Umalusi & SACE 2018/19 Annual Reports; Examination Readiness 2019

Basic Education

09 October 2019
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba
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Meeting Summary

Annual Reports 2018/2019

The  Committee was briefed by Umalusi on its Annual Report and verification of their State of Readiness to quality assure the 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations; and also by the Council on South African Council for Educators (SACE) on its Annual Report. Members were pleased that Umalusi has achieved its 18th Unqualified Opinion since 2001. Umalusi achieved an overall 89% on its pre-determined objectives for the financial 2018/19 while 11% were not achieved. Vacancy rates at the entity as at 31 March 2019 was 8% while total assets in the year under review were R29.05 million. The entity also has total cash and cash equivalents of R52.3 million, an accumulated surplus of 71% and revenue reserves of 8% cementing its status as a going concern.

Members heard that the SACE reported a total number of 765 individual incidences against educators in the financial year under consideration and the top reported cases against them were corporal punishment and assault, verbal abuse, victimisation, harassment and improper conduct, the use of improper language, alcohol abuse, absenteeism, insubordination, defamation, intimidation, sexual misconduct, rape, sexual assault, fraud, theft and financial mismanagement. Members were disappointed to hear that occurrences of racism were also on the increase as were instances of Gender-Based Violence which included male teachers-on-female learners, male teachers-on-female teachers, male teachers-on-male learners (prevalent in single-sex schools) and female teachers-on-male learners. Of equal disappointment to Members was the assertion that the Department of Social Development’s National Child Protection Register (NCPR) was still not accessible. The Children’s Act was currently accessible to employers only.  The Committee said that ‘The issue of violence in schools is scary and in the inter-governmental meetings the issue of a National Sexual Offences Register has to be top on the agenda’.

Members bemoaned the fact that the image of the teaching profession was receiving a battering at the moment orchestrated by the public perception of teacher’s absences and negligence in classrooms. Members asked if the SACE also holds this view. Members were very concerned about the reported incidences of violence in schools and asked if the SACE was making moves to curb these incidences and if yes how. The Committee was concerned about the high staff turnover and asked how it affected the entity and what the plans were to sort this out. Members wanted to know if exit interviews were held to determine the reasons for staff leaving.

The Committee asked for an explanation regarding how the entity managed to reach its target with a decreased budget. Members asked how the process of staff recruitment was managed; how many vacancies needed to be filled; the use of consultants; and why people with the relevant expertise were not employed instead of consultants. Members said that: ‘there was always a problem when entities opted to utilise consultants because they ended up taking a huge chunk of money that could better be used for service delivery’.

The Committee was briefed on the NSC Examination Readiness 2019. The Risk Management Based approach was outlined to the Committee. Members asked what remedial actions had been put in place to ensure that there was not a further decline in pass marks; what measures were put in place to ensure that exams ran smoothly given that there were 495 high risk exam centres; Is there a follow-up to accredit unaccredited independent schools or are they just going to continue to be operating as unaccredited institutions; and if there was a shortage of teachers to mark the exam scripts. Members heard that extra measures were being put in place to deal with high risk centres; and additional innovations had been introduced to strengthen the process of script counting.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed all that were present and asked for a short prayer. After that, the leader of the Umalusi delegation was asked to introduce the members of his delegation.

Briefing on the Umalusi Annual Report 2018/19

Mr Mafu Rakometsi, CEO of Umalusi thanked both the Umalusi Council and the Committee for their guidance. He said that they will take any input made by the Committee very seriously. In his presentation he said that the entity is a Quality Council responsible for qualifications registered on the General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-framework (GFETQSF), which is part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The Council ensures that the providers of education and training have the capacity to deliver and assess qualifications and learning programmes and are doing so according to the expected standards of quality.

Umalusi has achieved its 18th Unqualified Opinion since 2001; there are no material findings on pre-determined objectives and Supply Chain Management.

Overall, 89% of its pre-determined objectives were achieved for the financial 2018/19 while 11% were not achieved. As far as the Programme is concerned:

-Programme 1 83% were achieved while 17% was not achieved;

-Programme 2 83% of objectives were achieved while 17% were not achieved; and

-Programme 3 100% of pre-determined objectives were achieved.

