In the second day of a joint virtual oversight meeting, the Select Committee on Appropriations and the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture received presentations from seven provinces on the monitoring and expenditure of the Conditional Grants for HIV/Aids (Life Skills Education) and for Learners with Profound Intellectual Disabilities, for the 2020/21 financial year.
Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape presented to the Committee. The presentations highlighted the challenges in implementing both grants, particularly given the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on schooling and limitations on training events during the 2020/21 financial year. The presentations outlined the grant expenditure per quarter for the 2020/21 financial year as well as performance targets and outcomes. Some presentations briefly covered expenditure for the first two quarters of the 2021/22 financial year, highlighting proposed targets. A number of proposed interventions were outlined to address challenges experienced by each province. Provinces outlined various partnerships with other departments and non-governmental organisations to address issues around HIV/Aids in particular. Achievements were outlined, particularly in relation to provinces response to the pandemic and training of personnel.
Members of the two Select Committees raised questions and concerns about the teenage pregnancy rates in provinces and the comparative statistics between the 2020/21 and 2021/22 periods. They asked what psycho-social support there was for pregnant teenagers. Was there sufficient sex education of both male and female learners in schools? It was suggested that both pregnancies and HIV/Aids resulted from unprotected sex, therefore the effectiveness of the programmes might not be promoting the desired behavioural outcomes. Teenage pregnancies in Limpopo appeared to be particularly problematic - was there a plan to deal with the situation? Given the situation with HIV/Aids, Members asked if lessons should be learned from other African countries that had conducted successful campaigns, such as Uganda.
What plans were in place to address the situation of learners who had fallen out of the system, due to concerns of contracting COVID-19? Were there ways to assist those learners back into the system? Was it right that one service provider was used to deliver on certain contracts? Was there a way of monitoring the performance of people who received stipends? This would give information on whether the appointment of assistants was productive.
Members noted that the Gauteng Department did quite well with the Grant for Learners with Profound Disabilities on paper, but did this reflect the situation on the ground?
Clarity was sought about the quarter four tranche held back by the Department of Basic Education in KwaZulu-Natal. The issue of the Golden Steps school in KwaZulu-Natal was brought to the attention of the Provincial Department: Why had the therapist position at the school had been vacant for eight years? Was Golden Steps the only school without a therapist in KwaZulu-Natal? The Chairpersons expressed their dissatisfaction that the Member of the Executive Council for Education in KwaZulu-Natal had not attended the meeting.
Members asked why the presentations given by the North West and Northern Cape provinces did not adequately report on outcomes. A Member suggested that the Northern Cape had not mentioned current financial reporting in its presentation. If there were issues of under-spending, measures needed to be presented to address the situation. How many Special Care Centres were there in Kimberley? Why had the assistive devices procured in the previous financial year not been delivered yet. A Member asked if COVID-19 was used as an excuse for inaction in assisting learners with special needs, particularly in the Northern Cape. The home support provided during COVID-19 in the Western Cape received positive feedback from a number of Members.
Representatives of the Parliamentary Budget Office, National Treasury and Financial and Fiscal Commission made brief remarks about the presentations given. National Treasury explained the reasons for funds being withheld and suggested that Treasury could assist in advising provinces to address compliance issues..
The Deputy Minister of Basic Education made brief remarks in conclusion, appreciating the platform facilitated by the Select Committees and the opportunity for the provinces to learn from one another.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu noted the Members in attendance as well as the apologies of Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape) and Mr M Moletsane (EFF, Free State).
Ms Moira Marais, Head of Department (HOD) for Education in the Northern Cape, communicated the apology of the Northern Cape MEC, who would attend where possible.
Mr Panyaza Lesufi, Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education, Gauteng, and Mr Edward Mosuwe, Head of Department (HOD) for the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), presented to the Committee. [Please see the presentation slides for tables and full details]
- The line management had a slow start in utilising the budget due to COVID-19 pandemic challenges relating to restrictions on gatherings, workshops, trainings and a certain number of people not allowed to gather in one venue, the restrictions meant that we could not roll-out activities as planned i.e., all advocacy, peer education and trainings have to be replanned and resort to online trainings. This was a challenge because most educators and learners experienced problems with regards to access to connectivity
- The COVID-19 pandemic also resulted in a loss of teaching time for all schools, and therefore schools had to come-up with catch-up plans and prioritised curriculum over everything, this affected the roll-out of our activities.
Measures to address expenditure 2020/21
- In order to address the slow-expenditure, the line function planned to focus on items that do not require the presence of learners and educators, like procuring of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) (e.g. frames with posters, HIV and TB policy Guideline file for all schools), and the expansion of the Learner Support Agents (LSAs) programme. Out of schools youth that placed at schools and paid a stipend on monthly basis. They give psychosocial support to vulnerable learners.
- The LSAs will assist the Department because they are already placed in schools, and therefore, will give the necessary support to the learners who may be experiencing some psychosocial challenges.
HIV/Aids Grant Achievements in 2021/22 to date
Expenditure to date:
- The programme is already at 42% expenditure.
- 430 LSAs contracted and placed in schools, the LSAs have already been inducted to support orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) in schools.
- 500 educators have been selected to be trained on Comprehensive Sexuality Education. The training will begin in the first week of September 2021.
- Ongoing support on issues of COVID19 and HIV/TB is given with the support of School Health officials.
- Other activities will follow as soon as the COVID19 restrictions have been eased, because it is very difficult to plan for this activities without knowing the number of learners and educators to reached and whether gatherings are permitted or not.
Learners with Severe to Profound Intellectual Disability (LSPID) Conditional Grant: Challenges experienced & Remediation
Challenges that lead to under-expenditure:
- 6 Posts were vacated: 1 x retirement, 4 x cancellation of contract, 1 x death. These posts could not be filled immediately. The shortlisting and interviews are scheduled for August & September 2021.
- National training was supposed to take place where GDE had to have money available for accommodation. The training did not materialise.
Remediation measures put in place for 2020-21:
- Advertised posts.
Progress made with 2021/22 expenditure
The expenditure to date
- The programme is already at is R16,027,132.98 or 48%
- Vacancies will be filled during August
- Order for 2022 Academic year has been completed
- Learner support material
- Learner disability booklets
- Psychometric assessments
- Resource packs
- Psychometric kits
Measures in 2021/22 to prevent under-expenditure
- Training of caregivers on feeding techniques - end August
- 95 percent of planned RLS01’s [purchase requisition forms] for goods and services have been approved. Delivery is awaited but funding is committed
- The LSPID requested a deviation from Cost of Employment (CoE) to LTSM. The LSPID unit estimated a R1.3m underspending for the current vacant post from April – September 2021.
Overall Remarks LSPID
- Historically the LSPID has performed well, always achieving close to 100% expenditure
- The impact of COVID-19 on planned activities for 2020-21 resulted in 86% expenditure, in essence due to the 6 posts that were vacated and could not be filled immediately.
- The posts have been advertised and shortlisting and interviews are currently taking place.
- Performance targets have been met as required with training rescheduled to take place in September 2021.
- A request for deviation from the business plan has been submitted as under-expenditure for CoE is projected given that the posts have not been filled from the onset of the 2021/22 financial year.
KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Presentation
Dr Barney Mthembu, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Curriculum Management & Delivery, Dept Education KZN, presented to the Committee. [Please see the presentation slides for tables and full details]
HIV/Aids Conditional Grant: Why the grant is important for KZN
- KwaZulu-Natal province has many cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and Tuberculosis (TB). Therefore the grant becomes important because it seeks to address issues of prevention and care
- One of the approaches that KwaZulu-Natal believes in is “PREVENTION”. This links well with one of the goals of the grant which is to contribute to preventing new HIV, STIs, TB and COVID-19 infections
- For the province one of the most important impact-drivers is access to sexual and reproductive health services. The grant fits in very well because it seeks to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services.
- The province notes that the amount of money in the grant has changed
- Originally KwaZulu-Natal was allocated an amount of R62 450 000 for the HIV & AIDS Conditional Grant
- However, the allocation was reduced by R15 088 000 to an amount of R47 362 000.
