General & Further Education & Training Quality Assurance Council (Umalusi); Council on Higher Education (CHE); Education & Labou

Basic Education

06 November 2006
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 November 2006
GENERAL & FURTHER EDUCATION & TRAINING QUALITY ASSURANCE COUNCIL (UMALUSI); COUNCIL ON HIGHER EDUCATION (CHE); EDUCATION AND LABOUR RELATIONS COUNCIL (ELRC); SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATION AUTHORITY (SAQA) ANNUAL REPORTS 2005/6

Chairperson:
Prof S Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out
UMALUSI 2005/6 Annual Report presentation
CHE Annual Report 2005/6 presentation
ELRC Annual Report 2005/6 presentation
SAQA Annual Report 2005/6 presentation
UMALUSI Annual Report 2005/6 [available at www.umalusi.org.za]
CHE Annual Report 2005/6 [available at www.education.gov.za]
ELRC Annual Report 2005/6 [available later at www.elrc.co.za]
SAQA Annual Report 2005/6 [available at www.education.gov.za]

SUMMARY
The General and Further Education and Training Assurance Council (UMALUSI) presented on its responsibilities; activities for the year under review; expectations and the challenges it faced. Members asked what was really determining the standard that was set for learners and why UMALUSI did not appear to work together with public schools.

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) briefing dealt with performances for this year and challenges facing the institution. They highlighted the launch of a new Online Accreditation System which enabled higher institutions to initiate and process requests for programme accreditation much faster and easier. The biggest challenge was the limitation on public service to attract and retain qualified professional staff. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) presentation outlined overall highlights, settings and developing standards, quality assurance, national learner records database, research and communications and challenges facing SAQA. There was no discussion by members on these two briefings.

The Education and Labour Relations Council (ELRC) outlined service delivery, dispute resolution, disputes in provinces, negotiations, finances and challenges. The core function of the ELRC was dispute resolution. Members asked about the resolution process, which seemed to take a long time until the employee lost interest in the case. A question was raised on the role of the ELRC in ensuring safety at school.

MINUTES
UMALUSI briefing
Dr Peliwe Lolwana (CEO: UMALUSI) briefed the Committee on the responsibilities, activities and expectations facing UMALUSI. She discussed the challenges that were faced by UMALUSI. The responsibilities included ensuring continuous enhancement of quality in the delivery and outcomes of the general education and further education and training (GEFET) sectors of the national education and training system. It also needed to regulate the relationship between the Department of Education (the Department), the South African Qualifications Authority, other Education and Training Qualification Authorities (ETQAs), providers and the Council. She explained that one of the most important activities this year was to invite Ghana and Kenya examination bodies as observers of SA’s standardisation process. It had also launched the website: www.umalusi.org.za.

The most crucial challenge was the expectations of UMALUSI influencing quality in the public system, whilst the Act prescribed a minimal role, outside the examination system, for UMALUSI. The Act and the roles given to UMALUSI tended to militate against direct intervention in public provision. The smallness and marginalisation of the sector of Adult Education, vocational education and skills development were other challenges.

Discussion
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked why they did not deal with public schools and he asked for the formula used for standardisation. He raised the concern about the quality of education of matriculants, which led to universities having their own entrance exam.

Dr Lolwana replied that the Act was limiting the role of UMALUSI in public services. To determine educational standards, UMALUSI compared the progress of students in the previous year with the year under review which involved a statistical process. Matriculants gained good results with Higher Grade subjects but there were not enough students taking Higher Grade. She stressed that throughout history universities had always had an exam entrance test.

Mr R Ntuli (ANC) and Mr G Boinamo (DA) asked what is the real standard.

Dr Lolwana reiterated that to determine the standard of students, UMALUSI statistically compared how students  had done in the previous year with the year under review.

Ms S Sigcau (UDM) asked how did UMALUSI plan to overcome ongoing challenges. How does an unqualified teacher get a job in in the public service?

Dr Lolwana replied that UMALUSI had been communicating with the Department of Education and they had been successful in coming up with plans of dealing with challenges. They needed to question the role of government in private schools because unqualified teachers were found in those schools. Sometimes these teachers where foreigners, who sometimes did not know the South African education curriculum.

Council on Higher Education (CHE) briefing
The CHE Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mala Singh, outlined the responsibilities, activities, performances and challenges facing the institution. She stated that the launch of a new Online Accreditation System was the highlight of the year for CHE. The institution had completed the data on disabled students in higher learning and produced the publication called ‘Higher Education Monitor’ which discusses the impact of changing funding sources of higher education institutions in South Africa.

CHE identified the following challenges:
- Maintain and reinforce its role as an independent statutory body.
- Strengthen its capacity to produce advice on higher education transformation / restructuring consolidation.
- Continue with implementation and refinement of Higher Education Quality Control (HEQC) system and analyse information from accreditation, audits, national reviews and the activities of promotion and capacity development.
- Further develop the monitoring function to facilitate the generation of advice for the Minister of Education.
- Develop more programmatic and purposeful relationships with stakeholders and government departments
- Generate research and stimulate public debate on key challenges facing higher education
- Strengthen/develop communication and cooperation with different higher education stakeholders.

There was no discussion on this input.

Education and Labour Relations Council (ELRC) briefing
Mr Mahalingum (Dhaya) Govender (CEO of ELRU) briefed the Committee on service delivery, dispute resolution, disputes per province, negotiations and finances. He said that the core function of ELRC was dispute resolution to promote labour peace, prevent and resolve labour disputes and to conclude and enforce collective agreements. With regard to disputes per province, he explained that according to statistics provided, KwaZulu-Natal topped the list of disputes followed by the Western Cape province. Negotiations on the national collective agreements had been successfully completed resulting in major changes in the lives of educators in the public education sector through the process of negotiating.

With regard to its financial outlook, the balance sheet reflected that the institution had managed to bring down its liabilities from R9 million to R7 million, furthermore cash and cash equivalents on hands had also decreased. The income statement showed only a 1% improvement from the previous year. The total levies collected amounted to R13.5 million as compared to R15.5 million the previous year.

Even though ELRC had performed well, the critical challenge facing ELRC was absenteeism of educators at school.

Discussion
Mr Boinamo asked why the resolution process took such a long time with the result that the employee gave up on the case. What was the role of ELRC in ensuring safety in school?

Mr Govender replied that the employee and employer must attempt to solve the dispute before reporting to them because when it reached arbitration and lawyers got involved, the process became more time consuming. ELRC and Western Cape had been negotiating the issue of safety in schools and there was a plan. If this plan succeeded it would be introduced to other provinces.

Mr Ntuli asked about the complaint from teachers saying they were working long hours because of Outcomes Based Education (OBE).

Mr Govender replied that they expected teachers to work as professionals and not work during school hours only.

South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) briefing
Mr Samuel Isaacs (CEO: SAQA) briefed the Committee on overall highlights, settings and developing standards, quality assurance, national learner records database, research and communications and challenges facing SAQA. Concerning the overall highlights of the financial year under review - SAQA would be funded entirely by the government and it had affirmed its important role in steering and guiding NQF development and implementation.

With regard to the setting and development of standards, SAQA had generated and registered unit standards and qualifications that were nationally recognized and internationally comparable. It had registered standards and qualifications that were responsive to the needs of the economy. Capacity building and human resource development through the National skills development strategy and Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) and the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) was a successful ongoing process.

Mr Isaacs explained that the primary challenges facing SAQA was the finalization of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) review.

The meeting was adjourned.


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