The virtual oversight meeting was attended by the Deputy Minister of Education, members of the Department of Basic Education, MECs, the Financial and Fiscal Commission, the Parliamentary Budget Office and the National Treasury. The purpose of the session was to provide the Committee with details of the provincial education departments' expenditure of the grants for HIV and AIDS life skills education, and for learners with profound intellectual disabilities.
Members were frustrated at the lack of attendance from key delegates of provinces who were supposed to account to the Committee on the expenditure of the grants. Those missing included MECs of finance and education from all the provinces. There were only two presentations given -- by the Eastern Cape and the Free State. The provinces which did not attend were those that were under-spending and under-performing.
The HIV and AIDS life skills education grant aims to support South Africa’s prevention strategy by providing comprehensive sexual education, and access to sexual and reproductive health services for learners. It is intended to support the provision of employee health and wellness programmes. The grant for learners with severe and profound intellectual disabilities ensures that care centres have the necessary support resources and equipment to ensure that children with disabilities have the right to equal education.
The framework of these grants had had to be reprioritised due to the Covid-29 outbreak, and it was evident that Covid-19 had an effect on the planned activities within the curriculum. The HIV and AIDS grant would be having future budget cuts, as more than R10 million would be sent back to the National Revenue Fund (NRF) due to under-expenditure. R20 million of the grant for learners with profound intellectual disabilities had been sent back to the NRF.
Members were strongly critical of the Department's under-spending. They said the provinces could not afford for learners to not receive adequate and fair education. Education was important, and what children learnt at school they spread to their homes and communities. The Chairperson asserted that there was still a lack of consequence management by the Department to deal with mismanagement by its officials.
Chairperson Mahlangu led the Committee through the first half of the meeting, and the second half was chaired by the Co-Chairperson, Mr Nchabeleng.
The Chairperson said that an organisation was interested in raising educational matters on the platform. However, it had been referred to the relevant committee so it they could raise its issues, which needed to be resolved and dealt with.
The Chairperson asked whether the Department of Basic Education (DBE) could assist with the lack of attendance from the provincial Members of Executive Councils (MECs), as the Committees was disappointed by the lack of attendance from MECs who had been notified of the meeting well in advance.
Dr Reginah Mhaule, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, replied that she and her team were working on contacting the MECs.
The Co-Chairperson said that Members had visited a school in Kwa-Zulu Natal called the Golden Steps School for Intellectual Disability. The vandalisation and the destruction of property at the school was disturbing. The oversight role of Committees and the monitoring of expenditure was important.
The Chairperson agreed, and asked National Treasury to proceed with their presentation.
National Treasury: Conditional grant performance 2020/21 on HIV & AIDS (life skills education) and learners with profound intellectual disabilities
Mr Emmanuel Pillay, Director: Provincial Budget Analysis, National Treasury, said the business plan for the financial year had been negatively impacted by the national lockdown. The business plan had been reworked and included funds for provinces to catch up on activities that could improve education measures and their response to Covid-19. The revised framework for business plans had been approved by the DBE.
HIV & AIDS (Life Skills Education) – performance information
The provinces that were under-spending were Limpopo, which seemed to be a re-offender, and the Eastern Cape. Provinces had funds rolled over, but Limpopo had been losing funds due to under-spending. There were two indicators that had reached above target set, which was the training of life orientation educators and the implementation of HIV & AIDS awareness within the education curriculum. Provinces did not reach targets for the advocacy of HIV and TB awareness because scheduled advocacy activities could not take place due to Level Five restrictions. The majority of provinces managed to recover, except for the Eastern Cape. The targets for age-appropriate HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) learning teacher support material (LTSM) were not met due to delays in procurement.
Learners with Profound Intellectual Disabilities (LPID) – performance information:
The spending of the LPID grant as at 31 March 2021 included under-spending mainly from Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. The following targets for the following indicators had not been met due to the following reasons:
- The delays in appointing team members on a permanent basis was a problem in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Western Cape. Due to the lack of permanency, staff resign in search of job security. The DBE continues to intervene where this issue persists by withholding the transfer of funds.
- The lack of learners enrolled was a result of parents keeping children who have co-morbidities at home.
- The lack of Covid-19 resources was due to a delay in procurement.
