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EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
18 April 2000
RATIONALISATION AND REDEPLOYMENT; LEARNING FOR LIVING PROJECT: BRIEFING
Presentation by Department on Rationalisation and Redeployment in the Education Sector
Learning for Living Project (see READ website for information)
A presentation was made by the READ Educational Trust on the progress of the Learning for Living Project - a joint effort between Business Trust, READ and the Department of Education. This project is to be carried out in 869 primary schools in nine provinces to improve reading and writing skills to enable learners to access their textbooks efficiently and thus pass exams. To achieve this, educators require further training by means of READ training courses to teach these language skills.
The Human Resources team in the Education Department outlined the issues currently being addressed. The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) is becoming an effective dispute resolution mechanism and is helping to eliminate the lengthy dispute process. The Department has set up Research Task Teams to address important issues such as conditions of service, skills development and post provisioning.
All provinces, except the Northern Province, should complete the Department's rationalisation and redeployment project by 30 June 2000. Thereafter all excess posts will be filled through normal advertisements.
Learning for Living Project
Ms Cynthia Hugo, National Director of READ Foundation, discussed the joint project started in1999 by the Department of Education, the READ Foundation and the Business Trust. The national project concerns the implementation of a classroom resource and teacher in-service training programme. The rationale for the five year project was provided by the results of national research which revealed serious illiteracy problems in rural areas. The research showed that children going into Grade 8 could have a chronological age of 14.4 years but had a reading age of 7.6 years in rural areas and yet the textbooks are pitched at 16-year level.
Several evaluations of different READ projects done from 1997-1998 in the Umtata area had showed substantial progress for children working with the READ programme. The reading improved by 2 years and writing by 4 years.
Ms Hugo strongly believes that when reading and writing skills improve, pupils become more successful in their learning which in turn reduces the repeater rate, improves examination results and lowers drop-out rates.
She explained the process that the project would follow:
Consultation and commitment
Procurement and delivery of materials
Training for READ staff in the use of the training modules
A period of orientation and training for Department of Education Development officials
Training for the school principals on how to manage the programme and to make them feel part of it
Training for the teachers followed by monitoring of their progress in implementing the programme
The measurables for the project are as follows:
Monitoring of schools according to schedule
Systematic evaluation by Business Trust
Sustainability and capacity building
Manuals and handbooks are being produced to sustain methodology for self-training, self-assessment and self-reflection
Training leader teachers
In conclusion Ms Hugo said that the Department of Education would play a steering role and READ would monitor the project.
An ANC member asked what the language implications are of the current movement of pupils from disadvantaged areas to more advantaged areas?
Ms Hugo said that there are serious language problems in many of the urban schools as a result of the movement of pupils from disadvantaged to advantaged schools. In addition there are many different home languages in one class. However schools in urban areas do not form part of this project. This project will cater for all languages in the schools in which they are involved.
The member asked what the causes are of the low reading levels in rural areas?
Ms Hugo's response was that it partly relates to the kind of teacher education in the past. Their training was inadequate to qualitatively address learning problems at school. Lack of resources was also a contributory factor.
Mr Mangena (AZAPO) asked what the intention is of READ and the Department of Education in terms of the future of this joint project?
Ms Hugo said it is up to the Department of Education to decide on this. However the READ committee members are hoping for the extension of the project's life span.
Human Resources Presentation by the Department
Mr Hindle, Senior Manager, Human Resources Management, briefed members on the issues facing the human resources team in his Department. He referred members to the integrated White Paper on Human Resource Development in Education that is currently being developed. The White Paper will be turned into a strategic vision for the Department and will include the aims of Tirisano. Thirty nine percent of public servants are in education, the Education Department therefore have certain human resources issues in common with public services. These are dealt with in the context of public services human resources.
Substantive issues in Human Resources in the Education Department:
Education Labour Relations Council
Regarded by the Department as one of the most effective dispute resolution mechanisms it is used by teachers as a mechanism to lodge a dispute against their employer. The Council has a strict timetable for dispute resolution once the dispute is lodged. They have also developed an expedited mediation/arbitration process. Use is made of experienced and independent arbitrators, for instance from IMMSA or the CCMA. Although entrance into this process is strictly voluntary it does provide both parties with certainty and satisfaction. All arbitrations or mediations are done in one sitting and more than 100 cases can be dealt with at a time. This means that a case is resolved at a faster rate.
