In a virtual meeting, the Committee generally welcomed the presentations by the Umalusi Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) and the South African Council of Educators (SACE), and congratulated both Councils on successfully navigating through some real challenges and emerging strong from the Covid-19 pandemic. The entities were presenting their 2022/23 Annual Performance Plans to the Committee.
Umalusi was celebrating its 20th anniversary and was proud to announce that it had received a clean audit for the last two years. The Umalusi chairperson congratulated his team and said it was a milestone that the outgoing Council members were particularly proud of. The Committee raised concern about the slow process of certifying learners, which Umalusi addressed by outlining the whole process of certification and the challenges that arose that had to be addressed prior to certification.
Umalusi faced the predicament of an ever-increasing mandate with no corresponding increase in budget. It had a few strategies to mitigate this, but those were still a work in progress. Their budget was heavily slanted towards the compensation of employees, but there were various plans they were considering to mitigate this situation continuing into the foreseeable future.
The SACE gave details about the increase in the number of registered educators and how they balanced the demand against the available supply of teachers. The total number of educators registered with SACE throughout the country was 445 000. It advertised widely, including on stakeholder platforms, to reach educators. The number of educators would increase by the end of the financial year. The Council also kept its finger on the pulse regarding the demand for educators.
Members expressed discomfort regarding sexual misconduct by educators, particularly the contradiction between different pieces of legislation which resulted in some of the in-breach educators not having any consequences for their behaviour. The SACE said it had a historical challenge of carried-over cases due to a lack of internal capacity and factors that were beyond its control, such as unavailability of witnesses, parents not allowing their children to be witnesses, and one educator sometimes being accused of two or more types of a breach of the code of professional ethics -- for example, corporal punishment and sexual abuse.
The Committee commended the SACE for their plans to acquire buildings in every province to allow improved access for educators but encouraged them to be cost-efficient in the process
The Chairperson opened the meeting by congratulating Ms N Adoons (ANC), who was also the party Whip, for graduating over the past weekend. She welcomed the Deputy Minister, Dr Reginah Mhaule (DM), and handed over to her to lead the delegation in proceedings.
Dr Mhaule shared in the sentiments of congratulatory messages to Ms Adoons, stating that it was a great pleasure and very encouraging to see Committee Members participating and leading by example in the education sector. While there would be presentations made, the ministry, Umalusi and the South African Council of Educators (SACE) also benefited greatly from these meetings because they also presented an opportunity for all basic education stakeholders to receive guidance from the Committee.
Umalusi 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan and Budget Presentation
Prof John Volmink, Chairperson of Umalusi, said that his term of office, and that of his fellow Umalusi Council members, would come to an end in June 2022. He thanked the Committee for their oversight role and for keeping the leadership of Umalusi accountable by calling regular meetings. He expressed confidence that the incoming council would enjoy the same level of support and assurance that his team had received from the Committee, which would enable the work of Umalusi to continue flourishing. He also thanked the Minister and Deputy Minister for their confidence in the Council. He highlighted that this year Umalusi would be celebrating its 20th anniversary, for which an invitation would be extended to the Committee should there be an opportunity for an in-person celebration. A particular achievement for the Council had been clean audits for the past two consecutive years, during the tenure of the outgoing council.
He handed over to Dr Mafu Rakometsi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Umalusi, and the rest of the team to present the annual performance plan and budget.
Dr Rakometsi said the mandate of Umalusi was the development and management of a sub-framework of qualifications at levels 1–4 of the national qualifications framework (NQF), and related quality assurance processes. The Council ensured that the providers of education and training had the capacity to deliver and assess qualifications and learning programmes, and were doing so to the expected standards of quality. Umalusi had to develop and implement policy for quality assurance, ensure the integrity and credibility of quality assurance, and ensure that any quality assurance necessary for the sub-framework was undertaken.
He highlighted the various policies that had been developed by the Council. This process was ongoing, as policies were improved based on the latest research so they remained relevant and competitive. However, Covid-19 had had a negative impact on verification, certification, quality assurance of assessment processes, advocacy and research activities.
