Occupation Specific Dispensation and Implementation of Inclusive Education Policy: Department of Education briefings

Basic Education

19 May 2008
Chairperson: Professor S M Myatula
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Education briefed the Committee on the proposed Performance Management System for teachers based on Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD). The background to this was given. It was explained that the OSD was the development and implementation of a customised remuneration dispensation for educators. It would ensure a fair, equitable and competitive remuneration structure for identified categories of employees. The remuneration structure would provide for longer salary bands and substantial overlapping between salary levels to facilitate adequate salary progression to employees who chose to remain in the classroom instead of moving into managerial posts. It would assist the Department to attract and retain educators in the Department. Details were given, noting that the OSD was based on salary notches. Education Management Service would be moved to a flexible remuneration package. The OSD included a defined structure, pay progression, improvement in conditions of service, career pathing, translation measures and performance expectations. Accelerated salary programmes was provided for as from 1 July 2011. Other recognition methods could be included for salary, including relevant outside experience and acting positions. Learner performance was another factor to be taken into account, along with managerial competency, curricular competency and improvement of qualifications. Provision was also made for breaks in service and acting allowances. A task team would be established to investigate certain outstanding issues and the methodology of teacher training and development would need to be investigated by September 2008.

Members were concerned that better resourced schools had better performing learners than the poorly resourced schools, and also that rural high schools, because of numbers of learners and other factors, would be at a disadvantage if judged against other schools. It was clarified that relative performance within context was used. Questions were asked around signature of the agreements, the timing of the pay progressions, the process, the benefits to teachers and the Department, career pathing, the appointment and assessment of school principals, and involvement of the unions.

The Department briefed the Committee on the Inclusive Education Programme, which aimed to increase participation of learners in education, and to support public, full service and special needs schools. It would address inequalities in education, especially for learners with disabilities. The policy implementation, agenda and key challenges were outlined, and it was noted that these included poor conditions in rural schools, lack of resources and overcrowding. In well resourced urban schools public attitudes towards difference would have to be addressed. An audit report on special schools had indicated that some children were misplaced in these schools and the new policy sought to address appropriate placement. Members asked questions on human resources needs, the response to the audit, who should attend which school, whether resource centres would interfere with programmes for children,  access to appropriate resources and equipment, and training.

Meeting report

Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD): Ensuring effective and efficient labour relations and improve conditions of service: Department of Education (DOE) Briefing
Mr Firoz Patel, Acting Director General, DOE, briefed the Committee on the proposed Performance Management System for teachers based on Occupation Specific Dispensation.
He noted that the collective agreement was signed on 3 April 2008, and in turn gave effect to a 2007 resolution for sectoral bargaining on OSD. OSD was defined as the development and implementation of a customised remuneration dispensation for educators. It would ensure a fair, equitable and competitive remuneration structure for identified categories of employees. The remuneration structure will provide for longer salary bands and substantial overlapping between salary levels to facilitate adequate salary progression to employees who chose to remain in the classroom instead of moving into managerial posts. It would assist the Department to attract and retain educators in the Department.

Mr Patel noted that no person would receive less than he or she was receiving on 31 December 2007. Salaries would be notched up by 4%, based on salary notches of 1 July 2007. The minimum adjustment and translation would be not lower than 4% and not higher than 9.9%. The translation for school based educators and office based educators would be backdated to 1 January 2008. Education Management Service would be moved to a flexible remuneration package.

The OSD would provide a structure, frequency of pay progression, accelerated progression and improvement in other conditions of service, better career pathing, translation measures and would be based on a clear requirement for a level of performance, with a view to attracting and retaining educator professionals in the public education sector.

The salary structure would work on a two-yearly pay progression, based on “satisfactory” performance. Grade progression was not provided for. Accelerated salary progression was provided for all educators as from 1 July 2011.

The pay progression was done every 24 months, when the educator had maintained a “satisfactory” level of performance according to the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS), and had not reached maximum of salary scale. This equalled 3% (3 notches). The first payment would be made in July 2010. Other recognition, for the purposes of salary, could depend on relevant experience outside the Public Education Sector, gaining of promotion or upgrading to a higher position, and acting principal positions. After a break in service, the salary would be dealt with according to existing principles. Existing provisions would also be used for acting allowances.

Mr Patel summarised the current position of occupational groups. He said that there would be certain changes in the breakdown. External moderation would be used for all cases where educators were assessed on the level of “good” or “outstanding” for accelerated progression and teaching specialist post appointments. Learner performance would form part of the assessment of educators. A portfolio of evidence, including learner performance, would have to be kept by all educators. Managerial competency, curricular competency & improvement of qualifications would be the basis for the new requirements for appointments, upgrading and promotions. By 2013, all teachers would upskill or upgrade their qualification to REQV 14.

The exclusions were that the collective agreement did not cater for psychologists, therapists & counselors, Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) educators or those in the Further Education and Training (FET) sector.

Employers and labour had agreed to subject some issues to a process. There would be a task team established, consisting of ten members, including those from the employer and union representatives. This Team would have to investigate the conversion of EMS to a flexible package, requirements for appointment as a Learning Teaching Specialist, Teacher assessment and the impact of the OSD. The research would have to be completed by July.  The Council would have to investigate the methodology of teacher training and development by September 2008.

OSD would be implemented through salary adjustments done by the PERSAL system. The salary history would be verified, and a joint management plan was to be finalised.

Discussion
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) said better resourced schools had better performing learners than the poorly resourced schools, and noted that this would affect promotion of teaching staff.

