Umalusi?s Role in Public Schools; Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education in the Southern Region Report

Basic Education

26 March 2007
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EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
27 March 2007
UMALUSI’S ROLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS; FORUM OF AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARIANS FOR EDUCATION IN THE SOUTHERN REGION REPORT


Chairperson: Mr S Mayatula (ANC)
 
Documents handed out:
UMALUSI Powerpoint Presentation
Umalusi’s Site Visits to Independent Schools in 2006 booklet
Draft Report on 4th Meeting of Forum of Southern African Community of  Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education (SACFAPED)
Committee Draft Report on 4th meeting of Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education (FAPED)
Committee Draft Report on Study Tour to Mauritius, November 2006
[Available at Tabled Committee Reports once adopted]

SUMMARY
The incoming CEO of Umalusi presented an overview on Umalusi’s objectives and its role in public schools. The objectives included quality assurance in the General and Further Education and Training sectors and regulating the relationship between the Department of Education, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), other Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA) providers and Umalusi. The Committee deduced that Umalusi was unable to carry out its mandate adequately, perhaps mostly because of difficulties in accessing national and provincial education departments (PEDs) and schools and because of inadequate resources.

The report on the meeting of the Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education in the Southern region was adopted.

MINUTES
Umalusi presentation

Ms E Rabie (incoming CEO of Umalusi) gave an overview of the aims and processes of Umalusi, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (GENFET). Umalusi focuses on institutional accreditation and monitoring and quality assurance of qualifications and curricula and their assessment. They are supposed to set standards and monitor PEDs, Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, private providers of education and training and assessment bodies, Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) centres and public assessment bodies.
 
Umalusi had completed a full evaluation of the nine PEDs and the national Department but their monitoring of PEDs regarding public schools, FET colleges and ABET centres was limited. In response, they had submitted a proposal to the Minister in July 2006. They defined the following as a conceptual challenge: PEDs are defined as the ‘provider’ in the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act and ‘deemed accredited’ by Umalusi. Umalusi said that it was problematic to accredit a body that had a constitutional duty to provide quality education. Practical challenges were that all education departments had an ‘evaluation overload’ as they had to undergo procedures by the auditor general and the Public Service Commission. Umalusi’s mandate is duplicated by the Department, collaboration is difficult and resources are inadequate.
 
Umalusi would like to promote quality in the management of standards and sites, in curriculum, teaching, learning, assessment, learner support and governance. Their aim would be to assess the extent to which schools meet educational outcomes such as learner attainment, transitions, participation rates and values. To do this would require financial and professional support and engagement with the Department.
 
Umalusi’s monitoring of independent schools would be completed in 2007/8. The findings could be used to inform future initiatives in the public system.
 
Discussion
Mr A Gaum (ANC) said that the Committee’s theme for 2007 was quality. Monitoring PEDs was crucial, especially in public schools.
 
Mr G Boinamo (DA) said that Early Childhood Development (ECD) was important but in some communities one saw ECD educators ‘herding kids like cattle’. These children learnt nothing because the educators were unqualified.
 
Mr B Mthembu (ANC) agreed with Mr Gaum. Umalusi was not playing its role in public ordinary schools (POS). He asked for more information on ‘internal assessment’. Why did state institutions not cooperate in the interest of the public? Umalusi could promote quality. He pointed to the irony of private schools being monitored when public schools were not. Why was Umalusi’s constitutional mandate not realisable? The reason could not be financial because there were funds to visit private schools.
 
Dr Peliwe Lolwana (outgoing CEO of Umalusi) said that it was necessary to contextualise the questions in terms of other government activities. Whole School Evaluation (WSE) had not been put in place completely The Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) included WSE but this ‘had not taken off’. These new systems made it difficult for Umalusi to carry out its mandate. Umalusi could not visit a PED without prior arrangements with the national Department. The national Department also had some difficulty in visiting PED offices. Umalusi had made presentations on its activities and aims to various stakeholders – the Council of Education Ministers (CEM), PEDs and others. The discussion always conflated Umalusi activities with similar activities undertaken by other bodies. Also a budget of R7m was insufficient for monitoring all examinations. Anecdotes about ‘rogue’ private schools had prompted Umalusi to investigate the sector but the allegations were generally unfounded. These schools had paid for the visits.
 
