The Committee met virtually to unpack the nuanced challenges surrounding teenage pregnancies in South African schools, with presentations from both the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) and the Department of Basic Education. The Commission underscored the grim reality of sexual misconduct, forced marriages, and violence against girls, particularly in rural areas, emphasising the urgent need for a realistic assessment and concerted efforts from various stakeholders.
Members raised critical questions and concerns, delving into legal compliance, policy implementation timelines, and the societal influences contributing to the persistent issue of teenage pregnancies. Discussions touched on the impact of media on children's behaviour, the varied implementation of policies across the provinces, and the challenges faced by pregnant learners who stayed in school.
The Department responded by stressing that teenage pregnancy was a societal issue requiring collaboration beyond the education sector. The Deputy Minister highlighted the Department's commitment to addressing the challenges collaboratively with other government departments, including health, social development, and justice. The Department clarified its stance on policies, the role of social workers, and efforts to prevent dropouts due to pregnancy.
The Chairperson opened the meeting and presented the agenda, which included the consideration of the report of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) on learner pregnancy. The CGE's report, titled “Learner Pregnancy-Policy Interplay: School Dropout of Adolescent Girls During Pregnancy and in the Postpartum Period in Selected South African Provinces,” 2023, was referred to the Committee on 19 June. If time permitted, the Committee would also adopt ita Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) report, and the minutes of the meetings held on 31 October and 7 November.
Mr T Letsie (ANC) proposed the motion to adopt the agenda. This was seconded by Ms N Adoons (ANC).
The Chairperson acknowledged the adoption of the agenda and invited the Deputy Minister to deliver opening remarks.
Deputy Minister's overview
Dr Reginah Mhaule, Deputy Minister of Basic Education (DBE), addressed the Portfolio Committee on learner pregnancies, emphasising its profound impact on school attendance among girls, and the Department's response to the findings of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
She painted a stark picture of the situation, revealing that nearly two-thirds of girls who became pregnant abandoned their education, leaving them trapped in a cycle of poverty and limited opportunities. She poignantly described the challenges faced by pregnant girls, including the pervasive stigma and judgment they encountered from their peers, the lack of adequate support in juggling childcare and education, and the increased risk of subsequent pregnancies.
In response to these pressing concerns, she outlined the DBE's proactive approach to addressing learner pregnancy. She introduced the newly implemented learner pregnancy policy, which empowers pregnant girls to continue their education uninterrupted, allowing them to stay in school until childbirth and seamlessly re-enrol afterwards. The policy aimed to significantly reduce the number of school dropouts due to pregnancy, providing a lifeline for girls and fostering a more inclusive educational environment.
Deputy Minister Mhaule also underscored the DBE's steadfast commitment to prevention strategies. She championed the importance of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), advocating for providing young people with the necessary knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about their sexual health and prevent unintended pregnancies. She stressed the need for open and honest conversations about sexuality, empowering young people to make responsible choices and protect their well-being.
Addressing misconceptions surrounding prevention efforts, she unequivocally clarified that the DBE's focus remained solely on safeguarding the rights and promoting the well-being of girl children. She firmly distinguished the DBE's approach from those who mistakenly equate prevention with promoting low morals, or advocating the termination of pregnancy. The DBE's primary objective was to empower girls to make informed choices, protect their health, and pursue their educational aspirations without fear or judgment.
Deputy Minister Mhaule also discussed the role of religious communities in addressing learner pregnancy. She said that religious communities needed to be more open to talking about sexuality and providing support to young girls who were pregnant. She emphasised the importance of collaboration between religious leaders, educators, and parents to foster a supportive environment where girls feel empowered to make informed decisions about their sexual health and education.
She reaffirmed the DBE's unwavering commitment to collaborating closely with the CGE to effectively tackle learner pregnancy, and ensure that all girls had access to quality education. She expressed her strong belief that through open dialogue, collective efforts, and innovative strategies, significant progress could be made in addressing this issue and empowering young girls to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to society.
To illustrate the importance of open communication about sexuality, she shared an anecdote about a personal experience, where she had been unable to differentiate between a niece and a nephew. This anecdote highlighted the need for parents and educators to openly discuss sexuality with young people to prevent misunderstandings and empower them to make informed decisions.
In conclusion, she also mentioned the importance of addressing the underlying causes of learner pregnancy, such as poverty and a lack of access to education. She emphasised the need for comprehensive interventions that address both the immediate and long-term factors contributing to learner pregnancy, ensuring that girls had the opportunity to succeed academically and personally.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister for the passionate overview provided to the Committee.
