Mass Participation Programme & Sport In Schools: Department of Sport briefing & Community Libraries: Arts Department briefing

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

18 June 2008
Chairperson: Mr B Tolo (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Sports and Recreation briefed the Committee on the Department’s Mass Participation Programme to encourage members of the public to participate actively in sports with the objectives of promoting good health, self-realisation, community development and social cohesion. The Programme’s embrace included the young and the aged. The Department had, since 2004/2005, been supported in the Programme by a conditional grant.

The Department of Sports and Recreation then briefed the Committee on sport in schools. Physical education had been dropped from the school curriculum in 1994, but, since March 2005, the Department had been working together with the Department of Education to reintroduce physical education of 45 minutes per week at lower level and 60 minutes per week at Further Education and Training level. The role of the educators was to be enhanced rather than relying on external coaches, and it was intended to benefit all children, not just those selected to play sport competitively. Caution would be taken that sporting organisations were not permitted to exploit or exhaust children by inappropriate training.  

The Department of Arts and Culture briefed the Committee on community (public) libraries, with a particular focus on the conditional grant, which was intended to supplement, not replace, existing funding for libraries. The Department explained the correlation of funding and the Constitutional responsibilities. It noted that some provinces had failed to spend, but that Western Cape had fully expended its grant thus far, filling many posts that had been left vacant and that were threatening to close facilities. The Department aimed to draw a Library Charter and a new Community Libraries Bill. The policy was that libraries should not charge fees, should be accessible to all, that lifelong reading should be encouraged in a variety of ways, including provision of indigenous language books and access to facilities for the visually impaired.

All three briefings stimulated lively and cordial interaction between Members and presenters. A particular focus throughout the discussions was concern to ensure that conditional grants were used exclusively for their intended purposes. A further focus was inter-departmental co-operation, and co-ordinated sharing of responsibilities between the three spheres of government. A major area of concern was to ensure that all members of society, including the poorest of the poor in the remotest rural areas, would benefit. Discussion on the sports briefings highlighted the essential role of teachers in physical education and sports and the possibility of extending the school day. There was also discussion on the effects of participation in sports and physical education in combating the drug problem in society. Discussion on the libraries briefing highlighted the complementary and synergic role of information and communications technology alongside traditional library materials such as books and periodicals. The aging profile of the library profession was a concern. The Department held the view that municipalities could not abdicate all responsibility for their libraries, and that provincial and local spheres should exercise responsibilities concurrently.  It was a Member’s view that if rich municipalities fully supported their libraries, more support for rural libraries could be provided from the conditional grant.

The Committee adopted the minutes of the meeting of 11 June and it was noted that the Committee would participate in the public hearings around the National Qualifications Framework Bill.


Meeting report

Mass Participation Programme (MPP): Briefing by Department of Sports and Recreation (SRSA or Department)
The Department of Sports and Recreation delegation was led by the Director-General, Ms Xoliswa Sibeko. She was accompanied by other Departmental officials Mr Thembinkosi Biyela, Chief Director of Mass Participation Programme; Ms Alison Burchell, Chief Director of School Sport; Ms Thokozile Mkhouto, Director,  and Ms Lindiwe Nkopane, Parliamentary Liaison Officer.

Mr Thembinkosi Biyela indicated the intended outcomes of the Mass Participation Programme that sought ‘to create an active and winning nation’ by encouraging all members of the community to participate enthusiastically in sport through life long participation; increased participation; improved delivery capability; improved partnerships (IGR); improved links between schools and communities; and legacy programmes.

One of the special projects of the Mass Participation directorate was to foster indigenous games. Mr Biyela reminded Members that the Olympic Games had begun in Greece as indigenous games.

Major achievements of the Mass Participation Programme to date included: a disability capacity building workshop; an inner city tournament, Recrehab (Correctional Services); five-a-side soccer; an aerobatics festival for the aged; a schools linkage partnership programme between the United Kingdom and the Republic of South Africa; a training programme for coaches; and schools cluster sport festivals. Key success areas included the utilisation of the conditional grant in at least 561 hubs (communities) and 1 649 schools; presentations by Mass Participation Programme (MMP) co-ordinators overseas; identification by sponsors of MPP co-ordinators to be given further training overseas; festivals in the communities and schools; community walks, bicycling races; holiday programmes and festivals against crime; and implementation of the learn-to-swim programme.

The Mass Participation Programme sought to contribute to government priorities for 2007-2011: in particular, the anti-poverty campaign, HIV and AIDS awareness messages in school sport and youth events,; and combating crime through Recreation-Rehabilitation (Recrehab).

The current thrust of the Mass Participation Programme’s business plan included sport and recreation in rural areas; the promotion of drug-free sport (“Ke Moja”); the popularisation of indigenous games; bicycling (Tour de Soweto), and social cohesion.

The Mass Participation Programme reported an increase in participation from 73 168 in 2004 to over 3 million in 2008. While developing sport and recreation amongst communities, the Mass Participation Programme sought the development of communities through sport.

Briefing by the Department of Sports and Recreation on sport in schools
Ms Burchell noted that Sport in Schools complemented the Mass Participation Programme’s aim ‘to create an active and winning nation’.

