WCED data use & contribution to national data-driven district project
16 August 2022
Chairperson: Ms D Baartman (DA)
The Standing Committee on Education convened in a virtual meeting to receive a briefing from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) on how the Department utilised data. The presentation detailed the type of data and the contribution made by the WCED to the national data-driven district project as part of the South African School Administration and Management System (SA-SAMS).
The Committee heard that the WCED used the Central Educational Management Information System (CEMIS), a learner tracking and provincial school management system. Schools accessed the solution via the internet, and transacted around business processes such as learner enrolment, which allowed for the registration of new learners and the transfer of learners, which facilitated their transfer between schools.
The WCED did not use SA-SAMS, and had its own business intelligence (BI) solution to process and analyse data. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Municipal Spatial Development Framework (MSDF) had engaged with the WCED on placing data on the Data Driven Districts (DDD), but after evaluation, it was considered not feasible to replace the WCED solution with the DDD.
The Committee wanted to know if the mental health data alignment was for educators and learners, and how the data was aligned and sourced. It also wanted to know if any progress had been made in aligning the data at the national level, because if it was not aligned, it would decrease the amount of money received by the province in the next medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) periods.
The Department had therapists who conducted assessments of the children and Metropolitan Health supported staff. The data was harnessed to establish the type of psychosocial support required. The data was shared with the provincial data office, and mental health data alignment was carried out on the data collected in the system and how it could be aligned for intelligence and reporting.
WCED Data Usage presentation
Mr Ian de Vega, Chief Director: Business Intelligence Management, Western Cape Education Department (WCED), presented on the WCED data usage. The presentation detailed the WCED landscape, policy environment, it's systems for the collection of education data, strategic, tactical, and operational data utilisation, as well as the future data initiatives of the Department.
He said the WCED used the Central Educational Management Information System (CEMIS), a learner tracking and provincial school management system. Schools accessed the solution via the internet and transacted around business processes such as learner enrolment, which allowed for the registration of new learners and the transfer of learners, which facilitated their transfer between schools. Unlike CEMIS, the South Africa School Administration and Management System (SA-SAMS) was a stand-alone system that did not allow real-time transacting and learner tracking.
While CEMIS remained a mandatory system for transacting and reporting for WCED schools, the WCED made the following contributions to SA-SAMS:
It supported 23 schools using SA-SAMS;
SA-SAMS was used for localised school usage;
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) replaced SA-SAMS with online solutions. The WCED provided input and CEMIS expertise to contribute to the education management information systems context.
Mr De Vega said the WCED did not use SA-SAMS, and had its own business intelligence (BI) solution to process and analyse data. The DBE and the Municipal Spatial Development Framework (MSDF) had engaged with the WCED on placing data on the Data Driven Districts (DDD), but after evaluation, it was considered not feasible to replace the WCED solution with the DDD.
On data utilisation, he said the strategic plan ensured that education data was analysed to establish trends and inform new strategies for improving the system. The tactical plan ensured that education data was used to determine the most efficient use of available resources. The operational plan ensured that education data was used to monitor progress on implementation plans derived from the strategic and tactical interventions, and to evaluate the impact of the interventions.
The future data initiatives of the WCED included digitising business for improved education delivery, integrating data across platforms (data harmonisation), and integrating third party school management systems for improved data collection.
Mr C Fry (DA) wanted to know if the mental health data alignment was for educators and learners, and how the data was aligned and sourced.
Mr M Kama (ANC) asked for clarity on learner tracking and what it entailed. He wanted to know whether the data assisted in understanding the reasons for school dropouts.
The Chairperson said the data collection process used by the WCED needed to be aligned to the national Department because whether the data was correct or incorrect, in the end, it would affect the Provincial Equitable Share (PES) formula at a national level. The education and health components made up almost two thirds of the PES formula. She wanted to know if any progress had been made in aligning the data at the national level, because if it was not aligned, it would decrease the amount of money received by the province in the next medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) periods.
Mr De Vega said the Department had therapists who did assessments of the children, as well as Metropolitan Health, which also provided support to staff, and the data was harnessed to establish the type of psychosocial support required. There was also an individual who was specifically tasked to focus on collecting mental health data in special needs education and in the Institutional Management and Governance (IMG) directorate within the unit. The data was shared with the Provincial Data Office (PDO), and mental health data alignment was done on the data collected in the system and how it could be aligned for intelligence and reporting.
The Department looked at learner tracking and enrolment from a retention perspective, because dropouts were not clearly defined. This was because learners could have left the sector for other reasons, like enrolling at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, home education, or online schooling. Learners could have moved out of the system without necessarily having dropped out. Each learner had a unique identifier which enabled the WCED to track each learner through the life course of their education journeys, and determine their enrolment.
He said the data was uploaded to the national system, and sometimes this led to a rejection of the data because of the many validation rules in the national system. The WCED would end up having to motivate and provide reasons why the learners needed to be added to the national system, and they would do so. Part of the national system was automated and the other part was manual, and it would sometimes duplicate learner information. The WCED would correct that information, especially in cases where a learner was not deregistered from the system by another province.
The CEMIS system was an online solution managed and supported centrally and hosted in a secured environment behind firewalls. It was a secure system accessed centrally by all schools, and if a change needed to be made, it could easily be done by logging in with a protected password.
He said the SA-SAMS system was a stand-alone system, and every time a change would need to be effected, it would have to be done 1 500 times over, and a support system was not available within the province to facilitate that. Other provinces were also struggling with the system. The WCED would continue with its online system until the DBE had an online system that all provinces could use.
The Chairperson asked if the WCED had engaged with Statistics South Africa and the national DBE regarding claims that learners from the province were moving to the Limpopo province.
Mr De Vega said the mistake had been corrected.
The Chairperson wanted to know the cause of the mistake, and whether it had affected the previous PES formula.
Mr De Vega replied that he was unsure if the mistake had been taken into consideration in the budget, and would follow up on the matter. He confirmed that the mistake had been rectified, and that the Department was monitoring the data. The cause of the mistake was self-reported data by the provinces on what they perceived as the in-migration and out-migration of learners, whereas the WCED system would automatically pick up in-migrations and out-migrations through algorithms.
Mr D Plato (DA) was delighted by the presentation, and was glad to see that the Department was moving toward new technology.
The Chairperson asked Mr De Vega to follow up on the issue and report to the Committee. He thanked him for the presentation, and allowed him and the Department to exit the meeting.
Consideration of Committee's draft programme
The Committee considered its draft programme, and agreed to move some of its items to next year, as it had already filled up its items for the current calendar year.
The meeting was adjourned.
Baartman, Ms DM
Christians, Mr F
Kama, Mr M
Plato, Mr D
Sayed, Mr MK
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