Status of school infrastructure, ASIDI and SAFE programmes; engagement with Kagiso Trust

Basic Education

10 May 2022
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

Video

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education convened in a virtual meeting to receive a briefing from Kagiso Trust on its roles, functions, and responsibilities. The Committee also received a briefing by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the progress and status of school infrastructure, the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) and the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) programmes.

The Kagiso Trust said that its four pillars include educational development, socio-economic development, institutional capacity building, and financial sustainability. Their approach to education is to develop models and provide interventions throughout the entire education pipeline to improve learning outcomes, and they promote sustainable development through entrepreneurship by supporting black businesses for meaningful participation in the economy.

On the progress with the ASIDI, DBE said that the number of schools that needed an upgrade on their infrastructure was 332; a total of 302 have been completed, and the backlog is 30 schools. Schools that needed an upgrade on water supply were 1 272, 1 224 were completed, and the backlog is 48 schools. The schools that needed an upgrade on sanitation were 1 053; up to 1 038 were completed, and the backlog is 15 schools. All electricity supply in 373 schools and fencing upgrades in four schools were completed in all schools respectively.

On the SAFE, the Department said that the total number of schools that needed proper sanitation was 3 494; up to 1 945 were completed, and 1 549 still need an upgrade.

The Committee asked for reasons why the Kagiso Trust chose the Free State and Limpopo provinces as beneficiaries of the Trust, and why the other provinces were not included, because they also need to benefit from the Trust’s intervention. The Committee also wanted to know the other systematic interventions that could be required by the Trust to make further significant impact on addressing the leakages in the system, as outlined in their presentation. 

The Committee asked the Department about the other incentives that it can provide to teachers to enhance the learning outcomes in schools. A Member asked the Department if the two programmes are going to be replaced by other programmes since they are closing at the end of the current financial year.

Another Member pointed out that there is a problem of overcrowding in classrooms, which requires a semblance of innovation. There is a gap between the online and blended learning approaches that could alleviate the pressure of children needing to rush to the classroom, which is an opportunity to ensure that the schools that do not have network gain access to network so that they can benefit from ICT infrastructure, Wi-Fi connectivity, etc.

The Kagiso Trust said that the programmes implemented by the organisation are embedded in collaboration, and they do not have a sack full of money that they bring to schools, as they have limited resources. The organisation tried to bring its programmes to five provinces in the past. However, in four of those provinces, including Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KZN and Mpumalanga, government was not willing to collaborate with them. Only the Free State was open to collaborate with them, which explains the progress they have made in the province. The main issue with provincial departments is the Public Finance Management Act, which states that, if they wish to work with government, they need to go through an open tender process.

The Department said that the responsibility for infrastructure projects in schools lies with the provinces, as they must identify the needs and drive the programmes to address those needs. The role of the national Department is to understand why provinces have challenges instead of taking over the programmes. That is also the essence of the funding provided by National Treasury, as they provide the funding to the provinces and the provinces implement the programmes.


Meeting report

Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming Members and guest delegations from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Kagiso Trust. She said that it was the first time that the Committee interacted with the Kagiso Trust, and asked members of the Trust who were present in the meeting to introduce themselves.

Ms Mankodi Moitse, Chief Executive Officer, Kagiso Trust, introduced herself and apologised on behalf of the Chairperson of Kagiso Trust, who could not attend the meeting on the day. She then allowed the rest of the delegation to introduce themselves.

Briefing by Kagiso Trust

Mr Themba Mola, Chief Operations Officer, Kagiso Trust, presented the work done by the entity. He said that the Kagiso Trust is one of South Africa’s leading development agencies, working towards a prosperous, peaceful, equitable and just society – a society that is working to overcome poverty by developing and implementing sustainable models and programmes. Its four pillars include educational development, socio-economic development, institutional capacity building, and financial sustainability.

On educational development, their approach to education is to develop models and provide interventions throughout the entire education pipeline to improve learning outcomes.

