National Policy Framework for Teacher Education Development: report-back by Department

Basic Education

26 February 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

MEDIA BRIEFING

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
27 February 2007
NATIONAL POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR TEACHER EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT: REPORT-BACK BY DEPARTMENT

Documents handed out:
National Policy Framework for Teacher Education Development
Report-back on National Policy Framework by Department of Education (DoE)

Audio Recording of the Meeting

SUMMARY
The Department of Education explained that the objective of the National Policy Framework for Teacher Education Development was to ensure that sufficient numbers of well-trained, motivated teachers were attracted to the profession and thereafter retained and further developed. An increased number of bursaries and improved salaries were part of the strategy. The Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) would be used to measure professional development and to hold schools accountable This policy framework had been open to public comment in late 2006 and twenty two detailed submissions had been received.

Comments from the Committee included:
- Good teachers were lost to the profession because there were limited career prospects.
- The standard of the in-service training was sometimes dubious.
- District offices seemed understaffed and therefore their oversight function was poorly administered.
- The Department had to pay attention to getting right the balance between supply and demand of teachers.
- The effectiveness of the IQMS which played a two-fold role, was questioned.
 
MINUTES
Ms Palesa Tyobeka, Deputy-Director-General for General Education and Training, said this framework was needed to affirm the place that teachers should have in South Africa, as strategic assets. The policy had been gazetted for public comment on 5 October until 8 November 2006. Extension had been granted at the request of certain key stakeholders. Detailed submissions had been received from twenty two stakeholders.

Key elements of the framework were the qualification of teachers and recruitment. The policy aimed to attract a high calibre of student to the profession and to promote teaching as a career which was challenging, fulfilling and held socially in high regard. Implementation of the framework was underway in partnership with provinces, Higher Education Institutes and
South African Council for Educators (SACE). Bursaries, loans as well as substantial improvement in the salaries of teachers added material incentive. In 2007, R120 million in bursaries was being offered and the response had been excellent. The Fundza Lushaka bursaries had targeted priority areas and would continue to be reviewed and deployed in areas of need in the future. Various categories, target markets and conditions had been defined. Funding over the next two years would run to R180 million in 2008 and R400 million in 2009. This substantial funding spoke to the commitment of the DoE in making quality education and teachers available to the nation.

Continued Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) had also been addressed in partnership with SACE and although already operational would be rolled out over the next eighteen to twenty-four months. This included the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) which would continue to develop teachers. The programme was based on a points system, which teachers had a period of three years to achieve. Weaknesses and risk in the system were being reviewed in order to guarantee quality control and assurance.

Discussion

Prof S Mayatula (Chairperson) mentioned that his wife had been a teacher and passionate about her work, but in order to further her career path she had become a subject advisor and once she had reached a ceiling in the school context she had to leave that environment. It was a pity to lose good teachers in this way.

Mr Duncan Hindle (DOE Director General) said that teachers could progress to deputy principal and even principal within the school context. It was unfortunate that there was this tension between promoting teachers who performed well until they were no longer in the school context. The MEC had also highlighted this plight where those teachers who would be promoted to advisory posts would most likely mean the loss of good teachers in schools. This was the regrettable phenomenon where one lifted a person’s level of influence, but would hopefully facilitate the creation of more good teachers in the end.

Mr Gaum (ANC) said it had come to his attention that in-service training was often not up to scratch, with the situation having arisen where teachers were being trained by teachers less competent than themselves. He asked what the target date was that the Department had set themselves to rectify the situation. What were the consequences for accumulating no points?

Mr B Mthembu (ANC) said he recognised the frustrations felt by teachers who wished to progress in their career paths. It had been his experience that good teachers were lost to the profession because there were not sufficient incentives. He was also concerned about quality assurance as he had come across a certain institute professing to offer the Bachelor of Education course, which had fallen far short of doing that and yet the students had all been passed. The IQMS had set out to achieve accountability as well as professional development, but it seemed that accountability had received the main focus at the expense of professional development. He felt the implementation of the system was problematic. They had found one inspector being responsible for some thirty-one schools. The standard of the in-service training was sometimes dubious and this simply could not be afforded, especially for the foundation phase.  