CGE on learner pregnancy policy
Dr Dennis Matotoka, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Commission for Gender Equality, said he would be co-presenting with the head of research and policy. The chairperson of the CGE had just joined the meeting, and in recognition of her presence, he suggested handing over to her to continue the presentation.
Adv Nthabiseng Sepanya-Mogale, Chairperson, CGE, introduced her team, consisting of both commissioners and the secretariat. Dr Matotoka and Dr Thembinkosi Twala, Head of Research, were identified as the key presenters.
Dr Matotoka provided context about the CGE's role as a Chapter 9 institution with a mandate to promote, protect and develop gender equality. The institution was empowered to conduct research, monitor, investigate, educate, lobby, advise and report on gender-related issues, in line with Section 187 of the Constitution.
He highlighted the focus of the study on teenage pregnancy, describing the challenges faced by adolescent girls in South Africa, particularly regarding their right to basic education, dignity and equality. The study, finalised in the previous financial year and presented in March, aimed to investigate the reasons for school dropouts among pregnant adolescent girls, and those in the postpartum period.
He outlined the legislative frameworks considered, including international instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as South African laws like the Constitution, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, and the Schools Act. The study had delved into social, cultural, legislative and economic factors hindering school attendance during and after pregnancy.
He handed over to Dr Twalo to delve into the research methodologies, findings, and recommendations, acknowledging time constraints.
Study methodology and recommendations
Dr Twalo commenced the presentation by setting the context for the study, which focused on teenage pregnancies in three provinces -- KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. Using a qualitative approach, the study delved into people's experiences and perceptions, specifically targeting adolescent girls who had dropped out of school. It had engaged 24 adolescent girls and 33 key informants, totalling 57 participants aged between 10 and 19. Key informants included officials from the National Department of Education, school principals, educators and support agents. Dr Twalo underscored the commitment to ethical standards throughout the research.
The presentation detailed the findings for each province, highlighting commonalities and differences. In KZN, issues such as knowledge, attitudes and perceptions regarding contraception services had been explored. Challenges included the preference for a specific contraception option, barriers related to religious beliefs, and the significant impact of parental involvement, economic factors, and legislative inconsistencies.
The overarching findings indicated societal factors such as poverty, substance abuse, and cultural norms contributing to teenage pregnancies. Dr Twalo emphasised disparities in school health programmes, discrimination against pregnant learners, and the imperative need for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education.
The presentation concluded with a series of recommendations, calling for collaborative efforts to address the identified challenges. Advocacy, awareness-raising initiatives, and targeted support programmes for pregnant learners and adolescent mothers were highlighted. She stressed the importance of creating positive learning environments, reducing stigma, and providing academic support.
For an in-depth exploration of the study's complexities and recommendations, please see attached.
DBE on learner pregnancy policy
Ms Busisa Nokama, Deputy Director: CSE and Learner Pregnancy Prevention, Department of Basic Education (DBE), presented a detailed response to the Commission for Gender Equality's report on the interplay of pregnancy policy and school dropouts among adolescent girls in selected South African provinces in 2023. The presentation aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the DBE's initiatives, the challenges faced by pregnant learners, and ongoing efforts to address the complex issue of teenage pregnancy.
She began by acknowledging the importance of the DBE's collaboration with the CGE. She stressed the significance of addressing intersecting vulnerabilities impacting education outcomes and associated sectors related to teenage pregnancy. She detailed the DBE's existing policy frameworks, focusing on preventing and managing learner pregnancy in schools. The presentation underscored the importance of disseminating policies and engaging in ongoing dialogues with parents and learners to foster awareness and understanding.
An overview of the challenges faced by pregnant learners was presented, shedding light on the DBE's policy implementation strategies. She described key provisions, including creating an enabling environment, preventive measures, and provisions for care, counselling and support. The Department's collaborative efforts with other sectors were outlined, including ongoing research studies, partnerships with external organisations, and integration with existing HIV-related policies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and examination protocols.
The presentation delved into the DBE's initiatives to address policy implementation challenges by engaging with local implementation models and collaborating with universities on research studies. Ms Nokama acknowledged the need for a multifaceted approach, involving various stakeholders to effectively respond to the challenges faced by pregnant learners. Ongoing and future initiatives were discussed, such as the revision of policy implementation guides, collaboration with universities on pregnancy support packages, and advocacy programmes aimed at creating awareness.
