Examination Readiness 2019: Department briefing

Basic Education

10 October 2019
Chairperson: Mbinqo-Gigaba, Ms B (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) met with the Committee to present the report on the state of readiness for the 2019 NSC examinations and provided the number of learners to indicate the size and shape of the basic education sector. The analysis of the assessments disclosed improved learning outcomes. However, the real challenge in our system is not so much about dropouts but the high failure and repetition rate.

The Committee heard that in 2019, 790 405 candidates will sit for this year’s National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination across 7416 examination centres. This includes 620 871 full-time candidates and 169 534 part-time candidates. The DBE as the public assessment body must ensure that the examinations are credible to ensure currency of the certificate.The DBE provided that their role is to ensure that the exams are credible, and the certificates are valid locally and internationally. It also presented the types of support given to learners for them to be ready and mentioned that the learner support organising themes are a package to support and ensure that learners learn well. The best practices which show the success of our programs include: Provinces and Districts engaging in deep level reflections and analysis; all Public Education Divisions (PEDs) developed extensive learner support plans and the significant improvement in data utilisation. Provincial Education Departments (PED’s) finalised the registration of candidates and examination centres. A total of 147 examination question papers for the 2019 November examination have been set and externally moderated by Umalusi. DBE has also finalised the moderation of the 2019 preparatory exams in ten key subjects. In the ongoing process certain functions relating to certification and registration have been delegated to districts in particular PED’s to decentralise. DBE is also in the process of standardising district structures and roles and responsibilities.

For registration purposes, the DBE declared that learners must provide ID’s for them to sit for exams. All the independent centres have been audited, and in cases of centres that do not comply, exams will be managed by the PED. Concerning question paper development, question papers are subjected to in-house quality assurance and fairness review to ensure language is of appropriate standard and accessible to all learners, free of any bias and errors. The PED has implemented a smart locking logic system where the security bags are locked centrally and can only be opened at a designated time which is a few minutes prior to the examination.  The DBE provided that adaptations for the blind, deaf   and partially sighted are currently in progress and a state of readiness survey was conducted by the PED’s among the 15 schools that offer South African Sign Language HL at Grade 12 for 2019.Preparation exam papers in 11 key subjects across eight PEDs were moderated by DBE moderators. Agricultural Sciences were included for the first time in 2019 and feedback reports were provided with each moderation phase. To monitor quality assurance measures relating to marking, DBE will monitor the PED’s to ensure they undertake the monitoring of the quality measures.

Members asked about the number of learners that are in the system. What could be done to promote vocational education? They spoke about the security of the question papers, norms and standards the Department had set up. What was being done in the Free state concerning security of question papers as the situation could lead to all sorts of challenges in the exam process. They referred to shortage of markers in certain subjects, and recalled that Umalusi had taouched on it the previous day. They asked about the interventions DBE had put in place to ensure that each subject has sufficient markers?  The DBE provided that when it comes to the issue of learners to opt for vocational work, there are about 55 colleges and 60 campuses. NSFAS is supposed to insulate these learners there. It also provided that Business Studies will be split into two papers and information on international bursaries will be disseminated in provinces and not just by public bodies.

Meeting report

Presentation by the Department of Basic Education (DBE)

Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Director-General: Department of Basic Education, took the Committee through a progress report on the state of readiness by the Department for the 2019 National Senior Certificate Examinations. He provided the number of learners, educators and schools in the ordinary school sector by province in 2018. This information was to indicate the size and shape of the basic education sector. He also provided a number of full time and part-time centres in each province as well as the number of full time and part-time correctional service centres. In Free State, the analysis of the assessment data demonstrates improved learning outcomes. The KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and North West provinces have been able to track learner performance from Grade 1 to 12 in every subject for quarter one and two. The analysis of the assessment also demonstrates improved learning outcomes. However, the real challenge in the system was not so much about dropouts. The major challenge is failure and repetition rate. A lot of learners are trapped into the system, and people think that if they do not come out of Grade 12 after 12 years they have dropped out. That is not the truth. Some learners are trapped in the system as they take more than 12 years to finish school. The report will also be presented to Umalusi in a much more updated version. On the 16th of December, the Department will be presenting to Umalusi an evidence-based report on this.