- Non-compliance with the framework had resulted in transfers being withheld from provinces due to non-submission of reports and utilising funds outside of the purpose of grants.
National Treasury would assist in sector forums to clarify the conditions and requirements as prescribed. They have agreed to assist with non-compliance issues.
Mr Pillay said that the overall performance of provinces was good, but the under-exposure in provinces such as Limpopo and the Eastern Cape was concerning. R6.2 million had been under-spent and sent back to the National Revenue Fund. With regard to the LPID grant, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga have managed to employ speech therapists for children as a part of the itinerant team. In the LPID grant, R20 million was sent back to the National Revenue Find, because it could not be spent. The expenditure had been affected by Covid-19.
The Chairperson thanked National Treasury for their presentation, and proceeded with the presentation by the DBE.
Department of Basic Education: Conditional grant performance
Dr Reginah Mhaule, Deputy Minister, DBE, briefed the Committee on the purpose and the mandate of the grants. It was agreed that the Department was to account on the expenditure, which went hand in hand with the targets it wanted to achieve. She said that if it wanted learners to achieve, the Department needed to spend according to its targets. It was sad that money was being sent back when the challenges at hand were still prevailing. The DBE was working on that. She apologised for the lack of MEC attendance, saying that the Department respects the Committee.
Mr Patrick Khunou, Chief Financial Officer, DBE, led the Department's presentation, which was in two parts -- spending on the HIV/AIDS, and grants for learners with profound intellectual disabilities.
Part A: HIV/AIDS life skills education expenditure:
Post-audited figures were being presented. The allocated budget was R246 million, which was cut by R59 million, which was about 24%. The revised budget spent R171 million, under-spending by R16 million. 92% of the grant was spent. Provinces that under-spent were the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and the Western Cape.
Expenditure against transferred funds
In the four months from April to the end of July, the spending had been 26% of the total budget. Provinces should have spent a third, which was 33.3%. This indicated under-spending of 7%. Provinces that were spending well over budget included Mpumalanga, which was due to funds being transferred well in advance.
During the first quarter, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, North West, KZN and the Western Cape had overspent due to the overlaps from previous years. The timely approval of activities in the provinces was an issue, as well as the transfer of the Learner Support Agency stipend to schools in Mpumalanga. Gauteng was under-spending by 3% due to the delay in the awarding of contracts. The contracts had to be awarded before the end of the financial year, which ensured the start of activities at the beginning of the financial year.
In order to resolve challenges, it was suggested that National Treasury extend business plans for three years, instead of having one-year business plans. There was a threat for further budget cuts of R10 to R20 million over the next two years.
Part B: Learners with Severe to Profound Intellectual Disability (LSPID)
The payment schedule for the 2020/21 conditional grant was divided into three payments. The first payment was 30% (15 April), the second payment was 42% (14 August), and the final payment was 28% (15 January). The first two payments were done on schedule, while the third payment was rescheduled due to non-compliance to the conditions of the grant. The third payment was scheduled on time for Mpumalanga and the North West provinces. For the final tranche, the Western Cape indicated that there was no need for the roll-over of funds, but KZN needed it and it was requested by the Department.
The budget amounted to R242 million, but only R225 million was transferred. The balance of R17 million was not transferred to KZN and the Western Cape. Of the R225 million that was transferred, only 96% was spent. The two over-spending provinces were KZN and the Western Cape.
Challenges that contributed to the under- and over- expenditure included the Covid-19 lockdown, which resulted in delays in the implementation of a number of grant activities. There were delays in processing appointments of transversal itinerant outreach members, and non-compliance to grant conditions also resulted in the withholding of transfers.
LSPID expenditure against transferred funds: April – July 2021
In the four months, the 7% under-expenditure was similar to that of the HIV/AIDS grant. Every province had spent the same percentage on average. Fortunately, for the next two years, this grant would not be affected by budget cuts.
Mr S du Toit (DA, North West) said that it was good that consequence management was taking place. The monitoring taking place was good. Provinces could not afford for learners to not receive adequate and fair education. Caregivers needed to receive proper training. Could the Department please forward the contact details of the institutions in the North West and Gauteng where they could go for screening and diagnosis, so that they could be assisted?
The Chairperson asked for all Members to receive contact details for the different provinces.
Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape) asked whether the DBE had systems in place to assist provinces with the issues of under-spending. The provinces under-spending were those that were most in need of these budgets. The Committee needed an assurance that these provinces were being aided. MECs in the Western Cape needed to answer for the under-spending. Every province was entitled to know. There was a need to find out what works and share practices amongst provinces. Limpopo was currently leading in vaccination. Provinces needed to learn from each other what the best form for spending money was, and share practices.
The Co-Chairperson said that the budget had been imposed on the Department. The budget allocated was the amount of money needed to fulfil mandates. A lot of question remained unanswered. The under-spending of provinces on HIV and life skills needed intervention. Education was important, and what children learnt at school they spread to their homes and communities. Failure to spend money on awareness programmes had a ripple effect. There were 23 000 students in Gauteng, and an analyst had said that the pregnancy rate would rise with the lack of school attendance. Parents could not monitor their children when they were working. Some could not afford caregivers. The rise in pregnancy could also affect HIV/AIDS statistics.
Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) said that more than R10 million had been sent back to National Treasury. Oversight had been carried out in KZN at the Golden Steps Special School. The principal had said that some posts were not filled at the school for as long as seven years. They needed psychologists and therapists. The Committee was asking the DBE to assist this school urgently. This was one of the schools damaged by the looting and vandalism. The grant for learners with profound disabilities in the Northern Cape was standing at 47%. There was a limited number of special schools. Many of the schools were situated on the outskirts of communities. An article on HIV/AIDS said that young women were more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. This country needed to spend more money on training and awareness.
The Chairperson said there was still a lack of consequence management. There was mismanagement by officials in the Department. This was an issue that had been raised in the Committee on various occasions. Sending money back to Treasury was not an action that would change people. The under-spending of 34% in the Western Cape needed to be answered. The MECs of provinces still had to present and answer to the Committee. What had been the impact of great reduction because of Covid, and could the provinces quantify this impact? It had been said that Mpumalanga spent money in advance, and it had been questioned whether other provinces should follow in their footsteps -- what risks were entailed? National Treasury should know whether what provinces were practicing was good or bad. The Committee did not want provinces to be reprimanded for practices that were allowed. The under-spending should be picked up internally before it was picked up by the Auditor General (AG). She asked National Treasury whether all provincial departments had internal audit committees to deal with compliance issues, as this would help departments to flag issues of concern more efficiently.
Mr Pillay responded saying that there were structural changes that need to occur in provinces such as Limpopo. This would help to improve performance. The training of teachers was continuously affected by the unavailability of teachers to receive training at weekends. The business plans that were put together were in line with the Division of Revenue Act. Provinces had indicated that they had the capacity to fulfil their mandates, but they still under-spend. They needed to improve their performance. The presentation had indicated that there was a persisting issue in the Western Cape with regard to permanent posts. The reductions of grants would have an impact, as money was being taken away, so provinces should amend their targets and business plans during the year. Provinces should be able to spend everything when budgets were cut, yet under-spending continued. Covid did play a role, but not all provinces were affected uniformly.
Ms Ogalaletseng Gaarekwe, Chief Director, National Treasury, said that during the months of March and April, Treasury conducts division of revenue workshops with sectors. The DBE presents one grant and states what is required so that it is clearly understood by grant managers in provinces. The DBE had indicated what support they would provide to provinces.
The Chairperson asked what National Treasury was doing to help these departments. The issues were being stipulated, but there was a reason why MECs had been asked to be here. How would Treasury be intervening and mitigating? Limpopo was a recurring problem, but it persisted while National Treasury still existed.
Mr Pillay responded that workshops were scheduled, where departments were educated in their responsibilities and what was expected of them. Departments were taken through the changes and how the grant would be affected and the implication of the changes. When the DBE approached Treasury, there were discussions surrounding reasonable targets. The Department was taken through the framework and the output of grants for the financial year. National Treasury sought to meet with Departments on a quarterly basis, going through each province individually, to see what the issues were. Departments were advised in terms of the Division of Revenue Act.
Ms Gaarekwe said that virtual meetings had been set up with departments in every province to discuss performances issues that had been raised.
Ms Gillion asked why there was a delay in the filling of posts. The lack of appointments in the Western Cape as opposed to the North West, was concerning. People with skills flocked to the Western Cape and Gauteng, whereas it was harder to get people to work in the North West. The Western Cape needed to answer why they were having difficulty appointing people.
