CHE, SAQA & QCTO 2018/19 Annual Reports

Higher Education, Science and Technology

16 October 2019
Chairperson: Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Annual Reports 2018/2019

The Committee was briefed by the Council on Higher Education (CHE), the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) on their 2018/19 Annual Reports. The CHE reported that the organisation achieved 75.9% of its overall targets during the year under review. Its revenue for the fiscal year was less by R11 070 562 compared to the prior year. This was a result of a lower budget allocation on the government grant. The expenditure was higher by R1 789 119.00 compared to the previous year.  The performance highlight was a 10.4% increase in the number of applications for programme accreditation processed and presented to the HEQC for a final decision.

The CHE informed Members that it had received a clean audit amidst a difficult period that was characterised by resource constraints and losing some highly skilled and experienced staff. The entity did not shy away from informing Members that there were some governance and leadership challenges at a few higher education institutions. Members heard that the CHE closely monitored the development and implementation of the Improvement Plan which followed a special audit at the University of Zululand, also that the resurgence of student protests on student housing and other NSFAS challenges at some universities was a deeper concern particularly regarding the loss of teaching and learning time.

Members asked the Council to provide some plans in terms of mitigating the lower target achievements;  how far is the Council in recovering the R170 000 which was for staff loans; why was so much money was spent on legal fees; who was taking the Council to court; what were the challenges; why so much money was spent on legal fees; are there any plans in place to ensure that targets were met; who was taking the Council to court and what were the challenges; and how many women, young people and people living with disabilities were employed in the organisation. Members noted that there were a lot of challenges crippling the institution and asked the CHE to furnish a report to the Committee about this. Members were very concerned about on the issue of remuneration at universities for Vice Chancellors. This was confirmed by the DHET that the highest paid Vice Chancellor was earning in the region of R5 million per annum. Members said that ‘Something needs to be done about this because it is public money’. 

The Committee was briefed by the SAQA on its Annual Report. The SAQA had received its 21st unqualified audit report. Members heard that the SAQA’s key contributions over the last year included advising the Minister on the TVET landscape; commenting on the draft education sector policies; the NQF Amendment Bill; producing an addendum to recognise the learning of refugees and asylum seekers and a revised RPL Policy. Members heard that SAQA’s overall performance sat at 96% in terms of achieving targets, 50 deliverables were achieved, and it exceeded expectations on two deliverables.


Members were not impressed by the layout and the content of the presentation as they felt that it lacked detail and the entity ought to have presented detailed information. They also felt that it was drafted in an orientation format which made Members uncertain how to interact and engage with it.

Members were pleased to hear that the SAQA had recruited and trained 16 interns. It also spent R212 957 on staff training, seminars and workshops, and R150 420 on staff education assistance. The SAQA requested to respond to the questions in writing as the delegation was rushing to catch flights. Members felt that this was disrespecting the House and asked the CEO to not disrespect the Committee again. Members noted that the SETAs had a tendency to recruit older people with doctorates and many qualifications. Young people needed to be recruited and included in the senior levels

Members asked what would be the plan regarding assisting the TVETs in terms of skills development and experiential learning; if it was possible to oversee 173 centres; and clarity on the N-Diploma. Members were concerned that there were some of courses that did not have positive throughput in terms of employment in certain courses. For instance, in the humanities faculty; there are a lot of courses that did not speak to the demand in the labour market so people go around carry useless papers in the communities without getting employment. Of equal concern was the ‘‘cosmopolitan policy’’ where one might find white students with lower marks than Black students being accepted in medical programmes. Members asked these critical questions around skills training in the country: ‘What is being done about the fundamental realignment of our country’? ‘Where are we now’? And what can the entities say about the curriculum that is being offered versus the requirements in the labour market – do these speak to each other’

The Committee was briefed by the QCTO on its 2018/19 Annual Report. Members heard that posts I the entity would be funded mainly from the SETA grant, but these funds were allocated annually based on submissions made to the DHET. The funds may be received or may not be received but this uncertainty creates negative consequences for the QCTO.

The Revenue collected was R120 670 000, R86.7 million was collected from the SETAs and R27.4 million came from the DHET allocated grant. The Council under-spent significantly in the year under review and it reported that QCTO business case for the revoking of Delegated Functions to the SETAs was not approved by the DHET which resulted in planned expenditure not being spent. The under-expenditure on staff costs amounted to R17 million. Some of the projects could not be completed during the year although they were approved. A cash surplus of R19 million was requested for retention approval from the National Treasury. Members sought clarity from the QCTO because it seemed that it struggled to recruit people and there were issues around resignations. Members asked what the causes of resignations were. The Committee felt that it needed to be brought into the confidence on the transformation agenda of the entity. Members said that “The QCTO claims to close the skills gap, but what practical intervention have been planned or implemented to address closing the skills gap in relation to the 4IR and technology?