Physical education had been dropped from the school curriculum in 1994, but, in March 2005, the Minister of Sport and Recreation and the Minister of Education had signed a Framework for Collaboration as a result of which a National Co-ordinating Committee (NACOC) had been established. From March 2005 physical education had been re-instated to the extent of 45 minutes per week per pupil per week in the General Education and Training band (GET) and 60 minutes per student per week in the Further Education and Training (FET) band, with the aim of promoting overall self-development and social development.

The Department of Education was responsible for physical education, extra-mural activities, and inter-school leagues up to district level.

The Department of Sports and Recreation was responsible for entry level into sport and creation,; competitive sport in schools form regional to international level, co-ordinating sport in school activities, specifically, provincial, national and international competitions; and co-operation on international representation.

Joint responsibilities between the Department of Sports and Recreation and the Department of Education (DoE) included: co-ordinating the calendar to comply with school commitments, agreement on the role of teachers and allocation of their time to sport, facilitating indemnity, ensuring that facilities were used optimally, ensuring that teachers were trained in sport management, coaching and officiating, and addressing government imperatives, for example, eliminating drugs in sport and recreation (Ke Moja).

The responsibilities of the National Federations included providing technical expertise, identification of talent, advice on selection of athletes to enter fast track (academy) programmes, ensuring that sport-in-school committees were active at national and provincial levels as part of the national federation with representatives serving on the national and provincial executive committees, advising both Departments on best practice in sport, sports improvement and sport science, and bearing the ultimate responsibility for sport in schools.

The conditional grant benefited school sport mass participation in 2007-2008. During this year 100 festivals were held. 12 schools were visited in the United Kingdom with the help of the British Council. School sport mass participation involved 360 000 pupils, 10 000 teachers, and 2 400 volunteers. The conditional grant also benefited competitive school sport in 2007, which involved 6 294 athletes, 698 officials, nine national events and four international events, and nine meetings of school sport committees. The conditional grant provided the ability to pay, for both programmes, a monthly stipend to about 3 000 co-ordinators.

Plans for 2008-2009 included: R41 million for school sport, with a budget for the competitive programme estimated at R32 million for the current year, with the balance being allotted to the School Sport Mass Participation Programme (SSMPP). The age groups 13 to 19 would be catered for in the programme; and the Department would ensure that a policy framework was in place for the next financial year as agreed between the Department of Sport and Recreation and the Department of Education.

Challenges that would be addressed were to convince sport-in-school committees that they were not autonomous, and that the national federations (NF) were  in fact responsible for these committees. There was a need to establish the South African School Sports Association, to consider the status of combat sports in schools, to consider the role of teachers as employees versus volunteers both inside and outside school, and to increase the time allotted to physical education in the curriculum - an increase that would be likely only if the school day were to be extended. There would also need to be an agreed, predictable and fully competitive programme in which no pupil would be required to pay to compete in such competitions.

The way forward was envisaged as ensuring that school sport committees and national federations worked together, consolidation of the working group between the two Departments,  incorporating sport in the extra-curricular programme; and identifying and co-ordinating additional areas of co-operation between the two Departments. Besides promoting physical education within the curriculum, the Department of Sport and Recreation emphasised that it sought to promote sports within pupils’ extra-curricular activities. It also sought co-operation with the Department of Social Development in promotion of sports as a component to combat the problem of drug abuse in the community. The Department of Correctional Services had shown keen interest in the promotion of sports.

Of particular concern was the role of teachers in physical education, as opposed to externally appointed coaches, and the need to ensure that all children could benefit from physical education, not just those who were selected for entry in competitive sports. There was also a concern to prevent the exploitation of children by sporting organisations.

Ms J Masilo (ANC/North West) asked for a list of the schools assisted by the Department’s conditional grant budget. This would be of benefit in conducting oversight visits.

Ms Burchell replied that the Department would provide a list of the schools as requested.

Ms Masilo also wanted to know if the total amount would be given in equal amounts to all provinces in years three to five of the grant. She also asked about the sports codes for cricket and rugby and what age groups were targeted in schools. She asked if the aerobics for the aged programme was conducted in co-operation with the Department of Social Development, or by the Department of Sports and Recreation alone.  She asked for more information on the anti-poverty campaign and the payment of a stipend to co-ordinators.

Ms Mkhouto responded that in 2004 the Department had conducted a study in the light of an observed decline in the participation by the youth in the communities, and with the aim of developing a model to increase such participation, especially for the poorest of the poor in the rural areas. The study found that in many places physical facilities existed, but had often been located without consultation with or reference to the communities that they were intended to serve. This resulted in lack of use or vandalism. For example, in one community, young people who wanted to play basketball were faced with a walk of 15 kilometres.  The Department had then introduced the concepts of hubs within the communities. A hub was any geographical point that was within a five kilometre walking distance radius to the community.  The Department wanted the communities to own these hubs.

Ms Mkhouto said that the Department had approached the National Treasury, which had responded favourably by giving a grant of R20 million in year one. The Treasury required the Department to allocate this for programmes rather than the building of facilities, so the Department had worked hard to devise programmes to keep the communities active and vibrant. For the first year the Department had decided to allocate R1 million to each province and keep the balance of R11 million.  In year one everything was centralised, including procurement of equipment (as distinct from physical facilities such as buildings). In year two, the Department had achieved decentralisation of the administration of the grant, while it continued to distribute it in equal amounts, retaining about R6 million. In year three the Department had found itself obliged to devise a different strategy, because the provinces differed widely in population numbers. Thus the Department introduced the equitable share formula.

