Department of Education Annual Report 2007/08

Basic Education

18 November 2008
Chairperson: Prof S Mayatula (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Education presented its 2007/08 Annual Report to the Committee. The Department described the five broad priorities in education. The first was to deal with poverty, giving particular attention to the cost of education and the declaration of “no-fee” schools, the National School Nutrition Programme and rural education. The second priority of skills development, focused on further education and training (FET), improving the teaching of mathematics and science, the role of higher education in addressing the skills shortages, adult education and training and human resource development. The third was overall quality improvement, the fourth related to health education and the fifth to institutional development. A description was given of how each translated into programmes. The Department then proceeded to list the focus, achievements and challenges of each of its programmes. In respect of the financial performance, it was reported that the Department had achieved a clean audit and had spent overall 99.1% of the budget. The detailed breakdown and reasons for any under spend were set out.

Members asked about the non-registration of teachers with the South African Council of Educators, the inconsistent performance of the school nutrition schemes and the need for closer monitoring, the fact that many of the difficulties being encountered by schools were not detailed in the report, such as overcrowding, implementation of quintiles and provisioning of libraries and laboratories. Members further questioned the cooperation with other departments on infrastructure, the classification of schools as no-fee schools, the criteria for the Dinaledi schools, and when there was likely to be a turnaround in performance of learners. The completely inadequate resources of some Grade R classes were highlighted, and Members asked what would be done to fund these schools, and what measures were in place to address crime in schools

Meeting report

Department of Education (DoE): Annual Report 2007/08
Mr Philip Benade, Acting Director-General, and permanent CFO of the Department of Education took the Committee through the Annual Report of the Department (DoE). He noted that the Minister had five broad priorities. The first, dealing with poverty, gave special attention to the cost of education and the declaration of “no-fee” schools, the National School Nutrition Programme and rural education. The second, skills development, focused on further education and training (FET), improving the teaching of mathematics and science, the role of higher education in addressing the skills shortages, adult education and training and human resource development. The third was overall quality improvement, the fourth related to health education and the fifth to institutional development.

Mr Benade briefly described how some of these priorities translated into programmes. He noted that all schools in quintiles 1, 2 and 3 were declared no-fee schools, and that 40% of both primary and secondary schools had been so declared. In respect of school nutrition, a budget of R1.152 billion had provided nutrition to about 6 million learners in 17 899 schools. R67 million had been allocated for FET bursaries. A concept document and implementation plans had been drawn to enhance quality of education in seven rural areas. With regard to National Human Resource Development, it was noted that a Task Team had developed terms of reference, and would be studying how best to plan, coordinate, integrate, manage, monitor and report on the revised Strategy. It was holding teacher recruitment events. The Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign had been launched in February 2008. The development of the National Infrastructure Management System had been completed and the Department of Education (DoE) maintained contact with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) on provision of water and sanitation to schools. Integrated Quality Management Systems were strengthened in respect of teachers. The implementation of the National Curriculum Statement was described. In respect of Health Education, work was done around HIV and Aids and drug abuse, and monitoring was done to check that families did have access to services. The various interventions into institutional development were also set out (see attached presentation).

Mr Benade then described the focus, achievements and challenges for each of Programme 1: Administration, and Programme 2: System Planning and Monitoring. Programme 1 dealt with International Relations, Global Partnerships and participation in various UNESCO programmes. Programme 2 dealt with Physical Planning for schools, Financial Planning, Economic Analysis, Research Coordination and Education Information Managements Systems.

Mr Firoz Patel, Deputy Director-General: Systems and Planning, DoE, set out the focus areas, achievements and planning for Programme 3: General Education and Training. He outlined Early Childhood Development, Implementation of the Curriculum in the general education and training band, the implementation of inclusive education, the implementation of the National Framework on Teacher Education and Development, District Development, school management and governance, quality promotion and assurance and the foundations for learning campaign.

Mr Benade then outlined Programme 4: Further Education and Training, covering the performance in mathematics and science and technology, the quality of learning and teaching in further education through the curriculum transformation, life orientation, support through in as per the document.

Ms Gugulethu Ndebele, Deputy Director-General: Social Cohesion, DoE, went through Programme 5: Quality Promotion and Development. This included the supporting of schools that experienced high levels of crime and violence, towards being safe and caring schools, increasing participation of girl learners in gateway subjects in higher grades, reviewing adult education and mass literacy, facilitating the implementation of sports in schools, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and the implementation of the mass literacy campaign.

Prof Chika Sehoole, Chief Director: Higher Education Policy, DoE, went through Programme 6:  Higher Education. This included the provision of academic and research support for the higher education system, developing and maintaining appropriate policies for enhancing research output from higher education institutions and the provision of institutional support for these institutions. Further key areas included providing support to higher education institutions in order to boost the number of quality graduates as well as improved management plans for the entire higher education segment, and supporting of diversity in higher education.

