The Committee was briefed in a virtual meeting by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the objectives of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC), and its achievements thus far.
The main objective of the QLTC was to mobilise stakeholders to play a role in achieving quality education for all students in South Africa. The provision of quality education -- including such factors as school safety, working infrastructure, teacher provisioning, access to water and sanitation --depended on the cooperation of the broader civil society.
The QLTC played an essential role in preparing for the reopening of schools and ensuring a safe environment. It evaluated the schools’ state of readiness, advised the sector, mobilised stakeholders to be ready for the back-to-school campaign, created awareness on the COVID-19 regulations, monitored schools to comply with all the education non-negotiables and protocols, assisted in developing interventions for a rapid response approach, and generated reports. The presentation reported on findings during its monitoring and follow-ups in mid-2020.
The Committee expressed general satisfaction with the presentation, commenting that it had been very informative and addressed issues raised in the previous week’s analysis on the achievements of the QLTC and the challenges they still faced.
There was general agreement that the function of the QLTC should be more precise. It was not its role to send teams to fix infrastructure or solve various problems. Instead, its role was to be made aware of the multiple issues and mobilise the broader community to take responsibility for the schools.
Safety in schools was another primary concern of Members. The feasibility of the Adopt-a-Cop initiative was questioned. The Minister clarified that not every school would get a specific police officer. Instead, five multi-skilled individuals would be assigned to schools that cut across districts, to curb crime more effectively.
There was concern that the QLTC was not implemented at any schools in the Western Cape. The Committee recommended that it should be implemented at the district level so as not to exclude students who could not afford to attend private education institutions.
Another concern raised by the Committee was working infrastructures in schools. However, the QLTC was not responsible for providing or maintaining infrastructure. Its role was to mobilise the broader community and stakeholders to fix the problems.
Members reiterated the need for a working and functional QLTC structure in all schools, as it helped schools to address various challenges such as theft, vandalism and crime. It mobilised the civil society to solve problems regarding service delivery, access to resources and safety. Quality public education would be achieved only through community participation and stakeholders’ investment in schools.
The Chairperson announced that the Committee would be joined by the Minister of Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, and the Deputy Minister, Dr Reginah Mhaule, who would be aiding the session’s speakers to answer Members’ questions.
Dr Mhaule introduced Mr Hubert Mweli, Director-General (DG), Department of Basic Education (DBE), who said that the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) had a supporting function. It aimed to galvanise all sectors of society to ensure quality education.
QLTC's aims and objectives
Mr Thabang Hlakula, Director: QLTC, DBE, presented the QLTC’s aims and achievements to the Committee.
He gave a brief background on the establishment of the QLTC in 2008. The strategic objective of the QLTC was to mobilise communities and various stakeholders to form a collaborative partnership with the DBE and the Provincial Education Departments (PED) in a “National Social Compact for Education” to support the objectives of the Department. The strategic objectives of the DBE and PEDs were to provide a constitutional mandate of radical education transformation, the legislative mandate of delivery of quality learning and teaching, and the provision of lifelong learning opportunities for all. Quality public education was both a government and societal issue.
He highlighted various education non-negotiables that the QLTC supported. These included the provision of learner-teacher support materials (LTSM), working infrastructure, access to clean water and sanitation, support for the National School Nutrition Programme, promoting education labour peace, and the Adopt-a-School Foundation.
The QLTC aimed to ensure school safety, assist with COVID-19 standard operating procedures, assist with the curricula, transport and Read to Lead programmes. It geared itself to reach its objectives through good governance. This included accountability, transparency, participation, openness, effectiveness, efficiency, equitability, inclusivity and the promotion of the rule of law.
Mr Hlakula then addressed the role of the QLTC during the COVID-19 pandemic in monitoring and supporting schools. He presented statistics on the number of districts and schools monitored in June, July and August 2020. He addressed the findings of the visits, and the challenges and possible interventions.
The presentation spoke to specific interventions of the QLTC to promote the culture of teaching and learning. The QLTC remained a vital catalyst and an integral part of the DBE’s strategy to drive and lead the education sector to achieve quality public education through evaluating and monitoring schools and developing intervention strategies. Its role was to mobilise the broader civil society, including municipalities, small businesses and the community, to support the delivery of quality public education in all institutions.