Besides handling formal bargaining issues, the Council has also become strongly research based. Broadly stated, they have found a research route to deal with problems. This task is undertaken by research task teams. Participatory research is encouraged: schools are visited and the effect of policies on schools is examined. What emerges from these task teams, according to Mr Hindle, is generally mutually acceptable to both parties. Many resolutions have been reached and most recently have resulted in improvements on existing provisions and practices. Even conditions of services may be improved without the necessary increase in cost implications.
There are three research task teams. The task team on Conditions of Service is researching salary reviews and the grading system in education. The Skills Development Task Team is looking at teacher training. The Post-Provisioning Task Team is examining redeployment and rationalisation in education.
Mr Peter Morkel of the Department highlighted the work of these three task teams.
Conditions of Service Task Team
The team has been investigating career pathing and salary grading since its appointment last year. This has been done in three phases. Phase 1 was completed last year, consisting mainly of ground level investigations. Phase 2 was also completed last year and workshops were held in all nine provinces. Phase 3 will consist of the grading and financial remodelling of all potential new posts. With additional career paths becoming available teachers can progress without becoming managers. The investigation should be finalised by June 2000.
Post Provisioning Task Team
The team was formed following labour action in 1998 when unions demanded that national norms be set on the issue. This was done by the Minister by means of regulations that make provision for, inter alia, redistribution of posts done in terms of the post-provisioning model. Such redistribution is done on a pro-rata basis, pupils to teacher. It is based on the 'weighted' learner that takes into account disability and so forth according to which a learner is weighted. Minor revisions of this model will be done soon. A separate model must, for instance, be used for technical colleges. They must be provided with posts in terms of actual needs and the rest of the posts distributed to schools. When weighting is done other factors could be taken into account, for instance the number of grades which a school offers.
Although Mr Morkel emphasised that the formula is itself very sophisticated, in keeping with international standards, it could be simplified. Other factors that may be introduced are class size as well as time factor requirements. The promotion factor could be introduced in instances where the educator wishes to promote a particular subject. The classes for that particular class could be made smaller and more teachers for the class recruited. In terms of the regulations the school must have a plan to address these issues.
Mr Hindle added that by amending the weight attached to that subject it was likely that the staff complement could also be increased if more learners study the subject. He stated that every province allocates its own posts according to a national budget allocation. There was no truth in the rumours circulating in the media that there was a national ratio. He acknowledged that large classes continued to be a problem but felt it was more a consequence of a lack of classrooms than of educators. The average school in many rural and semi-urban areas comprised of ten teachers and four classrooms. The correlation of teachers and facilities is regarded as a serious problem.
Skills Development Task Team
Regarding the grading review no conclusions have been drawn on the matter yet. In respect of skills development there were many unskilled and under skilled teachers who were now being motivated to upgrade their skills. The aim was that they should all be above level REQB 13. Their incentive to upgrade their skills was that they would move to a greater salary scale. However, an upgrade certificate must impact on a teacher's competency. A National Profession Teaching Certificate is being proposed. The entry requirements for this certificate are relatively open; that is, REQB 12 will not necessarily be the only requirement. Teaching experience and prior learning will also be considered. These could be assessed in a teaching context and through an interview. Although the teacher upgrades, from REQB 12 to REQB 13, will have cost implications it must not be a reason to hold back on teacher development.
The system of teacher appraisal, agreed to by the unions, will assist individuals in appraising their own weaknesses and strengths and collectively build up the system. The system emphasises self-appraisal with the assistance of peers. It puts responsibility on individuals. Mr Hindle emphasised that there was no moratorium on visits to schools as a method of appraisals. The Department faces two options which are not necessarily mutually exclusive, they could locate the system broadly within the school review projects which looks at the quality of management and teaching in schools or within the public service as a move towards a system of performance related pay.
Compliance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) and the Employment Equity Act (EEA) is essential. The Department is having problems in respect of their leave conditions and the BCEA. The problems in respect of the EEA are more complex. For instance, what is the definition of 'workplace'? A school could be classified as a workplace but it is required to have more than 100 employees. Taking the entire province as the equity measurement, not just individual institutions, could circumvent this problem. But this could result in individual institutions being underrepresented, especially with our country's geography, schools resisting transformation could hide behind their province's effort. As a further measure to ensure equity school governing bodies are now permitted to co-opt persons onto the staff if the institution will then be more representative.
