Public hearings on Intergovernmental Fiscal Review

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


5 October 2004

Chairperson: Mr B Tolo (ANC) [Mpumalanga]

Relevant documents
Trends in Intergovernmental Finances 2000/1 - 2006/7 [offsite link]
Limpopo Presentation
Eastern Cape Presentation
Free State Presentation part1
Free State Presentation part2
Gauteng Presentation
Department of Education: Northern Cape Province Report
Mpumalanga Department of Education: Provincial Education Priorities
Mpumalanga Department of Education: Report on National School Nutrition Programme
Mpumalanga Department of Education: Scholar Transport
Western Cape Province Report

The presentations by the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and Limpopo Provincial Education departments outlined the current conditions of classrooms, challenges and successes in expenditure spending and key strategic priorities.

During the discussion clarity was sought from the MEC's and their representatives on the reasons for delaying certain programmes in the Eastern Cape; the ratio between personnel and non-personnel responsibility; the quality and status of the nutrition programme; programmes to educate learners on HIV/AIDS prevention and behaviour; whether retired teachers were being paid pension owing to them; progress on objectives and challenges; the extent to which public special schools education and Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programmes were addressing the inclusivity objective in schools; the steps taken in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to ensure that the unskilled workers in the agriculture sector become skilled via the ABET programme; measures to encourage students to take up mathematics on the Higher Grade; clarity on the reasons for the Free State department's roll over of R7,8m on capital projects; problems with the KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces' failure to order textbooks for the next school year; the status of temporary teachers and clarity on the school fees exemption policy.

The National Treasury and the Departments of Education from Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape, and the Western Cape, outlined their budget allocations and expenditure trends, their priorities for 2005, and the measures they were taking to reduce poverty. Members raised concerns about dealing with budget cuts and programme reductions, community unemployment, racial integration, school safety, teacher retention and training, and standards by which to judge the quality of South African education.

The Chair stated that the Trends in Intergovernmental Finances document (attached) was aimed at bringing Members up to speed with government's spending patterns. The aim of the hearing was for provinces to inform this Committee of the programmes it would be financing, because the documentation merely reflected the general spending trends. This was important because approximately 6% of government's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was spent on education.

Eastern Cape briefing
Mr M Matomela, Eastern Cape MEC for Education, conducted the presentation (document attached) which outlined the organisational structure of the Department and learner breakdown, the pass rate from 1996-2003, the general conditions in classrooms, spending over the previous financial years, proposed resolutions to budget problems and current education priorities. He assured Members that his Department would be well on its way out of the woods by the end of the financial year.

Free State briefing
Ms A Tsopo, Free State MEC for Education, conducted the presentation (document attached) which outlined the strategic thrusts for 2004/2005 expenditure for the revised curriculum statement, FET schools and colleges, ABET, ECD, infrastructure planning, poverty targeting initiatives, human resource management, the communication strategy, establishment and strengthening of partnerships and a progress report on the implementation of projects.

Gauteng briefing
Ms N Motshekga, Gauteng MEC for Education, conducted the presentation (document attached) which outlined the provincial government's thrust, its five-year plan in terms of spending priorities, the strategy for each priority, expenditure patterns and provincial allocations, the budget assumption and allocation for the MTEF cycle and education programmes aimed at pushing back the frontiers of poverty.

Mr E Sogoni (ANC) [Gauteng] stated that the Eastern Cape MEC indicated that his Department was delaying certain programmes, and sought clarity on the extent to which the delay would impact the education sector in the Eastern Cape generally.

Mr Matomela responded that things like workshops and business class flights have been targeted and catering and all other expenses that do not have direct impact on the delivery of services have been cut. These measures were however not enough and soft-target infrastructure had to be resorted to, but even here some suggested that projects that were up and running be stopped. The Department resisted this suggestion and all projects that were currently up and running would continue. The decision was however taken to delay some, which included the proposed building of 64 new schools.

This has a direct negative impact on the Presidential mandate regarding the mud structures, to the extent that the Department has developed a plan to mobilise funding from the private sector and there was a positive response to this. It was suggested that the Department borrow funds to complete certain projects, but it did not make sense to borrow additional funds when the Department was already in debt. Secondly, the Department did not want to borrow funds when it was not sure whether it would be able to succeed if its systems were not up to scratch. The Department decided instead to deal with the financial systems, controls and procedures and to also cut certain expenses. It was a painful exercise but had to be undertaken as a matter of necessity.

Mr Sogoni sought clarity on the ratio between personnel and non-personnel responsibility, and what the acceptable percentage for non-personnel expenditure would be.

Mr Matomela replied that his Department was doing very well in this regard because, as indicated, the ratio stood at approximately 85:15 which was within the national norm. Problems were experienced with the educator to non-educator ratio, which stood at 92,8:7,2. This meant that his Department did not have sufficient personnel to support the schools, and it was for this reason that the Interim Management Team's (IMT) report confirmed that the Department's organogram was 60% empty. The Department thus proposed an increase in the pupil-teacher ratio to 35:1, and if this was done calculations show that more than 4000 educators would have to be retrenched within his Department. But this was not possible. The Department thus instead decided on a phased in approach over a three-year period, and instead of retrenching those teachers, some would be relocated into the non-personnel component. This was currently being negotiated with educators, and it was hoped that this would turn the situation around.