See presentation for further details
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) raised a concern about education in the private sector. Private education was unaffordable for many citizens. It was therefore imperative to provide good quality public education. This would not be achieved without the QLTC, which the DBE had brought in. He agreed that the QLTC was not a direct-line function of the DBE. Education was a societal responsibility, thus everyone’s responsibility. He stressed that there should be no watchmen, but that everyone should participate to ensure quality education.
He quoted a famous line by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, America’s 35th president: “Ask not what your country should do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” If education was a societal responsibility, what could they do? What was the DBE putting forward? Quality education was a societal responsibility. The goal of the QLTC was to mobilise municipalities, communities, small businesses and parents, and instill a sense of self-love and responsibility.
He asked what the main challenges in achieving QLTC’s objectives were? If the main challenges were addressed, it would achieve its primary aim of quality education.
Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) said that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which had led to the loss of lives, safety was a primary concern in schools. She inquired about the feasibility of the Adopt-a-Cop programme. Would every school be able to get a police officer to liaise with the school?
Her second question addressed the ongoing problem of infrastructure. How far could the QLTC commit to the improvement of infrastructure in schools? There was a problem of overcrowding in schools -- how did the QLTC plan to address this? She asked for statistics on the total number of schools adopted thus far, and the spread of the adopted schools in various provinces. She referred to the QLTC’s June/July monitoring and asked how schools were selected. Why were there no schools chosen in the Western Cape?
Mr W Letsie (ANC) expressed gratitude for the political presentation and political leadership. The DBE realised that there were gaps in their system. In his view, the QLTC addressed the core business of the DBE, which was quality learning and teaching in all schools. According to the DBE, the QLTC aimed to mobilise the entire community, including Members of Parliament (MPs), to support quality education. He communicated a need to coordinate the MPs, communities, parents, community leaders and school management teams. There were instances where the government would build a new school, but the community failed to take responsibility. Equipment was stolen. It was vandalised because the community did not take the responsibility it should have. The QLTC was very important in this regard.
He asked why there was no QLTC monitoring in the Western Cape. It was concerning that the Western Cape did not implement the QLTC. Private education institutions did not need it. Their infrastructure was fine, and the teacher-learner ratio was good. He claimed that the Western Cape believed that the core business of education was to serve those who could afford expensive education. The DBE should find a way to introduce QLTC at a district level, especially in those districts that needed interventions. He used schools in the townships and the rural areas as an example.
He asked how schools collaborated with local police stations and community police forums. Was there a standard mechanism in place? In some schools, the DBE paid to appoint security personnel at schools. Who conducted the vetting of the security personnel, as he suspected the credibility of some of them? He asked for the amount of money allocated to provide security personnel to certain schools and the ratio of security personnel to learners.
He asked if all schools were aware of the existence and functions of the QLTC. How did the QLTC receive reports on the awareness of the campaign?
Mr Letsie thanked the DBE for the innovation of QLTC. Previously, the Department had asked to put the infrastructure issue aside in order to address it specifically at a later stage, but infrastructure was a matter of urgency. He referred to a video on the internet where a teacher had recorded a very overcrowded classroom. It would be tough for educators to provide quality education in those circumstances. What had the DBE done about overcrowding? How far was the DBE in addressing these issues? While the Committee was doing oversight visits, they came across schools with problems of overcrowding, and the DBE indicated that they were waiting for service providers to deliver mobile or temporary classrooms. Classroom provisions were made based on the previous year’s enrolment numbers. However, there were instances where schools in townships ballooned by 300 or more students due to relocation. Was there a plan that the DBE or QLTC had, to increase provisions for those schools during the academic year?
Ms N Mashabela (EFF) asked what sustainable and material changes had occurred in the delivery of quality learning and teaching in rural and public schools in the 14 years since the establishment of the QLTC. She referred to slide 16 of the presentation that gave the findings of education non-negotiables and asked that the Committee be provided with specifics on the provision of schools in rural areas. She gave an example of municipalities in the Eastern Cape that had chronic issues with water supply. What intervention had QLTC provided in such instances? She asked for precise information regarding the impact of the QLTC, for instance, on addressing textbook shortages. The Committee was told that its intervention was merely to report on these issues in these instances. She criticized the QLTC’s intervention on delivery issues as being broad and without specifics. She asked if the QLTC was not a duplicate of other advocacy work already done by the civil society sector.
