WC, FS & NW Provincial Education Departments on Status and Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Schooling

Basic Education

16 October 2020
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Basic Education and Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture (the Committees) convened for briefings by the Western Cape, Free State and North West Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) on the status and impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on schooling. However, the interaction with the Free State delegation was postponed when it emerged that the report they were to present was a draft which had not been signed off.

Members were dissatisfied that the presentations by the two remaining departments did not accurately reflect the impact of the pandemic on schooling in the two provinces. They said a lack of relevant data in the presentations did not allow for the performance of the departments to be measured. The PEDs agreed to provide the requested data in writing. 

Concerns were raised about the psychological burden on teachers and its impact on the quality of teaching and learning. Other concerns included violence and disruptions at schools and the use of deficient personal protective equipment (PPE). Members were reassured that emergency measures had been implemented to address the problems. Teachers, learners and parents, were assisted by teams of psychologists and social workers. Business had ceased with suppliers of deficient PPE. The occurrence of disruptions at school had reduced drastically.

Members were concerned that the high learner dropout rate remained a challenge. The PEDs referred to various initiatives to encourage learners to return to school, including a back-to-school campaign initiated by the Western Cape Education Department.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the Members and the officials and requested that a roll call be done.

Mr Herbert Mweli, Director-General, Department of Basic Education (DBE), tendered apologies on behalf of the Minister and Deputy Minister, who were both attending other meetings. He welcomed colleagues from the Western Cape, Free State and North West Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) and said that they would be introduced when given an opportunity to speak.

Mr Brian Schreuder, Head of Department (HOD), Western Cape Education Department (WCED), tendered an apology on behalf of the MEC for Education in the Western Cape who was attending to other commitments. He indicated that executive members present would introduce themselves when they needed to speak.

Ms Mmaphefo Matsemela, MEC for Education, North West Province, announced the presence of the officials from the North West Education Department (NWED).

Mr Tate Makgoe, MEC for Education, Free State, announced the presence of the officials from the Free State Education Department (FSED). 

The Secretary of the Committee confirmed the apologies from the Ministry and indicated that Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) would be joining the meeting at a later stage.

The Chairperson explained that she had written a letter to the provinces requesting them to report on the impact of COVID-19 on schooling and on a report by the Auditor-General (AG). This was the second meeting with provinces and followed a meeting the previous week with the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal PEDs.

Ms N Adoons (ANC) was dissatisfied that the report of the FSED had been received only the previous evening as she had not had time to peruse the document. She proposed that the FSED appear before the Committee at a later date.

The Chairperson emphasised that Members had not had adequate time to read the FSED report. She was aware that the drafters of the report were waiting on the HOD to sign off on it. She said that the request from Ms Adoons was fair as it would provide Members with adequate time to analyse and engage the report.

Ms C King (DA) suggested that the FSED be allowed to present the report as it was not a lengthy one. She wanted them to clarify whether it was a draft or the final report.

The Chairperson asked the FSED to respond.

Ms Adoons said that it would be a waste of time to deal with a draft report and that the limited time should be used wisely.

Mr T Malatji (ANC) agreed that the Committee should only deal with final reports.

Adv Tsoarelo Malakoane, HOD, FSED said that the Department was amenable to presenting at a later stage to allow Members the time to peruse the report. He confirmed that it was a draft report and apologised for the delay.

MEC Makgoe agreed to abide by the ruling and to provide the final report on a new date specified by the Chairperson.

The Chairperson replied that she would communicate the new date and allowed the delegation of the FSED to withdraw.

Ms King stated that it was uncalled for that the Committee should be given a draft report and that the actions of the FSED should be condemned.

The Chairperson advised MEC Makgoe to take note of the concerns raised by Members and invited Director-General Mweli to make his opening remarks.

Opening remarks by the Director-General of the DBE

Mr Mweli thanked the Committee for the opportunity to engage with the Members. He apologised for what happened the previous week with the Eastern Cape Education Department and with the FSED in this meeting. He would take responsibility for getting the two provinces ready and ensuring that this would not happen again.

The Chairperson invited the WCED to lead the presentation and allocated 40 minutes for each province. 

Opening remarks by the HOD, Western Cape Education Department

Mr Schreuder said that regular engagements had been held with the DBE at the height of the pandemic. The Executive met daily and participated in meetings with Cabinet on three days of the week. The WCED was globally aligned. He met with global leaders in the education realm. The style of managing the reopening of schools differed across the world. While South Korea was ahead, they also needed to adapt. He felt that South Africa could be proud of the manner in which the crisis was handled. 