Mr Sogoni sought clarity on the impact of moving the school nutrition programme from the Department of Health to the Department of Education.

Mr Matomela responded that this has added to the Department's challenges because, as indicated above, his Department did not have the necessary personnel to deal adequately with the provision of nutrition. Thus responsibility had to be allocated to the limited personnel component within the Department, and the Department was trying to enlist service providers where this was necessary.

He stated that in his Department he found that this programme was not benefiting people as was expected, and the model currently being used must be reviewed because it was not pushing back the frontiers of poverty. Mr Matomela stated that his Department was dealing with this issue, but it was not fully satisfied yet.

A Member (ANC) stated that the Eastern Cape MEC indicated that his department aimed to revert from 92% of its budget spent on educators to 85%, which was the national average. He sought clarity on how this would be achieved.

Secondly, he asked whether the nutrition programme has been extended to high schools as well.

Ms Motshekga replied that her Department's view was that by shifting school nutrition to the Department of Education it has helped the aligning of its targets, such as the aligning of poorer communities for school fee exemption with the nutrition programme. This resulted in even more learners receiving this assistance than had benefited under the Department of Health. In fact 50% of the Department's learners in the poorer pockets were not even targeted by the Department of Health. She stated that high schools were piloted but, because of resource constraints, this was abandoned. Her Department was supposed to be feeding 517 learners in the poverty pockets, but it was currently only feeding 317.

Ms Tsopo responded that the transition from the Department of Health to the Department of Education in her Department has been very smooth, and it has even included the number of learners who benefit at a primary school level. Her Department has been providing nutrition in secondary schools, as provided for in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2006.

A Member stated that the Gauteng MEC indicated that new schools had been built and old ones left vacant, and questioned whether it would not be viable to transport the learners from those schools that have good equipment instead of building new schools.

Ms Motshekga replied that her Department offered scholar transport to areas in which it was unable to provide schools. The Department did not think it was desirable to bus learners from other communities into communities, when they resided in the other area. If the area has been declared a township, the provincial government might as well erect the social infrastructure. Simply bussing learners out of their communities was not cost-effective in the long term. Her Department's scholar transport bill currently stood at R40m whereas it cost about R6m to build a school, and the Department might as well invest in the community by building a school. There were areas such as inner Johannesburg in which it was no longer safe to bus learners into the schools, and some learners have had to be removed from some areas for safety reasons.

Ms N Madlala (ANC) [Gauteng] asked the three MEC's to indicate the programmes they have put in place to educate learners on HIV/AIDS prevention and behaviour.

Mr Matomela responded that his Department has been engaging stakeholders who have been involved in HIV/AIDS prevention and group behaviour, and thousands of learners have been reached via this initiative. In this area as well his Department lacked the necessary personnel dedicated to HIV/AIDS programmes, and this was a challenge to the Department in view of the fact that the Department had a 60% vacancy rate.

Ms Motshekga replied that her Department had a comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme that it reviewed on an ongoing basis, which targets both learners and educators.

Ms Tsopo responded that her Department was working jointly with the Department of Health, but through her Department's conditional grants it was currently running a comprehensive programme that looked at advocacy, training, peer education, prevention, treatment and home-based care.

Ms J Vilakazi (IFP) [Kwazulu-Natal] stated that she knew of a case in her province of a retired teacher who has been waiting nearly 2 years for her pension, but has not received a cent since. She asked the MEC's to respond to this problem.

Mr Matomela replied that this was a complicated issue. It used to be the case in the past, especially in the homelands that no pension deductions were made from female teachers' salaries with the result that they could not draw pension when they retired. It could be that the person was not at the required age to receive the pension, and he was not sure what could be done in this case. The second scenario entailed teachers who have been contributing to the pension fund, but where not paid what was owed to them once they had retired. This appeared to be the type of case referred to by MsVilikazi.

He stated that he was shocked to find that his Department did not have proper document management, with the result that the actual files were not there. Luckily this was being addressed via the Registry Project that had to be established simply to ensure that teachers had the proper files. He required all managers to inform in writing all teachers who were retiring during the current financial year, and to begin reconstructing their files while they were still in the system. This was important because once they exited the system without the proper files it was very difficult to locate them. This unit was thus established to deal with the backlogs in the Eastern Cape Department. It was doing very well because, out of the 9000 cases it had to deal with over the last year, there were only a few hundred that remained unresolved.

Mr M Sulliman (ANC) [Northern Cape] sought clarity on the new directorates that have been established in the Free State Department, their nature and the costs of the establishment of the new directorates.

Mr T Setona (ANC) [Free State] asked the MEC's to provide a clear picture of the progress they have made with regard to their objectives and challenges, especially the nutrition programme, because this was not contained in the document.

