The Department briefed the Committee on the 2018/19 Annual Report. Issues raised by the Department include the improved performance of the Department, an increase in the bachelor passes, collaboration with social partners to improve access to quality education for disenfranchised communities, and the implementation of the inclusive education programme.
Challenges include the five-percent budget cut by the National Treasury and rapid immigration to the province which is not accompanied with the requisite funding to accommodate new population numbers and their needs for schooling.
Committee Members raised questions relating to the effectiveness of Departmental programmes, how the Department is effecting transformation and diversity in its Senior Management, and school safety and school infrastructure in poor areas.
Members of the public were also afforded an opportunity to give input regarding the Annual Report.
Member of the Executive Committee (MEC or Minister) for Education: Debbie Schafer, reported that the Department has committed itself to three important objectives in its strategic plan for 2015 – 2019: improving the level of language and mathematics in all schools, increasing the number and quality of National Senior Certificate (NSC) passes, and increasing the quality of education provision in poorer communities.
The briefing further outlined the key achievements, challenges and the Department’s strategic outlook for the future. Among the achievements the Minister mentioned the improvement in the matric pass rate. She lauded the Department for achieving a quality pass rate, given the number of Bachelor passes received by learners in the Western Cape during the 2018 NSC examinations. The Western Cape achieved 42% of bachelor passes in 2018. Even though the bachelor passes are still below 50%, the province achieve more bachelor passes than any other province in South Africa. Adding to the achievement, the Minister reported that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) obtained a clean audit in 2017/18 for the fourth consecutive year.
Some of the challenges relate to the National Treasury (NT) allocation that does not factor in increasing immigration numbers in the Province. The Department is struggling to meet some of its mandatory obligations such infrastructural demands and increased number of human resources required. The Minister also stressed the commitment of the WCED to redressing the gap between school in affluent areas and those in disenfranchised areas. This can be accomplished through the provision of e-learning to schools in disenfranchised communities. E-learning is accompanied by a strong focus on a professional development programme for teachers in the targeted areas.
In 2018, the Department introduced the Western Cape Provincial School Education (WCPSE) Amendment Bill, which was passed by the Provincial Parliament in November 2018 and assented by the Premier in December 2018. The Bill’s strategic focus areas include; the establishment of the School Evaluation Authority (SEA), which will be responsible for the development and implementation of school quality assessment framework in the Western Cape; make a special provision for the establishment of collaboration and donor funded school, with a particular focus on poor communities as one of the measures of redressing inequalities among the schools in the province; provide for an exception to the prohibitions of alcohol on school premises, on application to the Head of Department (HOD) for adult events after hours.
Mr Brian Schreuder, Superintendent General, WCED, said that e-learning was used as a crucial lever to give access to the skills of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). E-learning is aimed at reducing inequality with the provision of education in the province. Another lever mentioned is the Departmental focus on instilling good values and changing attitudes to learning for both learners and educators. During 2018/19, the Department received satisfactory audit outcomes with key issues of qualification which related to the issues of administration at school level. He further reported that the Department managed to maintain good labour relations and partnership with all labour unions.
Mr F Christians (ACDP) asked the Department to clarify the key audit outcomes for the year under review. He also enquired about the independence of the SEA, seeing that it is appointed by the Minister.
Mr M Sayed (ANC) asked whether the Department can give assurances that the provision of the new Schools Bill that is related to liquor licences is not going to be abused. He further enquired whether the Department has a succession plan for the retirement of the current HOD.
Mr M Kama (ANC) said that the current Departmental organogram is not a reflection of a good gender balance. It is mostly made up of men, and Mr Kama wanted to know whether the Department has interventions to remedy the situation. He further enquired about the Department’s interventions to improve school performance in mathematics.
Mr R Allen (DA) enquired about the Departmental interventions or programmes to hold School Governing Bodies (SGB) accountable in order to improve learning in school.
Mr M Xhego (EFF) asked for reasons for under spending in critical areas of disability grant and technology grant. He asked why there was a lack of representation of African and women in the Department.