Presentation by the WCED

Mr Archie Lewis, Deputy Director-General: Institution Development and Coordination, WCED, delivered the presentation on the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on schooling in the Western Cape. He indicated that the slide presentation was bulky and he would not go through it verbatim.

Vision – the WCED believed that all of the 1.1 million learners in its school systems had the right to quality education and a fair chance in life.

Regulations – in addition to the national regulations, the WCED developed and issued 14 guidelines to schools on different topics related to the pandemic. It covered the roles and expectations of all stakeholders in keeping the schools healthy and safe.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procurement essentials R469 million was budgeted for PPE-related expenditure. In preparation of the 2021 intake, additional masks were purchased and stored at the district offices for the new cohort of learners. All masks were delivered at schools and continuous monitoring was taking place to ensure that schools did not run out of masks.

Curriculum support – dedicated support was given to grade 12 learners through-out the period. Guidelines were issued to teachers to deal with the situation, which was different to when the school year started.  

Support to learners – all learners from grade R to grade 11 as well as learners with special education needs were accommodated. Interventions included virtual learning facilities and the provision of at-home learning materials.

2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations – grade 12 learners were instructed to attend school daily. Ongoing support was provided through various initiatives, including a back-to-school campaign to encourage learners to return and complete their matric year.

Infrastructure – the functionality of most of 50 damaged schools was restored. Learners from the few schools where roofs were blown off were housed at other schools so as not to disrupt their learning.

Social distancing – temporary revised education plans (TREPs) were developed to accommodate learners in compliance with the 1.5 metre requirements. Not all learners could be back at school at the same time. Learners were allowed to attend school every second day. Where conditions were challenging, learners attended school every third day. The well-resourced schools applied blended learning methods.

Hostel accommodation – guidelines were issued for the strict management of hostel safety during COVID-19. Learners were screened on leaving the hostel and again on arrival at school.  

Safety and security was high on the priority list of the department. There was fear that criminals would target schools to access PPE. Additional security was employed at a cost of R6 million to safeguard the PPE stored at schools.

Psycho-social support – this was provided throughout the period for teachers, learners and also office-based staff. Teachers and learners were requested to complete assessment surveys as they returned to school. Based on the analysis, the kind of support on an individual basis was determined. The provincial team of professionals who assisted the department included 64 psychologists and 64 social workers.

Water and sanitation – schools in the province had a secure supply of water except for one or two mobile schools where the Department of Public Works helped provide services.

Nutrition – the nutrition programme never stopped. When the national school nutrition programme (NSNP) was not available during the early stages of the lockdown period, the WCED continued with feeding learners twice a week. Learners were allowed to collect meals from schools closer to their homes. Food parcels were packaged and delivered to farm schools in rural districts.

Ongoing LSEN support – various support programmes were in place to assist learners with special education needs (LSEN).

Screening –Mr Schreuder elaborated on screening Apps that had been developed, one for teachers and one for learners. Screening guidelines were made available via a video. It was used to orientate learners before they returned to school.

Presentation: North West Education Department

Ms Stephinah Semaswe, HOD, NWED, alerted Members, prior to delivering the presentation, that they had serious network problems.

Introduction – the pandemic led to the abrupt closure of schools. Learners returned to school based on a staggered approach.

Impact of the lockdown – there were increased financial challenges due to social distancing requirements. As a mitigating strategy, class sizes were reduced and additional furniture was purchased.

Social distancing – the hostels were identified as hotspots. Social distancing requirements were reduced to 1 metre as not all schools could comply with the 1.5 metre requirements. The reduction drastically changed the situation as more learners could be accommodated.

At this point Dr Shadrack Mvula, NWED, continued with the presentation as the connection with the HOD had been lost.

Infrastructure – more learners would be accommodated once renovations at two schools were completed.

Absenteeism – challenges that kept learners away from school were mitigated by following up on learners who were absent for three consecutive days.

Learner transport – provision of transport was a huge challenge. The DG should come to the province to meet with all stakeholders.

Nutrition programme – the department was compelled to feed learners who were at home but experienced challenges as a result of restrictions. The restrictions also led to under expenditure in the budget allocated for the NSNP.

Learners with special needs – various initiatives were implemented to assist learners with special needs.

