The National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) is an entity of government and came about in answer to the NDP imperatives. It is independent but it reports to the department and to Parliament. The NECT is created as an agile entity which is free from bureaucracy and can thus achieve projects more quickly. It also has a good relationship with the private sector. NECT spoke to its key outputs at school level; 21st Century learning and teaching initiatives; subject advisor and teacher training outcomes; addressing the reading challenge and its two special projects related to Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) and Life Skills textbooks.
The National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) is a unit established in the department created to look at the quality of education and examine best practice and replicate it. It is independent in its research work, but it reports to DBE and to Parliament. NEEDU’s presentation addressed previous and current work. Its Schools That Work research project completed in 2018 documented good practices from effective schools in quintiles 1 to 3. NEEDU’s current work is looking at how schools use DBE workbooks to improve literacy and reading outcomes. Improving foundational skills of numeracy and literacy is their number one priority which should be underpinned by a Reading Revolution.
Members asked what training NECT provides to teachers and subject advisors; if NECT interacts with stakeholders and who these are; if the private sector has motives other than philanthropy; if NECT is involved in curriculum review as teachers have complained they are overburdened by administrative work; if NECT has held a dialogue yet on the comprehensive sexuality education programme; why the data presented by NECT was not province-specific. There was concern about duplication by the two entities and if NECT and NEEDU were providing value for money because the country is still performing badly in basic education. NEEDU was asked about its stakeholders; its research methodology; why quintiles 1 to 3 were chosen rather than quintiles 4 and 5; and if NEEDU took context into consideration and did not compare well-off schools with poorer schools.
Opening Remarks by Director General in Department of Basic Education (DBE)
Mr Hubert Mweli (DBE) conveyed his appreciation for a multi-party forum such as the Portfolio Committee for ensuring that more and more teachers come on board the committee, which is a resource for DBE and it keeps them on their toes. The Deputy Minister is out of the country doing government work in China. For the next two weeks the DG and the Minister will be at UNESCO in Paris reporting on what Basic Education has done in the last five years. He informed them that Mr Mahada has been promoted to the post of Director: Business and Parliamentary Processes in Pretoria. He will still be coordinating parliament work but will not be as accessible as he used to be.
The National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) is a creation of the National Development Plan, in other words, it was established as a result of what the National Development Plan said DBE must do. The reason for its existence can be found in chapter 9 of the National Development Plan. It is an entity reporting to the department but an entity of government, it is independent but it has a relationship of reporting to the department. It reports to Parliament and it has come to report on the work that it is doing. The second presentation will be done by the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU). NEEDU has been created as a result of DBE’s engagement with other countries, including the United Kingdom, where an outfit called Office of Standards was created to look at the quality of education in the UK. NEEDU is a unit established in the department. It draws its independence in terms of its work, but it also reports to DBE which exercises oversight over its performance, and it also reports to Parliament.
National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) progress
Mr Godwin Khosa, NECT CEO, said that given that there are new committee members he will give background and then report on the progress of the NECT. The mission of NECT is summarised as mobilising the national capacity to assist government to achieve distinctive, substantial and sustainable improvements in education. NECT wants children to possess the skills, knowledge and attitudes that enable them to live economically gainful and fulfilled lives.
Key outputs on school level reach:
• More than 144 Structured Learning Programmes have been developed, covering Maths, Science and Language by grade for 92 047 teachers
• Over 6 million pieces of teaching and learning materials distributed to 71.3% of schools nationally
• 92 047 teachers and 671 subject advisors trained
• 23 504 hours of coaching and support
• 16 611 (71.3%) schools rolling out the NECT programmes.
21st Century Learning and Teaching:
• The Sandbox Initiative aims to trial and test 21st century teaching and learning in public schools.
• Partnerships have been established with University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Education and Global Education Leaders’ Partnership (GELP)
• Agreements with local and international service providers: Centre for Curriculum Redesign (CCR), ClassAct Educational Services
• Review of global frameworks for 21st century teaching and learning and recommendation of a South African model
• Selection of 10 pilot schools in Waterberg District, Limpopo and the addition of University of Johannesburg's Funda Ujabule School as pilot site.
In supporting education, dialogues were convened and over 6000 stakeholders were involved:
• National Dialogue on Early Childhood Development: to achieve clarity on proposed function migration.
