In a virtual meeting, the Department of Basic Education reported it had achieved six out of nine (67%) of its Quarter 1 2022/23 targets.
Committee members asked about the implementation of the Three Stream curriculum model; prioritising Funza Lushaka graduates; availability of funds to implement compulsory Grade R as part of the Early Childhood Development programme; better feedback on ECD targets and registrations; breakdown of the number of teachers retiring in the next two to three years; school closures update; safety in schools; school dropout numbers; and status of legislation, policy and regulations in the pipeline.
Many of these questions would be answered by DBE in the form of written reports.
Department of Basic Education (DBE) Quarter 1 performance
Ms Nosipho Mbonambi, DBE Director: Strategic Planning, reported on the progress of the performance indicators and targets of the Department’s annual performance plan (APP) for its five programmes. DBE achieved 67% of its targets for Quarter 1 of 2022/23 compared to 80% for the previous year.
Programme 1: Administration
Of the three targets, one could not be fully achieved: A quarterly performance report for the ECD Conditional Grant could not be submitted as the ECD function shift only began on 1 April 2022.
Programme 2: Curriculum policy, support, and monitoring
Target achieved. This programme includes early childhood development (ECD); Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST), E-Learning and Research. All provinces submitted the signed data to inform printing and delivery of workbooks for 2023 academic year. History ministerial task team hosted five meetings to refine the content in Grades 8-12. Procedural manual for the assessment of learners who experience barriers to learning Grades R-12 was finalized.
Programme 3: Teachers, education human resources and institutional development
Targets achieved. Teacher rural incentives were completed and gazetted.A report on the number of qualified educators aged 30 years and below entering the profession for the first time covering April to June 2022 was compiled. A total of 4 488 young and qualified educators were appointed in posts in the Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) of which 1 291 were permanent, 2 292 were temporary, and 905 were substitute/relief appointments. For the Funza Lushaka graduates in PEDs: 49% (2 080 of 4 232) of graduates eligible for placement in 2022 were placed as at 30 June 2022. The Skills for a Changing World project: The Framework for the project was approved and endorsed by HEDCOM. The Framework describes the delivery of Training of Teachers on Coding and Robotics by the Teacher Union Collaboration (TUC) programme for 2022/23.
DBE and the French Embassy are implementing the LAMAP Inquiry Based Science Education Project in five districts in five provinces.
Programme 4: Planning, Information and Assessment
All provinces and 52 Districts were evaluated on an examination system review. Information was provided on overall budget trends for Basic Education from 2014/15 to 2022/23.
Programme 5: Educational Enrichment Services
This includes Safety in Education; Sport and Enrichment in Education; Health Promotion; School Nutrition; Psycho-social Support; Social Cohesion and Equity in Education. Two targets were not achieved:
- Number of districts monitored for National School Safety Framework (NSSF), Social Cohesion, Sport and Enrichment Programmes.
- Number of districts implementing the gender-based violence programme.
2022 was the year of full resumption of these programmes which affected resources allocation at provincial. The Eastern Cape Province could not be monitored and its 12 districts will be monitored in Q2.
DBE financial report
Mr Patrick Khunou, DBE CFO, said total budget appropriation for 2022/23 is R29 560 billion.
DBE expenditure for Quarter 1 2022/23 was R9.328 billion (31.55%) made up of:
Transfer payments R8.571 billion for conditional grants and transfers to public entities.
Compensation of Employees: R128.5 million
Examiners and Moderators: R5.6 million
Earmarked Funds: R31.3 million
Office Accommodation: R43.6 million
Specifically and Exclusively Appropriated: R472 million
Departmental Operations: R44 million
Departmental Projects: R32 million
Ms M van Zyl (DA) asked about the Funza Lushaka graduates that have not been placed in teaching positions in public schools. She asked how DBE is addressing this.
Ms M Sukers (ACDP) asked DBE to provide a supplementary reports on the following: ECD social environmental impact assessment; capacity and delays in the registration of home school education; rollout of Comprehensive Sexuality Education programme; school closures update and where that that process is nationally; ECD registrations; school governing body (SGB) training; National Senior Certificate for Adults (NASCA); school dropout numbers which the Committee has repeatedly asked for; post-Covid catch-up; research; donors; and an update about legislation, regulations and policy frameworks in the pipeline.
Mr T Letsie (ANC) voiced his concern about the placement of Funza Lushaka graduates. One government department is providing funding to students through NSFAS, however, the Department of Education prioritizes one Funza Lushaka students. He asked if the one country, one plan document has been presented to Cabinet and how the Department of Basic Education is coming on board with this one plan initiative. He found it important to ask the Deputy Minister specifically and that it required political leadership to address this matter.