Mr Matomela replied that the Eastern Cape has made progress with regard to infrastructure establishment. In 1996 the Department was in need of approximately 22 000 classrooms and by the last financial year it had reached 50% of that target. The budget for erecting schools in 2004/2005 currently stood at R498m, and his Department has just opened 21 new schools during the course of the year. A total of 11 schools were being renovated, but the Department was affected by the overdraft. There were still 898 mudschools in the province that had to be dealt with, and this included churches or houses within the community that served as schools. A total of 890 toilets were needed in schools throughout the Eastern Cape.

He acknowledged that his Department lacked the proper monitoring mechanisms with regard to the nutrition programme due to the personnel shortage, and the model currently used was being reviewed.

Ms Tsopo responded that presenters were not given sufficient time to properly explain to Members the impact made with regard to school nutrition as well as unsafe and unacceptable school structures. Some of the cars used to monitor the nutrition programmes were not roadworthy and were thus being replaced. The monitoring mechanisms in place in the province indicated that things were not up to standard in one of the districts and the decision was thus taken to phase out the bread and soup provision and replace it in 2005/2006 with a hot meal project, which was currently being piloted in 21 schools within the province.

With regard to the quality of expenditure the province was doing very well because it was currently spending R85m on ABET education. Yet it was still faced with the problem of learners who dropped out of the courses, especially during winter. The province would thus be running an advocacy programme from October 2004 to November 2004, and the classes will be changed from evening to day classes in order to accommodate more learners. Her department was spending the funds according to the set framework.

Ms Motshekga replied that there were problems with the nutrition programme with regard to the quality of food provided. She stated that, without shifting the blame to the Department of Health, the Education department inherited every aspect of the programme from that department. The menus were currently being revised in order to create jobs so as to battle unemployment, and was also exploring other menu options within the constraints placed on the unit cost of each meal.

Mr Setona stated that the Eastern Cape Department has had a historical legacy of poor budget planning, and asked whether this was due to poor prioritising of policy objectives or was it due to poor administration.

Mr Matomela responded that his understanding of the situation was two-fold. Firstly, it would be poor budgeting to not take the current backlogs in the Eastern Cape province into account. It was partnered with poor administration, because it was unacceptable that there could be such poor management of personnel for these many years. This problem has persisted by 2000 and should have been dealt with years ago.

Mr Setona requested clarity on the kinds of capacity and systems that were in place in the budget planning process to deal with the migration patterns within provinces, with regard to the urban-rural dynamic.

Ms Tsopo responded that migration was a challenge for all provinces, and a strategy must be devised to best address this problem

Ms Motshekga replied that migration was a problem for all provinces, and her department would be addressing this problem through the Premier's office. There were problems with internal migration with provincial departments as well as international migration.

Mr T Ralane (ANC) [Free State] sought clarity on the extent to which the public special schools education and Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programmes were addressing the inclusivity objective in schools.

Mr Matemola replied that his province was still battling with the issue of inclusivity. A plan was devised to improve the situation, but he did not have all the details at his fingertips at the moment. With regard to ABET his province has done very well, as it has established 317 sites in all the districts. His Department has received a budget of R140m for the current financial year, which was an increase from R131m allocated in the previous year. A total of 49 000 ABET learners have been registered to date, and they were educated on agricultural skills needed for farming in the rural areas.

Ms Tsopo replied that her province was doing very well to ensure inclusivity in schools, and efforts were also being made to reduce the current levels of illiteracy in the rural areas of the province. This posed a particular problem for educators in the rural areas because they worked in conditions that were totally different from those that other educators were working in. It was thus important for the National Department to move with speed in addressing the conditions under which ABET educators must work, because no one would be prepared to go to a farming community at 19:00 to give class until 23:00.

Ms Motshekga responded that the inclusion policy was moving quite slowly in her province due to financial constraints and the regulatory framework, but it was being worked on. The National Department was being consulted as to how to implement the White Paper on Inclusion.

Mr Ralane asked whether the Eastern Cape and Free State MEC's could quantify the number of elderly people in the deep rural areas that were able to access ABET.

Secondly, Mr Ralane sought clarity on the steps taken in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to ensure that the unskilled workers in the agriculture sector become skilled via the ABET programme.

Ms Tsope replied that her province has had a bilateral with the Free State Department of Agriculture to address the problem with skills shortages in the agricultural sector, and her department will be running several projects around the FET colleges. The greatest challenge that faced the department was the land shortage, because most of the practicals that these students were supposed to complete required space. Her department was currently negotiating this problem with the Free State Departments of Local Government and Public Works in order for such programmes to materialise.

Ms Motshekga responded that it would not be realistic to monitor exactly how many Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres had been established, because the budget currently being referred to related to the budget of the previous financial year which did not budget for these priorities. New priorities would only be implemented in the new budget. Thus provinces readjusted what it had inherited after elections to accommodate other priorities.

Mr Ralane asked about the implications for quality of education in the Eastern Cape if, as indicated in the document, the compensation of employees has been reduced.

Mr Matemola replied that he did not have a clear answer because a reduction in salaries could frustrate the qualified personnel, and even result in their exiting the system. He stated that he was aware that many teachers were currently leaving the Department for other fields, which could have a negative impact on the quality of education provided. His Department had about 3 000 unemployed teachers but this "was not a big problem" if they were properly qualified and wanted to enter the system, because the current problem with temporary teachers in his Department was a concern.

