In a virtual meeting, the Select Committee was briefed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on its 2021/22 Annual Report. The Deputy Minister mentioned at the commencement that DBE's concern about power interruption during the computer practical examinations on 25 and 26 October had not materialized as the exams were successful.
Overall DBE achieved 81% of its annual targets, partially achieved 13% and did not achieve 6%. It appointed 18 854 young (30 years and below) qualified educators; the number of underperforming schools dropped to 1 643 in 2021 while the number of chronically underperforming schools dropped from 573 to 500. The Director-General made 1 496 site visits to construction projects.
The Department outlined the reasons for non-achievement of 19% of targets. DBE received an unqualified audit opinion with no matters of emphasis for 2021/22. It incurred irregular expenditure of R573 846.
Committee members asked about the question paper bank, inclusive education, National School Nutrition Programme, and pit latrines amongst others.
The Chairperson indicated the Committee is meeting to assess the performance of the Department in the last financial year. He confirmed the commencement of the Matriculation exams and the previous week and sent his best wishes to the students undergoing exams.
Deputy Minister overview
Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule, extended an apology on behalf of the Minister who is attending a domestic violence event called by the President. The Director-General is unable to join due to network challenges but his absence will not disrupt the meeting.
This is the last meeting with the Committee in the 2022 academic year and she expressed her appreciation for the Select Committee’s support. The exams are underway and she confirmed that the Department’s concern about power interruption during the computer practical examinations had not materialized as the exams were successful. However, the computers of fewer than 20 students crashed but provision has been arranged for them to rewrite the exams with backup paper on 7 December 2022. The actual exams started on 1 November for all learners with 99.9 % sitting for English Paper 1 Home Language and English First Additional Language which went well. Eskom and municipalities were engaged about power supply but the remaining exams will be manually written which would only require natural light.
DBE Annual Report spans from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. The Department’s performance in meeting its pre-determined objectives will be presented by Ms Nuga-Deliwe on behalf of the DG and the CFO will present the expenditure report.
Department of Basic Education (DBE) 2021/22 Annual Report
Ms Carol Nuga-Deliwe, DBE Chief Director: Planning, Research and Coordination, reported on the activities of DBE five programmes. Overall DBE achieved 81% of its annual targets, partially achieved 13% and did not achieve 6% of its targets.
Highlights in 2020/2021:
- Overall pass rate for 2020 is 76.2% (decline of 5.1% from 2019)
- 61 027 095 Grades R-9 workbooks printed and delivered to 23 094 public schools
- 82% of Funza Lushaka graduates were placed in schools against the annual target of 85%
- 18 635 young (30yrs and below) qualified educators were appointed.
- Monitored school feeding: 117 schools were monitored against target of 115 schools.
Highlights in 2021/2022:
- Overall pass rate for 2021 is 76.4% (improvement of 0.2% from 2020)
- 65 373 740 Grades R-9 workbooks printed and delivered to 22 975 public schools
- 76% of Funza Lushaka graduates were placed in schools against the annual target of 84%.
- 18 854 young (30yrs and below) qualified educators were appointed.
- Monitored school feeding: 134 schools were monitored against target of 120 schools.
Some of the targets achieved in the five DBE programmes were:
Administration programme: Resolution of misconduct within 90 days; Annual Performance Plan (APP) approved by 31 March each financial year; Quarterly Performance Reports submitted to National Treasury and DPME 30 days after the end of each quarter; 100% submission of financial disclosures from senior management service (SMS) members by 30 April 2021; 91% submission of financial disclosures by middle management service (MMS) members.