Mr A Randall (ANC) asked whether the Department had given sufficient consideration to the balance between supply and demand of teachers, in order to avoid the situation which arose several years ago, where many teachers had been retrenched. This was important if the government was going to project the idea that teaching was a stable career offering security.

Ms Mashangoana (ANC) asked what monitoring mechanism had been put in place for the successful implementation of the programme and what roles did the Department and SACE play in this respect. She asked when the programme would actually start.

Mr R Nthuli (ANC) asked whether the Department intended improving the salaries of teachers. Teacher loss was partly due to poor pay and limited career prospects. He also raised the point that district offices seemed to be understaffed and therefore their oversight function was poorly administered. He asked whether the curricula for grade one to three and were aligned with higher education.

Mr Hindle replied that salaries had improved substantially since 1994 and that in this respect, and that of career pathing, circumstances had improved considerably. The school grading system had allowed for accelerated promotion and currently a starting salary was approximately R10 000. The government had allocated R 6 billion for education, of which part was meant for new teachers and part was for the improvement of current salaries. The Department had found 12 000 teachers to be unqualified. These teachers were not necessarily a legacy of the past, but had been newly appointed for various reasons. The provinces were expected to provide the reasons for their appointment. In some cases the reason cited was that qualified teachers had not been available to fill the post. The Department was not sure why schools did not make a greater effort to find qualified teachers. It seemed they often preferred to appoint someone in the area. There was a sufficient database of qualified teachers available from which to draw. Some of these teachers even came from Zimbabwe, India and Zambia. Appointment procedures would have to be reviewed. There was also a large pool of resources available throughout the country among unemployed teachers. The recruitment process clearly just needed improvement.

Mr Mthembu said that the function of the IQMS was to measure professional development and to hold schools accountable at the same time. He questioned whether the two could be adequately fulfilled by one instrument and suggested two separate vehicles.

Mr Gaum agreed with Mr Mthembu and added that they had visited schools and found that everyone had allocated themselves the required one percent for good performance, whereas the development part of the system seemed to be in conflict with this self-appraisal. There was no punitive element to non-fulfilment of the requirements. He was concerned about the 12 000 unqualified teachers that were still teaching and asked what the Department intended doing about this and asked for feedback regarding SACE’s role in assessing the quality of teacher training programmes.

Mr Mfundisi (UCDP) asked whether the Department knew its requirements for each category of teaching and if they allocated bursaries accordingly. He asked if
Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers were included in this process. He asked what happened to drop-outs or so-called defaulters.

Mr Mosala (ANC) asked whether the Department interacted with the Dean’s Forum. He commended the Department for the work they were doing and asked whether the guaranteed employment after graduation was unconditional. He questioned whether the process of school-based activities for further professional development did not mean a compromise on the quality of such training.

Mr Mayatula asked what the Department intended to do about those teachers that had already left the system over the last two years and in what way did they envisage building a career path for teachers within the school environment, in order not to lose subject advisors, when they were promoted. He said that in discussions recently with the
General and Further Education and Training Assurance Council (UMALUSI), this body had indicated that they were not at liberty to operate in public schools, thereby curtailing their monitoring value and their input in reporting instances of poor standards.

Mr Hindle said the
Developmental Appraisal System (DAS) system had been a failure because it had no teeth and had therefore not been taken seriously. It was only the first step in the IQMS that required self-appraisal. He believed the IQMS needed to be given a chance to prove itself since it was only in its first year and previously the country had gone for thirty years without an appraisal system. He granted that the system might still need some refinement. Regarding supply and demand, he said that at this stage there was little danger of an oversupply of teachers being created and that the career of teaching should be regarded as a stable one. The government was taking this matter very seriously and the bursary scheme was only one aspect of a larger funding campaign.