Some other notable highlights were workload challenges and the need for alternative funding to create more posts, despite the vacancy rate being under 10%. The tender for the refurbishment of the Thuto-Mfundo building had been awarded, and construction was expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2022/23. The Council had seen a decline in generated income due to Covid-19, but the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was committed to providing additional funding for the General Education Certificate (GEC) qualification implementation.
Information communication technology (ICT) systems had enabled service delivery during the lockdown.
Ms Stella Mosimege, Umalusi Senior Manager: Strategy and Governance, said that certification numbers had dropped due to the postponed 2020 exams and delayed 2021/22 certification of candidates. Verification numbers dropped due to the impact of COVID-19. She provided the Committee with detailed indicators and targets for the administration, qualifications and research, quality assurance and monitoring programmes.
(See attached document for details)
Mr Hendrik van der Walt, Umalusi Chief Financial Officer (CFO), said that the grant had been increased by R20m, as an additional allocation for implementing ICT projects and funding the quality assurance process. Umalusi expected to receive R60m over the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period to finance the organisation’s critical activities. The infrastructure project had commenced and was progressing very well. The expenditure to date on this project amounted to R4 088 335 against the total contract value of R40 482 942. Internal financial year-end processes and procedures had begun to ensure that the financial year could be closed successfully. The total budget for 2022/23 amounted to R186.6 million. The DBE grant would increase by 3% in 2022/23 to R162 million, which still represented a shortage for the Council.
He said revenue from certification had declined due to subject certificates no longer being printed by Umalusi, but this was expected to increase with the introduction of online replacement certification. Verification income was gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels. The average number of certificates printed each year was expected to increase from 19 000 to about 22 000.
Referring to costs, he said employee compensation had been increased in line with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). 28% of the entity's total expenditure was allocated to quality assurance, while administration took 40% of the total budget. R3.5 million in capital expenditure was related to replacing computer equipment at the end of its life span. The spending was expected to remain moderate. R40 million had been set aside to fund the refurbishment of the Thuto-Mfundo building. The project was ongoing and was expected to be completed by the end of August.
Dr Rakometsi closed the presentation by highlighting that Umalusi would be celebrating its 20th anniversary under the theme of "Two Decades of Education Guardianship." It planned to officially open the Thuto-Mfundo in the third quarter of this financial year.
He thanked the Minister and Deputy Minister for their continued support and the cash injection Umalusi had received and expressed gratitude to Prof Volmink and his fellow Council Members for their support.
SACE 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan
Mr Nkosiphendule Ntantala, Deputy Chairperson, SACE, introduced his delegation and handed over to Ms Ella Mokgalane, SACE's Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Ms Mokgalane said that the SACE Act mandated the entity to provide for the professional registration of educators; promote their professional development; and set, protect, and maintain ethical and professional standards for the profession. As a professional body, SACE worked collaboratively with all the quality councils to ensure that it was recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). SACE was required to implement the SACE Act and enforce a code of professional ethics in line with the Children’s Act to ensure that the names of sanctioned educators who were not fit to work with children were listed as required. SACE worked closely with the responsible body within the African Union and other international education bodies to ensure alignment with standards and teacher development.
In analysing the situation under which the SACE mandate was implemented, it was important to understand some of the enabling and impeding factors to organisational performance and broader service delivery. The SACE registration database indicated that the Council had a register of 36 887 professionally registered educators from both the public and independent schools as at 31 December 2021. While the Council did well regarding the professional registration of educators in the schooling sector, it continued to have some challenges with the employment of unregistered educators in certain provincial education departments (PEDs) and the independent schooling sector. The situation was also aggravated by the absence of legal measures to criminalise the employment of unregistered educators in the education system. As such, it put the welfare of children at risk in terms of those educators who may contravene the code of professional ethics and harm the children.