Assessment and examinations – the number of grade 12 learners for the NSC examination was 44 022. The provision of PPE in terms of the protocols impacted on the budget.

Impact on budget – the budget was repurposed for COVID-19 interventions. 

Mr Tshepo Mohala, Administrator, NWED, presented the preliminary AG report and highlighted the key findings: 

Deficient face masks – face masks were delivered at night and over weekends in the districts which meant that quality control was not possible. A system had since been implemented to record all deliveries at schools to monitor the shortages.

Irregular expenditure – non-compliance with a National Treasury instruction code resulted in irregular expenditure of R2.26 million. Cases of non-compliance were also identified through the internal audit processes. Compliance was enforced after investigations by the AG and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

Consequence management – 34 municipal employees, who did business with organs of state, were identified. The Department was working with the AG to start the consequent management process. Documents were delivered to the SIU to start investigations.

The Chairperson asked the Members to engage with the presentations.


Ms M Sukers (ACDP) thanked both provinces for the presentations. She said that it would be remiss of her not to remark on the absence from the meeting of the Western Cape MEC, who was the only MEC not present. Given the last six months of abnormal conditions, the apparent reluctance to engage with Parliament on oversight duties was troubling.

She was disappointed that the WCED did not report on the current level of school attendance per grade and that no challenges were mentioned. She opined that “we can’t manage what we don’t measure”. The biggest threat in the Western Cape was learners dropping out of school. The situation differed depending on the quintile ranking of the school.  In Quintile 1 schools, the whereabouts of learners that did not attend school were unknown. She found it unbelievable that the presentation made it difficult to track data on how many learners would be sitting for examinations.

Referring to the funeral held the previous day of a Kraaifontein learner, Ms Sukers said that serious crime intervention was needed in the Western Cape. She wanted to know how the pandemic impacted on placement for 2022 and how many applications had been received. She had received telephone calls from schools during the past week that raised concerns about a second wave of COVID-19. She highlighted the plight of teachers who were psychologically and emotionally burdened. The presentation did not reflect how many teachers had been helped and how effective the interventions had been. Serious problems had not been fully articulated. At fee-paying schools, for example the Oudtshoorn Hoërskool, which she had visited, the principal was upbeat and had everything under control. However, at Fezekile Primary School, the principal was burdened due to the lack of teachers and children not returning to school. Fee-paying schools were also struggling with fees not being paid. She asked for data that would reflect on what was really happening at schools. She remarked that the FSED had provided more data in their draft presentation than the presentation by the WCED.

Ms King thanked officials for the presentations. From the WCED she wanted to know how the situation was remedied when parents feared to send their children to school. The findings of the AG on COVID-19 expenditure had not been included in the presentation. She queried what was bought, how it was distributed and if irregularities were identified. Information about how many items were stored at schools had also not been presented. Nor was the number of substitute teachers appointed.  She was satisfied that the WCED presentation covered, to a large extent, the LSEN interventions, which had been lacking in presentations from other provinces.

From the NWED she enquired whether approval for home schooling was done in terms of the new policy on home education. She sought clarity from the MEC given that there might be a clash between the two policies. A large number of learners were not returning to school. What interventions would be in place when they returned next year? New enrolments would also take place and this could create bottlenecks. She asked whether the DG of Basic Education had been in contact with the Department of Social Development (DSD) about the matter of the Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Special Needs Centres that had not been signed off.

Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) queried the reporting on screening Apps and videos utilised in Western Cape schools. She informed the Committees about the Moshesh High School in Langa, which had hired additional staff to do the screening. However, the staff had not been paid the R3 500 stipend, although staff at nearby schools had been paid. She asked whether the school was being neglected and whether the staff would be paid for their services.

The presentation had not provided an observation of the work done by the teams of psychologists and social workers. What types of problems had been encountered?

Dr Thembekwayo referred to disturbing pictures of green plastic bags with disgusting portions of mealie meal and asked whether it was meant for learners to take home for the weekend. She asked whether social support was granted for hostel accommodation and how hostel security was being managed. She had observed a disturbing situation of constant violence at schools in the North West Province. The NWED had neglected to mention how the situation would be addressed. She also missed an update on Marikana High School where no learning was taking place and asked how learners would be accommodated and assessed. Two primary schools in the old location in Brits did not have principals. The schools were being run by the school governing bodies (SGBs) and things were not going well. These facts had not been reported, but the NWED expected the Committees to believe that all was well, which was not the case.