Learner Readiness

Ms Mantlhake Maboya: Department of Basic Education, presented the types of support given to learners to prepare them for their exams. The learner support organising themes are a package to support and ensure that learners learn well. The Department has four prpgrammes categorised in four quarters. In term 1, assessment data is used to firm up plans for the ensuing year. In term 2, DBE monitors the impact of interventions to improve learning outcomes. The Deparment assesses the state of readiness for the end of the year in term 3. Lastly, the Department administrates examinations (NSC and Internal) and plan for the coming year. The focus areas include teacher development, ICT utilisation, past exam papers, and psycho-social development. The best practices which show the success of the Department’s programmes are:

  • Provinces and Districts engaged in deep level reflections and analysis;
  • All Provincial Education Departments developed extensive learner support plans;
  • Significant improvement in data utilisation;
  • Improved tracking of performance per subject per grade and profiling of each cohort improved
  • Siyavula textbooks are available to all schools. Both grade 10 Physical Sciences and Mathematics textbooks are considered impressive.

ICT provision and Support programmes include the following:

  • Offline e-textbooks
  • Distribution of digital content to Provinces;
  • The DBE developed a repository of electronic curriculum aligned/enriched content resources including study guides; interactive workbooks; free core textbooks and videos. These resources were provided to PEDs for distribution to schools through ICT initiatives;     
  • DBE provided state-owned digital textbooks and has developed grade 12 Physical sciences and Mathematics textbooks in English and Afrikans;         
  • DBE website content distribution. There are 1 752 823 users between January and June 2019;
  •  Broadcasting Grade 12 Exam Revisions on DBE TV channel

The recommendations were as follows: some targets were one dimensional (focused on pass percentage) rather than quality, especially in GET; intensify support in the GET phase;GET strategy and support plans to be expanded in all provinces; and increasing accountability measures at all levels. The summary trends in learner performance for high enrolment subjects was as follows: Economics performance either remained the same or dropped in comparison to 2018. In most provinces, Business Studies performance remained stable in comparison to 2018. Performance in History improved in most provinces in term 2 of 2019. Geography performance remained stable in 2019 in comparison to 2018. EFAL performance dropped in a number of provinces in term 2 in 2019.

System Readiness

Mr Paddy Padayachee, Chief Directorate: Financial and Physical Planning, Information and Management Systems, Department of Basic Education (DBE) indicated that the Department’s role is to ensure that the exams are credible, and the certificates are valid locally and internationally. He outlined the processes the DBE would undertake from readiness to the setting of papers, moderation, printing and monitoring. Currently, South Africa has a high level of examination integrity, and the examination system is comparable to the best in the world. National Senior Certificate (NSC) is a qualification that is internationally recognised. Question papers are benchmarked with Cambridge International Examinations and University South Africa (USAf). Currently, there is a continuous improvement in security of question papers from origination to writing as well as marking quality strategies.

Provincial Education Departments (PED’s) finalised the registration of candidates and examination centres. A total of 147 examination question papers for the 2019 November examination have been set and externally moderated by Umalusi. DBE has also finalised the moderation of the 2019 preparatory exams in ten key subjects. In the ongoing process certain functions relating to certification and registration have been delegated to districts in particular PED’s to decentralise. DBE is also in the process of standardising district structures and roles and responsibilities.