Mr Khunou responded to the question about Mpumalanga spending upfront. It could not be determined whether it was a good practice. Funds were being transferred to schools and agencies to ensure that they had money. Budgets for bursaries were put in place, and the DBE transfers the full amount to tertiary institutions. By the first quarter, 100% of the bursaries had been spent in order to admit students. If transfers were done upfront, part of the money was used before they got the tranches. This was a practice used to assure institutions that there was money. The risk for the Department was that it did not follow the process as it happened. The approved business plans were submitted on time and annual evaluation reports were completed so that provinces could get their recommendations on time, and there were feedback sessions. A bilateral meeting needed to be held with the Western Cape and KZN to address the grant for learners with profound intellectual disabilities. Despite restrictions, the Department should provide onsite monitoring for Limpopo. The special schools in the Northern Cape and KZN would be looked into, and the issues would be taken up with the Chairperson.
The Chairperson said that Treasury and the DBE should ensure that internal and independent audit committees should be a part of presentations by provinces. The Committee wanted intervention as soon as possible in order to assist departments.
Mr M Saziwa (ANC, Chairperson: Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature) said that Mr Khunou had not answered the question about Mpumalanga and their practices. Members needed to know what regulations were guiding these practices. It could not be an assumption -- it should be properly regulated so that other provinces could know what to follow.
The Chairperson asked if the Mpumalanga practices were legal. National Treasury was asked whether funds were allowed to be used in this way. The oversight role of the Committee was to ensure that the Department was being properly assisted. The Committee did not want Mpumalanga to look bad in the public space or in the media if the practices were unlawful.
Mr Khunou responded that Section 38 1A of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) states that ‘an accounting officer in a department must ensure that that department has and maintains effective and efficient and transparent systems of financial and risk management and internal controls.’ The Department follows all the processes that are enlisted in the Division of Revenue Act, together with the grant framework. Before the money was transferred, there were internal controls in place which were checked by the agency where the money was being transferred to, and the risks. Pre-payments were allowed if it was within the regulations. Provinces were allowed to transfer to schools in advance, without running out of money. It had been seen that if provinces were over-spending in a certain area, it balanced out as the year went on.
The Chairperson questioned the DBE about the appointment of itinerants in the Western Cape. It was not the Department's responsibility to appoint, but the Western Cape had to answer.
Mr Pillay responded that the issue was whether the contracts were permanent or temporary. The Western Cape was focusing on temporary educators. Educators tended to resign due to a lack of permanency, and this was causing the issue.
The Chairperson asked whether the recruitment strategy was a national one. The sector should use the same recruitment strategies, irrespective of which province was involved. There should be a common approach. The Department should agree on a single strategy and implement it. If the strategy was a national one, then it was a bad strategy. The Western Cape was an easy province to locate to.
Mr E Njandu (ANC, Western Cape) said that the Committee needed clarity on the recruitment strategy. All the provinces were following different approaches.
Mr Khunou said that the recruitment strategy was not a national policy or practice. Contracted posts were not mandatory. The majority of provinces had appointed permanent staff. The Department had pleaded with the Western Cape to make permanent appointments.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would have to wait for the Western Cape to answer.
The Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) was asked to proceed with its presentation.
FFC policy brief: Overview of HIV & AIDS and LPID grants
Ms Elizabeth Rockman, FFC Commissioner, said that Dr Patience Nombeko Mbava had been sworn in as chairperson of the FFC. The handover would be happening soon. The Department was very excited.
HIV/AIDS (Life Skills Education) conditional grant
Mr Chen Tseng, Director: Research, FFC, said that since the establishment of the grant, the spending performance suggested that challenges in provincial spending still existed. Limpopo appeared to have a long-standing challenge with spending. The Commission had emphasised the need for the national sector departments to play a strong oversight role. Many grant outputs were not directly and solely linked to the allocated grant funding and purpose. HIV/AIDS prevalence had declined in the youth, from 6.7% to 5.5% between 2002 and 2018. This suggested that the purpose of the grant may be becoming outdated among the current education needs. The grants should be incorporated into provincial equitable share (PES), allowing for full implementation into the life orientation school curriculum.
