SA Council of Educators, National Board for Education &Training & National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme Annual Reports 2005/6

Basic Education

13 November 2006
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Meeting report

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 November 2006
SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL OF EDUCATORS, NATIONAL BOARD FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING & NATIONAL STUDENTS’ FINANCIAL AID SCHEME ANNUAL REPORTS 2005/6

Chairperson: Prof S Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
NBFET Annual Report 2005/6 Presentation
NSFAS Annual Report 2006 Presentation
SACE Annual Report 2006/7 available at www.sace.org.za
SACE 2006/7 Budget
SACE Strategic Plan 2005 - 2008
SACE Response to National Policy Framework for Teacher Education and Development

Draft National Policy Framework For Teacher Education And Development In South Africa
 
SUMMARY
The South African Council for Educators (SACE); the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS); and the National Board for Further Education (NBFET) briefed the Committee on their Annual Reports for 2005/6.

SACE is responsible for licensing and registering teachers, promoting their professional development and safeguarding ethics in the profession. Some of the challenges and concerns was that the SACE database is not completely reliable and there is not enough teacher development due to lack of funding. It pointed out that South African educators are generally professional because only five were struck off the roll during the year under review.

NSFAS awarded its millionth student loan and for the first time over 100 000 students had been assisted per annum. Only 2% of its annual budget is spent on administration. Administrative expenditure is kept as low as possible and includes salaries, IT equipment and services, communications and workshops.

The NBFET Chairperson said that the shortage of artisans had partly been caused by the privatisation of Telkom, Transnet, Eskom and other parastatals. The NBFET, as an advisory body, made a number of recommendations regarding South Africa’s skills shortage to the Department of Labour and Department of Education; government and the private sector. These included aligning vocational learning pathways and ensuring delivery from Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

MINUTES
South African Council for Educators (SACE) briefing
Ms A Cereseto (Chairperson: SACE) and Mr Rej Brijraj (CEO: SACE) presented the SACE annual report for 2005/6. SACE was established in terms of the SACE Act of 2000. It comprises of nominees of education groups and councillors appointed by the Minister of Education. It is the second largest council of teachers in the world. Its three areas of operation are:
- Determination of compulsory registration criteria
- Promotion of teachers’ professional development
- Safeguarding ethics in the profession.

SACE has been constrained by insufficient funding. Most of its income of R36 525 180 for the year under review came from teachers’ registration and subscription fees. During the period under review, SACE registered about 15 000 teachers. About 1800 Early Childhood Development registrations were recorded separately. Foreign educators would also be registered separately. It is difficult for teachers to get through to the offices by telephone and the registration procedure is taxing. A call centre should be established to deal with the demand from teachers. Auditors questioned the reliability of the database. SACE had now changed its service provider to a state one.

Regarding ethics, only five educators were struck off the roll during the period under review, which seemed to indicate that teachers were not ‘drunken molesters’.

SACE, in partnership with teacher unions, delivered Professional Development Portfolio workshops in four provinces and 1412 teachers participated in Integrated Quality Management System workshops in two provinces, in partnership with provincial education departments. This is aligned with the National Framework on Teacher Education policy although teacher development by SACE is admittedly ad hoc. Some stakeholders were critical of the fact that it was not compulsory for teachers to accumulate Professional Development points by attending courses. However, SACE would first ensure that teachers had access to affordable courses.

SACE has no permanent offices but has been using the Education Labour Research Council offices. It was noted that SACE was inaccessible to many teachers.

Discussion
Mr R Ntuli (ANC) said that some teachers viewed licensing and registration negatively. He proposed that SACE strengthen its link with teachers by publishing a quarterly journal.

Mr R van den Heever (ANC) stated that teachers were clamouring for the right to use corporal punishment. Was SACE running programmes to demonstrate alternative forms of ‘punishment’?

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) enquired if opinion was divided on pregnant learners being given maternity leave. What was SACE’s view on this and on HIV/AIDS? Was SACE consulting with one union only, and if so, why?

Mr G Boinamo (DA) asked what benefits SACE offered teachers, especially when SACE was inaccessible to them. There was no balance between the rights and responsibilities of learners and teachers. Stressed teachers had no discretion to punish learners, who should also have a code of conduct.

The Chair asked the presenters to expand on their view that the SACE Act was sometimes too prescriptive.

Ms Cereseto said that licensing was a problematic concept and agreed that teachers who were inadequate should face consequences. However, teachers should be given time to overcome the legacy of their inadequate training and facilities. Other difficulties were providing opportunities for professional development. Relicensing could be punitive. Teachers wanted to use corporal punishment because they did not have behaviour management skills. Discipline was a problem in schools. Parents had fought expulsion and won on technicalities and it was true that protection of the learner had gone too far. SACE had a good relationship with the union but were not being held to ransom by them. Prof Y Jiya, SACE councillor, also agreed that licensing of teachers should be shelved. Maternity leave for learners was not an issue except in the media. Corporal punishment was not advised for disciplining children. The majority of teachers needed confidence in using alternative forms of discipline but SACE lacked sufficient capacity to run enough courses. The law was too prescriptive in that teachers were required to have a code of conduct but learners were not.