In response to the CGE's recommendations, she provided details of the actions taken by the DBE. These included working with the traditional leaders, the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Social Development (DSD) on integrated school health programmes and school safety initiatives. Financial support concerns were addressed, ongoing advocacy efforts were highlighted, and academic support programmes for pregnant learners, such as the "Second Chances" programme, were discussed.
Ms Nokama concluded by recommending that the Portfolio Committee take note of the DBE's comprehensive response to the CGE's report.
See attached for full presentation.
Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) began by emphasising the collaborative effort needed from various stakeholders, including families, schools, communities, traditional leaders, churches, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to address the challenges related to learner pregnancies.
He provided statistics and observations from both reports. He noted that female adolescent girls and young women (aged 10 to 19) constituted 12.67% of the global population, with more than 19 million in South Africa. He emphasised the link between teenage pregnancies, HIV infections, and school dropout rates.
He expressed concern about the divergent approaches among provinces, putting a burden on school principals. He sought clarity on the implementation timeline of the national policy on learner pregnancies and its practical application across all schools. He stressed the importance of protecting the rights of both learners and school principals.
Addressing the violation of children's rights, he questioned the measures in place to safeguard learners' right to education, particularly regarding pregnancy. He emphasised the need to prevent unfair penalisation of learners for circumstances beyond their control.
Mr Moroatshehla highlighted the societal taboo surrounding sex education, and urged for an open and transparent discussion to prevent teenage pregnancies. He was concerned about the prolonged silence on issues affecting learners, and stressed the urgency of decisive action to safeguard the future of South Africa's youth.
Ms M Sukers (ACDP) addressed several concerns and queries raised during the meeting, focusing on various aspects of the DBE's policies and practices. In her inquiries, she focused on the importance of legal compliance and transparency.
She initially raised apprehensions about the lawful implementation of a policy gazetted in December 2021. Referring to Section 7 of the National Education Policy Act, she highlighted the obligation for the Minister to notify and table the policy instrument in Parliament within specific timeframes. She raised the issue of potential legal non-compliance, and underscored the financial implications and the oversight responsibility of the Committee.
Referring to a study conducted in July 2019 to evaluate the impact of a school-based sexuality and HIV prevention education activity in South Africa, she questioned whether the CGE was aware of the report's findings, which indicated that scripted lesson plans failed to yield statistically different outcomes in terms of the incidence of genital herpes. She sought an explanation for the DBE's continued funding of a programme that its own research suggested had not been effective.
Ms Sukers delved into specific policy clauses for preventing and managing school learner pregnancies, seeking confirmation of their implementation. She referred to Clause 3.1, outlining the policy's goal to reduce learner pregnancy through comprehensive sexuality education and access to reproductive health services. She also cited Clauses 6.1.5 and 5.8, addressing the expectations on school principals, educators, and the confidentiality of information related to pregnant learners.
Turning attention to the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, Ms Sukers questioned the existence of a task group responsible for drafting regulations outlined in Clause 39. She sought details on the composition of this task team, and requested access to any draft regulations.
She also discussed the controversy around comprehensive sexuality education, noting that the DBE had suggested that parents opposed to it should choose independent schools or homeschooling. She inquired about the Minister's stance on supporting the addition of a freedom of curriculum and assessment clause to the Schools Act.
She concluded her series of questions by addressing cases of educator misconduct. Citing a specific incident in KZN, where a teacher allegedly impregnated a student and coerced her into having an abortion, she requested statistics on such cases nationwide over the past three years.
Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) directed his attention to the challenges faced by children in schools, highlighting the burdens of acting as guardians to younger siblings, peer pressure, and the influence of social media. He said these challenges were often overlooked by those who had not personally experienced them.
He painted a vivid picture of the struggles these children faced, including running households, seeking financial assistance, and resorting to desperate measures due to poverty. He pointed out that many of them had not experienced a normal life and lived in conditions far from what was commonly accepted, facing hunger and limited choices of the cheapest available food.
He addressed the issue of adolescent girls and young women in schools, questioning what measures were in place to mitigate pregnancies. He expressed concern about boys falling into forced sexual relationships, and stressed that both genders could be victims of societal behaviour such as GBV.
Mr Madlingozi sought clarification on the DBE's commitment to keeping young girls in school, inquiring about comprehensive pregnancy prevention measures. He questioned the academic support for pregnant learners and the challenges faced in retaining them. He also raised concerns about the Department's approach to sexual education in poor communities, stressing the need for topics that were relevant and fully understood by the students.