Meeting report

Briefing by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) on its 2018/19 Annual Report
Professor Themba Mosia, Chairperson of the CHE, took Members through the presentation and outlined the policy mandate, mission, organisational values and structure of the Council. The CHE services the entire higher education system in terms of its statutory mandate. Its output are services including advisory, regulatory and policy decisions and/or documents, research and other publications, conferences and/or workshops, networks and other knowledge resources.

The Council achieved a clean audit from the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) which was the same as the previous year.

As for the reflections in the past year, the previous Council effectively steered the organisation through a difficult period characterised by resource constraint and losing some highly skilled and experienced staff. There were some leadership and governance challenges at a few higher education institutions. With UNIZULU, the CHE closely monitored the development and implementation of the Improvement Plan following the special audit. The resurgence of student protests on student housing and other NSFAS challenges at some universities were a concern to the CHE in terms of the loss of teaching/learning time.

The organisation has demonstrated significant improvements in its overall performance in relation to the objectives and targets as set out in its Annual Performance Plan for 2018/19.

Key challenges reported included:
The resurgence of student protests on student housing and other NSFAS challenges in some universities; however, it was evident that these were being addressed;
substantial shortfall in the budget at the beginning of the 2018/19 financial year, but this eased off after the funds rolled over from the previous year were approved by the DHET;
Most of the functions did not have the necessary critical mass of staff commensurate with their respective workloads;
Staff turnover continued to pose serious challenges to the operations of the organisation – it increased from 13.63% to 14.28% in the current year; and
There were also resignations at the senior levels of the organisation including a Director, two Senior Managers and a Manager.

Professor Narend Baijnath, Chief Executive Officer at CHE, presented the performance highlights and reported that the organisation achieved 75.9% of its overall targets. The second phase of the Quality Enhancement Project was successfully implemented, and institutional reports were received from 23 public universities and 21 private higher education institutions. The performance highlight was a 10.4% increase in the number of applications for programme accreditation processed and presented to the HEQC for a final decision. This number increased from 757 to 836 in the current year. Several key projects could not be completed because they only started in August 2018 after approval was granted for the CHE to use funds rolled over from the previous financial year.

Professor Thulaganyo Mothusi, Chief Financial Officer, reported on the financial performance and said that the revenue for the fiscal year 2018/19 was lower by R11 070 562 compared to the prior year. This was a result of a lower budget allocation on the government grant. The expenditure was higher by R1 789 119.00 compared to the previous year. This was due to more spending on employee related costs, and repairs and maintenance.

A deficit of R1 657 196 was realised for the year because total revenue was less than total expenditure, attributable to the exclusion of the rolled over cash surplus from the prior year of R7 707 723.

With regard to variances on the budget, revenue from exchange transactions was higher than budget due to more applications received from private institutions for accreditation.

The R700 460 unspent conditional grant from the DHET for QEP and HELTASA awards. The unspent amount was recorded as contingent liabilities to be used in the current fiscal year. Additional funding of R7.7 million was received in December 2018 as cash surplus funds rolled over from the prior year.

In terms of the AG’s report, the Council received a clean audit and the audited AFS was free from material misstatements. There were no remedial actions required because all the audit findings were corrected and there was consensus with the AG.

The Chairperson said that the Financial Report was incomplete according to him. He expected the overall figure in terms of how much was budgeted, received and how much was spent and on what. There is also income received and it needed to be indicated from where it was received. There was no clarity on what the budget was because it was not indicated on the slide – there is no knowledge on how much the entity is worth. The key cost drivers were not specific in monetary terms – it only indicated the rankings.

He acknowledged the clean audit and that nothing was raised and flagged by the AG. However, this was not a cue to not provide specific information on monies spent.

Discussion
Mr T Lestie (ANC) welcomed the presentation from the Council. He also commended the Council for achieving a clean audit. On page 15 (performance summary statistics), the performance was reported to be at 75.9% but it shows that there were other areas which were at 50%, with lower percentages on various programmes. He asked the Council to provide some plans in terms of mitigating the lower target achievements.

On financial information, on SCM there was a service provider who paid for employee training while the training was postponed. This raises a flag as it may not be a big issue now, but it may be an issue in the future regarding SCM controls.

Mr Lestie said that the staff loans were also flagged; there is a policy that allows the organisation to give staff Members loans pertaining to equipment and other things. The amount was about R170 000 – how far is the Council in recovering the monies?

