A joint meeting of the Portfolio and Select Committees on Education were briefed, on a virtual platform, by the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) on expenditure patterns of conditional grants and equity in education. The Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) briefed the joint committees on audit outcomes of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for the 2019/20 financial year.
The FFC found that if performance challenges and uneven access to school infrastructure and other educational inputs are not addressed, the wide disparities in educational outcomes between rural and urban provinces and between less affluent and more affluent schools will persist. Covid-19 has served to further highlight these existing inequalities in access to quality education where we saw learners from private schools able to continue learning under lockdown through online classes whereas learners from poorer schools were not able to do so. With respect to conditional grants, more effective oversight over basic education conditional grants is required, especially in the case of infrastructure projects and the delivery model of the ASIDI programme should be reviewed as continually not meeting implementation timeframes have a direct bearing on the division of revenue – as such outstanding targets should be quantified and further considered by the education sector together with national and provincial treasuries and this is all the more important given that budgets are likely to be more constrained over the medium term. With respect to equity, DBE must appraise the Committee as to why cases of per learner funding below national threshold amounts have been allowed to persist, quantify the underfunding in the three provinces and how provincial budgets could be adjusted to bring the per learner funding in line with national threshold amounts and whether plans/timeframes have been put in place to address this. In promoting equity and truly inclusive education, the needs of learners with special educational needs require specific attention
The AGSA presented on the DBE portfolio audit outcomes. Umalusi achieved an unqualified audit opinion with no findings, while the DBE received a qualified opinion with findings on account of capital commitments disclosure, and irregular expenditure during PPE procurement, as reflected in the COVID-19 special audit report. The audit of SACE was ongoing. Financial statement preparation remains a concerns as material adjustments were effected to the annual financial statements submitted for audit at DBE. The uncorrected material misstatements result in the financial statements receiving a qualified audit opinion. The qualified audit opinions for the DBE are mainly due to control deficiencies regarding monitoring and accounting of the infrastructure programme (Asidi). Fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the portfolio amounted to R83.9 million for the financial year while irregular expenditure amounted to R818.4 million.
In its special COVID19 audit, the AGSA found that provincial education departments used different processes to determine the PPE needs at schools and provincial departments did not use available systems to determine how much PPE was needed for the schools based on the actual number of registered employees and learners. PPE was not distributed consistently to provinces, education districts and schools and substandard quality of PPE was supplied to schools by suppliers. Members were concerned about the COVID19 audit findings.
The Members were disappointed with some of the AG findings in that it pointed to misuse of funds and said DBE must address these malpractices as it will be under great public scrutiny. DBE should avoid repeating future mistakes by identifying strengths and weaknesses. In this regards, Members wanted a report on remedial steps taken in the provinces. DBE was asked to advise the Committee on measures to be taken to recover the fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The Committees asked how the FFC could fulfil the Section 13 constitutional mandate to ensure necessary initiatives are completed within the prescribe timeframe. The Committee should put emphasis on procuring quality goods and services to schools, as it has a direct impact on learner attendance, enrolment rates, and teacher motivation. Schools are disadvantaged by inaccessibility or poor quality. The DBE spent 70% of the allocated ASIDI budget since its introduction in 2013, yet the required infrastructure was not implemented within the specified timelines – this showed a lack of understanding of urgency for the budget to be spent on urgent matters, including infrastructure. This is demonstrated by the slow progress across the provinces. The minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure require provincial MECs to report to the Minister on backlogs at a district level, and thereafter to report on its implementation. She asked what could be done to ensure provinces provide completed, factual reports, and to complete implementation of infrastructure within the timeframe. Schools have poor infrastructure due to inadequate security measures, vandalism, and insufficient maintenance programmes. She suggested the Committee investigate quotes on costs to insure and provide other safety networks, to maintain infrastructure, as opposed to constantly replacing infrastructure.