- Whilst the reductions are accepted as a way of dealing with financial conditions of the country and the sector in particular, it is clear that the cut will affect prevention, access and other ways of dealing with HIV & AIDS
- The province had an allocation of R47 362 000 for the 2020/2021 financial year
- The province and the 12 districts were able to spend all the allocated funds during the 2020/2021 financial year
- Therefore there was no under expenditure and over expenditure during the 2020/2021 financial year in KwaZulu-Natal
- The expenditure was 100% (full expenditure) during the 2020/2021 financial year
The expenditure for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters relates to the following outputs as outlined in the revised grant framework and approved business plan:
- Advocacy and awareness activities for learners, educators on Infection Prevention and Control for COVID-19, HIV, TB and STI’s.
- Training and development for Learner Support Agents, educators, School Management Teams (SMTs) and School Governing Bodies (SGBs) on Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines for COVID-19, including DBE SOPs for screening for COVID-19 in schools. [Department of Basic Education (DBE) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Prevention, Containment and Management of COVID-19 in Schools and School Communities.]
- Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for schools as part of support for COVID-19
- Development, Printing and Distribution to schools of LTSM for HIV and AIDS, TB, Integrated School Health and COVID-19.
- Payment of salaries for Learner Support Agents and contract officials.
- Monitoring and support of schools with regard to implementation of HIV, TB and COVID-19 programmes and school health safety measures.
- Costs relating to travel and subsistence as well as administration of the grant
- Budget reductions impacting on activities that had already been planned for in the approved Business plan
- Lockdown related difficulty to implement activities as planned.
- Difficulty in implementing activities in the business plan that needed gathering learners and educators to a common venue due to social gathering restrictions aimed at prevention of COVID-19 infections
- The Business Plan was revised and cost-cutting measures implemented to achieve set targets with reduced budget. In other activities targets were reduced in consultation with DBE.
- Once schools were open we made use of weekends and school holidays to make up for time lost during school closure.
- As gathering learners and educators to a common venue could not be done, on-site individual school support sessions were conducted ensuring that schools receive necessary interventions.
LSPID Grant: Magnitude of task
- KwaZulu-Natal has 11 041 learners who fall under this category
- There are 788 learners in Special Care Centres
- There are 353 learners in Special Schools
- There are learners who did not return to school because of COVID-19
- KZN wants to achieve the goal of the grant by ensuring that learners with severe to profound intellectual disabilities access quality public funded education and support.
Summary of expenditure
- To service the 11 041 learners with severe to profound intellectual disabilities, the province was allocated a total amount of R32 586 000
- The province overspent in the 2020/2021 by 1.3%
- As at March 2021 the province has spent R33 000 000 which is already an over expenditure making it to be 101.3%
- This was caused by the fact that the province spent money on machines, equipment and tools (assistive devices)
Expenditure percentage per quarter (accumulative)
- The expenditure for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Quarters relates to the following outputs as outlined in the revised grant framework and approved Business Plan:
- Training and development for Transversal Itinerant Outreach Team members, officials, care givers, teachers and in-service therapists.
- Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for special care centres as part of support for COVID-19
- Procurement of Assistive Devices and LTSM for special care centres and designated special schools
- Monitoring and support of special care centres and designated special schools with regard to implementation of the Learning Programme for LSPID
- Costs relating to travel and subsistence as well as administration of the Conditional Grant for LSPID
- The under-performance of 17% in respect of appointment of therapist as a result of attrition – approval has been granted to advertise and fill all 5 vacancies
- The under-performance of 35% was as a result non-attendance of learners due to care centres being closed because of COVID-19
- The under-performance of 95% was due to the fact that the targets were set in anticipation of assessment tools being available in the 2nd Quarter which was not the case instead tools arrived in February. The delay of the arrival of assessment tools was due to the closure of border gates as they were internationally sourced.
1. Most parents could not bring back their learners to the Special Care Centres (SCC) in fear of COVID 19 infections.
2. Withholding of 4th Quarter Tranche by DBE
3. Non permanency of the Transversal Itinerant Outreach Team
4. Hiring of 03 Social Workers instead of 03 Educational Psychologists
5. Low numbers of LSPID assessment
1. The Department held advocacy and awareness meetings with affected parents. The educational psychologists have addressed the parents’ concerns. This has resulted to parents gradually bringing their children to the Special Care Centres. The supply of PPEs to SCCs have been increased.
2. The DBE queries that resulted in the withholding of the 4th Tranche were responded to and the department is now awaiting the release of the funds to offset the expenses already incurred
3. The team has been employed on permanent basis.
4. The Department is in the process of removing the social workers from the grant, and deploying in other areas where their specialisation is required within Inclusive Education.
5. The 03 Educational Psychologists are roving among the 12 Districts to increase the number of LSPID assessed. A submission is in place to advertise posts for the recruitment of 03 additional Educational Psychologists
Mr D Ryder (DA, Gauteng) hoped that the positive picture presented reflected what was actually happening on the ground. He stated that he was ‘not a big fan of MEC Lesufi,’ he therefore wished Mr Mosuwe congratulations. There were some good issues raised in the Gauteng presentation.
Co-Chairperson Ms Mahlangu interrupted Mr Ryder. He was ‘attacking’ her. She asked that Mr Ryder not say that he ‘was not a big fan of Mr Lesufi.’
Mr Ryder agreed. Based on what was said the day before [18 August 2021], money should not be spent unnecessarily on salaries. Spending should be focused on the people that actually needed it, being the most vulnerable because that was what the grants were for. He appreciated the acknowledgement of the court case and the steps to fix things. The 48 percent spent by the end of quarter two on the grant for people with profound disabilities suggested good performance generally. 100 Percent expenditure did not necessarily equate to 100 percent delivery. That needed to be monitored going forward. The Gauteng Department was doing quite well with the profound disability grant on paper – he hoped it was being done equally well on the ground.
When one considered Aids education, one needed to take into consideration teenage pregnancies. He said that there was quite an alarming story coming out of Gauteng about the number of teenage pregnancies, highlighted in the meeting the day before. While one was a disease and the other a blessing, both resulted from unprotected sex. The effectiveness of the programme perhaps needed to be looked at – clearly if people were having unprotected sex and not taking note of the consequences, be they positive or negative, it might point to the fact that the Aids education programme and the warnings were not being heard. The financial aspects seemed to be reasonably sound. Was the money being spent effectively and was the Department achieving what it set out to?
He asked a number of questions about the presentation given by KZN. There were two slides that were skipped very quickly, which covered the performance information. He noted in the version of the presentation communicated to the Committee, there was only one slide on performance information. There were three or four slides on performance information flighted in the presentation. He asked to revisit those two slides. He noted that the quarter four tranche was held back by the Department of Basic Education. He asked for more information on that, specifically the reasons for that decision. The picture presented for KZN was reasonably good, however clarity was needed about the two slides previously indicated.
Mr S du Toit (FF Plus, North West) asked if the Department was prepared for the fact that COVID-19 would persist. Were the necessary plans in place? It was stated that some learners had fallen out of the system – was there some kind of safety net to assist those learners? Did a part of the programme assist those learners to get back into the system?
Mr M Saziwa (ANC, Eastern Cape Legislature) focused his questions on the presentation given by Gauteng. He appreciated the current rate of expenditure on the two grants. He noted that 42 percent of expenditure had been spent on one of the grants, which was commendable in his view. It suggested that by the end of the year the province would meet its expenditure targets. He asked if the sexual education, as covered by the HIV/Aids grants, had resulted in the reduction of teenage pregnancies in the province. This not only applied to girls but boys as well. He asked for comparative statistics from the previous financial year. He asked for clarity about the in-person training and if virtual training was problematic due to data coverage etc.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng noted the challenges that took place with COVID-19 and the adjustment to the budget. He had been in KZN a week before and visited a school called Golden Steps. The school’s management had complained that the therapist position had been vacant for the past eight years. This was a school that catered to children from very poor families. Some of the children were not physically or mentally well; the school hosted children with autism. He noted that mention was made in the KZN presentation of social workers who were deployed where they were not supposed to be and that they would be relocated. This would be a good thing. Was Golden Steps the only school that had a problem of not having a therapist?