Mr Patel said that relative performance, and performance within context, were used to determine promotion. He added that learner achievement could not be measured without considering context and that simple foundations like the students’ abilities to read, calculate and write were the criteria used to assess learner performance.

Ms P Mashangoana (ANC) commented that the introduction of a Performance Management System (PMS) was good. He noted that since introduction a number of senior management staff had not signed the agreements, and enquired what was being done to address the situation.

Mr Patel responded that the Department still had three months before completion of agreement deadlines, and that all management staff were expected to have signed by the end of June. He added that a report would be compiled after they had all signed and submitted to the Department, which would then again brief the Committee.

Mr B Mthembu (ANC) said that he had heard that up to half of the educators had failed to sign, and that some were given a notch increase before signing. He added that managers at school level were subject to PMS and that everybody was expected to perform. Heads of Departments should be called to explain the situation.

Mr G Boinamo (DA) asked why the Accelerated Pay Progression was done every twenty four months instead of annually. He asked if it was done internally within schools, noting that this could be subject to abuse.

Mr Patel responded that the performance agreement development process of teachers employed eighty four people to conduct assessments.

Mr Mpontshane asked how the new salary structure benefited experienced teachers.

Mr Patel responded that the system had built into the previous salary agreements. The differentiation was made based on a number of years.

Mr Boinamo asked what measures were in place for career pathing.

Mr Patel said that OSD institutionalised career pathing, as it was possible for an educator to move on to become a specialist, based on experience and qualifications.

Mr Boinamo asked for the indicators for yearly progression for satisfactory performance. He asked if the Committee could be assured that measures were in place at operational level.

Mr Patel said that the system was too large and overwhelming to receive scores and to be moderated. He added that the priority was to boost district capacity. He added that returns were expected from money spent.
 
Ms Mashangoana said she was concerned about the way school principals were appointed, noting that nepotism was practiced in appointments.

Mr Patel said nepotism did exist. He added that the Department needed mechanisms to review public service posts, hire and promote, based on minimum requirements.

Ms Mashangoana wanted to know what was being done with incompetent principals.

Mr Patel said payment was based on differentiated salaries and incentives.

The Chairperson said he was concerned about promotion of principals based on school grades. He added that he was concerned about the situation in rural areas, where there were very few high schools with few learners each. Their results could clearly not be expected to be as good as schools with a broader base.

Mr Mthembu said the right people had to be appointed for certain posts. The PMS agreement had to be completed before the end of the financial year.

Mr Boinamo asked if teachers were getting a good deal through the 0SD.

Mr Patel said the new structure dealt with career pathing, while the old one did not. He said teachers were getting the best deal in the public service. He added that in terms of purchasing power South African teachers were some of the best paid in the world.

Mr Boinamo noted that only two unions were involved and he wanted to know how the other smaller unions were involved.

Mr Patel said SA Teachers Union was a combination of all the small teachers’ unions and that they all had a contribution.

Mr Boinamo said it would take a long time for some of the teachers to reach the levels that were stipulated in the briefing.

Mr Patel responded that with time and improvement, teachers would be able to reach the levels mentioned in the briefing. He added that some of the standards for promotion included classroom arrangement, record keeping, class planning and preparation as well as the teaching methodology.

Introduction of Inclusive Education: Department of Education (DOE) Briefing
Ms Palesa Tyobeka, Deputy Director General, Department Education, said the aim of the Inclusive Education Programme was to increase participation of learners in education. She said the aim was to support public, full service and special needs schools. The Department wished to deal with inequalities in education, especially for children with disabilities. She briefed the Committee on the policy implementation, agenda and key challenges faced in the implementation, noting that these included poor conditions of rural schools, lack of resources and overcrowding, as well as poor infrastructure. She said the challenge in well resourced urban schools was that of addressing public attitudes towards difference. Ms Tyobeka said that an audit report on special schools had illustrated discrimination and admission of some who should not properly have been placed in special needs schools. The new policy would seek to ensure that children were placed in appropriate schools.

Discussion
Mr R van den Heever (ANC) said that sexual abuse was cited as one of the challenges, and he noted that incidents were very frequent. If this was caused by shortage of hostel staff, then the infrastructure planning had to include human resources to institute the necessary controls.

Ms Tyobeka said staff were important, and that each of the special schools had to be catered for in response to the audit report.

Mr R Ntuli (ANC) said there had to be classification criteria setting out who went to which school. He added that a segment of the children had the ability to do well in mainstream schools.
 
Ms Tyobeka said the policy was designed to ensure that each child, as far as possible, would attend a local school so that no child should be taken from the family situation.

Ms Mashangoana asked if there were mechanisms in place to ensure that schools used as resource centres did not interfere with programmes for children, as also to ensure that they actually dealt with the challenges. She added that some students who went to special schools had to wait for hours for transport.

Ms Tyopeka said there was separation of functions, so that special schools could not act as resource centres. She said there was a major focus in special schools for prioritisation of transport services.

Mr Mthembu said children in some schools were not getting access to appropriate resources and equipment. He said there had to be inclusive education and motivation. He asked about the Department’s capacity to build infrastructure for the disabled, and to undertake teacher training courses for the teaching of disabled children.

Ms Tyopeka said the shortage of schools was being looked at. Inclusion was practiced because children with disabilities had to be exposed to their ordinary school mates, as a way to instill more acceptance of differences in society.

She added that teachers were trained in Braille and sign language, using funds donated by Swedish government. She also said not all schools were subject to the inclusion policy, thus there was need for full service schools. She noted that the policy was not pushing for the closure of special schools.

The meeting was adjourned.

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