The Chair said that once Umalusi was carrying out its mandate, further funding would follow.

Dr Lolwana replied that Umalusi had engaged with the Department about its difficulties without sufficient response. The Act stipulated that Umalusi was to ‘progressively’ carry out its mandate.

The Chair responded that the Department had assured the Committee that they were not stopping Umalusi. He asked for concrete requests from the presenters.

Ms Rabie said that public FET colleges could pay for Umalusi monitoring but it was difficult to monitor POS, except for assessment at the various points where learners exited the system.

Dr Lolwana said that the national Department was responsible for (ECD and other) teacher provision and the PEDs were responsible for teacher deployment.
 
The Chair said that the presentation focused on the obstacles to Umalusi carrying out its mandate. He wanted the delegation to suggest solutions (but not funding).
 
Mr R Ntuli (ANC) said that ‘we kid ourselves’ with the good (matric) pass rate even though it did not offer access to work. Grade 9 was also an exit point but only theoretically. We should maximise the chances for learners to leave school to enter the world of work or FET college.
 
The Chair said that tests showed that learners could not read or write in Grade 7. The education system was not a quality one.
 
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) was frustrated that Umalusi could not carry out its mandate. Why were there perceived tensions between itself and the Department? The Department denied these tensions. There was no effective teaching in primary schools because there were no exams.
 
Mr B Mosala (ANC) said that the Committee should rigorously investigate the real reasons for Umalusi’s non-performance. The Department had implied that Umalusi was ‘a spoilt brat’ but the delegation implied that there was a problem between itself and the Department.
 
Dr Lolwana said that it enjoyed a collegial relationship with the Department. The difficulty was in knowing their roles. Umalusi was a very ‘well-liked’ public body. The monitoring of private education institutions was unproblematic. In public education, roles were not clear, not even between the national and provincial education departments with the result that Umalusi was not supported. There were problems with agreeing on definitions of basic education, exit qualifications, ABET qualification and English as a second language. She asked the Committee to facilitate a better working relationship.
 
Ms M Matsomela (ANC) said that if there was duplication of the mandates of Umalusi and the Department, roles should be clarified, especially when it came to PEDs. Had the problem of duplication been addressed at all?
 
Mr Gaum said that Dr Lolwana stated that the relationship was not in conflict but that was not the main issue anyway. Umalusi was not carrying out its mandate. The Committee’s duty was to ensure that Umalusi was capacitated. It was natural that PEDs would not want Umalusi to monitor and evaluate them but Umalusi nevertheless had to fulfil its mandate. Why did the PED being defined as a provider of education in the Act pose a conceptual challenge? The SA Human Rights Commission could investigate any public service and Umalusi should similarly be able to investigate its area. The fact that PEDs had to undergo monitoring by other bodies should not be an excuse for them not to be monitored by Umalusi.
 
The Chair urged the Committee not to take the matter lightly. He was not sure that the ‘conceptual challenges’ mentioned in the presentation implied duplication. Umalusi should conduct objective external evaluation. He proposed taking the presentation to the Department.

Dr Lolwana said that it would be helpful to discuss the matter with Umalusi and the Department together. All agreed on this step and that it should be taken before Dr Lolwana left Umalusi at the end of June.

Draft Report on the Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education in the Southern Region
Mr Mthembu provided a brief report back on the 4th meeting of the Forum of the African Parliamentarians for Education (FAPED), held in Mangochi, Malawi on November 8-10, 2006. The report was adopted with minor amendments. The next FAPED meeting is scheduled to take place in South Africa.

The Mauritius Study Tour Report was not discussed as members had to leave to attend the launch of the new Parliamentary emblem.

The meeting was adjourned.



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