For registration purposes, the DBE declared that learners must provide ID’s for them to sit for exams. All the independent centres have been audited, and in cases of centres that do not comply, exams will be managed by the PED. Concerning question paper development, question papers are subjected to in-house quality assurance and fairness review to ensure language is of appropriate standard and accessible to all learners, free of any bias and errors. The PED has implemented a smart locking logic system where the security bags are locked centrally and can only be opened at a designated time which is a few minutes prior to the examination.  The DBE provided that adaptations for the blind, deaf   and partially sighted are currently in progress and a state of readiness survey was conducted by the PED’s among the 15 schools that offer South African Sign Language HL at Grade 12 for 2019.

Preparation exam papers in 11 key subjects across eight PEDs were moderated by DBE moderators. Agricultural Sciences were included for the first time in 2019 and feedback reports were provided with each moderation phase. To monitor quality assurance measures relating to marking, DBE will monitor the PED’s to ensure they undertake the monitoring of the quality measures. DBE also ensured that all candidates receive their certificates three months after the release of results.

The present generic risks include high community protest actions resulting in exams not being written as candidates will not be able to access venues. Another risk is inadequate monitoring of the writing of examinations. However, PED will ensure official deployment of staff to monitor NSC exams, as priority and DBE will closely monitor the effective utilisation of monitors across PED’s.

Discussion

The Chairperson gave Members an opportunity to interact with the presentation. She thanked the DBE for their detailed presentation. This was an addition to the Umalusi presentation received yesterday

Ms C King (DA) thanked the DBE for an insightful presentation. She spoke about the security of the question papers, norms and standards the Department had set up. What was being done in the Free State concerning security of question papers as the situation could lead to all sorts of challenges in the exam process. She referred to shortage of markers in certain subjects, and recalled that Umalusi had touched on it the previous day. She asked about the interventions DBE had put in place to ensure that each subject has sufficient markers?  Also on the age categories, where do the correctional service students fit in? How many learners were in the system, the second chance writers?  The Department was doing a good job.

Ms N Tarabella Marchesi (DA) thanked the Chairperson, Dr Maboya and Dr Padayachee. She expressed confidence that the Department was going to do well as it had done over the years. She asked about the repetition rate. What is the actual repetition rate from Grades 1 up to 12? What is the acceptable rate of failure? Was there a study done and have we compared ourselves with other countries to see where we stand in terms of repetition? She asked whether the Department believed at some stage that should be put as some kind of indicator and have a programme to specifically look at how to reduce the failure rate. She noted that the Department had said learners must have their ID’s and they will be accepted. What happens to learners who have passports? Can they use their passports? When DBE was talking about ID’s are passports included as a form of identification?

Mr T Malatyi (ANC) started by acknowledging that the presentation was of high quality and it showed that there is a lot of work that was done. The report on technical subjects shows that there is a lot of work that has to be done. There has to be more investment into technical subjects in the next financial year. Every learner must leave with at least one technical subject. After the pronouncement of the President, there is a need to ensure that each and every school at least has one technical subject. On the report, there is an issue of modulation in which the learners are able to take subjects according to what they can carry. How was it impacting the readiness and learners moving forward? The other issue is that of releasing the results. Independent schools seem to get their results before the public schools. This gives the learners from independent schools an advantage in higher institutions of learning. The Department needs to ensure that public schools also receive their results the same time. There should be equality. Those who are privileged get their results before those who are not privileged. Those who are privileged will occupy institutes of higher learning before those who are not privileged hence the need to find a way of resolving this.

Mr E Siwela (ANC) welcomed the presentation and commented on the age groups of candidates. He wanted to know whether the 23-year-olds attending classes with 17-year-olds were part-time candidates. He asked if the visits to centres by the DG was intensive or merely a touch and go exercise.

Ms N Gladys (ANC) welcomed the presentation and said a lot of good work has been done. On the budget that was utilised during the preparations, Dr Padayachee indicated on the payment that was done by the National Treasury but what about the entire budget? Was it budgeted sufficiently, be it by provinces or the Department itself? The Committee would need a presentation on the learners that are trapped in the system. This needed to be sorted out and solutions in dealing with that had to be found.