Legal fees were higher than the remuneration of the Council itself. He wanted to know why so much money was spent on legal fees. ‘Who was taking the Council to court and what were the challenges’?

Lastly, the CHE was responsible for curriculum transformation. This was evidenced by the current conditions, the emerging of the 4IR (4th Industrial Revolution), industries shredding jobs and slow economic growth. ‘Has the Council put in serious efforts in looking into jobs of the future and what plans have been put in place to advise on the curriculum that will inform or speak to future employment prospects’? Mines are closing in down in various mining towns and people are losing jobs in the banking sector and in retail. Mr Lestie said that he would like to see institutions bringing that curricular that will speak to jobs of the future.

Ms J Mananiso (ANC) wanted to know about the challenges in the SCM function. Secondly, in the summary report, there was an indication of the targets but some of them were not achieved. She asked if there was a plan in place to ensure that those targets that were not achieved would be achieved. ‘Could the personnel be competent to execute their duties in those respective functions’?

On page 15, the targets are not met; are there any plans in place to ensure that targets were met?

Lastly, on the demographics; ‘how many women, young people and people living with disabilities were employed in the organisation’? ‘There are people that resigned in the organisation- is the Council ensuring that it brings young people on board’?

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) wanted to know about the challenges that caused the resignations of the key personnel. On page 16, it was reported that several key projects were not completed because they were started in August 2018. She wanted to know how come those key projects were not completed.

‘On page 18 it is stated that 81% of the approved posts – 42 employees - were appointed out of 52, so what about the other ten’?

She sought some clarity on the overpayments mentioned on page 21. On page 22, on the staff loans, is this about money or was it in the form of equipment.

Mr P Keetse (EFF) concurred with the Chairperson on presentation of the financial information and how it lacked specific detail. The bigger chunk of the focus of the Members was tracking how the money was spent.

Part of the mandate of the CHE is to promote access of students to higher education, so in relation to promoting access to higher institutions; ‘how does the Council promote access’? Perhaps Members needed to be furnished with comprehensive research on how the CHE was planning on expending the capacity of enrolments in higher education institutions. There students who are excelling that still did not have access to higher learning institutions. He wanted more information on the plans of engagement with the Department (DHET).

Limpopo was accused of issuing bogus certificates evidenced in the statement Members received on the Funeral Parlour certificate; he wanted to hear the Council’s view on the bogus course.

Regarding strengthening student governance Mr Keetse asked the Council to appraise Members on the issue that occurred in Unisa where students were registered for the wrong courses. In the same university, there was an allegation of leaked papers that should be addressed because it compromises the credibility of that institution and the module.

Mr Keetse wanted to know about the plans of the CHE to address issues of governance in Unisa. He was uncertain whether the TVET Colleges featured in the mandate of the Council. One way or the other what is being taught in the TVET colleges directly impacted on some of the modules that were taught in universities.

Regarding the phasing out of the national diploma; he wanted to know whether the people that have already applied and where studying towards that qualification would not be disadvantaged.

It was mentioned that student protests were an issue on time management, so has the Council tried to curb the culture of student protests. The main issues pertained to the NSFAS and accommodation. He asked what has been done to address these challenges from the CHE perspective.

Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC) said that in this administration, Members as well as the Ministry have articulated the importance of levelling out all higher learning institutions.

On page 10 the University of Zululand (Unizulu) was mentioned but she wanted to know about the outcome of the research done in Unizulu.

Ms Mkhatshwa was concerned about the achievement on institutional quality assurance and qualification management and programme reviews.

The Chairperson was uncertain whether it was within the CHE’s mandate to advise the Minister and government generally on the issue of remuneration at universities for Vice Chancellors. This keeps on going up like a runaway train. This was confirmed by the DHET that the highest paid Vice Chancellor was earning in the region of R5 million per annum and in that category of the highest paid VCs; it is the VC of University of Zululand. Now if you compare that university with other universities in terms of research output, student population and staff compliment, it looks like it is irregular. Something needs to be done about this because it is public money.

Secondly, on the notes (page 110 of the Annual Report) to the financial statements; the performance bonus of R1.1 million was not included. He wanted more information on the performance bonus, how it was paid, how it was measured and determined and who took the final decision on the payment of performance bonus and who received the performance bonus.

On the remuneration of the Executive Management, almost all executives received performance bonuses in varying degrees – he wanted to know whether it was only executives that received bonuses. He also sought clarity on the retention amount paid to the Chief Executive Officer.

Responses
Professor Mosia said that the CHE was a scheduled 3A entity, it relied heavily on the fiscus for income and other income was received from services rendered to the private institutions.