LPID conditional grant:
The grant had strong growth in allocations. However, the spending was not going at the same pace as the allocations. In 2020/21, only 74% of the total allocation was spent. The spending performance may have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Measures were put into place to mitigate them. More robust prioritising of funding for inclusive education and learners with disabilities was required. There was a need for inclusive education for all. The number of reported grant outputs had been noticeably fewer than the expected outputs.
The Commission reiterated the need to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence through less costly and non-curative measures, such as life skills and awareness programmes. Similarly, the need to support and integrate learners with intellectual disabilities into ordinary schools, could not be over-emphasised.
The Co-Chairperson said that the trend of under-expenditure needed to stop, and the country needed to get value for its money.
Parliamentary Budget Office: Performance of DBE conditional grants in 2019/20
The presentation by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) was led by Dr Nelia Orlandi, Deputy Director: Public Policy, and Dr Mmapula Sekatane, Policy Analyst.
Describing the funding structure of the provincial DBE, they said a large portion of the budget in KZN was spent on the compensation of employees (CoE). Gauteng and the Western Cape spent a large percentage on goods and services. A large percentage in the Northern Cape was spent on capital expenditure.
Findings from evaluation on HIV/AIDS life skills education:
The Department had spent R261.316 million, inclusive of roll-overs of R2.403 million, of the transferred funds amounting to R256.951 million. This reflected an over-spending of 1.7%. Despite the over-spending, there had been an under-performance on six outputs, and over-performing only in two. The under-performance included the number of educators trained to implement comprehensive sexuality education. In the care and support programmes implemented, there was an over-performance on the training of school management in terms of governing bodies and the development of policy implementation plans. There was an expansion in the appointment of learner support agents (LSAs). In some provinces, there were no institutions to accommodate learners. The majority of Gauteng and Western Cape spending on the grant went towards goods and services. In the Northern Cape, the majority of the budget was spent on capital expenditure. The HIV grant in the Eastern Cape had been 79% spent in 2020/21. This calculation was based on the total money available and not transferred. The calculations would be different to those of the Department or Treasury. There had been improvements in 2020/21.
The PBO handled each grant as a policy, in accordance with the framework. The policy outcomes were aligned with those of the grants. The performance indicators should always be linked to the budget.
Children/Learners with severe to profound intellectual disabilities
The Department had spent R215.422 million of the original budget of R220.785 million to provide education to learners with severe to profound disabilities. R12.664 million was not spent from the previous financial year. The outputs were put into four categories, and it was noted that almost all of the outputs were duplicated within the four categories. There had been over-performance on the training of caregivers, teachers and in-service therapists. Despite under-spending on the grant, provinces had indicated that positions were not filled due to budget constraints, which could not be the case. Another concern was that only 482 special care centres and 58 schools were provided with learning and teaching support material against targets of 500 care centres and 104 schools. CoOE was the main driver of expenditure in provincial education budgets, amounting to between 75 and 80 percent.
The Co-Chairperson asked the Eastern Cape Education Department to present.
Eastern Cape Education Department: 2020/21 Expenditure
Mr Fundile Gade, Eastern Cape MEC: Education, said that the presentation showed the shortcomings within the provincial government space. There was a need to locate provinces correctly. The issue raised by the Chairperson was important -- as to how the internal controls audit committees interfaced with reports as departments prepared themes, with the Auditor General as oversight at that particular level.
The presentation by Department of Education was led by MEC Gade, Mr L Langa, DDG, and Mr Simon Ncapayi, Education Manager.
HIV/AIDS Life Skills conditional grant expenditure for 2020/21
The amount of the budget spent on advocacy was 71%. This included looking at materials for development. The two areas lacking in the HIV grant were training and development, and peer education. This was due to the opening and closing of schools. 97% was spent on care and support programmes. Learner-teacher support materials (LTSM) were produced and printed for life skills, but training material could not be printed for training and development courses due to the opening and closing of schools. 46% of the budget was spent on LTSM. The area of management and administration was over-spent. A rollover of funds had been requested, and the Department was currently waiting for the approval from National Treasury.
The major reason for under-spending was Covid-19. Face to face sessions for training, peer education and monitoring were prohibited to prevent the spread of the virus.