The Chairperson said that she has an interest in the students that were writing NSC at the age of 15. Were they too clever? She applauded the support that the Department was giving to the matric candidates. It is the support that they need particularly for winter and summer. She believed that support should not only be for matric candidates, but the Department should also start to consider providing that support from grade 8 learners. That support should be given from grade 8 up to matric automatically. Support and resources should not only be dedicated to one grade. On the Program Information Reports 2018, it was noted that 78% of learners could not read in their mother tongue. What are the plans to improve the situation and reduce the percentage because it is a bit high? On page 65 there is a slide indicating that the quality of teaching is on 54% which is good, but then what were the indicators used for that? For interest sake how do we benchmark the UK systems with our certificate because they use O’ levels and A’ levels which are different from our system, how then do we benchmark them with our certificate? As a matter of interest, on the 78,2% national percentage, the Department actually went back to 2013, and had been moving below that. Were there projections for any improvement? Are we going to get 80% or more? Is the DBE going up or down?

Mr Mweli thanked Members for their compliments. In the past, DBE used to say provinces should do what is expected of them. It does not go that way as the DBE must work with provinces. The approach of the Minister is that there is little that is done in Pretoria so DBE must go down and strengthen policy implementation. All assessments of the current administrations and previous administration led to one major shortcoming which is implementation. That is why DBE was trying to go down the value chain to make implementation happen. DBE goes out for oversights and visits to provinces. The Department had furnished the Committee with so much data on trends. Quarters 1 and 2 were better predictors than all others. These were the projections that provinces are giving themselves. He expressed cautious optimism, and believed that improvement comes from hard work; at least in education. On benchmarking with other countries, the world is conventional which enables comparisons. When analysing grades, equivalencing is used to enable comparisons across the globe. Sooner or later the learners will be able to do that on their own because DBE had become part of the global village. Standardisation might as well go out of the window with the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. As for competence-based and skills and assessment-based skills, the learners might be able to assess themselves.

Mr Mweli said the Department has a comprehensive strategy for reading which has nine pillars at the fullness, and will be presented before the Committee. Improvements in education take time. He was   cautious of political expediency because Members were not here forever but for only five years. Improvements in education take time thus the need to check whether the country was moving in the right direction through action research and so on. He agreed support should be present to all grades, but the focus was on grade 12. Umalusi is interested in what happened in 12 years or 13 years of schooling even before school. This is because the Department has to know if these learners were school ready when they come to school and those instruments were being developed that will be able to show if the learners are school ready. That is the level of sophistication the Department was dealing with. Running education was becoming more sophisticated than flying an aeroplane. For people who are going to manage education standards, they are going to be very high. It is becoming a sophisticated area of work. The general education and training band becomes a focus, in other words grade R to grade 9. Dr Maboye and provinces have prioritised that area. The weakest area in the system is grade 7 to grade 9. Part of the reason is that it is part of two systems, primary school and high school. Some provinces have shifted their resources of focus on either primary school or high school.  DBE is now focusing on GEC. The presentation on GEC will provide information on repetition rate per grade. The Department has that information in abundance, and also conducts school monitoring surveys every two years or three years. The issue of learners writing at the age of 15 means that schools do not always adhere to the admission policy. There are complications around that. A couple of years ago there was an argument about whether learners should start school at the age of 7 or earlier than 7. When DBE insisted parents took us to court, and they could prove that their children were capable at the age of 6. At the age of 7, it is compulsory for a child to go to school. They can actually attend school before that age if parents can prove that their child had the appropriate ECD programme. The danger is that it is likely to favour middle class than the impoverished. There is a case of a student who started medicine at age 15 because the parents could afford to get that child ready for school early.