MEC Lesufi stated that he had noted the areas highlighted by Members that needed attention. He stated that the problem with an institution as huge as Education was that there was a lot of movement of staff and a lack of oversight at times by Head Office. He appreciated the questions about the effectiveness of the programmes, specifically around teenage pregnancies and sexual education. It was clear that the Department had made a dent in the problem, but it was not enough. These programmes needed to be accelerated to ensure that the programmes were all encompassing and all-inclusive of communities. The programmes should not be confined to schools only, the programmes needed to be broadened into communities – to work with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that were active in that space. There was one NGO that had done very well and recruited teenagers and advised them on the dangers of teenage pregnancy, however that NGO was struggling.
The Department was looking to train educators, so that there was not such a reliance on in-person training, and more emphasis on virtual training. He appreciated and supported the suggestion made by KZN to have training sessions on weekends and public holidays. This was something that could be borrowed from KZN because Gauteng was lagging behind.
COVID-19 was going to be with the world for quite some time. The Department had almost two years experience of how to operate in the context of the virus. The programmes could be adjusted and amended to deal with this. He agreed that learners with special needs needed to be protected and should not fall out of the system.
DDG Dr Barney Mthembu stated that the slides showed both the good and the bad. He responded to the question about whether the Department was prepared, given the ongoing COVID-19 situation. There was a risk adjusted strategy, and an additional level had been created, an ‘extended risk adjusted strategy.’ The special schools and learners were considered as forming part of an extended risk adjusted strategy. That plan was being developed by the relevant Chief Directorate. It was still in it its initial phases, as they had not anticipated the number of COVID-19 waves that had taken place.
The issue of getting learners back to school, did not only apply to the special schools. Parents were contacting the Department every day. Parents wanted the Department to close schools due to concern about COVID-19. Anxiety was creating problems. He thanked the Members that had visited KZN and the Golden Steps school. He apologised that he and the MEC had not been able to attend. He had received an informal report about the visit. The report had highlighted the very real issues on the ground at the school. The Department did have a plan to address these issues, specifically the therapists. The budget cut meant that the Department needed to go back to the drawing board and see what to do. The issues of the Golden Steps came to his attention a day after the Members had visited KZN, he had then gone to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to attempt to revisit Treasury and see what could be done about the vacancy.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng stated that the answers provided by KZN about the Golden Steps school were not satisfactory. Those vacant posts had been there for eight years. The question was why. Teachers in that school were administering medicine to the children, not a nurse – some of the kids required medication three times a day. If the teacher made a mistake giving that medication, the Department would be in trouble.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu stated that it was a problem that the Department only became aware of the issue at the school after the Members had visited. The day-today running of the Department should be monitored in the province. The Department needed to have monitoring mechanisms.
She appreciated that the Gauteng presentation had not simply identified problems and left them with the Committees. Proposals and mitigating plans were presented – that was what the Select Committees wanted. She appreciated the spirit of learning from other provinces.
DDG Dr Mthembu stated that he thought it was a fair concern that the issue had been there for eight years. He asked for an opportunity to go back and find out how this had happened and address it. This issue would be looked at, not only in this school, but all special schools. He reiterated that he be given the opportunity to urgently address the matter.
Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for Finance, KZN, stated that the presentation that was given was a correct reflection of the Department of Education, having interacted with them on a number of matters. The Department had performed well with the grants in the past. Due to COVID-19 and the problems it posed, the Department had really had to change its tune and ensure that matters that had to do with COVID-19 were prioritised. One of the challenges had been justifying the expenditure, given the many problems and priorities in the province. KZN was a province that still had huge problems with water and sanitation. When the province was faced with COVID-19, there were still a large number of learners who were not back at school because the Department was not able to provide proper water and sanitation. Many of the grants could not be spent because those learners were not back at school.
The presentation that was done by the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) the day before was very important. Sometimes one had to look at other grants and question if the conditions of the grant should be so rigid – or how it could respond to other challenges.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng stated that the MEC had not responded to the question that was asked. The question was what the Department was going to do to ensure that schools had the necessary personnel to administer medicine as well as fill the vacant therapist positions. This could be responded to in writing as there were other questions that would be directed to them about the oversight visit.
MEC Ms Dube-Ncube stated that she had not answered the question because it was not a question she could answer – she was not an MEC for Education. She was answering on matters of the oversight of finances and how the Department was being supported in dealing with the finances.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu asked that these questions be responded to in writing by the relevant HOD and MEC. This issue had been around for eight years, this was because there was no proper consequence management. Nobody had been made to account. No actions had been taken against those responsible. The Committees were obligated to follow-up about the money allocated to different departments and institutions to determine if the money was used appropriately. She requested a response in writing within seven days. She asked whether the Members supported this proposal.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng stated that it was problematic that the MEC for education was not in attendance, as the MEC needed to account.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu agreed with the Co-Chairperson Mr Nchabeleng. She had not wanted to get emotional during this meeting, as she had been quite emotional during the meeting the day before. It was as if Parliament was being undermined and not taken seriously. These issues would be outlined in the report to the relevant authorities. If issues of Parliament could not be prioritised - issues of public funds – these things needed to be clarified. The Select Committees were simply doing their jobs and wanted the political heads to respect them and the institution and account.
Mr Ryder agreed that there needed to be accountability. A follow-up meeting needed to take place and it should take place soon. Often the Committee threatened to follow-up and by the time that happened it was six to eight months later. Zoom made scheduling of meetings at short notice much easier.
Mr J Mpisi (ANC, Gauteng Legislature) commented on the absence of the MECs from provinces. When the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) wanted to meet it needed to be ensured, other people should not be sent instead. He had attended the NCOP meetings, as a Chairperson of a Portfolio Committee, because he respected that. He applauded the Department of Education in Gauteng –in the Portfolio Committee in Gauteng, the MEC was always there. The MEC did not send the HOD or DDGs. The MECs who were not in attendance should not only apologise in writing, they should take responsibility. If Parliament or the NCOP did not act against leaders who undermined the work of Parliament, there would be a problem. The Portfolio Committee had done inter-provincial visits themselves, in most instances the MECs were not available, the HOD would spend a few minutes welcoming them and then disappear. It was understood that they were all busy but the programme was sent in good time. When the Committee was in Gauteng, the MEC for Education was with the Committee throughout. These politicians had become too big for their boots – there should be political consequences. He suggested that the Chairpersons should write to the Premiers and Chief Whips so that there was accountability. The Committees could not spend a day on these issues, having shifted other obligations.
MEC Dube-Ncube stated that the MEC for Education was part of the meeting in the morning, he had to leave for other commitments. The third wave was affecting the province presently, he did indicate that he would be leaving early. As Members of the NCOP, all Members in attendance were also Members of the Provincial Legislatures, there should be no doubt that all Members were accountable and expected to account to the legislators for all the work being done. Sometimes when colleagues were occupied with other matters it was not as if as if they had simply decided to be absent from meetings. As NCOP Members they were representing provinces in the meeting – those matters of the provinces needed to be taken to the NCOP so that the interests of the provinces were represented at the NCOP level.
Ms Polly Boshielo, MEC for Education, Limpopo, appealed to the Committees, that the MECs did not intend to undermine the Select Committees. The day before the MECs had been in attendance the whole day. She had a performance appraisal with the Premier later that day, so her attendance of the meeting would be dependent on that. She would likely have to leave the meeting at about 12pm. The MEC for KZN attended the meeting the day before, as well as other colleagues. She reiterated that the MECs respected the Select Committees and wanted their counsel and assistance.
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu noted that some of the MECs had indicated their apologies and that they would need to leave the meeting early. There were serious issues. The Select Committees could not be apologetic about what was said. It was not the first time the Select Committees had expressed that they were being undermined. Not all of them were undermining the Select Committees, but there were those that were. The Committees had to hold people accountable. She stated that the NCOP Members were well aware of their responsibilities. She stated that MEC Ms Dube-Ncube’s response did not sit well with her. She did not appreciate the suggestion that the NCOP Members did not understand their mandates. The NCOP Members could not focus on the issues exclusively coming from their provinces – there were overall responsibilities.
DDG Dr Mthembu stated that a response would be provided in writing in seven days.
