The Committees resolved to consider the adoption of the Department of Basic Education’s budget and its strategic plan as presented on 5 May 2020. This following the legal opinion by Parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Services Office that the strategic plan, inclusive of the APP, must not be out of kilter with the Appropriation Bill that is currently before National Assembly Committees. The strategic plan, inclusive of the Annual Performance Plan, must thus be reported on and the vote must be adopted notwithstanding that there would be an adjustment to the budget at a later stage.
In the presentation, SACE emphasised Programme 2: Professional Registration and Programme 3: Ethical Standards, were the progammes where SACE had the most challenges.
According to SACE, investigations and disciplinary hearings will not proceed as planned, due to social distancing, travelling restrictions and the unavailability of learners as witnesses due to the closure of schools. This will result in a very slow turnaround time, and the rolling over of many cases to the next financial year. The application of justice on the part of children will thus be delayed.
After the Committees heard that the educators who are found guilty of violating ethical standards moved from province to province, they asked SACE about measures in place to ensure that perpetrators are easily identified. Members also asked about the existence of measures prohibiting the readmission of these educators into the education sector.
Members of the Committees and SACE officials agreed on the need to urgently close loopholes in the legislation on transgressors re-entering the sector; these measures to prevent re-entry could be included in legislation such as the Children’s Act. SACE revealed that in many instances it is difficult to impose sanctions against those found guilty, since parents do not always allow their children to be witnesses, perpetrators bribe parents, and some employers fail to impose or effect sanctions.
Members asked about the option of doing virtual disciplinary hearings. SACE responded that an exploration of options such as video link and its admissibility were explored, but the disadvantages of such options outweighed the advantages, especially considering that a regulatory enquiry approach relies on putting the conduct of an educator accused of professional misconduct conduct to the test, and children are involved as witnesses. This can make virtual prosecuting systems very complex to conduct.
SACE said that the SACE Act needs to be amended to give SACE more teeth to deal with some of these challenges. The CEO is personally doing research on the enforcement of the code of professional ethics. She stated that when the research is done, it could give SACE ideas on how to strengthen the discipline and sanctioning parts of the professional ethics code.
The Committees asked SACE to explain budget allocations of R1.5 million for publicity and communication, R3.4 million for rates, water and electricity; and R800 000 for telephone services. It was noted that SACE should not be budgeting so much for improvements to leased buildings. SACE was asked to submit a breakdown of expenditure and to include a sample of its distribution strategy.
Chairperson Opening Remarks
Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC), Portfolio Committee Chairperson, noted the legal opinion on the Annual Performance Plan (APP) which was straightforward. It would enable the Committee to better understand how to handle the tabled APPs and budgets of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and its entities. The Portfolio Committee would be finishing with the budget process next week.
Legal Opinion on Strategic Plan / Annual Performance Plan
Adv Andile Tetyana stated that his office was asked to provide an opinion on the consideration and adoption of the Department of Basic Education’s budget and strategic plan, in view of the anticipated adjustment budget, due to unexpected changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone acknowledged that the impact of COVID-19 would lead to adjustments in the Department’s budgets and plans. The kernel of his submission was that the strategic plan, inclusive of the APP, must not be out of kilter with the Appropriation Bill that is currently before the National Assembly Committees. These must be read together, and the plans are there to facilitate the passing of the Appropriation Bill.
He noted the regulatory environment. Section 10(1)(c) of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act 9 of 2009 provides: After the adoption of the fiscal framework, the relevant Members of Cabinet must table updated strategic plans for each Department, public entity or constitutional institution, which must be referred to the relevant committee for consideration and report.
The requirement is to table strategic plans in the context of the Appropriation Bill. The implication of not submitting a plan that speaks to the vote in the Appropriation Bill is that there would be a lack of information to consider the vote, and similarly, there would be a lack of any baseline to measure the effectiveness of the money spent. In our view, undoubtedly, this can lead to ineffective oversight.
Section 30(1) of the PFMA describes that the Minister may table an adjustments budget as and when necessary. Revised plans must be submitted with the adjustment budget that will be tabled sometime this year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If one looks at Section 12(2) of the Money Bills Act, it provides that an adjustments appropriation bill must be tabled with the national adjustments budget. Although we are anticipating a COVID-19 adjustments budget, the present Appropriation Bill is still before the National Assembly and its Committees. Accordingly, Ministers will still submit updated strategic plans with reference to the Adjustments Appropriation Bill. Revised plans must be submitted with the adjustments budget that will be tabled sometime this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is our opinion according to the Appropriation Bill, the current strategic plan, inclusive of the APP, must thus be reported on, and the vote must be adopted, notwithstanding that there will be an adjustment to the budget at a later stage.
The Chairperson believed that now all Members were at ease receiving the clarity needed from Parliament's Constitutional and Legal Services Office. Whatever DBE had planned, the reality was that things would not happen on the ground. The legal opinion was that the Portfolio Committee needed to adopt the budget while knowing that it is going to be adjusted when the time comes. The legal opinion allayed the Chairperson’s fears as the Committees were worried about this last week.
Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo), Select Committee Chairperson, seconded the motion to adopt the legal opinion. It was a matter of compliance; it was in compliance with the law that the Committees approve the budget, and then in the medium-term, the budget would be changed.
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) said it would be prudent for the Committees to agree to the legal opinion. The legal opinion was the Committees’ compass and its position.
South African Council of Educators (SACE) Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan, Budget
Ms Ella Mokgalane, SACE CEO was accompanied by SACE Councillor, Mr Nkosiphendule Ntantala, as the SACE Chairperson had sent an apology due to bereavement. Also present were Mr Morris Mapindani, CFO, and Ms Tuzana Sophethe, Manager for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Ms Mokgalane said that the SACE Strategic Plan, APP and budget were tabled in Parliament on 11 March 2020. She was making Members aware that there would be some deviation in performance indicators affected by the challenges and risks posed by COVID-19. She would show the mitigation strategies that SACE was taking to resolve some of these.
Ms Mokgalane introduced SACE itself as a body led by teachers, for teachers. SACE was mandated to focus on: professional standards; professional certification and re-certification; and quality management of professional development provisioning. She noted that SACE was consulting its stakeholders on re-certification; it was about ensuring that people did not become a professional member of SACE for life. Teachers needed to be updating their professional registration through the maintenance of continued professional development.
She noted the legislative and policy environment of SACE as a statutory body regulated by the SACE Act of 2000. SACE needed to work on ECD (early childhood development), and the registration of people outside DBE, such as TVET lecturers, and community education and training lecturers. The SACE Act has four regulatory frameworks that cover professional registration criteria; setting and enforcing professional teaching standards; the CPTD (continuing professional teacher development) management system, and code of professional ethics and procedures. SACE is not the provider of CPTD. CPTD was provided by the nine provincial education departments (PEDs), higher education institutions and other providers whose quality SACE assures. SACE manages the CPTD system, and ensures that teachers are participating in CPTD. SACE advises the Minister and the teaching profession if such things are not happening. SACE sets and enforces ethical standards through the code of professional ethics. SACE regulates across both the Departments of Basic Education and of Higher Education and Training, Science and Technology.