Key Activities for 2021
The Department had been able to appoint 800 LSAs to render care and support programmes to learners in 800 schools identified by districts as having high levels of under-performance, poverty, a high prevalence of TB and HIV, as well as other psychosocial ills that affected school communities. Gangsterism and bullying was on the rise for the year under review. Social worker interns had been appointed in order to address the issue in a number of schools. Gender-based violence (GBV) and drug abuse would also be addressed.
Flagship programme include the appointment of a 100 "Keeping Boys in School" monitors to ensure that GBV school safety, as well as boys' monitoring programmes, were implemented in schools. There would be a continued provision of mobile health services to rural schools. There would be collaboration with the Director of Health to ensure that all grade five girls were given access to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines and de-worming programmes. There was collaboration with the Eastern Cape AIDS Council to ensure screening.
LSPID grant outputs
The grant outputs include human resources, outreach teams, the provision of LTSM, training and personal protective equipment (PPE). The team allocation was in Port Elizabeth, Mthatha, Mbizana, East London and Queenstown. One of the reasons of under-spending was the lack of members in the first, second and fourth team.
In the annual teaching plans, the Department concentrated on life skills so learners could be in a position to survive in the pandemic. There were 448 learners who benefited from the programme.
The total budget allocation was R27.768 million, of which R26.237 million (94.49%) was spent. R1. 531 million (5.51%) had already been committed at the end of the financial year. The expenditure to date for the current financial year was R7 million, of which R1.1 million was in commitments. The expenditure to date stood at 29% of the total budget.
Overall achievements for 2020/21
Teams had been established in five districts, and there were five vehicle outreach services. LTSM toolkits and audio-visual equipment had been provided. The learning programme included practicals, and therefore gardening tools, ovens and sewing machines were purchased. Kiddies' tables, chairs and pigeonhole cabinets for the storage of toolkits were provided.
Of the three vacancies that were advertised, all of the positions had been filled. The Eastern Cape was becoming an employer of choice. They would be assuming their duties on1 September. The training budget was under-spent, and training would resume during alert level three.
The Co-Chairperson said that it was important to scrutinise each annual performance plan (APP) for each province to indicate where the problems lay. This would allow them to identify the gaps.
Eastern Cape Treasury on conditional grants' performance
Mr Dominic Qhali, Chief Director: Infrastructure Management, Provincial Treasury, Eastern Cape, said he had prepared the presentation, despite the absence of some colleagues.
The Co-Chairperson said they should proceed with the presentation.
The Committee heard that according to the 2020/21 pre-audited outcomes, the two grants had spent a combined amount of R53.433 million, or 78%, thus recording an under-spending of R14.681 million. Of this under-expenditure, R6.839 million was for the HIV and AIDS life skills education grant, whilst R7.842 million was related to the LPID grant. The real outcome would be noted at the end of September, as they were awaiting the outcomes from the AG's perspective. It had been acknowledged that the late assumption of duties by the LSAs and social worker interns due to Covid-19 school closures had resulted in planned workshops having to be rescheduled. There had been a challenge in attracting skills.
Overall conditional grant roll-over requests had amounted to R110.12 million, of which R90.541 million was provisionally approved. HIV & AIDS grant requests amounted to R6.839 million, of which R5.280 million was provisionally approved, and LSPID grant requests totalled R7.093 million, of which R6.905 million was provisionally approved. This funding would be used to settle commitments made in 2020/21. Final approval of these funds would be subject to audited outcomes.
There had been poor planning and prolonged procurement, which was apparent in the recurrence in the amount of under-spending recorded in the past three consecutive years for both grants.
Free State Education Department on grants' performance
The presentation was led by Ms Bukelwa Qwelane, Director: Inclusive Education, Free State.
Mr Bob Tladi, Chief Director, Department of Education, submitted an apology for the MEC.
The Co-Chairperson said that the absence of MECs and relevant people in the meeting was seriously regrettable.
Ms Qwelane broke the expenditure on the HIV&AIDS life skills education grant down into quarters. The CoE for HIV and AIDS was very consistent, because officials were already appointed. The LSAs were appointed later on. Goods and services had started very low due to Covid-19, especially during the first quarter. R456 070 had been spent during the first quarter on goods and services because of the Covid lockdown levels. The spending had then increased as restrictions were lowered, and improved performance had followed thereafter.
In the second quarter the spending on the LPID grant had been low because the centres for social development had opened late, which had affected the opening of schools.