On socio-economic development, they promote sustainable development through entrepreneurship by supporting black businesses for meaningful participation in the economy.

On financial sustainability, their framework is intended on ensuring a continual balance between asset growth and programme spend, working towards achieving the vision of overcoming poverty.

Lastly, on capacity building, their programmes unlock the potential of communities, government and non-governmental organisations through skills development, financial support, and implementation of sustainable models.

The Kagiso Trust’s Education Development Framework focuses on engagements with schools through workshops that focus on curriculum support, leadership development, infrastructure development, social support, community mobilisation, etc.

The Trust recommended:
-The development of the National Protocol on the provision of quality psycho-social support for teachers
-The development of the National Guideline to increase school-based professional development (including Professional Learning Committees)
-The Finalisation of the Framework on Online Schools
-The revision and amendment of the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning Conceptual Framework
-The National Plan on Strengthening Foundations development process as part of the reference group to be established.

Briefing by DBE: progress and status of SAFE and ASIDI programmes
Mr David van der Westhuijzen, Deputy Director-General: Infrastructure, DBE, presented the status of the SAFE and ASIDI programmes of the DBE. He said that the ASIDI programme was launched in 2011, and it was meant to address the identified backlog in the replacement of schools made entirely of inappropriate materials. It also sought to supply water to schools without, sanitation to schools with no toilets, and electricity to schools with no power. The funding source that was created for this programme was the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant (SIBG), and Treasury recently announced that it would like to phase out the SIBG by the end of the current financial year.

On the progress on ASIDI, he said that the number of schools that needed an upgrade on their infrastructure was 332. A total of 302 have been completed, and the backlog is 30 schools. Schools that needed an upgrade on water supply were 1 272; up to 1 224 were completed, and the backlog is 48 schools. The schools that needed an upgrade on sanitation were 1 053; up to 1 038 were completed, and the backlog is 15 schools. All electricity supply in 373 schools and fencing upgrades in four schools were completed in all schools respectively.

The SAFE programme was launched in the 2018/19 financial year with a focus on providing sanitation to schools dependent on basic pit toilets, and it is also funded by the SIBG. The total number of schools that need proper sanitation was 3 494; up to 1 945 were completed, and 1 549 still need an upgrade.

The Department reported on challenges facing school infrastructure and mitigation measures:
-flood damage to 630 schools in KZN
-overcrowded classrooms
-maintenance of school infrastructure
-reliability of planning data

Discussion
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) asked the Department to update the Committee on the progress made in the implementation of mitigation strategies for challenges regarding school infrastructure, as outlined in slides 22-25 of the presentation. He said that research has proven beyond reasonable doubt that incentivising teachers have a positive impact on their overall performance, thereby improving learning outcomes. He wanted to know the other incentives that the Department can provide to teachers to enhance the learning outcomes.

Mr Moroatshehla said that the Kagiso Trust made visible impact on their support to the Department, with the Free State being the most notable province that they supported. He wanted to know the other systematic interventions that could be required by the Trust to make further significant impact on addressing the leakages in the system, as outlined in slide seven of their presentation.   

Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) wanted to know how the Kagiso Trust plans to extend the overcoming of poverty to other schools in other provinces, and whether it will be possible for them to do so. She also wanted to know what their guiding principles would be in choosing the suitable schools and provinces. She said that it was mentioned in the presentation that, between 2011 and 2016, their main focus was on the Further Education and Training (FET) level in five provinces. She wanted to know which provinces and FET colleges were involved, as well as the contribution that they made. She said that the Kagiso Trust has nine board members and disappointingly, but there are only three women. She asked them to consider balancing the gender by 50/50 when they change their Board.