SACE has been working with higher education institutions across the country, both public and private, and the Education Deans’ Forum, to ensure that student teachers are brought on board. SACE is currently registering students only in the final year, but it is moving towards registering students from year one. The sector is moving towards establishing more focus schools in terms of the Sixth Administration priorities, and into technical vocational areas. SACE realised that there are not enough educators who are specialised in those areas; therefore, in focus schools, technical high schools, there are still educators who are providing a service to the children, yet are not necessarily fully qualified. For example, Gauteng has the School of Aviation – if SACE were to regulate the teaching profession, it means negotiating with the Civil Aviation Authority, so that such educators have dual registration from both their sector and SACE. It has institutional arrangements with SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority), the Department of Justice and Correction (DOJC) and the Department of Home Affairs, among others.
Strategic Plan 2020-2025
There are five programmes: Programme 1: Administration is fairly new, since SACE did not have it in the last five years, to support the core mandate of SACE. In Programme 2: Professional Registration, a new sub programme was data management. There are large amounts of data with registration, but SACE was not using such data effectively to inform planning within the sector; therefore, if it has an indicator that deals with data management, it could inform the profession, and ministry about the status and profile of the teaching profession, which would be helpful.
SACE fit within Priority 2 of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (Education, Skills and Health). There were five outcomes, each with an outcome indicator, baseline and five-year target. Each outcome was linked to a SACE programme. For example, the outcome Fit-to-practice registered Educators and lecturers was linked to Programme 2: Professional Registration. She also noted the key strategic issues that would inform the SACE agenda for next five years. An example is Promotion of the reading and learning teaching profession; SACE has started the process of developing a virtual library for registered teachers. This resource is not only about encouraging reading, but also encouraging research. One of the challenges within the teaching profession relates to teacher misconduct – thus another of the key issues is values and ethics in the teaching profession. For these issues to be solved, SACE needs to have data, so that it can lead the profession from an informed position and provide evidence-based advice to Council and the Minister.
Programme 1: Administration
It is a new programme, and supports the other divisions, to ensure that the Council has efficient and effective governance. Since this programme is new, it does not have historical data. Research does have historical data, since it was under professional development. SACE moved it out of professional development because it felt that Administration needed to support all the other functions within Council. It also needed to support SACE in terms of the role of SACE as a whole, and advising the Minister. This programme involves planning, governance, ICTs, corporate services. The programme is important because it is the one that must give assurance and safety to SACE employees. SACE needs to do inward analysis to have a staff that is motivated, safe, assured, and thus able to serve the teaching profession.
Ms Mokgalane wanted to emphasise Programmes 2 and 3, because these were the progammes where SACE had the most challenges.
Programme 2: Professional Registration
In 2018/19 29 765 out of 38 000 (78%) targeted educators were registered under new registration category.
The 8 235 (22%) negative deviation was created by:
- Introduction of the Police Clearance Certificate from 1 January 2019 and the slow turn-around time from the SAPS (SACE has since resolved this).
- Collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs and SAQA in implementing stringent verification processes for foreign nationals (foreign qualifications, permit to teach in South Africa, requirements for legal entry into the country, and others) prior to their registration.
- Academically qualified but professionally unqualified provisionally registered applicants who continue to fail to submit the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) as a professional teaching qualification.
- Sub programme 2.1 Registration of teachers and lecturers: under the first indicator, there was a reduction in the target between the 2019/20 and 2020/21. SACE did analysis, which said that it needed to reduce the target. SACE has created an online system for professional certification. SACE has been using the system; it has been testing teachers and student teachers who are registered with SACE. It has opened up the online system to all educators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Sub programme 2.2 Data management; SACE is aiming to have a report on the status and standing of the teaching profession. In a year, it is hoping to have two reports, so that it can state its data on the profile of teaching profession, and if it has the right mixture of shape, quality, and size of the profession. The Department of Higher Education is doing a lot of work with DBE on such data, and SACE information would complement that particular process. SACE has been using SAPS to screen teachers prior to registration. Since 1 January 2019, a total of 35 181 educators have been verified as fit-to-practice (through police clearance certificates) between January 2019 and March 2020. There were a few cases where people had criminal convictions; if someone has a sexual crime conviction, then SACE will not look at the application. However, there are certain categories to say that if a person has a certain kind of criminal conviction, then that person needs to appear before the fit-to-teach committee, which is there to assess and check the person’s rehabilitation process, and if there has been expungement of the record. On the basis of that, the committee can say if the person can come into the profession.
Additionally, a meeting between SACE and DOJC was held to discuss the administrative and logistical implications for screening approximately 35 000 teachers annually against the National Register of Sexual Offenders (NRSO) given the Department’s manual processes, turnaround time, and internal capacity within the unit to deal with huge numbers. The DOJC declared that the register is ready for use in December 2019. The DOJC uses a manual system to collect fingerprint data, which must be done individually, and with a teacher’s consent. The process takes three to four months. The technicalities of using the NRSO system are a problem; the DOJC needs manual fingerprints on paper, because it does not have an electronic system yet. Due to these implementation challenges, which will affect the SACE registration turnaround time, a decision was reached between SACE and DOJC to run a pilot for six months (March – September 2020) and use the findings for informing and strengthening the turnaround time. It has been a month, and perhaps because of the lockdown, DOJC has not come back to SACE. There are also issues with internal capacity in dealing with this particular mandate. SACE will be able to give feedback at some point in the future on the pilot project, which involved 60 teachers.
Other highlights were:
- While SACE submitted 32 (2018/19) and 23 (2019/20) names of educators struck-off indefinitely to the Department of Social Development (DSD) Part A of the National Child Protection Register (NCPR) by the end of March 2020, it continues not to have direct access to the Register’s Part B.
- DBE, together with its partners, worked on a reporting protocol and standard operating procedures to deal with such matters, with DSD, DOJC, SACE, ELRC (Education Labour Relations Council), and the nine PEDs. The process of signing the protocol is underway.
There had always been challenges in how SACE was assisting special education needs teachers. SACE has put mechanisms in place to deal with these, and there is a special service in place to accommodate such teachers. A policy on this service is being finalised to cover other areas such as Continuing Professional Development. Another challenge was that 75% of SACE’s registration applications were processed via the walk-in system, but that system was discontinued due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements. This means that SACE needs to increase its internal capacity to manage the challenge that might come in the form of slow application turnaround time. Currently, the online registration system has now been opened widely to assist with new registration applications during this COVID-19 period, which previously was limited to student teachers. Additionally, there are dedicated emails for sending applications as an alternative to online registration, as well as designated drop-off areas in all SACE offices.