The expenditure this year of 24.9% of the HIV/AIDS grant was low compared to the previous financial year. The LPID grant expenditure was at 21.3%, which was lower than normal. Payments and procurements had affecting this.
During the year, the framework had had to be reworked. The province thought they needed to increase the change agents. The duties of change agents had to be aligned with the situations at hand, such as teenage pregnancy and drugs. Change agents were empowered to assist the system with the screening of learners. This was both in person and virtual. The activities for young girls were not changed, but the rendering of the services had been changed. School-based platforms had to be empowered. The province had managed to reach 500 learners. The advocacy targets with regard to HIV, AIDS and TB had been achieved. The targets were set according to the capacity at hand, and the target for LTSM had been to provide 3 000 items for sexual education and life skills, and it had been achieved.
Covid-19 had had a big impact on learners with severe to profound intellectual disabilities. 194 caregivers were trained on the standard operating procedures (SOPs), as well as the learning programme. About 43 officials were trained on the LPID learning programme, and two teachers were trained on the repackaged learning programme. 21 transversal itinerant outreach team members trained on levels of attainment used in the learning programme and evidence-based reporting.
A highlight had involved the change agents. Instead of the school waiting for support, now they were easily supported at schools, as it was school based. Learners managed to return to school due to the change agents. There were eight-week home-education packages developed to assist parents.
Mr D Ryder (DA, Gauteng) said that the common theme across the presentations suggested that money was being spent very well when it came to appointing people and paying salaries. Institutions were very well staffed and paid. However, when it came to the beneficiaries of these grants, it seemed to be the opposite. Those employed were not ensuring that beneficiaries were receiving. The beneficiaries were the most important people. One could judge the work of the government by the support for the elderly, sick and mentally challenged. It was a bad reflection. If 100% of the budget was being spent, then targets should be met. Covid-19 was constantly used as an excuse. There should be more urgency to want to help people who were at risk. The way departments were spending money needed to be looked at closely. It was pointless to pay the salaries of people who were not doing their jobs.
The Co-Chairperson said that it was important for people who worked in these divisions to see what teachers went through with the children who attended schools like the Golden Steps School. Witnessing this would change the way things were done. These people had skills, and the challenges were the commitment of the people who were employed. There were also challenges with the MECs, who were the ones who should be taking the responsibility where officials were spending more for less. It was their duty to ensure that children got what was due to them.
Mr Du Toit asked when the Committee would be hearing from the provinces who had not yet submit anything. It was important for the Committee to know the current state of those provinces.
The Co-Chairperson said that the Department should respond to the issues raised. The Committee needed to know what went wrong step-by step, and what would be done about it.
Mr L Langa, DDG: Education, Eastern Cape, said that each of the grants had its own outputs. For the HIV and Aids grant, the target was training of school management teams and governing bodies on sexual education, TB education and managing the outbreak of Covid-19. The achievement was that almost 900 schools had been reached, although the target had been almost 2 000 schools. Co-curricular activities were supposed to reach 25 000 learners. For care and support, 30 000 learners and teachers were meant to benefit from the programmes, and 18 780 were reached in the year under review. For LTSM, there were supposed to be 22 000 copies printed on curriculum, policy statements and enrichment material, and 24 901 had been done. The advocacy target of 30 000 was fallen short by just over 6 000. This information had not been included in the presentation because it had been assumed that it would be focusing on expenditure instead of performance.
Mr Ncapayi added that the target was to access 1 800 LPID learners in the year under review, but they had managed to reach 580. The challenges had started late, due to the physical nature of the assessments that needed to be conducted. The teaching programme, which included 480 learners, included baking, gardening, and hairdressing. The performance of all the learners at the 68 care centres had been captured, which meant targets were being met.
Ms Pumla Gxuluwe, Deputy Chief Education Specialist, Eastern Cape Education Department, said that the statistics would be sent to the Committee. The Department had been under the impression that the Committee wanted expenditure reports.
The Co-Chairperson said that a commitment needed to be made that funds were being used. It was important for the Committee to know when funds were being deviated so that it could be easily picked up. The Committee needs to know from the Free State that resources were being used for what they were intended.