The Chairperson asked about the impact of the new Bill in relation to the attraction of new investments and new resource to the schools from private sector and the donor community.
Mr G Bosman (DA) wanted to know whether the Department is developing its own e-learning platforms.
The Minister said that given the responsibilities of the SEA, it was decided that the same should have dual lines of accountability accounting both to the Minister and the Superintendent General.
The Minister clarified that the SEA will develop an independent and transparent school evaluation framework and it will be void of any political interference.
The Minister further asserted that with regard to provisions in the new Bill that deal with permission for the use of liquor on school premises, the Department seeks to get rid of the mentality that government has to make all the decisions. This is done to allow SGBs to discharge their role and make choices in the interest of their school.
Mr Schreuder elaborated that the provisions outline a clear process that must be followed by a school to apply for the use of liquor on school premises for adult after school hours.
Mr Schreuder said that the gender disparities in the Department are historical. However, the Department has initiated various initiatives to promote diversity of senior management. The Department has been struggling to attract quality applications when positions have been advertised. The Department will be looking on factors that are responsible for its failure to attract Africans into senior management roles. Several internal leadership development programmes are also implemented to promote internal progression of staff. Regarding improvement of mathematic performance in schools, Mr Schreuder said that the Department has entered in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with a range of key stakeholder and strategic partners.
According to Mr Schreuder the Department has developed strategies to improve mathematics and language in schools. The strategies are aimed at getting the foundations right in maths and language subjects. Through the strategy, the Department seeks to focus on the professional development of teachers and assistants. In addition, a grade R mathematics programme has also been introduced to focus the training of the teachers. The progression of teachers is being monitored by utilising the data received through regular examination of learners. Furthermore, the Department organises competitions such as ‘Growth Smart’ to encourage learners to perform and also to change their attitude toward learning.
Mr Schreuder acknowledged that there were instances where SGBs were found to be exceeding their powers and meddling in domains that are outside their competency. The Department would request that the SEA identifies areas that lead to current challenges. The Superintendent General is also empowered to intervene to resolve such matters.
On the issues of under spending on specific grants in 2018/19, there are mainly reflecting instances where services were secure, payment commitments also made but were yet to be affected. In these instances, the Department has applied for roll-overs of funds. And all the roll-overs were approved.
Mr Schreuder said that the Department did not create its own platform, it is utilising existing platforms that are free and available.
Committee Members were afforded an opportunity to ask follow-up questions.
Mr Bosman asked about the criteria that is utilised to select schools that participate in the collaboration schools pilot.
Mr Christians asserted that there been challenges with the composition of School Governing Bodies in ‘collaboration schools’.
Mr Sayed asked if the Department has plans in place to fill the ‘Acting’ posts and whether the plans were factoring in transformation imperatives and secession planning.
Mr Christians enquired about the Department’s plans to ensure continuous improvement in the targeted areas of learning.
Ms N Makamba-Botya (EFF) wanted to know if the Department has plans in place to close the gap between schools situated in the affluent areas and those in poor areas.
Mr Bosman asked if the Department has other programmes for schools that are not chosen to be part of the Edu-Collaboration sites.
The Minister said that e-learning forms part of the strategy to reduce disparities in the schooling system. The focus of is on poor and rural areas.
Mr Schreuder said that significant improvement in the targeted learning areas has been achieved. The gap in terms of quality has not improved yet, especially for learners that have not receive assistance yet. The Department has been requested to produce a database of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in schools within the province.
The improvement strategy has dual focus areas, first it seeks to help the learners develop strong foundations in mathematics. Second, it conducts assessments to identify gaps, which are also used to improve the system. Furthermore, the Department encourages the schools to take their own initiatives to lure support from both private sector and civil society.
Mr Christians wanted to know if the Department is collaborating with the Western Cape Department of Community Safety in its school safety programme through the deployment of School Safety Officers.