Role of managers
The role of managers is now formalised in regulations. These do not limit the rights of employers. In practice if the union has declared an intention to strike the manager must declare to the Department whether or not he will be striking so that the Department can make alternate arrangements for the safety of pupils. This is not a limit on his labour or on his constitutional rights, it merely allows the Department to protect the safety of the schools and its pupils. Mr Hindle suggested that even if it were a limit, it would be a justifiable limit.
Education Laws Amendment Bill
The Amendment Bill has just been published for comment. Amendments to disciplinary procedures have been proposed. The current procedures are an embarrassment: teachers face long periods of suspension with full pay while the process runs its course. The amendments propose more streamlined and effective disciplinary procedures, both in the interest of the individual and the system. There is an attempt in the amendments to lower the levels at which certain categories of offences can be dealt with. The immediate supervisor, that is, the principal, will be empowered to issue a final written warning to the offender. The final recourse is to the provincial MEC or national government.
The launch of Sector Education Training Authorities (SETA) has been delayed due to uncertainty over who will represent private employees. SETA will have two chambers. In the public chamber all public employers and employees will be represented. In the private chamber all private employees, including private colleges, technicons, NGOs, research organisations and trade unions are represented. This private sector is nearly as large as the public sector. The State will submit its budget for training to SETA in the public chamber. SETA will see that those funds are spent and that it is in accordance with the Skills Plan. The SETA will be launched soon after the dispute over who will represent private employees is settled through mediation.
Rationalisation and Redeployment Project
Mr Govender, Director: Labour Relations, in going through the document on Rationalisation and Redeployment in the Education Sector, highlighted the following:
Resolution 3 of 1996 started the process. The strikes in 1998 led to a number of initiatives to ensure that unions, the National and Provincial Departments were part of the process.
Resolution 5 of 1998 deals with educators displaced because of operational requirements. There is currently an excess of promotion posts due in part to schools having a preference for promoting from within.
Provincial and National task teams chaired by independent persons from IMMSA and the CCMA monitor the coordination and implementation of the redeployment process. The independence of the chairpersons helps the process run smoother. Provinces have made progress although the Eastern Cape has just caught up with the process and there are still a number of educators in excess. These excess educators are either being absorbed into permanent posts or taken out of the system. The vacancies for Mathematics, Science and Commerce teachers are a serious problem.
Kwazulu-Natal will be able to complete the process by the 30 June deadline. Its special initiative to fill its excess posts was to advertise posts in national newspapers and seems to be working.
Gauteng is confident it will be able to absorb all educators in excess and will not have to retrench. Its special initiative was to try and match excess educators with vacant posts at an all day gathering in the province.
The Free State will be able to conclude by 30 June and will have no excess educators. The difficulty they faced was the exclusion of promotion post holders in this process.
The Northern Cape had a number of difficulties. Filling the critical subject posts, language barriers and its vast geography; teachers are unwilling to move to remote rural areas.
The Northern Province is a year behind in the process and will only be able to conclude by December 2000. The Department will be assisting this province to complete on time.
The process is running well in the Western Province.
Similarly in the North -West province. For their special initiative they created a pool of relief teachers and distributed them to regions as permanent relief teachers. This reduces temporary and substitute teachers.
The process is running well in Mpumalanga.
After 30 June excess posts will be filled through normal advertisements.
Of a total of 360 000 educators in the system 8 to 10 000 will not be absorbed through redeployment. The Department is faced with a number of options. The voluntary severance package could be retained for these educators. They could be transferred by their provincial department to where there are temporary vacancies. Alternatively a relief pool could be created as was done by the North-West. They could be absorbed into administrative posts. National advertisements have been placed in certain provinces. A person who has taken a voluntary severance package could be re-employed in the system as a temporary teacher provided no one can fill the post, especially in Mathematics and Science subjects. Mr Govender added that the post-provisioning model is being finalised to be a permanent feature of the system.