Ms Adoons thanked the North West MEC for the presentation and asked whether learners were getting all the support they needed and what plans there were to address serious water challenges such as in Wolmaransstad. She sought clarity on whether the department was responsible for learner transport arrangements and whether the challenges in Klerksdorp had been reported. She appreciated the feedback on the draft AG report and requested that the Committees be updated with the final report. She acknowledged the WCED presentation and enquired about the lack of feedback on the AG report. Although the AG had not raised findings, they had performed the audit.  She enquired whether the Internal Audit or Risk Committee of the WCED provided reports on PPE expenditure and if any irregularities had been identified. She had the same concerns as Ms Sukers in that the report was “too blue to be true”. Not enough was reported on the impact of COVID-19 despite media reports about the situation in the Western Cape. She asked how many teachers and learners had passed on, whether the high dropout rate was due to fatalities or home schooling and how many home-schooling applications had been received. She wanted to know what the WCED was doing to trace and support learners who did not return to school. The challenges mentioned by Ms Sukers reflected the high rate of inequality in the province.

Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape) welcomed the reports by both provinces and concurred that all was not as rosy in the Western Cape as portrayed in their presentation. She expected the WCED to also report on their challenges. She requested an update on how the security at schools was handled. The report did not indicate why the WCED chose to make their own recommendations instead of applying the national recommendations. She wanted to know what had transpired when the parties were at loggerheads and learners were without transport the previous week. It was troubling that some teachers were still involved in legal battles and disciplinary actions with the WCED in the situation of a pandemic. She urged the WCED to come with facts and not present a cosy situation. From the NWED she requested an update on the financial findings in the AG report and the timeframes for fixing the water and sanitation issues at schools.

Ms N Mashabela (EFF) asked whether the Chairperson had received a response from the Eastern Cape Education Department regarding the list of companies which had received tenders and the value of the tenders.

The Chairperson replied that she had not yet had a response but would follow up and give them until the following week to respond.

Ms Mashabela asked what the use was of asking questions when responses were not forthcoming. In response to the NWED presentation, she cautioned officials not to mislead the Committees about mobile toilets, as there was no water in the North West Province to flush the toilets. At this point, there was a breakdown in her internet connection.

The Chairperson reflected on both presentations and appreciated the responses to what had been requested in the letter from the Committees. She understood the intervention by the NWED on the plastic masks finding in the AG report but felt that just asking the company to rectify the situation was not adequate. She wanted to understand whether the NWED was still doing business with the company and whether it could still be trusted. She questioned how it had been allowed that a R90 000 tender was signed in favour of an unregistered company. The WCED presentation portrayed a picture of a province with no rural areas. She wanted to know how matric learners at the Wolseley school in Ceres, who became infected and were quarantined for 14 days, managed to catch up with the curriculum. She asked whether mobile classrooms were purchased and where they were located. The media had reported on a high infection rate in the Western Cape but the presentation was not reflecting the impact thereof and was also silent on the deaths of teachers and learners. She expected the WCED to report on their experiences and how they were managed. Observing the overall male representation in the meeting, she said that the WCED needed to transform in terms of gender if they did not want to transform in terms of colour. She urged the WCED to pay attention to the issue of transformation.

Response by the Director-General, DBE

Mr Mweli said that since a Western Cape High Court ruling, the DBE now had protocols in place to provide services in Special Care Centres. In some provinces the services were offered by the Department of Social Development and in other provinces by the Department of Health. The role of the DBE, in collaboration with both departments was to provide basic education in Special Care Centres. Learning programmes, to cater for specific disability needs and applicable across all nine provinces, had been developed.

In response to the issue raised by Ms Mashabela, he was of the opinion that the two provinces, i.e. the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal, had responded comprehensively, but if follow up was required, responses should be requested in writing via the Secretary of the Committee.

Response by the Head of Department, WCED

Mr Schreuder said the letter from the Committees had not indicated that the detail requested by members in the meeting needed to be included. He respected the view by members that the report painted a rosy picture, but stated that the report was factual. As an administrator, he would not want to respond to political questions. Challenges were managed and mitigated when they arose.

International research showed that the longer the school break, the more it affected the return to school. The situation was not unique to the Western Cape. Attendance data per district and per quintile would be made available to members of the Committees.

Inequality on a school-by-school basis was not only defined in terms of resources. Support structures also played an important role. The WCED could highlight and focus on inequality but was not in a position to eradicate inequality which persisted throughout the country.

