The Committee was pleased by the first clean audit opinion (with no material findings) of the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training - Umalusi - and by the work that they had been doing. The Committee also commended the hard word work being done by the South African Council for Educators and highlighted the importance of making sure that learners were protected from educators who did not follow the ethics code of the teaching profession.
The Committee was told that Umalusi had achieved all targets set for its various programmes in its Annual Report. These aimed to provide valid, reliable and equitable examinations and a range of assessment services in a professional, innovative, efficient and effective manner. This would be achieved by developing and managing a sub-framework of qualifications for general and further education and training that was benchmarked internationally. Umalusi would provide quality assurance for qualifications and curricula. It would confirm that assessment was fair, valid and reliable. Its work would be grounded in research to ensure informed positions and approaches.
The SA Council for Educators told the Committee of its efforts to provide properly registered and professionally developed educators. During the year under review, it had introduced an online registration system for the teaching profession. It had strengthened regulation of entry into the teaching profession. There were enhanced processes for acquiring police clearance and for fingerprint screening of applicants against the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s National Register for Sexual Offenders. The SACE had commenced processes with the SA Qualifications Authority to ensure the protection of the status of teaching qualifications, along with curbing fraudulent qualifications.
The Committee heard that the SACE’s Ethics Programme had failed to achieve its 2019/20 target on the percentage of misconduct cases finalised. The Council had employed additional personnel who worked tirelessly to finalise cases with the help of volunteer panelists. The top three categories of allegations against educators in 2019/2020 were corporal punishment and assaults (157 cases); sexual offences (92 cases); and verbal abuse (66 cases).
Members questioned the police clearance obtained by teachers, how far Umalusi was with the accreditation of the general education certificate for Grade Nine, if research had been done on the possibility of having virtual examinations for matrics going forward and if Umalusi was working with university students to conduct research and which universities they came from.
Referring to a DBE announcement that 300 000 teaching assistants would be hired, Members asked how they would be included in the programmes that had been unrolled - educators guilty of sexual abuse should not be given a second opportunity in the industry. Such educators should be struck off the roll.
The Committee recognised the difficult environment in which both entities worked but stressed the need for the good audit opinions to be sustained.
Further questions probed what was being done to ensure good behaviour by educators and why the SACE was pushing for educators to have a postgraduate certificate.
The Chairperson welcomed Committee Members to the virtual meeting and highlighted the agenda for the meeting. She thanked them for being present at the meeting during the difficult conditions caused by Covid-19.
Umalusi 2019/20 Annual Report
Prof John Volmink, Chairperson: Umalusi, thanked the Committee on behalf of Umalusi. He highlighted the work that had been done by Umalusi and what they had achieved and outlined what they were currently working on.
Mr Mafu Rakometsi, CEO, Umalusi, said that Umalusi was responsible for qualifications registered on the General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-framework (GFETQSF) on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The Council ensured that the providers of education and training had the capacity to deliver and assess qualifications and learning programmes and were doing so to expected standards of quality. Umalusi’s mandate was determined by two Acts, the National Qualifications Framework Act No 67 of 2008 (NQF); and the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance (GENFETQA) Act No 58 of 2001 amended in 2008.
Ms Stella Mosimege, Senior Manager, Umalusi, thanked the Committee for inviting them to make a presentation. She said that Umalusi had achieved their first unqualified audit opinion with no material findings - a clean audit. The vision for Umalusi was to be a trusted authority in assuring quality of education provision and to be recognised locally and internationally.
Its mission was to meet educational and societal needs. It aimed to provide valid, reliable and equitable examinations and a range of assessment services in a professional, innovative, efficient and effective manner. This would be achieved by developing and managing a sub-framework of qualifications for general and further education and training that was benchmarked internationally. Umalusi would provide quality assurance for qualifications and curricula. It would confirm that assessment was fair, valid and reliable. Its work would be grounded in research to ensure informed positions and approaches.
In terms of its Qualifications and Research Programme, Umalusi was working on ensuring and enhancing the status and quality of qualifications on the GFETQSF to ensure that these were of acceptable quality and to verify all qualifications Umalusi and its predecessor, SAFCERT, had issued since 1992.
Umalusi conducted research and analysis and reported on quality within the GFETQSF. The mandate was to conduct research that was informed by the emerging needs of the education system so as to encourage innovative thinking; report on the key indicators of quality and standards in general and further education and training; establish and maintain databases; and lead research and analysis and provide statistical support and information across Umalusi.
The Quality Assurance and Monitoring Programme entailed external moderation of question papers; external moderation of internal assessment; verification of monitoring of the assessment system; monitoring of the conduct, administration and management of assessment and examinations processes; and management of concessions, assessment and examination irregularities.
