Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme & Post-Provisioning Norms: Department briefing; with Deputy Minister

Basic Education

12 November 2019
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to be briefed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the Post-Provisioning Norms (PPN) for 2020 and the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme. Additionally, the Committee considered and adopted its draft minutes dated 5 November 2019. The Deputy Minister of Basic Education was present.

The presentation on the Post-Provisioning Norms explained the 2020 post provisioning process by Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). The intention of a post provisioning policy and model is to ensure that an affordable basket is distributed equitably among public schools in each province. The briefing covered the weightings and budget, 2020 post provisioning process, final staff establishments to schools, budget, educator posts for 2020, learner-educator ratio, office-based educator posts for 2020, public service posts for both office and schools in 2020, conditional grants and retirements. The presentation then outlined the implications of budget cuts in the basic education sector, government investment, the preliminary 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation for basic education, the provinces (conditional grants) and equitable shares. Members were also informed of demographic pressures, school enrolment patterns, reprioritisation across sectors within the provinces and 2020 MTEF proposed budget cuts for Provincial Education Departments (PEDs).

The presentation of the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme addressed the teacher education improvement framework, growth of the size of teacher education, the Funza Lushaka business process map and management of the Funza Lushaka programme. Achievements, challenges, placement and solutions were also presented to the Committee.

The Committee was concerned about the placement of teachers and prioritisation of the bursary programme. Concern was broad on the effect of budget cuts and mitigation of its effects. Members questioned the decrease in the number of teachers placed in schools, the aging cohort of teachers

On the PPN, Members wanted to know if Limpopo would retain the same PPN over 2020, provinces not submitting reports and documents, student to teacher ratios in the provinces and the determination of posts. Members were concerned about the closing of schools that have a low number of students and the massive effect this will have. Concern was broad on the effect of budget cuts and mitigation of its effects.

Meeting report

Post-Provisioning For 2020: Summative Report

Ms Simone Geyer, DDG, DBE, presented the report to the Committee which covered the 2020 post provisioning process by Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). The presentation began with background and context noting that the intention of a post provisioning policy and model is to ensure that an affordable basket is distributed equitably among public schools in each province.

Ms Geyer then takes the Committee through the weightings and budget, 2020 post provisioning process, final staff establishments to schools, budget, educator posts for 2020, learner-educator ratio, office-based educator posts for 2020, public service posts for both office and schools in 2020, conditional grants and retirements.

The presentation then outlined the implications of budget cuts in the basic education sector, government investment, the preliminary 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation for basic education, the provinces (conditional grants) and equitable shares.   

Members were also informed of demographic pressures, school enrolment patterns, reprioritisation across sectors within the provinces and 2020 MTEF proposed budget cuts for Provincial Education Departments (PEDs).

Looking at possible areas of budget cuts, the only possible area that can absorb the proposed baseline reductions would be within the Compensation of Employees (CoE). However, the impact of this would mean the reduction of educators’ posts and this cannot be implemented with the least implications for service delivery - as required by National Treasury. This would have adverse implications on Post Provisioning Norms (PPN) of the PEDs, which is already under pressure; an teaching and learning. Historically, the PEDs were obligated to absorb the impact of the wage negotiations, where salary increases far greater than the budgeted cost of Improvement in Condition of Service (ICS) was implemented. PEDs continue to feel the impact of this, due to the cumulative effect it has had on the cost of personnel/ compensation of the PEDs. The PEDs CoE budget is under pressure to accommodate the 2018 general public sector salary increase agreement (educators pay progression equalisation) whereby educators qualifying for the pay progression are entitled for 1.5% pay progression instead of previously 1%. The fiscus did not make any budgetary provisioning for the equalisation of educators pay progression, and this has a cumulative effect on the cost of personnel.

