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EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 March 2006
SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL OF EDUCATORS; EDUCATION LABOUR RELATIONS COUNCIL; NATIONAL BOARD FOR FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: BUDGETS AND STRATEGIC PLANS 2006/07
Chairperson: Prof S Mayatula (ANC)
Documents handed out:
ELRC presentation on Strategic Plan 2007-2009 & Service Delivery Plan 2006/07
The Committee was briefed by the Education Labour Relations Council and the South African Council of Educators on their 2006/07 budgets and strategic plans. Members’ concerns included the overlapping of roles between the two bodies and suggested that they should merge. Other concerns included the issue of displaced and unpaid teachers in the rural areas.
The National Board for Further Education and Training, a body set up to advise the Minster of Education on Further Education and Training colleges, also presented. Members’ concerns included steps taken to increase access for poor students and whether students could proceed to tertiary level after studying at Further Education and Training Colleges.
Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) presentation
Mr D Govender, General Secretary, briefed the Committee about the vision, mission and strategic objectives of the ELRC. He also highlighted the allocation of the 2006/07 budget to the various programmes of the organisation. The programmes were the Executive Office, negotiation support services, governance, communication and dispute resolution. It was emphasised that the ELRC would focus on all the above-mentioned programmes to ensure effective service delivery.
Mr R Ntuli (ANC) asked what constituted a serious breach of contract on the part of teachers. He wanted to know why certain teachers remained in temporary positions for very long periods of time. What had the ELRC done about the problem of unpaid teachers in the Eastern Cape? What was being done about the inadequate training of teachers, especially Grade 10 teachers.
Mr Govender replied that the Employment of Educators Act stated that if a teacher were found guilty of breach of contract there would be mandatory dismissal. Certain cases went through arbitration as the Labour Relations Act permits the Employer to use pre-dismissal arbitration. Different provinces dealt with the case of temporary teachers differently. For example, the North West had adequately dealt with temporary educators and surplus educators. In Limpopo, a collective agreement was signed between the unions and the ELRC with a view to employ educators permanently. In the Eastern Cape an agreement was signed in the first week of March 2006. The Department of Education was better placed to answer the question about teacher training. The ELRC had made funds available for the secondment of union representatives to assist in teacher training. The Director-General of Education had been making plans to make the union representatives full time employees of the Department. The matter of temporary teachers could not be resolved at the labour relations level and other interventions were needed.
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked why the ELRC did not have a balanced budget. Why were there no blackboards in some rural schools? Some school principals had no offices and classroom walls were full of holes.
Mr Dhaya replied that there were discrepancies in the budget. R800 000 was spent on transcripts, while they had budgeted about R60 000. Every time a matter had to go to the Labour Court, the ELRC had to provide a transcript of the proceedings. R420 000 was spent on staff training while they had budgeted R23 000. The remuneration of interns had consumed a large chunk of the budget. Physical infrastructure was not within their domain, he added.
Mr Dhaya said displaced educators were a big problem in Kwazulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Limpopo provinces. The issue had to do with the School Governing Bodies, principals and the traditional leaders. The problem had nothing to do with the Department. The ELRC had put in place mechanisms to help deal with the displaced teachers in an effective manner. The ability of the Department to move the displaced teachers was hampered by the South African Schools Act that stipulated that the Governing Body’s approval had to be sought before they could proceed. Political intervention was needed not only to sort out the problem of displaced teachers, but also to supply more qualified teachers to the rural areas.
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) enquired about displaced teachers and the dispute with a certain, unspecified trade union that was going to the Labour Court.
Mr Govender replied that the particular dispute between the concerned union and the Department was subject to a court application. The ELRC wanted to make an intervention, but it was now beyond their reach as it went straight to the courts. Tensions between that particular union and the Department were very high.
South African Council of Educators (SACE) presentation
Mr R Brijaj, Chief Executive Officer, said SACE focussed on three areas: registration of teachers, professional development and professional ethics. He acknowledged the indirect support they got from the ELRC in the form of office accommodation. The main source of income for SACE came from subscription fees paid by educators. Educators were required to pay a once-off registration fee. The reason for the relatively high audit fees of R360 000 was that the auditors had to reconcile SACE’s database. The Generally Recognised Accounting Principles required that SACE had to be aware who had paid subscriptions and who was no longer in the system. Salaries comprised a large part of the budget, because they needed highly professional staff. The travel and accommodation part of the budget covered the SACE Committee meetings and Executive Committee meetings. Expenditure on the Code of Conduct and the professional development of teachers was also substantial.