Ms Kirti Menon, Chief Director: Higher Education Planning, DoE, provided an outline of the provisions for academic and research support to the higher education system, as more fully set out in the attached document. This included the establishment of the Review Committee to oversee the work of working groups.

Mr Benade added that the Committee needed to keep in mind that the National department was attempting to achieve all these matters with a staff complement of 400.

Mr Benade then tabled the financial statements. He noted that overall, 99.1% of the budget was spent, leaving an amount of R47 million under-pent due to work in progress not completed by March 2008. The reasons for the under-spend were fully set out. He noted that the Department had achieved a clean audit report.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked about the non-registration by schools of teachers with the South African Council of Educators (SACE). He said that SACE should not have to go to schools, but that principals could very simply take care of this.

Mr Benade replied that there was a misunderstanding that must be cleared up with SACE. He added that SACE had said that some of the older teachers were not registered. He stated that the Department would advise SACE to use the documentation generated from the automatic salary deductions (for SACE) that all teachers paid, in order to cross-reference and determine who was having deductions taken from their salary yet was not yet on the database. He added that the DoE would assist SACE in this matter.

The Chairperson said that if schools did not respond then there was no way that SACE could attend to the proper registration.

The Chairperson commented on the nutrition schemes, noting that contractors were interpreting the provision of “vegetables” in different ways, sometimes only providing one vegetable, and he noted that this amounted in some cases to exploitation, which should be stopped. With reference to Bushbuckridge, where the Committee had made an inspection, the Chairperson noted that the women helping with the food schemes received R400 for their help; however he stated that this amount needed to be increased.

Mr R Van den Heever (ANC) congratulated the DoE on having received a clean audit. He stated that while the reports were good, the difficulties that the schools encountered on the ground were not addressed by the reports. He highlighted the issue of overcrowding, uniformity of the implementation of quintiles and the provisioning of libraries and laboratories in fewer schools than expected.

Mr Benade stated that these problems were funding-related. He said that it was often not taken into account that the current DoE inherited an education system from the apartheid regime, and at that stage it was in a pitiful condition. Despite actual increases in spending, by the time that inflation was taken into account the effects of inflation, the real budget increase since 1994 amounted to only 1%. Mr Benade added that this posed a major challenge.

Mr B Mosala (ANC) stated that Bushbuckridge had shocked the Committee with its poor facilities.

Mr Mosala said that page 20 of the Annual Report stated that the DoE was collaborating with other government departments in terms of infrastructure, yet some schools in that area did not even have running water. He asked whether the DoE was aware of this and what was being done about this problem.

Mr Patel replied that he would follow up on the problem.

Mr R Ntuli (ANC) stated that the initial norms for classifying schools as no-fee schools had been wrong, as some schools drawing from the same areas and directly adjacent to each other would end up being classified differently. He added that geography was not the best predictor. Mr Ntuli felt that Further Education and Training (FET) bursaries needed to be significantly increased and he asked what were the criteria for selecting Dinaledi schools. He asked when the Committee was likely to see a turn-around in learner performance.

Mr Patel replied that the quintile system was a mathematical formula used to break up schools into socio-economic clusters, and that it was a broad tool that possibly did need to be replaced. He added that at present the Minister had gazetted quintile 1 and 2 schools as no fee schools, but that this could not be extended to quintile three schools until more funding had been made available.

Mr Benade said that last year R100 million had been earmarked for FET bursaries and that this year it had been doubled. However, this was not the only source of the bursaries. He said that Dinaledi schools were identified by the provincial departments and that the selection was not based on selecting the best performing schools and augmenting them, but on other considerations. This process, however, was a provincial competency.

Mr G Boinamo (DA) stated that when the Committee had visited schools they found that Grade R programmes were handled in normal schools, without any form of planning, no resources, no water and no carpeting or mats on the floor. This situation was worse in some of the shacks, where the children were simply being “warehoused”. He asked whether there was a likelihood of getting independent Grade R schools with proper teachers, and whether these would be subject to licensing. Mr Boinamo added that it appeared that Dinaledi schools got preference with regard to the provisioning of books.

Mr Benade replied in terms of the bigger picture, the system that the DoE inherited did not have a Grade R component and that there were challenges. In terms of a lack of facilities, additional funding was being released to deal with this.

Mr Boinamo also asked what measures were in place to deal with crime at schools.

The Chairperson stated, with regard to districts, that there was a perception in the Eastern Cape that inspectors were paid less than they received in other provinces and he asked whether this was indeed the case. He also asked for clarity on what ECD, FET and GET meant.

Mr Patel replied that the term ECD dealt with Early Childhood Development, which was targeted at children from 0 to 9 years of age. GET was General Education and Training, which was offered from Grades 1 to 12. FET stood for further education and training at FET Colleges. The funding norms stated that poor areas were targeted for Grade R programmes, and that community sites should be developed, registered and then funded. He added that the Department would be very close to reaching the 2010 target.

The meeting was adjourned.

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