Ms Stella Mosimege, Senior Manager Strategy and Governance at Umalusi; in presenting an analysis of the various programmes stated that Programme 1 covers the following sub-programmes:

Programme 1 Governance and the Office of the Chief Executive Officer (GOCEO), Public Relations and Communications (PR&COMMS), Information Communication Technology (ICT), Human Resource Management and Development (HRM&D) and Finance and Supply Chain Management (F&SCM).  The reasons for underperformance are the late approval of requisitions and reconciliation of creditors’ payments. Internal controls for managing all received invoices as well as the reconciliation of invoices to supplier statements was partially ineffective.

 Programme 2 Qualifications and Research deals with ensuring and enhancing the status and quality of qualifications on the Sub-Framework which Umalusi develops, manages and reviews; evaluating curricula to ensure that these are of acceptable quality; the certification of candidate performance for all qualifications on the GFETQSF; and verifying all qualifications Umalusi and its predecessor, SAFCERT, have issued since 1992. The reasons for underperforming lies with incomplete data submitted and delays in submission of additional data by assessment bodies.

Programme 3 (Quality Assurance and Monitoring).  This function entails the following: External moderation of question papers; External moderation of internal assessment; Verification of monitoring of the assessment system; Monitoring of the conduct, administration and management of assessment and examinations processes; Management of concessions, assessment and examination irregularities; External moderation of marking processes. Reasons for non achievement are. The Entity has introduced new approaches to validate performance information – Performance Verification Committee.  It has to be noted that the Audit Action Plan is adding value in reducing the number of findings raised by Internal and External Auditors. Quarterly reviews assist in challenging Senior Managers on how they manage performance information. The oversight role of the Audit and Risk Committee and Council or EXCO holds management accountable for internal controls and under-performance.  

Mr Dumisani Maluleke, Senior Manager, SCM and Finance; added that the vacancy rates as at 31 March 2019 is 8%. Revenue and expense recognition in the incorrect period resulted in a restatement of the 2017/18 financial year after financial statements were approved.  Total assets as at 2019 is R92.05 million with total cash equivalents of R52.3 million with an accumulated surplus of 71% and revenue reserves of 8%.

Governance of Umalusi

-External auditors raised the following material findings in the management report:

-Revenue and expense recognition in the incorrect period. (Management developed internal controls to ensure no recurrence of the findings on the upcoming financial year.)

-No significant findings were reported on Supply Chain Management and predetermined objectives.

Irregular expenditure - Current Financial year

Current year Payments for cell phone services were made without a valid contract, total amount paid equal to R 1 863 861.

Outcome: The matter has since been addressed; a request for condonation will be tabled at the next Umalusi Council for approval.


Briefing on the SACE Annual Report 2018/19

Ms Ella Mokgalane, CEO, SACE stated that SACE’s mission is to strive to ensure that the education system is enriched, by providing properly registered and professionally developed educators that would display professionalism. In terms of its delivery mandate, both the Ministers of Basic Education and Higher Education and Training pledged their support for SACE to take over the responsibility of registering college lecturers in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Community Education and Training sectors. The SACE has started a process of conceptualising the professionalisation of the ECD sector in terms of the Practitioners’ Professional Registration and adherence to the code of professional ethics and professional standards. All the cases that were carried over in the last two years have been investigated during the period under review and will be finalised in the new financial year. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s (DJCS) National Register for Sexual Offenders is  not included due to its unavailability at the time of writing this Annual Report; and the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) National Child protection Register since access is provided to the employers in terms of the Children’s Act.


-While the Council took a decision to establish three additional SACE provincial offices in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Western Cape, it has not been able to acquire the physical office space due to challenges it faced in the property market sector during the bidding process.

-New measures to secure the offices in these three provinces, during the 2019/20, have been looked into with the assistance of the National Treasury.

-The submission of training schedules by providers is a prerequisite for site visits. The CPTD providers who were not visited did not supply the Council with their training schedules which made it difficult for the said site visits to be conducted.

-The Council has initiated several strategies to militate against this state of affairs.  

-There was a lower turnout of applications from the new providers than was expected. This might be due to the shortage of providers who operate in the teacher development landscape given that it is a specialised field.