On the legal fees, the Report outlined that they were actually less compared to the previous year. The challenges were that the CHE has had a number of legal challenges from some of the private higher education institutions. Some of them offer these programmes but they are profit driven and if our programmes are not profitable for them, they actually go to court. Hence, the legal fees were higher. In the previous year, there was a decline because they realised that this was serious, and they were not winning in court. They operate in that space where they collect the fees for tuition, and they challenge us and the department.

On promoting student access, this is a big area and it cannot be handled by only one entity. The DHET, SAQA and CHE have a critical role to play in this space. The CHE role has to do with access and ensuring that the programmes are credible. SAQA’s role is to ensure that there is a record of this. So the CHE we need to ensure that the students are going into the institutions and offered quality programmes.

In terms of the CHE mandate on curriculum transformation and the 4IR; as the CHE it has engagements amongst the institutions to prepare for this and universities are doing some crucial work in that space. The institutions were engaging on this on an international level as well. There was also a workshop hosted by USAF (Universities South Africa) because all institutions in this space have to respond to the future challenges. So the curriculum transformation discourse was placed firmly on the agenda, even during the FeesMustFAll campaign, students pushed for this.

On TVET Colleges, the White Paper that we have on post school education and training; there was a long discussion with Minister Pandor on this and she was clear that the CHE should focus on universities and other QCs in that space would deal with TVETs.

On the governance challenges in Unisa (University of South Africa), normally the CHE does not go to universities when it hears information in the media. However, in terms of Unisa the CHE had a discussion in its EXCO to try and assist in resolving the matters.

The CHE has conducted a special audit in the University of Zululand and the CHE realised that there were a lot of challenges. The findings and recommendations made about a year ago have not been met. In our meeting three ago we finalised a report that the Minister should look into with the DHET for further improvement. There are a lot of challenges crippling the institution and the CHE could furnish that report to the Committee. There are also certain limitations; when we first made recommendations that there were serious challenges in Zululand.

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee would ask the Minister to furnish that report.

In terms of the mandate, the CHE can advise the Minister on various issues. On the remuneration of the Executives, the CHE has not yet gotten into that space, but it can provide proactive advice to the Minister on that. The DHET has a role to play there. Members would recall that with the FEESMUSTFALL campaign, one of the challenges was the regulation of fees in universities. The DHET was now working with universities to try and address that but it is the university councils that set the fees.

The CHE has not yet gotten into the remuneration of executives, but it can do so and put together a team of experts.

Everyone in the institution is entitled to a bonus, subject to the availability of funds. We have not had that, but it was only in the current year. The HR and EXCO Council reviews this and then considers various records.

On the retention allowance, this was an approval that was received from the Minister of Finance which is subject to the availability of funds. This was introduced because the CHE was losing a number of critical and important skills.

The DHET Official commented on the remuneration of the executives and VCs and said that this matter was within the prerogative of the Councils in the institutions themselves. The DHET does not manage any HR related matters within the institutions. This is an issue and we are hoping to look at some research on this matter and correct the benchmarks. Universities are big institutions and there is no standard set out for remuneration.

The Chairperson suggested that Universities South Africa (Usaf) should not be the institution tasked with looking into this matter because it would be a conflict of interest. If it means that a Bill would be introduced through this committee, then so be it. This is a serious matter and it needs serious attention.

On the targets that were not met Mr Baijnath said that when the planning is done for the performance, it is done six to nine months prior. During the performance, adjustments may be made on some of the targets that were set. When there are projections on the accreditation of applications; there is usually no certainty on that because the impetus comes from the institutions. So often times, we are not in control of that so during the course of the year the governance structure would make decisions to make those adjustments. In some instances, resources would not need to be shifted from one programme to another.

The change of the curriculum is happening at a very higher level where institutions were now looking into factoring in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the curriculum. The concerns around job threats are being taken seriously at every level.

On the University of Venda audit; when a pilot audit happens, the preparations towards the audit takes at least six months and the institutions must subject itself to it and conduct a self-evaluating process which takes about six months to a year. So the institutions made the commitment but the person who was driving it suffered a personal calamity and then went silent afterwards as well as the Acting Vice Chancellor. At the time the new Vice Chancellor was appointed the institution was approached but then it was abandoned because there was significant internal instability within the institution.

The lack of promotional activities has to do with several departures of senior or mid-level staff. However, a retention strategy has been introduced in the organisation to try and circumvent the departure of officials that have substantial experience.