Members were concerned about the minimum norms and standards not being met specifically the target of eradicating pit latrines, despite being mandated by court. The Department should prioritise attainable infrastructure targets, and re-imagine temporary solutions where infrastructure is not feasible. The Department was asked what plans there are to assist and ensure schools progress without the adequate infrastructure available, such as laboratories. It was said the Committee needs to impose harsh review and penalties on non-compliant officials to meet the minimum norms and standards. This will break the ongoing annual cycle of delays to access to infrastructure
Other Members were worried about unachieved infrastructure targets while budgets were spent, indicating deliberate disregard for the Committee regulations, while no action is taken against DBE officials. There was a concern that Parliament has still not received the requested report on addressing inclusive education for learners with special needs.
The Chairperson noted concern about the infrastructure available to schools, particularly sanitation, mud schools, and access to sustainable water sources. The Provincial Education Departments (PEDs), experienced delivery delays and financial shortcomings due to programmes being implemented by third parties contractors. He asked how the Department can increase control over these processes to ensure it does not exceed the available investment funds.
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Director-General (DG), Department of Basic Education (DBE), agreed with the Chairperson about infrastructure funding and delivery being important topics of concern for the Department. The budget allocation from the equitable share for infrastructure was reduced, even eradicated in some provinces, due to the introduction of Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) and the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG). It will be risky and unsustainable for provincial departments to depend on nationally initiated funds as it functions for a short term only. Infrastructure in schools suffered the most severe budget cuts, extending even to the procurement of COVID-19 essentials by the EIG.
Mr Mweli said the DBE was in ongoing engagements with PEDs. The Minister of Basic Education Members of Executive Council (MECs), it has not allocated funds per learner according to the norms and standards set by the DBE. Provinces said the reduced learner funding was caused by insufficient available funds. The ongoing budget cuts are expected to affect more provinces as it continues. The Department was further challenged by depending on municipalities to provide water to schools, which is affected by incapacity to provide sanitation services and recent droughts.
Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) Briefing
Ms Elzabe Rockman, Commissioner, FFC, began the presentation, discussing analysis and recommendations on expenditure patterns in infrastructure, specifically ASIDI conditional grants and equity in education budgets in schools. The FFC reflected on inclusive education and the implications of COVID-19 on the education sector.
School infrastructure minimum norms and standards
Ms Sasha Peters, Programme Manager: National Budget Analysis Unit, FFC, said the minimum norms and standards were set to standardise infrastructure allocations and service quality to schools, across provinces, from 2013 to 2023. Relative to these targets and deadlines, she noted slight improvement in basic infrastructure in 2019, such as more schools with latrine and electricity access. Access is not indicative of quality, or safe infrastructure. Much work remains for the DBE to achieve the 2023 goal of access to sport, laboratory, and library facilities, in each school. Schools in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo were disproportionately and consistently disadvantaged regarding access to these facilities.
Analysis of infrastructure conditional grants (ASIDI and EIG)
Ms Peters said the DBE receives funding for ASIDI through the Schools Infrastructure Backlog Grant (SIBG), to eliminate backlogs in school infrastructure and to achieve goals of the minimum norms and standards policies. Of the 2011/12 SIBG budget of R16.8 billion, on average 70% (R12.7 billion) was spent through the ASIDI program. Service delivery of infrastructure facilities mandated by the ASIDI program was slow and variable across the nine provinces. The nature of indirect grants such as ASIDI, create areas of weak DBE oversight, through employing numerous contractors to implement infrastructure where funding could be misused. Poor communication within these webs of contractors caused issues with procurement of infrastructure, and inadequate management within the supply chain process.
The EIG budget of R77 billion (between 2011/12 and 2019/20) was notably reduced, requiring PEDs to contribute from its revenue, to supplement the loss in budget and resources. EIG became almost a sole provider to the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, North West, and Northern Cape, for infrastructure to align with norms, standards, and related maintenance costs, due to PED budget reductions. The EIG 2019/20 allocation was almost entirely spent. There was merely 62% progress towards the targets across the provinces, in varying degrees, due to capacity constraints, insufficient budget, procurement delays, and vandalism.