MEC Boshielo and Mr Matthews Mhlongo, Limpopo Acting DDG: Institutional Governance Coordination and Support Branch, presented to the Committee. [Please see the presentation slides for tables and full details]
Purpose of LPSID Grant
- Purpose: LSPID grant is established to provide the necessary support, resources and equipment to identified care centres and schools for the provision of education to children with severe to profound intellectual disabilities (SPID)
- Outcomes: Improved access to quality basic education for children with severe to profound intellectual disabilities in conditions that ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate active participation in the community.
2021/22 LSPID Expenditure
- R32 666 000 is allocated to LSPID. 65 percent is for CoE. The project manager and 35 specialists have been appointed.
- Q1 target was 25 percent for LSPID. 18,12 percent was spent (implying a variance of 6.88 percent, an accrual of 3 months)
- Reasons for under-spending:
- Changes in conditions of service from contract of five months to contract of six months which reduced employee allowance benefits (housing and medical)
- To mitigate, the savings (6.88 percent) will be used to cover the 1.5 percent increase in salaries and allowances
- Procurement for goods and services (worth R12 million) is at an advantaged stage
Purpose of HIV &Aids Life Skills Grant
- To support South Africa’s HIV prevention strategy by:
- Providing comprehensive sexuality education and access to sexual and reproductive health services to learners.
- Supporting the provision of employee health and wellness programme for educators.
- To mitigate the impact of HIV, TB and Covid-19 by providing a caring, supportive and enabling environment for learners and educators.
- Reducing the vulnerability of children to HIV, TB, STI’s and Covid-19 with particular focus on orphaned children and girls
Reasons for under expenditure in 2020/21
- Underspending was caused by the delay of activities due to National Lockdown and COVID 19 Regulations & Protocol for support and management at schools, hence trainings and advocacies were affected.
- Procurement processes were slow, leading to delay in issuing of purchase orders while most activities were overtaken by scheduled activity dates.
- Salaries of 2 District based HIV & AIDS Life Skills officials (2 X Deputy Chief Education Specialist (DCES)) were debited from the Voted funds instead of the Conditional Grant, but the matter was corrected during the fourth quarter.
- Non completion of filling of 4 new posts(1 Chief Education Specialist - CES & 3 DCES’s) budgeted from September 2020 but the recruitment process could on only be finalised in March 2021 and 3 DCESs employees assumed duty from beginning of May 2021.
- Delayed interviews processes for 10 District based and 20 school based Learner Support Agents (LSAs) posts budgeted from August and October 2021, respectively, due to Covid-19 led to some funds not to be spent.
2020/21 HIV/Aids Expenditure
- Total allocation for HIV AIDS is R26 552 000. The first tranche of R2 655 200 was transferred by DBE to Limpopo.
- R5 395 172,56 (203% of the first tranche received) has been spent in Q1. R1 010 761 has been committed.
- Over expenditure was due to the accrual of R2 363 000. The rollover was approved. Expenditure from April to July 2021 is 24.26%.
- The planned trainings during July school vacation could not be realised due to Covid-19 level 4 restrictions.
- Mitigation strategies to be used in quarters 2- 4 are: weekend training sessions for teachers, School-based Support Teams (SBSTs), Learner support agents, Learners and SMTs; SGBs will be trained during office hours, materials for learners to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and TB infections, SABC talk-shows.
- Deviation for April 2021 salaries for five employees (one CES, three DCESs and one admin clerk) will be requested and use it for goods and services.
Interventions implemented in 2021/22
- The Department has approved the use of one service provider to give services for items such as: rental and hiring of training venues and transport, sound system, stage, chairs, catering, etc.
- Provincial Treasury appointed travel agents, wherein the Department was allocated one.
- The appointment of 3 DCESs in the three districts shall improve coordination and trainings planned.
- The Project managers of conditional grants are having monthly meetings with the CFO to report on performance and develop mitigation strategies.
Mr Bonakele Majuba, MEC for Education, Mpumalanga, and Ms Lucy Moyane, HOD for Education, Mpumalanga presented to the Committee. [Please see the presentation slides for tables and full details]
Indicators tracked by the auditor-general in the Annual Performance Plan:
- Number of teachers trained on care and support programmes to make informed choices.
- Number of learners trained on care and support programmes to make informed choices.
Audit findings / issues raised:
- The auditor-general did not raise any findings with regard to the two indicators
- The reported performance information complied with reporting requirements
- The reported performance information was adequately supported with electronic listings and manual portfolio of evidence.
- All actual results and events have been recorded in line with the planned outputs.
- Refocusing of the Grant to include COVID 19 activities
- Emphasis on addressing bullying and Gender Based Violence (GBV)
- Since the beginning of the 2020 financial year, 55 987 learners have been referred and linked to various social and health services including social asset building and economic strengthening.
Current strategic partnerships
- Health, Social Development , Home Affairs and Community Safety , Security and Liaison
- UNICEF, USAID, Education Development Centre, Adolescents Girls and Young Women (AGYW) Wits Reproductive Health Institute, Soul City.
LSPID Conditional Grant: Budget allocation and expenditure analysis
- 2019/20: The total budget allocated for the 2019/20 financial year was 26.094 million of which R24.237m, was spent indicating 93% expenditure at the end of the finial year. There an under expenditure of R1.857m, the rollover of R0.565m was granted to pay committed funds (invoices).
- 2020/21: Total budget allocated was R29.585m and was transferred to the Provincial Education Department (PED) Of the R29.585m that was transferred R28.937m was spent indicating 98% expenditure. A total amount of R104 000 was not spent; However a rollover was applied for it to be used to pay committed invoices.
- 2021/22 Q1: The total budget allocated to the conditional grant for the 2021/22 financial year is R30.132m. The expenditure as at the end of July was at 39,3%. There are grant activities which still need to be conducted in the 2nd and 3rd Quarter i.e. training of school - based therapists, procurement of tools of trades for the teams, of basic skills and life skills equipment, consumables for special care centres and also procurement of storage containers and individual assistive devices.
Factors that impact implementation
- Inadequate infrastructure, in some instances the centre is a garage space in someone's home or a small shack or a two-room house with no space to safely store all the LTSM supplied by the PED.
- The implementation of the Learning Programme in special care centres is also a challenge because of turnover of caregivers. Teams are always training new caregivers as many caregivers leave the centres due to non-payment of stipends in some instances.
- There are learners who are misplaced. These are Learners with Severe Intellectual Disabilities (SID), Mild Intellectual Disabilities (MID) and learners with no Intellectual Disabilities. There are a lot of learners who have been profiled by Educational Psychologists from LSPID team who need placement in special schools. Due to inadequate spaces in special schools, it is difficult to place learners
- Lack of financial management in most of the special care centres is a challenge, some centres are managed by family members and this has resulted in mismanagement of funds which further resulted in closure of those centres. During the financial year 2019/20, there were 60 centres delivering on the Learning Programme, to date we have 56 special care centres that are functional.
- Learner absenteeism is high because only parents arrange transport. Special care centres have limited funds to provide food to the learners. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, most parents have lost their jobs. This has resulted in most of the Learners with Profound Intellectual Disabilities (PID) staying at home.
Proposals to strengthen programme
- These learners should be moved to schools as soon as possible, the LSPID teams would support these learners while they are in schools, this will also enable them to access the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and transport. (his process may be incorporated into Early Childhood Development (ECD) function shift)
- There are many young people who are in the communities where these special care centres are, if these young people can be trained on the implementation of the learning programme and be given a stipend, just like the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), this will make a huge difference.
- All schools will be engaged to embrace inclusive practices to allow all learners to access quality, funded education at a school closer to their home.
- Intensive training on financial management and good governance a total of 53 have been trained.
- Collaboration between PED, the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport will be strengthened to ensure integrated approach for Special care centres.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) noted that teenage pregnancy was a challenge in Limpopo. She had not heard in the presentation if there was a plan to deal with the situation. It seemed as if some of the provinces had used up to 90 percent of their grants, did the Department have a plan to assist?
Mr du Toit asked how many people were receiving the stipends. What was the value per stipend that was paid out per month? The presentation showed ‘bulk’ figures. Was there a way of monitoring the performance of the people who received the stipends? Specifically, a way to determine that the learners benefitted from it?