The expenditure on COVID at the end of Quarter 1 was inaccurately captured due to the use of an incorrect code.
Mr Letsie commented on late provision of LTSM in schools. He asked how many provinces, districts and schools do not have sufficient Learning Teacher Support Material (LTSM).
Due to the underperformance of schools and districts, he asked DBE how they hold principals or district directors accountable for the performance of their schools.
He asked DBE if they had sufficient teachers in the system and what would the numbers be in the next two to three years if they lose teachers due to retirement. He requested it provide feedback in writing within seven days for the specific number of teachers who will be exiting the system in the next two to three years.
Mr Letsie referred to the Maths, Science and Technology (MST) target where DBE did not reach the target of getting 60 000 students into higher education spaces for an MST major subject. He asked what approach it is taking to ensure enough matriculants enter the MST fields at universities. How is DBE mitigating these challenges?
Mr E Siwela (ANC) agreed about student funding and the prioritization of Funza Lushaka bursary holders. He urged that DBE reconsider and review the policy it had implemented.
He asked how effective the implementation of the National School Safety Framework was and the challenges faced in that regard. He noted the GBV programme was not achieved. He asked about the effectiveness of the sexual harassment policy implementation and the challenges faced. How robust is the planning and budgeting and do these programmes have clear operational plans.
Mr B Nodada (DA) requested reports on the ECD targets to gain better feedback on those targets.
He focused on the School of Skills in the Three Stream curriculum model. He asked for clarification on where these schools fit in the Three Stream curriculum model and if are they streamlined. Do provinces have the autonomy to decide how best to pilot these and what form of certification the learner receives?
He asked if there has been a discussion with National Treasury on the full availability of funds to implement compulsory Grade R as part of the Early Childhood Development programme. He asked DBE to comment on this unless there will be a more detailed report at a later stage.
On the National School Safety Framework, he asked if there has been an exploration of how to mitigate safety measures in schools. He suggested that the Department of Higher Education place social worker and psychology students in schools that are high-risk areas to mitigate these challenges.
He requested an update about non-payment of invoices within 30-days and if there has been progress or action taken on this.
He asked if the model of implementing agents responsible for school infrastructure projects is effective. He asked for an update on the special purpose vehicle for this. For instance, on the pit toilets in schools, he asked if DBE is going to continue with those programmes or is there another mechanism to be implemented.
He asked DBE to respond to how the qualified audit and the specific findings within the audit report translate into effective teaching in the classroom.
He referred to the monitoring of Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and asked how it monitors the uptake within the Three Stream curriculum model. Have there been improvements since there was a problem with the professional development of teachers. Teachers need to implement this Three Stream Curriculum model.
Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) said that the EFF cannot consider approving the Q1 report and reserves its decision on this matter. One of the reasons is that DBE does not consider contributions on the inclusivity of Funza Lushaka and NSFAS graduates for preferential job availability
She asked what guided DBE in choosing its preferred choice of the five provinces and five districts in the LAMAP Inquiry Based Science Education Project. She asked how the National Senior Certificate (NSC) compares internationally as learners leave the school system without needed skills. How does DBE ensure these skill sets are compulsory and form part of the NSC? How will social cohesion be included in the curriculum in the Three Stream curriculum since the History subject has been excluded from this curriculum?
Ms N Adoons (ANC) said that there needs to be acknowledgement and accountability for the shortcomings in implementing their targets fully in Quarter 1.
She asked how DBE is working with municipalities to access the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) for school sport infrastructure developments to reintroduce school sports since participation had lessened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She asked about the quarterly expenditure plan and how the grant allocation ensured adequate efficiency for provinces during their planning.
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) said that the Quarter 1 report should be adopted. It was accepted from the point of view of the ANC.
He asked if the Auditor General's previous audit findings and recommendations have been implemented. He supported Mr Letsie's statement on the late and insufficient provision of LTSM as it determines learners outcomes. Were
He asked how DBE is ensuring and encouraging accountability of provincial officers so that they do to cooperate with the national department and for DBE to step in and intervene as and when the need arises. He asked about how it is managing pit toilets in schools within the different provinces. He mentioned the Committee visit to Mpumalanga where they came across this.
With the increase of gender-based violence in schools, he inquired about the effectiveness of the implementation of GBV policy.
The Chairperson referred to the presentation and asked why the Eastern Cape could not be monitored. She asked why the policy on the improvement of conditions of service was withdrawn. She asked DBE to share highlights of the ECD function shift which was managed successfully and the resources for it were well managed with 25% expenditure in Quarter 1.
