started.

While pursuing the case Umalusi will initiate a new tender process for the renovation of Building 41.
• Tender was divided into two phases.
• Phase one to appoint a principal agent (project management team) – evaluation almost completed.
• Phase two will be the appointment of the construction team, with the assistance of the principal agent.

Ms Rousseau concluded with measures of control for managing the APP and Supply Chain Management (SCM). Senior and Executive managers have signed a pledge with the CEO to obtain a clean audit. Standard Operating Procedures are being developed per indicator. Performance outputs are verified on quarterly by an internal committee (PIVC) and monitored at quarterly review meetings. Achievement of APP targets is part of senior management staff performance agreements. Umalusi has strengthened its oversight on performance information by ensuring that the Audit and Risk Committee includes a specialist on performance information. SCM policies are updated regularly to be aligned with legislation.

Discussion
Ms N Shabalala (ANC) commended Umalusi for the action taken as the case was now in court. She requested that progress on the case be updated in the future.

Ms D Van der Walt (DA) asked SACE who were on the system. Were they new or old teachers? If they were new teachers, since when. For the fees for foreign and South African teachers, she asked if the Committee could be provided with a breakdown on how many foreign and South African teachers are registered. Speaking about Early Childhood Development, she said that although many practitioners and centres were registered, there were still many that were not registered. She asked if SACE had a plan for those un-registered ones.

Mr E Siwela (ANC) asked Umalusi why there were so many unqualified audit in past years and why there was a sudden improvement this year which showed a clean audit. On the employees at Umalusi that work from home, he asked how Umalusi monitored these employees.

Moving to SACE, Mr Siwela asked how difficult it was for teachers who had been found guilty of offences to go back to classrooms. He asked about the accessibility of services of SACE centres across the country. He asked about the turnaround time for an application for teacher’s registration and under what grounds SACE would decline such an application

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) asked SACE about the timeframe for the registration of teachers. Speaking about individuals with post-graduate qualifications, she asked if it was standard practice for these individuals to have to get a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) certificate before they can be registered as an educator. She asked Umalusi about the court case why there was no preservation order from the court on the service provider that Umalusi used. She asked Umalusi if the process for foreign qualification verification had been enhanced.

Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) acknowledged the good work done by both SACE and Umalusi. He asked SACE about the enforcement of the recommendations SACE made for the Department of Basic Education. Addressing Umalusi on its financial constraints, Mr Ngcobo wanted to find out the details of Umalusi’s operations to justify more funding. He encouraged Umalusi to keep their operation aligned with the Department’s shift to Grade 3, 6, and 9 in addition to the Grade 12. Speaking to SACE, he asked if it would consider screening teachers itself using police clearance certificates. On the safety of teachers, he remarked that SACE did not come clean quite often in the media about major challenges happening in the workplace.

Ms C King (DA) asked SACE if the teacher registration backlog had been resolved. On Special Needs Educators, she asked if SACE had the number for those currently registered. She was concerned that sexual offences did not show on the police clearance certificate. She commented on the difficulty to access the Sexual Offences Register and National Protection Register. How accessible were these registers to ensure that no one on these registers would be allowed to enter the education profession? Speaking to Umalusi, she asked if the Grade 9 certificate would be accredited by Umalusi. On the 'multiple exam opportunities' which had achieved only 8% of its target, she would like to hear Umalusi’s view on this since it was responsible for releasing the matric results.

Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) commended the good work done by the two entities. On fraud and corruption, he remarked that the environment in which we lived produced egregious cases in which people would even fake their own death. He commended Umalusi’s effort on this. He asked SACE how it verified the authenticity of foreign qualifications as they are certainly more difficult to verify. On sexual assault and corporal punishment by teachers, he asked SACE what measures were in place to address these. He asked Umalusi if it had reviewed and addressed the negative impact of the publication of matric results, where learners were reported to have committed suicide after the release of results. On the possibility of the lapse in quality of grades below Grade 12, he asked if Umalusi had a role in monitoring quality assurance of lower grades.

Ms N Adoons (ANC) commented that her questions had been raised. She welcomed SACE and Umalusi.