Mr Mpisi asked about the presentation given by Limpopo. When deviations took place, were they done from one programme to another? He had heard the presenter say that they usually asked Treasury to allow the province to deviate. Why did the province need to go to Treasury to request travel agents rather than using their own supply chain management structures in the Department? How many vacant funded posts existed in the special schools and when was Limpopo intending to fill those vacancies? Was the Department working with the private sector to ensure that there was a greater level of implementation of the programme? He expressed some concern about the fact that Mpumalanga had spent almost 75 percent of its budget and it was approaching the third quarter of the year.
Mr Saziwa noted the mention in the presentation of utilising one service provider to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), catering etc. He asked to understand the rationale behind that. He suggested that it was beneficial to have multiple providers in terms of the benefits of economic development in the area. He referred to slide 18 and 19 of the presentation given by Limpopo, where It spoke about 945 learner support materials. It stated that the target was met. This was also referred to as a challenge – he requested that this be quantified – how much of the 945 learner support materials were not delivered?
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng echoed the questions asked by previous Members. He was concerned about the 62.2 percent expenditure on the budget, outlined in the Limpopo presentation. It was really worrying. Given that Limpopo had a number of challenges, such as being a rural province with limited resources, when the province was given resources it seemed that it found it difficult to use them. He requested a thorough explanation as to why that was the case. The matter of under-expenditure was not new to this Administration. What was being done to ensure that Limpopo spent according to its plans? Gauteng was the epi-centre of the violence – one would think that Gauteng would be more constrained compared to other provinces. The assistant teachers for learner support were compensated with R418 567. Goods and services amounted to R973 569, which was nearly one million. What went into those goods and services for people who were compensated with that salary? He asked that this be explained.
He asked that slide 15 of the Mpumalanga presentation be flighted. He noted that 55 987 learners were referred to other institutions – what were those institutions – ‘were they maternity clinics or what?’ How many female learners fell pregnant in the last financial year? He asked for those statistics, if they could not be provided in the meeting, he asked that they be provided in writing to the Select Committees. The expenditure at the end of July 2021 was at 39.3 percent – he asked for an explanation as to why that was the case and what challenges Mpumalanga was facing. What was Mpumalanga doing to mitigate against those challenges?
Acting DDG Mr Matthews Mhlongo responded to the question about teenage pregnancies. The HIV/Aids Life Skills programme operated under the integrated school health programme umbrella. In that programme, the Department worked with the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health. Those departments visited the schools to speak to female learners about how they should not allow their classmates (the boys) or adults outside of school to engage them sexually. The Department was working with some NGOs, the teenage pregnancy rate had come down, in particular in Collins Chabane Municipality where there used to be a huge teenage pregnancy rate. The Department was working with Soul City Institute there.
The deviations within the HIV/Aids Life Skills programme could not be transferred to another grant. It worked within that particular grant. If there was a deviation within the LSPID grant, it needed to be utilised within that grant – so that it could be accounted for properly.
The travel agents were just meant to enhance the supply chain management processes. The travel agents were not working on their own. They had become part of the supply chain so that the Department could speed up securing of the goods and services.
He responded to the question about the use of one service provider. In an activity where the Department had to conduct an advocacy campaign, a tent, catering, sound systems and chairs etc were required. In the past Supply Chain Management would call for quotations for a tent, quotations for chairs and quotations for catering etc. If there was no response about one of those requirements (i.e. sound system), it would disturb the whole arrangement. Thus, in such cases because it was one advocacy campaign, the Department would engage one service provider who would be able to pool all of those requirements together. That had worked so far. Treasury was in attendance and would likely be able to comment on that. He noted that a number of the vacancies had already been advertised, as indicated by the MEC during the presentation.
Dr KM Mphahlele, DDG: Curriculum Management & Delivery, Limpopo, responded to the questions about the filling of vacant positions. The equitable share and the conditional grants covered staffing. For the conditional grants, all the money allocated for personnel had been used for the 35 specialists, and specialist schools, especially the LSPID conditional grants. There were 35 special schools and 25 full-services schools. There were about 300 vacant positions in the special schools – the Department would provide the Committees with the specifics about which schools these were. The intention was to prioritise therapists, nurses and house mothers for the LSPID group – these were the skills that were needed for the learners.
He responded to the questions about the Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM) and the broad question about the under expenditure. The expenditure dealt with training and orientation as well as LTSM. In some cases it was indicated that the Department had intended to appoint before the beginning of the financial year, but the appointments were done in May 2021, therefore the salaries of April 2021 could not be spent. That money would need to be redirected elsewhere during the rest of the year, when the funds were reviewed. Face-to-face and residential activities were planned, these could not be held due to the health protocols – therefore the funds that were earmarked for those activities were not spent.
He responded to the suggestion of working with the private sector. Currently, there was a Limpopo Province Education Development Trust that sought to use donor funds from private sector companies. Those were the funds that were normally used for infrastructure and curriculum delivery projects. The Administration had been working with the Trust to try to have efficient supply chain management processes for obvious reasons. The Administration had been using its own internal processes to secure or procure. Other models were being considered.
HOD Moyane responded to the question about the goods and services. The coordinator was paid from the conditional grants; the compensation of employees was to that official. The goods and services which amounted to R973 000, was spent in the first quarter, and related to the training programmes that were conducted, including travel and accommodation in the implementation of the grant. The transfer of Learner Support Agents (LSA’s) went directly to the schools, it reflected as a transfer – part of it went to stipends and the work that the LSA’s were doing. There were 320 LSAs deployed in various schools. The agents did not service one school, they serviced various schools around a particular community, supporting vulnerable children. Based on the challenges faced by the children, the agents might refer them to social workers i.e. if the learners were battling because they did not have documents, the social workers would handle the issues with Home Affairs. The 55 000 learners who were referred, resulted from the work of the LSAs in addressing the challenges faced by the children. The agents received a stipend of R3 500 per month. The work of the LSAs were monitored in each school. There were school-based support teams that supervised the work of the LSAs. There was a payroll system that was filed every month – schools were monitored through visits to see the work of the learner support agents and to see that the money was used for the intended purpose.
She noted that the threshold was supposed to be 33 percent as at July 2021 in slide 19, however Mpumalanga was already at 39.3 percent. One of the reasons for this was that the Department had settled a number of past invoices, which amounted to R595 000. The invoices had been paid, and as such the expenditure shows that higher amount. The province was just above the benchmark.
The Department had targeted R 945 000 for the procurement of learning and teaching support materials. The Department had already established the needs, resource guides and procurement processes for that. The process was underway and was expected to be delivered in the second quarter. It was procured but the delivery had not yet reached the intended beneficiaries. She stated that Mpumalanga was not relying on one service provider for PPE, various service providers were used. This was specifically as specialised PPE was required for the therapists.
There was 75 percent expenditure of the total allocation to the Department, part of that had been transferred to schools. At the school level the money that had been paid to the LSA’s would then be 33 percent of what had been transferred to the schools. The stipends were then paid at the end of each month. As the money had left the Department, it was recorded as 75 percent – but it had not reached the beneficiaries yet.
The province had spent 95 percent of its budget in the past. Monthly and quarterly meetings took place amongst the provinces; best practices were shared in those meetings. Provinces did visit each other to learn from one another.
She responded to the questions asked about teenage pregnancy. The most recent statistics suggested that there were 1 231 learners that had been reported to be pregnant in this academic year. Those numbers kept changing. At every quarter that information was collected from schools.
MEC Majuba highlighted the anxiety experienced by parents in sending their children to school during the COVID-19 pandemic across all the provinces. Many parents decided to withdraw their children from school on those grounds. He had noted the issues raised by Members – those issues would be addressed. He appreciated the interaction.
Northern Cape Presentation
Mr Zolile Monakali, MEC for Education, Northern Cape, and Ms Moira Marais-Martin, HOD of Education Northern Cape, presented to the Committee. [Please see the presentation slides for tables and full details]
HIV/Aids Conditional Grant spending
- The Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Provincial Treasury informed all Provincial Education Departments (PED’s) of the significant budget reduction of the initial 2020/21 Conditional Grant Allocation in respect of the Covid-19 response.
