ECD shift; Teacher Assistants, Matric Exam readiness, with Deputy Minister

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

07 September 2022
Chairperson: Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) gave a status report on the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative achievements and way forward; the Early Childhood Development (ECD) function shift as well as learner readiness and the examination system and examined the readiness of both the learners and schools for the upcoming exams. It also gave an overview of the effects of the pandemic on education and the examination process.

Committee Members asked about final monitoring plans of PEDs; exam hotline; load shedding during exams; remedial workers and psychologists in schools; arts, music and dance subjects in schools; ensuring learners can study in a safe and supportive space within the school; ECD career pathing; how many provinces are ready to implement ECD; monitoring of the Youth Initiative programme; motivating learners post-pandemic; and measures to prevent exam paper leakages.

Meeting report

Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Reginah Mhaule, noted that all the presentations were very long and introduced the team leaders: Ms Simone Geyer, Deputy Director-General: Delivery and Support and Mr Paddy Padayachee, DDG: Teachers, HR and Institutional Development. She handed over to the team leaders to facilitate the presentations.

Presidential Youth Employment Initiative – Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI)
Ms Lala Maje, Project Manager: Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI), DBE, confirmed that all the numbers on the slides had been signed off by the Head of Department in each province. In Phase 1, 80% of the budget was spent whereas, in Phase 2, 93% of the budget was spent. The Phase 3 placement had a national total of 34.3% males and 65.7% females. DBE has provided informal and formal training to the youth and worked with them in such a way that when they leave on 31 August 2022, they will have access to opportunities. The youth have expressed their gratitude and ambitions for the near future. They all received certificates of participation and other achievements in the programme.

DBE is able to track the youth’s performance, attendance and participation by using the National Data Management System (NDMS). The presentation provided an assessment of the national population, the provincial population and comparison of the graduate unemployment rate to the national unemployment rate. There is a plan to use the Phase 3 unspent funds for February-March 2023. Amendments to the framework for Phase 4 include: detailed recruitment guideline, detailed placement guideline and strengthening the declaration form. So far, DBE has provided 255 100 job opportunities. The youth can start applying for Phase 4 as from 26 September 2022. There will be a heavy focus on no-fee schools in the country. The presentation provided an overview of the confidentiality forms, declaration forms and recruitment checklist. Applications are done through SA to ensure transparency and objectivity. The months of December and January are for the vetting process.

ECD function shift
Ms Kulula Manona, DBE Chief Director for Foundations of Learning, said that on April 2022, the Minister of Social Development officially handed over the ECD function to the Minister of Basic Education. ECD is crucial and occurs in the first 1000 days of human life. There are approximately seven million children in South Africa and of that number, roughly five million come from poor communities. This means that very few children currently have access to ECD programmes. There are currently over 190 000 staff members working in ECD programmes across the country. Of these, 89.5% of ECD practitioners have reported receiving less than the minimum wage (R3 500 per month for a 40 hour work week).

The governance structures that have been overseeing the function shift process continue to meet in 2022/23 to ensure that there is a smooth transition.

The National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy (NIECDP) objectives include:
1. To provide an overarching multi-sectoral enabling framework of early childhood development services, inclusive of national, provincial and local spheres of government;
2. To define a national comprehensive early childhood development programme and support, with identified essential components;
3. To identify the relevant role players and their roles and responsibilities for the provision of the various components of early childhood development services;
4. To establish national integrated early childhood development leadership and coordinating structure.

In supporting ECD Programmes, DBE uses two methods – the subsidy paid through the Equitable Share and the Conditional Grant.

Function shift progress:
Review of National Integrated ECD Policy. Processing of the Second Children’s Amendment Bill
Review the regulations, norms and standards in line with the Second Children’s Amendment Bill.
Review options for holistic ECD legislation.

Learner readiness and National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination system readiness
Ms Cheryl Weston, DBE Director: Curriculum, spoke to learner readiness. Learner support aims to specifically target the most vulnerable of students. These are the learners who had difficulty studying under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of these learners only really started physical classes at the start of this year. Support packages were provided for teachers as well as learners. There is a focus on high-enrollment subjects as well as languages. The Remote and Digital Learning project has been implemented and its primary objective is to increase the use of remote and digital learning. Matric study guides have been issued in PDF format and include South African Sign Language (SASL) as a home language. Autumn and Winter vacation classes have been implemented all across the provinces in the country, this means that learners have received an additional 15 days extra of schooling.

Ms Priscilla Ogunbanjo, DBE Director: Public Exams, presented on NSC examination system readiness.
DBE currently manages two equal examination opportunities - one in May/June and the second in October/November. The model for effective implementation of national examinations has entailed the following: a) Setting the Standard b) Mediation of the Standard c) Support and Coordination d) Monitoring e) Reporting and Feedback. A total of 162 question papers have been set by expert subject panels appointed and managed by DBE. All question papers have been moderated and approved by Umalusi for November 2022 examinations and are ready for administration. All question papers have been edited, translated and quality assured to ensure error-free papers. Question papers were adapted for braille, audio, deaf and large print for candidates who encounter barriers to learning. The examination will be written in the main at schools (public and independent), adult education and training (AET) centres as well special centres established by the province (designated centres). DBE will audit the selected markers from 19 September to 5 October 2022. DBE Onsite Moderators will conduct quality assurance of marking deployed to all provinces. There is improvement in most provinces on the management of irregularities.