Concerning learners who are trapped, DBE was criticised when the Council of Education signalled that they were coming with automatic progression for grade 1 to 3. This is an international phenomenon. Most countries like Finland are not in favour of retaining learners. It does not make any educational and economic sense to retain learners. The SA system, over the years, has been punitive. There is a belief that learners can perform better if they are retained. However research proves that for some learners, confidence levels take a toll if they are retained. Some of them tend to perform worse for the rest of their lives. In Gauteng 30% of the learners were retained in grade 1. Gauteng is one of the best performing provinces. What value does it bring to the system? Learners in the foundation phase should enjoy school. Things like retaining them should be unheard of. At that age they need to enjoy school, school must be home. School must be more enjoyable than home. It is how many countries are heading the system. There is automatic progression. I want our journalists to point that DBE collected data and put it out. The Department came up with the policy on progressed learners. While learners were being retained, other countries are progressing. Other countries are not doing that. We have been retaining learners in the system for 15 to 20 years. GCE presentations will share a lot of data on that. That debate can be taken up again at that point. DBE will be able to provide information on failure and dropout rates. As Mr Padayachee pointed out, part of their problems are structural. Over the years SA’s education system was only based on two streams. Over 90% has been academic streams, 10% of learners as vocational.DBE knows that universities do not have the capacity to take 20% of learners who meet the requirements of universities. There are 26 universities in this country and they do not have that capacity. Even if they had the capacity SA does not need so many for the economy. Other countries are channelling learners towards vocational and occupational streams. GEC tries to direct the learners where the economy needs them. The numbers are decreasing, as mentioned by Mr Malatji. Part of the problem is that in society, there is a belief that if children do vocational and occupational programs they are not intellectually gifted. There is a view that they work with their hands and not use their brains. This is a fallacy of unprecedented proportions. Some people have the brains on their hands by the way. The fourth industrial revolution is about these skills. If you do not have them you do not have the future. You do not have a competitive edge now and in future.

Mr Mweli said he used to be in provinces. The impact of budget cuts on running the education system was shown in th presentation. Provinces have improvised the hours of work, but the risk is confronted when the worst happens. This is when the monitoring that was supposed to happen does not happen. That is when DBE realises that it does not have money. In the outer years provinces are getting in the red. Close to R7 billion was lost from Masidi. When work is being done, officials finish when learners go to sleep. DBE works throughout the week and throughout the weekend. It took the Department close to about 11 to 15 days. It was not five days. The entire team only stopped when the centres closed. DBE wants to cover as many centres as possible. When it comes to 23-year-old’s and 26-year-old’s in the same class, some of them might be in prison. However it is not an anomaly. DBE becomes worried when 16-year-olds are in the same class as 8 or 7-year-olds. Members should not be worried if a 23-year-old is in the same class as a 26-year-old. It then shows that the progression is not as usual. On DBE benchmarking with other countries, he would have to check the data and revert back to the Committee. SA’s retention rate is high as compared to other countries. For instance, Ethiopia has a population of about 110 million but about 30 million are learners in the system. Only 6% of those go to high school. There have been public debates on how to release the results. There are views for and against the publication. There is no evidence that publishing the results leads to unfortunate incidents such as suicide. The release of the results of the IB would probably look at that. Mr Padayachee will answer to that. IB had about between 10 and 12,000 learners. Regarding Multiple Examination Opportunities (MEO’s), this is the last year it will be part of history. There will not be learners who will modularise going. The Council of Education ministers pronounced on this. Technical education is the way to go, and the learners who have done technical education are paid far more than other professionals. In other countries there are even paid more than doctors. As public citizens we are going to get members of the civilian society and parents to buy into the idea of getting the learners to do technical occupational and vocational work.