The programme provided for the assessment and accreditation of private education institutions and private assessment bodies. This entailed ensuring that standards for provision were determined, maintained and strengthened. It ensured that systems were in place to assure the capacity of the private education and training institutions seeking accreditation to implement qualifications registered on the GFETQSF through an accreditation and monitoring process. It ensured that systems were in place to assure the capacity of private assessment bodies seeking accreditation to assess qualifications registered on the GFETQSF.
Ms Mosimege said all the targets set in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) had been achieved. The reason for this was that the Performance Information Verification Committee (PIVC) enabled management to identify challenges and determine corrective measures. The oversight role of the Audit and Risk Committee and Executive Council held management responsible for internal controls and under-performance.
Mr Dumisani Maluleke, Senior Manager, Umalusi, provided a slide presentation on the council's financial statements .He said the council had received an unqualified audit report with no material findings. It had submitted financial statements free from material misstatements. No instances of material non-compliance with requirements of applicable legislation had been found. Overall, the financial viability had been assessed as good and officials of the entity had the required skills and competencies.
Mr Maluleke said that the fixed property was evaluated by independent valuers, as per policy, every four years. Umalusi building 41 was valued at R31 million and Umalusi building 37 was valued at R25 million resulting in a total increase in book value of land and buildings of R 26.32 million.
The Council offered continuation members (pensioners) the opportunity to continue belonging to a medical aid after retirement, while in service at Umalusi. The liability was calculated by an actuarial valuation at year end. The increase in the potential liability was R3.159 million. Umalusi was currently advertising for a third party to take over this liability and remove the item from its balance sheet.
In terms of committed funds, the council had approved a tender amounting to R36.4 million for the renovations of 41 Van Reyneveld Street, adjacent to the current building. The tender specifications had been completed and the project was planned to start in February 2021. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) had assisted with a request to retain the cash surplus to be utilised for this purpose and this had been granted by the National Treasury. A revised budget for 2020/21 had been submitted to the DBE to incorporate this amount.
Mr Maluleke said a late payment of PAYE deductions to the SA Revenue Service (SARS) had resulted in a penalty of R290 180 Corrective measures had been implemented to ensure no repeat. Disciplinary steps had been taken against all staff involved. The financial statements disclosed a payment made in 2018/2019 to a joint venture for a cancelled renovations project of R 6.690 million. The parties involved had agreed to take the matter to arbitration and this is ongoing.
SACE 2019/20 Annual Report
Ms Ella Mokgalane, CEO, SA Council for Educators (SACE), said that the vision for the SACE was to promote professionalism amongst all educators in South Africa by ensuring that its services were easily accessible. It aimed to provide empowerment through development and ensure commitment and adherence to the ethos of education as enshrined in the South African Constitution. Their mission was to strive to ensure that the education system was enriched, by providing properly registered and professionally developed educators.
Ms Mokgalane said that, during the year under review, the SACE had introduced an online registration system for the teaching profession. It had been used largely by the student teachers in various Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), as new provisional registration applicants. The SACE had strengthened regulation of entry into the teaching profession through effective partnerships. There were enhanced processes for acquiring police clearance and for fingerprint screening of applicants against the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s National Register for Sexual Offenders.
The SACE had commenced processes with the SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to ensure the protection of the status of teaching qualifications, along with, curbing fraudulent qualifications in the profession in line with the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act of 2019. It worked continuously with Umalusi to ensure that the independent schooling sector employed fit-to-practice qualified teachers that were professionally registered with the SACE.
In a move to increase its capital investment, the SACE intended to move away from rentals and to use the accumulated surplus reflected in the financial statements to acquire provincial administrative buildings in the Western Cape, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo. The property acquisition processes in Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal were being concluded in the third quarter of 2020/21 financial year, while the Eastern Cape and Western Cape processes would be concluded in the fourth quarter of the same year.
Once again, the SACE had received an unqualified audit report. However, there had been some misstatements identified in the audit report. A remedial action plan and the necessary consequence management had been put in place to address them.
Ms Mokgolane outlined the SACE programmes.
She said the purpose of the Registration Programme was to register qualified educators and create sub-registers for special categories; maintain and update educator databases; and enhance the quality of the registration of teachers by introducing standards. The strategic objective was to register unregistered practicing and newly qualified educators in the country. Overall, the SACE had planned for 75 000 registration applications for the 2019/2020 reporting period. However, the total number of applications exceeded the planned target by 4 984. Of all the registration applications processed, 40 percent (31769) were new applications, with final year provisionally registered student teachers in the majority. Updates from provisional to full registration status by newly qualified educators, along with renewals by foreign nationals accounted for 60 percent (47315). All of the applicants were screened against the SAPS clearance process and 59 of the applicants’ police clearance certificates revealed that they had criminal records.