Programme 3: Ethical Standards
In 2019/20, 636 files were opened or complaints received by SACE. However, there were 765 incidents in total, which means that in one school, one may find several cases, or one educator who was charged with more than one different case.
There is the historical challenge of carried over cases due to the internal capacity, and many other factors that are beyond SACE’s control: unavailability of witnesses, parents not allowing their children to be witnesses, postponement by accused’s lawyers, cases referred to SACE during the last quarter of the year [Section 26 of the SACE Act says that all employers must submit to SACE all the cases dealt with once the verdict and sanction is received], the number of cases to be received is unpredictable, one complaint or file may have more than one incident or complaint in it, and one educator may be accused of two or more breaches of the code of professional ethics (corporal punishment and sexual abuse). Many investigations are completed; however, cases fail to be finalised due to disciplinary hearings affected by the factors above.
Thus, the division of Programme 3 into three sub-programmes and the use of the percentage indicators was used as a strategy for SACE to plan and account for what it can control.
Close to 97% of three years’ worth of carry-over cases that SACE had, have been concluded. SACE has divided Programme 3 to deal with carry-over cases more efficiently.
- Sub-programme 3.1 Investigations. While investigations are conducted, SACE often gets stuck at disciplinary hearing level. There are significant amounts of money that go into investigating cases. The Council Subcommittee must also approve the investigations before they can be conducted. The two indicators for the Investigations sub programme were Percentage of investigations on new cases finalized and Percentage of investigations on roll-over cases finalized. Of the total number of cases in the 2018/19 financial year (636), 274 were carried over. Of those carried over, 104 are now being processed.
- Sub-programme 3.2 Disciplinary Hearings, where the indicators were Percentage of disciplinary hearings on new cases finalised and Percentage of disciplinary hearings on roll-over cases finalised.
- Sub-programme 3.3 Sanctioning. There have been challenges. There was a situation where teachers were struck off the register, but moved to another province. Some of those struck-off teachers went to independent schools. In order to enforce, manage and track sanctions, there was a need for indicators that followed up on sanctions (such as were fines given, were teachers struck off for a certain period of time). In this case, the indicator was Number of analysis reports produced on sanctioned educators. When SACE conducts analyses on a quarterly basis, it can see where the bottlenecks are. Enforcement of SACE sanctions is largely dependent on the co-operation of employers. Section 15 of the Educators Employment Act says that employers must effect the dismissal. A teacher could still seek employment elsewhere if the sanction is not enforced by an employer, so SACE is still trying to close that particular loophole.
The challenge for 2020/21 is that under COVID-19 and the lockdown period, the Investigations and Disciplinary hearing indicators under sub-programme 3.1. and 3.2. will not be executed as planned during school closure. Investigations and disciplinary hearings are largely dependent on close contact and travelling across provinces, and therefore, in Quarter 1, that work has not happened. With schools closed, it is also difficult to access learners as witnesses. Without witnesses, the cases will remain open. With Grade 12s having to leave the system, it means that SACE might struggle more with cases involving Grade 12s. SACE looked at the alternative of using an online system. It was also looking at legal advice, due to admissibility of evidence. The disadvantages outweighed the advantages. SACE is benchmarking with other organisations, such as ELRC, CCMA, PEDs and other national councils. SACE is mindful that when it benchmarks with organisations such as the CCMA and courts, they mostly do not have learners as witnesses. SACE relies more on learners giving evidence. The SACE Council structures and Executive are looking into this matter. There are robust discussions happening, and SACE would be having an ethics committee meeting on 13 May to deal with some of those issues.
Programme 4: Professional Development
This programme is critical for the quality of educators. As at 20 March 2020, 465 809 teachers signed up for participation in the CPTD system. Teachers from both public and independent schools are signed up. There is a disjuncture, where there are teachers participating in various development activities arranged by the Department and teacher unions, but there is underreporting or non-reporting of these activities to SACE. SACE is responsible for managing participation in CPD, so that professional development points can be awarded. A graph showed the top 13 districts in reporting CPD activities. The highest numbers of reported CPD activities were in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape. SACE is working with PEDs and DBE to ensure that all assist in this area. When it comes to teachers not reporting participation, SACE decided to look at a model of having a dedicated support programme, where a certain number of teachers are selected. In each province, SACE selected 5% of teachers who have signed up for participation in CPD. In total, it had 8 841 teachers, who will be supported for an entire year in participation in CPD. This group of teachers would also receive extensive support; there are various systems that SACE put in place, such as manual and electronic systems. These teachers would develop a CPD portfolio to provide evidence of their CPD, and to assist them in being reflective practitioners.
- Sub-programme 4.1 (Continuing Professional Teacher Development Management System): Indicator is Percentage of selected practising signed-up educators verified for the continuing professional development uptake. Every year, a new 5% of teachers will be chosen, until such time as in five years, SACE is sure that it has managed to deal with the theory of change, the attitude, and the culture of teachers in terms of managing participation in CPD. SACE also needs to look into final-year student teachers, so that they are signed up for CPD.
- Sub-programme 4.2 Member Support: In addition to the 8 841 teachers chosen, there is a need to support teachers in professional matters. For example, with issues of the code of professional ethics, SACE needs to continue to orientate, sensitize and develop teachers. One of the things that SACE has seen from research on ethical issues was that space in schools is one of the factors that is creating a conducive environment for sexual harassment. SACE was using that research to determine how to support teachers in being sensitized to those issues. Because of safety issues in schools such as violence, SACE reported in last year’s APP that it has a new programme on teachers’ rights, responsibilities and safety. SACE now has a handbook out, which was developed by SACE, but through the teacher’s voice. This handbook provides guidance on what to do in unsafe situations, and what teachers’ rights are.
- Sub-programme 4.3 (Quality Management): Approval of professional development providers is critical. Once SACE endorses providers, it needs to go onsite and evaluate the provision of CPD activities. An area that SACE might have a problem with is the contact sessions with educators and CPD providers in dealing with onsite evaluation and monitoring. SACE is working closely with its communication section and its ICT section to find mechanisms to put in place to deal with that aspect.
Programme 5: Professional Teaching Standards
This programme aims to implement the teacher professionalization path. SACE must determine the kind of teacher it wants to see in the teaching profession. It also works with higher education institutions to develop a progamme that is responsive to the needs of the schooling sector, and the entire country. Council has approved the professional teaching standards that SACE developed. It presented the standards to the Head Committee, who approved, and the CM noted just to satisfy itself with certain requirements before implementation. However, that is not stopping SACE to continue with the implementation of the standards, because council already approved the standards. There are three areas SACE is focusing on to professionalise across the teaching continuum:
- Sub-programme 5.1 Initial Teacher Education becomes critical. SACE will be developing the broader teacher professionalization policy, and within five years, it wants to start registering student teachers from year one. It is working with higher education institutions to develop that particular framework, and to develop criteria for entry into initial teacher education. That process is going very well, because the higher education sector is warming up to it. SACE is working with DBE to ensure that newly qualified teachers have a mandatory induction, so that these teachers are awarded the full registration status once that induction is completed. The work on having an induction is underway, and since it is in the strategic plan and APP, SACE will be able to monitor the implementation.