Basic Education is a labour intensive sector. The proposed budget cuts will adversely affect the provisioning of educators at school level.  The PPN will have to be reduced as a result of the 2020 MTEF budget cut. The reduction of PPN will have the following negative implications:

-Higher learner-teacher ratio from the applicable norms. Unintended consequences of the higher-learner to educator ratio on effective teaching and learning include the following:

-Additional pressure on educators

-Declining personnel morale

-Increasing educator resignations and/or absenteeism;

 

Goal 15 of Action Plan to 2019, which is to ensure availability and utilisation of teachers such that exclusively large classes are avoided, will not be met/achieved. Programme Performance Measures (PPM) targets will not be met whose performance depend on the filling of critical posts and increasing inefficiencies in the sector, namely, increasing the number of excess educators and acccruals will increase and this will negatively affect the future budgets of the PEDs.

The sector will rely on the bank overdraft and this will impact negatively on the financial sustainability of the PEDs. Most of the contractual obligations, under goods and services, which enables the sector to perform its function effectively will not be honoured. Non-compliance of the payment for the service rendered within 30 days, as required by section 30(1)(f) of the Public Finance Management Act. Non-monitoring of allocation to Section 21 schools. Non-monitoring and evaluation of the schools, i.e. support to schools will be compromised. Qualifying learners will not be provided with scholar transport. Examination activities will be compromised and matric pass rate target will not be achieved. The PEDs will not meet Goal 23 of Action Plan to 2019, namely, that schools are funded at least at a minimum per learner levels determined nationally and that funds are utilised transparently and effectively. Training programmes for both educators and non-educators will not be provided and this will lead to non-compliance with the skills levy. Municipal accounts will not be paid and this will result in more schools without the basic services such as water and electricity. The number of schools that are unable to keep up with their municipal accounts is growing/increasing annually. There is a number of existing classrooms that continue to have shortages of school furniture. Therefore, the school furniture backlogs will not be cleared/ addressed

Ms Geyer concluded by saying implementation of the Post Provisioning Norms has become one of the sector performance indicators. Therefore DBE monitors the implementation of PPN quarterly as part of reporting on sector performance information. The assessment covers both the technical and provincial process aspects of the PPN. The proposed budget cuts will have huge impact on the Post Provisioning.

It is recommended that the Portfolio Committee notes and discusses the status report on the 2020 Post Provisioning process by Provincial Education Departments (PEDs).

Progress Update on the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme

Mr Gerrit Coetzee, DBE Director: Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme, presented the Progress Updates on the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme. The presentation addressed the teacher education improvement framework, growth of the size of teacher education, the Funza Lushaka business process map and management of the Funza Lushaka programme.

Achievements include:

-implementation of a Consolidated Plan for the Identification, Recruitment, Training and Placement of teachers in the Basic Education Sector.

-introduction of the District and Community Based teacher recruitment strategies

-Guidelines to Provincial Education Departments for the Implementation of Teacher Recruitment Programmes were developed in consultation with provincial officials

-Selection Committee meetings of applicants recruited through the district- and community-based teacher recruitment campaigns are implemented in all provinces.

-tracking of the academic progress of students and measures to ensure students do not change subjects and courses. This allows improvement through the participation of departmental officials in all selection processes

-Memorandum of Agreement with NSFAS for the administration of the Funza Lushaka bursary. The Memorandum of Agreement will strengthen accountability and efficiency in the financial administration of the bursary programme

-modernisation of the Funza Lushaka Information Management System (FLIMS) completed. It is envisaged that the modernised FLIMS will contribute to efficiency and better management of the bursary programme.