-As mitigation, the Council will be rolling out provider forums across the provinces to advocate and mobilise potential and emerging providers. Strengthening of the advocacy drive through different media will also be explored alongside the use of flyers, websites, radio, face to face and other media platforms where feasible.

-The majority of educators do not Report (manually or electronically) their PD points to SACE.

-there is a new approach and strategy to support activities in the three types of PD activities with regards to Reporting.

-The Council has previously carried cases over from one financial year to the next owing to a number of challenges, such as, institutional capacity, the unavailability of panellists and cases received towards the end of the financial year.

-Having trained a number of panellists at the end of 2017, they commenced work from 5 February 2018 and were given an on the job training first.

-From 1 April 2019 these panellists were hard at work to process and finalise all backlog cases from 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 financial years. They also assisted to process new cases for the financial year 2018/19.

-Many parents still continue to refuse Council access to their children to testify in disciplinary hearings or even to participate in investigations by the Council.

-SACE has in the past always complained that some Provincial Departments of education were not reporting their cases as required in terms of section 26 of the SACE Act.

-Pursuant to a meeting with the Department of Education, SACE received a commitment to comply with the prescripts of the Act.

-SACE and the DBE have drafted a protocol on the Reporting of cases in line with Section 26. This protocol has been agreed to and is due for signature by the Provincial Departments of Education.

The SACE Register is currently as follows:

Full Registration -Teachers who meet all the SACE Requirements; 569 631

Provisional registration – student teachers; 56 425

Special category- People who are working with the school or TVET/CET colleges curriculum however, they are not fully qualified professional teachers. For working in the focus schools, and those teaching vocational, technical and occupational subjects were 44 894 bringing the total to 690 950.

While the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s National Register of Sexual Offenders (NRSO) has not been accessible for quite some time, the SACE received a letter from the Department’s Director General, on the 02nd October 2019, requesting the number of people who will be responsible for screening registration applications against the register so that the necessary processes and system could be finalised.

The Department of Social Development’s National Child Protection Register (NCPR) is still not accessible to SACE, due to the Children’s Act giving access to the employers only. However, SACE is submitting the names of the struck-off teachers to the Department for inclusion in the Register.

National Top five Incidences Reported against Educators

Corporal punishment and assault, verbal abuse, victimisation, harassment and improper conduct, the use of improper language, alcohol abuse, absenteeism, insubordination, defamation and intimidation sexual misconduct / rape/ indecent assault/ sexual assault, fraud, theft, and financial mismanagement. Incidences of racism are on the rise while the lowest instances are threatening to kill/ intimidation or murder which registered in 1 case. Also one complaint may have more than one incident in it, hence the higher number of incidences.

Sexual Related Gender-based Violence within the Schooling /Teaching Profession

-Cases are on the rise or increase in Reporting

-Based on SACE Research, disciplinary Processes, Document analysis of the educator misconduct Cases

-Participants in Sexual Related Gender-Based Violence

-Male Teachers-on-Female Leaners (All types of schools)

-Male Teachers-on-Female Teachers (All types of schools)

-Male Teachers-on-Male Learners (Prevalent in single-sex schools)

-Female Teachers-on-Male Learners (An emerging trend – Abuse of High School Boys)

-Trends in taking advantage of learners in Special Schools

Statement of financial position

Total current assets – R99.7 million;

Total assets increased by 17;

Current liabilities increase of 26%;

Accumulated surplus increase of 17%;

Financial position of SACE is favourable – going concern; and

A surplus of R25 million. Approval has been obtained to retain the surplus in improving ICT infrastructure; contingency and increasing client provincial contact points.

Auditors Report

Few misstatements of information were identified and corrected on the spot and SACE received an unqualified audit opinion for 2018/19.


Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) said that after the presentation by the DG of Basic education yesterday some members were tempted to give him a round of applause and the same is happening now as there was a vote of confidence for this Department as they are doing something different from the other departments. South Africa (SA) will remain an unequal society because when other departments are presenting that they had a budget deficit, this Department and its entities are expressing a surplus. Other departments could learn from this Department. From the SACE report, the CEO is of the opinion that the image of the teaching profession is not at its best at the moment and she goes on to say that violence in schools is a cause for concern. She further reports that they have taken initiatives to emphasise teacher’s rights, responsibilities and security and this is appreciated. However, the general outcry by the public is that the violence is orchestrated by the absence and negligence of teachers. ‘Is SACE in agreement with this assertion’? Yesterday a learner took a pair of scissors to stab another, ‘how long are we going to continue to mourn and bury our children who are killed on school premises’? ‘Are we in agreement that teachers leaving learners alone is contributing to this violence’? ‘How fast is SACE moving to curb these incidences’? The image of the teaching profession is not looking good at all.  

Ms C King (DA) commended SACE and Umalusi on their performance. She said teachers and educators should be encouraged to abandon the use of corporal punishment and adhere to the legislation. She asked if the SACE had held discussions and workshops with educators regarding measures to be used because teachers have less leeway to work with in the classrooms as kids are becoming more violent.  SACE in their presentation stated that they had few mistakes and had to correct them on the spot. This shows that their internal control measures are not up to standard and there was a lack of financial oversight before the reports were sent to Parliament. This is of concern and even though it was acknowledged, the internal control mechanisms have to be strengthened.

Ms King said that the same can be said for Umalusi as they have already established that their executive management oversight is inadequate. It looks bad that even when the Committee commends the organisation for doing a good job, their internal financial controls leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully all of these will be fixed next time. On the verification certificates, it was stated that the organisation was not mandated to verify according to the NQF Act yet it has been doing this since 2001. Umalusi has been collecting a substantial amount of fees on verification; the concern is whether this is a breach of the legislation. ‘Has Umalusi sat in a roundtable discussion with the Basic Education Department to see how this gap could be adjusted’?

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) thanked the entities that presented for their hard work and continuous improvement seen over the years. The issue with Umalusi is the high turnover of staff and vacancies. ‘How does it affect the entity and what are the plans to sort this out’? ‘Do they have exit interviews for exiting staff to determine their reasons for leaving’? With the absence of an organogram it is difficult to determine the positions to be filled. In terms of certificates, it seems that there are certificates that are not being provided to colleges because of the lack of payments by learners. She asked if this could be the TVET colleges’ learners who are not paying fees. ‘How does this impact on the learners’? ‘Are there any plans to meet them half way so that they can have their certificates to enable them find work’? Another issue is the ECD practitioners. It has been difficult to understand the qualifications of these practitioners; ‘how do they acquire their qualifications’? ‘Have they gone to TVET colleges or universities and for how long’? ‘On the new GEC recently announced by the Minister, how would that impact Umalusi’? On SACE, the report on the recommendations is of interest to this committee. ‘On the meeting of stakeholders regarding violence in schools, was there a report that came out of that engagement with various stakeholders that attended’?Could the Committee be given a presentation on the recommendations being made to the schools’? ‘It has to be noted that when the code of conduct fails, there is no other policy to fall back on but then is there a gap from the DBE to ensure that learners who are bullied receive help’? On the sexual abuse cases, it is concerning to learn that educators found to have abused learners are not taken directly to the police so that their names end up on the National Sexual Offenders Register. ‘What prevents you from doing that’? ‘Is it not your responsibility and what has taken you so long to do that’? It is important this is done so that they do not end up working with other learners. The fact that some provinces are not reporting does not mean the absence of learner abuse in those provinces. ‘What is your entity doing to encourage them to report cases from those provinces’? ‘In terms of the clearance certificates, what process is used for foreign nationals who come in as teachers’? ‘What efforts are being made to reduce the time it takes to process a clearance from the current three months’?

Mr T Malatji (ANC) welcomed the presentations but noted that the way the entities could help the teachers is by developing programmes that assists the communities to deal with the social ills. This is because the challenges faced by schools such as violence in schools and teacher misconduct all emanate from the communities of which the teachers are a part of.  Partnering with social organisations that deal with social ills could also help. Inequality is another factor especially in the townships where the apartheid government invested huge resources to sow disorder.  With regard to sexual harassment in schools, the issue of the age gap and how it contributes has to be looked at. The fact that a 23 year old could be a teacher while a 19 old a learner is a problem that has to be addressed as they might have been together in the same high school. ‘How can we address this issue as they are practically peers’?