• Psycho-Social Symposium hosted with DBE to present the draft Psycho-Social Support model
• ECD 2nd dialogue: provided DBE and DSD a platform to provide function migration updates.
• Roundtable on ICTs in education: university papers on how countries have implemented school technology.
• Dialogue on Development Work in Education: success stories of collaborative interventions.
• Six provincial dialogues on ECD function shift.
• National Schools Safety Steering Committee: NECT leads the secretariat that brings together unions, SGBs, government departments and other constituents working on improving school safety.
Subject Advisor and Teacher Training Outcomes:
• 20% increase in Subject Advisor knowledge between pre and post-test Mathematics in Foundation Phase.
• 11% increase in Subject Advisor knowledge between pre and post-test Languages in Intermediate phase.
• Learner level: English language scores increase, quality of achievement is changing, skills are improving
Addressing the Reading Challenge:
• National Reading Coalition launch as a national response better aligns our many initiatives, reduces overlaps and gaps, increases economies of scale and efficiencies, improves messaging, adopting proven approaches and increasing accountability.
• Profiling of reading initiatives in 25% of circuits
• Value chain convenors and champions identified, engaged and briefed
• Steering committee established to provide guidance: Prof. J. Volmink, M Maluleke, B. Manuel, G Campbell, Prof Leketi Makalela, DBE
• Collaborations with GCIS and unions
• Circuit activations
Primary School Reading Improvement Programme (PSRIP):
• 1670 schools participated in phase 1
• PSRIP II now in implementation
• 2151 schools participating in phase 2
• Baseline evaluation completed Quarter 1
• Endline evaluation to be implemented in Quarter 3 2019
• PSRIP III in planning
• Sector Based Reading Programme – a priority
• Alignment of all initiatives in the sector by DBE
• Sanitation Appropriate for Education(SAFE)
The project was launched by President Ramaphosa in August 2018. DBE allocated 110 schools to NECT. R50 million has been contracted through NECT, the rest is direct or in kind contributions. To date, construction of ablution facilities in 9 schools is complete; 10 ablution facilities have been commissioned.
• New Life Skills textbooks project:
NECT is coordinating the development of nine Life Orientation Grades 4-7 textbooks. R34.3m has been mobilized to develop the textbooks. The textbooks aim to equip learners to be independent, innovative, resourceful, critical thinkers who will participate actively in the 21st Century economy. The textbooks will be completed in 2020.
NEEDU Systemic Evaluation to ensure System-Wide Improvements
Dr Sibusiso Sithole said NEEDU is working independently to research and evaluate if the system is achieving the National Development Plan goals as well as the performance indicators in the sector plan.
NEEDU has just completed a research project in 2018 that the Minister requested about documenting good practices from effective schools, which is called Schools That Work. High performing schools were identified, which NEEDU visited to find out what they are doing to achieve good results. The National Senior Certificate (NSC) was used as a yardstick to identify these schools. Although NEEDU went to senior secondary schools to conduct the research, the findings of the research project were applicable to primary schools as much as they were applicable to senior secondary schools. The schools that were selected for the project were from quintile 1, 2 and 3 – lower quintile schools – that were performing well in the last five years consecutively and were competing with schools with good resources in quintile 4 and 5. So the research project was about lower quintile schools which were beating the odds and producing good results.
Findings revealed that the prevailing climate in schools that work, which distinguishes these schools from others, is characterised by:
• Bold, courageous and creative leadership.
• Ownership of school and its success by all, including teachers, learners, parents and community.
• High expectations of all learners.
• Maximum utilisation of all available learning and teaching time.
• High discipline.
• Mutual respect between learners and teachers.
A set of important common best practices emerged from the analysis of data. These practices were grouped around the following six main themes:
• Theme 1: System’s support and partnerships
• Theme 2: Learner-centred climate
• Theme 3: Enabling environment
• Theme 4: School leadership and management
• Theme 5: Professional development and collaboration
• Theme 6: Quality of teaching
Preparing and sharing the report:
• Copies of the report were distributed to all public schools and uploaded on DBE website
• Thematic messages to schools through policy briefs:
- Good practices in the report were packaged in a more user-friendly format in the form of 22 policy briefs.
- Policy briefs were uploaded on DBE website.
- Principals of underperforming schools were alerted through SMS after a policy brief had been uploaded.
- 2 000 sets of 22 policy briefs printed and distributed to district offices / underperforming secondary schools.