The Chairperson noted that time has run out and he will therefore only take about three or four questions then the rest of the questions will be forwarded to the DBE for a written response. He noted concerns he received about some schools in Lephalale Limpopo where the school principal employs student teachers but with no contract – they are paid a stipend of R2 000 per month sent via e-wallet by the principal.  It has since been two months without payment. The school can borrow R1000 but the complainant is querying the stipend amount and the expectations around the arrangement. The Chairperson asked if this was normal.

The Chairperson asked about the partnerships on Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs).

He noted the issues related to TV and radio lessons and asked who monitored this, especially when there were mistakes.  

Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) noted that provincial education departments are expected to submit their final monitoring plans to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) by Friday, 14 October 2022 – would DBE be able to provide the Committee with a summary of these final monitoring plans? She asked for more details about the examination hotline and examples of its past successes. She asked the Department to elaborate on its relationship with Eskom to reduce problems of loadshedding during exams. 

Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) referred to the learner support offered in schools. How far is DBE in ensuring that schools employ remedial workers and psychologists? Subjects such as the arts, music and dance receive little attention. What is the DBE doing about this? What are provinces doing to ensure learners can study in a safe and supportive space within the school? Is DBE looking at establishing a career path for ECD practitioners and collaborating with which institution is this being done? How many schools and provinces have reported that they are ready to implement ECD? It has been noted that some students of the Youth Initiative programme get exploited; how is this being monitored and who is responsible for evaluating this? What type of training is the youth receiving to cope with the programme?

Mr I Ntsube (ANC, Free State) asked about learner readiness, saying learners are currently demotivated due to the pandemic. What systems are in place to get them motivated again for their studies? Due to the annual reports of exam leakages, what measures are in place to ensure that this year will be different?

Ms S Lehihi (EFF, North West) spoke in her vernacular language (2.41.00).

The Chairperson said each year, there are often requests for question papers which sometimes requires a lot of printing and running around; this is especially hard on poorer parents. He asked if the Department could compile the question papers to assist in exam preparation in one consolidated place such as the Department’s website or as a textbook. 

Deputy Minister & DBE response
The Deputy Minister noted that each presentation presented today required its own meeting, it would be difficult to cover everything in this one meeting. she requested the name of the school that the Chairperson referred to in Lephalale to follow up on the matter and report back to the Committee. School Governing Bodies (SGBs) are allowed to make additional employments if there are additional priorities in the school. However, the salary cannot come through the principal as the principal is not the custodian of the school’s finances – the SGB chairperson is the custodian of the school’s finances.

She said ECDs are a big function. The Department would not change much from what the Department of Social Development was doing, especially because there are so many partners. DBE did its own assessment of how many ECDs were on private properties. Grade R is also part of the ECDs but this formed part of the infrastructure of schools. However, there are some Grade R housed on private property but the Department was involved in these cases. It was difficult to pinpoint exactly how many stakeholders there were as there were so many part of ECDs.

The DM explained the radio and TV lessons are sanctioned by the Department’s specialists. 

She responded to Ms Lehihi in her vernacular language (02:48:17).

The support staff noted that the translation service was not linked at this meeting.

Ms Geyer spoke to ECDs and said the Department had long started the career pathing and development opportunities for ECD practitioners for those working with social development, dealing with children aged 0-4 and Grade R. There is a programme ensuring the practitioners are offered career pathing through the SETA and opportunities for further study to go from NQF level four to six, as a qualified teacher. There are other options on the career path and study opportunities. Courses are offered through universities mostly. This is ongoing work of improving career pathing to allow for opportunities even for those that might not be teachers but are responsible for other areas in the ECD. More information will be provided on this work.

She said the Department partners with many companies. In the future, having ECDs in work centres can be explored but it is not currently being looked at as the Department has only recently taken over the function of the Department of Social Development. Many spheres of government are responsible for building the ECDs. New possibilities can be explored as DBE wishes to improve ECDs and further information can be provided at a future date. 

Ms Maje replied that the PYEI (Presidential Youth Employment Initiative) has ended in seven provinces but is still operational in Northern Cape and Western Cape, where they still have funds.

Regarding the Chairperson’s earlier complaint, she said the Department would deal with principals who have made their own arrangements. She 

The Chairperson asked the Deputy Minister to close the meeting and that the Members' questions will be submitted to DBE for written answers in three days. 

The Deputy Minister replied to the question about the pandemic and demotivated learners. Learners are back to school in full force and being back to school is motivation enough.

In reply to the question about teacher assistants, there are education assistants (EAs) and general assistants (GA). Most teachers want them to be there permanently. Those that are working with construction companies at schools get certificates. They all get certificates.  She reiterated that one meeting could have been dedicated to each presentation as there was a lot to cover and DBE would want guidance from the Committee. She again asked for the name of the Limpopo school as a principal cannot hire as the finances are through the SGB. They have to follow norms.

The Chairperson said the Committee was committed to covering the matters presented today. 

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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