Dr Thembekwayo also wanted to know how the Kagiso Trust supports the approach to education in the development models, and what their direct contribution towards the curriculum design is in basic education. She asked if they would be able to design courses for DBE executive leadership on the issues of transformation, and asked them to share the guidelines of the transformation project with the Committee. She wanted to know the reasons that they chose the Free State and Limpopo provinces as beneficiaries of the Trust, and why the other provinces were not included given that they also need to benefit from the Trust’s intervention. Lastly, she wanted to know if the Trust needs to be funded by the DBE. If they do, the DBE is currently overloaded and cannot take any more projects that need to be funded. So, how will this be made possible?

She asked the DBE what will happen to the schools that were built in 2011 that already look old because of the challenges that affect them in their immediate surroundings, as there are ten years between 2011 and 2022.

Mr B Nodada (DA) said that it was a pity that there was no political leadership in the meeting because he would have wanted to start the meeting by having them clarify whether there was any discussion around the science and the medical expert advice regarding keeping mask-wearing in schools.

Dr W Boshoff (FF+) said that the Kagiso Trust is one of the few organisations that were established in the 1980s to bring a new political dispensation that survived. It continues to play a vital role in meeting its purpose, and that can be ascribed to the organisation’s clear sense of direction and good management. With all the work that the organisation is doing, it should be a motivation for other institutions.

The involvement of communities in public schools is fundamental to the current school system, and the school community is wealthy in that it is institutionalised in the School Governing Bodies (SGB) appointing teachers, organising retreats, team-building programmes, etc. When there are NGOs like the Kagiso Trust, involving themselves in schools where less will prevail, it is difficult because they are not institutionalised in any clear way. This is another modality in education that is not represented in the new Education Bill, which is part of the reasons why the Bill should go back to the drawing board.

He asked the Department if the ASIDI and SAFE programmes are going to be replaced by other programmes since they are closing at the end of the current financial year.

Mr Nodada asked the Kagiso Trust if there is a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the collaboration between them and DBE and what it looks like. He wanted to know what the Trust has identified in DBE that is lacking or what DBE might not be able to provide that they think they have the expertise to supplement. Lastly, he wanted to know how their funding is solicited and whether there are mechanisms to audit the funding, as they had mentioned that they had spent over R2 billion in the last 30 years.

On the DBE, he recounted what the President presented in his last State of the Nation Address, about a new purpose vehicle being used as a mechanism to try and alleviate inappropriate structures such as mud, dilapidated asbestos, plank, as well as pit toilets. He wanted to know if there is a clear idea of what the new purpose vehicle would look like and what it entails. He asked if this new purpose vehicle is going to be an extension of the ASIDI and SAFE programmes or an entirely new programme and whether it has been budgeted for and what its focus will be on.

He said that the backlog on SAFE is over 1 500, and it seems to be slower than what ASIDI achieved. That is a big challenge because, during COVID-19, funds had to be used to hire mobile toilets for schools. He wanted to know the cause of the delay of over 1 500 backlog in schools on the SAFE programme, and whether there is an acceleration strategy to ensure that the backlog is removed.

He said that it is time that the Department does a review of the implementing agents such as DBSA, because they sometimes build sub-standard structures. For example, they built toilets in Mount Fletcher Special School, but the toilets are not working. There are also implementing agents who have built schools in wetlands. He said that it is time to review the model that is used, especially since the Department is heading towards the President’s new purpose vehicle.

He also wanted to know whether the Department does continuous research and study of the cost of infrastructure by comparing the cost of the use of implementing agents to build schools against cheaper models of building the schools to get value for money. He asked whether the implementing agent process is the only way that the Department does infrastructure, and whether the Department sees it as the only way to do it. He also wanted to know if the targets that were set on slide 17 of the presentation were set based on the needs or just on the budget that was available.

Lastly, he said that there is a problem of overcrowding in classrooms, and that requires a semblance of innovation. There is a gap between the online and blended learning approaches that could alleviate the pressure of children needing to rush to the classroom, which is an opportunity to ensure that the schools that do not have network gain access to network so that they can benefit from ICT Infrastructure, Wi-Fi connectivity, etc. The Department needs to look at this in its approach to infrastructure and building new schools, and also look at taking advantage of the online and blended learning to alleviate the financial pressure of building new schools that sometimes are not used.