- Sub-programme 5.3 (Practising Educators): SACE will work on bringing in a re-certification process, which is a risk in the teaching profession from a labour perspective; however, the CPD model SACE has introduced will ease educators in and support them more, so they can get used to the re-certification process.
Mr Morris Mapindani, CFO: SACE presented on MTEF projections to 2023. SACE’s revenue had been consistent since 2017, when Council increased its subscription fees to R180 per educator per annum. The fee will only change in 2022 once Council finalizes the levy increase, which is currently under discussion. Since subscription fees are the main funding of SACE, it is something that determined SACE’s revenue change for the most part, except when it gets a government subsidy for CPTD. The registration fee still remains at R400 (once-off) for foreign educators, and R200 (once-off) for South Africans. All pay R50 for renewal or updates. Approval was obtained from Treasury to subsidize implementation of CPTD for 2020/21, amounting to R18 million. The research budget is classified under the Administration programme as a support and advisory role. Teacher Professionalization was included under the Professional Development budget, but currently, when one looks at the MTEF projection, it is now standalone.
Mr Mapindani then went through the 2020/21 operational budget for the five provincial offices, including the two which are to start operating. There are currently three offices operating, while offices in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape are in the pipeline. The budgets for the Eastern Cape and Western Cape are in the current operating budget. The selection process for personnel was done in March for the Eastern Cape; the idea was to start working in May, but that could not happen due to COVID-19. As soon as South Africa shifts to level 4 of the lockdown, which will allow people to move from one province to another, then SACE can implement the office in the Eastern Cape. The process of purchasing offices in the five provinces is still in progress; there was a delay because of the current situation.
SACE has identified a few administrative risks, which will affect this budget. One is that there will be a delay in the opening of the two planned provincial offices. Although the proposed Western Cape office was a little further ahead, it will be affected due to the fact that time is lapsed while SACE was still finding a way to continue preparing those offices. In the meantime, SACE will do what preparatory work it can until movement is viable. The first office to be opened will be the one in the Western Cape. The Eastern Cape office was almost ready; SACE just needed to move people into the office.
Another risk is that the IT infrastructure is not adequate to aid full mandatory functions. To mitigate that, SACE can increase the capacity of the IT infrastructure. It will outsource some of the IT services when necessary. There was a delay in the adjudication of bids. SACE will get approval of an extension of the current contracts where necessary. It will also postpone some of the conclusion dates of the bids through the same advertisement channel of the bids.
SACE has also faced increased consultation services owing to changed business practices as a result of COVID-19. To mitigate that, SACE will have to do some budget adjustments. There is no material effect on the total revenue of Council. SACE will do a virement, which means that it will adjust from one account to another, in line with the change of business practices due to COVID-19. SACE foresees an unplanned surplus on some line items; it will mitigate this by doing budget adjustments, to adjust to the effect of changing business operations. These adjustments will be done during the May sessions when the their committees meet. The possible contribution to the national COVID-19 Solidarity Fund will also be part of the budget adjustment, and will be discussed by their committees between this week and next week.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) noted that SACE had some budget cuts; she wanted to know if it had started preparing where the cuts were, and how such cuts would affect them. How would it amend and adjust the budget? She thought that it was very noble to contribute to the Solidarity Fund. Is the donation coming from SACE members’ contributions? She thought that it was incorrect to use DBE budget allocation to SACE; as surely one cannot use government money for donating? What amount does SACE envisage donating?
Ms A Maleka (ANC, Mpumalanga) commented that since the appointment of the CEO, SACE was shaping up to be a promising entity. Is there a link between the indicators expressed in the APP and the envisaged indicators expressed by the NDP? How is that link demonstrated? How accessible are SACE offices to the public countrywide? Does every education district have a SACE official to avoid unnecessary travel expenses by teachers needing support?
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) noted that the CEO was talking about research on ethical issues. The Committees wanted to appreciate that, because what was worrisome in the eyes of the public when it came to the teaching profession was the matter of values and ethics. Is this research outcome accessible? Is it possible that Members can access it? What would be of interest are the research findings, and also possible recommendations. Of utmost importance is the causal factors; what could be some underlying factors contributing to the devaluing and disregard of professional ethics? He believed that for every effect, there was a cause.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KwaZulu-Natal) noted that there were cases where teachers, found guilty of child abuse, moved from province to province. What is the Department doing about that, and what system is in place of ensure that such teachers do not move from province to province, and that they are easily identified?
Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) asked about the effects of COVID-19 on investigations and disciplinary hearings. One might want to get more understanding on how that is going to impact, especially as investigations and the hearings themselves consist of small groups of not more than eight on average. On ethical standards: What evidence-based reasons has SACE identified for the unavailability of the witnesses, which causes problems for progressing with the discipline? Under CPTD, is there no negative impact when SACE removes its selected 5% of educators per province to have them closer for training? Is there a way in which there could be better cooperation between the ELRC, SACE and DBE so the Committees are assured about progress, because it is an old problem that the provincial departments have not stopped in failing to apply the sanctions given by ELRC?
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) noted that when SACE decided on the outcome of a case, it struggled to close the case and finalise it. Why does it have challenges with closing cases? Was it because of teachers not coming back to hear the final outcome of the case? On teachers moving from province to province: SACE is saying that according to Section 15 of the Employment of Educators Act, it finds that there is a way for teachers to essentially ignore the sanctions, and for schools to ignore the sanctions. She saw that as a loophole in the legislation as it meant that learners have no protection from a teacher found guilty of abuse of a learner and sanctioned. Where should the loophole be closed; should it be in the Children’s Act? If there is not a voice for abused learners, then the Department is failing learners who have been abused by a teacher. If a teacher can move from province to province, then it is likely that this person will find a job due to scarce skills such as maths and science, so they are seen as a valuable teacher. However, the learner is left vulnerable and there is basically nothing protecting the learner from those sanctioned teachers.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi thought that SACE would be seeing a lot of backlogs. As much as SACE did not want to benchmark itself with the CCMA and the courts, it would have to find a way to deal with its cases. Everyone is going online; SACE needs to find a middle ground such as online cases if it cannot have face-to-face cases. SACE said that it will have offices in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. So far, it had not opened an office, which she found a little disappointing. Perhaps SACE could use that to its advantage – it was going see budget cuts; would it be wise to open those offices? If SACE cannot have a full staff complement coming into the offices, why would it rush to have an office where it must not have a full staff complement due to social distancing? That could be an opportunity for saving, where SACE could put the offices on hold for now. It has been operating without those offices thus far, so why would it rush when it has those kinds of restrictions imposed? Could SACE look at having a customer service line for teachers and learners? SACE mentioned virements; could it perhaps look into a customer service line? It could have learners call instead of showing up at offices. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put everyone in a position where all have to transform, whether they like it or not. Everyone has to use technology to their advantage as much as they can.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked for the minimum qualifications to be met to register as a teacher. How is SACE using its register to inform the country of educator supply and demand?