In terms of the gender balance, if Members looked at the spread in the Report; there is generally an equitable spread. In terms of disability, on page 78, CHE is much thinner in that regard. However, in the recruitment processes these received attention and in the new recruitment processes and intake that would be considered.

Professor Mothusi said that for the year under review, CHE received about R59 million and the general expenditure issues were in the annual report. On the training paid in advance, the SCM processes are sound and the training that takes place is that one paid in advance and then the training takes place.

On overpayments, this amount will be credited to the CHE in the next financial year and this year CHE would not pay.

On staff loans, the CHE is buying the laptops on behalf of employees, so the staff loan was for buying the laptops and the money was recovered on a monthly basis. The payment arrangements are within the respective financial year, there are no roll-overs from the previous financial years.

Mr Selby Ripinga, Member of the Council spoke on the issue of compliance and that this was important. The CHE is a peer-driven institution, depending on university academics. He said he believed in 100% performance compliance in the APP. We would like to see the CHE going beyond complying and having an impact nationally and internationally. Third stream funding was under consideration.

The Chairperson reiterated that something needed to be done about the remuneration of Vice-Chancellors. Universities are quite complex and big institutions but they are not bigger than the country but one has the Executive of this country on our side so one cannot keep hearing about their autonomy and how big these universities are. The fact remains that remuneration of executives in universities needs to be regulated.

Briefing by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) on its Annual Report
The Chairperson of the Board, Dr Vuyelwa Toni Penxa, indicated that it was her last year as the Chairperson of the Board. She reported that SAQA is a Section 3A entity which is governed by a board appointed by the Minister of Higher Education.

She shared a few achievements and said that this was a 21st unqualified audit report. SAQA prides itself on that and the current board did not drop the baton. It also increased the international footprint – Members of conventions and participates at world reference levels and the Board passed the Addendum.

Mr Joe Samuels, Chief Executive Officer and reported that the overall performance sat at 96% in terms of achieving targets. 50 deliverables were achieved and exceeded expectations on two deliverables but only two deliverables were not achieved.

SAQA’s key contributions over the last year included advising the Minister on the TVET landscape; it commented on draft education sector policies and NQF Amendment Bill; and produced an addendum to recognise learning of refugees and asylum seekers and revised RPL Policy, amongst others.

On the Limpopo issue programme issue, it advertised the programme as a Learnership at NQF level five but at the time there was no learnership registered and there must be a qualification that the learnership culminates into. That qualification was not registered and that learnership was not advertised appropriately. The issue was how it presented it to the public.

In the current year, SAQA recruited and trained 16 interns. It also spent R212 957 on staff training, seminars and workshops. R150 420 on staff education assistance. Four members of staff were promoted, 72 staff members were recognised and awarded qualifications. 20 learning and development initiatives were facilitated in the organisation.

The CFO reported on the actual revenue received which amounted to R123 306 811 of which 54.1% came from government grants; 30.5% from evaluation fees; 8% from verification fees; 2.2% professional bodies’ fees and the remaining 5.2% constituted other income (rental, sundry and interest received).

Of R117.42 million of the budget R128.66 million was spent. SAQA made various savings through IT related costs (R4.5 million); Property, Plant and Equipment (R2.9 million); legal fees (R1.7 million); Staff expenses (R3.2 million) and Sewerage pipes (R1 million).

Over-expenditure stemmed from repairs and maintenance (R71 673). There was also expenditure that was not budgeted which included intangible assets (R764 290) – SAQA does not budget for intangible assets; Depreciation and amortisation (R3.2 million) and debt impairment (R656 386).

Discussion
The Chairperson commented that there was missing information on the presentation. There was also missing information regarding planned targets in line with the APP and what was achieved and not achieved. There was no indication of non-performance and non-achievement. The Annual Report should be reported against the Annual Performance Plan. Achievements must be clearly stated against the planned targets and reasons provided for non-achievement of the targets. The presentation fell far short of the expectations.

The Chairperson said that she felt like the document was drafted in an orientation format and was uncertain how Members would interact and engage with it.

Mr Samuels received the point from the Chairperson and indicated that in the next engagements it will be clearly outlined in the way the Chairperson suggested. However, the suggestion is heeded, and this would be rectified in the next presentations.

The Chairperson indicated that during the short break the Chief Executive Officer of SAQA requested to respond to the questions in writing as the delegation was rushing to catch flights. He asked the Members to express themselves on the matter before making a ruling on the matter.

Mr Letsie said that this was the first time interacting with the entity and it would have been better if the delegation tried and changed the flights arrangements. There are issues of concern that Members would like to raise.