Mr Bosman asked if there is a possibility of combining the after-school programme with the Mass participation; Opportunity and access; Development and growth (MOD) schools seeing that they are well funded. He also wanted to know about the impact that immigration patterns have on school registration.
Ms Makamba-Botya requested an update on whether the Department has been able to increase the percentage of placements for ‘Fudza Lushaba’ bursary holders on teaching post in the province.
Mr Sayed asked about the criteria used for the appointment of District Directors. Furthermore, he asked about the mechanisms that the Department uses to prevent SGBs from exceeding their roles, and whether SGBs could play any role with regards to school safety.
Mr Kama wanted to know if the Department has received requests for access control from schools, and whether the Department is tracking the learners pass rate in systematic tests. He also asked why the results for 2017 are not reflected.
The Chairperson asked for the number of learners that lost their lives in schools during 2018/19.
The Minister responded that the Department is always having challenges with the deployment of School Resource Officers (SFO) since they are being deployed from the law enforcement agency of the City of Cape Town (CoCT). The Minister added that access control is the responsibility of the schools.
Mr Schreuder elaborated further about teacher development programme. More training opportunities on e-learning have been made available for teachers. The Department is changing the attitude of both the teachers and learners about e-learning.
Regarding the impact that migration patterns have on school registration, the Department is doing all it can to accommodate more learners under the conditions of budgetary constraints. The Department has received budget cuts, however it had to accommodate all learners that were registered on time. Plans are made every year for the unexpected late registration of learners. These plans include securing of additional mobile classes. The National Department of Basic Education is in the process of synchronising the closing date for all school registration.
Mr Schreuder acknowledged that there are instances where SGBs have exceeded their role. In these instances, the Department has taken a firm stand to remedy the situation, at times stripping them of their powers. The Department is currently taking one SGB to court regarding the same matter.
The Department aims to ensure that all schools have after-school programmes. An awareness programme is being undertaken in this regard. The Department is also exploring legislative measures to mainstream after-school programmes.
The District Directors must have relevant qualifications and must have a proven track record in managing a successful school. Circuit Managers must have a good reputation as they must engage with all school principals.
According to the policy, SGBs must establish a school safety committee which must include members of the Community Policing Forum (CPF) and the South African Police Service (SAPS). The latter could also be established at the district level. The Department is beginning to give more attention to the aforementioned.
The Department has to date achieved 65% for the placement of Fundza Lushaba bursary holders to vacant post in the province.
Mr Christians argued that some of the ‘school of skills’ and ‘special schools’ are under-resourced. There are reports that alleged that learners are being dumped in these schools with nothing to do since the schools are said to be lacking the requisite equipment to keep the learners engaged.
Mr Bosman asked if all learners have sufficient transportation and how is it managed.
Mr Kama requested reasons for the deviations in set targets for the strategy to improve languages and mathematics and further enquired whether the Department is lacking capacity to respond to the challenges prevailing in schools.
Mr Sayed asked about the impact that classroom repairs have on the normal schooling programme and whether the Department has plans to minimise the disruption. Further, he wanted to know what is causing the decrease in bachelor passes.
Mr Allen asked for reasons that led to the decision by the Department not to increase the learning support teacher posts which resulted in it stopping to render the service.
The Minister said that all stakeholders that are involved in the education sector must discuss and find an appropriate tool to measure matric pass rate. There has been drastic improvement in the bachelor passes received in the province. However, these have not yet reached the 50 percent mark, but the Province is the highest in the country. Bachelor passes are also not the ultimate condition for learners to access quality post matric education. There are many other institutions that can be accessed without a bachelor pass.
Mr Schreuder added that contextual issues such as socio-economic challenges are affecting school performance. Other challenges include class numbers and teacher ratio. The Department has set a high target for the improvement of physical education.
The delays in classroom repairs are as the result of challenges facing the construction sector. At times, service providers are secured but end up deserting the construction site due to bankruptcy. This often requires government to get new constructors and the procurement process takes long, leading to more delays. Regular meetings are held with the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works to find lasting solutions to the problem.