The Chairperson noted that Umalusi’s budget has been decreasing from 2017 while the targets remained unchanged. He asked how the entity is able to meet its target with a decreased budget. While reporting on the financials, the issue of how quickly staff is replaced (not more than two months) was raised.  ‘How is the process of staff recruitment managed’?  ‘How many vacancies still have to be filled as we speak’? It is also high time the entity worked on receiving a clean audit opinion from the Auditor General (AG). ‘Can the entity shed more light on the use of consultants’? ‘Is this not a capacity deficit in the entity’? ‘Why not employ people with the relevant expertise instead of consultants’. There is always a problem when entities opt to utilise consultants because they end up taking a huge chunk of money that could better be used for service delivery. ‘Why is the SACE not having a provincial office in the Northern Cape’? ‘Why are cases not reported from the same provinces’? ‘What is the statistics for foreign teachers employed in the sector’?

Response from Umalusi

Mr Rakometsi said that with regard to internal controls the entity is making an improvement. There is an improvement plan for all the findings of the AG and all the gaps indentified in the previous financial year are being plugged. An internal control is a matter that is taken very seriously with the executive management and the staff of Umalusi. On the verification of certificates, towards the end of the former administration there was an NQF Amendment Bill tabled that was opposed by Umalusi based on two clauses; one was that Umalusi can advise the Minister in consultation with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). This was found to be constraining and the organisation also felt gagged because whenever it had to advise the Minister it had to through SAQA. There were also instances where it had to advise the Minister but there was no support from SAQA. There might even have been conflict with SAQA itself in some cases.  

On verification, since the establishment of Umalusi it has being verifying qualifications issued by the entity itself as it had the database and the history of how a candidate attained the qualification. The NQF Bill was saying that SAQA will be empowered to do verification. This was opposed by Umalusi but in spite of all the efforts made, it was passed as an Act. However, the Act has not been promulgated for implementation.

On online and Distance Learning Centres, Umalusi has advised the Minister and made several presentations to the Minister about amending the legislation has to be to accommodate online and distant learning Centres. Umalusi is still waiting for the Department to get back to it about this. As it currently stands, there are three institutions Umalusi can quality assure and they are: schools according to the SASA Act, Adult education centres and FET colleges. They do not include online and distant education centres.

Regarding the vacancy rates Mr Rakometsi said that the two problematic areas were identified from the exit interviews, one of which is a high workload. Umalusi employees work long hours.  Umalusi is a small organisation that quality assures a big system, in fact it quality assures the whole country. Staff members are over stretched and if one came to the offices between 7pm and 10pm at night one would still find staff at their desks working. Some staff members even took leave to work at home because they were not coping with their workload. The organisation has a small budget and needs to expand their system and increase staff.  Staff members are experiencing burn out and as a result many choose to leave the organisation. When they do leave they are grateful to have time to spend with their families.  Those that leave tell others who are often attracted to follow suit.  This is very unpleasant and what happens afterwards is that institutional memory is lost.

Mr Rakometsi said that as the CEO he has spent 10 years at Umalusi and the majority of the known faces have left. 

Another issue identified is that the provincial education departments together with the two national departments are having two categories of employees: public servants and college school educators. College School (CS) educators are paid better because they have teaching qualifications and are doing work that demands professional qualifications. The founders of Umalusi did not make this distinction as they pay everybody as public servants. The Council has been told that those having teaching qualifications and are doing professional work have to be paid as CS educators. They agreed but were only able to provide a small budget to compensate the CS educators. If compensation was not possible those CS educators would be lost to provincial education departments because they were paid way better there. This situation has only been partially addressed because of budgetary constraints.  

On the certificate backlog with the colleges, this was due to the non-payment for certificates by private TVET colleges. The public TVET colleges do not pay for certificates because the Department provides an allocation which covers the certificates. The private TVET colleges charge students for certificates. Engagement is ongoing with the DG for Higher Education on this matter. Training on this matter is provided on a regular basis. Another issue worthy of mention is the reliability of data. At the point of certification of results, the data is different for different candidates. One cannot continue to have marks showing the student’s fluctuation because it questions the credibility of the system. On General Education Certificates (GEC), the Department has to submit the qualification to Umalusi to analyse quality assure and determine the level of the qualification. Once the Council is satisfied, it will then register the qualification with SAQA.