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) commented that in most instances, independent schools seem to be a law unto themselves. To what extent is that a problem for SACE in teacher registrations or enrolment? Even when a sanction for a dismissal is reached, it then becomes the duty of the employer to see that the dismissal is effected. How does SACE follow up on this to ensure that whatever sanction was reached is implemented so that one does not have dismissed educators still being exposed to children in schools? South Africa is busy with online learning – is SACE ready; i.e. has it built the capacity to do this? Will educators be able to occupy an online space and be ready to do online facilitation for the learners?
Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) asked if SACE had done research on educator ICT needs that would be appropriate during the COVID-19 pandemic. How easily accessible is it for educators to submit the PGCE? The disciplinary hearing process has been suspended, but the problem is that SACE has not tried piloting virtual disciplinary hearings. Why is it not possible for SACE to try and do virtual disciplinary hearings piloting, so that SACE does not have to lose the contributions of the Grade 12s in providing evidence?
Ms N Adoons (ANC) referred to slide 32 which dealt with incomplete cases. SACE should comment on this as a number of factors were presented as preventing the completion of cases. Will the status quo remain as it is, or are there plans to improve on the challenges that SACE is facing? Dr Thembekwayo mentioned virtual meetings as a way for witnesses not to face the perpetrator. If witnesses are learners, then witnesses could be scared to face the perpetrator. She also asked about the accreditation and registration of educators, especially those new in the system, or who are from Department of Social Development, who are being migrated to DBE ECD centres. The CEO said that educators only register from NQF level 5. What happens to those who do not qualify as they do to have NQF level 5? What is the plan for such people to be empowered, or to improve so that they can be recognised as professionals in the education system. Ms Adoons acknowledged the good work of SACE. She could see that it was investing more in ICT.
Ms C King (DA) commented that since SACE was having problems accessing Part B of the National Child Protection Register (NCPR), why was the Department not getting involved in completing the F29 form to have access to the register? Her concern was about how many educators who had entered the system so far had actually been vetted against the NCPR? Besides educators, there are also psychologists in the system – what provision had been made for those who are not necessarily educators, but are in the SACE system, to be vetted against the NCPR, besides also getting clearance from SAPS? ELRC had spoken to the Portfolio Committee and said that it is has a one-stop-shop system to deal with cases. ELRC had realised that parents are reluctant as learners are experiencing secondary trauma. Would this be an option that SACE would consider doing, or at least get involved with ELRC for it to show SACE how it takes cases through a speedy process?
Mr E Siwela (ANC) asked if registrations with SACE for professional teachers were permanent. Or are teachers de-registered when they resign from the profession? The Ministry has indicated that it will probably allow people who left the system to re-join due to COVID-19, to increase capacity. If these teachers are de-registered, are they going to be re-registered? Given challenges that the country is facing with COVID-19, obviously SACE will be affected. Is SACE still on course to meet its targets for the year? If not, will SACE consider adjusting its APP?
The Chairperson said to the SACE CFO that SACE had budgeted R1.5 million for publicity and communication. There are only three offices operational now – are the publicity and communication strategies for all provinces? Could the Committees get a sample of SACE’s distribution strategy? She was of the view that it was a lot of money that SACE had budgeted; SACE would of course respond and help her to understand the R1.5 million. She asked if the Committees could get SACE’s organogram. She thought that SACE was spending a lot of money on salaries, which was about R62 million. SACE has only three offices. Could the Committees be assisted with seeing the SACE organogram? SACE has its head office in Pretoria. SACE mentioned that it was planning to purchase a property – could SACE as DBE entity purchase a property? SACE mentioned that it was leasing buildings but it was spending R500 000 on leasehold improvements. If SACE was paying money for a lease, why must SACE budget for building improvements? A leased building is someone else’s building. The person leasing the building should improve his/her own building. SACE had budgeted R3.4 million for rates, electricity and water. Could they get clarity on which buildings are being leased by SACE? She thought that that amount was too much. On the operational budget for 2020/21, SACE said that there is R3.8 million marked as depreciation. She did not understand this depreciation. Many Members had alluded to the fact that the Department’s planning would be changing due to COVID-19. The budget for travel and accommodation was estimated at R2.2 million. She assumed that staff were moving from Pretoria to the other two provinces, but SACE did not have offices in the other provinces, so she did not understand how SACE must be working. If the travel and accommodation budget was R2.2 million, how were SACE officials travelling? Were officials flying, and flying in economy or business class? For telephone expenditure, R800 000 was budgeted. Even if COVID-19 had not happened, the reality was that everybody was using email. She thought that R800 000 for telephone was a bit too much.
The CEO began with Mr Siwela’s questions, and responded that SACE did the risk analysis of the 2020/21 APP; there are areas where SACE will have to adjust it, but within the budget framework SACE has at the moment. SACE will also have to respond to some of the mitigating strategies that it has identified so far.
On registration of those who previously resigned: Such people will be on the register, but will be marked as not active. SACE has been in contact with DBE, and it knew that there are educators who want to return to the profession. SACE would need to ensure that it follows the screening process. Educators would need to update their status; however, the requirements for fit-to-practice educators would still be applicable.
On Part B of the NCPR: SACE is working collaboratively with DBE. The DG and the labour relations unit have been working to ensure that SACE has access to Part B of the register. The presentation noted that there is a protocol document developed between DBE, DSD, the nine PEDs, DoJ, SACE, ELRC and other partners to ensure that processes are streamlined. Where a partner does not have access, that protocol will be used for open and easy access. Before COVID-19, the partners were in the process of signing the protocol. SACE signed the protocol in March.
Therapists and psychologists have dual membership; they register with SACE, and also with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). SACE needs to collaborate with the relevant professional councils so that there is no duplication of processes. SACE is looking into MOUs from the registration that it is already doing, but also for those professionals who are not necessarily SACE members, but belong to other professional councils.
On ELRC, particularly Resolution 3 of 2018: Those resolutions were presented in October 2019. SACE had a discussion with ELRC and DBE, because it affects SACE, the nine PEDs and ELRC. The slight challenge that SACE has is that it still has SACE legislation, which is requiring that SACE must still continue with its own independent processes. Until such time as SACE amends that particular part of it having a mandatory obligation to deal with its own cases through its own processes, SACE will still have a challenge. But it is something that SACE, DBE and the nine PEDs are looking at, so that the groups can look at how processes are dealt with. The implementation of that final resolution happened without SACE being part of it. Hence, SACE has implementation and enforcement issues that appeared after the implementation of the resolution was effected. A case being investigated by DBE will still involve a parent, and a child as a witness. Sometimes a case is sent in parallel; it will be sent to the PED and to ELRC, where it will be dealt with in line with the agreement with ELRC. Yet at the same time, such a case is sent to SACE. SACE applies its own processes to the case. SACE has sanctioning programme, particularly for these kinds of issues, to ensure that when it comes to finalizing cases, SACE will find better ways of streamlining. The other model was to suggest that SACE sits in the same hearings with ELRC, so that both use the same information to come to the final verdict. However, there might be legal challenges as the SACE Act mandates SACE to look into things differently. But the CEO, ELRC General Secretary and DBE are all working on that particular process.
On ECD educators: In terms of the SACE Act, SACE is dealing with the schooling sector (Grades R to 12). In line with that, SACE’s requirements were to accommodate ECD practitioners who were part of Grade R. Council realised that SACE was having a migration issue, and established an ECD task team, focusing on the registration process, and the professionalization of the sector once the migration was in place. SACE is working with DBE SAQA, and ELRC on the articulation process. One might think that the biggest problems might be educators’ employment or their registration. Through the task team, SACE is looking at the bigger problem of the articulation process. If one is not working on the articulation process of those practitioners, then one will have the problem aligning those practitioners with the remuneration processes of ELRC and DBE. With the collaboration between SACE, ELRC, DBE, and SAQA, it is important to deal with these issues as a package, instead of SACE looking at professionalization and registration in isolation from all the other processes.
Incomplete cases have been an historical issue. That is why SACE did an analysis to say that in curbing this problem, there are reasons beyond SACE’s control. For example, one of the biggest issues is poverty. Educators involved in these cases, to a certain extent, are taking advantage of the inequality and poverty status of parents. With most of the cases, SACE has evidence that when it is about to have a sitting, then the parents start to say no, because the parents have been bribed with money and groceries. Then such parents come back to re-open the case. It is one area where SACE said that it needs to look into the child protection. It needs to look into the Children’s Act to ask how to deal with parents who are selling their children for sex. In those cases, it is more about parents encouraging children to have sexual relationships with teachers because the parents are benefiting from it. On the cultural aspect, most educators will say, because I’ve paid, what is SACE’s problem? Why is SACE coming after me when I have done [vernacular language 2:12:02 - 2:12:08]. The alternative is to say that once parents do that, then they can be reported to SAPS, which is something that SACE is doing. It has been working with the Commission for Gender Equality to ask how to report those parents, as the bulk of the incomplete cases is to do with parents refusing to let their children be witnesses, because of money, bribery, and cultural issues.
On disciplinary hearings for Quarter 1, 2020: SACE has suspended the hearings, especially under Lockdown Level 5, because of movement restrictions. One of the biggest challenges is that parents are refusing to release their children to become witnesses during the COVID-19 period. Especially since schools have not reopened, parents are equating SACE’s desire to continue with its work with the question of: Why do you want my child if my child is not in school at the moment? Why are you in a hurry and not waiting for the schools to reopen? The virtual disciplinary hearing piloting is something that SACE will look into, even if it means doing it with people who are not involved in the actual case, so that SACE can just test how it can operate. SACE takes the advice of looking at the CCMA and the courts. Courts have a 10m social distancing protocol, as compared with the 1.2m distance that SACE is proposing. If SACE does some of the cases face-to-face, then it will look into bigger venues. Council is grappling with virtual proceedings. The ethics committee is looking at different models, and ELRC is also looking at the online model. All institutions will work together to see how to solve that issue.
On the accessibility of submitting the PGCE: SACE has put in place mechanisms for teachers to submit registration applications, even during COVID-19. One of the mechanisms is online registration. Through that system, SACE can check almost every hour, and be able to respond to teachers through emails. SACE has also started a process of e-certification; it needs to start publicising this as widely as possible to employers. Certification will have a unique seal, for security reasons, so that it cannot be forged. SAQA is already using that system. Such institutions are used as SACE’s benchmark and it is working closely with these institutions. SACE has gone to SAQA to see how the process is working, so that SACE can ensure that from an online point of view, things are going well. SACE is also ensuring there are dedicated email inboxes where people can send through their applications, and that process is working very well. Those who do not have internet access can drop the forms in designated areas. SACE is on Facebook 24 hours a day. It has tried as far as possible to respond to each query that educators raise.
On research to check educator ICT needs: SACE has not done actual research. Through interaction with educators, SACE is able to begin to understand the kinds of needs that educators will have as it goes along. The CPTD system is based online, and SACE has the CPTD information system; SACE knows which cohort of educators is struggling with ICT access. SACE can look into that given that it is unavoidable for SACE to work on that going forward.
On independent schools being a law unto themselves: When the CEO dealt with Programme 2, she indicated that one of the things SACE has done to curb this is that Umalusi accredits all independent schools. As part of the accreditation process every year, it goes to schools to do auditing and monitoring. There is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between SACE and Umalusi, as one of the criteria is that around 80% of educators employed should be fully qualified and registered with SACE. When Umalusi does its road shows, the SACE registration manager travels with Umalus. SACE is able to ensure that these two entities complement each other’s processes. Even in doing accreditation, Umalusi gives SACE feedback if there are cases of misconduct.
On dismissal following sanctions: To do follow-up, every six months, SACE and the Office of the DG send a list of all the struck-off teachers. It does not matter if teachers are struck off the register permanently, or for a particular duration; the list is run against PERSAL. If one is in a public school, one is not supposed to be on PERSAL (personnel and salary system), one should have been blocked on PERSAL to start with. On the last run of the list, SACE had a comeback of two people who were still in the system. The CEO thought that it was an error on the administrative side, but SACE managed to deal with it. SACE is doing follow-up to ensure that those who are not supposed to be on PERSAL are removed from the system. SACE is appealing to the independent school sector to say that before schools employ someone, check with SACE. SACE realised that there was a flaw in the link it previously had where employers could check the status of potential employees. It is refining the link so that every employer can make use of it. Through the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, SACE could criminalise employers that are deliberately hiring educators who are not registered with SACE, or if employers have not checked with SACE if an educator is fit to practice.
The minimum qualification to register as an educator is matric plus four years. SACE needs to consider that within the system, it may have older educators who went through the colleges of education, and have not registered with SACE. The bulk of educators registered with SACE have matric plus four years.
For research on educator supply and demand: SACE has data management in Programme 2. SACE cannot have such large amounts of data if it is not using it effectively to inform the system. Thus, the data will be used to produce periodic reports on the status of the teaching profession in terms of size and shape, so that planners in DBE and Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) can be informed. DHET leads SACE in ensuring that it works with higher education institutions on these issues.