Ms Mkhouto said that difficulties in fair allocation nevertheless remained, since, for example, the Northern Cape had a population of only 1.2 million, but was very expensive to service on account of the long distances between centres of population. Therefore the Department decided then to use two formulas – the equitable share and the baseline. According to the baseline formula, each province received R5 million out of the R45 million allocated as the baseline formula. The remainder of the R149 million total grant was distributed according to the equitable share formula. From year three onwards the distributions were made according to both equitable grant formula and baseline formula.

Ms A Qikani (UDM/Eastern Cape) was concerned about the lack of participation, according to her observations, of disabled people in sports in the rural areas. She asked if the Department could assist, in particular in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape. She also asked whether young people in both rural and urban areas were included in the sports codes. With reference to key challenges concerning the grant, there was a lack of monitoring, and she therefore asked if the Department was ready with a plan to monitor the provinces.

Ms Burchell replied that it was necessary to examine, perhaps with the Committee’s help, the idea of incentives to keep talented individuals in the rural areas, because if one did not have the role models in the rural areas then no efforts would succeed. 

Ms K Kgarebe (UCDP, North West) was concerned that volunteers assisting in school sports were not competent to guide disabled pupils, and asked about the application of sports codes in rural areas.

Ms Burchell replied that the Department would raise the question of overseas volunteers with the Department of Education, since what happened on school property was that Department’s responsibility. She admitted that SRSA needed to co-ordinate more effectively with the DoE with regard to training, and it was perhaps necessary to ask if the latter Department’s contribution to training educators went sufficiently beyond enabling them to collect certificates.

Ms Sibeko replied that the Department did not want to assign untrained volunteers to schools, so a policy of clustering schools had been adopted. It was not the Department’s intention to take sports out of the hands of teachers.

Ms H Lamoela (DA, Western Cape) said that she did not think that the Department was yet achieving the goals it had set itself for youth participation in sport. Young people, given the opportunity and encouragement, enjoyed taking an active part in sport. Moreover, if the sports fields, especially in rural areas, could be provided to an acceptable standard, and young people actively engaged in sports, then the youth could be kept away from crime. She asked if the Department had sufficient funds for the Mass Participation Programme. It was important to ask this question, since the Department had received a qualified audit report from the Auditor-General. If sufficient funds were not available, she asked how one would achieve the Department’s goals.

Ms Lamoela said that rural areas were still not benefiting from the mass participation and sport in schools programmes. She was concerned that clubs were recruiting the best players, even amongst schoolchildren, which deprived the rural areas of these players. She asked for clarity about the Division of Revenue grant to the provinces.

Ms Sibeko replied that the Department wanted to encourage children with a talent for sports to value themselves rather than be attracted by apparently lucrative offers from clubs.  She said that such children were vulnerable to commercial exploitation: their bodies were not developed sufficiently for competitive commercial sport, neither were they sufficiently n nourished. In view of the problem of under-nutrition in children participating in competitive sport, the Department had established a sports science directorate to help nurture talented young people and to ensure that, when they reached the peak of their development, they could sustain their endeavours and enjoy sporting careers much longer than the two years typically observed.

Ms Burchell added that the Department was going to lobby for the funding of buildings for sport and recreation to be restored in order to assist in the provision of sports fields and facilities in the rural areas, and obtain agreement from the local authorities that they would be responsible for the maintenance of the facilities established. Programme funding, and funding to provide people to run those programmes was also required. She acknowledged that funding had favoured the urban and peri-urban areas to the disadvantage of the rural areas. The need for schools lacking their own facilities to use the municipal facility was recognised and vice versa.

Ms N Madlala–Magubane (UCDP, Gauteng) said that indigenous games could be seen in the rural areas but seemed forgotten in urban areas. She called for the Department to promote indigenous games in urban areas to provide the youth with alternatives to socialising by drinking beer. There was a problem in the misuse by municipalities of the conditional grant for purposes other than sports. She asked what the Department intended to do to correct that problem. With regard to the idea of extending the school day, she felt that the unions were so powerful that it was unlikely that they would agree to extend the school day, without payment of overtime. The Departments of Education and Sport and Recreation should agree on a strategy for implementing extra hours to facilitate sufficient time for sports.

Ms Sibeko replied generally that the curriculum for physical education still had to be developed. SRSA sought to do this in conjunction with the DoE, and entrench in the physical education curriculum the values that South Africa encapsulated as a country, to enable the young to incorporate these values in themselves and thereby be able to make informed choices as they grew up. Such choices included choosing between consuming alcohol or conserving their own bodies. It was a value system that one wanted to instil in the young in order to guide them. When they sat in a 45 minutes physical education period in school they should be learning these values and being guided by them as to how they should treasure themselves.

That kind of curriculum, Ms Sibeko continued, did not exist at the moment. At present there was a mixing of the idea of physical education with physical activities. The two were not the same. The aim of physical education was to enable children to love themselves, to work with others as a team, and collaborate as citizens. Materials for physical activities already existed but it was now necessary to educate teachers to accept their essential role in extra-curricular physical activities.