 

Challenges:

-Information on projected teacher requirements in priority areas of need not always available

NSFAS is increasingly attracting many young people who want to become teachers to take up bursaries

-Without prescribed enrolment plans at universities, there is a risk that too many teachers will be produced in areas where an oversupply already exists

 

Solution:

-University enrolment planning for initial teacher education programmes is informed by evidence from the Basic Education Sector

-It is envisaged that a research study on teacher supply and demand that is being conducted by the DHET Stellenbosch University and the DBE will provide information that will strengthen planning

 

Placement:

-The Department has noted that the decrease in placement rates is linked to the overall provisioning challenges in PEDs that are related to financial constraints experienced in most provinces affecting the creation of posts

However, it was also noted that addressing some inefficiencies in the recruitment and deployment of educators in schools can improve, not only the placement rate of Funza Lushaka graduates but also of other initial teacher education graduates

Solution:

-The Department will work with provinces to focus on timeous filling of vacancies in particular promotional post vacancies, timeous movement of educators declared in addition, reduce the number of un-and-under qualified educators, reduce the number of foreign educators especially in non-scarce subject areas

-The Department will continue to work with PEDs to improve the quality of information on educator qualifications and area of specialisation to inform and strengthen planning.

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education was requested to discuss the progress update on the implementation of the Funza Lushaka bursary programme.

 

Discussion

Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) was worried about the matter of placement of teachers, given the prioritisation of teachers in the Funza Lushaka Programme. Teachers who are in the programme are prioritised over other teachers who may pay for their own education and struggle. Such a challenge needs to be given attention - not all teachers who pay for their own education are privileged and might still need aid in being placed.  He stated that he has information of certain teachers payinprg officials to manipulate the lists in order to be prioritised over other teachers in the system - these challenges also need attention. He asked if the decrease in the number of teachers being placed in schools is due to the Department reaching a saturation point where there are a sufficient number of teachers in schools. It can be seen that the ageing cohort of teachers, who are soon to retire, is a much larger number than the younger educators who are entering the system. This is obviously what is intended by the Department but how will it tackle the imbalance that would most probably harm the quality of teaching and learning? He acknowledged the Department’s guide of teaching which structures teaching in schools. He also noticed that some provinces move greatly away from said guide - how does this impact the education system and how does the Department deal with such?

Mr Ngcobo spoke to the redeployment of teachers to other schools stating that the process brings about problems as teachers are labelled as “bad teachers” despite their ability. Such a matter needs to be addressed as these teachers are viewed as excess to the school and are more likely to be treated poorly compared to other educators. He was concerned about Limpopo which will retain the same PPN over to 2020 – how does this happen? He recognised even greater problems over the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces that do not seem to have submitted most of the documents which the Department requires. He asks whether there are any reasons for this and if these reasons lead to capacity challenges. KZN has no information on 2020 concerning specialised schools. This raises suspicion as to why this information has not been given. The teacher to student ratio in the Western Cape seems to be the highest - what informs this?

Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) raised concern in the way the posts are being determined in the PPN Programme - the number of posts for each school is determined by the weighted enrolments against the total number of posts in the school. However, who determines the criteria and, at the same time, what are the factors considered in the criteria? This is because greater consideration is always given to those rare skills of maths, science and IT, but certain subjects, such as woodwork and drawing which would obviously not be present in poor and rural schools, are weighted more than other important subjects such as history. This weighting system continues to harm the most marginalised, and the closing of the gap becomes a challenge. Majority of rural schools continue to be depopulated because of such determination.

Moving to Funza Lushaka, he questions the prioritisation of placement for teachers that are part of the programme over those who have struggled and received their education by their own means. A gifted student who is a part of the bursary will be given preference over the student who has had to pay and struggle for his diploma due to what could be a small mark deviation. He asks whether such a process is a time-bomb where students and parents would create uproar to also be accommodated since the teacher in the programme does not pay for their education and then is placed over the other teachers.  

Ms N Tarabella Marchesi (DA) cites slide 19 and states the learner to educator ratio is not accurate. She asks for a more specific ratio which should be shown for quintile one, two and three schools - if one were to look at the ratio of all the quintiles combined, it reduces that average significantly for rural areas. Accurate numbers for rural area schools need to be provided for to better assess the problem. She cites schools that have been converted from previously economic schools, yet the teachers were not redeployed to schools relevant to their qualification. She asks whether they have the number of teachers who have been redeployed due to such conversion, and what process has been put in place in order to deal with the conversions. She raises fear over the closing of some schools, which have a low number of students, and acknowledges the massive effect that such a process will have. She asks how this will impact in the reduction of the student to teacher ratio and how the Department will go about dealing with the problem.