Ms N Adoons (ANC) commended the presentation for being informative and addressing various issues raised during the previous week’s analysis. At a national level, one could see the achievements of the QLTC. However, at the provincial level, there was still a lot of work to be done. It was clear which schools had access to a functioning QLTC. Where there was no QLTC in place, schools faced severe challenges, such as community non-participation, vandalism, teen pregnancies and violent crimes. Schools that implemented functioning structures to involve stakeholders such as parents, business people and police, could better address these challenges. When the Committee previously conducted oversights, the need for the QLTC initiative had become clear.
She stressed the importance of a functioning QLTC structure in all schools. The Committee could contribute by supporting the QLTC and recommending its work in all schools. The QLTC should be held accountable for the work that they were doing and should provide reports of their accomplishments.
The Chairperson commended the presentation for being informative and providing the Committee with insights on how the QLTC worked in the provinces, and how it coordinated with other stakeholders. She recalled the Committees’ oversight visits to various provinces. In the Northern Cape, one school had a severe challenge with vandalism and drugs. There was a hostel next to the school where the students bought and did drugs. This issue was just accepted as inevitable by the QLTC’s convenor and coordinator. This had raised the challenge of the functionality of the QLTC. Quality public education remained a societal issue. The QLTC could not afford to give employees the coordinator title, but when a crisis arrived, they were unwilling to put their hands on deck and find a solution. She recommended that the coordinators stand by the gate to observe where the students were getting drugs. She referred to the presentation and asked if there were any follow-ups if challenges were identified in schools. What did the QLTC do with the findings? Where did they recommend solutions? Did they find the DBE helpful in finding solutions to the challenges?
Minister Motshekga apologised for being late due to another overlapping meeting. She would address some of the concerns raised by the Committee. She stressed that it was essential for the QLTC and the DBE to get the social compact in place, as the sector could not deal with these problems independently.
She referred to the question about the Adopt-a-Cop initiative. Each school would not be assigned an individual police officer. Instead, a team of five multi-skilled people could be assigned to schools. There would be a contact person who would assign the appropriate police officer to deal with the issue. This way, police officers would be able to work across districts because crime, such as gangsterism, was not confined to one district.
She addressed the questions on social compacts and recalled an instance where photos of broken doors and windows in a school were sent to the QLTC. However, the QLTC aimed to mobilise the community and stakeholders to fix problems. There were insufficient resources to send national teams to provinces to repair windows. The community needed to stand together to fix these problems. Initiatives may fail because the QLTC and the community did not take responsibility for improving the quality of education. Education remained a societal issue that needed support from all community sectors.
Mr Mweli said that the founders of South Africa’s democracy talked about people-centred, people-driven education. The QLTC carried these aspirations. The QLTC aimed to mobilise the entire civil society. He stressed that the real danger was to appropriate certain ideological perspectives to the QLTC. Provinces that did not value the QLTC, namely the Western Cape, needed to see that it was an apolitical structure that mobilised communities to rally behind quality education.
The impact of the QLTC’s efforts to get students to return to schools could be seen in reports from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). However, the efforts of the QLTC still relied on support from civil society and the community. He appealed to the Committee to look beyond basic education and infrastructure problems when assessing the QLTC’s progress. He paraphrased the famous quote: “It takes a whole village to raise a child,” and said that it took a whole village to rally behind the provision of quality education.
He referred back to Stats SA. The QLTC was at the forefront of reopening schools after COVID-19. The real issue was that it had minimal impact without broader society. The QLTC needed to mobilise society, businesses and political parties from an apolitical point of view. The safety of schools was manifested in wider society.
He addressed infrastructure-related challenges. It was not the role of the QLTC to fix and renovate schools. Instead, its role was to be made aware of infrastructural issues and bring that awareness to the communities. The community should take on more responsibility.
He added a further comment to questions about the Adopt-a-Cop initiative. Every school was expected to establish a safety committee to contact the appropriate police service. However, that was not a function of the QLTC. The QLTC aimed to bring challenges to light and produce reports. Political authorities, community members, and other stakeholders had to address the multiple challenges. He agreed that the QLTC was still a work in progress. It did not duplicate other structures -- it galvanised all of the different structures under one force.
The Chairperson agreed that many provinces still faced challenges and that there were areas where the QLTC did not fully exist or was not fully functional. The discussion had been helpful to point out the gaps in the functions of the QLTC.
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.