Curriculum policy, support, and monitoring: Monitor all 18 technical schools; implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS); indicator for approved National Report on the amended legislation to regulate the new ECD landscape and development of a new funding model for ECD; 48 teachers were trained in Braille, 165 in South African Sign Language (SASL), 88 in Autism and 11 032 in other inclusive programmes. Overall, 11 333 teachers were trained in specialized areas of inclusion. DBE created job opportunities for unemployed youth by hiring 672 screeners and cleaners to administer COVID-19 safety protocols at centres. Monitoring of the Programme in more than five centres. As at 31 March 2022, a total number of 29 079 980 (100%) workbooks were delivered to 22 830 (100%) public schools. For rural education, eight pilot sites had successfully opened. The number of sites in KwaZulu-Natal has increased from 10 to 14.
Teachers, education human resources and institutional development: Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) trained 97% of post level 1-3 educators on the Quality Management System (QMS), 18 854 qualified educators aged 30 years and below were appointed in posts in the PEDs of which 4 786 were permanent, 10 864 were temporary, and 3 204 were substitute/relief appointments.
Planning, information, and assessment: DBE had a workshop with PEDs on revision of budget and programme structure. The changes include the function shift of Early Childhood Development from the Department of Social Development to DBE. Director-General conducted workshops with Circuit Managers on 5-6 July 2021.
The number of underperforming schools dropped to 1 643 in 2021 while the number of chronically underperforming schools dropped from 573 to 500.
The Director-General made 1 496 site visits to different construction projects in 2021/22. Of 22 945 schools, 51% use waterborne (municipal and septic), 35 % use VIP, 13% use pit latrines and 8% use Enviro Loo.
Educational enrichment services: To support the School Sports League programme, 1 066 chess boards were distributed to provinces.
Reasons for Deviation
Administration: The reason for not achieving 100% payment of valid invoices within 30 days upon receipt is that project managers delayed signing the invoices on time. Also, a positive deviation in the increased number of capacity-building programmes offered to DBE officials was recorded due to the demand for skills development and training in the Department.
Curriculum policy, support, and monitoring: There was a positive deviation in the number of learners per year obtaining subject passes towards an NSC or extended Senior Certificate because the Programme has intensified and strengthened its learner support activities and it has procured and distributed ICT equipment to more teachers and learners as well.
There was an increase in the number of Children/ Learners with Profound Intellectual disabilities (C/LPID) using the Learning Programme for C/LPID due to the addition of learners who could not be supported and remained at home during COVID-19 restrictions. They only returned to special care centres (SCCs) following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
The deviation in the annual sector report on monitoring the implementation of the Policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) was because approval was made after the reporting period (13 May 2022) due to various levels of verification and validation of reported performance in the reports.
The indicator on the annual sector report on the GEC indicator was not achieved due to incorrect wording which led to interpretation as full implementation instead of implementing the GEC pilot programme. The indicator should have been worded to reflect a pilot study instead. The full-scale implementation of the GEC will take place in 2025, following three years of piloting.
Incidents of late submission and incomplete reports from Eastern Cape and KZN led to partial achievement of output indicator of the annual sector report produced on schools that are prepared to implement and pilot the Technical Occupational Stream. The reason for the deviation is due to various levels of verification and validation of reported performance in the Annual Sector Report on the number of public schools monitored on the availability of readers reports, monitoring of procurement and distribution of ICT devices, number of teachers trained on inclusion, number of learners in public special schools, percentage of public special schools serving as resource centres and establishment of focus schools per PED.
Access of special schools to electronic devices: targets were based on obligations placed on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) by ICASA. Some MNOs did not meet (MTN delivered 64 instead of 140; Cell C delivered 6 out of 107). Only Vodacom and Liquid Telkom delivered fully.
Teachers, education human resources and institutional development: There was a deviation in the percentage of School Governing Bodies (SGBs) that met the minimum criteria in terms of effectiveness because the target was incorrectly captured by error when the Strategic Planning unit finalised the Annual Performance Plan.
Planning, information, and assessment: There were deviations in number of new schools built and completed through ASIDI and the number of schools provided with sanitation facilities and water facilities through ASIDI since there was huge pressure exerted on the implementing agencies to ensure that the targets are achieved. Also, a deviation was noted in the number of question papers set for June and November examinations because Marine Sciences was introduced at the Grade 12 level in the November 2021 NSC.