Moving to Funza Lushaka, she asks how successful the Department has been in the placement of teachers, insofar as these teachers going back to their community and teaching there, and what incentives are provided. Additionally, how many of these members stay in the system as teachers, and how many move to an alternative career choice? Concerning the placement of teachers, especially in the bursary, is there leverage the bursary could use on where to place the teachers over that of the school's decision of hiring the teacher?

Ms C King (DA) cited the discussion with unions on the provided budget cuts and asked whether there was any discussion that occurred with the POD's on how to mitigate the effect of budget-cuts in provinces, such as the Eastern Cape, which will be expecting an increase of staff in 2020. The full-service calls for the inclusive education project which is expected, in 2020, to increase the student to teacher ratio. How will the project impact the budget-cut which is to be projected? On redeployments, most governing bodies target educators whose subject appear redundant - it would not be possible to adopt a skills development programme for these teachers who seems to have limited teaching skills? Such subjects include life orientation and biblical studies. 

Ms King then moves to Funza Lushaka and asks what steps can be taken to place unplaced graduates into a school. She cites 687 students are unplaced and asks whether they have been absorbed into the system and if so, how many have not yet found placement. Is there is a certain portion allocated for teachers who would like to teach in the remedial special-needs field? This has not been seen in the presentation. She asks whether the Funza department factored in the students who are interested in teaching and the subjects they take. This is because the core subjects, which are scarce-skills in the teaching field, are not taken by these students and the students with these subjects generally move into commerce and science fields of work. For example, a student who studied core maths, or the sciences, would rather go into another field than that of teaching.

Mr T Malatji (ANC) commented on the importance of the Funza Lushaka programme and states sustaining the programme as progressive. This is because the number of young people who want to teach is gradually decreasing. However the programme needs to be better developed to keep these students in the system, as there are many graduates of the programme who teach for only a few years and then move to another career path. Subjects such as coding and history should be compulsory for teachers - this is so that teachers will obtain knowledge of subjects which are scarce in the field and display a better understanding of what the Department wants to achieve. Rural schooling needs to be more attractive for teachers, either through incentives or packages provided. Another attraction to rural schools should be the creation of better infrastructure in and around the school – however this might only occur through a combined effort from different departments.

Ms N Adoons (ANC) welcomed the presentation and stating it was informative. She was apprehensive about the stats provided as it seemed the Department is moving backwards in a sense. She asks about the implications of teachers who are funded by Funza Lushaka and graduate but cannot be absorbed in the system and placed in a school because of budget cuts. Such a challenge highlights the importance of teachers with more specialised skills and knowledge of multiple important subjects. She was concerned about the lack of information provided on the teacher's training and placing in schools with special needs students and student with disabilities. She asked about the implications of migration of the ECDs to basic education and the training processes in place for such migration. She asked if Department has analysed a better way to place the budget cuts to mitigate problems that may arise due to it, and if so, what these recommendations are.

Ms N Shabalala (ANC) cited slide 15 on the PPN presentation and asked about implications which may arise in the decline of posts in Gauteng, compared to other provinces and if the decline is due to budget cuts. She then cited page 21 and observed a decline in the posts of KZN – is this due to the budget cuts and what are the implications?

The Chairperson highlights a slide in the PPN presentation that address provinces such as the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga which have not yet submitted most of their documents and reports. She asks when the reports may be made available and what may be causing the delays in the submission of the report. She then cited that KZN will be most adversely affected by the budget cut, by over R2 billion – why is the budget cut so great in KZN in particular? She then raised the matter of the inequality gap not addressed in the PPN presentation - the funding and budget cuts do not adequately address the difference in quintile schools. Upper quintile schools can charge greater amounts due to the cuts and not be as impacted as the lower quintile schools where it is impossible to charge the students. This needs to be acknowledged in the deciding of budget cuts for these schools, given the current schooling systems in South Africa.