The decision not to increase learners support posts was informed by budgetary constraints. The office of the Auditor-General (AG) has identified this as a national challenge.
Mr Christianss said that the Department trains teachers for ‘school of skills’ but it does not provide the requisite equipment. He wanted to know what programmes the Department has for learners with disabilities.
Mr Kama wanted to know what is been done to constantly improve the management capacity in the low-income schools in order to instil a culture of excellent performance.
Mr Bosman asked whether the transport budget allocation is enough to cover the need of learners with disabilities.
Mr Allen asked whether the Department is able to deal with issues relating to ‘gansterism’ in schools given the funding constraints facing the Department.
Mr Sayed asked about the mechanisms used by the Department to accommodate learners that have not attended grade R. He also asked what interventions are in place for underperforming schools.
The Minister said that the Department is currently lobbying NT about the change in the provincial quintile profiles. The Department is also advocating for change in the provincial equitable share. Provinces are not allowed to raise their own funds to build more schools. Migration is also adding to the demand for more schools. The Department is of the view that equitable share that is allocated to the province must be revisited to reflect migration patterns.
With regards to the issue of ‘gangsterism’ in schools, after-school programmes are being used as mitigation measures. The Department is experiencing capacity challenges with some of the Principals. As a result, an ongoing capacity development programme is been implemented. In addition to the above, a new Quality Management System (QMS) has been agreed to by all the unions, and a new criterion for incapacity has been developed.
The criteria that is used for the school feeding scheme is pro-poor. Poverty has been increasing in the province and resulted into the inclusion of other quintiles to the school feeding scheme. An additional budget allocation was not provided to account for increasing poverty. The Department has to see how it is prioritising the existing funding allocation.
During the year under review, only three schools were partially completed, but learners have moved in and learning is progressing well.
The Department undertook a school readiness programme to accommodate learners who did not have the opportunity to attend grade R. Furthermore, the Department is collaborating with the Provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) to train more Early Child Development (ECD) practitioners in poor communities.
Mr Bosman wanted to know if the data from Statistic South Africa (Stats SA) is useful for the Department to proactively plan for more migration of learners into the province. He also enquired whether it is a requirement for grade R teachers to have a university qualification.
Mr Christians enquired about the effectiveness of the multiple examination recently introduced by the national Department and how its implementation is affecting the budget allocated to the Department. He also asked for reasons why targeted learners were not actually coming to write exams.
Mr Sayed wanted to know the components that are included in the framework used to conduct reviews in schools.
The Chairperson asked about the results of the competency test that was being held for invigilators. Regarding the learner’s transportation, she wanted to know if there were school days that were lost due to challenges relating to the school learner transport.
The Minister said those grade R teachers are only required to have NQF4 qualifications. There has been a challenge with teachers that have a Bachelor of Education degree, since they quickly apply for other posts to progress within the schools and end up creating a quick turn-over of such teachers at the grade R level.
Multiple examinations a very complex and did not work well in the Western Cape, and such the Department is currently reviewing them.
The Department is not getting enough funding for learner transportation. Therefore, the Department must prioritise the available funding. Under such conditions, the Department cannot be flexible, but must stick with the policy of a five-kilometre radius. The Department is aware that there are other transportation needs in such areas where there is violence.
Mr Schreuder said that the national Department is conducting annual school surveys, and through these surveys, the Department can get insight on the data from other provinces. The WCED is on top in terms of data capturing and contribution to the new system data dashboard. The national Department is developing an online data system. Western Cape Department will first compare with others only migrate once the Department is convinced that it is more efficient than the existing system.
The Senior Manager responsible for inclusive education reported that the Department is developing pathways for assessment and development of learners in special schools until they are integrated to the normal schooling system.
Mr Schreuder said that the Department has not experienced any loss of school days due to transport challenges. The markers were introduced to a tolerance standard during their training, in order to ensure quality of marking.
The partnership with DSD and Further Education and Training (FET) institutions in the province facilitate the training of active ECD practitioners, and their training is subsidised. Regular meetings are held between the Department and all the partners involved.