Mr B Yabo (ANC) said that due to the nature of the work conducting oversight was retrospective. There must be some level of concession that must be made because these engagements were unpredictable. It is important that in the presentation of accountability one have some level of flexibility regarding what may happen, Members also need to conduct their Constitutional duty. Therefore, there must be the prioritisation of exercising oversight.

Mr Keetse said that he was of the view that the summarised report on its own was on a form of orientation and that there was nothing to discuss. Unless Members could have time to peruse the actual annual report and engage the entity later. However, in the future this should not be acceptable.

Ms Mkhatshwa said that the country needed sacrifice from everyone right now and the entity should honour the Honourable Members of Parliament.

The Chairperson said that in the nine years he has been a Member of Parliament, this was the first time he had experienced this kind of issue. He felt that this was disrespecting the House and asked the CEO to not disrespect the Committee again.

The Chairperson of the Board humbly apologised for the misunderstanding.

Briefing by the Quality Council for Traders and Occupations (QCTO) on its 2018/19 Annual Report
Mr V Naidoo, Chief Executive Officer, QCTO, outlined the vision, mission and values of the organisation in his opening remarks. The Council is appointed by the Minister and there are three Committees that reported to the Council.

On human resources management, the total staff complement for 2018/19 totalled 89 against a total of 243 posts (to be implemented in phases based on the budget). HR policies, procedures and systems were implemented as from 1 September 2014. As a challenge, of the 243 approved posts the budget permits not more than 108 posts to be filled. QCTO posts are funded mainly from the SET grant, however as these funds are allocated annually based on a submission made to the DHET. The amount received (if any) can vary considerably. The uncertainty this creates has negative consequences for the QCTO.

Mr Innocent Gumbochuma, Chief Financial Officer, QCTO, reported that revenue collected in 2018/19 amounted to R120 670 000. The bigger slice of the total revenue collected came from the SETAs at about R86.7 million, and the DHET allocated a grant of about R27.4 million.

The Council under-spent significantly in the year under review and it reported that QCTO business case for the revoking of delegated functions to the SETAs was not approved by the DHET which resulted in planned expenditure not being spent. The under-expenditure on staff costs amounted to R17 million. Some of the projects could not be completed during the year although they were approved. A cash surplus of R19 million was requested for retention approval from the National Treasury.

Discussion
The Chairperson needed clarity on the R17 million on the remodelling of the office spaces. The entity plans on buying its own building.

Ms Mananiso sought clarity from QCTO because it seemed that it struggled to recruit people and there were issues around resignations. ‘So what were the causes of resignations’?

In the HR Report review, there was no mention of young people being included in the organisational structure. Members needed to be brought into the confidence on the transformation agenda of the entity. The SETAs have a tendency of recruiting older people with doctorates and many qualifications. Young people need to be recruited and included in the senior levels.

On the intervention planned to work with TVETs Ms Mananiso asked what would be the plan regarding assisting the TVETs in terms of skills development and experiential learning.

Dr W Boshoff (FF +) commented on the 173 assessment centres outlined in the Report; ‘is it possible to oversee 173 centres’? Secondly, he sought clarity on the relevance of the N-Diploma qualifications that were still being offered even though there were some talks in the labour market before that they were outdated.  

Mr Keetse, on SAQA, said that it is important to criticise other qualifications out there but some of those courses do not have positive throughput in terms of employment in certain courses. For instance, in the humanities faculty; there are a lot of courses that did not speak to the demand in the labour market. So people go around carry useless papers in the communities without getting employment.

There are universities that are not friendly to African people in terms of enrolment and application to certain courses because if one seeks to address the injustices of the past, one needs to zoom into that. For instance, the UCT can only take 200 students for medicine in the first year. They would apply their criteria which is fine but when over 1000 students apply, these universities use what they call ‘‘cosmopolitan policy’’ which speaks into class, ethnicity, race and so forth. You would find white students with lower marks compared to black students, but were being accepted in these programmes. Perhaps both entities could comment on this.

On the QCTO, the concept of closing the skills gap; ‘where are we now in terms of the skills gap in the country’?

What is being done about the fundamental realignment of our country’? ‘Where are we now’? And what can the entities say about the curriculum that is being offered versus the requirements in the labour market – do these speak to each other’?

Lastly, on the certification issues; perhaps to help the TVETs on this matter, Mr Keetse asked what kind of advice or assistance can the QCTO offer to that space.

Mr B Yabo (ANC) noticed in recent times that the number of cases of people with false qualifications has spiked. What is worrisome is that it does not seem that SAQA has teeth to bite when people falsify qualifications. If you have a state entity that is given a mandate but has no teeth to effect that mandate, that paralyses the entity. If someone gets a job based on lying and using fraudulent qualifications, that process must be rectified.