Expressing discontent with challenges in the integrated school health programme, such as transport shortages, he argued that these issues should not compromise the well-being of future leaders. He said the importance of rural areas should not be underestimated, and criticised the lack of government initiatives in place that embodied respect and dignity for black people.
He concluded by stressing the significance of prioritising the protection and dignity of children, stating that government efforts should extend equally to urban and rural areas.
Ms M Moroane (ANC) asked about the impact of implementing the policy on preventing and managing learner pregnancy. What was the influence of the media on children, and how could one raise awareness among learners to distinguish between positive and negative media influences? What was the extent of the collaboration between traditional leaders and the Department through learner-teacher school material (LTSM) in schools? Lastly, she inquired about the rate of reported cases involving learners below the age of 16 being impregnated by older individuals.
Ms M Van Zyl (DA) acknowledged the challenging nature of teenage pregnancies, highlighting its negative impact on young girls' opportunities for education and future careers. She pointed out that South Africa had struggled with high rates of teenage pregnancies, which could lead to dropouts and hinder academic progress, especially for young mothers.
She inquired about the DBE's involvement with communities in addressing the root causes of teenage pregnancies. She also sought clarification on a policy mentioned to have been gazetted in 2021, specifically focusing on the section about counselling, care, and support for pregnant learners and those with babies. She wanted to understand the meaning of "referral" in the document, and whether it implied referring them to other departments which would direct them to clinics for an abortion.
Ms Sukers also underlined the importance of understanding the concept of referral, especially in the context of the DBE's limited capacity and low intake of social workers. She pointed out that the referral process needed clarification, especially considering the challenges related to human resources and social support in schools. There was a need for clear stipulations on how referrals worked, particularly in the context of limited resources, during the public hearings on the Children's Amendment Bill.
Ms N Adoons (ANC) recognised the gravity of the issue at hand and its implications for both current and future generations. Teenage pregnancies were a societal concern that demanded a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, including the government, communities and individuals.
Acknowledging the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the surge in teenage pregnancies, she called for a holistic approach involving various sectors, such as education, social development and local government. She pointed out the importance of comprehensive sexuality education, which was introduced in 2000. She said it had had a positive effect in reducing teenage pregnancies until the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
She sought clarification on how the DBE monitored the implementation of the policy on the prevention and management of learner pregnancies at both the school and provincial levels. She emphasised the significance of having a formal and standardised monitoring system in place.
She focused on the efforts required to mobilise society, including the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), traditional leaders and churches, to recognise the reality of teenage pregnancy and the fact that young learners may engage in sexual encounters. She underlined the need for a concerted effort beyond the Department of Basic Education.
She asked about mechanisms that could be established to support learners who gave birth and lacked caregivers, potentially leading to dropouts. She sought information on any existing support systems provided by the Department for pregnant learners to return to school after giving birth.
She asked for statistics on the prevalence of pregnancies among learners in schools with accommodation or boarding facilities. Lastly, she questioned the role of parents or guardians in protecting and guiding children, emphasising the importance of addressing the stigma associated with discussing sexual matters within families.
The Chairperson said there was a compelling need for the state to take steps to ensure that girl learners completed their studies instead of dropping out due to early and unintended pregnancies. She referred to statistics indicating that approximately 33% of girls did not return to school after becoming pregnant, emphasising the challenges faced by poor children in poor communities.
She suggested the possibility of a joint Portfolio Committee meeting in the future involving the DoH and DSD, to better understand all departments’ interventions in addressing these issues. She acknowledged the emotional and challenging nature of the topic, and the need for realistic solutions to assist children and educate parents on how to handle instances of teenage pregnancies.
She raised questions about the success of the DBE's abstinence programme and its efforts in educating boys, highlighting the societal pressure and norms that contributed to teenage pregnancies. She also inquired about the Department's collaboration with organisations working on sexuality education and support for both boys and girls.
Commission for Gender Equality
Adv Sepanya-Mogale expressed concern about the Department of Basic Education presentation, stating that it presented a glossy picture that did not reflect the true situation. Drawing on her background as a former social worker, she highlighted the harsh reality of teachers engaging in sexual misconduct with students, girls being forced into marriages, and the prevalence of rape in rural areas.
She criticised the presentation for not addressing the grim challenges faced by children in rural areas, where violence and abuse, particularly against girls, continued unabated. She mentioned instances of teachers facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct but escaping consequences on technicalities. She underscored the urgency of addressing the pervasive violence and abuse against learners, and said the situation was not improving but getting worse.