Sharing research findings within the Basic Education Sector:
• The findings were first presented in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Minister in 2017.
• Findings were presented at different forums, including: South African Principals Association (SAPA); Consultative forum of National School Governing Body Associations; Minister’s meeting with District Directors; HEDCOM and its sub-committees; Council of Education Ministers; and Portfolio Committee.
Basic Education Government Priorities for 2019 – 2024:
• Priority Number 1: Improving foundational skills of Numeracy and Literacy, especially Reading which should be underpinned by a Reading Revolution.
How schools use DBE workbooks to improve literacy and reading outcomes:
• A study involving 35 districts and 178 primary schools was conducted to document good practices about using DBE workbooks to improve learners’ literacy and reading skills in the Foundation Phase.
• Effective practices that teachers in good schools use to teach foundational literacy skills in the Foundation Phase, using DBE workbooks, are organised under three themes:
- Phonics and Reading;
- Writing and Handwriting; and
- Listening and Speaking.
Good practices on improving reading skills:
• Effective primary schools develop a school-wide Foundation Phase reading programme with five pillars:
- Foundation Phase Phonics Programme
- Foundation Phase Reading Programme
- Reading materials to teach reading
- Reading monitoring and assessment plan
- Catch-up plan to support struggling learners
Districts that show exceptional patterns of performance over time:
NEEDU is preparing the report to address the question:
- What are the characteristics of districts successful in significantly improving the achievement of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds?
There are districts that have displayed exceptional patterns of performance in learner achievement consistently over time. This includes districts that beat their demographic odds every year while others consistently underperform.
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) welcomed the two presentations. The presence of DBE solidifies the fact that, indeed, it is committed and serious about the implementation of the education within South Africa. A very rare common denominator between two South African former presidents, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, was that every time during their State of the Nation Address they would echo this one sentiment that education is a societal matter, with emphasis on how we should join hands for purposes of delivering basic education to our children. The understanding is that these two entities is joining the queue as far as that is concerned. The manner in which NECT appears to be taking into cognisance how stakeholders can assist in the delivery of education to our children is appreciated. The statement “education is a societal matter” simply means there is no single individual who can rise up and say “I am going to deliver successful basic education to our children” without the support of one another. The danger that often occurs is when one entity thinks it can run the show alone, which is very dangerous. The question to NECT is how to ensure that their important contributions and the extra mile they walk are adhered to, and what does NECT do if not. Mention has been made of an important stakeholder being the private sector. Involvement of stakeholders in education does not come cheap, it comes with a price. When one seeks assistance from others one is not sure if the they have ulterior motives. How does NECT ascertain that its aims are not being hijacked by those giving NECT assistance. How does NEEDU run its important race without stakeholders – which stakeholders is NEEDU married to that are assisting it in the implementation of its objectives.
Ms M Sukers (ACDP) appreciated the two presentations. It is certainly heartening to know that there is so much effort going into ensuring that the education system is improved. On capacity building in the curriculum, is there only assistance with the curriculum for mathematics, sciences and languages? Slide 6 of the NEEDU presentation talks about high discipline. How do the findings apply in real time to improve schools with no discipline. Are the textbooks we currently have the property of South Africa, are the intellectual rights of the textbooks owned locally. She asked what FOP stands for.
Mr E Siwela (ANC) said he struggled to understand where the two entities fit into the DBE organogram. Are these entities going to schools and playing the same role and doing the same work as subject advisors? What training has been provided for teachers and subject advisors as so many of them have been trained. Is it about the methodology?
Ms C King (DA) appreciated the presentations. For NECT, when looking at curriculum differentiation of inclusive education for full-service schools, with the new lesson plans that were designed, is it effective to address different learning needs in inclusive schools? There are time constraints and a curriculum that needs to be finished yet one must avoid leaving behind those who cannot keep up? Has NECT been involved in the curriculum review process with DBE because teachers have complained that they feel overburdened with more administrative work. She asked NECT and NEEDU if some duplication might come into some of their research work. NECT and NEEDU are independent but it sounds like duplication. It is pleasing to see there were dialogues. Has there been a dialogue on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and the content that should be in the textbooks? Were parents involved in the dialogues? This comprehensive sexuality education curriculum has been raised on numerous occasions by parents. It is also pleasing to see that NECT and NEEDU are doing something about reading and that they are very proactive. Kids need to develop themselves further and access proper library facilities at schools. According to the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme, not many library facilities have been built. What is NECT and NEEDU’s view on libraries being needed to address reading at schools. Most of the public library books are outdated and we would then look to schools to offer these facilities that are non-existent. Has NEEDU done research on the effectiveness of multi-grade classrooms when it comes to reading, especially in the foundation phase and especially in rural areas where you see this happen?