Moving to Funza Lushaka, she stated the matter of placement of graduates is rooted in poor planning. This is because the smaller provinces, such as the Northern Cape, have a 100% placement rate yet larger provinces, such as the Western Cape and KZN, struggle with a large number of unplaced graduates. She was concerned by the movement from rural to urban areas by young teachers - plan is in place to keep these teachers in these areas where they are needed?  She asked if the relation to NSFAS and the negative stigma around NSFAS impacts the bursary.

Responses

Dr Reginah Mhaule, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, thanked the Chairperson for accepting her apology for being late. She handed over to the Department to answer the questions.

Dr Granville Whittle, DDG: Educational Enrichment Services, DBE, said budget-cuts are a reality for all governmental departments and DBE has had two meetings with the Head of Education departments to discuss the implications of budget cuts. The meetings resulted in communication with Treasury on how budget cuts must be handled. Treasury first advised on cutting the conditional grants. The second best place advice is to cut Compensation of Employees (COE) - HODs of the provinces objected to this though as the implications for this would impact service delivery. The solution to such budget cuts has yet to be provided by Treasury but it has reported that engagement will continue with the sector on how to mitigate such cuts.

Dr Whittle said the challenge of placements applies not only to Funza graduates but also the 25 000 other young teachers that are produced on an annual basis which is a real problem. The root cause of the problem is the budget – Treasury will typically allocate less than the final budget settlement which was agreed upon and ask provinces to find the extra percent within their overall budget. Due to such a request, the COE of provinces has drastically escalated due to the need for budget reallocation and lack of budget control. This results in provinces not being able to afford the employment of further teachers. Provinces such as the Western Cape have allowed the learner-educator ratio to increase, which has allowed it to retain the cost COE. This is not an adequate solution.  There are about 10 000 promotion posts for the last two years that have remained vacant. This does not mean there is not a HOD in these schools - this is just so that provinces only pay the top-up for teachers who fill both positions and not the actual full salary. This leads to greater challenges as these teachers remain at post level one teaching, not moving up to post level two and take up the space for level one recruitment.

Foreign educators should be placed in a position that does not require scarce skills due to the lack of space for recently graduated South African teachers in the field.  These scarce skills are found mainly at the high school level and therefore less foreign educators should be seen in primary schooling. This is not the case and provincial HODs need to make an effort to employ South African educators in positions where scarce skills are not required.

Placement challenges have always been much greater in KZN over any other province. This is because KZN had over 5 000 unqualified teachers, and many foreign educators filling positions. The rooted challenge in KZN is political - communities in the province put pressure schools that take in teachers from outside the community. Often these schools will have to make a difficult decision of either not having a maths teacher or having a teacher of the community who is unqualified. The Western Cape is another province where there are challenges in placement of recent graduates. The province often opts to retain teachers who have recently retired - this retention again fills positions that could be taken up by other teachers and allow for greater space for graduates.

Dr Whittle then addressed the learner-teacher ratio. Many schools, especially quintile four and five, employ their own School Governing Body (SGB) teachers. These are further positions which could be filled by teachers in the Department's system but are yet to be placed. These problems have been presented to the Council for Educators. The Department will be working with the Council for the coming months to establish solutions for the poor intake of recently graduated teachers.

Ms Geyer said that with regard to the PPN, many of the questions were directed towards the process in which the Department handles it and if there is a better way of handling it. These questions have been asked previously and in response, the Department has created a task team to establish a better way of distributing the posts. In the current situation, the distribution of posts is unemotional and is a simple weighting of student and subjects against the budget. This system is not used internationally and is not used in different systems of government, such as hospitals and courts. The task team is therefore given the mandate to establish a better model in the distribution of teachers, taking into consideration urban and rural areas and the subjects needed in each school.  This establishment may be difficult due to budget cuts currently underway, but this is the given solution to the problem. 