Mr Mweli, on the issue of the passports, said as SA is a democratic country, we must also be careful not to open up for factors that may undermine our sovereignty. Other countries have very stringent measures in protecting their systems. You either meet those requirements, or there is no compromise. When I am in another country other than my country I really feel like a foreigner. From just touching the ground I really feel that I’m a foreigner and I do not belong there. I do not want to say much about this because the recent developments in our country were not pleasant. Otherwise all that I’m trying to say is that we must run our country in such a way that sovereignty of our country is not undermined. Issues of fraud should not happen because we do not open the system. He agreed with Ms Marchesi. The DBE will avail the information on repetition for all grades. On the security of question papers, shortage of markers comes with the opportunity to also deal with this challenge. It is indeed real and Members’ observations are spot on. DBE is not able to find markers in other subjects. E-marking will solve this problem. Second chance matriculants are dealt with as part-time students. Their results will reflect on part-time candidates. They do not write all of the seven subjects some write two or three. DBE allows them to write as many as they want to without restrictions.

Dr Maboya addressed issues raised by the Chairperson. On the indicators used to observe classroom lessons, DBE has developed a tool with indicators, and the key one is the issue of content knowledge as well as the confidence that the teacher has when delivering knowledge. DBE also looks at the appropriate use of methods of delivering that content. How the teacher interacts with the learners is also considered. These are the few indicators that are uses. DBE also corroborates whatever information it gets. On the pre-and post-tests that are returned by the learners, these allow the DBE to compare their performance before and after the lesson. This can also assure the quality of teaching that DBE is talking about. On the issue that 76% of learners cannot read especially in their home language, the DBE put in place an integrated sector claim that will be a guide going forward. The Minister will be in KZN where there is a summit. DBE wants to adopt a district approach to the issue of reading. Particular attention was being paid to the reading. There are a number of pillars that speak to teacher development. A number of teachers do not have the methodology to teach reading for meaning. DBE also realised that most of schools do not have sufficient text materials for learners to read. There is a number of pillars that inform the plan. DBE was more than happy to come and present the plan and strategy.

Mr Padayachee indicated that there are security issues involved with leaving the papers with the chief examiner. What the Department was doing is automating but not holistically. The criteria that is there is that you have to be teaching matric and your learners must have performed above 60%. That creates a shortage of markers. DBE was not going to allow the time for marking to be extended to the 14th. DBE is considering the marking period between the 8th and the 5th. On the issue of ID’s, foreign learners need their passports but South African learners are not going to carry passports. If their ID is not available, then they use the passport. The issue is about cheating, but this is curbed during the November examinations. That is when police services are considered. Since the child will be there the whole year the invigilators must know their children. This is because DBE does not want to deprive the learners who were supposed to write their right and then later realising that they were supposed to write. On unregistered learners, all the learners are basically registered online or even by the school. After a particular date there is a cut-off at which you would not be allowed to write. The numbers are not that big but then sometimes when you don’t have problems you want to make problems. In Gauteng learners are allowed to write even if they register late because they consider that it is in the best interests of the child. However, the law does not allow this. In addition, the punishment for irregularities is more than that of those who steal money. We ban children for 2 to 3 years from writing exams, and that is before they even start their life. Happy faces are present because there are learners who were registered. Only a small number did not manage to register, and this is because they cannot write.

On the release of results, there is no real advantage that is involved because learners apply on time. The universities actually consider the grade 11 results for them to give you a place. Their traditional period is prior to the New Year. DBE basically schedules it based on the readiness and the fact that DBE needs to make a public announcement. DBE actually consider doing this before Christmas because of the stress that prevails on the examiners. There is no disadvantage to anybody who has applied. The final result only confirms the provisional places. DBE is very transparent when it comes to sharing our information. The US would never give us information about South African learners in their system. The issue is whether you will be denied admission and what happens later. Approval of examination bodies also happens at the same time. People have to ask, Umalusi on the presentation on examination bodies. The publication process changed but DBE does not publicise information even on the statement of results. The number for Childline is there if one feels like the results were poor. If the TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) results do not come out on time nobody asks. On certification, Eastern Cape had 40 000 certificates that were delayed. There were problems with printing and DBE had to answer it. DBE has to concede the backup plans on blackouts. The issue about a 23-year-old being in the same class with a 26-year-old is because of repetition. These were presumably special need learners.