The target for the National Report on learning outcomes linked to the National Assessment Framework (NAF) was not achieved because the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SEACMEQ) studies were not completed due to postponement of the studies. PIRLS 2021 study report will be released in December 2022. SEACMEQ study report will be released in April 2023.
The target to achieve 80% monitoring of underperforming schools was not achieved because of data collection challenges at provincial level in Gauteng and Free State provinces. However, School Improvement Support Coordinators (SISCOs) have been deployed to all provinces to monitor and collect monitoring instruments since May 2022.
Educational enrichment services: A deviation in school monitoring for the provision of nutritious meals is attributed to inconsistent monitoring due to the COVID-19 pandemic regulations. A positive deviation was recorded in the target for number of learners, educators, parents, SGBs and other education stakeholders reached through social cohesion programmes.
DBE Financial Report
Mr Patrick Khunou, DBE Chief Financial Officer, said 99.8% was spent on the final expenditure and 100% was recorded for allocation for ASIDI and conditional grants for March 2022
Goods and Services: The overspending is on school infrastructure on the operational budget due to the rental and hiring of mobile toilets for schools because of COVID-19.
Payments for Capital Assets: The remaining budget is due to the hiring of mobile toilets that were procured because of COVID-19. These had to be paid under Goods and Services hence there is over-expenditure on goods and services.
Audit Outcome: DBE had an unqualified audit opinion with no matters of emphasis for 2021/22.
Irregular expenditure: R573 846 was recorded as the total irregular expenditure with R910 and R572 936 allocated to non-ASIDI and ASIDI respectively.
The Chairperson congratulated DBE for a well-consolidated report which he hopes continues.
He commented on slide 73 and asked about decision-making by DBE when the information was unavailable. What alternative data sources does DBE have to guide decision-making within the context of learning outcomes and leading to the provisional assessment framework? He asked about the cost difference between setting a question paper and using the question paper bank. Who owns the question paper bank? Is it owned by DBE or a private institution? The Chairperson also inquired about the impacts of the SISCO programme in Limpopo.
Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) asked if the inclusive education training initiative was a once-off or a series of workshops. Will there be credits granted towards the formal qualification of these teachers? What provinces did the training occur in? Which teachers or provinces were identified?
On slide 63 which of the six PEDs did the remote monitoring take place? Will that be a norm in future? How did it work out with DBE and was it worth conducting it remotely? Was it empowering or disadvantageous to the schools?
The Director-General made 1 496 site visits to construction projects in 2021/22. Were challenges identified during the site visits? If there were, what provinces were these challenges and is there additional information DBE can provide to the Committee for monitoring purposes?
With the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and the 18 month practical training requirement for hospitality students to obtain a National Diploma, has DBE thought of collaborating with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)? This will be advantageous to both the programme and the students whilst they acquire the 18 months practical training for their National Diploma.
Ms Christians noted that irregular expenditure was recorded in 2021/22 and cautionary letters were given. However, has further action been undertaken and is it being monitored? Is there additional information that the Committee needs to know about this?
The Chairperson highlighted the level of commitment that the DG has to the site visits.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) inquired about immediate improvement since the deployment of school improvement support coordinators (SISCOs) to all provinces to monitor and collect monitoring tools in May 2022. Also what plan has DBE set to avoid unachieved and partially achieved indicators in the coming year? What national and provincial plans have been developed and implemented to resolve the scenario of the unchanged technology-focused subject in matric?
In taking disciplinary actions for wasteful or fruitless expenditure by officials as required by section 38 of the PMFA, how can this be resolved and what measures are taken to prevent recurrence in the next financial year?
Ms Ndongeni questioned the feeding time irregularities and asked what was identified as the main cause for non-adherence of learners’ feeding by 10am.