The Chair suggested that a lesson be learnt from the Northern Cape Department's nutrition programme as it grants funds directly to the school to provide the service, and thus does away with intermediary service providers who were really in it to make a profit. The schools themselves were therefore empowered to buy food and money was not wasted on tenders and service providers.

Ms Lamoela asked Mr Matomela to explain whether his Department hosts workshops to assist teacher development.

Mr Matomela responded that his province hosted workshops, especially to train teachers with regard to the new curriculum. The problem was that his department did not have adequate personnel to train these learners, with the result that the well-trained teachers were used to train the others. Measures were put in place to address the problem, and his department was not satisfied with the current state of affairs.

Ms Lamoela asked whether schools, especially senior secondary schools, were encouraged to have winter and spring schools to improve the standard of education.

Mr Matomela replied that his department has supported this with its own budget, and it was only during this financial year that such schools could not be supported. There were cases in which teachers provided such classes on a voluntary basis, some were supported by local councils and even by the private sector. This was part of the department's strategy to improve its Grade 12 results.

Ms Lamoela asked whether the Eastern Cape province explored any ventures with Transnet or Eskom to assist the funding of certain public partnership projects, as was done by the Free State Department.

Mr Matomela responded that his department has been receiving a positive response, and such partnerships included the provision of computers and other needed resources. A document was prepared for the private sector. The Premier was part of this project and the responses to date have been very good. A summit will be held at the end of this month to call on them to make further contributions.

Ms Lamoela asked whether Mr Matomela has considered mobile school units in order to accommodate 'learners under trees'.

Mr Matomela replied that he had requested his department's physical infrastructure unit to come up with new alternatives to respond to the 'schools under trees' problem. Three options have been identified and movable classrooms were being considered, as it learnt that provinces such as the Western Cape were doing it. His department has not yet acted on the idea of mobile classrooms.

Ms Lamoela stated that it was a worrying factor that there were teachers who were currently employed but who did not receive salaries for months on end.

Mr Matomela responded that, as he explained earlier, his department was experiencing challenges in this area and it was unfair for such teachers to not receive what is due to them after their years of service. As explained earlier, measures were in place to address this. He stated that his department was doing very well with regard to teachers who were paid on a monthly basis, but it was however experiencing problems with temporary teachers because some of them were not paid for months on end. Mr Matomela stated that he struggled to understand why this was the case. He suspected that the current system being used was at fault, and efforts were currently being made to integrate the two systems.

Mr Raju asked whether the Ministry of Education encouraged teachers and principals to be actively involved in providing the nutrition programme to learners. This could be a problem if it resulted in corruption.

Mr Matomela replied that he was not aware of any teachers in his province who were involved as suppliers

Ms Tsopo responded that this was not the case in her department, except to say that the department was currently running a pilot project with the School Governing Bodies (SGB) regarding the provision of hot meals.

Mr Raju sought clarity on the steps taken to encourage students to take up mathematics on the Higher Grade, particularly Grade 12 students. It appeared that students were discouraged from doing it on Higher Grade.

Mr Matomela responded that mathematics and physical science remained a challenge, and was a historical problem. The department did not have teachers who were sufficiently qualified to teach mathematics to the extent that, as suggested by Mr Raju, the schools were in fact scared to have students doing mathematics on the Higher Grade because they did not want a high failure rate. The schools needed to be encouraged to improve on this front.

Mr Raju asked Ms Tsopo to indicate just how sustainable the public partnerships her department has in put in place were, and hoped that they would not replace the request for funds from the National Department of Education.

Ms Tsopo replied that her department did not intend replacing requests which were supposed to go to the National Department. It was merely aimed at fast-tracking service delivery and addressing backlogs. Her department was only receiving R52m during the current financial year in the form of a conditional grant for infrastructure, in the following year it would increase to R54m and then R55m in the third year. As stated earlier her department had a classroom backlog of 316 which would cost R116m to renovate, and it was thus not in a position to address this problem unless it tried these other alternatives.

Mr Raju asked Ms Tsopo to indicate the efforts put in place to encourage teachers to improve their qualifications, and whether support was granted to teachers of mathematics and science.

Ms Tsopo responded that, as indicated earlier, her department was granting bursaries to mathematics teachers. Out of a total of 4359 teachers a total of 359 were granted bursaries this year to receive the necessary qualifications. The problem was that some educators were not even interested with this kind of improvement, and they would be deployed as administrative staff within the department.

The Chair stated that the Medium Term Budget Framework (MTEF) did not appear to accommodate the new curriculum, especially that no provision seemed to have been made for new learner support material.

Mr Matomela replied that this may well be the case but his department has taken a firm decision to persevere, and it was important to ensure that this was properly budgeted for in the next budget.

Ms Motshekga responded that provincial allocations have been made to accommodate the new curriculum and plans were in place to train educators to allow them to respond to this. A total of R30m was allocated for the training of 17000 educators, and R277m was allocated for learner support material for Grades 7-10 and R240m for other grades. Measures were thus in place to ensure that the curriculum was rolled out by 2006.