Ms Sibeko noted that when she was a child, nobody had shoes or the regulation kit, but nonetheless enjoyed their sport and achieved the essential aim of interacting with each other by playing games together. That had been lost, and the Department sought to restore it. Physical education and physical activities had a further important result of teaching hand and eye co-ordination, which could be taught to a large class in a small room, so there was no need for special facilities. Ms Sibeko said that the Department of Education had achieved an agreement with the teachers’ union SATU.

Ms Burchell added that extending the school day was a decision for the Department of Education, not the Department of Sports and Recreation. The Department of Education was indicating that it would be unrealistic at the present time to extend the school day, but the Committee might want to raise the matter with  the Department of Education, who in turn would have to raise it with the trade unions.

Ms Burchell added that SRSA possessed some training materials from the national sports council, and was willing to offer them and other resources, both financial and services in training,  to the Department of Education. SRSA acknowledged that there was already a wealth of experience in the sector. That expertise and experience must be enticed back into the system through a co-ordinated effort. 

Mr Biyela said that many Members had raised the matter of funding. He quoted the Minister of Sports and Recreation’s statement in the strategic plan, that the Department must endeavour to achieve goals and aims within the parameters of the available resources. In short, the first question would be whether there was enough money available. At present there was not, so the  Department needed to work hard to build a strong case for sport. The Director-General and strategic unit were working hard on this so that sport could hope to receive more funding. SRSA was endeavouring to achieve a synergy between the provinces and the municipalities in co-ordinating the use of facilities and resources, though this in itself would require additional funding.

Mr Biyela said that the rural areas were foremost in everybody’s mind. However, it had to be recognised that disadvantaged communities were also found in the cities. The Department was busy now with the policies and guidelines, and related matters. The Department had budgeted for stakeholder management. This was to ensure that all the stakeholders would talk the same language and to streamline and co-ordinate accordingly. The issue of the disabled and the rural areas was always going to be a challenge because of the funding problem, but the Department was coming up with the policies to address that. It was also doing as much as it could for the youth. The Department was proud of its programme for the aged. One of the key areas of the Department’s approach to the rural areas was to inculcate in the young the values that the Director-General was talking about.  The Department paid a stipend of R1 200 per month to the Department’s volunteers.

Mr Biyela acknowledged the Department’s recognition of the importance of indigenous games and said that it had budgeted to ensure that these games reached all areas. Monitoring and evaluation would be achieved by establishing regional offices in the provinces and including monitoring and evaluation in the business plan. 

Mr M Thetjeng(DA, Limpopo Province) asked if there could perhaps be a joint presentation by the SRSA and by DoE on a joint strategic plan to assist in achieving common goals and objectives, as there had not been much headway to date. 

A Member from Gauteng commented on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the municipalities and the provinces, and expressed appreciation of the MOU between the departments.  He sought clarification about the concept of ‘hubs’. He also commented on fiscal dumping of money.

Mr M Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) questioned the Department’s assertion that there was insufficient funding. Provincial departments were perhaps not aware of the existence of funds for which schools and clubs could apply. He wished to hear the Department’s view on his suggestion to reverse the effects of existing legislation to give SRSA a better leverage in charge of the whole process of sports. He did not object to the lotteries.

The Chairperson asked the Department to explain succinctly the practical implications of this year’s  Division of Revenue Act (DORA) and its funding.

Ms Sibeko explained that the DORA grant was a conditional grant. The National Department would then transfer funds from this grant to provinces, to carry on the Department’s work. In the past there was no alignment of the strategy between the provinces and the Department, as despite the existence of a framework the National Department had not insisted on guiding the provinces in their use of the funding. This year the National and provincial departments had signed an agreement to cooperate on the business plans outside the Department’s strategy.  

Ms Sibeko said that the Department was lobbying for sport, and wanted the Members to assist. The Lotto gave R460 million annually for sport. Beneficiaries obtained funds from the Department and from the Lotto as well. If the Minister could be in charge of the distribution of the Lotto’s R460 million this would enable SRSA to have leverage and ensure accountability to the Department for the use of the funds. The discussion on this subject was now at Cluster level, and would be referred to Cabinet in July.

Ms Mkhouto gave additional clarity about the DORA conditional grant. A hub was a central place convenient of access within a community, at which a variety of facilities could be provided. SRSA  encouraged communities to tell the Department exactly what kind of activities they required, and the Department would also make its own suggestions, such as a Learn-to-Swim programme for a community that could access a river or dam. Activities would differ from hub to hub and from province to province according to local needs. Some provinces, such as Gauteng, were not complying with the Act, since they were receiving funds, but then engaging in ‘fiscal dumping’ at the end of the financial year. The Department asked Members to inform the Department if they became aware of this, to assist with the monitoring of provincial expenditure.

The Chairperson said that a conditional grant implied that if a recipient did not use funds according to the prescribed conditions, the recipient would not necessarily be given any further funds.

Briefing by the Department of Arts and Culture on Community (Public) Libraries
The Chairperson explained that at a previous meeting on the strategic plan, Members had asked the Department of Arts and Culture questions about libraries, and the Committee had agreed that a special presentation on libraries would be desirable. This meeting provided that opportunity. 