In terms of strategies to overcome areas of underperformance, the SACE had revised professional registration criteria and requirements. These would be advocated and communicated more robustly to the teaching profession and prospective teachers in particular, to ensure that the registration process was done without any barriers and challenges. The introduction of the online registration system across all the higher education institutions would ensure that registration of new educators took place seamlessly throughout the country. Data integration and clean up processes would continue to ensure data integrity and enhanced data management processes. There would be stronger collaboration with the South African Police Service’s Criminal Record Centre to improve the police clearance issuing process, with the Department of Home affairs for verifying documents, and with the SAQA for verification of qualifications.
The SACE’s Ethics Programme aimed to promote ethical conduct among educators through the development and enforcement of the code of ethics and to facilitate interventions and support for schools, educators and school communities on ethical matters. The programme had failed to achieve its 2019/20 target on the percentage of cases finalised. Notwithstanding this, the SACE had placed a lot of focus on cases carried over to the 2019/20 financial year from the three previous financial years. The council had employed additional personnel who worked tirelessly to accelerate the processing and finalisation of cases with the help of volunteer panelists. Constant training was given to personnel to increase productivity.
The top three categories of allegations against educators in 2019/2020 were corporal punishment and assaults (157 cases); Sexual offences (92 cases); and verbal abuse (66 cases). Sexual misconduct cases had increased by 29. The names of educators found guilty of sexual misconduct were sent to the Department of Social Development (DSD) to be entered into the register of persons who were unfit to work with children In 2019/2020, a total of 17 teachers had been entered. The SACE and the South African Human Rights Commission were working collaboratively on sexual abuse related matters, as well as conducting further research into the profiles, psychological aspects and other related factors of teachers who engaged in sexual violation and abuse of children.
The SACE had a responsibility to manage a system for continuing professional development of teachers with the support of the DBE and the nine Provincial Education Departments. The SACE would ensure that educators engaged in life-long learning throughout their careers. It would ensure that educators’ classroom practice and professional competence were improved through SACE-endorsed professional development programmes. Non-accredited private providers operating in the Education, Training and Development (ETD) sector would be approached to consider participating in the Continuing Professional Teacher Education (CPTD) space. This would be done through provider forums run in all the provinces. An invitation to contribute to CPTD provisioning would be sent to other government departments. Private providers will be invited to programme writing workshops and forums in order to increase advocacy and recruitment of category C providers.
Ms Mokgalane thanked the Committee for allowing the SACE to make the presentation during the virtual meeting.
The Chairperson thanked both presenters and praised them for the work that they had been doing and for making sure that they met their targets for the financial year.
Ms C King (DA) was concerned by the SACE presentation on the people who were excluded from being educators. She wanted to find out if there were any discussions between the DBE and the SACE to ensure police clearance, because learners would be vulnerable. She wanted to know how far Umalusi was with the accreditation of the general education certificate for Grade Nine. Ms King also asked if research had been done on the possibility of having virtual examinations for matrics going forward.
Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) thanked the presenters for their presentations. She asked if Umalusi was working with university students to conduct research and which universities they came from. Referring to a DBE announcement that 300 000 teaching assistants would be hired, she asked how they would be included in the programmes that had been unrolled. She said educators guilty of sexual abuse should not be given a second opportunity in the industry. Such educators should be struck off the roll.
Mr E Siwela (ANC) commended Umalusi on the achievement of a clean audit and said the challenge would be to sustain the clean audit. Although the SACE had not achieved some of their targets, it was noticeable that they had been working under difficult circumstances. What were the reasons for non-cooperation by witnesses after cases had been reported? Were the witnesses being intimidated by the perpetrators? Mr Siwela said that the ethics of educators were important and once they sexually abused learners, they must be removed from the registry. He wanted to know what was being done to ensure good behaviour by educators.
Ms N Adoons (ANC) appreciated both presentations and the clean audit achieved by Umalusi. She asked the SACE to elaborate on the challenges that they were facing in meeting their targets. Although the performance of the SACE had improved, she wanted to know how SACE was going to improve the conduct of educators because of the high number of cases that had been reported. Overall, the SACE and Umalusi had been doing a great job and they must be applauded for their efforts.
The Chairperson joined the members in congratulating Umalusi for the clean audit. She said that the targets for the SACE had been overachieved by almost 200 percent and she wanted to know how they had achieved this. She was also interested in the issue of racism and wanted to know the type of surveys that had been conducted by the SACE. There were educators with criminal records. What was the SACE doing to assist these educators so that they could be better educators? She wanted to know why the SACE was pushing for educators to have a postgraduate certificate. She was pleased with the clean audit for Umalusi but she raised concerns about how they were going to maintain the clean record and also about the issue of vacancies. There were not enough resources to have the vacancies filled, but at the same time, they had to be filled because they were important.