Non-infrastructure conditional grants
The Learners with Profound Intellectual Disabilities Grant received the least funding of the non-infrastructure conditional grants, amounting to R234.8 million in 2019/20. This indicates significant improvement in spending on these learners. The Maths, Science, and Technology Grant, saw significant under-spending, resulting in 80% of schools not having access to laboratories.
Equity in education
The FFC found provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and the Northern Cape, did not meet the threshold allocation per learner in quintile one to three schools. This constitutes some of the neediest learners, and is inconsistent with the minimum norms and standards. In the 2021/22 Division of Revenue submission, the FFC proposed: accurate assessment of need and data on inclusive education; emphasis on special needs education; and finalisation of legislation to give effect to policy, and capable teachers, for inclusive education.
The 2020 Supplementary Budget Review indicated budget cuts in EIG, life skills education, and mathematics, science, and technology. This delays the onset of new school infrastructure projects. Budgets were adjusted to focus on essential COVID-19 expenditure and essential spending. The FFC felt concerned about how the DBE will mitigate dwindling budgets, inflating numbers of learners, and cost increases, while still providing infrastructure. The service delivery model underpinning ASIDI must be reviewed, due targets not met, and slow progression. The FFC recommended outstanding targets be quantified and the approach going forward be consulted with national and provincial treasuries. Underfunding in provincial learner budgets should be adjusted to reflect funding in line with the national thresholds.
The Chairperson thanked the FFC for its analysis and recommendations which will direct the Department to solutions in many meetings concerning developing the infrastructure of South African schools. The high demand in fields of maths, science, and technology, does not correlate with under-spending, where only 78% of the allocated budget was spent. He asked what the Department would invest in teachers regarding learning materials, to build capacity to build the economy. Areas, such as Limpopo, and Mpumalanga, should be able to build its learning capacity at home with these investments, to compensate for underfunding in quintile one to three schools.
Ms Kgabo Komape, Business Executive, AGSA, introduced the presentation on the DBE audit outcomes, and the Auditor-General’s COVID-19 Special Audit Report One.
2019/20 DBE audit outcomes
Mr Joshua Baganzi, AGSA Senior Audit Manager, said the 2019/20 audit outcomes of the portfolio improved as Umalusi was unqualified with no findings. The DBE received a qualified audit opinion due to some uncorrected material misstatements reported in the annual financial statements. The DBE had internal control issues with monitoring and accounting the ASIDI programme. There was a qualification on capital commitments, due to items not meeting the definition of commitments included in the balance disclosed. Oversight measures to prevent and detect non-compliance during procurement of goods and services resulted in irregular expenditure (IE). The audit of SACE is still ongoing.
Financial statements 2019/20
There was a 50% improvement achieved by Umalusi, reflected in quality, and minimal errors, in the submitted financial statements. The DBE obtained a qualified opinion due to some of the identified material misstatements which could not be corrected, such as capital commitments and irregular expenditure.
Performance report 2019/20
Reflecting on the quality of the report before and after auditing, the Umalusi 2019/20 performance report was submitted without errors. Misstatements exposed during auditing the DBE were corrected by management, resulting in no material findings reported to the AGSA in the final report. There was 100% improvement in not having findings on performance reports.
Non-compliance with legislation
The top recorded non-compliance areas for the DBE were: the quality of financial statements; prevention of irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure; and management of procurement and contracts.
Fruitless and wasteful expenditure by the DBE and Umalusi increased from 2018/19 totalling R83.973 million. Umalusi is in the process of trying to reclaim the R6.981 million spent in a cancelled contract. Previously reported irregularities from the 2018/19 audit report were updated stating DBE and the contractors are in dispute over R2.777 million for remedial work costs incurred.
Irregular expenditure by the DBE increased over the past two years, amassing to R818.457 million, due to contravention of supply chain management (SCM) regulations. The DBE received a qualification on the completeness of irregular expenditure, which was followed up with an investigation by the Department. SCM findings showed regulation on procurement of commodities for local content and production was not followed. Many conflicts of interests were identified due to poor oversight.