Dr Graham Dominy, National Archivist, Department of Arts and Culture, explained that despite his official title, he headed a component that included national archives, heraldry and libraries. He would report on progress with the community libraries conditional grant funding. Three years ago he had highlighted the lack of funding for community libraries, the Committee had pledged its support and the funding was given, for which he was deeply grateful. 

Dr Dominy reminded Members that libraries were an exclusive provincial legislative competency, according to Schedule 5 of the Constitution. Prior to 2001, community libraries were administered jointly between provinces and local authorities. The advent of the municipal legislation in 2001 giving effect to Schedule 5 meant that funding for community libraries was in jeopardy, because in many places it was regarded as an unfunded mandate. The provincial departments of sports and culture were responsible for libraries, except for KwaZulu Natal, where it vested in the Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism. Very few provinces had enacted their own library legislation.  Some provinces still relied on pre-1994 legislation, whose validity could be doubtful. That legislation provided no support whatsoever for the transformation needed in the sector.

Dr Dominy said that the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) tried to ensure that access to reading materials and the development of reading as an activity was promoted among the youth, families and communities. It was essential that the library sector be transformed into a vehicle capable of meeting the developmental and socio-economic needs of the communities at large.

National Treasury had provided a conditional grant for community libraries, giving a small grant of R5 million in the year 2006/2007 to conduct an investigation of what was happening on the ground. The Department put out a tender and entered into a contract with a consortium that compiled thee reports, which were now available on the Department of Arts and Culture web site. The first report was a survey of immediate needs, and was intended to prepare the way for utilisation of the conditional grant with effect from the 2007/2008 financial year. The second report was a more detailed study of the status quo of libraries in the country. The third report provided a funding model and norms and standards, on the basis of which the Department could proceed.

The provinces themselves decided their priorities for their expenditure in the first year of the conditional grant, being 2007/2008. It was noted that there was a great similarity between the priorities identified by the provinces and the municipalities, and it was recommended that, in the long term, the conditional grant be distributed according to the equitable share formula, subject to the demonstrable capacity of a province to execute the project. It was recommended that the problems between the provinces and the local authorities could be overcome by executive assignments by the MECs. The role of the DAC would be to set national norms and standards in accordance with Section 44 of the Constitution.

With regard to the conditional grant itself, the Treasury had emphasised to the Department that the R1 billion grant was not replacement funding. Before the consortium conducted its study, the last figures available dated back to about 2000, when the municipalities, the provinces and the National Department had spent approximately R1 billion per annum on libraries. The conditional grant was now R1 billion over three years. It was therefore impossible for the Department to take up the total expenditure of all the municipalities on libraries at once. However, the conditional grant was intended to help bridge the gap between the steadily dwindling municipal funding, and the needs of the communities. It would assist the provinces in their new responsibilities. Provincial departments were not allowed to divert the funds intended for libraries to other purposes.

North West had cut the money that it was spending on libraries before the inception of the conditional grant, simply because the constitutional boundary changes of the province had led to a budget shortfall in that province. The provinces were constitutionally bound to offer a library service and therefore were required to budget for it in equitable shares. This funding was supplementary, not replacement.

The critical point of this programme was that the Department was determined to transform the sector by promoting a culture of reading, using libraries as an important vehicle for social cohesion, shared family activities, and peer group networks. An important aspect was libraries and civil rights, emphasising that reading promoted critical thinking, which was essential for the growth of democracy. Books alone were insufficient in the current climate. The project therefore included a significant component for rolling-out information and communications technology (ICT) in community libraries in rural areas,  to promote access to the internet, in particular for young learners.

Fundamental to promoting a culture of reading was provision of reading material in indigenous languages. The sooner a child learned to read and enjoy it, the more likely he was to continue reading throughout his lifetime. Children would learn to read at school, but in such as way as to enable them to pass examinations, without always having the emphasis on pleasure, self-development or self-realisation. The Department was endeavouring to promote publishing in indigenous languages. 

The Department, in order to drive the process of transformation of the library sector, to promote the conditional grant and to encourage participation in the library and information science sector, had begun a process of drafting a Library Transformation Charter. This would be tabled to MinMec, Parliament, and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). The last was a particularly important stakeholder. The process was being driven by the National Council of Library and Information Services and the National Library of South Africa. The public hearings for the Western Cape were to be held on 18 June 2008.

The National Library of South Africa was leading a project to identify indigenous language classics for re-publication and distribution. It had already published one catalogue and was now working on a second volume entitled Writing in Nine Tongues. The provincial libraries were finding it very useful to assist them with selecting materials for acquisition under the conditional grant.  The large publishers would claim that there was no market for indigenous language, and would be willing only to publish textbooks for which there was a guaranteed market, and thus it was hoped to  encourage independent publishing, as well as encouraging individuals both to borrow library books and purchase books for themselves.

One of the most important current objectives, in this second year of the conditional grant, was to increase the capacity of provinces to manage the project, and to harmonise contributions from the national, provincial and municipal spheres. Municipalities might claim that libraries were an unfunded mandate, but libraries were housed in municipal areas and were municipal assets. The DAC believed that the municipalities could not divest themselves of responsibilities for libraries, which were essentially a community service. 