The Chair stated that the document itself stated that there was a 'lack of correlation between education expenditure and matriculation passes'. Only 3% of the Eastern Cape pupils who wrote Higher Grade mathematics passed, Free State only reported a 10% pass rate and Gauteng reported 15%. The figures for physical science were equally dismal, despite the fact that 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was spent on Education. This was not satisfactory, and did not match government's call to address the needs of the economy by producing learners who excelled in mathematics and physical science.

Ms Tsopo responded that her province had increased the number of learning facilitators for mathematics and physical science in order for them to provide sufficient support to mathematics and science educators. Secondly, her department was providing bursaries to such teachers for them to follow that particular career as mathematics and science teachers. Thirdly, partnerships were being entered into with countries such as Canada in order to capacitate educators to teach mathematics and science in the provinces.

Ms Motshekga replied that her province had embarked on an extensive investment programme to deal with this. The Gauteng province had invested R150m in a science centre.

The Chair stated that he read a comment in a newspaper recently which argued that Grade 12 examinations were becoming easier, and asked the Department to comment on this.

Mr Matomela responded that over the past 3 years the Eastern Cape pass rate trend has been improving from about 40-50% to around 60% in the last year, which was a good indication. He questioned whether the examinations were becoming easier as it could very well be the case that the standard of South African learners was improving.

Ms Motshekga replied that this was an indictment on the newspaper article, because it was published by a body that was supposed to work with government in setting education standards. Government was confident that standards were acceptable.

The Chair sought clarity on the reasons for the Free State department's roll over of R7,8m on capital projects, when schools were "platooning" and there were still mud structures. He questioned whether that department had the necessary capacity to spend the money allocated.

Ms Tsopo replied that during the previous term the Free State education department did not spend funds on capital projects. The problem was that the Public Works department was not performing as it should, and the director within the Free State Department responsible for capital infrastructure was not fully capacitated. It was for this reason that the department only spent 35% of its capital infrastructure budget in 2002/2003. After the appointment of a new director and the conclusion of a service level agreement signed with the Department of Public Works, the department was able to spend 97.5% of its capital infrastructure budget.

The problem with the roll-over was that Treasury was only allocating funds to the department late in the financial year. It was currently October yet money has still not yet been approved by Treasury for roll-over. It was important that her department spent all the funds allocated to benefit the constituencies in the province.

The Chair required Treasury to respond later to the suggestion made by Ms Tsopo that fiscal dumping was taking place towards the end of the fiscal year, when the provincial department was not in a position to make use of those funds.

Kwazulu-Natal briefing
Mr E Mchunu, Chairperson of the Kwazulu-Natal Standing Committee on Education, stated that the KwaZulu-Natal budget was not sufficient to cater for all the province's education needs, with the result that the state of education has not changed due to the financial restraints. Teachers were trying their best, but it was impossible to produce quality results under such circumstances. A post provisioning norm of 35 pupils per teacher was a mountain for individual attention, and it would be unfair to compare them to teachers in other types of schools that have 12 pupils per teachers. There were cases in KwaZulu-Natal in which one teacher was responsible for 60 pupils. There was also a problem with teachers who were not properly supervised by principals and Heads of Department, because the latter 'were controlled from above'. This must be addressed with Minister Pandor.

The province still suffered from a shortage of teachers with scarce skills in subjects such as mathematics, physical science, economics, accounting, business management, agricultural science, shorthand and computers. Many of these teachers left because of the threat of HIV/AIDS, and some were leaving the teaching profession for other job opportunities. A further problem was that teachers were not trained in the required subjects in the same way they used to be trained. The Minister has allocated 900 teachers for Grade R classes, but this was not sufficient in view of the vast number of schools within the province.

Due to financial constraints the province also suffered from a shortage of learner support material, such as books. It was not unheard of for 5 secondary school students to share one book, which was more common in all KwaZulu-Natal rural areas. Subjects such as woodwork, library science, language laboratories, domestic science and music classes needed classrooms, but these could not be provided due to a shortage of funds.

Social workers and remedial teachers were a priority but, because of a shortage of funds, they could not be employed. The National Department should consider it a matter of policy to employ such teachers.

Limpopo briefing
Ms T Mdimande, Chairperson of the Limpopo Standing Committee on Education, conducted the presentation (document attached which dealt with the Infrastructure Provisioning Programme, Water, Electricity and Sanitation Provision of Learner and Teacher Support Materials [LTSM], Improvement of Grade 12 Examination results, the Primary School Nutrition Programme [PSNP], Orphans in schools and the Provision of ECD, ABET and FET Programmes.

Mr Ralane stated that the province must urgently address its asbestos structures as these were very dangerous for occupation for anyone, especially learners.

The Manager: Parliamentary Affairs and Committee Liaison Services in the office of the Limpopo Education MEC, responded that there were about 18 schools in mining areas that were affected, but all these schools have since been demolished and replaced with new schools. This was done at a cost of R52m, and some of the schools were still under construction. There were 62 schools across the province that were roofed with asbestos, and these roofs have since been removed at a cost of R90m.