On the budget, the National Treasury is not involved. The bulk of the money spent in provinces, DBE would pay for its moderators and examiners, and it does not do any printing. DBE would have been more efficient, but it is costly. It would cost between R3-5 billion just for the grade 12’s . That would include the salaries of people who mark and so on. There are foreign nationals that come to study in South Africa, and it is more favourable for them to study here. It is the same thing with A-levels, that if a child has written Cambridge they have more points. Interprofessional Education(IPE) provides that our learners do more subjects than those in other countries. It is a perception that everything that is either American or European is better and mechanism to compare the different qualifications is there. SA has bursaries from Germany and France, but SA does not have enough learners going there. DBE actually have agreements with those other countries for South Africans to go and study there. When they go overseas there is some benchmarking that takes place. I think we have covered all the questions Chair.

Mr Mweli mentioned that Mr Padayachee said that the usual about the different age groups of learners is concerning special needs of other learners. There are two possibilities to this, some of them could start early, and some of them could have started late. It is not age-appropriateness that matters; it is cognitive readiness for them to get into the system. The Auditor General does not quite understand this. However, experts in special education will be able to articulate this.

The Chairperson invited follow-up questions.

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) thanked the DG for the presentation and the hard work. Yesterday the Committee met with the social development, and she took the liberty to ask about the Community Development (CD) programme in the Eastern Cape and KZN. They put the correlation with what is the National Defence Academy (NDA) is trying within communities because one of the things we have highlighted in social development is the problem that the NDA has with the feasibility of the programme as well as intactness of the programme. It could be a solution to run the CD programme through NDA. The competency of facilitation is within the social development, and it could be an excellent success story to link it. She mentioned that to the Minister and the DG. She wanted to jump up and down when DBE started talking about vocational training. One of the few things that were highlighted in  the Commonwealth was a need for Africa to transform the education system. It was also mentioned that the root cause of our high unemployment rate in Africa is our education system. SA children go to school and at the end of that very few manage to get to university. There really is a need for a strong drive to transform our education system. We need to take up the cause of changing the minds of our people. I came out of recruitment in human resources. Most of the people used to work for some companies like Eskom, and people who did not finish matric, they ended in grade 10, they did technical skills, and they work for those companies and become the engineers. They construct our roads and bridges. The other issue is a gap in secondary education which is because most of the skill development or development of human beings, leads to our people doing masters, and after that they move into corporate. Learners are not exposed to psychometric tests and skills that will take them somewhere after grade 10. They will not develop the skills that will take them into the fourth Industrial Revolution. There is need to celebrate SA education system and look at the gaps. In terms of the bursaries overseas, this is not known to Members. Even our constituents do not even know. I think there must be an awareness scheme.

Ms Tarabella Marchesi mentioned that if the learners take the opportunities that they have they do have advantages and benefits from the programme. If the learners do have the grade 9 certificate they might not see the need to go to colleges. There is a problem with finding enough teachers to mark. Was DBE considering electronic marking and a centralised system? Another issue discussed with Umalusi is that of business studies. In 2017 and 2018, there was a decline in Business Studies results. Many people were not happy about it, even the private schools. In South Africa the majority is black people even in private schools. It seems if you say private schools you are protecting white people, but there are also black people. Those schools contacted Members. Some schools in the Eastern Cape contacted Ms King. The textbooks that they were using were not the same that was used in public schools, and they ended up failing the exams. They also said that the teachers that were marking the papers did not have sufficient knowledge of the subject. I would like to have clarity on that. There is also the issue of the panel of the National certificate that has been changed. How far true is that? I would like to have clarity on that.

Ms King said she is interested in the e-marking. When they are multiple-choice questions we end up having closed memos. In other questions, some children will say what you want them to say but differently. She agreed with Ms Sukers that when it comes to vocational education, people misunderstand the grade 9 certificate. The concern is when learners go the public school route how will they be able to afford. When you go to another school after finishing grade 9 you have to pay to get to grade 10, 11 and 12. Is there a concession put in place should the learner opt to go that route.