On the tracking of the running of the current model for provinces, the Department runs every provinces PPN model itself to determine whether they used the model or deviated. The Department can therefore detect if a province has deviated, and the reason behind the deviation. In some cases, the problem of having more grade R classes is a reason for deviation, as the grade was not a factor in the model for schools. Most arguments for deviation with the model are justifiable as provinces attempted to use it as much as possible but the budget and model did not correlate.

Ms Geyer then moves to the topic of the ageing cohort, stating the cohort sits between 35 and 65. This means the Department will not lose teachers immediately but rather the ageing cohort will retire gradually over the next decade. Given the percentage of teachers that retire gradually, there should not be any challenges, but there needs to be precautions if a larger percentage of teachers take the retirement package and if the Department has enough graduates to be placed in these positions. Therefore, even though it seems as if the Department favours Funza graduates, the circumstances of what happens in the system is so that the Department has enough placement possibilities for the entire student population who will graduate as teachers. For this to occur, it requires a large amount of policing by the Department for provinces to not keep unqualified teachers and foreign teachers in positions that do not require scarce skills. She believed the Department will not face a large number of teachers wanting to retire in one year, and will be able to plan and account for the gradual number of teachers leaving the system.

On the re-skilling of teachers, the Department has to establish profiling of the teachers retiring. Using such a profile, the Department can determine what the students study in order to become a teacher. Such a system will, therefore, allow for better-qualified teachers, who have the skills which are in need in the system.

Regarding the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga, and the reason for the lack of documents handed in by the provinces, three provinces have signed collective agreements to maintain the PPN. The reason for this is to stabilise staff establishments and to move away from the continuous redeployment of teachers to different posts which include deep rural areas. Many of the teachers complain and are unable to move due to family and financial circumstances. The Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga are two of the three provinces. Ms Geyer believes what should have occurred is that a signed letter by the SG of the provinces should have been sent to the Department for it to better report to the Parliamentary Committee, yet this has not occurred. This collective agreement does not factor in budget cuts - even though they might not be impacted by the budget cuts immediately, they will be impacted by it over the next three years. She warns that the impact will affect these provinces, even if the budget improves in the years to come.

Ms Geyer said the challenges in KZN are multi-faceted and mainly political. This includes pressures of the community to not take in teachers from outside of the community - many of these teachers in the community and around many of the rural areas are unqualified. KZN struggles to provide the necessary information to the Department - this includes the information of special needs schools. This is because the province has yet to put a collective agreement in place. She hopes that such information will be made available soon but again warns that budget cuts will still be felt even if the province does not accommodate for it in the next year. 

On the question of how the Department will accommodate for new demands in the curriculum against the PPN model, DBE will resolve such challenges in the new model currently being researched. This is because it is very difficult to introduce new subjects to schools which do not have the facilities for them, and the current model does not accommodate for said schools. The new model will, therefore, take into account these redress factors to take into account schools without the lab or machinery.

Mr Coetzee said he will focus on five broad themes: special schools, retention, attracting the best students and recruitment and finally NSFAS and its relationship with Funza. The Funza Lushaka bursary includes and funds the education of sign language, brail, and the teaching of neurocognitive needs of students in the foundation phase, intermediate phase, as well as the senior phase. Funding is present from the first year to final year, and the bursary promotes and attracts teaching in this sector.   Universities have already begun to include special needs education into the teaching syllabus, and the bursary has already been awarded to students who are being taught in such a field.