Mr Ralane stated that today's hearing dealt with very important issues and it was for this reason that it was not expected that Chairpersons of Standing Committees would be representing MEC's. Chairpersons would not be able to answer questions as if they were MEC's.

The Chair urged the representatives of the KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo MEC's not to commit themselves to certain responses if they were uncertain.

A Member of the ANC sought clarity on the cause of the big strike in KwaZulu-Natal last year when teachers were not paid.

Secondly, he stated that many of the schools in KwaZulu-Natal especially primary schools were not benefiting from the nutrition programme, and sought reasons as to the cause of this problem.

Thirdly, he sought clarity on the key performance areas of the Senior Education Managers (SEM) in KwaZulu-Natal, because they did not appear to visit schools as regularly and thoroughly as they should.

Fourthly, he asked whether funds were being allocated to the SGB's in KwaZulu-Natal to build capacity.

Fifthly, he asked why there were still schools that did not have access to proper water and sanitation services after 10 years of democracy.

Furthermore he asked how much was spent on HIV/AIDS programmes in KwaZulu-Natal, if at all.

Finally he asked why KwaZulu-Natal reported roll-overs, if it is complaining about a shortage of funds.

Mr Mnchunu replied that he would not be able to answer any of the questions posed by Members regarding Kwazulu-Natal, but assured Members that the answer to each of their questions would be found in the Minister's budget speech.

Mr Ralane stated that the theme of the KwaZulu-Natal presentation was that it did not have sufficient funds, yet the provincial education expenditure figures indicate that KwaZulu-Natal has consistently been spending the most funds across all the provinces. So too has expenditure per learner which, as indicated in the document, took into account the learner support materials referred to during the presentation. Today's hearing was not an opportunity for provinces to plead for more funds, but was instead to look at the expenditure trends across provinces and the quality of the expenditure. He sought clarity on the quality of the expenditure in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

Both the Chair and Mr Setona agreed that today's hearings were not aimed at altering or setting policy, but merely expenditure trends.

Ms D Robinson (DA) [Western Cape] stated that she was concerned neither the KwaZulu-Natal nor Limpopo provinces have ordered textbooks for the next school year, which would only negatively affect the quality of education system in those provinces. This was surely only an administrative error which must be investigated.

The representative from the Office of the Limpopo MEC for Education replied that top-ups were made in certain subjects. The budget allocated did not make it possible for the purchasing of all the necessary textbooks, especially as the new Grades 4, 5 and 6 also had to be phased in during the next financial year. A problem here was the retrieval rate of textbooks from learners who had used the books before.

Ms J Masilo (ANC) [North-West] stated that it was not compulsory for Treasury to hand over the roll-over to provinces such as the Free State if they did not spend the money. This only pointed to a problem with the expenditure, and the Committee did not encourage any roll-overs.

Secondly, Ms Masilo stated that neither province mentioned its measures to ensure inclusivity in schools.

The representative from the Office of the Limpopo MEC for Education replied that on Friday 1 October the province launched the implementation of White Paper 6 on inclusive education, and the Department has made strides in ensuring that inclusive education was implemented. Two weeks ago the Premier of Limpopo donated 6 new Toyota Condors to 6 schools for learners with disabilities, as well as R100 000 to 18 schools in the province to ensure that the buildings catered for all forms of disabilities.

Ms Masilo stated that neither province mentioned its scholar transport budget, especially in the rural areas.

The representative from the Office of the Limpopo MEC for Education responded that he could not answer this question, because it was currently being investigated.

Mr Tijeni (ANC) stated that there was a sizable number of teachers that remained temporary, some even for as long as 3 years. He sought clarity on expenditure on such teachers, and why they cannot be made permanent appointments.

The representative from the Office of the Limpopo MEC for Education responded that a decision was taken to engage teacher unions to identify a cut-off date by which teachers who have worked for a certain number of years must be converted into permanent teachers. A task team was established to look at this matter and it will report to the provincial Chamber in the next 2 weeks or so.

Mr Tijeni stated that he was aware of qualified mathematics and science teachers in Limpopo who were currently doing administrative work such as data capturing, despite the urgent need for such teachers. He asked how this could be the case.

Mr Sogoni stated that such questions that referred to specific situations should be steered clear of, as they did not focus on intergovernmental expenditure trends at all.

The Chair agreed with Mr Sogoni that general questions would not be entertained.

Mr Tijeni stated that his question was aimed at identifying the financial implications of keeping those teachers in administrative positions.

The representative from the Office of the Limpopo MEC for Education replied that Limpopo should be congratulated because, despite these handicaps, it was contributing one third of the total national learners passing mathematics on the Higher Grade. The Limpopo province has also produced the mathematics and science teachers of the year in most years except last year. The teachers referred to by Mr Tijeni was placed in the IMS structure because the department was understaffed in that area, and it was felt that his skills would benefit the Department in that area.

Mr Raju sought clarity on the school fees exemption policy.