Students that study in TVETs are required to do the hands-on training to complete their qualifications but who bears the onus of that training? ‘Do we have the requisite capacity in the market that is able to absorb these students for that purpose in order to acquire that qualification’? ‘Is there a process that ensures those students were absorbed in the job market’?

Mr Naidoo said that the entity is putting together qualifications for the market by the market; he asked how is that process going to be implemented and how is that relationship handled to ensure that it is sustainable, and that the qualification given would not be rendered obsolete.

Mr Letsie said that there was good work happening in the SAQA entity. The presentation should be as comprehensive and detailed as possible for Members so that the engagements could be fruitful. He also congratulated SAQA on its fairly positive image and that there were no scandals in the organisation as well as the unqualified audit opinions.

It was mentioned that there were 14 resignations so he wanted to know why there were so many resignations. In the previous term, the Committee agreed that the SAQA was under-funded but now there was under-spending of 8.7% (over R10 million); he sought clarity on this.

On NRLD, the numbers look very good and convincing, but reality prevails which shows that there are a lot of “fly-by-night’’ institutions that claim to produce what SAQA produces. There are students that end in the periphery of studying in these bogus institutions due to “cosmopolitan policies” that would be applied by these “upper class” universities. He asked what plans would be put in place to do away with the bogus institutions.

Has SAQA considered establishing a system such as Block-chain where one can enter just an ID number of a person and one can ascertain whether that person has the credible qualifications that they claim to have and so on. NSFAS has started implementing a system like that in collaboration with other institutions such as SARS and SASSA.

To QCTO, there was only 55.2% expenditure and there was  significant under-spending. The entity was also working with a staff complement of just about 30% and this means that the entity might struggle to achieve its targets.

On slide 33, on office remodelling – it was approved in March, but the contract has not yet been approved. ‘Why has work not commenced if things are moving’?

The QCTO claims to close the skills gap, but what practical intervention have been planned or implemented to address closing the skills gap in relation to the 4IR and technology?

Ms Mkhatshwa suggested that time frames were needed to be set regarding the failure of meeting targets by the entities. It is also important to ensure that the entities partnered with the private sector and engaged the private on the value of the qualifications offered in the TVET colleges.

Ms Mananiso asked SAQA to be more specific on its social responsibility outreach as well as outreach programmes. These activities should be included as part of plans not meagre activities on Mandela Day.

The Chairperson indicated that QCTO’s performance was not satisfactory (59%) especially considering that the entity had sufficient resources. The entity is indeed doing well financially but it is not meeting its targets and that was not satisfactory. He wanted to know about the R17 million that was provided for.

On SAQA, the entity did well as its audit outcome improved but Members were not happy with the presentation of its Report.

Mr Samuels said that on the number and kind of qualifications that have been produced by SAQA that Report would be furnished to the Committee. The entity has prepared a document supported by research that has looked at how qualifications have progressed over 20 years. The Report suggests that the biggest issue stemmed from economic conditions as opposed to the quality of the qualifications. The Report can be shared with the Committee.

The NQF amendment Act which was signed by the President on the 13th of August has brought teeth to SAQA and the President must now proclaim it. The legislation makes a distinction on fraudulent and misrepresented qualifications. As an entity one cannot declare a qualification fraudulent but only a court can do so.

Now, when it comes to government line function departments; there was a directive that was issued by the Minister of Public Service and Administration that compelled the departments to submit qualifications to SAQA for verifications. It was found that some of those qualifications were misrepresented and feedback was provided to the line function and it must be the one that acts.

On the public perception, the number of misrepresented qualifications is about 1% of the total number coming to us. Right up front, the individual must be aware that when they submit misrepresented qualifications their name will appear on the registry of misrepresented qualifications. At the moment, we will make an affidavit at the Police Station and then the criminal process would take its course.

On the Tshwane municipality situation, the municipality did not ask SAQA to conduct a verification of that qualification. We were asked by the Media to comment on the document and whether that qualification was registered and on what NQF level. It was up to the municipality to take action on that. The qualification was not registered on the NQF but when the Act comes into effect, the entity will have more teeth in terms of taking action on such matters in terms of who brings the issue to the police. The qualification is a very old qualification that was never registered on the NQF but the municipalities were still recognising those qualifications as valid. SAQA has made it clear that the qualification is not registered but if the employer accepts the qualification as it is, then at the moment SAQA cannot take any further action. However, the new NQF Amendment Act will change these circumstances.