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi said that there is a problem with the existence of both stakeholders and their responsibilities have a lot of duplication. NECT and NEEDU are responsible for the development of teachers and ensuring there is improvement in mathematics, science and reading but we all know there is bad performance in certain areas. We have not been doing well and it is not as if NECT and NEEDU are just starting. They have been in existence for a while and this is where we are, despite NECT and NEEDU being responsible for ensuring that our learners’ education improves. There is a realisation that we are not getting value for our money from NECT and NEEDU because we are not probing. It is all good and well that quintile 1, 2 and 3 good schools have been visited but our standard should be to get to quintile 4 and 5. We all deserve good quality education so if we are looking for good practices we have to look at quintile 4 and 5 schools, see what they are doing and also look at their budget. The budgets that our schools are getting have not been improved, so clearly budgeting plays a crucial role. We also need to look at social issues; we have a very high increased rate of violence in our schools, especially in quintile 1, 2 and 3 schools and this is because our learners do not have any sports facilities. They are not involved in any social aspects of the school to ensure they improve as citizens and improve their character. Those are issues that NECT and NEEDU need to look into. It is their responsibility to look at how schools are performing and advise the Minister on what needs to be done. Quintile 4 and 5 should be the standards we are trying to achieve. We cannot be looking at quintile 1, 2 and 3 because then it is a race to the bottom.
Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) wanted clarity on the exact period both presentations were based on. The presentations were very broad, much more provincial specific data is needed because in the NECT presentation on slide 10 six provinces are referred to and 6000 stakeholders. Which provinces? In future it would be helpful if it was more provincial specific. At some point there must be proper research on which departments, entities and department sections works on Early Childhood Development (ECD) and what is everyone’s role. It sounds duplicated because everyone is involved with everything and that cannot be the case. There must be clear guidelines on who does what. The Committee would like communities to take ownership of schools. How are communities involved to take ownership? There was also a concern about sanitation, clarity is needed about what sanitation system was chosen and where it was from. The graphics of the sexuality education workbooks were terrible.
Ms N Shabalala (ANC) said the NEEDU presentation was liked as it said “every child is a national asset”. Taking best practices from schools that are doing well – how are they doing this with schools that are not doing well as it might be comparing apples with oranges instead of comparing apples with apples? It must be done with schools that are similar in classroom size and facilities. For example, sporting facilities at schools is one of the areas where partnering needs to be looked at.
The Chairperson said the presentations have strengthened the Committee’s knowledge. She asked NECT about the content of the dialogues on school safety and if stakeholders are providing solutions to school safety challenges? The Committee had a briefing from the police and the conclusion they came to was that it is a societal issue. Kids learn gangsterism from their communities which they then take to school. On slide 8, there is a concern about values being left out as it is the cornerstone in the education system. What does NECT plan about initial teacher training? She requested sample copies of the new grade 4 to 7 life skills textbooks when they are completed. She asked if NECT has staff that are permanently employed, where are the offices and if sponsorship is received. How it is regulated by DBE and who audits the financial books?
She asked NEEDU to explain its research methodology where it speaks of collection of data on slide 8. On documenting good practices, did NEEDU take into account lower quintile schools as well as special schools in the report? Does NEEDU have permanent staffing? Her observation was that NEEDU is concentrating more on schools that are doing well rather than on schools that are not really doing well in our society. Is NEEDU functioning without enabling legislation or if there is an Act on NEEDU, this needs to be explained?
Director General response
Mr Mweli answered the questions directed at NEEDU by the Chairperson. NEEDU focused on schools that work. He wanted to point out that for a school to perform they do not have to be in quintile 4 and 5. This does not refer to the standard of the school. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) will tell you that our quintile 4 and 5 were performing far below schools of the same level in other countries. That is why we cannot use quintile 4 and 5 as a standard because they, themselves, need to improve. Therefore we looked at poorer schools – quintiles 1 to 3 – and what makes a poorer school perform well and the results show that there are basic things that make these poor schools perform. Any education system that does not have values and the right attitude is bound to struggle.