Mr Dumisani Maluleke, Senior Manager, SCM and Finance at Umulasi added that the vacancy rate was reduced from the 8% in the presentation to 6%. The entity is shedding staff at the Assistant Manager level. On the budget, the budget decline is related to sundry income not the main income. Revenue from the Department of Basic Education has increased by 5%.

SACE Response

Ms Mokgalane stated that foreign educators in the SACE register is about 11 000. There are processes that are undertaken in their registration and clearance. With regard to their fitness to practice in terms of character, they are still subjected to SAPS police clearance. SAQA has a process of evaluating and verifying foreign qualifications and the institutions where studies take place. They were the first to obtain police clearance before it was extended to include SA citizens. SACE also has an MOU with the Department of Home Affairs to weed out those with fraudulent permits. Inter-governmental relations are needed and the SACE is only able to feed into the Child Protection Register but is unable to access it. This is a legislative challenge because the Children’s Act states that only employers can access the register.  Therefore the SACE relies on ‘DG to DG’ protocol to get information. When the SACE reported what the Council had done with regard to the provincial offices, it was in relation to the 2018/19 financial year. The SACE has offices in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), Free State, Limpopo and the National Office. The Western Cape and the Eastern Cape have been approved. Community structures and School governing bodies are being involved in addressing issues of violence at schools because it is a societal problem. Another area being looked at is a formal interaction between Faith Based organisations and the SA Council of Churches so that positive messages could be spread through this platform. When sexual abuse cases are being dealt with, a learner is a learner in a school environment in terms of the SACE Act.  The strategy from next year will be to register student teachers from year one and the code of professional ethics is already being advocated for in higher education institutions. For the minimum requirements for a teacher qualification the Department of Higher Education and Training is looking into teacher practice from year one; so one needs to have jurisdiction from there going forward instead of waiting for them to graduate.

On the issue of some provinces not reporting, that gap has been identified and will be closed soon. The internal control measures will be strengthened. On corporal punishment in schools, the way it is being dealt with is with research being undertaken to identify the factors that exacerbate the situation. Presently the alternative approach to corporal punishment is very generic and does not work in all contexts. On the issue of the image of the teaching profession being affected negatively by the amount of violence in schools because of the absence of teachers in the classroom; that theory is not 100% correct. Teachers cannot be everywhere at all times in the school environment. With the regard to the stabbing of a learner by another learner in Gauteng recently, it was during the change of periods while the learners were outside when a fight ensued between two learners as they transitioned between classrooms. The scissors that was used in the stabbing incident is allowed because it is part of their stationery requirements.

Briefing on the NSC Examination Readiness 2019

Mr Rakometsi presented the Umalusi mandate and regulatory framework according to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act No. 67 of 2008. The mandated stated that Umalusi must develop and implement policy and criteria for assessment for the qualifications on its sub-framework.

State of Readiness approach

Umalusi adopted a Risk Management Based approach as its strategy to evaluate the level of preparedness of assessment bodies to conduct the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. The intention in making use of the strategy was for Umalusi to timeously identify the areas with potential risk, which may likely compromise the delivery of credible examinations.

Ms Mary-Louse Madalane, Senior Manager at Umalusi while presenting on the status of key examination processes said that the DBE Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) have finalised the registration of candidates and Umalusi has received the 2019 registration data. The DBE has submitted the registration data on behalf of all the nine PEDs. To-date, all candidates are registered with a unique examination number and are linked to an examination centre. The set question papers for the forth-coming examinations were moderated and approved by the end of August 2019. The PEDs commenced with the selection and appointment of marking personnel in May. It has been observed that the DBE is closely monitoring the process and Umalusi conducted the audit on the profiles of recommended markers.  Umalusi verified the capturing of the June 2019 Senior Certificate Amended (SCA) examination marks to determine the readiness of the assessment body to capture the examination marks.The following were found:

-The lack of consistency with the signing off of mark sheets and alterations on the mark sheet were noted in the Free State. If not addressed timeously, these notable challenges have the potential to compromise the authenticity of the captured marks.