She shared details of recent incidents, including the killing of a 26-year-old wife by her 30-year-old husband from a neighbouring institution. She stressed that violence had turned schools, especially in rural areas, into war zones. She urged a realistic assessment of the situation and called for a joint effort involving multiple stakeholders, including the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development.
In her concluding remarks, Adv Sepanya-Mogale expressed the need for genuine efforts to combat the challenges learners face, rather than relying on policies that may be gathering dust and not effectively addressing the issues on the ground. She urged the CGE not to be part of misleading narratives, and stressed the urgency of providing a better future for children.
Dr Twalo highlighted a newspaper article from 15 July 2022, which had reported over 11 000 pregnancies in Limpopo, with teachers implicated in most cases. He emphasised the implementation challenges, despite having good policies. He underscored the need for enhanced collaboration among state entities, including the South African Police Service (SAPS), Health, and Education, to address gaps in handling cases like statutory rape. Regarding contraceptive uptake challenges, he stressed that it was a societal issue where all stakeholders, not just the Health Department, needed to play a role. He also highlighted the broader societal, cultural, and religious factors contributing to the problems.
Dr Matotoka referred to the mobilisation of society to address teenage pregnancy, and said the CGE conducted outreach programmes involving various stakeholders, including schools and civil society. These programmes aimed to demystify and clarify cultural norms contributing to teenage pregnancy. The CGE's public education and information department engages in dialogues during these programmes, receiving positive community feedback and support. The CGE not only conducted research, but also actively participated in outreach to address societal issues.
He mentioned instances during outreach programmes where discussions revealed negotiations between parents and teachers involved in rape or teenage pregnancy cases. These engagements often resulted in cases not being reported, with teachers making payments to the families. The CGE stressed the need for a concerted effort from all societal stakeholders, including Chapter 9 institutions, Parliament, civil society, and law enforcement, to address teenage pregnancy as a severe violation of children's rights.
Regarding the impact of media on children's behaviour, Dr Matotoka acknowledged that the CGE had not conducted a specific study on this issue, but indicated that their observations from cases and desktop research suggested a media influence on both children and perpetrators. He highlighted the need for in-depth research to provide a more confident response to such questions.
Department of Basic Education
Deputy Minister Mhaule responded to the concerns raised during the meeting, and said teenage pregnancy was a societal issue that extended beyond the Department of Basic Education. There were collaborative efforts with the South African Council of Educators (SACE) and teacher unions to address cases of teachers impregnating learners. She stressed that such teachers would not be allowed to teach again.
Addressing the broader societal context, she acknowledged that while some teachers might be involved, most teenage pregnancies occurred at home, often involving relatives. The Department was committed to addressing these issues collaboratively with various government departments, including the SAPS, the DSD, the DoH, and the Departments of Communication and Justice.
Responding to policy concerns, she said the policies were developed collaboratively, presented to the Committee, and were subject to consultation with stakeholders. She urged a collective effort from all sectors of society to address the challenges of teenage pregnancy.
She clarified the role of social workers, indicating that the Department collaborates with the DSD to appoint social workers. She highlighted the challenges in addressing cases where child-headed families and stepfathers contributed to abuse.
In conclusion, Deputy Minister Mhaule commended the work done by the CGE, and stressed the need for collective action to safeguard the future of South African children.
Dr Granville Whittle, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Educational Enrichment Services, DBE, responded to concerns raised during the meeting, and emphasised the Department's commitment to ensuring that pregnant learners were not denied access to education. He referred to guidance issued in 2008, which was later reversed after a legal challenge. The current policy allowed pregnant learners to stay at school, and approximately 75% of them did so.
He acknowledged the challenges in coordinating support across government departments, and highlighted collaboration with the Departments of Health and Social Development. He discussed various interventions, including deploying learner support agents, integrating services during community jamborees, and collaborating with the Department of Police.
In response to concerns about teacher misconduct, he emphasised the Department's commitment to addressing cases promptly, working with relevant councils and unions. He acknowledged the need for improved integration of services and cooperation with communities.
Addressing the issue of contraceptive use, he said there were challenges related to declining condom use. There were ongoing efforts to provide comprehensive sexuality education within the national curriculum. He also discussed the importance of working together with various stakeholders, including civil society organisations. He did not have details of teachers forcing learners to have abortions.