The definition of education is “impartation of knowledge, skills, values and attitude”, and that is what education is about. Surprisingly, many of the quintile 1 to 3 schools were performing better than quintile 4 and 5, it is not resources. Resources are important to just level the playfield, that is crucial, but resources do not do the work and teach, and surprisingly, we could find schools that are performing in all provinces except for Western Cape. The Minister has put this to the Western Cape MEC and the Head of Department was written to and told to look into this. To turn the situation around we need to determine if changes are being made and to do this we will look at the poorest. This is done in all nine provinces with the focus on quintile 1 to 3 and not quintile 4 and 5. It is about picking up best practices and that is why we are looking at schools that are performing. The diagnostic report from the National Planning Commission said before 2010, 80% of our schools were dysfunctional. So we are looking at best practices of schools that are performing. Then you can go to a dysfunctional school in the same locality, in the same ward and point to the performing school. In some cases you will find that the school has a brand new building but it does not perform, and then you get a school with an old building with teachers who know what they are doing, the principal has a sense of direction and they are performing better than schools that have the best facilities.
Mr Mweli was in full agreement with Ms Shabalala. The notion of comparing apples with apples is an important statement. We are very cautious and ensure that the context is taken into account. The village as opposed to the suburb is a context you cannot compare. When you compare, the context must be taken into account. That is crucial. This is why Dr Sithole was looking at quintile 1 to 3, and NEEDU knows how this poverty ranking is done in line with the ranking done in the municipal wards which uses a unique index.
Ms Van Der Walt, he replied that the next presentation will be better with the data provincially segregated.
To Ms Tarabella-Marchesi, the notion of quintile 4 and 5 has been discussed already. He invited her to read the TIMSS report which will inform on how quintile 4 and 5 performed compared to other quintiles. It is for this reason that it quintile 4 and 5 cannot be used as a standard. This might also create a wrong impression that “if you are poor, there is very little or nothing that can be learnt from you”. It also creates another assumption that violence happens only in quintile 1 to 3 schools. It is not because they are quintile 1 to 3 but the social sciences say schools located in violence ridden areas are bound to be affected by that as what happens in a community spills over into the schools. Schools are social institutions, you do not experience violence because they are quintile 1, 2 and 3, it is because of where they are located. The wrong impression is “if you are poor you are violent” and that is really not the case. This is his humble submission. She is entitled to her view but it might carry the wrong impression that if you are poor, you are violent.
To Ms King, the bulk of the questions will be answered by Mr Khosa but we do communicate about curriculum review and we bring teachers on board. On duplication, it is understood that it is observed that way as the Committee is not in the Department and does not coordinate line functions. The duplications might be perceived but they are not necessarily real. Some functions that used to be the Delivery and Oversight Unit are performed by NEEDU and it will take quite long to explain how the Delivery and Oversight Unit was conceived, but that was learnt from Britain. The role of the unit is to look for blockages in the system, identify those blockages, unblock them and then hand over the function to the real owners of the function, telling them to perform as the unit has now shown how to fix the problem, do not break it again and run with it properly, and then observation takes place. This is part of what NEEDU is doing. NEEDU does research independent of line functions and tell us what is wrong and how to fix it. They then hand over the responsibility to those who are supposed to run it properly.
The NECT is created as an agile entity which is free from the bureaucracy of taking three to six months to call for tenders and all of those things. There is a CEO who can decisions on the spot and do things more quickly than it can be done with all the bureaucracy, and that is the difference between the two. The reason NECT is involved in some of the functions we should be doing is because we are not performing as we should be performing. The intention is for NECT to come and breathe in life and get us to run quicker and better, and see things different from the way we see them in the system. The nature of a bureaucracy is to focus only on the line functions. But when you are outside the system, you are not constrained by the way the bureaucracy operates along line functions. They are able to run over those things and show you how to do better and different. The other thing is NECT has the confidence of the private sector because they are not necessarily part of the system. The private sector will trust them better than they do us. Communities tend to work better with NECT than with our officials because they are not part of us; and that is the value that you get from an entity like the NECT. Some of the things might appear to be the same but NECT is intended really to strengthen, compensate and to enhance what exists.
To Mr Siwela, more or less your question has been addressed. The way NEEDU is located in the organogram of the department is there is a dotted line to the Head of Department and a solid line from the head of NEEDU to the Minister. It is there in the DBE organogram. The NECT is an entity outside like Umalusi, you do not find them in our organogram but they relate to us through line functions. For instance, NECT works through a line function of Branch P where partnerships and other responsibilities are located.