The Chairperson commented that the Committee’s responsibility was to perform oversight over both entities so that the Committee should know the operation of both offices. On the certification of TVET college students, she commented that it took very long - three to five years - to obtain certification, and she asked the cause for such long delays. On the budget cuts, since Umalusi had finance challenges and she assumed that the main driver for this was the Umalusi staff bill. She asked if there was a plan to address that. She asked SACE what the minimum qualification was for a teacher to be eligible to register.

SACE Response
On minimum qualifications, Ms Mokgalane replied that the minimum qualification was either Bachelor of Education or a first degree plus PGCE. SACE was a professional council for all teachers and the minimum requirement of a PGCE qualification must be satisfied before one can be a teacher. This applies to those with advanced degrees.

On the implementation of the police clearance certificate, she replied that when it was introduced, this measure applied only for newly-registered teachers. The current educators in the system were not required to have this police clearance. However, those teachers would be subject to obtaining such a police certificate on their promotion. SACE did seek legal counsel and was advised that application of law cannot be applied retrospectively.

On accessing the Sexual Offences Register, Ms Mokgalane replied  that the Department of Justice would announce on this in due course. However, the police clearance certificate should serve the purpose of identifying those that had committed sexual offences. She identified the gap when someone could be left out. It could happen in cases where the offence was not reported to SAPS, there would be no conviction. This would result in someone who had committed a sexual offence, entering the education profession.

On the Child Protection Register, Ms Mokgalane reminded the Committee that the Children’s Act referred to employers who are required to verify the suitability of potential employees. However, SACE is working with provincial education departments to get the information.

Ms Mokgalane replied that SACE was currently not screening teachers. SACE had entered an MOU with an organisation which SAPS had authorised to issue police clearances. The turnaround time was about 2-4 hours and the maximum waiting time was 48 hours. SACE even negotiated a lesser rate for teachers.

On safety of teachers, Ms Mokgalane replied that SACE was covered a lot on SABC and eNCA. They advertised on social media such as Twitter and through teacher unions as well.

Ms Mokgalane replied that as long as she could remember this was not a registration backlog. She suggested SACE report how many applications were received in the last quarter and at what stage these applications were. 

On registration fees, Ms Mokgalane replied that a R1200 registration fee was charged for foreign nationals and R500 for South Africans.

On Early Childhood Development, Ms Mokgalane replied that SACE currently registered NQF level 4 provisionally with an indication that those practitioners were progressing to NQF level 5. SACE was working with DBE and SAQA to deal with professional licensing in the sector.

On teachers with sexual assault offences returning to teaching, Ms Mokgalane admitted to Mr Siwela that it could happen as she was currently dealing with such a case. On the sanction to strike the teacher off the register, SACE must first communicate that with various institutions such as Department of Social development so that the offender’s name would be on the Child Protection Register. As soon as an offender’s name appeared on the list, the person would not be qualified for teaching. Secondly, it must be reported to the employer. If employers checked the register, offenders would not be able to get back. If it is not implemented from the employer’s side, those offenders could still return to teaching. SACE was working to close the gap and asked employers to check the list before hiring people.

Ms Mokgalane said that there was no official staff working at the district level. However, there were additional coordinators from SACE that worked from home until offices were established. The services provided however were still from the offices.

Ms Mokgalane replied  that 70% or more of the registrations  could be completed within the normal turnaround time. The challenge mainly came from post office delays or change of physical address. SACE was working on an online system which was going to be more effective as learnt from SAQA e-certification.

On special needs, Ms Mokgalane replied  that the registration form kept records of how many teachers were registered at special needs schools but not how many teachers had special needs.

To address fraud and corruption, SACE is moving towards using E-certification to reduce the possibility of such incidents.

Ms Mokgalane recognised the importance of keeping teachers guilty of sexual and physical assault away from learners. She re-emphasised the stance that SACE took as evidenced in the presention. However, she pointed out that the role that SACE could play was limited. SACE could advocate but it was up to teachers to behave and research indicated it would need to involve the broader participation of society to collaboratively resolve the issue.

She commented that SACE had received an outcry from teachers that the alternative to corporal punishment was not working. She suggested that the approach to dealing with physical assault should be in similar manner to what they had done with sexual harassment.

Umalusi Response
Dr Rakometsi commented on the fraud case currently in court. He assured the Committee that Umalusi took this matter very seriously. R 9 million would be reimbursed to Umalusi from the R10.49 million paid to the tender. Regular updates would be available to the Committee.