Mr Coetzee highlights the matter of retention and its importance. Currently the bursary holder is required to sign a contract. The contract indicates the holder will teach for the number of years equal to the number of years for which they received a bursary. The contract stipulates the individual can be utilised anywhere within the country, but the Department often allows the province to decide the placing of the teachers. Therefore the bursary aims to retain these teachers within the specified field through the signed contract. Some provinces also offer allowances for teachers to be retained in schools in rural areas as well. The bursary, however, needs to look at retention more holistically and link it through to governmental rural development programmes.

Funza Lushaka aims to attract the best students and set high academic requirements for their students. This has been proven in the high percentage of students who were able to graduate in the standard time given. A theme the bursary focuses around is Fit-For-Purpose - the bursary works hand-in-hand with the Council of Educators to ensure the student they recruit have a passion and commitment towards the teaching profession. Included in the bursary is the prioritisation of funding for students who are set to teach in the technical schools - the bursary offers mechanical technology, agricultural sciences, electrical technology, civil technology, information technology, engineering graphic design, technical mathematics and technical science. Mr Coetzee was heartened at the fact that most of the technical universities offer these courses which can be funded by Funza, as its points to challenges of recruitment in these fields and not availability.

Mr Coetzee drew attention to the relationship the bursary has had with NSFAS and states the improvement can be seen over the past couple of years. Since implementation of the memorandum of understanding, a clear effort to aid the bursary can be seen by NSFAS. A more recent improvement would be obtaining a direct line to the directors of NSFAS - in cases where a student contacts the bursary, the situation can be remedied immediately through direct communication. A difficulty that the bursary has with NSFAS is with the bursary's own requirements. NSFAS can give funding to students very early in the year, yet Funza has criteria which need to be met before the funding can be granted - the business models, therefore, do not align, and challenges may arise. The bursary will resolve the said challenge by funding returning student early in the year, and only doing the checks post-registration.

Deputy Minister Dr Mhaule said that in education, everything is important and when budget cuts arise, it always seems of a great loss. The focus on where the cuts need to occur is essential. Ratios from student to teachers have always been a challenge but it ranges greatly - the former model C schools will always have a lower ratio. This is due to the quintile four and five schools having much larger school fees. In addition, these schools can outsource and receive resources from private businesses who want to market their products. Therefore, the learner to teacher ratio purported in provinces is not as accurate as the information depicts. The process of redeployment is consequently not because of the subjects that the teacher educates, but because the teachers are congested to one side of the province. The Funza bursary has considered this challenge as well and now can factor in the area from which the student is recruited. This allows for recently graduated teachers to be placed back to their home, without the concern of the teacher wanting to be placed out of the rural area.

Deputy Minister Dr Mhaule cited the challenge of absorption of teachers into the system. The determinant of the number of teachers being placed in the school is based on the criteria and needs of the school - the school will determine the streams, subjects and number of teachers required for each subject and the Department will have to work with such criteria. Therefore in such situations, the Funza Lushaka teacher is not preferred over any of the other teachers but rather all teachers are checked to see who fits the given criteria of the school. 

The idea that the teaching profession is an ageing profession is a myth, and the ratio of young teachers to ageing teachers is becoming gradually larger. Yet, this does not dismiss the challenge of retaining teachers who are retired. The retention of retired teachers occurs over every province in South Africa and needs to be dealt with as the retention prevents the allowance of younger teachers to be placed in these positions.

On the cutting of the conditional grant and its challenges, some provinces do not co-fund with national departments on infrastructure and in these instances, the conditional grant is the only funding available for the maintenance and improvement of infrastructure of the school. Cutting such a grant requires bridging that funding gap - this becomes a nightmare for the department. The conditional grant also covers the nutrition programme to which schools, mainly in rural areas, can feed the students. These feeding schemes are very important as research proves students who are fed can concentrate for longer periods of time. The final area to which the conditional grant may sometimes cover is the schools’ special needs programmes. These students often require those resources above that of the average student and access to these resources cannot be compromised.