Mr B Snayer, council member, said that subscriptions of R2 a month had remained unchanged for seven years although costs had increased annually. The Medical and Dental Council had de-listed thousands of practitioners in the last 12 months. SACE would have to review the once-off registration payment and would negotiate with unions. Consequences of lack of professional development would be ‘self-punitive’ but when teachers flagrantly violated the Act, SACE would act. SACE partnered and assisted others in rolling out HIV/AIDS programmes where possible. They did not want legislation regarding pregnant learners but teacher should be more caring.

The Chair reiterated Mr Boinamo’s question about the benefits of SACE registration to teachers and justifying an increase in the levy.

Prof Jiya said that SACE had visited provinces to do advocacy work but had run out of funds. They lacked the capacity to offer programmes.

National Board for Further Education and Training (NBFET) briefing
Mr D George (Chairperson: NBFET) stated that education and training would be under pressure to alleviate poverty and create employment for the next ten years.

The FET Act of 1998 requires the NBFET to Report on the quality of Further Education and Training (FET) and monitor and report annually to the Minister on the sector’s goals and performance.

The NBFET is composed of ordinary members drawn from stakeholder representatives and non-voting members drawn from Heads of Departments of the Provincial FET Directorates. The Board is an advisory body to the Minister and not a policy making body.

The Minister had raised the following challenges:
- Systemic development, led by the Department of Education, with support from government and private sector
- Positioning of the FET colleges as key levers for skills development
- Increasing the number of students in high quality vocational programmes
- Developing high quality modern and responsive FET programme offerings
- Development and employment needs and opportunities related to major capital development projects over the next ten years
- Differentiation of the FET college system according to national and provincial priorities

The Board’s response was that
the FET sector would have to receive significant new investment in teaching and learning resources and equipment in the next five years. Administration, governance, management, teaching and learning and the entire academic support systems should be re- oriented.

FET colleges, formerly numbering 153, had been merged into 50 and spread around the country. The Department of Labour and the Nationals Skills Development Strategy had driven the process of revitalising skills development but colleges were still inaccessible to some learners due to the distance and fees. Banks were unwilling to offer financial aid to FET college learners and support was not available from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. Programme offerings had also been made more modern and relevant.

Telkom, Transnet, Eskom and other parastatals previously trained a large number of artisans but had ceased to do so after privatization. FET colleges could give theoretical training but there were insufficient businesses willing to take the students for practical work. The state offered incentives to companies willing to take on learners. Companies are awarded R50 000 over two years, the first R25 000 when the employed learners registered at a FET college and the second R25 000 when the employer offered the learner a contract. Unfortunately many companies offered only a one- year contact and retrenched the learner at the end of his first year of employment and pocketed the incentive. Mr George listed the achievements and numbers of
Existing artisan/learnerships interventions undertaken under the auspices of the NSDS and the Skills Development Act and Manpower Training Act between 2001 and 2005 and those that would be achieved between 2005 and 2010. The target of 50 000 artisans trained by March 2010 could be achieved within the current skills development framework and resources without major adjustments.

The Departments of Labour and Education and other government departments, should, in the short term:
Facilitate alignment between the three pathways (FET; Learnerships and Apprenticeship) to achieve artisan level or equivalent status.
-
Maintain and provide data on learners with N1 – N 6 qualifications for recruitment purposes
- Conclude new tax allowances for learnerships and apprenticeships.
- Focus on Artisan delivery, especially in scarce and critical skills through additional funding
- Secure internal government usage of the 1% levy budgeted for training and reporting,
- Ensure adjustments on prioritized trades, improved moderation, adjusted assessment standards in identified priority trades.

Business and Labour should:
- Commit to make SETAs function and deliver on their agreed targets
- Actively canvass and make workplaces available for young people to obtain experiential learning, and to fulfill trade union and employer obligations towards these learners.
- Reach agreements on the percentages of learners to be recruited and to be placed in full time employment after training
- Work together on Workplace Skills Plans and implementation and compilation and submission of the Annual Training Report.
- Work closely with the Departments of Labour and Education to clarify relations and alignment between NQF learnership levels and various Trades in their sectors.
- Provide dedicated mentors for young people and
Commit additional funding beyond 1% skills levy funds towards training.

The following issues need to be addressed urgently:
- Schools
- Monitoring, evaluation and reporting
- Programmes, curriculum and accreditation
- The National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
- Teacher shortages in schools

The NQF review had been outstanding for four years.  Quality assurance was a problem both in work and education. Three years of theoretical training without any experiential workplace learning was too long.