The Chairperson inquired about the progress in the eradication of pit latrines in schools and noted children falling into these toilets in Limpopo some years ago. What is the progress on infrastructure provision in schools? Also with electricity, have alternative options like solar energy been considered?
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KZN) asked about the plans DBE has in place to support the finance units in the PEDs of KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo as they need to be capacitated with the appropriate skills. What can the Committee expect on the enhancement of the quality of teaching due to the approved conditional grants and business plans? What oversight mechanism is conducted in the distribution of chess boards to all provinces? The need for the total eradication of pit toilets was emphasized.
Mr Khunou, CFO, replied that the three provinces mentioned will be provided adequate support. There is a unit in Finance that goes on site visits to assist provinces on financial management to address plans and challenges experienced in these provinces. On wasteful expenditure, DBE is recovering the funds as shown in the report. Also, the reduction of irregular expenditure is evident as the current financial year had R833 000 as against R20m being recorded in past years. There are cautionary letters called ‘’progressive discipline’’ which depends on the severity of issues. Warning letters are often issued and if an investigation finds that funds were indeed lost, the officials receive a demand to refund this as well. Some disciplinary cases of officials are still ongoing.
Ms Priscilla Ogunbanjo, DBE Director for Examinations and Assessment in Schools, replied about examination question paper bank. The exam cycle usually starts 18 months before the exam and DBE set the question papers for all subjects. After registration, some papers may not be offered which are therefore ‘’banked’’. They are kept in a secure system and held directly by DBE and then utilized at the next required year or cohort. These question paper banks are not held by a private institution. The exact differential cost of the paper and banked paper will be difficult to ascertain because each paper has a different long time for its setting and accumulates a different amount. For example, the long term for setting the languages varies from technologies and examiners in the panel determine the budget. Using a banked paper in a new year requires a moderator to ensure the relevance of the paper in the current year. They will be updated which results in savings and only payment for the moderation.
Mr David van der Westhuizen, DBE Deputy Director General: Infrastructure, indicated that the wasteful expenditure was disclosed in the financial statements and was referred to the Internal Investigation Committee to pursue the loopholes and review the factors responsible for purposed of consequence management which is handled on a case-by-case basis.
The observations from on-site monitoring fall into categories like poor work and the contractor is asked to fix this without payments made for poor work.
On pit toilets, in 2018 an assessment was made of schools dependent on basic pit toilets. The list of schools is a part of the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) Initiative to complete implementation by the end of 2022/23. The additional 600 schools were added to the list but will not be executed until the end of 2023/24. All schools which are dependent on basic pit toilets will be resolved. However, ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilets have international standards for dry sanitation. They are low maintenance and highly durable. Lots of schools will operate using VIP toilets due to an unsustainable water supply.
On electricity, what is needed is a focused approach to address the electricity issue because it is a municipality function which is a failure on their part. Schools do not have connectivity from the box supplier and based on the current situation, electricity is one of the challenges which calls for immediate resolution. It makes it a priority to seek an alternative source of energy. Schools in rural areas with boreholes for example are tied to wind turbines and solar panels to assist with power supply. Currently, there is no strategy to make power independent of Eskom.
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Director-General, DBE apologized for his network device failure. The DG usually visits KZN, Eastern Cape and Limpopo every week due to the backlogs in the infrastructure implementation programme and inappropriate structures which will be resolved by the end of the financial year.
For the education infrastructure grant, the monitoring is coordinated by a team with weekly meetings chaired by DG and another chaired by the Deputy Minister. The weaknesses in the planning and execution of programmes are evaluated across the nine provinces for example the conditional grant with learners with intellectual disabilities because all the nine provinces are underperforming. He meets with them every month to provide remedies to the planning and execution of the programme. Much improvement has been recorded towards the end of the last financial year and there is an ongoing discussion on a team visit to rework and strengthen plans to ensure improvement. DBE uses ‘’implementing agents’’ who assist in the execution of programmes. The minister issued the possibility of replacing these existing capacitors who would deliver these projects to DBE. Some of these agents were allocated projects as far back as ten years ago and are still unable to perform adequately as expected.