-Manual verification of marks by one person without being verified by another official poses a serious risk as marks are likely to be manipulated. This was experienced in the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu Natal PEDs.

-Evidence of errors in the use of code “999’ and “444” was observed in the Eastern Cape.

-Shortage of data capturers in Eastern Cape was noted and this has the potential to delay the submission of marks on the set dates if not addressed in future. The PEDs have committed to address these challenges before the November 2019 examination.

Summary of Findings

Findings on the State of Readiness of the DBE to conduct, administer and manage the November 2019 examinations show that registration of full-time and part-time candidates has been completed by all provinces.

For the November 2019 NSC examination cycle, the following numbers depict the registration enrollments: (As received from the DBE)

  • Full-time candidates: 629 197 registered as at 30 September 2019;
  • Part-time candidates: 122 471 registered as at 30 September 2019;
  • Total number of examination centres: 6 914 (FT) and 3 904 (PT) and
  • Total number of marking centres: 141


-As compared to the 2018 full-time candidate enrolments (629 141), the 2019 enrolments show 53 more candidates.

-The following PEDs have the highest enrolment entries for writing the November 2019 full-time National Senior Certificate examinations:

  • KwaZulu Natal: 148 564 (2018: 151 932);
  • Gauteng: 112 917 (2018: 107 168);  
  • Limpopo: 94 907 (2018: 96 834); and
  • The Eastern Cape: 87 054 (2018: 85 371).



Umalusi verification of the state of readiness for the DBE was conducted from 11 September 2019 and completed on 01 October 2019.

Acceptable levels of readiness and measures are in place to ensure the conducting of credible examinations by all the DBE/PEDs and this is truly appreciated.

Based on the reports on the SOR, Umalusi is satisfied that the DBE, through the nine PEDs considering the level of readiness, is ready to conduct the 2019 NSC examinations.

Umalusi is confident that the assessment bodies will exercise their roles and responsibilities to ensure credible 2019 NSC examinations.

Umalusi will hold a media briefing on the state of readiness of the assessment bodies to conduct the November 2019 NSC examinations on 10 October 2019.


Ms Tarabella-Marchesi said that some private schools in KZN and the Eastern Cape were unhappy with the results of their business studies examinations.  They alleged that the textbooks they used were not the same as those used by public schools so markers were biased and aligned to the memorandum from public schools textbooks. These schools have also noticed a decline in the pass marks of their learners in the previous year as well. ‘What remedial actions have been put in place to ensure that this does not happen and what has been identified as the problems with regard to this issue? ‘Members understand that a new panel of examiners have been put in place for the 2019 examinations, so what are the reasons for this action’? ‘Has it got to do with a decline in pass mark in 2018’? There was also a form from the Department of Education that teachers have to fill in to indicate their availability to mark the exam scripts for business studies this year. What is alarming is that there is a question asking the teachers to specify whether they are SADTU members, a principal, a deputy principal and also if they belonged to the union.  There is no question about whether one is a teacher and the person’s qualifications.   

Ms King asked about the composition of the markers because in the Eastern Cape one must belong to a particular trade union to be nominated and that in itself is contributing to a shortage of markers in that province. There are 495 high risk exam centres, what measures are put in place to ensure exams run smoothly?

Ms N Adoons (ANC) appreciated the report and said that it shows that Umalusi is ready. On the unaccredited independent schools and information to that effect there is a plan B for learners to write the exams:  where will it end? ‘Is there a follow-up to accredit them or are they just going to continue to be operating as unaccredited institutions? ‘What about the townships schools where there are daily cases of service delivery protests’? Are these highlighted as a risk factor?   

Mr E Siwela (ANC) asked if there is provision in the application forms for markers to disclose their union affiliation. In Limpopo, it was stated that the provincial department takes long to resolve cases; ‘what happens to learners that are alleged to have committed those irregularities’? ‘What measures are in place to ensure that Umalusi speedily resolves these cases’? ‘On the shortage of markers, are we saying that there is a shortage of teachers to mark the exam scripts’?