One of the technical problems in administering the grant was related to procurement and the Department was trying to reconcile provincial procurement requirements with project requirements. Each province had a procurement policy, which by and large required procurement of goods and services from within the province, and this could be difficult for provinces that did not have publishing houses in their province.  The Department was trying to set up an appropriate mechanism to deal with this.

The project had been well reported by the Treasury’s technical assistance unit, which had sent monitoring teams to all the provinces. The Select Committee on Public Finance felt that it would be unwise to abandon the conditional grant too soon, lest there be a deterioration in services.

Dr Dominy reported on expenditure to December 2007, when several provinces still had a large proportion of unspent funds. There was a distinct improvement by the end of the financial year. The Department had withheld the fourth quarter grant from the Eastern Cape, North West, and Limpopo, because it was clear that they would be unable to spend it. National Treasury proposed to return the grant to North West by the end of 2008/2009 and to Limpopo and the Eastern Cape by the end of 2009/2010. North West had already made a substantial improvement.  

Dr Dominy gave details of the conditional grant for the current year of 2008/2009, which amounted to a total of R338 million. The proposed pattern of distribution was at variance with the equitable share formula, but was based on research done by the consortium. The formula had been adjusted in favour of rural provinces and gave advantage to the Northern Cape, whose disadvantaged status was complicated by its vast extent and small, scattered population, making mobile libraries essential.  

The Department was encouraging the drafting of a South African Public and Community Libraries Bill, to take account of the norms and standards recommended by the consortium and the Library Transformation Charter.

Dr Dominy then turned to the briefing document, noting that the aims were reiterated. It was essential that the library sector was transformed into a vehicle capable of meeting the developmental and socio-economic needs of the communities at large. This document noted the distribution of R180 million to the provinces in 2007/08. The priorities for the grant, as agreed with each province were set out, and the achievements of the provinces were detailed (see attached document for provincial details).  The projects being focused on were improving access to libraries and the delivery of information services to people with specific needs and physical disabilities, increased access to facilities for children, audio-visual materials for the visually-impaired and for the aged,  improving access to library and information services to people in under-serviced areas, in particular rural areas,  extending library opening hours, a collection development to meet the people’s needs, for example the provision of material in indigenous languages, and the purchasing of books, periodicals, and toys. Further projects aimed to improve literacy, and establish a culture of reading; to train and appoint of professionally qualified librarians, to increase access to information and communication technology (ICT) facilities and systems; to maintain ICT equipment and systems; and to train library users in this equipment. Other projects would be aimed at the upgrading and maintaining of library buildings; and improved co-ordination and collaboration between national, provincial and local library and information services, for example, the signing of service level agreements between local and provincial governments.  

The National Treasury had approved national and provincial business plans defining outcomes and outputs for each province. The first allocations for 2008/2009 were transferred to the provinces in April 2008.  Provinces reported monthly, quarterly and annually to the Department and National Treasury on their targets, outcomes and expenditures. The National Treasury was supplying technical assistance to two provinces and the Department on the management of the grant.

The Department and the provinces were in the process of drafting an evaluation plan to improve the processes of implementing the grant through assessing and improving grant delivery mechanisms (formative evaluation), and to assess progress towards the achievements of programme outcomes or objectives. The evaluation process would be monitored until the end of the project.

The Department reported on its aim to ensure equitable use of the grant and was aware of the need for library facilities, which should, similar to sports facilities,  be within reasonable travelling distance of the target population. In a province like Northern Cape there must be investment in mobile libraries.  The DAC was currently assisting the Department of Communications in gathering ICT infrastructure information from public libraries located in the vicinity of DiNaledi schools. It also worked closely with the DoE in promoting close co-operation and partnership between school libraries and community libraries.

Mr Thetjeng asked for clarification about the status of the conditional grant for libraries and whether it was to be a recurrent or a long-term source of funding. He was concerned that in the past conditional grants had been used by provinces for purposes other than the intended purpose.

Dr Dominy said that the National Treasury was relatively pleased with progress made so far, and had indicated that the conditional grant would continue at least for a further three years until the end of 2010/2011. 

Dr Dominy said that the Department had not in 2007/2008 found any such abuses as spending the grant for other purposes than libraries. However, there were instances of no spending. There was a potential problem where provinces transferred funds from the grant to municipalities to spend on the province’s behalf. The Department admitted the need to monitor municipalities to ensure that they spent the money correctly. In the 2007/08 year the Western Cape had transferred its entire grant to local authorities to pay salaries, simply because by doing this it was able to curtail the trend whereby libraries were having to close for lack of staff who had resigned or retired.  The Department had appointed three co-ordinators and monitors to carry out the monitoring of spending. .

Mr Thetjeng had heard on an English language radio station a programme about the proposed catalogue of books in indigenous languages. He was concerned that if the programme were broadcast in English only, then the majority of the potential audience would be left uninformed.

Dr Dominy said that this broadcast was concerned with the National Library of South Africa’s project to inform the public about the compilation of a second volume of the Library’s catalogue of publications in indigenous languages. The broadcast had been transmitted in all 11 official languages.