The Chairperson wanted to know whether infrastructure will be delivered at a satisfactory pace in schools anytime soon. She also wanted to know whether Mr van der Westhuijzen felt that the strategies used by the Department to deliver infrastructure are satisfactory. She asked what causes the delays in meeting the ASIDI targets, and whether the allocations fell short of the set targets.

She commended the work done by the Kagiso Trust in the Free State, and asked them how they are only claiming one province that they have assisted in the country when they have existed for over 30 years. She wanted to know when they think they will be able to move to other provinces. She said that, when the Committee went on an oversight visit recently, they found out that learners run away and refuse to attend Mathematics and Physical Science classes. Does Kagiso Trust have the resources to assist in that regard? She asked if there are any difficulties that the organisation is facing that prevent them from moving to other provinces or working with DBE in the provinces, and whether they need any assistance to be able to do so.

Responses by Kagiso Trust
Mr Mola said that they are an NGO that regards itself as an intervention that works with government. There are instances where they received a positive reception from government, and they embraced that reception. The programmes implemented by the organisation are embedded in collaboration, and they do not have a sack full of money that they bring to schools, as they have limited resources. The programme started in Limpopo in the Vhembe District, and then it moved to KZN in the uMzinyathi District, where it was implemented in 20 schools. They requested government to collaborate with them, but government was reluctant. In the Eastern Cape, where they discovered the most struggling district, the government also refused to participate, and the organisation did what it could do with the little resources that it had; it was the same situation in Mpumalanga. It is only in the Free State that the organisation was embraced by the Department, which was willing to put in funds to assist the programme.

Part of the challenge faced by the organisation in working with government is the PFMA, which states that they need to go through an open-tender process if they wish to work with government. The main issue is that the Kagiso Trust is not a service provider that is only providing a service, but it is an organisation that brings its own money. He said that the Minister of Basic Education knows about their programme and she advised them to work with the provinces, which is why the organisation is seeking help from the national Department to help them unlock relationships with the provinces – even if it means they have to sign a MoU. He asked the Committee to also advise them in this regard.  

He said that, in Limpopo, they partnered with the Department through the Education Trust, which is an entity established by the Department of Education to deal with relations entailing collaboration with the Private Sector and Civil Society. The organisation tested a model that can be replicable and adaptable in various provinces if there is a need, but it needs a suitable vehicle to drive it forward. If that can be resolved, the organisation could be able to run nationally. The organisation has also ventured into the infrastructure development space and built a school in Kroonstad, funded by De Beers with R21 million. The school is fully functional and has all the necessary equipment, a nutrition centre, computer labs, etc.

Mr Mola said that, as a small entity and NGO with limited resources, they work with partnership collaborations and strategic organisations that they bring on board to implement programmes. The delivery of basic education is a competence of the DBE, and the Kagiso Trust can only support the process, but cannot take it over. The organisation’s collaboration with the Department is fundamental and it is the same collaboration that enables them to change the circumstances in the schools, as they collaborate with communities and use their expertise to change circumstances and experiences of the children. The heartbeat of the organisation is helping the DBE to improve the quality of education.

He said that they do not have the capability and capacity to rollout a national programme and can only do so with the help of the Department. He asked the Committee to assist them in unlocking the constraints that they are facing so that they can use the legitimacy of their success to access the provinces that are performing poorly.

Ms Sizakele Mphatsoe, Head of Education & Civil Society, Kagiso Trust, said that, in their curriculum development, they do not intervene in all the subjects in the curriculum in secondary schools, but they are biased to Mathematics and Physical Sciences. They discovered that, currently, mathematics teachers do not help learners in engaging with the mathematical ideas, meanings, conversions, and practices in mathematics. Instead, they teach receipts to learners and focus on looking into previous question papers rather than focusing on a concept so that learners can understand the concept and be able to apply it to any given question. The Kagiso Trust supports teachers by helping them understand concepts and to be able to help the learners understand those concepts.