Mr Mweli extended his gratitude to the Committee for its oversight of DBE. He also thanked the leadership of the Minister and Deputy Minister for holding officials accountable. The finance and infrastructure team delivered in 2021/22 due to hard work which has led to an improved audit profile. DBE remains committed and hopes to attain a clean audit report without non-compliance or irregularity matters.
Mr Habib Karimulla, DBE Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) Manager, replied about the school monitoring evaluation undertaken in six provinces (Eastern Cape, Free State, KZN, Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng). The remaining three provinces are scheduled for the following year. The reason for remote evaluation and monitoring via emails, phone calls and follow-up emails was due to COVID restrictions in these provinces. Based on outcomes, further training took place in these provinces and the impact was the submission of all the documents and evidence required from the provinces. Currently, the hybrid method of both virtual and physical systems has been adopted with province visitation, document requests, and follow-up meetings are done via phone calls and emails.
Ms Neo Sediti, Director for National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), welcomed the NSNP proposal by Ms Christians. A past project in Gauteng recruited graduates from the TUT to monitor the NSNP and a partnership was entered with the TUT for the learners from the hospitality department to observe their community service in this manner. Currently, there is no partnership with the colleges. However, there can be an expansion of an ongoing project with the University of Durban where recipes that tally to the menus are developed.
The adherence to 10am meal intake was conceptualized because of the assumption that learners come to school hungry. It was therefore put in the curriculum as a requirement to ensure that food was served earlier. Some schools have not complied because some provinces have included the need to serve breakfast fully from the grant which therefore makes them agree with the provincial education department. In such cases, breakfast can be moved to 11am to ensure maximum sustenance for food. In addition, secondary school timetables being determined at school district level is another challenge for adherence. There are instances that the curriculum needs to cover a certain time and subject area before the first break. This has been an issue to resolve between the programme officials and curriculum specialists. Through consultation, influence and engagement of the programme specialists, this disagreement in Mpumalanga has been resolved which other provinces can imitate.
On the approval of business plans on the food programme, the basis of the NSNP grant conceptualization is to enhance teaching and learning and access to learning opportunities for learners. DBE believes that together with other programmes, the food programme contributes immensely to educational outcomes to ensure that the five-year strategy is adequately implemented.
Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule, apologised for the break in network communication and that Ms Nuga-Deliwe had the same challenge. The full General Education Certificate (GEC) will be implemented in 2024/25 as the Department systems will be well-prepared. On ICT, the mobile network operators perform their duties by providing gadgets and interconnectivity, but the Department intends to commence with learners with special needs as this is the priority of the Minister. To rectify this, a budget line item has been included to not solely depend on external providers.
On school improvement support coordinators (SISCOs) to improve data collection, DBE will monitor the development to ensure that data is properly compiled with coordinators sent to all provinces and districts. There was a re-emphasis on hospitality students in Higher Education to be involved in children’s school nutrition and there is a possibility of partnering with DHET.
The late feeding caused an audit query because the Auditor General visited one of the schools and confirmed that the children were not fed at the time stipulated. However, DBE is ensuring strict compliance with that stipulated policy.
Deputy Minister Mhaule cited that the national interventions by the Department and provinces have tailor-made interventions due to the broadness of DBE's involvement. Limpopo in general is performing well. However, two districts are underperforming which is negatively affecting the outcome of Limpopo but these districts are being monitored and some form of improvement is evident. She and the Minister have adopted the districts to adequately monitor and ensure their performance. They have also met with all principals which is a continuous work with support from subject advisers as well.
The Chairperson thanked everyone and said the responses were well detailed
Deputy Minister Mhaule appreciated the Committee for its support and assistance. She noted the 6 and 7 December exams were dedicated to accommodating learners who may have missed an exam.
The Committee adopted the minutes from the previous Committee meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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