- The Life Skills, HIV & Aids Education Conditional Grant was reduced from R5,849,000 to R 4,436,000, realising a budget reduction of R1,413,000 in the 2020/21 Financial Year.
KPA’s suspended for 2020/21 due to budget reduction are as follows:
KPA 1 - Advocacy & Social Mobilisation
KPA 3 - Peer Education,
KPA 5 - Learning & Teaching Support
KPA 6 - Monitoring & Support
- Permanent appointment of human resources specific to inclusive education
- 8 out of 10 posts were filled
- There were 2 x vacancies (1 x Educational Psychologist and 1 x Chief Education Therapist): Speech Therapist and/or Audiologist, to be filled in the transversal itinerant outreach team based in the ZF Mgcawu Education District
Reasons for variance
- Educational Psychologist could not reach all learners while they remained at home during closure of care centres.
- Learners who remained home could not be assessed in order to be included in data.
- Therapists refrained from direct contact with learners to avoid spread of Covid-19 infections.
- Placement facilitation process hampered by delayed cognitive assessments.
- Other 8 care centres targeted could not be on-boarded because of closure from March 2020 until 15 February 2021
- Operations at one of care centres ceased. To be re-allocated to another centre.
- Collaboration with the Department of Health could not be concluded according to provincial waiting list.
- Special care centres remained closed from March 2020 up until 15 February 2021. The DBE does not have the competence to pronounce on closure and re-opening of the special care centres.
- Suppliers of Goods in particular experienced delays to source requisitioned items for on time delivery during hard lockdown.
- Recruitment and retention of the specialised human resources in vacancies seems to remain an inherent challenge in order to fill vacancies.
- This has resulted in extreme delays to execute the planned Activity Schedule of the Grant Business Plan to the fullest and lower expenditure than planned
- Delayed payments for delayed delivery on purchase orders, resulting in accruals or warranting role-overs requests.
- Significant under-spending, warranting requests to deviate from the provincial business plan
- Re-design training, teaching & learning, as well as therapeutic support services – from conventional to remote modalities. Using the relevant technology procured.
- Department to participate in transversal tenders as far as possible.
- Invoke scarce skills recruitment and appointment policy measures.
North West Presentation
Ms S Semaswe, HOD for Education, North West, presented to the Committee. [Please see the presentation slides for tables and full details]
HIV/Aids Conditional Grant: Performance
- The level of spending for the financial year 2020/21 was at 99.9% .
- The Conditional grant performance was at its optimum performance despite the lockdown challenges that hindered performance in quarter 1 and 2.
- No roll over was requested for the financial year 2020/21.
- The grant expenditure was elevated by the appointment of an additional 90 learner support agents (LSAs) to the existing 70 LSAs on a stipend of R3 500.00 per month.
- The LSA are assisting in implementation of the program at a school level.
- This was also an opportunity for job creation to the unemployed youth.
- 100 Educators trained on how to respond to Sexual and Gender Based Violence
- 499 primary schools educators were capacitated on how to establish & facilitate Soul Buddyz Peer Education Structures
- 317 secondary schools implements Peer Education programme
- 7925 learners participated in sessions with the following topics
- Building self-esteem
- Values and relationships
- Building healthy relationships through assertiveness group sessions
- Learners used MTV SHUGA episodes on Sexual Reproductive Health
- 366 primary schools implement Peer Education Programme
- 9150 Soul Buddyz participated in sessions that encourages health promotion, a just society, equal treatment and respect for basic human rights for children.
- 28 726 Learners reached through awareness campaigns
- Teenage Pregnancy campaigns
- Substance and drug abuse campaign
- TB & COVID 19 awareness campaign
- Networked with stakeholders to support vulnerable learners with basic needs such as food parcels, spectacles, uniform, sanitary towels. 10 012 learners benefitted from material support
- 81 722 age appropriate LTSM material printed and distributed to schools
- 10 000 copies of Standard Operational Procedures for the provision of sexual and reproductive health rights and social services printed and distributed for advocacy sessions with schools and parents
Challenges and intervention strategies to address under-expenditure
- Due to the COVID 19 level 5 – 3 regulations all our activities were placed on hold as they required face to face interaction.
- The Life Skills HIV & AIDS Programme is part of the COVID 19 provincial task team and the following activities took precedency in ensuring that schools are able contain the spread of the virus:
- Support schools to manage COVID 19 cases
- Psychosocial support for learners in schools
- Orientation on standard operating procedures for the containment and management of COVID 19 for schools
- Training and development of educators is conducted on weekends to protect academic catch up program
- Beneficiaries (learners) activities contact time is after school or also on weekends
- Stakeholders assisting in the reach of learners are as follows;
- Community Media Trust
- Networking HIV & AIDS Community of Southern Africa- NACOSA
- Soul City Institute
- Doctors Without Boarders
- With the assistance of stakeholders and departmental partners, sexual reproductive services will be initiated in schools commencing in this financial year.
- Department is also collaboration with government departments to provide care and support to vulnerable learners. Programmes such as Integrated School Health Programme are used to provide integrated services to learners
- 13 of 16 Grant staff appointed on permanent basis
- All outreach teams based at districts level
- Developed a database of 32 care centres and managed through SA-SAMS
- Successfully implemented the Learning Programme in all 32 care centres and in the 4 targeted special schools
- Procured assistive devices for 45 learners with profound intellectual disabilities
- Procured LTSM for the care centres and targeted schools
- Training on the Learning Programme was conducted to 11 outreach team members, 122 caregivers, 95 teachers, 04 therapists and 68 officials.
- The low spending was due to 13 therapists being appointed instead of 16 as per the business plan; there was an outstanding of 3 therapists’ posts.
- The appointment of the other 3 staff members was not finalised as the 3 recommended candidates declined the job offers,
- The recommendation to appoint the second candidates was developed and is in the process of being considered by the department.
- Invoices amounting to R1,200,000 could not be paid in time as service providers has to procure the goods from abroad and due to lockdown there were backlog in the manufacturing of goods which led to delay in the delivery of those goods.
- Training of caregivers was also a challenge as the training could not be provided virtually due to lack of resources. Moreover, caregiver’s training is hands-on, it has to be modelled.
- Care centres were not operating optimally and some were closed permanently after the lockdown. Nevertheless, procurement and training was facilitated as per the business plan. PPEs, LTSM and assistive devices were procured. New care centres were uploaded and the money for closed care centres was redirected to new care centres.
- Appointment of the second candidate to be followed up and to further be treated as an emergency.
- To facilitate the procurement processes as early as the first quarter every financial year.
- To conduct computer training for caregivers which will ensure that they are computer literate as this will assist in conducting virtual trainings when face to face trainings are not possible.
- In assisting care centres to function optimally, outreach team members to intervene on behalf of care centres, by encouraging parents who have withdrawn their kids from attending in care centres to bring them back. Outreach team members to also assist in alleviating the fears of parents in as far as COVID 19 is concerned.
Western Cape Presentation
Ms Debbie Shäfer, MEC for Education, Western Cape, Ms Berenice Daniels, HOD for Education, Western Cape and Mr Matthys Cronje, Chief Director: People Management Practices, Western Cape Education Dept, presented to the Committee.
- Access to schools during the COVID-19 period after school face-to-face training/mask-to-mask programmes and ensuring that all learners abide by COVID-19 regulations when training is done.
- Wherever possible training moved to virtual platforms. Limited internet connection often a challenge.
- Recruitment of Care and Assistants a challenge due to these being contract positions
- World Aids and World Tuberculosis (TB) Day events
- Appointments of 160 care and support assistances
- Appointment of 8 social auxiliary workers
- Online training
- Rendering psycho-social support in high-risk schools
- COVID-19 prevention training
Training of Care and Support Assistance, Social Auxiliary Workers
- Training on the HIV guidelines and reporting tools
- Training by social workers on the ‘Abuse no more Protocol’
- Training by NGO on counselling skills
- Learner attendance Centralised Educational Management Information System (CEMIS) training by district staff
- Peer to peer education training by NGO
- Community/school/workplace upliftment activities training by NGO
- Sexuality, sexual abuse and life skills training
- Alcohol and drug abuse prevention training
- Anger management
- First aid training is ongoing. 400 per year. Top-up training of target group in all schools.