SACE had an interest in the prevailing imbalances between teacher supply, absorption, and utilisation in the sector. It was important to understand the factors contributing to the missing 16 361 (58.01%) newly qualified educators by conducting multi-stakeholder research and following data management and analysis processes. It may also be necessary to assess if these educators were moving to other professions or countries, and if so, with which professions and countries teaching were competing. These issues were at the centre of SACE’s Programme 6, which focuses on professional research to advise the Ministers of the DBE and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and informs the teaching profession and the Council’s decision-making processes.
There were six programmes that the Council would be implementing through this annual performance plan (APP) to achieve its mandate and priorities. (See attached document). The ethical standards programme served the purpose of promoting and maintaining ethical standards in the teaching profession. When educators deviated from the set ethical standards through misconduct, they were reported to the SACE. This was followed by investigations, disciplinary hearings and sanctioning processes. The entity had a historical challenge of carried-over cases due to a lack of internal capacity and factors that were beyond SACE’s control, such as unavailability of witnesses, parents not allowing their children to be witnesses, and one educator sometimes being accused of two or more types of a breach of the code of professional ethics -- for example, corporal punishment and sexual abuse.
Mr Morris Mapindani, SACE CFO, said that after 2021 the Council had decided to review its funding annually to alleviate a situation where reviews were done every five years to the detriment of the Council. Membership was the main source of funding. The annual educator subscription would increase from R180 to R198 from April. This would increase revenue by R8 million. Consultations with the teaching fraternity had taken place to establish this. The Council budget had been cut by R5 million for the coming years. Registration fees had also fallen by R2 million. This had resulted in the Council budget remaining the same.
To mitigate the reduction in the budget, the Council had implemented stringent cost control measures. Other operating functions had received an increase so it could improve service delivery. SACE was moving into three of its own properties, with no rental and only maintenance costs being incurred. The Council would consider feasibility studies to secure offices for the remaining provinces, to ensure that educators access SACE with ease in their respective provinces.
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) welcomed the good work of Umalusi and SACE. He said one of the major challenges faced by departments and entities in this era was budget cuts. From Umalusi’s presentation, the mandate of the SACE kept on growing. He asked how the Council would address this contradiction of an increased mandate but a reduced budget.
He raised concern about Umalusi reporting frequently that some of its employees use the Council as a career springboard – they joined Umalusi to get the relevant skill and experience and then leave for greener pastures, with Umalusi having no recourse to retain them. He asked whether the Council currently had unfilled vacancies and how this had impacted the effectiveness of other staff who may be overloaded with work.
He commented he had been part of SACE for 12 years, and it would therefore be unfair to ask SACE about certain issues for which he should also have been responsible. However, he expressed concern about cases that remained unresolved due to the unwillingness of witnesses to assist. While this was understandable, given the traumatic history of the country, people today needed the same courage as the white lady who had stood up to be a witness in the case of Chris Hani’s killer. He commended this lady’s courage, saying that if it were not for her, the country would have never known who had killed Chris Hani. He asked what SACE was doing to mitigate the situation of unresolved cases where witnesses refused to come forward.
Mr B Nodada (DA) said that SACE’s report revealed the gap in qualified teachers in critical subjects such as mathematics and science, especially in areas like the North-West and Northern Cape provinces. He asked how SACE was using its register to inform it about the shortage of teachers in the country.
He commented to Umalusi that an online and blended learning framework had been put out by the DBE. He asked whether Umalusi had contributed to the legislation relating to private institutions, online learning, homeschooling and the like, to ensure quality assurance and quality outcomes.
Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) raised concern about the workload challenges in Umalusi. He asked how they were planning to mitigate them, and whether the R60 million would really help them.
He said more than 36 000 educators were enrolled on the SACE database in the 2021 period. He asked for the grand total number of all educators registered on their database.
He also asked what the turnaround time was for cases reported to the SACE and whether the investigations got timeous and proper attention. How many provinces cooperated with them when they enforced sanctions because it could become a big problem when provincial departments did not enforce the sanctions timeously?
He lastly commented that it seemed to be taking a longer time to process and print certificates, particularly Grade 12 certificates. What was the cause of this, and was there a solution to speed up this process? He was not clear whether the SACE or Umalusi was responsible.