Follow-Up Questions

Mr Ngcobo expressed great concern over the budget-cuts in the DBE. He states his concern needs to be recorded as the Deputy Minister has proven the detrimental impact budget cuts have on this specific Department. He found there was no clear response to the absence of the ad hoc pool of teachers within KZN and that KZN must be pressurised into giving a reason as to why it do not have that pool. He continues to state the abnormality in the growth of seven in KZN, yet the decline of 1 222 in Gauteng brings forward great concern. Limpopo and KZN did not respond to the lack of growth in teaching positions - the lack of reasoning for KZN is much worse since the lacklustre growth has been occurring over a longer period of time. A reason for this could be that the HOD of the province writes a secular to schools stating the principal must not enrol more students than what the school had the previous year. This occurrence is problematic since it prevents students from enrolling in schools which might have a larger number of enrolments than the previous year. 

Responses

Deputy Minister Dr Mhaule said the lack of documents and reports from the given provinces does not mean the reports and information will not be submitted later. The Department and Committee need to take into consideration that reports are based on registrations that occur for the following year. Other provinces might have finalised their report already, but there are provinces still dealing with problems such as parent objections and disputes. Gauteng needs greater attention from the Department, as the province has introduced e-applications – while this is an amazing improvement, it may lock out other learners out from applying to schools. She references this as one of the reasons why there has been an increase in "fly-by-night" private schools in the province. 

Deputy Minister Dr Mhaule said the capacity of schools, including the capacity of schools in KZN, is an important factor to be considered. Capacity is a challenge which needs to be dealt with as the Department needs to ensure the capacity of schools is not exceeded, but at the same time ensure every student is attending school. 

Ms Geyer said the Department does not yet have an answer to the question of the ad hoc posts. At the moment the provinces have not yet completed their consultation process with the unions and have yet to declare their establishments – after this is done, the information will be submitted to the Department. The Department then runs the model with the given data and thus can see what the full impression should have been and then come to an understanding as to why that did not occur. She speculated the deviation is a result of budget challenges but this cannot be verified until she runs the model. Such a process is essential to the province as allocated ad hoc posts provide security and a guaranteed replacement for any teacher who may leave the post under any circumstance.

Follow-up Questions

Mr Ngcobo corrected a point made by the Deputy Minister regarding KZN the process of the circular– this is factual and is not a challenge of capacity. The HOD of the province, when questioned on the matter, would not give a reason for such a circular as well.

Mr Moroatshehla said his question of criteria was not alluding to the allocation of posts or the curriculum but was referring to who decides which subject weighs more than another. He believes that deciding on the weighting of subjects can no longer be applicable today. 

Responses

Dr Whittle agreed with the comment made by Mr Moroatshehla. It is for this reason that the Department has been working with the unions to look at difficulties experienced with the model. The task team that was mentioned prior has been working on such challenges and the Department hopes to come back with answers to these given questions. 

Consideration and Adoption of Draft Committee Minutes dated 5 November 2019

The Chairperson took Members through each page of the minutes asking the Committee if any matters have arisen.

Ms King stated that it needs to be noted that the DA and ACDP objected to the fact that the Committee will open further consultation with relevant stakeholders, especially parents, on the scripted lesson plans.

Committee minutes dated 5 November 2019 were adopted with amendments.

Committee Business

The Chairperson said the Committee received a response on the Griqua matter. The Department responded that it would not be able to build a school in the given area, despite requests because there are only 30 learners in this area and the closest school is 12km away. This distance is not excessively far compared to the number of learners in the area. 

Ms Marchesi asked if this will be presented to the Committee.

The Chairperson confirmed this.

Ms Marchesi questioned whether this was the correct approach or whether it would simply be better to write a letter of rejection. The Committee would be asking for a presentation on a project that was not accepted.

The Chairperson believed the procedure of bringing the requestors to present was already agreed upon and date has already been set, therefore the Committee must follow-through with the presentation.

Ms Shabalala agreed that the presentation should occur.

The meeting was adjourned.

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