KZN, Limpopo, Mpumalanga Education Department 2023/24 Annual Performance Plans

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

26 April 2023
Chairperson: Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo)
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Meeting Summary


Basic Education

The Select Committee was briefed in a virtual meeting by the Kwazulu Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) on their 2022/23 annual performance plans and budgets.

The Kwazulu Natal provincial government addressed the food nutrition programme controversy as requested by the Chairperson. The KZN Education MEC lamented the shoddy work of service providers and assured the Committee that they are addressing the matter to avert further crises related to that. Due to floods in the province, about 356 schools were damaged and the province has been able to successfully repair and rehabilitate about 148 schools with 172 still undergoing tendering stage. The floods have cost the department about R269 million. There is a need to fill critical posts and an effort has been made to address that with urgency.

The Limpopo Education MEC lamented budget cuts and its impact on personnel and learner transport leaving more learners without the means of reaching school. About R10 million has been allocated to job creation that facilitates the filling of posts such as cleaners and bus drivers. The province received a further R12.5 million towards educators, mostly Grade R practitioners. Pit latrines remain a challenge in Limpopo, of 1377 pit latrines 1020 has been eliminated. About 2109 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres have been funded by government. About 158 schools are participating in coding and robotics. As a pilot project, teachers have been selected and trained for this exercise. The province has conducted accountability sessions with underperforming schools. R1.6 billion has been allocated for the National Schools Nutritional Grant. The province’s drive for data in all schools has been a success with the ultimate aim of all schools having their own personalised email address. R662 million has been allocated to special schools.

The Mpumalanga MEC highlighted that its workforce will be measured by the delivery of standardised output indicators and provincial output indicators. The province has been rallying stakeholders in an effort to collaborate with various partners such as USAID and mining companies.

Committee members asked about the Second Chance Matric programme, recruitment of Maths and Science teachers, eradication of pit latrines, teacher development, learner dropouts, bullying, school transport, ECD migration, and the impact  of the District Development Model on the PEDs.

Meeting report

KZN Education Department 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan
KZN Education MEC Ms Mbali Fraser noted that KZN’s priorities included:
- Increasing Maths, Science, Technology (MST) participation and success rate;
- Increasing number of focus schools of Aviation, Maritime, ICT, MST, Arts: converting more existing schools into Technical High Schools and School of Skills;
- Implementing a Coding and Robotics curriculum;
- Training educators on inclusion;
- Operationalising an ECD Education Management Information System;
- Strengthening ECD Curriculum delivery for 0–4-year-olds;
- Implementing a better accountability system for district and school management;
- Increasing the number of schools with access to ICT devices including tablets;
- Implementing programmes to enhance performance in second chance NSC examinations
- Improving school safety and security.

Limpopo Education Department 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan
Limpopo Education MEC Ms Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya spoke about the improving learner performance in line with the Provincial Learner Performance Intervention Plan. The App covered Administration; Public Ordinary Schools; Independent Schools Subsidies; Public Special School Education; Early Childhood Development; Infrastructure Development; Examination and Related Services.

Mpumalanga Education Department 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan
Education MEC Mr Bonakele Majuba covered the following topics:
- Reading for Meaning
- Skills for a Changing World
- Teacher Development (for teaching Learning & Numeracy)
- Assessment and Accountability
- Digital (School) Connectivity
- Early Childhood Development
- Decolonisation of Basic Education     
- School Safety, Health and Social Cohesion
- Integrated Infrastructure Development
- School Nutrition (and other pro-poor policy initiatives)
- Integrated Governance, IGR and Labour Peace
(see presentation)

The Chairperson asked the three provinces if the ECD migration, particularly the systems and processes required to improve the quality of learning and teaching, was on track. The transfer of early childhood learning from Social Development to Education is noteworthy because it plays a significant role in the foundation and growth of learners. This also referred to the training of ECD teachers. On non-performing and underperforming schools, asked about the interventions that have been considered for these two distinct scenarios. He asked Mpumalanga PED what value the Peace Corp volunteer programme adds to the improvement of their teachers.

Ms N Ndongeni (ANC) noted the difficulties in attracting Math and Science teachers and asked if the provinces could attract them to rural areas, given that most teachers with scarce skills tend to be fastidious about where they reside.

She asked for an update on pit latrine removal. What was the number of pit latrines that had been removed in rural areas over the past year, specifically in which districts.

Her third question concerned bullying and school discipline, as well as plans to prevent such incidents from escalating. Finally, Ms Ndongeni wanted more information on teenage pregnancy and if there has been action in dealing with it.

Ms D Christians (DA) asked about school dropouts. She referenced a newspaper report that more than 200 students had abandoned their studies. She was curious as to why the dropout rate is still rising. Although the question was directed at all provinces, she was most interested in Gauteng which has the highest dropout rate. How did provincial governments plan to address school dropouts? What are the reasons especially since the article mentioned Grade One students already dropping out of school?