Mr Rakometsi that Umalusi had not done research on the possibility of having online examinations in the future. He said that there was no research commissioned by Umalusi that was done by university students. The research programmes were carried out by in house researchers. Umalusi did however, provide their data to master’s and doctoral students who requested such data, provided that all the requirements were met.
Mr Rakometsi said that Umalusi would continue working hard to make sure that they maintained their standards. They could not afford to be complacent and drop the ball. Umalusi was worried about the lack of additional funding as this affected their work and research. On a larger scale it led to a negative effect on the results that were achieved. It was important for Umalusi to have further funding so as to assist in the introduction of subjects that assist with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), like robotics, but without funding it was not possible. He had notified the council of the issue of vacancies and the possibility of freezing some positions until they were certain of funding. The SAQA was retrenching 71 employees and he would not want to see the same happening at Umalusi.
Mr Rakometsi elaborated on the issue of a possible joint disclosed in the financial statements. It had involved two companies. They had received a written complaint and all the parties had started arbitration. When the pre-arbitration trial started a person accused of forging signatures had died. They now had to wait on the decision by the arbitrator. Mr Rakometsi mentioned that he was approached and verbally attacked by some men. They were demanding payment of more than R2 million and they threatened to kill him. During further discussions he said that he could not do anything at that moment because the matter was before the courts. A case of intimidation had been opened against these men. They had also threatened to disrupt examinations but at the moment there had been no disruptions at the Umalusi offices.
Ms Mokgalane responded on behalf of the SACE. She said the Council was in the process of professionalising the teaching profession so as to have qualified teachers in the classrooms. The integrity of the teaching profession was important and educators must be professionally qualified. There were measures in place to assist educators in attaining post graduate qualifications. It was within this particular context that educators would be qualified. The SACE was also working with independent schools so that there was one approach. In responding to Dr Thembekwayo’s question she said that the 300 000 teaching assistants would not meet the requirements of the SACE. They could assist teachers but they were not teachers in the context of SACE. A teaching assistant was defined differently from a teacher and a discussion should be held about the particular training that should be given to them. The SACE was not part of the teaching assistants programme.
Ms Mokgalane said that the screening of educators was important. The situation was that, where those wishing to enter the profession were found to have done things in the past, there was an assessment of the nature of their crime and the extent of their rehabilitation. In the spirit of restorative justice, some could be employed provisionally to see if they were fit to practice in schools. The SACE did not have much authority and they could only do so much. The SACE supported educators on the professional level because they wanted to make sure that the ethical conduct of teachers was intact. The Ethics Programme included student teachers so as to have a holistic approach across the teaching professions. The programme assisted students teachers in how they must behave once employed.
The SACE had collaborated with provincial education departments across the country, together with the teacher unions, to combat the problems in the teaching profession. Another programme concerned violence towards teachers. Another area dealt with personal protective equipment for Covid-19 and the responsibilities of teachers. Teachers were encouraged to take their development into their own hands, because different problems were encountered in different provinces.
Ms Mokgalane said that the SACE did not have resources to meet their targets for dealing with charges against teachers because of the number of cases that they received.The cases would increase as time went on. The freezing of teachers’ salaries would have a ripple effect on the programmes that could be carried out by the SACE, because its funds came largely from levies paid by teachers. Historical projections could be used for setting targets, but they depended on the enrollments in higher institutions and the number of teachers who graduated.
She said that the reasons why witnesses were not cooperating were complex. In some instances, parents were paid by the perpetrators and it became difficult for the process to continue since charges had been dropped. There was a need for collaboration with social development agencies to make sure that children were protected. Another problem was that once a teacher was charged they remained in school until the disciplinary process was concluded. This could have an impact on the witnesses as they could be intimidated during that process. The SACE was also trying to work with organisations like the South African Human Rights Commission on ways in which they could develop files on what to include in the profiles of educators.
SACE decisions could be reviewed in the High Court and there was a precedent in the Western Cape where an educator had said some disturbing words to a scholar. The judge had highlighted that an educator should be rehabilitated instead of being struck off the educators’ roll, so now SACE was dealing with cases on their merits.
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Director General, DBE, added to the responses by the two organisations. He said that there were systems to vet educators before they were employed and exposed to students. On the issue of teacher assistants, he said that this group included those who assisted with homework, provided coaching in reading or who worked as janitors at the schools. Most would be female and come from disadvantaged backgrounds. This would help in the social cohesion in schools.
On the 4IR issue, he said the writing of examinations online was inevitable but it still needed to be discussed more. This year marking would be a blended mode. There were those who had chosen to mark in centres and others were doing it virtually. Gauteng had a virtual marking centre and they had been doing well. The targets remained the same and they are looking forward to starting the following year on a high note. He also congratulated Umalusi for the clean audit and thanked the committee for inviting them to the meeting.
The Chairperson thanked both presenters for their responses.
The meeting was adjourned.
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