He clarified that "referrals" pertained to organisations providing psychosocial support, rather than to terminations of pregnancy. The Department focused on preventing dropouts due to pregnancy, encouraging girls to stay in school and return after childbirth, especially with the inclusion of early childhood development (ECD) under the DBE's responsibility.
Dr Whittle acknowledged the concerns raised about boys and dropout rates, and said the Department was working to understand and address the specific challenges boys faced.
He invited the Deputy Minister to address the BELA Bill, as it falls within her purview.
In conclusion, Dr Whittle expressed a willingness to work collaboratively and appreciated the insights shared by the Commission and the Committee.
Ms Sukers wrote the following message on the Zoom chatline:
"That was a huge red flag that the DDG does not know the numbers of such incidences of sexual abuse given the media attention given to such matters in Northern Cape and KZN reported this year and last year -- given the need for a holistic approach, but again we receive no clear answer. According to your own presentations, CSE was not new but rather part of your curriculum since 2000 -- this was on the record and part of your presentations in 2019 on CSE before this Committee. How can you not have data on outcomes or conducted evaluations?”
Mr Muzi Ndlovu, Director: Health Promotion, DBE, addressed concerns about the varied implementation of the policy across provinces, recognising its novelty and ongoing efforts to disseminate information, along with the finalisation of implementation guides.
He referred to the impact evaluation, stressing that the policy was still in its initial stages of implementation, and to discussions and memorandums shared with stakeholders, clarifying that reaching findings would be premature without completing the pilot phase. Regarding referrals, he explained that the DBE's primary focus was teaching and learning, and referrals were made to sister departments and partners providing health and social services.
Lastly, Mr Ndlovu mentioned interventions in cases where learners were expelled due to pregnancy, emphasising the Department's commitment to supporting affected students and advocating policy adherence. He highlighted ongoing efforts to address challenges and promote effective policy implementation.
Ms Nokama expressed the CGE's appreciation for acknowledging the importance of collaborative efforts among the Department of Health, the Department of Social Development, the Department of Justice, and other relevant departments.
Deputy Minister Mhaule stressed the need for collective action to address societal issues, acknowledging the importance of collaboration with traditional leaders, religious leaders, and various community representatives.
She pointed out the inclusive nature of the quality learning and teaching campaign (QLTC), involving members from school safety committees, counsellors, religious leaders and faith-based organisations, to instil positive values in schools. She commended the work done by the CGE, and extended an invitation for future collaboration. She said the Department was open to criticism, viewing it as a valuable tool for improvement, and expressed appreciation to the Portfolio Committee for offering constructive solutions.
The DBE was committed to serving the future of the country, focusing particularly on the needs of vulnerable children in rural areas and child-headed households. She concluded by affirming the Department's willingness to work with all stakeholders to advance South Africa's educational goals.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister, the team from the Department of Basic Education, and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
Ms Sukers expressed dissatisfaction, stating that the DBE had failed to answer her question about the tabling of the policy. It had been part of three written questions, with the others being inaccurately answered on 26 September. She urged the Committee to take note of this failure, and suggested that the DBE should have a paper trail regarding the policy's promulgation process.
The Chairperson expressed appreciation for the information shared by the DBE, and acknowledged that the matter at hand was not a political issue, but a societal one. She emphasised the importance of collaboration with sister departments and suggested joint committees to share benchmarking and strategies for mitigating factors related to teenage pregnancies by collaborating with other countries.
She thanked the Department and CGE and excused them from the meeting, as the next item on the agenda was only for Members.
Adoption of BRRR
The Chairperson presented the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the performance of the DBE for the 2022/23 financial year. The report covered various aspects, including the purpose, mandate, core functions, and the process followed by the Committee in arriving at the report. It also included an overview of the service delivery environment, key policy focus areas, performance of the Department, the budget, expenditures, and observations and recommendations from the Committee.
The Chairperson invited the Members to review the report, make corrections if necessary, and consider adopting it. She called on them to adopt the report in the absence of corrections.
Mr Moroatshehla moved the adoption of the report.
Ms Adoons seconded the motion.
The report was duly adopted.
Adoption of minutes
Committee minutes dated 31 October 2023
Ms Moroane proposed the adoption of the minutes without amendments, and Mr Madlingozi seconded the motion.
The minutes were adopted.
Committee minutes dated 7 November
Ms Moroane moved the adoption of the minutes.
Mr Madlingozi seconded the motion.
The minutes were adopted.
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee would be focusing on the strategic plan in the upcoming week.
The meeting was adjourned.
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