Ms Christians asked about the triumphs and challenges were encountered by the District Development Model (DDM) with its emphasis on infrastructure, school nutrition, and water and sanitation supported by certain departments. How did the DDM assisted in addressing the budget shortfall? What are the plans of the three provinces to eradicate unsafe pit latrines in schools?

She cited the Michael Kampepe pit latrine legal case involving the Department of Basic Education which the court instructed to provide plans on how pit latrines will be eradicated, specifically in Limpopo. Ms Christian asked for a comment on that. This plan had to be filed in terms of a court order by 17 December 2021 and DBE had to report to the court every six months on the progress. She asked that the DBE elaborate on this court order and how it has influenced the province in eradicating unsafe pit latrines.

KwaZulu Natal was questioned on how they are getting ready for the 2024 school year, including the preliminary work done by key players, how the public is included in planning processes, and how the results of the in-year school survey will be communicated to the public.

A huge concern in KZN is the eradication of asbestos roof in schools. What is the number of schools affected by this and are students and parents aware of the presence of these asbestos-roofed schools? Are there regular medical tests or health screenings done for students, teachers and staff who are still exposed to these asbestos structures. What kind of collaboration has there been with stakeholders to relieve this burden on our learners in rural areas?"

Ms L Madlanduna (ANC) asked the KZN MEC about school nutrition. She blamed the centralisation of power and the responsibility given to an individual to handle such a complex activity. She lamented the negligence of schools based in rural areas.

She raised drug abuse in schools and how drugs have been made easily accessible. Her plea was that they should get to the bottom of this. Her final comment was on the lack of special schools in Emaphamdleni and she asked if there are plans for building special schools in the near future.

The Chairperson described the worst school situations the Committee encountered during its oversight visit to KZN. The saddest scenario was a school for children with severe impairments being plundered and losing all their equipment and food. He asked if the July 2021 riots had been addressed in returning affected schools to normalcy.

Mr M Bara (DA) asked about the main problems, achievements and experiences with the Second Chance Matric programme in schools in addressing unplanned pregnancies.

Mr Bara asked about the KZN department's strategies for managing the influx of learners who would be moving from one school to another due to the floods and the July 2021 uprising. He asked about the steps and necessary interventions employed to address food shortages in the KZN school nutrition programme. He noted that in Mpumalanga, ECD practitioners are now working without protective clothing in numerous ECD centres. He asked for the status of the procurement of protective clothing for ECD practitioners.

Ms N Nkosi (ANC) asked for clarity on the KZN nutrition programme and if there have been consequences for the service provider responsible for food distribution. Is there is a plan to assist learners who were negatively affected by the lack of food distribution?

She asked if there are corrective measures in place for the unauthorised expenditure by the kZN Education Department. On school transport in Mpumalanga, a concern was raised by local taxi associations on how transport tenders are corruptly obtained by government officials. She asked if the provincial department has looked into this matter to resolve it.

KwaZulu Natal response
MEC Fraser replied about the food nutrition programme challenges that the PED had made an effort to advise the service provider to seek more assistance in distributing food. The service provider did embrace the advice and collaborated with big shops and it indeed helped to some extent. However there still challenges with punctuality and coordination of delivery addresses. Another challenge KZN experienced was some service providers abruptly cancel their contracts with the department and this consequentially affects food reaching learners. At some point the department directly distributed food to different schools, although there has been processes unfolding to resolve this matter permanently. For now, the MEC has resolved to revert back to the old way of doing things where the service providers buys the food and drops it off at a central location and the distribution is administered and dispatched from there. Deliberations with management and potential stakeholders will unfold around this suggestion going forward. The MEC referred the question of why the entire KZN relied on a single service provider to the HOD because it is a procurement matter.

KZN Education HOD, Mr Nkosinathi Ngcobo, said there was more than one participant. The only thing is that they were required to procure food from one big retail shop. The rationale behind that was that in the past, learners were supplied with poor quality food because it was coming from different sources. Secondly, the service providers who were mainly SMMEs did not have cheaper access to food and it would impact negatively on their profit margins. However the big retail shop that won the tender failed and is in breach of contract. He has already written a letter to them whilst at the same time exploring the legal loopholes of cancelling the contract. The HOD made a commitment that whilst pursuing contract cancellation, they will make efforts to continue feeding learners.

On the unauthorised expenditure, Mr Ngcobo replied that this arises from the impact of the budget cuts on the compensation of employees. This means that teachers must be paid and retrenchment is never explored as an option. If the KZN department were to reduce the number of teachers, it will lead to near collapse of the education system.