The DBE had internal control shortcomings which resulted in poor leadership, irregular expenditure, and negligent oversight bodies. AGSA recommended the DBE:
- Timeously draw up the action plan to address internal control deficiencies.
- Investigate non-compliance findings reported by the accounting officer to determine if there was misconduct in the SCM processes.
- Put control measures on transactions to ensure it is processed in an accurate, complete, and timeous manner.
- Strengthen oversight over financial reporting and compliance with laws and regulations.
AGSA recommended the Portfolio Committee:
- Ensure quarterly reports submitted were verified by internal audit, and the audit committee.
- Evaluation of the quarterly reports, action plans, measures for consequences, and details of how the Department and its entities will resolve issues are raised.
- Use information in the Audit Report on material irregularities for accountability and oversight purposes, insisting on timeous implementation of recommendation, and use the reports tabled on progress with material irregularities, to oversee and influence progress made with the implementation of the actions.
Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga provinces have outstanding unfinalised audits. The Eastern Cape received a qualified audit outcome opinion on infrastructure access, while Limpopo was deemed qualified on account of capital commitments and irregular expenditure.
COVID-19 Special Audit Report 1
Mr Baganzi said the audit report focused on provisioning personal protective equipment (PPE) to learners, educators, and support staff, in preparation for schools reopening and providing emergency water and basic sanitation services to certain public schools. In November 2020, the COVID-19 Special Audit Report 2 will be tabled.
Key audit findings:
AGSA found a poor demand and needs analysis was conducted at schools, due to PEDs using different processes to determine PPE needs, instead of available systems. PPE was inconsistently distributed to education departments in areas such as North-West, Free State, and Mpumalanga, resulting in schools using its own budgets to buy additional PPE. Some schools, which were beneficiaries of the PPE supplies, received substandard quality equipment, placing learners and staff at risk.
The Department encountered many non-compliance challenges during the procurement of PPEs. Mpumalanga procured PPE goods outside the scope of the original contract with the Department of Health (DoH), which resulted in R21.937 million contributing to irregular expenditure. Quotation issues, conflict of interests, and overpriced PPE procured by provincial departments, all added to irregular expenditure. AGSA identified control deficiencies in ordering, delivery, invoicing, and payment, for some departments procuring PPE materials.
AGSA reported non-compliance with the implementation protocol agreement with Rand Water, the emergency water supply. Rand Water failed to provide the DBE with weekly reports and analyses of expenses and spending. The accounting officer enforced Rand Water’s compliance with the agreement.
Mr Baganzi concluded by saying the planned initiatives are making good progress in spite of being affected by COVID-19 circumstances. The findings noted in the relevant sectors will be further investigated by the accounting officers to prevent future shortcomings.
Ms Komape asked the DBE to work on the internal control system which allows for a more reliable financial reporting system with oversight. The internal control deficiencies discovered during the procurement of PPE exposed pre-existing disadvantaged conditions. A strengthened and reliable internal control system will cut down on irregular expenditure and reduce exploitation by third party contractors. The COVID-19 Special Audit Report Two, will reflect on PPE, water, and sanitation initiatives, which the DBE introduced as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chairperson thanked AGSA officials for providing information in the presentation on expenditure and infrastructure, which will empower the Joint Committee to be informed on challenges and progress within the DBE. Failure to comply with legislation and regulations in the Department is unacceptable, as it is a conscious decision by officials to disregard the law.
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) noted disappointment regarding the audit outcomes. It shows dishonest misstatements and misuse of funds. The Department does not condone this. DBE must address these malpractices as it will be under great public scrutiny. He asked if the sample procurement obtained by the Free State was operative. The DBE should avoid repeating future mistakes by identifying strengths and weaknesses. He asked when the Committee would receive the report on remedial steps from provinces. The report should include recommendations and disciplinary measures for officials carelessly violating procedures.
Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) asked how the FFC could fulfil the Section 13 constitutional mandate to ensure necessary initiatives are completed within the prescribe timeframe. The Committee should put emphasis on procuring quality goods and services to schools, as it has a direct impact on learner attendance, enrolment rates, and teacher motivation. Schools are disadvantaged by inaccessibility or poor quality labs, libraries, and sporting facilities. She questioned the reason for the consistent growth in the Eastern Cape over 2018/19 related to laboratory, library, and sporting infrastructure. The DBE spent 70% of the allocated ASIDI budget since its introduction in 2013, yet the required infrastructure was not implemented within the specified timelines. Ms Van Der Walt said there is a lack of understanding of urgency for the budget to be spent on urgent matters, including infrastructure. This is demonstrated by the slow progress across the provinces.
The minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure require provincial MECs to report to the Minister on backlogs at a district level, and thereafter to report on its implementation. She asked what could be done to ensure provinces provide completed, factual reports, and to complete implementation of infrastructure within the timeframe. Schools have poor infrastructure due to inadequate security measures, vandalism, and insufficient maintenance programmes. She suggested the Committee investigate quotes on costs to insure and provide other safety networks, to maintain infrastructure, as opposed to constantly replacing infrastructure.
Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) said the provincial per learner allocation in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga are consistently below the national threshold for all quintile schools. The DBE, Minister, and DG, have a responsibility to ensure students are able to learn. He noted frustration at the levels of exploitation arising through the personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement process, resulting in irregular expenditure. He asked if officials engaging in criminality will be investigated, and what the consequences for those officials are. It will take a lot of work from the DBE to correct the internal control system and regain lost revenue.
Ms N Mashabela (EFF) said ASIDI was created to eliminate backlogs in school infrastructure. She asked if there was meaningful improvement regarding monitoring and accounting for infrastructure programmes and what the conflict between North West teachers and PPE suppliers, resulting in irregular expenditure was. She asked DBE to advise the Committee on measures to be taken to recover the fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) was concerned about the minimum norms and standards not being met. She specifically noted concern regarding the target of eradicating pit latrines, despite being mandated by court. She said the declining enrolment in maths and science is due to the inaccessibility to laboratory facilities. The DBE expenditure patterns show the 2023 targets will not be achieved on time. The DBE should explore ways to allow schools to collaborate to share infrastructure, specifically laboratories and libraries, supported by online learning. The Department should prioritise attainable infrastructure targets, and re-imagine temporary solutions where infrastructure is not feasible. The targets do not reflect the quality of education the Committee wants, to invest in South African learners. She asked what the Department plans to do through access to infrastructure provided, to ensure learners have the capacity to be successful after achieving a matric certificate.
Ms N Adoons (ANC) briefly assumed the position of Chairperson while the Select Committee Chairperson was temporarily disconnected.
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) asked what plans there are to assist and ensure schools progress without the adequate infrastructure available, such as laboratories. The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga all overpaid for PPE supplies, while some people are paid minimum wage. He felt something must be done to ensure the DBE look after and assist individuals in need, including penalising officials who used budgets incorrectly.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked AGSA what level of capacity building is provided to Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and accounting officials. She asked what the consequences are for officials implicated in wrongdoing, such as late report returns. She also asked how internal controls can be strengthened to mitigate the problems presented to the joint committee.
Mr E Siwela (ANC) was worried about unachieved infrastructure targets while budgets were spent, indicating deliberate disregard for the Committee regulations, while no action is taken against DBE officials. He asked what access the Committee has to monetary oversight of officials and systems, outside of the AGSA BRRR. The DBE has long anticipated minimum norms, standards, and timelines. He asked what the government is doing to ensure these targets will be met on time, if some of the most basic norms and standards are not met yet.