The representative from the Office of the Limpopo MEC for Education responded that the South African Schools Act clearly stated that there were certain categories of learners that can be exempted from paying school fees. The decision was taken to prioritise the reinforcement of this rule, especially in view of incidences in which schools were refusing learners permission to write examinations because they did not have the finances to pay school fees. A booklet was released throughout the province that clearly explained the circumstances in which a learner can be exempted from paying school fees. Those principals who have prevented students who could not pay school fees from attending school were addressed personally, and the matter has now been resolved. An audit has also been conducted, with the help of the Department of Social Welfare, to identify the schools and learners per district that needed such exemptions.

The Chair stated that this was a very important issue because there were many principals who were ignoring this law, and deviance must be criminalised and the principal must be arrested if he does not exempt a learner who qualifies for the exemption.

National Treasury briefing
After the lunch break, Dr M Blecher reported that access to ordinary schooling had improved substantially over the last decade. One of the greatest problems in the schooling system was the high drop-out rate after Grade Nine. Of the one million children who entered Grade Nine, only 300 000 entered matric. This high drop-out rate limited access to tertiary education, which was important for the acquisition of skills necessary to boost the economy. While matric pass rates had increased, only 6% of any age cohort received tertiary education. Increasing this percentage entailed decreasing the high drop-out rate. Education comprised the largest share of provincial social spending, at 34.7% of the total. Three of the nine provinces had overspent on education last year. Teachers comprised the majority of school personnel, while learner numbers had remained fairly constant, at approximately 12 million a year for the last three years. Expenditures on capital and supplies had increased, while annual expenditure per learner was approximately R5 000.

Northern Cape Department of Education briefing
Mr A Joemat reported that the Department's strategic objectives were: "to improve the provision of quality education and training services and resources to the rural and poor communities, in order to deal with poverty;" "to contribute to the economic development of the province and job creation", "to ensure the successful implementation of the Human Resources and Skills Development Programme in the province"; "to promote health and health education in order to improve the quality of life;" "to ensure that education programmes continue to be transformative;" to enhance quality of education; and "to reposition schools as centres of community life." Each of these seven strategic objectives was outlined in detail. Priorities for 2004 - 2005 dealt with financial management and resource allocation, human resource and skills development, ensuring quality education and improving school functioning, eradicating crime in schools, eradicating illiteracy and expanding basic education to adults, expanding access to reception year and Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes, expanding provision of education to learners with special needs, fighting HIV/AIDS, implementing the School Food Nutrition Programme, improving the pass rate while focusing on maths and science, improving school infrastructure, providing ICT facilities, and refining and continuing implementation of Curriculum 2005. The priorities for 2005-2009 were discussed briefly as well. The budget allocations and expenditure trends were outlined in numerous graphs. Programmes aimed at reducing poverty were also discussed in detail. Such programmes included Advanced Basic Education and Training (ABET), Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) infrastructure development, Further Education and Training (FET), the Human Resource Development Internship Programme, the Human Resource Development Learnership Programme, and the School Food Nutrition Programme.

Mpumalanga Department of Education briefing
Mr S Masango said the Department's priorities included developing a further education and training system, developing schools as centres of community life, ensuring the success of active learning through outcomes-based education, eradicating conditions of physical degradation, eradicating illiteracy, expanding the professional quality of teachers, fighting HIV/AIDS, providing progressive textbooks, and consulting traditional leaders on the impact of Ingoma on academic performance. The budget allocations and expenditure trends were presented on a graph. Programmes aimed at reducing poverty were discussed in detail. Such programmes included ABET and the training of adult learners at ABET centres, the Ikhwelo Poverty Alleviation Project, the School Food Nutrition Programme, and the transportation of scholars to schools.

Western Cape Department of Education briefing
Mr R Swartz reported that their Department's priorities included with developing and implementing the provincial Human Resource Development Strategy, ensuring the improvement of educational attainment outputs, and shifting performance measurement from workload statistics to monitoring of attainment and outcomes. These priorities had to be pursued under tremendous constraints and challenges, which were outlined briefly. The budget trends were presented in a detailed table. Programmes aimed at reducing poverty focused on developing the Human Resource Development Strategy, eradicating drugs and gangsterism within the school environment, involving communities in minor capital development programmes at their schools, and redesigning the School Food Nutrition Programme.

A Member asked whether asbestos was stilled used in the construction of schools. Mr N Raju (DP) argued that prefabricated schools that used asbestos should be banned. Mr Joemat stated that very few prefabricated schools had been constructed using asbestos. Only one of the three schools that had been constructed with asbestos, had asbestos throughout the entire school. He agreed that all asbestos building in schools should be banned immediately.

Mr Raju asked about the extent to which schools in the Northern Cape were racially integrated. Mr Joemat noted that the province had started merging schools in 1994 and was committed to the ongoing racial integration of schools.

Mr Raju asked who ran the School Food Nutrition Programme in Mpumalanga. Such a programme provided an ideal opportunity to employ unemployed community members. A Member expressed concern that giving schools the money allocated for the School Food Nutrition Programme jeopardised community employment opportunities. The Chairperson noted that schools did not cook the food that was given to learners. Rather, they controlled the use of the money and hired workers from the unemployed in their communities.

Mr M Jhefjeng questioned whether the 208 substitute teachers in the Northern Cape was a temporary solution or indicative of a long-term trend. Mr Joemat stated that the 208 temporary teachers would create a bulge in the system. However, the province was expecting 1 000-2 000 additional Grade One enrolments in 2005. Policy stipulated that temporary positions should be converted into full-time positions after two years.