Problems in the process
â€¢The majority of school governing bodies lack capacity or refused to co-operate in the process. In some cases there was a refusal to accept educators from another community.
â€¢ Some schools lacked the administrative capacity especially those who had never, for instance, had promotion posts at their schools.
â€¢ Filling Mathematics, Science and Commerce posts continues to be a problem.
â€¢ Generally, educators refused to relocate to rural areas.
â€¢ New admission policies have led to excess teachers in primary schools. This may normalise by 2001.
â€¢ There is an absence of a functioning and effective IT system to manage the process especially in the Northern Province.
Arising from the process
There is a need to regrade institutions. What policy must be used to change the grading? Currently, a school is graded according to enrolments.
There has been a number of beneficial spin-offs from the redeployment process: increased co-operation between national and provincial departments and the unions. There is now a system in place that allows for the keeping of accurate data. Institutions can use the data to accurately motivate for a post.
In conclusion, Mr Govender said although there were currently more than 14 000 teachers still in excess, a large number will be absorbed through the filling of promotion posts. The reason why these 14 000 educators continue to be without posts is because they do not necessarily fit the profile of the vacant posts; they may be humanities teachers while the available posts are for science and commerce.
Ms Benjamin (ANC) asked if the temporary posts referred to are contract positions?
Mr Hindle said these were contract posts. Under any circumstances these would be necessary where women took maternity leave, for example.
Ms Benjamin asked if there were any regulations governing conditions of employment for persons appointed by governing bodies?
Mr Hindle said these teachers were required to have REQB 13. The Employment Equity Act also impacted on the nature of appointments. However, the Department could do nothing to prevent benefits exceeding those offered to teachers in public posts.
Adv Gaum (NNP) asked when the grading of posts will be settled and come into force? Mr Hindle replied that they could be implemented by the beginning of 2001.
Regarding temporary posts, Adv Gaum was of the opinion that there are generally well qualified teachers in these posts and that they were leaving for the private sector. What could be done to avoid this situation?
Mr Hindle's response was that destabilisation was definitely not healthy but large numbers were certainly being absorbed into permanent posts.
Adv Gaum is in favour of providing incentives for educators to teach in rural areas. When would incentives be implemented?
Mr Hindle agreed with Adv Gaum but said that the implementation of incentives was controversial.
Adv Gaum asked why excess college lecturers were not being redeployed in schools.
Mr Hindle said most provinces are redeploying them in schools or they were being retained in other parts of the Department.
When would community service in rural areas be introduced for education students?
Mr Hindle agreed that this was one way of introducing teachers to rural areas. It was also an opportunity for them to develop as professionals and chances are they will stay longer in these areas.
Mr Vadi (ANC) asked for clarity on the voluntary severance packages (VSPs) as the previous week, the Minister had said they would be terminated with immediate effect. He warned against the floodgate effect of redeploying VSP teachers.
Mr Hindle said that in the VSP agreement it stated that if it was in the State's interest and the post could not be filled those persons who had taken the package could be re-employed although only on a temporary basis. Mr Hindle said this was in spite of the clear understanding that they should not be re-employed. He said that although many had found other employment, others had already spent the severance package money and on this basis were seeking re-employment. It was clear that the Department did not favour the latter. The Department needs a tool so that persons can exit the system on a rational basis, that tool was not necessarily the VSP, although it remained a viable instrument.
Mr Vadi asked where the salary negotiations were at this time. Mr Hindle said they would commence on 15 May; the offers are set out in the budget already. Mr Hindle suggested that the Department was not too apprehensive about negotiations, saying that over the past few years they had successfully implemented the no work-no pay practice and teachers were more wary of striking.
Mr Mogoba (PAC) expressed concern that the Department was not trying to absorb newly qualified teachers or retrain them for administrative posts.
Mr Hindle emphasised that department is aiming at producing better results so first preference will always be given to experienced teachers. It must be recognised that in some cases there are under- or unqualified persons in posts simply because qualified persons have not applied for that post. These qualified people should be getting preference for posts on the proviso that they are prepared to work anywhere in the country. In that case employment could be guaranteed.
Mr Moonsamy (ANC) asked whether the problem of corporal punishment could be addressed especially since teachers were frustrated?
Mr Hindle said that corporal punishment was an offence and teachers could use other forms of punishment.