Ms M Sukers (ACDP) said Departments are not taking public representatives seriously. There is a desperate need for the Department to restructure its planned processes and targets. She asked the DBE for an indication of the appetite for change within the Department, and how those changes will manifest. She also asked what the oversight systems are, which can be put in place at all levels, from DBE to school governing bodies (SGBs), to district education systems.
Ms Sukers said the Committee previously asked the DBE to improve the relations in communities, linking economic empowerment programmes, and poverty alleviation, with service delivery systems working on the ground. She thanked the officials for addressing inclusive education in its presentation, and advising what will be done for learners with special needs. Last year the Chairperson for the Committee and National Assembly asked the DBE to prepare a report on inclusive education, which has still not been received.
She asked the DBE for a brief on where it is with completing the report. Parents of quintile four and five learners in working and middle class families are disadvantaged by COVID-19 circumstances, and are struggling to pay school fees. She asked what can be done to aid these parents; and reiterated Ms Marchesi’s comment about DBE needing to provide innovative solutions to prevent public frustration due to lack of service delivery.
The Chairperson of the Select Committee resumed as the Acting Chairperson of the joint meeting.
Ms Adoons said the DBE nationally performs better than provincial departments, according to the FFC and AGSA presentations on performance and expenditure. She suggested the Department investigate what successful systems and oversight measures could be used in provinces. The Committee should compile more information outside of the quarterly internal audit reports to ensure regular oversight throughout the year.
She urged the Committee to further investigate the many challenges in providing infrastructure, such as public dissatisfaction with service providers and vandalism, which ultimately requires a lot of money and resources to replace. PEDs need to account for maintenance budgets for the provided infrastructure. The Committee needs to impose harsh review and penalties on non-compliant officials to meet the minimum norms and standards. This will break the ongoing annual cycle of delays to access to infrastructure. She asked what Portfolio Committee can do to encourage students to aim to become skilled professionals.
Mr Mweli accepted full responsibility for the Joint Committee’s dissatisfaction regarding the FFC and AGSA reports of noncompliance with laws and policies. The DBE must impose consequences for officials who failed to comply with regulations. The reports presented by the AG showed most investigations on misused funds were completed, and there were consequences. The DG instituted an investigation on National Treasury, issuing a benchmark which is not universal concerning overcharging on PPE supplies. The internal audit investigated the matters, and a preliminary report, including participation from the affected officials is being drafted.
The DG agreed with Ms Marchesi regarding contemporary views of education facilities changing very rapidly. He suggested science kits and virtual labs on tablets be provided to learners, which will in turn prevent vandalism and stolen resources. The Department and FFC should work together to redefine targets, to provide the indicated services and infrastructure in innovative ways.
He felt there was no need for separate legislation to table a framework of norms and standards for learners with special education needs, as the South African Schools Act (SASA) provides for this. Funding for training on the Socio Economic Impact Assessment System (SEIAS), and special education needs, is provided to teachers by the DBE to qualify educators in these areas.
Mr Mweli thanked the FFC for highlighting how provinces retracted from allocating funds from the equitable share for infrastructure, which has not been adequately addressed by the Select Committee of the NCOP. Even the provinces which were the most successful in providing infrastructure, such as Western Cape, and Gauteng, delivered well below the minimum norms and standards mandated by the Constitution. Provinces had to account on how the procurement of PPEs was going, and the investigation will continue. This, in conjunction with working with the Portfolio and Select Committee, will expose existing challenges and furnish appropriate remedial measures. Emergency procurement of COVID-19 essentials exposed and exaggerated weaknesses in internal controls at a national and provincial level. Many implementing agents of infrastructure were removed from projects due to unfavourable reported findings, or for delaying service delivery. The DG asked for an update from the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on fruitless and wasteful expenditure and irregular expenditure, where implementing agents are required to take action against employees involved in this expenditure.
The portfolio saw a decline in the number findings recommended in the Audit Report, from five in 2018/19, to two, related to irregular expenditure and capital projects, in 2019/20. By February 2021, the portfolio hopes to have an unqualified opinion with no findings, to become exemplary compared to all other provinces.
Provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and the Northern Cape, with an allocated budget per learner below the national threshold, have more quintile one to three schools and learners, than in Gauteng and the Western Cape. The Minister wrote to the MECs, to indicate the MECs are not in alignment with national norms and standards, and asked for it to be corrected. Provinces do not have the available funds due to budget reductions, resulting in provinces taking funds from other budgets, or reducing the available funds per learner in well populated schools.
On conflict of interests, educators in North West contracted with government to provide PPE in municipalities, which is prohibited. The North West Education Department was waiting for AGSA to provide further details for investigation. It is now under consideration in the labour relations section of the DBE. DBE officials involved in misallocating funds will face consequence management from the relevant PED.
The decline in maths and science was proportional to the decline in enrolment. Targets need to be readjusted within the minimum norms and standards within school infrastructure, to ensure goals can be achieved within the specified timeline. He said South African matric certificates have immense value, especially in neighbouring countries. Inability to find employment, or opportunities after matric, is reflective of constraints on the job market, not the quality of education.
Mr Mweli said provinces concerned with irregular expenditure, in relation to COVID essentials, were served with the relevant consequences, including suspension and disciplinary hearings for officials.
A workshop was planned with the AG for 9 December 2020, to strengthen internal control environments as per recommendation by the Portfolio and Select Committee.
The AG report will promote more change to strengthen infrastructure and implementing agents who cause a delay or audit findings, will be removed from working with the DBE.
The DG asked Ms Sukers when the updated progress report on inclusive education in the implementation White Paper Six, should be addressed. Parents with children in quintile four and five, who are financially struggling due to COVID-19, will be exempt from paying under school fee exemption policies. The Audit Committee consists of experienced officials who are doing their best to maintain constant oversight of the DBE. It is difficult for departments to work in a collaborative manner due to the compartmentalisation of public services.
Ms Rockman said there are many challenges facing the portfolio and Department however the challenges are not insurmountable. If the scope and content constituting the current norms and standards are expanded, it must be formalised and targets must be updated to ensure a homogenous understanding of the minimum requirements. FFC and the DBE could work together to examine the new data which would inform the Committees on new patterns and progress. The FFC and DBE had enough time to evaluate the efficiency of the service delivery model, including during circumstances of COVID-19, slow economic growth, and increasing poverty. Following the annual submission of revision of revenue report, inclusive education was highlighted to the FFC, who are willing to provide further research to the Portfolio and Select Committees as it drafts the report into legislation.
Ms Komape replied to a concern stating the AGSA is reflecting and using the auditing system the Free State is utilising across all provinces. The second report will reflect the observations based on the Free State centralisation of procurement. The report will additionally follow up on the remedial action imposed on the accounting officers, to show progress provinces may have made regarding data control processes. Professionals within the DBE are expected to have a certain level of expertise when joining the Department. AGSA holds conversations and engagements with the DBE to recommend future ways of improving. AGSA urged all entities under audit, to have a preventative internal control environment, which could prevent officials and external contractors from misspending conditional grants. Strong control mechanisms will aid to protect service delivery procedures.
Mr Moroatshehla asked if the AGSA report not make significant mention of the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, and Limpopo, because of good performance or oversight.
Ms Komape replied that the absence of certain provinces was not related to performance, but rather focused on available and concerning findings. Gauteng and Limpopo did not have any procurement processes attached to the DBE, but to the Department of Health. The audit processes in the Northern Cape were not completed by 13 September 2020 when observations were conducted.
The meeting was adjourned.
Nchabeleng, Mr ME
Adoons, Ms NG
Bara, Mr M R
King, Ms C
Luthuli, Ms SA
Malatji, Mr T
Mashabela, Ms N
Moroatshehla, Mr PR
Ndongeni, Ms N
Ngcobo, Mr SL
Shabalala, Ms NF
Siwela, Mr EK
Sukers, Ms ME
Tarabella - Marchesi, Ms NI
Van Der Walt, Ms D
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