M Brijaj mentioned the weaknesses that had been hampering the progress of SACE. He added that his organisation was the only statutory council that did not get direct government funding. Foreign donors maintained that the SACE was supposed to be self-sufficient. The problem with raising the subscriptions from R2 a month to R5 was that the teacher unions opposed it. SACE would be embarking on an intensive lobbying campaign. In terms of expanding its role, SACE would become an Education Teacher Qualification Association (ETQA). This process had already started. He emphasised that SACE would not be competing with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The role of SACE would be as an endorsing body of all teacher training development programmes. That would ensure that teachers would not be at the mercy of fly-by-night training providers. SACE would create a database for educator volunteers. He mentioned the intention of developing their ethics division and how the subscription funds were utilised. SACE would be meeting with the Minister of Education to work out a more appropriate funding model.
The Chairperson said that SACE spent most of their money for operational purposes rather than teacher development. He asked why SACE wanted more money from subscriptions while the ELRC received less but was in a better financial position. What means could the Committee use to assist SACE to approach the Minister for more funding and to help increase the teacher subscription?
Mr Brijaj replied that the ELRC only dealt with public sector educators while SACE registered unemployed, private, office bound, and other types of educators. He welcomed the assistance offered by the Chairperson on behalf of the Committee.
Mr I Vadi (ANC) asked why the SACE and the ELRC did not merge and form one organisation. Both dealt with similar problems, shared the same building and operated on a shoestring budget that was not sustainable.
Mr N Snyman, Chairperson, replied that the roles of the two organisations were distinctly different. The fact that SACE had to account to Parliament meant that SACE should be funded by the state.
Ms P Mashagoane (ANC) asked why SACE had spent large sums of money on audit fees while they had in-house experts. What was needed to upgrade the accounting systems? She asked why SACE spent R350 000 on a Code of Conduct. She also wanted to know the difference between the work of the ELRC and SACE’s Code of Conduct.
Mr Brijaj replied that the ELRC dealt with labour relations while SACE held hearings on the Code of Conduct as a professional body. The nature of the database was unreliable because it did not include the accounting systems. The new database should be able to clarify how much money came from private school teachers and unemployed teachers and classify teachers by subjects. SACE had received money from 370 000 teachers while their database had more than 400 000 teachers. The auditors were therefore forced to extend their scope of work and charge more. He cited the example of Mr Ntuli who was still on their database while he had been a Member of Parliament for quite some time.
Mr Ntuli commented that SACE spent most of their budget on salaries and not on professional development of teachers. He suggested increasing the subscriptions in an effort to raise funds. Teacher development was critical for a developing country like South Africa.
Mr Snyman responded replied that the subscriptions had not increased but the workload had increased significantly.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the lack of communication between SACE and educators. He said that lobbying would go a long way in addressing the issue. He asked whether lobbying and the ETQA were budgeted for.
Mr Snyman replied that most of the concerns regarding the duplication of roles had been discussed in the Council. Historically SACE had emphasised its independence. The current legislation did not cater for other means of funding.
Mr Govender said that there was a scope for co-operation between the two organisations.
Mr Brijaj said that the two organisations could perhaps merge their administrations while remaining separate in other respects.
National Board for Further Education and Training (NBFET) presentation
Mr D George, Special Adviser to the Minister of Education, spoke about the mandate of the NBFET. The primary purpose of the Board was to advise the Minister regarding Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges as mandated by the FET Colleges Draft Bill. Other roles included providing input on the recapitalisation, regulation and review of FET qualifications. He also mentioned the role of the NBFET in the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA).
Mr Ntuli enquired about the steps taken to increase the induction of FET students. He wanted to know about the steps taken to increase access for poor students.
Mr George replied that most employers were putting a lot of emphasis on work experience rather than on-the-job training. Transnet and other State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) had begun to train a lot of people. The Department had been injecting billions in to the FET sector to enable poor students to access job-specific education. Academic institutions had a high dropout rate when compared to FET colleges.
Mr Mpontshane asked whether students who had finished their FET qualifications could proceed to Universities of Technology to further their chosen field of studies.
Mr George replied that students who wanted to further their education at university level could do so.
The meeting was adjourned.
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