She asked which school districts had been affected by floods and what type of donations did DBE receive. She asked how many provinces have implemented Coding and Robotics as a subject and requested further information on the bilateral with Kenya.
Deputy Minister response
Dr Reginah Mhaule, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, requested that Ms Sukers and Mr Nodada send the list of their questions for DBE to respond in writing.
She explained that Branch 5: Care and Support for Teaching and Learning works with various departments such as Sports. DBE works together with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture on school sports. Music is happening already in most schools. All schools have been given the opportunity to participate in music such as the choral Eisteddfod. The Committee should be invited to these events to showcase that music participation occurring in schools.
DBE collaborated with many organizations and stakeholders to address safety in schools challenges. For instance, DBE is working with the Department of Health on integrated health in schools. It is working with the Department of Home Affairs for learners to get identification documents. DBE is collaborating with Correctional Services where we invite the inmates to address bullying in schools. DBE works with a huge team on school safety – it is not only internal. It works with the Department of Justice, South African Police Service (SAPS), Department of Communications and Digital Technologies and various religious-based organisations and civil society.
She corrected Mr Nodada that DBE had received an unqualified not a qualified audit opinion.
She clarified that initially the NSFAS scheme was not supporting students for teaching and this is the reason for the implementation of Funza Lushaka as a dedicated bursary scheme to encourage learners to do teaching. Some students change their courses at university which are not priority teaching subjects and this explains why the absorption rate is low. DBE is focused on absorbing all students if there is a need within schools. We must revisit the production versus the need. She agreed about Funza Lushaka and NSFAS as being funded by one government. As DBE, she pointed out that it has a responsibility to respond to the dynamics of the new order and to produce teachers that are relevant to the current curriculum model and the changing world.
DBE will need at least 14 days to give the breakdown of the number of teachers retiring in the next two to three years. DBE needs to collaborate with Higher Education to produce learners that are ready to proceed to tertiary education that is relevant.
Mr Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, DBE Director General, referred to Deputy Minister's response on the matter of Funza Lushaka. He said that DBE is no longer prioritizing Funza Lushaka only. The Council of Education Ministers has taken a decision that graduates, whether self-funded or have other forms of government funding, must be given the same priority in terms of placement. If it happens on the ground DBE must be informed about this.
On the accountability mechanisms implemented for underperforming schools, DBE checks and monitors every quarter in terms of the School African Schools Act. Since it is nearing the end of the academic year, there will be a meeting with all nine provinces individually to get a report to further support underperforming school districts.
DBE used to have an acute shortage of teachers in Maths and Science. This is no longer a problem. Department of Home Affairs has requested DBE provide a list of scarce skills whereby foreign nationals may come into the country on temporary permits to offer their scarce skills to address the adequate provision of teachers.
In reply to Mr Nodada`s request, DBE will provide a briefing on the Three Stream curriculum roadmap that will shed further light on the school of skills and the GEC certification.
Mr Paddy Padayachee, DBE Deputy Director General: Teachers, Human Resources and Institutional Development, replied that with the LAMAP Project, the French Embassy required that provinces identify districts that were under-resourced and wanted to promote science education. This was based on the budget and support being given to maximise the number of educators to cover inquiry-based science education. This is a three-year process and there will be a follow-up to see how educators have implemented this.
Over the last five years and with the COVID-19 pandemic, 20 000 educators have left the profession in public schools. Resignations are around 7 000 to 8 000. Of the 20 000, half of them are ones that retire. They have to replace these educators annually and Funza Lushaka graduates provide. NSFAS graduates have difficulties as the subject specialisation might not be correct, there are the self funded, there are those that resign and then come back to teaching, and there are those from outside the border. Not all graduates enter the education sector and leave teaching for various reasons. A plan was in place to prepare for the loss of half the teachers over the next ten years. The average age for the profession is moving from 47 to 46 years old. It is slow but moving in the right direction. One has to ensure that the new subjects and priorities are taken into account.
Mr Padayachee mentioned the challenge with compensation budgets where accounting officers had to manage and deal with posts that were frozen. They discovered that the vacancy rate at schools in some provinces are above the post establishment - that is, that there were more educators than permitted. Also it was found that it is the promotion posts that have not been filled for a period of time in both schools and offices. However, it is important that they ensure that there is a teacher in the classroom at all times.
Mr David van der Westhuizen, DBE DDG: Infrastructure, explained that all infrastructure projects are run through very formal construction contracts that define the duration of the contract. If the contractor fails to complete the project within deadline, they will be penalised and DBE has a strict handle on this. He confirmed that payments are made within 30-day payments. There were historical cases of non-payments that unfortunately resulted in some court cases. DBE has submitted to the internal audit and investigation committee to investigate the root cause of those delays and is in the process of defining consequence management.