On unqualified audits, Dr Ralometsi explained that the challenge came with supply chain management and the time at which the account book was closed as some funds retrieved under the new financial year ought to have been classified under the previous financial year.

Dr Rakometsi explained that Umalusi did not plan to replace those ad hoc staff members with full-time staff members as they were hired for functions that were seasonal. It was unaffordable to replace them with permanent staff. These contract workers were qualified teachers, either resigned or having retired, and they were trained and commissioned to perform tasks for Umalusi.

Dr Rakometsi noted that the preservation order would not be successful, after having sought legal counsel.

Dr Rakometsi clarified that the mandate for verification of foreign qualifications lay with SAQA. SAQA had numerous international networks and bodies to establish verification. Umalusi only verified qualifications within its own system.

Dr Rakometsi explained that there were two forms of counselling Umalusi provided for the Departments: recommendations based on research and directives. Compliance with directives was 100% with DBE but the Department of Higher Education and Training was lagging behind, although they were improving now.

On the financial constraints, Dr Rakometsi commented that the Committee ought to be aware of the massive scope of work that Umalusi had to do compared with the budget allocated and the number of staff employed. Umalusi could not perform all quality assurances given the circumstances. He had communicated with the Minister who was advised to discuss the matter with the Director-General in January to come up with recommendations. The staff at Umalusi are overstretched and it was losing staff because of long hours and overburdened workloads. Employees complained about the long hours and found work conditions at other work organisations better with compensation more lucrative. These issues would be addressed by the DG.

On the quality assurance that happened only for Grade 12, Dr Rakometsi said that Umalusi conducted research on lower grades in the system. Umalusi checked if the curriculum learners did would lead to better results at Grade 12. In terms of quality assurance below Grade 12, Umalusi could only make recommendations.

Dr Rakometsi emphasised its serious position on tackling corruption and fraud given that it is a quality assurance body. Thus, the security features were stringent and some features could not be made public.

On the publication of matric results, Dr Rakometsi explained that it was the prerogative of the assessment body and was thus outside the work of Umalusi.

Dr Rakometsi noted that Umalusi could not produce a TVET certificate until data had been obtained from the assessment body. With this problem, there had been a struggle between the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and the Department of Higher Education and Training which caused instability of data. Thus, Umalusi could not certify if there was a case where it stated a 30% pass while the data stated it was 40%. Also it was a problem created by the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) courses at different levels such as a learner carries some courses from NCV 2 but now wished to registered NCV 4.

With the budget cut, Umalusi could not sustain the system and it appealed to the Minister and the Committee to consider the important position of Umalusi as the only organisation in the country that performed such tasks.

Ms Rousseau clarified the amount claimed in the court case. An independent quantity surveyor had evaluated the work done and what work still needed to be done which came to R9,6 million. This amount included inflation and all legal costs.

On unqualified audits, Ms Rousseau admitted the Umalusi had battled with performance information and the supplier finance chain. In the last two years, great successes had been made in clearing out all problems with supply chain management as well as the performance information.

On ad hoc employees, Ms Rousseau commented that these ad hoc workers had been monitored by the work sites where they had been sent to work. These people were qualified teachers with exam experience.

On the preservation order, Ms Rousseau would send written report to the Committee to explain.

On financial constraints, Ms Rousseau commented that submissions had been made to Treasury. Umalusi had looked at another revenue model. Currently Umalusi was paying private assessment bodies to do assessment.

On the certification backlog, Ms Rousseau replied that private colleges needed to pay to get the certificates. Umalusi currently had R7 million debt over 120 days from these private colleges. Thus, Umalusi allowed students who could produce letters stating that there were no outstanding fees owed to their college to obtain certificates.

On budget cuts, Ms Rousseau assured the Committee that Umalusi was taking many initiatives to negotiate the best prices. The main cost driver was the number of question papers that assessment bodies had.

Ms Van Der Walt commented that that she could not add up the registered educators on slide 33 and Ms Mogaklane replied that she would not be able to give that answer at the meeting but would do so.

The Chairperson thanked the CEOs from SACE and Umalusi.

The meeting was adjourned.

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