The Western Cape was highly afflicted by crime and gangsterism which impacted on education and the opportunities of learners. The safety of learners in the streets was an issue of policing. Education departments were not funded to address this crisis, it required transversal support across all sectors.

COVID-19 had not stopped the admission process. The WCED was on track with online admissions. The challenges related to late admissions and not having sufficient funds for the growing demand.

The WCED understood the challenges of fee-paying schools and made provision for compensation. Even low fee-paying schools, many with SGB posts, were struggling. Relief was sought and received from the Western Cape government.

The Western Cape and Gauteng provinces received high media scrutiny. Small pockets of unrest were exaggerated. The WCED understood the fear and anxiety of teachers but did not want it to be transposed to learners as it would be unfair to them.

Disciplinary processes had been instituted against only two teachers. One was accused of incitement and the other was an internal matter which the principal chose to make public.

The WCED acted in line with national recommendations. The decision to re-open schools had been announced late and therefore schools in the Western Cape had been opened in terms of public directions. The WCED did not act unlawfully, but pursued constitutional obligations.

The WCED could not afford to have teachers on leave and pay for substitute teachers, hence 2 243 teachers had been granted concessions to work from home. Teachers worked productively from home and assisted learners via WhatsApp and other technological devices.

The WCED had received recognition for the high-level psycho-social support services provided. Support was provided to office staff, teachers, learners and parents. Teacher concessions had been withdrawn with the move to level one of the Covid regulations. However, concessions for the 34 500 learners were still effective.

The WCED had appointed 1 212 teacher assistants who were all paid. Mr Schreuder said he was not aware of the appointment of screeners at the Moshesh school in Langa and needed to understand why it had happened.

Fatalities were a sensitive issue. The Department had reported the deaths of 37 teachers, seven non-teaching staff, five public servants and zero learners. Young children in the Red Cross Hospital with co-morbidities were not of school-going age. Recent incidents of infections were not school related but had to do with the opening up of society and non-adherence to social distancing.

The urban and rural context of the province was understood. The Cape Winelands was a hot spot area where learners were still being affected from time to time. Efficient systems were in place to disinfect schools with minimal disruption to education. Decontamination took place on the same day of the reporting of the infection. Where learners were quarantined, education continued optimally. Where possible, the DDG had material printed and delivered to learners.

Mr Schreuder said the WCED was running a huge campaign to reduce the dropout rate. He commended teachers who did not take holidays and breaks but assisted learners with catch-up opportunities. Catch-up did not mean that all of the curriculum needed to be covered. Competency and skill in the development of learners needed to be the focus of catch-up programmes.

Mr Schreuder stated that he was an educator, did not appoint himself and could not help that he was a white male. He was worried about the situation in the WCED with four male DDGs and had seconded two senior female managers to the executive committee to rectify the male dominance. The WCED had a ten-year strategy to develop succession in leadership and management. The development and strengthening of the position of teachers would be the focus for the next five years. A Great Mindset Growth Programme, to inspire and motivate learners, had also been introduced. 

Response by the DDG, Institution Development and Coordination, WCED

Mr Lewis explained that weekly engagements took place with the DBE to report on learner attendance. The aggregate figures for the previous week in terms of exemptions were 2 500 learners with co-morbidities and 32 000 learners who were at home, based on parental choice. Attendance figures varied between 70 percent and 90 percent for grades R to 12.

The estimated dropout rate given to the DBE was 10 percent. Calculation of the rate was based on two variables. Firstly, the general dropout rate over the past five years was 5 percent. Secondly, an assumption was made based on the progression or promotion rate of 5 percent for the previous year.

Response by the DDG, Education Planning, WCED

Mr Salie Abrahams explained that the disruption to learner transport services during the first week of October had been due to contract issues that the WCED had with the bus operators. At the beginning of the lockdown period, remuneration structures were agreed to in order to pay bus operators although buses were not operating at full capacity. A working group conducted a feasibility study to provide interim transport services from June to 30 September 2020, the date on which operations for the Cape Winelands expired. An open tender process started in March 2020. On 29 September 2020, the South African National Small Bus Operators Council (Sanboc) made a unilateral decision to withdraw its services as it was dissatisfied with the establishment of the emergency procurement process. At the time, engagement with the working group was not possible. The WCED communicated directly with bus operators with the result that operators, who were not operating in the Cape Winelands, continued to render services. After the court ruling, operators in the Cape Winelands were also back on the roads. Talks with the working group were expected to be restored as bus operators wanted to discuss the issue of adequate compensation.