Mr Rakometsi stated that all the weaknesses identified will be sent to the DG in writing before the commencement of the examinations. The specific weaknesses of a province will be sent to the SGs of the provinces, and those of the whole country will be sent to the DG. As with the case in previous years, when they received this kind of communication, they always took immediate steps to ameliorate the situation. One cannot go to the examinations after identifying the weaknesses and do nothing about it. The problems of business studies was brought to the attention of Umalusi at the beginning of this year and the entity has engaged with the Department in this regard, but whether the textbooks used to set the papers has been provided to the private schools, the organisation was unsure as it still has to be verified.  A meeting with the DG has been scheduled to sort out the issue but it has to be noted that Umalusi does not provide stationery and textbooks to schools because that falls within the ambit of the Department.  In terms of marker bias, the markers are approved in line with a memorandum signed off by Umalusi.  Their external moderators have to ensure that the marking memorandum represents all the textbooks that are used in the system. Umalusi has not changed the stream of moderators but what has changed is the Department’s stream of examiners because some of examiners’ contracts have expired. 

On the form spoken about, the CEO said that Umalusi has to be non partisan and will not subscribe to giving preference to any union in the appointment of markers.  The form itself is not an application form but a nomination form. In terms of the selection panel, the panel must include union members and in terms of the LRFC, it is SADTU and the CTU combined teachers unions that are recognised in the appointment of markers.  The form basically speaks about the candidates that are nominated and gives a summary of applicants recommended per school and this is signed by the Deputy Principal, the Principal and the member of the CTU and then SADTU unions. In a nutshell, on a school level for a person to be considered as a marker, the Principal has to certify that the person meets certain requirements. The Deputy Principal and the HOD also have to sign and the unions represented in the schools - which are principally CTU and SADTU - will also have to bring it to their Shop Stewards to sign to confirm that indeed that person is their member.  This is a transparent process because if it were to be done by only the Principal the union could disagree.

On the 495 risky exam centres, they are identified as such so that extra measures could be put in place to deal with them. For instance the Principal of such schools, who ordinarily is the Chief Invigilator, would not be in those schools. The Department will deploy someone neutral from outside to be resident invigilators in those schools to mitigate the risk. The schools that are not accredited have to come to the party to meet the criteria, failing which they cannot register their candidates going forward.   Service delivery protests are taken into consideration when the state of readiness process is being finalised and the department appeals to the public as it cannot as a country compromise the education of its children. Though there cannot be guarantees, the Department does however make those appeals to the communities. The Department also has backup question papers for students who for any reason could not write the exams at the time. On the shortage of markers, the sense is that there is a criteria and those who do not meet it will not be appointed.

Ms Zodwa Modimekwane, Executive Manager, Umalusi added to the issue of the shortage of markers, that the challenge arises in subjects that have more than one question paper like for example in languages that is comprised of three question papers and one teacher is responsible for teaching the subject. When it comes to marking such exam scripts, the Department will need three different people to mark it. It is also noted that during the state of readiness applicants for marking duties are declining because some of them prefer not to disrupt their holidays. They would rather be with their families at this time than working at the marking centres.

Mr Maluleke responded further by saying that on the question of high risk centres, the CEO has highlighted measures being put in place to mitigate the risk, and an audit was taking place with the provinces on how they could be closely monitored. The exam runs for six weeks, for the centres that are identified as high risk, the provinces have to monitor all the sessions in those centres. Some provinces have also established designated centres where officials from the Department will take over the entire exam centre to administer the exam. There will also be rotational monitors weekly or daily as they deem fit through an approved management plan. Contingency plans for disruptions that might occur has been put in place too where the SAPS and other security structures are also involved. All the high risk centres have been prioritised by Umalusi. On the issue of scanning being introduced by Mpumalanga Province; this is an additional innovation to strengthen the processes of script counting at the point when a candidate has just written an exam. What will happen when power is out is that the manual process will be activated across the province. When a candidate writes at a centre, the reconciliation of script is done manually at a centre level. So this process will curb the issue of lost scripts that could lead to the province asking for concessions on missing scripts at the end of the marking period.

The Chairperson thanked Committee Members and the delegation from Umalusi for a fruitful deliberation.

The meeting was adjourned.

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