The Chairperson sought clarity that if the qualification is not registered on the NQF level, the employer can still employ a person with that qualification. ‘What is the legal basis on that’ ‘What is the legal position on this is it requiring that all qualifications that are offered in this country must have an NQF level’? ‘And those that are not registered fall outside the framework’?

Mr Samuels said that the municipalities have for years been employing people with that qualification, and that legal issue is the one that must be sorted out. The NQF amendments now put in place the conditions.

The DHET Official said that there are qualifications that have international and national currency but were not registered within the NQF. Non-registered institutions cannot offer a registered qualification. So the unregistered qualification is not necessarily a fake or bogus qualification; for example, the Microsoft qualification, it has international and national standards that are sought after but it is not registered on the NQF. A fake qualification is when it has been offered and it is registered on the NQF, but the institution is not registered, that is a fake qualification. Then one gets a misrepresented qualification, but the relationship is that to offer a registered qualification, the institution must be registered but registered institutions can offer a qualification that is not registered.

Mr Yabo was perplexed about the matter because the communication was not very authentic and said that the Committee recently had the University of Limpopo that came to account on bogus qualification. There was an outcry in the public about this.

The Chairperson said that there was an expectation out there that all qualifications offered are registered with the SAQA and anything outside the recognition is not a legitimate qualification. Institutions should take qualifications that are registered with the SAQA.

The DHET official said that the University of Limpopo matter was based on accreditation to offer that qualification. The University was registered but it was not accredited to offer the course.

Mr Samuels said the short course was not registered at the NQF.

With regard to the resignations, there are 14 people who terminated their contracts and one person died. If there are 14 people  left out of over a 197 people that is less than a 10% attrition rate and it is not something to worry about and if people want to leave, the entity cannot hold them back. When people leave, exit interviews are held to ensure that the retention strategy of the organisation was strengthened.

DHET said that there was a R11.2 million and in that there was a R3.2 million which related to vacancies and most of those vacancies were in IT and research. It takes a while to get those skills because the organisation competes with the private sector. People accept the offer and then later decline when they find employment in the private sector.

Also included in that amount is the general expenses, when one goes through the tender process and  appoints people to do the work and deliver the goods but it was completed only after year end and due to accounting principles you cannot recognise the expense; hence, it was reported under commitments. Only after the delivery of the goods or service was done, can the recognition be done. In this current year, some of the projects were completed and could not be reported in the current year due to time differences.

Mr Naidoo commented that the organisation was sitting at about 40% of young people employed.

On the TVETs on the value of the qualifications, the N-Diploma qualifications lead to a Diploma and the candidate would get that Diploma after completing the work experience. This is where the system becomes un-stuck because the students exit the system with the certificate and then come back for the Diploma.

Less than 10% of the students that complete N6 come back for the Diploma; hence the QCTO has realigned the qualifications to work experience. Part of the issue is the uptake of the occupational qualifications in the TVETs because of the funding model but this was raised to the department. TVET colleges are only funded for the N courses and the NCV.

SAQA was closing the gap in terms of industry understanding the needs, so when it developed a module of a qualification, the industry was invite and out of that process it gets refined and then a developing team gets extracted out of that group. One of the key things in that process is international comparability. So a qualifications is issued that is internationally recognised or comparable.

The issue of the workplace is a big issue and the QCTO has re-looked at that and its framework alongside the industry to determine the time required for students to complete the work experience to be recognised as equipped in terms of knowledge and the practical experience.

Three of the qualifications put out by the QCTO involved the Tool Maker (Fitting and Tuning) with over 1600 learners with the DTi (Department of Trade and Industry) it ticks all the boxes of the 4IR from the Reports received. It was also elevated from a qualification level.

Mr Gumbochuma said that on the R17 million, the open plan is not going to allow the current furniture that the entity has, and two buildings are being rented. R10 million will go into furniture, and the R6 million towards refurbishing the building. The current set up accommodates 95 workstations and 250 workstations are needed. The landlord of the building has been talked approached to buy the building and when the landlord has given a green light the Minister will be approached. The Entity has also talked to the bankers to see how much one can get for a bond if the approval is obtained from the Minister.

The approval came from Treasury on the 27th of March and there was only three days left to year end and a contract could not be completed in three days. All systems are ready now, but the organisation had to apply at the Treasury again for approval to utilise the funds. When the approval process has been concluded, it will be all systems go.

The revenue collection is actual cash and on the financial statements there was a donation of R2.3 million.

On the approval of the business case in terms of revoking the strategy for the SETAs; the moment those functions are taken up personnel will be needed. So when the guaranteed funding comes, employed will start.

The Chairperson thanked everyone present.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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