There are currently no agreed performance indicators to measure quality of implementation in FET so it was not possible for the NBFET to report comprehensively on the quality, goals and performance in the FET sector in as a whole. There is a need for an educationally sound quality measurement system which should be integrated into FET Management of Information System.

The use of drugs amongst learners was a major issue that had to be dealt with. There should also be campaigns to raise awareness. Mr George stated that people were making millions from drugs and the problem should be tackled in two ways – by stopping the supply and by educating learners.

Discussion
Mr Boinamo asked what the NBFET Board was doing to ensure that trainee artisans got work placement and why learners could not be aided financially.

Ms M Matsomela (ANC) said that South Africa had learnt some lessons from 1994 and initiated the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA). She urged all to remember academics and not end up with a problem regarding their capacity in 10 years time.

Ms P Mashangoane (ANC) said that all colleges should employ clinical psychologists to counsel drug addicts. Members of Parliament had children who had qualified as engineers and were frustrated by short work contracts.

Mr George stated that the Deputy President had made agreements with the Minister of Finance and the CEOs of Eskom, Transnet and others to train learners for the broader South African economy. The Minister of Finance would be asked to allocate funds. He agreed that it was discriminatory that FET college learners had more difficulty acquiring financial assistance, but as the NBFET Board was an advisory body, they could only make recommendations. A percentage of education budgets had to be spent on research, including FET colleges.


National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) briefing
NSFAS was established in 1999 to grant, administer and recover loans and bursaries to eligible students at public higher education institutions.

The main focus of NSFAS as contained in the NSFAS Act is:
- To redress past discrimination and ensure representivity and equal access;
- To respond to human resource development needs of the nation; and
- To establish an expanded national student financial aid scheme that is affordable and sustainable.


From 2005 to 2006 new grants had increased from R724.5m R 954.8m; R265.9m had been re injected in 2006 and 75% of courses had been passed. About 107 000 students had been assisted. The average Award size was R11 384 (up from R9 973 in 2005). R329.4m had been repaid. The one millionth loan was issued and the number of students assisted per annum exceeded 100 000 for the first time.


In order to qualify for assistance a person must be:
- a South African citizen, registered at public South African Higher Education Institutions
- studying for a first higher education (undergraduate) qualification
- able to demonstrate potential for academic success
- is financial needy as determined by the NSFAS National Means Test.

The minimum award was R2000 and the maximum R30 000 in 2005/06. Interest was calculated at 5% a year.

Over 98% of NSFAS funds are spent on direct award to students. Less than 2% is spent on administrative expenses. This includes salaries; IT equipment; communications and workshops; and auditors and actuaries.

The organisation’s strategic goals are:
- To provide access to higher education to needy South Africans who are academically able,
- To raise funding to enable it to realise its aims
- To confirm a new allocation formula that is in line with other education imperatives
- To make NSFAS the funder of choice,
- To optimise staff capacity
- To implement e- business strategies to enhance its efficiency.

E- business strategies would be a key area of focus and would include the use of electronic loan agreement forms. Legislations such as the Children’s Act (which will reduce the age of majority) and the National Credit Act would also affect NSFAS operations. NSFAS would improve communications with higher education institutions, especially with Vice- Chancellors regarding audit findings, and would reach out to private and public sector partners to form new funding initiatives.


Discussion
Mr Boinamo congratulated Mr Taylor on his ‘meticulous spending of taxpayer’s money’. He was also impressed by the repayment rate and asked if those repaying were employed.

Ms Mashangoane asked how the national average cost of study was calculated and whether proof of South African citizenship was ‘authentic’. She noted that only 5% of the administrative budget was allocated to communication and suggested that workshops be held to raise awareness of NSFAS. She said that most parents were not literate and therefore communication by post was not entirely satisfactory.

Mr Ntuli asked how a student was classified as needy.

Prof Mayatula asked why students dropped out even though they passed.

Mr Taylor replied that most graduates and people who dropped out, repaid loans. Parents seldom did. If unemployment declined, loan recovery would increase. The requirements for repeating courses were lenient – most students were allowed one or two years longer than a three- year degree to complete it. The cost of study was calculated by studying how much tuition plus accommodation and food would cost in various places and a weighted average was arrived at. NSFAS verified identity numbers with the Department of Home Affairs annually. Communication was via radio several times a year and a full- time communications officer travelled constantly all over South Africa. Neediness or the means test was determined by looking at the family income, the number of family members and the cost of living where the family lived. Most families could not contribute to the cost of study. The dropout rate was similar to the national average but the average NSFAS student was more disadvantaged than the average South African student.

Ms Mashonagoane added that there were students in Limpopo who did not know about NSFAS.

Mr Taylor said that letters were addressed to all students on the provincial education departments’ lists of those who would be writing the matric exam but Limpopo was less co- operative than other provinces.

The Committee then attended to editing and amending its reports on visits to Oudtshoorn and the North West province and the recommendations arising from these visits.


The meeting was adjourned.

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