- 129 teachers were trained in the Scripted Lesson Plans (SLPs) on sexuality in the Senior Phase.
- Roll out of training on Scripted Lesson Plans for all the phases.
- Virtual training was provided.
Court Order: Children with Severe to Profound Intellectual Disability
- Government of the RSA: first respondent
- Government of the Province of the Western Cape: second Respondent
- Judgement: November 2010.
- Western Cape Government affidavit presented in November 2011
- Provincial Social Development, Health, Education, Public Works and transport departments and Municipalities provided an inter-sectoral response.
- Inter sectoral forums still continuing.
Conditional Grant Outputs
- Human resources; 1 x provincial programme manager and 30 transversal itinerant outreach team members – 6 teams
- Database: of selected schools and care centres- updated and managed.
- Training of Transversal itinerant outreach team members, caregivers, teachers, service therapists and officials on the Learning Programme for Learners with PID and other programmes that support learning and training.
- Outreach services: provided to 2 000 learners in 75 care centres and 8 selected schools.
- Lower post levels of team members leading to under-expenditure and withholding of final tranche (R7 979 000)
- Procurement: due to COVID-19 pandemic, all procurement processes were delayed
- Roll-over request from 2019 was only finalised in 2021/22 financial year.
- Provincial and national transversal contracts expired during 2020/21 and were only awarded in January 2021.
- Western Cape participation request for national transversal contracts only start once contracts awarded
- All processed influenced by COVID-19
- DBE and PED had multiple engagement and outreach team members to be appointed permanently according Grant Framework requirements and not according to existing WCED outreach team model.
- Participation in national transversal contracts currently in process
- Procurement planning processes to be put in place accordingly to assist procurement
- Integrated procurement solution (IPS) making use of open tender which is a time-consuming process will be minimised due to participation in national transversal contracts.
Non-financial performance: support services
- Due to COVID-19 most centres were closed. Some opened in Feb 2021
- Support strategies had to be adjusted from direct to indirect support.
- Virtual platforms such as WhatsApp groups with parents and carers, Facebook and Zoom were implemented to allow virtual support
- Home programmes were developed with relevant Learning Support Material
- Parents gave positive feedback on the home support
- Staff members in provincial office and outreach teams were off work for varying periods due to COVID-19 illness.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng expressed his displeasure at not receiving the Western Cape’s presentation prior to the meeting as it limited the Members ability to engage with the presentation. He requested an explanation as to why this had happened. It was suggested that the Western Cape had not taken Parliament seriously. He asked whether he had made a mistake – had the documents been sent well-before? Had he simply not received it?
The grant on HIV/Aids awareness was to ensure that students received information; that information should help them change their behaviour. The rise in teenage pregnancies in schools told one a lot. He requested statistics on the number of teenage pregnancies in schools. The teenage pregnancy rate showed that there was no impact being made to change learners’ behaviour. There were many risks associated with ‘close contact’ both sexually and with COVID-19. What was the load on the psycho-social support at schools? What had been the impact of that on learners? He asked what could be learned from other African countries. Uganda had improved dramatically around HIV – their government had come up with campaigns. Once children were involved in sexual activities it became difficult to tell them to stop completely – they would continue ‘underground.’ Those who were already sexually active should ‘stick with one partner,’ to limit the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Mr Ryder was disappointed by the presentations by the North West and Northern Cape provinces. He did not see a focus on the outcomes nor on the vulnerable people who needed to be benefitting from the grants. He was disappointed that the Northern Cape was ‘patting itself on the back’ for delivering policy packs – that was not an outcome – that was an absolute basic necessity. That should not be measured. He expressed concern about the outcomes and what was actually being measured. He appreciated the home support that was introduced in the Western Cape as a response during COVID-19.
Mr du Toit directed his questions to the Northern Cape. When looking at all the other presentations support was given to the special care centres, in the Northern Cape presentation for one whole year the care centres were closed and they were not able to provide support. What did the support staff do for the year? Other provinces indicated that home support was given. What was the scope of work of those employees, were they used in other positions? From the presentation it seemed as if there were quite a few employees that stayed home for a year. There was a larger backlog than before COVID-19. He asked for more information on that.
Mr W Aucamp (DA, Northern Cape) stated that it seemed as if COVID-19 was used as an excuse for a lot of actions not taking place to assist learners with special needs, particularly in the Northern Cape. If one appointed a lot of LSAs – it would take up the budget – how many of them had been appointed? What had been put in place to monitor the agents? Learners with therapeutic needs had not been attended to – there was likely a huge backlog of learner needs. What was the Department going to do to catch up on those backlogs in order to assist learners? Were those learners presently getting assistance and what plans were in place to ensure those learners got the required therapeutic assistance needed?
Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) stated that the Northern Cape had not mentioned current financial reporting once in their presentation. On the previous day it was reported that only 37 percent was spent so far for the current year on LSPID – what were the reasons for this? What were the plans to ensure that targets were met in this year? What were the areas of underspending? If there were challenges with the low expenditure to date – what were the proposed interventions for this financial year’s expenditure? The Northern Cape Department did not mention how many special care centres there were in Kimberley - how many of them were up and running presently? Were the centres capacitated? Were the centres assisted during the pandemic and adequately at present?
She also requested clarity on the number of teenage pregnancies, in relation to the HIV/Aids grant expenditure. How many teenage pregnancies were reported in the current financial year – were these learners being assisted – especially matriculants? She was disappointed by the lack of training of therapists and other personnel – where targets were not met. Surely, the training to a large extent could have taken place online. What were the plans for this year? When would the training take place - she asked for an update on that. She was also disappointed that the target of assistive devices was not met. 40 Devices were procured in the previous financial year. Why had these devices not been delivered yet? A lot of these provinces could ‘knock on the door’ of the Western Cape which was doing extremely good work.
Mr Saziwa echoed the comments of the Co-Chairperson in that the Western Cape presentation should have been with Members 48 hours before the meeting. All provinces had highlighted the impact of COVID-19, where expenditure was concerned. The President declared the first lockdown on the 23 March 2020 to be effective on the 26 March 2020 – this was a few days before the end of the financial year. It was important that as much as the Select Committees could accept some of the reasons/excuses – planning should have taken place.
He corrected the reference on slide 4 of the North West presentation to December 2021 – he was sure this should read December 2020 – was that not an error? The Department reflected that the original budget was R16 million and reduced to R12 million. The percentages remained the same for the original budget and the adjusted one – he asked for clarity on this. The presentation only showed what they had achieved, it did not show their original targets. The Committee therefore could not decipher if they had under-achieved.
MEC Shäfer stated that the Select Committees were not taken lightly at all, the Committees were regarded seriously. She had made enquiries during the course of the meeting about what happened to the report and why it was not received by the Committee. As she understood it, the Department had submitted one last week but thereafter there was a meeting on Tuesday between the Committees and officials. Thereafter there was an effort to shorten the report. She was advised that it was sent through to the Select Committees the day before. She would take up the issue with the HOD as well. From her understanding it had been sent and there was no intent to disrespect the Select Committees.
HOD Daniels responded to the question about the number of teenage pregnancies. There were 547 cases across eight district offices. The social work component provided psycho-social support to those learners in order to ensure that they returned to school after delivery of the baby. There were proactive preventative programmes – both the HIV conditional grant programme provided pregnancy prevention, as well the social work component. There had been a drop in certain areas where there was a high number of pregnancies. Those programmes would continue. The districts had reported that the situation had been aggravated during the lockdown. She would find out how the number of pregnancies, the 547 cases, compared to the previous financial year.
HOD Marais-Martin stated that the Department had taken note of the concerns that were raised. The Northern Cape’s budget allocation was significantly lower than other provinces. The terms of reference asked them to report on the 2020/21 financial year, the Department had therefore not reported on the first quarter of 2021/22. That information could be supplied to Members via a written response. There were 40 LSAs. The agents had to render support to vulnerable learners – the agents referred learners to various other centres so that the learners could be assisted. The LSAs had to submit monthly reports. There were school visits from the Department, both at a national and provincial level. There was a reporting tool through which the LSAs reported. Home-based support had been provided and lessons and materials were adapted, parents were also oriented about the support. Officials had been providing support. The Department took note of the comments that the outcomes were disappointing. 79 Percent of the targeted learners had been issued with report cards following the baseline assessment and learning activities. Face-to-face training for caregivers and officials had been planned –numbers had been reduced in line with what was allowed according to the COVID-19 protocols. Caregivers and teachers, as implementing staff, had been prioritised for training. Officials and in-service therapists, although they were targeted, did not work in the special care centres. A written response could be compiled about the teenage pregnancies. The Department had taken note of all of the questions and could respond to that in writing within seven days.