Ms Tyobeka said this entire programme was in response to the need for improvement in the quality of education. The Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) together with SACE were in partnership to ensure quality in accreditation. Regarding the point system, SACE tried to use incentives rather than punitive measures. Where the required points were not achieved no promotion could be expected. A two year cycle was allowed to achieve the target. She said in setting up the framework the Department had built a credible database to meet their information needs. They had used information to indicate where needs were greater and had targeted the awarding of bursaries accordingly. The policy framework protocol had been signed on national and provincial level.

Mr Hindle said that the third pillar of professional development was critical for SACE to complete its role. It also fulfilled the task of determining the relevance of courses and thereby rated them according to a points system.

Mr Hindle thanked Mr Mthembu for bringing instances as mentioned by him to the attention of the Department. Regarding the dual role of the IQMS he said that this system had been proposed by the union themselves and that the previous DAS system had been a complete failure because it had not included accountability. He said schools could not just self-appraise, but that districts also appraised and were in turn appraised by the Department, thus ensuring external verification. It was the function of SACE to decide on punitive measures where the required points had not been obtained within a certain time period. He was certain that SACE would not be generous with those that fell short of the mark. As soon as the report on unqualified teachers came out, they would share the findings with the Committee. Provinces were not invested in the training and development of teachers. He had noted the comments about career pathing. Subject specialisation and a review of the post provision model were in the offing by the Minister. This could become more possible since every school had to offer Maths up to Grade 9 and Maths or Maths literacy up to Grade 12. UMALUSI had misinterpreted their mandate, since they were allowed to operate in the public sector. They merely did not have the authority to close down a provincial Department of Education.

Ms Tyobeka said that foundation phase teachers had been targeted as a priority area. The courses were, however all geared towards certain categories and therefore specialised, in line with each group’s special needs. These categories were not necessarily linked to poverty levels. NSFAS was a vehicle that did consider this category. It was the aim of the Department to find the best minds to train to become teachers, regardless of their background. Regarding defaulters, she said that students did have one year’s grace after their studies before they were expected to repay their loan. The Department had set a period of six months for themselves to find employment for each of these graduates, after which they were free to seek employment elsewhere and were not expected to repay their loans. The Department was involved in regular discussion meetings with the Dean’s Forum, thereby strengthening the relationship at a national level. The quality of some of the teacher training courses had been a subject of discussion at these meetings. A strategy was being looked at to deal with the provinces. The Department was also looking at using exceptional teachers to improve the quality of school-based activities and ongoing development. This would allow such teachers to be harnessed to not only benefit their own schools, but also the schools in their area. Ms Tyobeka said that qualified teachers were prepared through induction and orientation courses for the experience of teaching.

Mr Gaum remarked that there seemed to be a marked pattern of 100% fulfilment of the one percent good performance that was required by the IQMS. It seemed to him that the districts did not have the capacity to play the role of monitors in this regard and therefore the allocation of one percent almost across the board by schools was based on self-appraisal only. He questioned the management of the schools to be able to do this objectively.

Mr Nthuli:remarked that the system seemed to be vulnerable to the human need for gaining acceptance, especially when principals were working with the teachers that were being assessed on a daily basis.

Mr Mponthshane suggested that this was where intervention by the Department was desirable through a crop of inspectors regularly monitoring the situation. He looked forward to the Minister’s report regarding this for more details.

Mr Hindle said that the IQMS system expected at least 90% of teachers to fulfil the rating, which measured satisfactory performance. It was therefore not untoward that in some schools the percentage to fulfil this scale was 100%. The Department had proposed to the union a system whereby exceptionally good work would be recognised and that thus approximately ten percent of teachers would be rewarded. This would be kept separate from the IQMS system.

Ms Tyobeka said that teachers did undergo an induction process and there was a further course for principles in school leadership through SACE. The Department was looking at another course to cover certain elements, which would enjoy a trial run by five HEIs starting in May. Depending on the capacity of other institutions to offer this course, it would be offered from the beginning of next year. She asked that parliamentarians also take the message to their constituencies, as well as provide them with any positive feedback.

Mr G Boinamo (DA) asked what the requirements were to apply for a bursary.

Ms Tyoabeka replied that a matriculation with a university pass was required.

The meeting was adjourned.

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