On the Second Chance Matric and teenage pregnancy, the HOD replied that they have been putting systems in place and have introduced the programme called “My Future, My Life” with the intention to conscientise learners about sexual activity, drug abuse and other social ills. This is done in some instances with the collaboration of South African Police.

The KZN PED has a thorough list of schools damaged by floods and the status of their repairs. It inspected the damage after the floods. It then classified the severely damaged ones which the province had to deal with. In some cases schools were given an opportunity to repair with their own budget. Due to budget constraints there is still a backlog in some rural areas and some special schools.

On bullying, KZN has incorporated it into the “My Future, My Life” campaign as well as in the Life Orientation course.

On the DDM and how it helps with budget shortfalls, the KZN PED has been working with other departments such as the Department of Transport, particularly on how they can help in building bridges. Programmes such as Sukumasakhe have a war room in every ward where the departments meet and engage on important matters of taking communities forward.

On pit latrines, the provincial department has received extensive assistance from the National Department in eliminating many of them. This also is done without losing focus on dealing with aging infrastructure of sanitation facilities. Although KZN is transporting 67 000 learners, the need for more learner transport remains, hence the need for an increase in the budget.

In response to the Chairperson asking if the province still has Peace Corp volunteers, Mr Ngcobo said that they did have three years ago but not at the moment.

Limpopo response
Limpopo Education MEC, Ms Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya, spoke about the Second Chance programme for matric students that might not have returned because of the high rate of pregnancy or those that are returning. Limpopo has 23 Second Chance centres that are spread across the 10 districts and that there are two phases. The first phase starting in January is mainly for repeat learners writing exams in May/June. The second phase in July is intended for repeat part-time candidates who will take exams in November/December. The department has presently enrolled 6 000 people in the province in phase one throughout all districts, for those who wish to improve their grades and those who did not appear for the exams due to the difficulties presented.

On the eradication of pit latrines, the MEC demarcated pit latrines into three categories: 1) about 519 pit latrines have been addressed; 2) unsuitable facilities in schools where the resolution has been to demolish them; 3) those for which the national department has already made a grant available.

The MEC explained that the ECD migration has been finalised and it has been included in the department organogram and budget.

Mr Mashaba Martin, Limpopo PED Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, answered that previously the department has hired foreign nationals as Maths and Science teachers but teaching is no longer classified as a scarce skill. In some cases the posts are filled through the HOD where the school will request the department to help fill such posts.

On bullying, the province has strengthened its relationship with the police with some schools being adopted by police stations. The Limpopo health department has also been engaged and has been helpful on issues such as teenage pregnancy and HIV awareness.

The DDG replied about the District Development Model, saying that districts have their own projects and the Department has noted that even though there is information for all the districts however sometimes the districts will run on their own and do not engage when it comes to developing or finalising their Integrated Development Plan IDP) so that it becomes an integrated plan.

Teacher development according to Mr Mashaba has been instrumental in helping address the competency of teachers. This includes the training of teachers even in specific areas of concern.

Mpumalanga response
Ms Lucy Moyane, Mpumalanga Department of Education HOD, replied that there are currently eight US Peace Corps members that are utilised according to their area of specialisation. This has been a mutually beneficial exercise as the volunteers have benefited from the communities they reside in.

The Second Chance Matric programme is funded by the DBE, although the province does augment to ensure that there is coverage across all the districts and sub-districts.

On recruiting of Maths and Science teachers, like other provinces, they have benefited from the Funza Lushaka programme.

On pit latrines, Mpumalanga has only one school that uses pit latrines but there have been efforts to address this. However, sanitation remains a challenge. She made a projection that by the end of 2024 all schools in the province will have adequate basic services and would have eradicated or at least provided additional adequate sanitation.

On asbestos, the HOD emphasised that there is no school that is built totally in asbestos, but there are cases where one or two classrooms may be built or roofed with asbestos. So overall there are 64 schools and 30 of these schools have one or two classrooms made of asbestos. However, efforts are made to completely eradicate them.

On learner dropouts, the province has conducted a study assisted by the University of Witwatersrand and that has influenced how the department responds to this. The dropout rate has been declining as a result of identifying problems because what the study demonstrated is that the drop out is mostly caused by what happens outside school premises as opposed to in schools. In collaboration with Social Development, the province has launched programmes to combat substance abuse and bullying. There is also a programme under the leadership of the Deputy Minister, where work is being done in partnership with stakeholders, including Social Development, to educate students about the consequences of bullying.

Ms Moyane stated that in schools and regions where incidents have been confirmed, there is counselling for both the perpetrator and the victim, as well as in situations where the perpetrator or victim must be shifted from one school to another. On school transport, the matter between local taxis and school transport was resolved through the National Department of Transport.

The meeting was adjourned.

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