To Ms Sukers, Mr Sithole will explain the notion of how it contributes to discipline. In schools that work, one cardinal attribute that they get right is discipline. One of those that contributes towards that begins the first minute of the period and learners take charge of the situation; there is leadership from learners and you will not have discipline issues. A functional and performing school does not really have discipline issues. Discipline issues are usually associated where things are not happening when they should be happening. More will be shared about this.
Mr Mweli said from the Department, if NECT works with officials and they are not doing what they are expected to do, the authority of line function is not suspended and NECT works with line functions. In the provinces, it works with the Superintendent-General right down to even district level. The authority is in place. NECT simply communicates and works with all of us within the value chain and gets things done as they are expected to.
Dr Sithole said that Mr Mweli has covered most of the questions raised and he will reply to those that Mr Mweli did not. NEEDU stakeholders are those that are relevant to the research projects that we do. Our research project right now is about the use of workbooks and it is focused on the Foundation phase. The relevant stakeholders would be Foundation phase subject advisors, teachers, departmental heads. Thus it depends on the research project. The role of NEEDU is to conduct research projects and identify what is working and not working in the system. Then NEEDU presents that to the relevant stakeholders. In Schools That Work, the relevant stakeholders are principals, South African School Principals Association, and National Association of School Governing Bodies, as they want to ensure that the good practices can be replicated in all schools. NEEDU had findings on how school governing bodies are supporting schools on absenteeism and parental involvement.
To Ms Sukers, in speaking about discipline, it is discipline across the board - discipline for teachers, discipline for learners and even discipline for parents. There is one school that says parents are accountable for discipline, if a child is brought late to school, then they are not disciplined parents. There is also a couple of schools where a common practice now is for the class captain to keep records indicating what time a teacher came to class. This record is kept because when it becomes an issue, the teachers must be held accountable. So it is about everyone being held accountable to ensure there is discipline.
To Ms King, no research was done on multi-grade schooling. We are not doing too well as a country with reading but what we are doing in the study we are doing now, is again documenting good practices because there are pockets of excellence particularly at schools who are doing well in reading. It is true that many schools do not have libraries. NEEDU does find that some schools have reading corners and principals ensure that part of the budget goes to buying books for those reading corners.
To the Chairperson, NEEDU’s research methodology is to ensure that they are increasing so when they do a sample, they include special schools, public schools and different quintiles and all the provinces as they want to ensure that their samples are representative of the system. NEEDU has staff which are on contract; they are responsible for collecting and analysing data. The DG provides compensation for the staff who are working for NEEDU. NEEDU works within DBE but independently so they do not have an Act that regulates them as NEEDU.
Mr Khosa said that he will be picking up on aspects that the DG left out. To Mr Moroatshehla, quite unique to South Africa is we have a long history of the multi-stakeholder approach to development and it is something that we should not take lightly nor miss the opportunity to utilise it, whether it is in the delivery of the democracy we have or addressing a contentious issue. Secondly, there is a long history of the private sector working in the education space and part of the challenge is lack of coordination or the private sector doing things that are not in line with what government is trying to do. So the role of the NECT in that space is to try and coordinate the private sector support of the initiatives driven by NECT. We have seen a lot of appreciation from the private sector companies for these opportunities for philanthropy. Of course they must have an interest in improving education, and not just marketing their companies.
When working with various stakeholders with different backgrounds, there will definitely be tensions, but ideally if you put a business person across a teacher at a table, there will be tension. There is tension between the private sector and government but it has been better to have these people in one room to clear the tension, and in fact, the perception gaps are being minimised as we move ahead, but it is something that NECT manages on an ongoing basis. NECT briefs people, engages people, people have issues and NECT goes to clarify it until we find one another. In fact, if the NDP is looked at, there are a number of instances where the NDP speaks about common mindsets, and common mindsets have to be worked on, on an ongoing basis.
On whether the private sector comes in with expectations, of course there are those that come in with expectations. NECT has noted those and deals with them. The starting point is that philanthropy is about giving without having expectations. In most cases, NECT does not deal with the company itself but with its foundation. The foundation uses the profits allocated to social development and we channel those into the work that we do. There are lots of lessons that we are learning, but when NECT started it took the 30 year history of stakeholder involvement including the private sector and looked at where it was weak and how it could be strengthened. One of the things is, if you have clear, well researched, monitored programmes it helps to focus the stakeholders on the key purpose. NECT has done much better than in the first 15-20 years in democracy because of this structure that we have established. It is not that there are no challenges but the challenges are dealt with on an ongoing basis.