Mr Thetjeng asked about ICT in libraries in rural areas, and their relation to multipurpose centres in which more than one governmental service would be provided. He asked about plans to complete these centres in areas without existing infrastructure, and if there were plans for roll out.

Dr Dominy said that there was definitely a roll-out plan for ICT connectivity. The Department intended to align the roll-out with the Presidential National Commission on Information in Society and Development, which was co-chaired by the Directors-General of the Departments of Arts and Communications. Cabinet’s policy was that the Departments must conduct the roll-out within the reception range or footprint of the DiNaledi Schools. These schools would obtain the equipment needed to offer wireless connectivity to a range of governmental services within the footprint and reception range of the transmitting and receiving equipment. Within a certain radius of the school, generally about 15 km, all libraries, schools, health centres, museums, and similar facilities would be connected to the internet via the local DiNaledi School.  The project was to be implemented before the end of December this year.

Mr Thetjeng asked what mechanisms the Department had to ensure that reading materials, in particular those in indigenous languages, could be printed, notwithstanding the reluctance of printers to entertain limited print runs, and concerns not to infringe existing rights. 

Dr Dominy said that copyright issues on publishing in indigenous languages were a serious problem. The Department of Trade and Industry monitored intellectual property. This was particularly a problem in reproducing materials for the blind, which involved a change of format. The Library for the Blind was working very hard on this matter, and there was hope of imminent progress. The Library for the Blind was rolling out, in community libraries, the equipment needed to enable visually-impaired people to get access to materials from their local libraries rather than exclusively from the Library for the Blind in Grahamstown. The National Library of South Africa was dealing with copyright for translation as part of its re-publication project.

Mr Thetjeng asked how municipalities that were very rural and did not have a single library could be assisted.

Mr Thetjeng asked if one could request replenishment of libraries whose book stock was old. Even if computers were provided, the library’s usefulness would remain limited without refreshing the book stock. It was important to provide at least a core collection of books for study purposes. There were many schools that had adequate physical facilities but no books.

Dr Dominy said that the Department’s view was that libraries should not stock textbooks. The Department preferred that they stock supplementary material to enrich the study of subjects on the school curriculum.

Ms Qikani asked if the Department had any plan to assist the rural areas, such as those in the Eastern Cape, that were deprived of books. 

Dr Dominy noted that the Eastern Cape had been under spending. One of the new co-ordinators or monitors would almost definitely be assigned to the Eastern Cape.

Dr Dominy added, in relation to the under-spending in the first year of the conditional grant, that this was understandable because it was a new grant and there was a need for MOUs before any funds could be disbursed by the provinces to the municipalities. National Treasury had also provided assistance to bring the level of expenditure up to at least 50% of available funds by the end of the year. It also had an infrastructure development unit which would be assisting in the construction of libraries in rural areas. Part of the problem was dependence on the provincial Department of Public Works for library construction and Treasury would also intervene in that situation.

Ms F Mazibuko (ANC, Gauteng) said that the Committee should meet with the National Council of Library and Information Services. The Committee had never seen its annual report or any of its documents. She asked whether the members of this body had remained the same or if some had resigned and new members been appointed.

Mr Dominy assured Ms Mazibuko that the National Council of Library and Information Services had met, and an annual report had been tabled.

Ms Mazibuko complained that skewed allocations of budgets for libraries was problematic, since some municipalities were able to allocate bigger budgets for libraries than could provinces. She asked for an analysis of who owned the library buildings, province by province. 

Dr Dominy said that the provinces had worked together with municipalities and stakeholders to identify priorities for construction of library buildings, for example, in Limpopo. In the first year of the grant the Department had not generally encouraged the building of libraries, because the Department had anticipated delays in building projects and difficulties if money was not spent within the first year. However, in the second year of the grant, many construction projects were under way.

Ms Mazibuko said that there were many positive developments in Brazil.

Dr Dominy said that Ms Mazibuko had made a very valid observation about Brazil. The same could be said of Cuba. It was important to be able to share facilities, of which there were examples in those countries. 

Dr Dominy said that in a rural area where there were five schools and no library that it might make sense to build one library to serve both the community and the five schools, or to have a school library that could be used by members of the community after school hours. This was an area in which the DAC was co-operating with the DoE.

Ms Mazibuko said that she was disturbed about the slow progress of pending legislation, which might not be passed soon because of the full Parliamentary programme. 

Ms Mazibuko said that she was also concerned about the issue of fees charged to library users.

Dr Dominy said that user fees had previously been used to exclude disadvantaged people from libraries in predominantly white areas. The Department would insist that there must be free access to libraries. However, it was necessary to make provision to recover the cost of replacing books lost by a user. He reiterated that libraries must serve the disadvantaged. Provincial libraries were now gathering statistics not only on registered borrowers but also users who visited the libraries to consult materials or study on the premises, who should never be charged because of the libraries’ role in community uplifting and transformation. 

Ms Masilo commended the Department, but said that more resources were needed.

Mr Dominy said that North West province had really tried exceptionally hard to correct under spending and was an example to Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.  Gauteng was encouraging local authorities, such as Tshwane, to allocate resources to their previously disadvantaged communities.