Mr E Siwela (ANC) commented that Covid could have impacted the filling of vacancies. He asked whether Umalusi would be able to fill the positions should the Covid restrictions be eased and people were permitted to return to the office.
He asked SACE whether the data they had was used to inform the demand and supply of educators.
He also wanted to know how effective the SACE investigators were.
Ms Adoons (ANC) thanked Members and all present for their congratulatory comments and mentioned to Umalusi that vacant posts were a thorny issue to Members. Did Umalusi provide internships, considering the challenge in employment and skills development?
She expressed deep concern to SACE that the number of sexual offences was increasing, especially those offences which took place during Covid when children were at home. What interventions was the Council planning to reach educators or perpetrators in the home?
She commended SACE for their move to build offices in each province. How was it planning to be cost-effective in this project? Some ideas would include renovating old government buildings or sharing office space, seeing that people were still working from home.
The Chairperson was concerned that SACE's presentation was silent on the funds that the Committee was meant to approve. She asked for clarity on amounts that needed to be approved, and what they would be used for.
She pointed out that the increased subscriptions was effectively an increase of R18 per educator, and asked how educators would benefit from this increase.
The SACE had mentioned that support for educators on professional matters had been allocated R20 000, and she wanted clarity on which provinces would benefit from this, and how SACE decided how to spend it. Was this not a small amount in relation to the number of teachers registered by the Council?
She thanked the SACE for building offices in the provinces and asked whether there were any legal mandates on the entities purchasing the buildings. Who owned the buildings once they were purchased?
She asked where the SACE research reports were published and whether they were accessible to teachers and the public in general.
She stressed that Umalusi's budget would mostly be used for compensating employees and that it was consistently slanted towards that. While she acknowledged that the pandemic had forced Umalusi to take decisions quickly, she asked what plans they had in place to mitigate that continuing.
She sought clarity on progress with the Thuto-Mfundo building, and whether the project was at 10% or 28% of the R40 million budgeted expenditure.
Dr Rakometsi responded that Umalusi was experiencing budget pressure with its expanded mandate, but this had not come as a surprise to the Council, as it had been expected. The founding Act that governed Umalusi -- the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act (GENFETQA), particularly Section 16(4) -- states that the Council, with the approval of the Minister, may assume its functions progressively depending on its capacity. Since the establishment of Umalusi, the Council had been expanding its mandate on an exponential basis, and it had stretched the budget. The Minister had been brought on board with all the developments. He was not clear on how to approach this matter, considering the constrained budgets of government. Umalusi may need to knock on the door of the Minister or National Treasury for help. The alternative would be to implement the strategy that they were discussing with the Department to implement a new funding model. He was not at liberty to discuss the details of it, however, as it was still a work in progress.
He said Umalusi was being used as a springboard for employee career growth and resultant exits because it had not been increasing salaries enough to retain its employees. Staff were beating inflation by job-hopping to other departments. Umalusi suffered because people were forever on the move.
The Council had suffered vacancies due to the Covid pandemic. They had frozen positions to save money. However, this was slowly changing as they had started filling positions now that all staff were back at work.
Regarding Umalusi’s involvement in the development of an online learning policy, he said the Council had been invited by the DBE to be part of the task team developing this policy. The Department also frequently wrote to him to give input on the framework. It would register institutions and those institutions would then come to Umalusi for accreditation.
The workload of Umalusi remained a challenge. The increase in responsibilities had not been proportional to the budget Council was able to generate, hence the need for a new funding model.
Regarding the release of certificates, he explained the process as follows:
exams were written;
some students would ask for a remark after the results were released;
there were students who asked for reviewing of their scripts;
there were lost scripts; and
there were instances where students wrote English at the home language level, for example, instead of the first additional language.
All of these issues had to be addressed and processed adequately, and concessions given should the need arise. Only then could Department submit data for Umalusi to certify. The Council had received data to certify from some provinces. The Council would be certifying until April this year.
He confirmed that all Umalusi staff were not back in office. However, given the Ukraine/Russia situation in the newspapers, staff may need to work from home again, given the possible rise in the fuel price.