Mr Khosa agreed with Ms Van Der Walt about the Life Skills textbooks. Dr Watson and Dr Whittle were overseeing that initiative and should, at the right moment, bring those textbooks in. All NECT is doing is paving the platform for them to quickly identify someone who specialises in whatever they are looking for, contract them, and make the resources available for the development work to happen. So it is facilitation work that NECT does.
NECT agrees that it is important to provide provincial specific data. On who is doing the sanitation, all the people who approached NECT when the President said that facilitation must take place, there was a list of them and they were briefed, they then showed NECT their technology which was sent to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Water Affairs to ensure their technologies are assessed for compatibility. Some have already done that and some have not. Those that are not compatible, have not proceeded. Over 20 schools have been covered. The first was covered by Pick n Pay, the second was provided by ASUPOL and in all the cases where we engaged these people, the owner of the money and DBE as the recipient was involved in the decision making and the design of the whole thing. It is transparent and on the table, and efficiency, effectiveness and maintenance are looked for. The Committee will be happy to know that there are 6 PhD students who are presenting reports on a sociological assessment of the utilisation of toilets and various technologies, because NECT wants to see how the communities use these.
To Ms Sukers, FOP stands for Fundamentals of Performance. It is a term used for all the key areas that districts have to be doing work on and the key message is that districts have to be assessing themselves across all those areas without turning a blind eye on any of them. We have seen a pattern of key areas that districts are stronger in and key areas that districts across the country are weaker in.
To Mr Siwela, the training that is provided is curriculum management which is a joint responsibility of teachers, head of departments, principals, circuit managers, and district officials. We have a curriculum in this country and we all need to have a common understanding, view and approach on how we manage its delivery on a day to day basis. Of course if one is going to manage curriculum delivery work there must be a focus on aspects of content and methodology.
To Ms King, curriculum differentiation is a difficult area and the majority of the schools will be non-inclusive schools, non-small schools and not multi-grade schools. In the main, the design of the materials we use are for mainstream schools and the messaging that is given to teachers in inclusive schools and multi-grade schools is that it must just serve as a benchmark. As professionals in very unique and difficult circumstances, they would have to see how to adjust that. NECT admits that curriculum differentiation is still a challenge it is facing. Curriculum review work is done in collaboration with subject advisors, so representation of subject advisors across all the provinces are involved with this work. It is their work that is facilitated through NECT and every point of the development is reviewed, feedback is made and changes are made on the basis of that. There is no dialogue on the sexuality policy yet, but it will be organised.
On school safety, this is the second time NECT has this summit.The first round NECT allowed everyone who is impacted by the issue, whether it is South African Police Service, teachers union or the principals association, to say to what extent they are impacted and what have they been doing alongside the department. There were agreements on what they were going to do together, and in fact, NECT continues to support a secretariat that brings these stakeholders together on an ongoing basis to see to it that they are continuing to work together to address safety in spite of its complexities and its linkages to all sorts of social structural challenges in society.
To the Chairperson, "values" are conceived in the framework as part of "character". Using that framework to assess the curriculum, NECT has covered many of the 21st Century competencies as South Africa, well in advance of the 21st Century Teaching discourse. NECT has about 25 staff members at head office and 60% of those are post-graduates. These are young people that NECT is exposing from different fields – legal, human resources – who NECT tries to teach and "spare" in the system. In the provinces where NECT works, there are fixed term contractors who are engaged as and when work is available and that number is between 70 and 150, depending on which projects are running. NECT is looking at increasing the number of youth involved in the leading space, so NECT is speaking to a number of possible funders. This would increase the number of people working on the ground. In terms of governance, NECT has a board that represents government, private sector, teacher unions and civil society. This board religiously meets up every quarter. NECT is audited by Ernst & Young and each year the board receives proposals from a number of auditing companies and one is chosen who will audit NECT.
Closing Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson thanked DBE, NECT and NEEDU. Mr Mahada was congratulated by the Committee.
The Committee approved the meeting minutes of 29 and 30 October 2019.
The meeting is adjourned.