Dr Dominy commented in general upon the issues raised around school libraries. The National Department of Education was developing a reading policy to be finalised in July 2008, and had  appointed a new director to be responsible for school libraries and reading. The DAC was co-operating with DoE in the promotion of literacy, in which community libraries had an important role. The DAC was supporting the promotion of literacy programme by sustaining through the community libraries the literacy skills learned at school, and ensuring that school leavers continued always to read. 

Dr Dominy addressed the question of whether libraries were meeting the challenges of the nation. South Africa was a developmental state and needed to define standards and norms.

Mr Sulliman asked where the 34 container libraries in the Northern Cape were located.

Dr Dominy said that he would provide a written answer to the Committee Secretary.

Mr Sulliman said that, although there was little that one could do at the national level, it was important to assist the Northern Cape to overcome the difficulties resulting from the continued application of Ordinance 20 of 1974.

Dr Dominy acknowledged that the Ordinance was a major problem.

Mr Sulliman said that only a few provinces had their own library legislation. It was not that provinces always lacked the capacity to develop their own legislation, but where that was the case, he asked if the Department would be willing to assist provinces.

Dr Dominy said that some years previously Limpopo Province had passed a Library Act, but it had never been promulgated because of lack of funding for implementation. The problem was not necessarily that provinces lacked capacity. Some were drafting new legislation using the norms and standards, including the non-charging of user fees.

Ms H Lamoela (DA, Western Cape) asked about provision of audio-visual materials for visually-impaired people.

Dr Dominy said that the Department was working together with the South African Council for the Blind to improve provision of materials in Braille. The pioneer school for the blind was situated in Worcester. The Library for the Blind at Grahamstown was a public entity. Braille South Africa, a non-governmental organisation in Johannesburg, had sought the Department’s help, and was receiving a subsidy although it was not a public entity. A workshop with stakeholders to obtain some co-ordination of services to the blind would be held in the near future.

Ms Lamoela said that there was a need to make members of the public aware of the benefits of their community libraries.

Dr Dominy said that the Department was using some conditional grant funds to conduct an awareness programme, and this was used with success in Mpumalanga.

Ms Lamoela said that ICT equipment and systems needed to be maintained.

Dr Dominy said that the Department was collaborating with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and was taking KwaZulu-Natal as a model with regard to ICT facilities in libraries.

Ms Lamoela asked for the Department’s view on mobile library units for rural areas, given that the Department of Home Affairs had had success with similar mobile units in such areas.

Dr Dominy replied that the Department intended to build on the successes so far in the Northern Cape and increase provision in the other provinces.

Ms Kgarebe, on behalf of the North West province, expressed thanks to the Department, especially to those who were responsible for the budget allocations.

The Chairperson said that the culture of reading did not yet exist in South Africa and remained to be cultivated.

The Chairperson asked for the Department’s views on the role of IT in libraries and the extent to which its use could be considered to negate the need for libraries as sources of information. 

Dr Dominy said that the present generation of young people did not read in the same way as had previous generations. However, in the Free State it had been found, contrary to expectations, that the introduction of computers in libraries did not discourage reading. Often, after using the computers for the allocated time, a child would ask the librarian for a book related to the information gleaned from the computer. This augured well for the fostering of links between the book and the new technology.

The Chairperson observed that libraries were, for the most part, located in municipalities, and had previously been financed by municipalities, as reflected in Ordinance 20 of 1974. He also was mindful that municipalities might elect to abdicate any responsibility for supporting libraries. He asked whether it was fair that provinces should be expected to contribute funding to libraries in rich municipalities, such as Johannesburg.  He argued that if municipalities could be left to arrange their own funding for libraries, then there would be a sizable amount of money from the conditional grant which could be allocated to libraries in rural areas.

Dr Dominy pointed out that the Constitution assigned the function of libraries to the provinces. It would help if libraries could become a concurrent rather than an exclusive provincial competence. The Department was hoping that through the norms and standards legislation, and the Community Libraries Bill to enable the library system to work within the current legal framework.

The Chairperson observed that librarians were an aging occupational group in South Africa. He asked if there was likely to be success in training younger members of society to enter the library profession.

Dr Dominy agreed that the highest occupancy rates of library posts were at the senior management grades, with a greater number of unfilled posts at junior grades. He was concerned that young people were not coming forward for professional education and training. The Department was, with the help of conditional grant funds, starting an investigation into training for the library profession. It was hoped that next year bursaries would be available to encourage entrants to the profession.

In response to a Member’s question on toy libraries, Dr Dominy explained that, if children could be encouraged to chose books related to a toy with which they were playing, they might thereby be encouraged to read and make reading a lifelong habit.

The Chairperson said that he did not want libraries to be viewed as ‘white elephants’, and wanted to dispel the idea that an ideal place to hide something would be inside a book, where nobody would bother to look. 

Committee business
Mr Thetjeng expressed reservations about the Chairperson’s proposal that the Committee participate with the Portfolio Committee on Education in public hearings to be held on 31 July 2008 on the National Qualifications Framework Bill.

Mr Sulliman said that it would be necessary for the Committee to be very careful in its planning.

The Chairperson said that his aim was to save Parliament’s time, and the Committee’s participation would be confined strictly to the public hearings.

The minutes of the meeting on 11 June 2008 meeting were adopted with minor amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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