Mr Gade said that the commitments made had not been deviated from their original standpoint. The Committee was assured that APPs would be sent so that there was an interface with the Committee in relation to what was being reported. Plans and interventions were matters that were informed by the attitude of the Inclusive Education department. The output that was observed in 2019 suggested that the Department must move with speed systematically, and that resource distribution and mobilisation for the learners with profound and severe disabilities and other learners with special needs were attended to. The Department would make sure to bring APPs and documentation to the Committee so that matters could be looked at and addressed accordingly.
Mr M Sithole, DDG: Corporate Services, Free State Department of Education, said that the Department was cognisant of the comments made, and would ensure taking the advice made into consideration. The issue lingering was the balance between how much the province was paying for service delivery programmes of goods and services, and how much was being paid for salaries. A balance needed to be reached.
Ms Qwelane said that the province was fully compliant with the HIV and Aids grant requirements. The business plan and monthly reports were submitted accordingly. The grant money was used for its intended purposes. When the LPID grant framework was looked at, 60% of the budget went to the compensation of employees. For the province, even with a full staff complement, the 60% was not reached. Last year, the Department had asked for a deviation of funds so that the province did not surrender funds due to the under-compensation of employees. The province had been granted this deviation, which went according to the Division of Revenue Act. If the province was to deviate, then it needed to ask for a deviation of funds from the transferring officer. Instead of letting the R3.5 million be forfeited, with the full complement of staff, the province would still not reach the full 60%. The Department did not want to appoint people outside of the grant framework. This was the only deviation asked for by the province during the year.
The presentation had touched on the targets, as well as the achievements for the HIV and AIDS grant, which were in the annual performance plan. Only the achievements were given for the LPID grant -- the targets were not given. The Committee would receive a write up on what the targets were, after the meeting.
Mr Tladi commented on the recruitment challenges. From April this year, all the employees, especially those involved with the LPID grant, would become permanent. There had been a challenge in previous years when employees were in contracted positions, and the MEC and the Head of Department had decided that employees should be given five-year contracts. This would help to attract the right skills, and to retain them. After April discussions with the DBE, the contracts had been changed to permanent contracts. This would enhance the performance of the grant, as there would be a measure of stability. The Department aimed to attract a wider pool of applicants who were competent and who were more qualified. The human resources (HR) part of the grant had a good impact on staffing and the turnover rate. There would be more improvement going forward. The grants were being used as intended, helping to assist the most vulnerable. This allowed them to exercise their constitutional right to education. The information would be provided in full detail. The two grants were playing a very important role in the Free State. The province would improve where there were challenges, but the province believed they were on the right track.
The Co-Chairperson said that going forward, the Committee wanted to ensure that the problems were dealt with accordingly and resolved. The wrongs had to be corrected.
The Chairperson raised a concern to stakeholders and the Department about the presentations, as they had been asked to submit them a week earlier. There was bad management and leadership across the board. The late submission of presentations compromised the Committee and its duty to act as an oversight body. Departments could not expect oversight when information was given when one started presenting in the middle of the meeting. Documents should be sent before the time so that the Committee could understand the information beforehand and prepare questions for the departments. The Committee would not be lenient next time. It wanted to ensure that all parties involved were being productive.
The Co-Chairperson reiterated that the meeting had been planned and scheduled well in advance. The matter needed to be escalated to the Head of Government Business, because that was where interventions could take place. People had committed to this meeting and to their jobs, but when it was time to show up, nobody had shown up. The Committee hoped that in future it would not happen again. It needed to receive reasonable apologies. Everyone had family members and were dealing with family issues, but some had shown up despite that. If family issues were always a valid excuse, then there would be no one in this meeting. Committees used to send departments back if they did not hand in their presentations and reports on time.
The Chairperson said she was disappointed. The province would not do that in the legislature where she came from, but it seemed like the norm here.
Mr Gade said that the province had taken the relevant information out of the presentations. The province would find a way to respond to the matters raised. Oversight was important, because it gave departments insight to some of the blind spots from an executive point of view. The province would go back to the drawing board with regard to its shortcomings. As a provincial government department, they had no reason to not submit reports in good time. It was a culture that needed to be worked on.
Mr Tladi apologised for the lack of attendance from key members, and said that he would communicate the Committee's concerns to them.
The Co-Chairperson thanked Members for committing to the meeting under the circumstance. Those who failed to attend meetings should pay back the money used to set them up. A discussion needs to be held with Parliament in this regard.
The meeting was adjourned.
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