Mr Jhefjeng questioned whether the textbook supply problem in Mpumalanga was indicative of a provincial supply problem or a national supply problem. He asked if the books were paid for in advance. Mr Masango said that textbooks were paid for after delivery. The main problem was that textbooks were supplied throughout the year.

Mr T Setona (ANC) questioned to what extent the training of principals in the Northern Cape represented efforts at ongoing induction and training. He stressed the need to train both new and old principals, as transformation was a complicated and ongoing process. Mr Jhefjeng asked about the cost implications of the training of principals in the Northern Cape. Mr Joemat said that he did not know the cost implications of training principals. He agreed with Mr Setona that more experienced principals needed the same induction and training as less experienced principals.

With reference to Mpumalanga, Mr Setona argued that issues surrounding universities would be addressed at the national level, rather than at the provincial level. Mr Masango agreed, although the province needed to be involved in issues pertaining to its universities. There were enough universities in South Africa, but these universities needed to be more evenly situated throughout the country.

Mr M Sulliman (ANC) questioned whether matric results provided an accurate reflection of the South African education system. Mr Masango argued that matric results did not provide an accurate reflection, and such emphasis placed undue pressure on matric students and teachers. Mr Joemat agreed on the need to find additional indicators of educational quality.

Mr Sulliman asked if the expenditure trends in the provinces would meet the targets established by the President. Mr Masango stated that Mpumalanga would probably not comply with the President's targets. Mr Joemat said that the Northern Cape would also not be able to meet the President's targets.

Mr Sulliman asked if measures were being taken to standardise per capita education expenditures among the provinces.

Mr Sogoni (ANC) commended the Northern Cape on their programme of Human Resource Skills Development.

Mr Sogoni felt the Northern Cape would be disadvantaged by abandoning the ICT programme and stressed the need to reconsider the decision. Mr Masango noted that MTN had donated 100 computers to Mpumalanga, and that SARS would donate additional computers. Mr Joemat noted the ICT programme had been temporarily suspended, not abandoned. There was the possibility that the Northern Cape would receive donations from De Beers and Mecer.

Mr Sogoni asked if there were incentives to keep maths and science teachers in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga. Mr Masango said that Mpumalanga had a bursary fund for students interested in pursuing studies in maths and sciences. Mr Joemat stated that the Northern Cape lacked a policy to retain educators, which reflected a weakness in both the provincial and national education systems.

The Chairperson argued that Mpumalanga should revisit their transportation policy, as it was unfair to disadvantage those students who did not qualify for school transport due to the small number of students in their areas. He asked if Mpumalanga had considered building hostels around schools to solve the issue. Mr Masango noted there had been discussion around building hostels. However, there were many questions that needed to be addressed before pursuing such a project. The issue of transport needed to be reviewed - the issue was not so much the number of learners, but rather the distance to be travelled.

A Member argued that laying off 3 000 teachers in the Western Cape would significantly increase unemployment. Mr Swartz noted that the Department did not want to reduce the number of teaching positions, but that budget allocations required such measures. Nevertheless, the province would review its budget to assess whether cuts could be made elsewhere in order to retain as many personnel as possible.

Mr Raju asked if safety in schools was improving and to what extent the fencing of schools had helped to eliminate violence. Mr Swartz affirmed that safety had been a big problem for the province. Much of the school violence was related to the drug trade. The most affected schools had been provided with alarms and fencing. Relations with the police ensured they would be able to respond quickly in emergency situations. While crime and violence were still problems, the situation had been relatively stable for the past year and a half.

Mr Sogoni asked what plans had been made to deal with the 50% drop-out rate in the Western Cape. Mr Swartz noted that most students started dropping out of school only after Grade Nine, often due to economic pressures at home that enticed them to take low-paying employment rather than attend school. For those students who wanted to access the labour market, the province would consider allowing them to leave formal schooling and enter Further Education and Training (FET) colleges. In this way, students could acquire particular qualifications, thereby increasing their skills and making them more marketable. While the province wanted to increase the FET college sector, it did not want to encourage too many students to pursue that option. Nevertheless, it provided a viable means of addressing the high drop-out rate. Career guidance also provided an opportunity to discourage students from dropping out.

Mr F Patel (Department Chief Director: Budget Office) argued that education had fared well in the last decade. The numbers of students enrolled past Grade Nine needed to be reviewed and he reminded Members that Grades Ten, Eleven, and Twelve were not compulsory. Therefore, some students might be postponing their education rather than dropping out. If education's share of provincial budgets had been maintained at the 1995 level, education would have R14 billion more than it currently did. Real growth did not meet population growth, thereby decreasing the amount of spending per capita. The percentage of GDP spent on education had also decreased since 1995. Therefore, he welcomed the solutions presented by the provinces. In education, increased resources did not always result in increased quality. In discussion on whether too much was being spent on education, they should look at other international examples.

Mr Sulliman argued that the key challenge to the education sector was managing resources and expressed his optimism that this would be achieved.

The meeting was adjourned.


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