It would be more appropriate to ask the Presidency and Infrastructure South Africa about the special purpose vehicle. They are not working with the special purpose vehicle on any ASIDA projects. They are working very closely with Infrastructure SA to prepare a national infrastructure plan and standard designs which they will soon report on its progress.
Ms Coceka Nogoduka, DBE Chief Director: Care & Support in Schools, DBE, replied that Comprehensive Sexuality Education as a pilot project has been taking place in seven districts in seven provinces in the country reaching about 3 000 schools. There is intent to expand the project to all nine provinces by the end of the financial year. CSE also intends to collaborate with the Department of Health to provide sexual and reproductive health services in schools.
Dr Moses Simelane, DBE Chief Director: Curriculum Implementation and Monitoring, replied that DBE is committed to addressing the curriculum-related matters. They are in the process of finalising the General Education Certificate policy framework. He confirmed that the GEC was provisionally approved in March 2021. Learners who complete Year 4 in schools of skills will receive a standardised report card which DBE is currently designing and this will be deployed to provincial departments to issue learners in schools of skills.
Mr Patrick Khunou, DBE CFO, replied about mitigating measures. Every two weeks there is a senior management meeting that presents the shortcomings and challenges of the budget and expenditure. They have a monthly broad management meetings and a ministerial management meeting held quarterly to check for improvements.
There are currently no challenges with 30-day payments in Quarter 1 as it achieved 100%. The previous three qualified audits had assisted DBE to improve. He illustrated the improvement over the years since 2017/18. It achieved an unqualified audit in 2021/22 with no matters of emphasis. On the 2021/22 budget of R27.3 billion, it had only underspent by R68 000 so there have been improvements over the years. Material irregularities in the 2021/22 audit report date back to 2017 which the Auditor General will not remove until they have been cleared but there are no new ones.
Director General Mweli explained that the bilateral with Kenya covers items including ICT and e-learning as Kenya and Rwanda have made better progress on e-learning and connectivity in schools. Coding and Robotics was piloted in 200 schools which was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. DBE will send a report to the Committee on the status of this pilot project.
They are working with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and provincial education departments to increase mass participation in sports and with educational enrichment programmes.
DBE is working with municipalities to gain part of the municipal infrastructure grant (MIG). The Department launched three weeks ago a district development model for this implementation so going forward they want to continue to improve.
The LAMAP project is working with five districts in five provinces only because of the funding available. They are currently working on a plan to scale this up in a few provinces.
The implementation of provincial conditional grants is monitored and DBE started monthly meetings for the Education Infrastructure Grant and other grants. He mentioned that the previous Friday, they received reports for the ministering performance of the grants.
The Ministerial task team has presented a report to the minister on the matter of Social Cohesion and making the History compulsory which the report will be shared with the portfolio committee.
He agreed that there are shortages of teachers in some grades but not in Grade 12. He explained that provinces are addressing that within the constraints of the budget allocation. In relation to the pit toilets, he explained that all areas within South Africa have access to running water and as a solution, they provide dry sanitation facilities. He disagreed with Mr Nodada (DA) and said that the pit toilets are safe, and appropriate and have been approved by the World Health Organisation. He said they can provide figures on the work done so far.
He said DBE has been in discussion with the National Treasury on the incomplete projects. He noted that they are aware of which projects are going to spill over into 2023 and 2024 and they are confident to able to get money to be able complete those projects.
He mentioned that there are incentives for areas that have been withdrawn by the council of education ministers. DBE will share the highlights of the deliverables for the ECD grant. They will also provide a report for specific information on schools and the progress for schools affected by the floods in KZN.
There is an intention to bring the funding of Grade R to the same level as other grades. Currently DBE is working on a new ECD model for delivery for 0-4 years and they are in discussion with National Treasury on the full funding of that delivery model. He mentioned that partners such as municipalities, private sector, NGOs and churches could also be partners in providing ECD.
Deputy Minister Mhaule responded about donor funding. DBE has been funded by UNESCO but only in the form of dignity packs given to boys and girls affected by the floods in six KZN districts. The Global Fund funded the Department of Social Development to buy 1700 learners new school uniforms and it assisted with the specifications of what they needed.
The Chairperson thanked DBE and asked it to send reports to the Committee on the issues they have raised.
The Committee considered the Committee Reports on the Oversight Visit to Mpumalanga Provincial Education Department and on the Petition on Closure of Seekoegat Primary School.
The meeting was adjourned.
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