On finalising cases: There are two challenges. One refers to disciplinary hearings not finalised due to the listed challenges highlighted such as parents taking bribes from educators. The other is the outcome where sanctions are not followed through because Section 15 of the Educators Employment Act was not being implemented. A Member asked about the implications of ignoring sanctions on the protection of children. The CEO said that the Member is correct; it is something that SACE needs to look at holistically, and research it thoroughly so that SACE can inform the legislators and the ministries. In this case, the Children’s Act must come into play, because it has an impact on children if a teacher is sanctioned, but moves from one school to another. The SACE Act needs to be amended to give SACE more teeth to deal with some of these challenges. The CEO is personally doing research on the enforcement of the code of professional ethics. When that research is done, it can give SACE ideas on how to strengthen the discipline and sanctioning parts of the code. There is no point in having ethical standards as the SACE framework if you cannot enforce the sanctions. It is a waste of resources if one does an investigation, but is found wanting when it comes to implementing sanctions.
When it comes to the case backlog, the CEO reiterated that SACE needs to look at online processes. In terms of methodology, SACE could learn lessons from institutions such as the courts and the CCMA. However, the context these institutions are dealing with is different from that of SACE and DBE. SACE has learners as witnesses, and parents as witnesses; and the implications during COVID-19 might be different to what the courts and the CCMA are dealing with. SACE is taking advice, and Council will be able to deal with some of the issues.
The CEO noted that SACE does have a call centre with various numbers. Perhaps SACE needed to communicate those numbers differently, so that it can have a dedicated line that deals with some of the issues that a Committee member advised SACE needs to work on.
The CEO stated that the Eastern Cape office is ready. The only challenge was that when SACE was about to launch it officially, the lockdown period came. SACE advertised jobs and interviewed staff. SACE will appoint staff as soon as the office reopens. The CFO would talk to the Western Cape office process.
On COVID-19 impact on investigations and hearings: The CEO said that she had dealt with this, specifically, how it would impact SACE’s work, and the kinds of challenges that SACE was already dealing with.
There was evidence-based research on ethical standards. The CEO had raised the issues of money, culture and bribery. On the teachers’ side, she raised space. The bulk of especially sexual misconduct cases, are about space. It is about having spaces such as a science lab or a computer lab to use, and it gets worse if principals are using their office for the wrong reasons. There are issues with some sports coaches as well. Having such spaces makes the environment conducive to sexual misconduct. There is a very serious psychological issue within the teaching profession and one asks oneself if these people are really working in the teaching profession. She did not know how SACE could deal with psychological issues that were underlying most of the cases happening in the teaching profession. The CEO gave an example of an incident where a teacher penetrated a learner with a vibrator, and every time the female teacher did so, she cut the child with a razor blade. That incident is an example of dealing with psychopaths and people who are existing in a different world. It goes beyond the usual reasons such as money, culture and bribery. There is a bigger issue that needs to be dealt with.
On teachers moving from province to province: SACE sends a list of struck-off teachers to the provinces to request that it marks such teachers on PERSAL, so that when those teachers move to another province; their status can be checked on the system. The system is helping with public schools. SACE is encouraging independent school employers to check with SACE prior to employment. SACE is also trying to use the BELA Bill to deal with these challenges.
Research is available on the SACE website and the manager for planning and research will send it to the secretariat of both Committees.
On the indicators linked to National Development Plan (NDP): She noted fundamental areas in the NDP for SACE. Firstly, developing professional teaching standards for the profession (Programme 5). It has three sub-programmes which is implementing the teacher professionalization path across the entire teacher education and teacher development continuum. The professional standards will underpin the teacher professionalization path, so that SACE can realise the mandate of the NDP. Secondly, there is the NDP requirement that SACE must quality-assure or quality-manage CPTD. In Programme 4 (Professional Development), all the indicators are responding to that particular NDP directive. SACE is approving CPTD providers, it is endorsing teachers’ continued professional development, it is quality-assuring what the providers are doing, and it is requiring teachers be acknowledged for participating in CPD by giving them professional development points. SACE manages a system for CPD over a cycle of three years. That is how SACE is linking the NDP to its APP indicators, so that towards 2030, SACE can be in a position to report as Council if it has been able to deliver on what the NDP requires it to do.
Ms M Sukers (ACDP) sent two questions through: What support is SACE giving to teachers during the COVID-19 period? How is SACE empowering teachers in continuous development in the scarce subjects?
The CEO responded that SACE is not a direct provider of CPD. It is the responsibility of employers and other providers. What SACE does is look at matric results, the diagnostic reports done by the Department, the needs coming from performance evaluation systems. SACE is then in a position to say to the providers that it can only approve a provider of CPD if the provider puts more emphasis in particular areas. When it comes to empowerment in scarce subjects, then the nine PEDs, independent school employers and others play a larger role than SACE does.
On the support provided to teachers: SACE is receiving many queries now that show fear and uncertainty from educators, especially that educators are not feeling secure, not feeling safe, and feeling that nobody cares about the school return. SACE has tried to develop some materials and to share such materials on Facebook and other social media platforms to assure educators in the face of COVID-19.
On professional development programmes: There is Member Support. SACE has a mandate in Section (5)(b) of the SACE Act to establish an educator assistance facility. SACE is reviving it now, together with the teachers’ rights, responsibilities and safety programme that SACE has already developed. A handbook is ready for the latter programme. SACE is putting in place systems to assist educators to respond when they are faced with certain conditions during this period when they return to schools, so that educators can be empowered to deal with those conditions. SACE has already received responses from teachers who have said: My principal is threatening me; he says I must come back to the school. SACE has been able to give the necessary information to educators on a regular basis. Starting from this week onwards, SACE will have live chats on Facebook so that educators can raise concerns.
Ms van der Walt interjected to say that the Chairperson was entertaining questions from a Member who was unfortunately not a part of the meeting. The Chairperson responded that the Member was having an internet connectivity problem, which could happen to anyone. She clarified that the Member was in fact a part of the meeting, but had struggled to connect.
SACE CFO responses
Mr Mapindani started with the travel and accommodation budget of R2.2 million. That budget is for flights, travelling for Council activities, including all meetings of Council and its committees, as well as the Executive Office. The R2.2 million is intended for those expenses.
On budget cuts: Due to the change in business operations, the budget stands to be reviewed, because SACE is not having meetings onsite; it is having audiovisual meetings. Therefore, the budget will have to be reviewed to ensure that SACE assists the other budget line items. The other item where SACE will cut is salaries. SACE budgeted for the provincial offices, which were delayed starting by two months into the financial year. The salaries of those personnel is one area that has to be cut, as well as the lease for one of the offices which cannot start in the near future. There is an office in the Eastern Cape for which SACE had already signed a lease, which is effective now, as SACE was supposed to take up the space in April.
On donation contributions: With the state funding, SACE accounts for it in this way – SACE was given R17 million, and it used R16 million. The R1 million which SACE did not use for that particular year was carried over to the following year, and joins the new allocation. SACE did not touch state money; it carried that money over and used it for the purpose for which it was intended. The Council will look at its own contribution if it decides to contribute to the Solidarity Fund.
There was a question on whether it was wise to continue the preparation of the offices when SACE has an opportunity to look into distance communication to service educators, such as using a customer care helpline. The Executive Committee discussed this on 11 May; COVID-19 is bringing an opportunity to SACE to change the way in which it operates, maybe for the better. This means that SACE has to do an assessment of these measures it is using to run its business, to find out which measures will be permanent, and which will be temporary. The measures that will not be necessary after COVID-19 will be regarded as temporary, but the measures that are viable in terms of costs and efficiency may be regarded as permanent. The Council will consider the Western Cape, and the other provinces, to see if it is viable. But with the Eastern Cape, that office is already rented, so for April and May, there was expenditure as SACE was renting that space unused. A positive aspect was that SACE was renting it from a government entity, so the money was not going out of the government space.
On the communication budget of R1.5 million: SACE is using a centralised budget. Its communication unit has a budget and plan and the R1.5 million covers whole country when it comes to SACE communicating with the teaching profession. In light of how SACE has to change its way of doing business, this amount may look insufficient, as SACE has to communicate fully with the teaching profession, so that they get used to the manner in which SACE operates.
Salaries are inclusive of all the other provincial offices; five of them were counted in that salary bill.
On the organogram: Together with the other documents that were requested, SACE will forward the organogram to the Committees. The organogram will have to be adjusted because it is already two months into the financial year, and SACE has not spent on the two provinces (Eastern Cape and Western Cape). Western Cape is still far behind in terms of preparation and obtaining the space.
On improvements to buildings which do not belong to SACE: When one leases a building, it is given to one in the shape that one finds it. The building may not be user-friendly; SACE might need to adapt it to use such a space. The lease improvement was intended to restructure the interior so it can occupy and work in it.
On rates and water: The rates and water are for one building in Centurion. The amount seems to be high, but it is to do with the area where SACE is in Centurion, and the size of the space, which has led SACE to be charged the amount which is equivalent to the budget.
On depreciation: It is true that the depreciation is high, but it is an adjusted transaction which does not take cash directly from the budget. Computer lifespan is three years, so their depreciation is very high, because the computers have to be written off within that expected lifespan. As one writes off computers, that cash does not go away; it remains as an asset on SACE’s books. If SACE is to replace those assets, it uses the very same cash to replace the assets. SACE normally takes it to the capital budget.
On telephone expenditure: SACE has only one main switchboard in Centurion. SACE uses that switchboard to run the other offices, with five offices projected. That telephone account carries the expenditure of operating data, cell phones for both councillors and personnel. The provincial offices are using the same budget because it is a centralised switchboard. The same switchboard is connected to run the SACE call centre. Historically, that R800 000 has proven to be sufficient to do that. It is worse now when SACE is to change the way in which it works; it has to look at that. When SACE has online meetings, it has to ensure that all councillors are connected which then requires money from the very same account.
Mr Nkosiphendule Ntantala, SACE Councillor, thanked the CEO and the Committees. He appreciated the opportunity given to SACE to come and make its presentation, and the level of engagement with the presentation. SACE was convinced that this kind of engagement sharpens its operations. It was also learning something from the Members. He thanked the Members for their time.
Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) re-stated his remaining question. Under CPD, 5% of educators are identified from each province to come to a particular place for a face-to-face interaction. The question was will that not disadvantage learners if it happened during teaching time?
The CEO responded that the 5% are educators to whom SACE wants to provide intensified support for participation in the CPTD management system, so that it can boost the reporting. SACE has learned that when one intensifies a particular aspect with a certain group of people, it has a ripple effect of marketing itself to other educators. The face-to-face was going to be one of the processes, but due to COVID-19, there are other mechanisms such as dedicated telephone lines and online systems. It has CPTD coordinators in all nine provinces, who will be there to provide any form of support, be it virtual, online, telephonic, or face-to-face. One of SACE’s principles is that it does not interfere with teaching time. Any support given to educators is given outside of teaching time if there are face-to-face sessions. Even if it means people observing social distancing requirements, but being in a position where they can meet and assist each other, then let it happen. However, the bulk of it will be happening as offsite mechanisms. She was hoping that SACE could get assistance with this, because the end product is for educators to develop professional development portfolios, so that by the end of the financial year, educators can reflect on all the professional development activities they participated in, be it from employers, teacher unions, higher education institutions, and from various providers. That will help to inculcate the culture of professional development.
The Chairperson responded that teachers were investing a lot of money in SACE; in her view, 5% of educators was not good. There needs to be value for money. She was not satisfied with the answer on the communication strategy. She asked the CFO to forward a sample of SACE’s distribution strategy. She was still unsure of the R3.4 million for rates, electricity and water. She asked the CFO to break down that item so that they can understand what type of offices SACE was using that requires paying that much money. The Committees were approving a budget; they needed to be convinced why they must approve it.
The Chairperson noted that the Committees have a meeting with Umalusi next week. He thanked everyone, including the IT team. The meeting was adjourned after three hours.
Department of Basic Education Attendance:
Mr Paddy Padayachee, DDG: Planning, Information and Assessments; Mr L Mahada, Parliamentary Liaison Officer: Office of DG; Ms Carolissen; Ms Mohlala. Apologies: Minister and Director-General
Ms Ella Mokgalane, Chief Executive Officer: SACE; Ms V Hofmeester, Councillor: SACE, Organized Teaching Profession; Mr N Ntantala, Councillor: SACE, Organized Teaching Profession; Mr T Rabotapi, Councillor: SACE, Organized Teaching Profession; Mr Morris Mapindani, CFO: SACE; Ms Sophethe, Manager for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation: SACE, Ms Mpho Moloi, Councillor: SACE, Organized Teaching Profession. Apologies: SACE Chairperson, Mr Mabuthu Cele
Mbinqo-Gigaba, Ms BP
Nchabeleng, Mr ME
Adoons, Ms NG
Bara, Mr M R
Boshoff, Dr WJ
Christians, Ms DC
King, Ms C
Luthuli, Ms SA
Malatji, Mr T
Maleka, Ms AD
Mashabela, Ms N
Moroatshehla, Mr PR
Ndongeni, Ms N
Ngcobo, Mr S
Shabalala, Ms NF
Siwela, Mr EK
Tarabella - Marchesi, Ms NI
Thembekwayo, Dr S
Van Der Walt, Ms D
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