Mr Mweli said that the Department is going to provide an avalanche of international comparisons and the comparability of GEC and what other countries are doing. Not even in SADC, for example Zimbabwe next door, they have an equivalent of that. They have one of the best education systems in Africa, and they compare very well with the world. Their economy and politics is something else, but their education system is one of the best. He agreed with Ms King and added that sometimes when DBE is trying to explain people think that its defending itself. Professors who are eminent leaders of the society mislead the society, and yet they are supposed to be assisting the civil society in understanding. When it comes to learners opting for vocational work, there are about 55 colleges and 60 campuses. They are public institutions, and 55 are independent. NSFAS is supposed to insulate these learners there. Some of the learners when they go to university they do not cope. There is a logical explanation, at school level you get books for free, you get transport and tuition. You would, therefore, proceed to university, and you do not get that. You go to TVET, and suddenly you do not have all that. 9.7 million benefits from provision by the government. In 2015 when DBE visited Zimbabwe, they were e-marking in Mathematics and English. With time DBE will be able to mark electronically, not only multiple-choice questions but also essay questions. The computer will be able to read all handwritings. In Zimbabwe there are other three or four subjects that they are doing e- marking in. Kenya as well has piloted on e-marking. She agreed with Ms Marchesi to some extent. It is an issue of a paradigm shift. We have socialised around blue-collar work. That is what our education system has been preparing us for. You get into an institution so that when you get out of there, you afford a suit and a tie. If you wear a coat it means you are not educated enough although you could be doing something better than somebody who is wearing a tie and a suit. Therefore, TVETs are institutions of last resort. The paradigm shift has not happened. Hence, the Minister once talked about the architecture of the education system. We have a three-stream system to prepare human resources for this country. The system has implications for the current operation of TVETS. Some TVETs offer higher certificates and diplomas like technikons we had in the past. If our technical schools are ready, TVET must get out of the schooling space and go into post-schooling. National Certificate Vocational (NCV) is a waste of time as it is an equivalent of grade 12. Those are the changes that the ministers are coming up with. DBE had received complaints of business studies which were received by Umalusi. When things change people throw mud and say the panel changed, this and that. Some of the changes are that question papers are no longer as predictable as they used to be. It is not only Business Studies. Things might get better next year because Accounting and Business Studies are going to be split into two papers. However we also know that when Economics was split into two papers, the pass rate went down. If papers are split it is not a guarantee that the pass rate will be better. He would pursue the issue of the NDA. He appreciated the advice from Members. DBE does get information from countries like China and India when they say they have got so much space for learners and DBE communicates with the provinces. Consideration must be given to communicating through public means, not just public bodies.

Mr Padayachee, on questions relating to Business Studies, said the panel was not changed. Three members of the panel resigned. There was a comprehensive investigation, and it is only business studies that had this problem.  The paper was set using the mind and gap. The papers were remarked not just for this school but for all those who complained. Those who were not happy with the marks applied for remarking as well. The paper was not based on any particular textbook. At the beginning of the year we issue exam guidelines. Teachers will be told the areas that will be covered. The exam guideline does not cover everything. As the DG mentioned that some subjects are too vast. Some of the public schools will buy a textbook that does not suit the curriculum. There are many factors that we looked at, but we also considered that the results have been dropping. Umalusi did not give us an upward adjustment.  In 2009 we had a very bad physical science paper. Umalusi made the maximum adjustment. We had students who believed that they could get distinctions, but they could not get them. It is possible to make an argument for any paper if you want to. On the e-marking issue, if it is a multiple-choice question the computer will do the work. That is a programming matter. The significant change will be how the paper is set and how the programming is done. We also have security issues when other people use your code. We also have to change our regulations to incorporate new technology. That is on the way, and the next 24 months something will be up.

The Chairperson thanked the Department and his team.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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