HOD Semaswe responded to the question about psycho-social support for learners at-risk. There were school health programmes that were being run together with the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development. Those Health programmes were targeting all at-risk learners. For 2021, she only had information for two districts. She would consolidate the information and communicate it to the Committees. For 2019 there were 1 025 teenage pregnancies across the four districts for 2020, there were 952 learners who fell pregnant. Those learners were provided with psycho-social support and encouraged to come back to school after they had delivered. Special programmes were introduced in the most affected areas.
She responded to the question about the percentages of the HIV/Aids grant. The budget was cut from R16.7 million to R12.7 million, however the percentages per item remained constant. The percentages were not revised. The achievements versus the targets for the financial year 2020/21 would be compiled and communicated to the Committees. The slides could be amended according to the key focus areas and the targets and achievements.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng stated that the impact of the interventions was disputed by the increase in the number of teenage pregnancies in schools. Clearly, the message was not getting across.
MEC Boshielo stated that in Limpopo there were 767 pregnancies as of December 2020. She had asked the MEC for Health, when the issue was raised the day before, that she compile an accurate report from March 2020 to the end of July 2021, to see if the pregnancy issue had been impacted by COVID-19. She expressed concern about this as the school schedule over the COVID-19 period had only required learners to come in twice a week. The number of rapes of children had gone up in Limpopo, she had asked that the districts be on the lookout. She was working with the Department of Social Development on this. The day before she had received a very disturbing report that a Grade 9 learner had committed suicide because she was pregnant and her parents were very strict. She suggested that the way the issue was advocated needed to change. Most learners were tech-savvy, if one wanted to communicate with them, it was over social media and such platforms. The Department was relying on old methods which did not reach learners. She suggested that social media be used to inform learners and intervene when there was a need.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng agreed that the advocacy campaigns and strategies needed to be reviewed. Some years prior, Planned Parenthood used to operate. The organisation had conducted a survey about why its services were only used in some areas. The reason was that many of the nurses at the centres, the fieldworkers, were grandmothers. When children and teenagers came in for prevention, the remarks would be ‘are you already active at this age?’ Those teenagers would then stop going. The Department needed to be aware of those issues in their programmes.
Dr Nelia Orlandi, Parliamentary Budget Office, stated that the past two days had been a very useful exercise. There was now more awareness about the complexity of the allocation of conditional grants. It was not just about receiving money and producing outputs. It started with the schedules to the Division of Revenue Act. Departments then needed to go back and develop business plans and put in place systems to record. Some of the processes could be refined to make it easier on the administration of the departments. She suggested that between the National Treasury and National Department of Basic Education some of the information should be published. The Parliamentary Budget Office would appreciate having access to the business plans as well as quarterly performance reports. The Parliamentary Budget Office did have access to the expenditure reports – but there was limited access to performance reporting on a quarterly basis. Without that information the Parliamentary Budget Office could not assist Members in Parliament with an independent analysis.
Mr Emmanuel Pillay, Director: Provincial Budget Analysis, National Treasury, stated that it was interesting hearing the presentations. There were two grants, the one was well-established, close to 20 years in the system, being the HIV/Aids grant, and the other was relatively new. Putting the COVID-19 issues aside, there still seemed to be issues that cut across both grants. He would have thought that the implementation challenges of the HIV/Aids grant would have long been resolved – but the challenges seemed to persist – likewise with the new grant. The LTSM and procurement issues were significant, specifically where the LTSM was bought but not delivered to schools. There was some projected under-spending for the current year because some appointments were not made. Compensation of employees was a special category because it did not allow funds to be rolled over to the next financial year. He suggested that the National Department together with provinces look at how to rework the components within the business plan and amend it. There was provision in the framework that allowed for that. There was a cut-off date, 19 November 2021. It needed to be done before that – so that provinces did not lose funds unnecessarily.
The provisional roll-over process was concluded in June 2021, this was communicated to the Provincial Treasury – in answer to the concerns raised about that by Mpumalanga. It might simply be an issue of communication. One of the issues of the grants was the issue of funds being withheld – this happened with quite a few provinces. Funds were withheld on two grounds, either poor spending or non-compliance with the Act or framework. There were various instances of non-compliance. He urged the provincial departments to comply with the frameworks. Simple things like reporting should be done on time – if not that could be grounds for funds being withheld. Treasury was prepared to assist especially when it came to compliance issues – to provide guidance to provinces or the National Department.
He responded to the query about flexibility in the conditional grants and frameworks. The frameworks were decided through a process that took place each year as part of the Division of Revenue Bill process. It would be starting soon for the next financial year, where draft frameworks would be sent out to all national departments, who would consult with provincial departments. It would be decided if a condition was too restrictive and alternatives could be proposed. These frameworks would be reviewed by National Treasury. National Treasury would check if the frameworks complied with regulations, the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Division of Revenue Act. Treasury checked if the conditions were posing an undue burden on provincial departments or other reporting agents. It was checked if the conditions were reasonable and possible. If the provincial departments felt that the conditions needed to be looked at – it needed to be discussed in the sectoral forums and brought to National Treasury who could take it forward.
Ms Sasha Peters, Financial & Fiscal Commission (FFC), thanked the Committees for the inclusion of FFC over the previous two days. It was good to get input from practitioners and understand what was happening on the ground. The implementation challenges would need to be ironed out. FFC suggested that clear steps needed to be established to turn around some of the challenges and to set reasonable timelines as to when some of the challenges should be addressed by.
Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule, stated that the new Speaker of the House had been elected, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. She thanked both Select Committees. The platform had been created for accountability – it was more than that – provinces were given the opportunity to share their experiences. Even if the MEC’s were not all present, which was regrettable, the officials were present and were able to share best practices, which meant that in the next meeting of this nature, the reporting would be much better. The presence of the Treasury and FFC boosted the morale in the sector as a whole. She thanked the MEC of Finance in KZN who had been in both meetings and was leading by example. She thanked officials across the Basic Education sector for their attendance, as well as National and Provincial Treasuries. The late submission of presentations was regrettable, she noted the inconvenience, but appreciated the explanation given by the Western Cape MEC on that.
The Basic Education sector appreciated the platform because the provinces learnt from one another on how to improve spending and to deliver services to learners. The inputs made by the Select Committees on the performance of the grants were noted as well as on the spending of the allocated budget. The sector would work together with both National and Provincial Treasuries to improve on processes that were impeding optimum performance.
The matter of Golden Steps School in KZN would be followed up. She thanked the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture for its oversight visit to KZN. It assisted the Department to flag some challenges that the sector might not have been aware of. She noted that the issue had been present for eight years, this would be dealt with. She hoped that meetings of this nature would take place every year as they served as a propeller for delivery. The Department of Basic Education and the Provincial Education Departments had learnt from the wise counsel of the Select Committees. COVID-19 had impacted the sector, but it should not be used as an excuse. The provincial departments would work together to monitor the spending of grants – as these were not the only grants. It would be ensured that the money would be spent wisely where it was intended to be spent.
Co-Chairperson Nchabeleng stated that the Committee was working on a report of its oversight visit. Some of the issues that would emerge in the report were ‘problems that bordered on corruption.’
Co-Chairperson Mahlangu thanked the Deputy Minister, who was leading by example. The Deputy Minister was multi-tasking and had not compromised any of her responsibilities. It had been an important session and exercise that needed to be done regularly. She thanked the MECs, the Chairpersons of the Portfolio Committees, the Committee Members of both Select Committees, the HODs, stakeholders and all participants for being available for the two days. The country was facing a number of challenges including Gender Based Violence (GBV). The departments should put in place monitoring and evaluation systems, this would allow for quick detection of red flags.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.