Dr Rakometsi said that Umalusi did not have a budget for internships. They had strategised that the Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP) Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) would give Umalusi an allocation that could be used to appoint interns. However, this plan had been interrupted by Covid and had not happened yet. Umalusi would resuscitate that conversation.
He clarified that they had spent only 10% of the R40 million budget on the Thuto-Mfundo building. The 28% referred to had been the budget for quality assurance assessment.
Mr Van der Walt agreed with the last point about the Thuto-Mfundo building.
He responded that the observation of a budget slanted towards employee compensation was correct. The balancing act of filling vacancies against budget constraints made it difficult to achieve the ideal split of 40% for compensation and 60% for goods and services. The pandemic had taught Umalusi that some functionalities could be conducted online, but a large portion of Umalusi's work was labour intensive.
Dr Rakometsi commented further on the matter of certification and said KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Free State and Northern Cape had not submitted their data for certification. However this was not a crisis nor their fault, but due to some of the reasons that had been stated previously.
Ms Mokgalane stated that educator misconduct involved learners, parents, educators and the broader community, so it always needed a holistic approach that involved other pieces of legislation. She gave an example that educators could win cases based on the law if the misconduct happened outside the school premises because the law stated an educator could not have a relationship with a learner at his/her place of employment.
There was a need for a dedicated process to inform and educate parents about participating in cases of misconduct. That needed to be a carefully thought-out process because the SACE could not bring in the Department of Social Development (DSD) because it does not have jurisdiction over learners and parents. If a matter was taken to the police, consideration needed to be given to the implications of using evidence coming from another department. There were tedious processes from a legislative perspective, but the SACE Act was currently under review. SACE did receive support from the DBE, however, to check if educators had been blocked.
The effectiveness of SACE investigators were as effective as the report they received. It was very rare that its processes and reports were questioned. In the last ten years, SACE had only had three cases that had gone to the high court. She requested a day to host a workshop for the Committee on the processes the Council followed and how the code of ethics was enforced. It was not a simple process, but one characterised by several complexities.
She said that SACE's research was published on the website.
On the issue of increased sexual offences which contributed to gender-based violence (GBV), it was a bigger issue that anyone understood. There were webinars to sensitise educators, and continuous messaging in this regard on the website. However, the issue still prevailed. There was a need to look at the matter differently -- things like profiling a sexual offender, looking at conditions within the teaching environment and the classroom, among others. There was progress in understanding the deeper level issues outside of sensitising and webinars.
The total number of educators registered with SACE throughout the country was 445 000. SACE advertises widely, including on stakeholder platforms, to reach educators. The number of educators would increase by the end of the financial year. Council also kept its finger on the pulse regarding the demand for educators.
Mr Mapindani responded that the budget that had been set for approval involved revenue of R112.4 million. This was comprised of two revenue streams – self-funding of R96.9 million and the grant from the fiscus of R15.5 million. In the next review meeting, he would ensure these details were properly stated in the presentation.
Regarding the purchasing of buildings, he agreed with Members that it would be the right thing to do to get government space. However, the challenge lay in obtaining the buildings – it was a long process that sometimes died while the process was in motion. SACE followed Treasury regulations for acquiring material assets, which meant that it needed approval from the DBE, and SACE had followed the approvals. The properties bought would belong to the public/teachers under the custodianship of SACE. Since SACE was not a private entity, technically it would be government property. He highlighted that even disposals required a similar process.
Mr Ngcobo commented that it was outrageous to hear about the challenge of the regulator against the SACE Act regarding the improper conduct of educators. He expressed relief that the matter was being dealt with by SACE, and hopefully by end of the year there would be a resolution on how to handle the matter.
He also requested that the Committee consider the proposal of Ms Mokgalane to give SACE an opportunity to take Members through the educator disciplinary hearing process.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister and her delegation from Umalusi and SACE for always allowing them the opportunity for meaningful engagement. She assured the representatives that the Committee would deliberate further on the reports presented and approve them accordingly.
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.