Mr Christians asked why there are many leave days reflected and the necessary supporting sick certificate is not reflected.
Mr Sayed asked about the skills required for the head of the MECs office and whether the role includes liaising with Parliament. He asked if there is a plan in place for phasing out the use of foreign teachers to pave way for the development of the locals.
Mr Allen asked about the impact of cost containment measures on the quality of school performance, such as the number of underqualified teachers per school.
The Minister said that the head of the MECs office is responsible for certain duties related to parliament.
The Senior Manager responsible for Human Resources responded that the Department is doing some work on succession planning, which will cover the issues of diversity and transformation. The Department does not have under qualified teachers.
There is no plan for the phasing out of foreign teachers. The Department is looking at incorporating a policy regarding their employment. This will be done in order to attract skills from countries that have strong experience in subjects that have been identified as priority areas for the province.
INPUTS FROM THE PUBLIC
The School Governing Body from Ilinge primary school in Nyanga East, Cape Town raised a matter related to their school hall. The Department has promised to refurbish the hall, and the school wanted to get an update on the project from the Department.
SGB members of ‘Wenza High School’ raised the issues of alleged maladministration and corruption of some of officials in the Department. They also wanted to get clarity on the source of funding for the office of the SEA. The concern emanates from the budgetary constraints that were reported Department.
The other matter raised by Wenza High School is about the duration of the collaboration on school’s pilot project. The SGB asked how it was going to be measured and “what would happen when the pilot fails”.
The third input came of Ms Daniels, who is a teacher in the province. She said that the SGBs have been portrayed negatively during the meeting. Ms Daniels holds the view that not all SGBs are bad. However, she acknowledged that some SGBs and Department officials are involved in corruption. She asked if the Department has a plan in place to deal with corruption and maladministration that is prevalent in the education system. Lastly, Ms Daniels said the ‘inclusive education programme’ is not being implemented effectively in the province.
The Minister said that the issues raised by Ms Daniels are unfounded. The issues raised were have been raised directly with the Department on several occasions, and Ms Daniels was given enough time to provide the necessary evidence. To date evidence has not been provided to support the allegations.
The Minister said that the Department is still committed to build the school hall in Nyanga. Extensive engagements have been held with the SGB of the school. The delays are due to disagreements around the appointment of a contractor. The community is recommending a contractor and the Department is obliged to follow the normal government procurement process.
There are challenges at Wenza high school. The school is fraught with in-fighting. The Department is undertaking an extensive process of addressing the matter. An outstanding Principal has been appointed in an Acting capacity. The Department will also continue with the investigation to determine the root cause of the challenges facing the school.
A Senior Manager responsible for Inclusive Education Programme said that the Department has trained a team of officials to implement inclusive education programme. The key challenge that has been identified to be holding up the implementation is a lack of training among most of the teachers to deal with learners with learning barriers. As a result, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has established a strategic partnership with the European Union (EU) to train pre-service teachers. Western Cape has been selected to pilot the programme.
The Minister and Mr Schreuder assured the Committee of their commitment to attend to all matters raised. The Department also acknowledged and appreciated the interest shown by members of the public on the annual report.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and officials of the Department for their dedication to render services even under difficult conditions. She also thanked Committee members and the public for their engagement.
Actions and Resolutions
1. Breakdown list of school of skills and special school test result.
2. Breakdown of qualifications for the members of Senior Management
3. Document on the framework for the review process
4. Document of teacher development programme
5. More information regarding the office School Evaluation Authority
6. More information about the impact of the 5% budget cut on the province
7. Interprovincial Visit
8. Report on succession planning and the list of staff members involve
9. Invitation to municipalities to discuss school infrastructure and addressing municipal service debt by some of the schools
10. Presentation from the Community safety committee to discuss school safety
11. Initiating discussion to effect legislative reforms with regards to the structure of school quintals.
All the resolutions will be adopted on the 30 October, together with all other reports.
The meeting is adjourned
No related documents