An amount of R50 million had been assigned to create 100 mobile classrooms which allowed schools to operate at 50 percent capacity. It was a continued challenge to find financial resources for emergency classrooms. However, it was not the strategy of the WCED to flood the system with mobile classrooms. Functionality of schools was reduced through cases of vandalism, storms and other unplanned damages to schools. The Committees would be provided with the list indicating the location of the mobile classrooms.

Response by the Head of the Department, NWED

Ms Semaswe said approval for home schooling was granted to parents who applied in terms of provisions of the South African Schools Act. The NWED also had provincial guidelines on home schooling.

The Marikana school had not come to a standstill as the NWED had intervened when the disruptions occurred. With the cooperation of all stakeholders, the school principal was allowed to access the school after initially being prevented from entering by the SGB. Marikana had opted for a differentiating timetable. Grade 12 learners were able to write preliminary examinations and had since been moved to different locations where they were receiving support for preparation for the final examination.

The two principals in the old location at Brits had not been allowed to enter the school premises because of allegations against them. They were subsequently removed and placed in other schools to allow investigations to take place. The NWED would report on actions taken in two weeks’ time.

The NWED was also accountable for the Special Needs schools. Support was provided according to the type of disability, for example Braille material for learners with sight impairments and hearing equipment for learners with hearing disabilities.

To address water challenges, schools were divided into those who needed water supply and those who needed water tanks. Sustainable water supply remained challenging as boreholes sometimes ran dry and reliance was then placed on municipalities to provide water, including water for flushing the mobile toilets.

Learner transport in the province was provided by Community Safety and Transport Management Services.

Most of the challenges in the NWED were resolved through regular meetings with the DBE. Learners were able to attend school even though not all challenges had been resolved.

In response to the findings in the AG report, Ms Semaswe agreed to provide the Committees with feedback on investigations including on companies that had been awarded tenders. She noted comments by the Chairperson about harsher punishment for poor services. The NWED was going to advertise a new tender to ameliorate problems identified and had not procured more masks from the company concerned.

Response by the MEC, North West Province

MEC Matsemela remarked that water challenges were covered in the report. Municipalities provided assistance in areas where water tanks were placed. A school in the Dr. R S Mopati District was 90 percent complete and would be able to accommodate learners from neighbouring areas. The information would be made available to the Committees.

Further discussion

The Chairperson thanked the officials for the engagement.

Ms Sukers was concerned that the level of engagement was just a tick-box exercise. She queried how public representatives were expected to engage with departments if they did not have a clear picture of the impact of COVID-19. The feedback from the provinces did not provide clarity. She requested the Secretary of the Committee to get a breakdown of data that would allow members to measure the performance of departments. She stated that it could not be business as usual in abnormal circumstances.

Ms Mashabela was confused by the comment of the DG of the DBE that the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal provinces had responded adequately in the meeting of the previous week. She wanted to know why he was defending the provinces as she was still waiting on them to provide the list of suppliers who were awarded PPE tenders.

Ms King proposed that the data requested by Ms Sukers be provided by Tuesday of the following week, i.e. 20 October 2020. She sought clarity from the NWED on whether the regulations on home schooling were binding in terms of the law or whether they only served as guidelines.

Dr Thembekwayo was annoyed by the response from the HOD of the NWED in relation to the two school principals that were being investigated. She demanded a written response with timelines on when the issue, that started in 2016, would be resolved.

The Chairperson replied that the Committee Secretary would follow up with the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal provinces regarding the lists of companies that had been awarded tenders during the COVID-19 period. She explained that the provinces had been requested via a letter to brief the Committees on the impact of COVID-19 on schooling and to report on water, sanitation and all other factors that impacted on schooling. She requested the Secretary of the Committee to interact with members who needed specific data on specific schools.

Mr Mweli responded to Ms Mashabela and said that he was not defending corruption. He reiterated that if responses were not adequate, then Members must follow the protocol of engagement. He was not aware of the commitments that the two provinces made to the Committee.

The Chairperson thanked the DG of the DBE and the officials from the two provinces and allowed them time to sign off.

The Chairperson asked members to interact with the Secretary of the Committee on information that they required from the provinces.

The meeting was adjourned.

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