The organisation’s support is also embedded in the Lit teachers concept because these teachers move to a level of proficiency in delivering the curriculum and become the second tier of the subject advisors. The organisation also put initiatives to ignite and encourage the love of mathematics, such as the maths campaign called Maths4All, as well as some mathematics competitions in the Free State that work in partnership with the Eskom Foundation.

Ms Zandile Magutywa, Education Programme Manager, Kagiso Trust, said that the Board of the organisation is currently not recruiting women, but there are some people who left their positions and were replaced by women. The Board is clear that the journey that organisations such as the Kagiso Trust are taking requires a developmental mindset and want to collaborate with government and other stakeholders. As some members are getting older, the organisation is also looking for like-minded younger people to fill these positions. In the next quarter, a young, female chartered accountant will be joining the organisation. The Board also ensures that it is represented provincially as well because the organisation’s programmes are aimed at covering the different provinces of the country.

Responses by DBE
Mr van der Westhuijzen said that it may be appropriate to respond, to some of the questions posed by the Committee, in writing. He said that the responsibility for infrastructure projects in schools lies with the provinces, as they must identify the need and drive the programmes to address those needs. The role of the national Department is to understand why the provinces have challenges, instead of taking over the programmes. That is also the essence of the funding provided by National Treasury, as they provide the funding to the provinces and the provinces implement the programmes. The Department also has a role to provide support, and that support is in the form of database systems of all the infrastructure, as well as a programme management system.

He said that the schools are located in municipal areas, and the Department has a serious challenge in some of these areas where municipalities are battling to do what they are mandated to do. Things such as town planning and zoning are done by the municipalities, which also forms part of the reasons why some schools are built on wetlands.

He said that every project that the Department puts out is an open tender, and so there are market forces involved that determine the price of a project. In general, the Department works with implementing agents, and the performance of the implementing agents varies on the implementing agent employed and the teams within the implementing agents. There are implementing agents that did not do a good job in the projects that they were employed for, and their contracts were terminated.

The Department believes that education is driven by education experts and infrastructure provides the platform for that to happen. So, any discussion about e-learning should be discussed with education experts and not infrastructure experts. He said that the new purpose vehicle is a pilot project that will be piloted in the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape. That initiative is driven by the Office of the Presidency, and they have established a task team with other departments involved. DBE is a member of that task team. One of the elements of the approach of the project deals with funding and how they see the funding working; the funding model will be unpacked in the near future.

He said that upgrading 1 500 schools in a year is a massive task, especially because, when ASIDI started, it did about 50 to 100 schools a year. Lessons were learnt from that, and the process was ramped up to 500 to 700 schools a year. Last year they achieved over 1 000 schools. He said that they have learnt over the years and eliminated some inefficiency. The budget is allocated according to the Division of Revenue Act over a multi-year period.

On the maintenance of schools, he said that the answer is the same for every asset that is owned by an individual or organisation. If one does not maintain their assets, then the assets are going to depreciate rapidly. The Department purposely changed the grant framework for the Education Improvement Grant (EIG) to be 60% Infrastructure because it is wrong to build new things while old things are falling apart.

The Chairperson thanked the Kagiso Trust for presenting themselves to the Committee and answering the questions. She said that the Committee will have a discussion with the Department to figure out how the Department can assist the Kagiso Trust to extend its reach into the other provinces that need their assistance to improve their performance. She commended the Department on the improvement of its infrastructure work, and said that the Committee still has an issue with the pace at which the projects are completed. She thanked both delegations for their attendance in the meeting, and allowed them to exit the meeting while the Committee proceeded with its business.

Committee minutes

The Committee considered and adopted the minutes dated 03 May 2022, with no amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

Audio

No related

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.

Share this page: