WCED Quarterly Performance Reports

Education (WCPP)

02 June 2020
Chairperson: : Ms L Botha (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee on Education, 2 June 2020, 13:00

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) briefed the Committee on its quarterly performance review for quarter two to four for the 2019/20 financial year.  The presentation covered performance targets achieved and key challenges/risks.

Members remarked on the myriad of challenges facing education in the country much of which were due to larger societal ills. Members wanted to know how the listed key risks impacted the Department’s performance, mitigation measures to address risks, percentage of the Department’s bydget spent on school safety, gang-related activities in school and the affect on this, safety officers in schools and teacher absenteeism.

The Committee asked what interventions the Department had put in place to address the problem of gangsterism, learner absenteeism and the imact of the transform program on this challenge. Further questions centred on the construction of high schools in certain areas, monitoring of private schools, sanitation programmes and the procedure to follow if a learner tests positive for COVID19.

The Committee resolved:

  • To ask for written submissions on the list of School Resource Officers.
  • To ask for the Department's detailed plan on how it will deal with the risks.
  • The Committee suggested it needs a briefing from the Safety Schools Committee on what it is doing to mitigate risks.
  • The Committee also suggested it will request a written submission on the number of learners lives lost because of gangsterism.
  • The Committee wants a progress report on the proposed Darling High School.

Meeting report

Western Cape Education Department Quarterly Performance Report

The Head of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), Mr Brian Schreuder, led the delegation from the WCED. Ms Warda Conrad, Director of Business Strategy and Stakeholder management in the Department, made the presentation. In an overview of Quarter Two (Q2) of 2019/20, she told the Committee, the WCED reached four targets out of seven, and three targets were partially achieved. Key risks/challenges highlighted for Q2 are:

  • Gang-related violence
  • Community unrest
  • Service delivery protests
  • An inefficient rail transport system

Ms Conrad gave an overview of Quarter Three (Q3), and said, against seven quarterly performance targets in Q3 of 2019/20, four targets were achieved, two targets were partially achieved, and one target was not achieved. Q3 had the same key risks and challenges as Q2.

The statistics for Quarter Four (Q4) are:

  • Seven quarterly performance targets in Q4 of 2019/20,
  • Six targets achieved, and
  • One target partially achieved.

The Quarter had the following as key risks/challenges:

  • Gang-related violence
  • An inefficient rail transport system

(For a full report see the powerpoint presentation attached.)


Mr F Christians (ACDP) said he is aware of the challenges learners and teachers face, because of the risks the Department mentioned. He argued, if there are any service delivery protests, half of the school is empty, and this affects or contributes to the high absenteeism figures of both teachers and learners. Such problems are not a problem of the Department of Education, but a problem affecting the education system, because if an area has unrest, learners cannot go to school. When it rains in winter, schools also record low attendance because of an inefficient transport system. He asked if public schools pass rate figures are real, and if the Committee could something to assist in increasing the pass rate.

Mr Schreuder said education cannot resolve societal problems. The whole society has to help the education system to resolve these problems. The Education Department has a bigger and longer role to play in improving the quality of education. This will have an impact, perhaps only years later.

Some of the social ills are exacerbated by the lack of economic growth affecting the country, and unemployment. It is very difficult to predict absenteeism when there is unrest. The Department predicts absenteeism based on what the Department may or may not think can impact attendance in the year ahead.

One cannot predict unrest. This happened in Hermanus last year. He agreed with Mr Christians about winter. It also has an impact on absenteeism, like what happened the previous week when it rained heavily in the Western Cape. One societal problem aiding this is the terrible transport system. Trains are still not running and the Education Department cannot resolve this, yet it has many learners commuting to school. The Department is working tirelessly to offer quality education to learners under such circumstances. However, when a global pandemic hits it inhibits such plans and it is also now aiding societal unrest and anxieties. This will have an impact on education. The challenges affecting the pass rate are real, given the social ills the province faces, but despite such circumstances, the province has done well. 

Mr K Sayed (ANC) asked:

  • How each of the listed key risks had an impact on the Department's performance.
  • He asked which mitigation measures were put in place to address it.  
  • He also asked for the percentage of the Department's budget spent on school safety, considering the damage witnessed in schools during the lockdown.
  • Mr Sayed wanted to know to what extent fences broken by gangsters in schools, contribute to gang-related activities in schools.
  • He also asked about the time frame for each school to get a safety officer.
  • Related to this, he wanted to know the number of school resource officers who were trained during the reported period.
  • Mr Sayed further asked on the issue of teacher absenteeism. He said, in a report by the Auditor General, discrepancies about teacher absenteeism arose, and the Auditor General noted some issues. He asked to what extent these issues were addressed.

Mr Schreuder said, ideally, it is not the role of the Education Department to spend money on safety. It must spend money on education. Over the years, the Department created an entity dealing with school safety. The thrust of the Department is to address the school environment and to make the school environment safe.

The percentage the Department spends on this is about 0.14%. This is a small portion considering the size of the budget the Department is allocated. Despite the small allocation to the safety of schools the impact is high, because the Department also engages. The Department is part of the Safety Schools Committee and the Department also works with local clusters, and is involved in all district structures. Maintaining peace and safety is often a result of community engagement by many of the Department’s principals. The Department is creating neighbourhood watch teams and is spearheading this. It will play a part in protecting schools in communities.

On broken fences, Mr Schreuder said the impact is high. It is a sign of vulnerability for schools. Very often a whole fence does not protect or prevent a school from gangsters. It is very difficult to measure the impact, but the Department is spending a lot of money on strengthening the fences. It is planning to erect fences in schools over the next three years, which are more secure.

On absenteeism, Ms Conrad said the Department relies on the information coming from the National Register. It uses this information in its reporting. The figures in the report are Department figures. However, in the value chain, the Auditor General (AG) found, a teacher would be absent and fill in a form with his/her headmaster manually or uploaded it electronically. This is where the AG found a problem. The problem was not at the school level, but what happens is, the electronic holding system had a glitch. For instance, if ten applications were uploaded in the system it showed one or none, and so the end official is not able to pick this up. It has been resolved.

On Safety Officers, the Department said every school must have a safety officer. In most cases, it can be the Principal or a teacher. The School Resource Officer however, is an official provided to the Department by the City of Cape Town. The City of Cape Town is also mandated to pay the officers. The Department normally deploys these officers in its red zone schools.

Mr R MacKenzie (DA) asked what interventions the Department has put in place to address the problem of gangsterism, since the Department identified gangsters as a key risk. He said he knows what happens outside the school is not in the ambit of the Department, but what exactly is the Department doing to address this risk.

The Department said all schools in the province are categorised according to safe schools and schools in red zones. The Department has committed to offer physical security to schools in red zones. To schools not in the red zone, the Department supplied equipment, including intercoms, linking the schools to a police station.

The Department deploys in-person security to schools in the red zone during the holidays to assist in limiting damage. Every school is linked directly to the station commander of the nearest police station, but the police are not adequately resourced to deal with all schools in an area. The Department now normally asks schools to give a classroom to the community neighborhood watch so it can use it at night during patrols.

Mr R Allen (DA) wanted to check if the Committee on School Safety is still meeting monthly.

Mr Schreuder said it meets once every month.

The Chairperson said:

  •  Learner absenteeism increases quarter to quarter.
  • She asked what the Department's rationale was regarding learner absence on school days.
  • She also asked if the number of learners who abscond or leave school entirely makes up the absenteeism percentage.
  • She wanted to know the impact of the Transform Programme, and if it addressed the issues of absenteeism.

Mr Schreuder said the duration is three to four days, but up to ten days it can also be deemed as absconding. Schools do not normally follow this as schools seek to retain learners. This causes schools to engage robustly with parents to try and identify why the learner is not coming to school. This is the reason why the Department’s retention rate is the best across the country.

On the impact of the Programme, Ms Conrad said it is very difficult to say at the moment. However, what the Department can say is, the learners display enthusiasm in general. The mantra displayed impacted on the learner’s psyche. According to reports from principals, there is an increase in learner’s learning efficacy. Added to this is the mindset growth introduced. The Department is planning to continue with it on the electronic platform. Schools indicated it wants to continue with this when schools open.

Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah) asked the Department for an update on the construction of a high school in the Darling Area.

Mr Schreuder said it is a conversation in progress but could not give the latest details on the spot. The Department does have a three year infrastructure plan, but sometimes it is thrown out for emergency schools and Darling High School is high on the agenda.

Mr Sayed asked why only 21% of these private schools were visited. He understands the schools are independent, but he asked the Department for a reason why. He also asked for the sanitisation progress of learner transport, and what the process of a teacher or learner having is tested positive of Covid19 was.

Mr Schreuder said independent schools are not the Department’s priority. However, in a year, it is planning to visit 70% of private schools. The visit to the 21% is to check if the schools are meeting requirements as set out by the Department.

On sanitisation, he said the Department has a meeting on this matter in the previous week, and made arrangements on how the process will move forward.

Replying to the question if a teacher or learner tests positive, Mr Schreuder said all the guidelines and protocols on what to do are stipulated in the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) guidelines. These guidelines are placed on the Department's website. If a school is closed temporarily for sanitisation or after a Covid19 outbreak, it is done in consultation with health officials in the province.


The Committee resolved:

  • To ask for written submissions on the list of School Resource Officers.
  • To ask for the Department's detailed plan on how it will deal with the risks.
  • The Committee suggested it needs a briefing from the Safety Schools Committee on what it is doing to mitigate risks.
  • The Committee also suggested it will request a written submission on the number of learners lives lost because of gangsterism.
  • The Committee wants a progress report on the proposed Darling High School.

The meeting was adjourned.





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