ATC080827: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Education on its Strategic Workshop with the Department of Education on 9 – 11 March 2008 at Villa Via Hotel in Gordon’s Bay:

Basic Education

Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Education on its Strategic Workshop with the Department of Education on 9 – 11 March 2008 at Villa Via Hotel in Gordon’s Bay:

1. Background:

The management of the committee, having conducted a number of meetings, undertook a decision to conduct a three-day strategic workshop with the Department of Education which included three guest speakers. 

The strategic planning workshop intended to achieve the following objectives:
 To obtain a deeper understanding of the key challenges confronting our education system in the provision of quality education as well opportunities that can be exploited.
To obtain deeper understanding of the new model of parliamentary oversight and accountability in order to improve the quality of the Committee’s work.
To identify key strategic issues to be factored in the development of the committee’s programme.
To identify relevant sub-themes and activities for the purpose of developing a programme of action that would promote the provisioning of quality education.

                        2. Delegation:
The delegation constituted a multi-party delegation of the Committee. The delegation was led by the Chairperson of the Committee, Prof S M Mayatula (ANC) accompanied by Adv A Gaum (ANC), Ms P Mashangoane (ANC), Ms J Matsomela (ANC), Ms V Mentor (ANC), Mr G Mosala (ANC), Mr B Mthembu (ANC), Mr R Ntuli (ANC), Mr R van den Heever (ANC), Mr G Boinamo (DA), Ms D van der Walt (DA), and Ms C Dudley (ACDP).
                        The support staff of the Committee consisted of: 
Mr A Kabingesi (Committee Secretary), Mr A Mphunga (Committee Researcher) and Ms N Mxinwa (Party Researcher).

The three special guest speakers consisted of:
Prof P Christie (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, CPUT), Prof C De la Rey (University of Cape Town, UCT) and Hon. O. Bapela, MP (House Chairperson, Parliament).

The Department of Education was presented by:
Dr C Madiba, Chief Financial Officer: Strategic Planning, Dr M Mulchany, Special Advisor: Ministry of Education, Mr D Ngobeni, Director: Director-General’s Office, Dr W Makgalanchenche, Director Strategic: Planning, Mr D Hindle, Director- General: Department of Education and Mr E Surty, Deputy Minister: Department of Education.

3.         Findings:
The following formed part of the key findings:
The Quality Improvement and Development Programme (QIDSUP) by the department has been a good example to redress inequality in schools.
 The provincial education departments do not comply with national norms and standards set by the national department.
 There is a need to look at education through the “Backward Mapping Approach”. 
It was discovered that the department does not provide the Committee with performance and quarterly reports as it is supposed to. 
The new Oversight Model will enhance the ability of Members to do oversight and it will also enhance the ability of the Committee to exercise its legislative authority over the executive more effectively. 
The way the committee operates currently has to be reviewed.
The authority of the Committee has not been recognised as it should by the Executive. 
    4.     Opening and Welcome
The Chairperson welcomed all Members and special guests to the Workshop. He informed them that the workshop was a wonderful opportunity for the Members of the committee to debate important issues that affect the Committee and come up with solid recommendations for the way forward of the committee. The objective of the session as follows.
Education and Health have been prioritised as the mainstream of government in the post-Polokwane conference.
The committee would highlight its priorities for the year.
The committee will monitor and prioritise the main priorities of the department.
The committee will gain an insight into education from different perspectives.
The committee will observe broadly what is happening in regard to the laws that have been passed.

     5.    Presentations:

5.1 Towards the Provision of Quality Education for all in the Second Decade of Freedom and Democracy, presentation by Prof Christie:

Prof Christie’s presentation was based on the following outlines:
Changing education systems
What does quality education entail?
What are some of South Africa’s achievements in the First Decade?
What are some of the challenges facing South Africa in the Second Decade?
Some considerations in planning for quality education for all in the Second Decade.

Prof Christie began the presentation by highlighting the importance of a good policy. She indicated that creating a good policy will bring good changes to the ground. However, it is not easy to achieve that since the education system is multi layered and complex. The biggest challenge of policy makers is the lack of understanding of the reality in schools, and without this knowledge it is not possible to develop a good policy. An example of Elmore’s “Backward Mapping Approach” was given as an example that could be used to develop good policies. Interaction between students and teachers in the classroom forms the basis of what quality education entails. In learning outcomes it was highlighted that, schools are accountable for the results they produce. However, this depends on the district’s capacity and accountability. In some schools there are teachers who cannot teach which blocks the whole system and affects the ability of students to learn.

Achievements in the First Decade:
More equitable distribution of state resources, e.g “No-Fee School” 
Redesigned and restructured system
More access to schools
Improvements to school provisioning
Moving towards achieving Education For All (EFA) goals.

Challenges in the Second Decade:
Persistent inequalities, different rates of progress through the system.
Instances of poor quality in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) test South Africa came last and in the United Nations Educational and Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) survey South Africa ended on 30% below Senegal.
Senior Certificate results of the country are not improving
Big difference between urban and rural systematic tests.

Consideration in making quality education for all:
Ensure supply of well-remunerated teachers
Need to do well in Maths and Science
Recognise one size does not fit all
Set realistic policies for schools
Adopt a backward mapping approach.

The following formed part of the discussion:
It emerged that the issue of mother tongue language is very important and that teachers needed to emphasis its use. How do teachers ensure that there is quality education in the classrooms? What are the measures in place to get rid of bad teachers? 
A concern was raised about the issue of teenage pregnancy in schools. Did the country have plans to reduce this problem in high schools?
What is the role of parents in schools in relation to teenage pregnancy?
Mozambique has a high literacy rate than South Africa. Most South African students cannot read well and the dropout rate in schools is very high. To address this more support mechanisms are required.

The mother tongue issue is associated with education and politics. There will be no choice in future for teachers to teach in the mother tongue of learners where it is required. In monitoring the system, it is dangerous that we do not have inspectors. The new Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) will definitely benefit good teachers who will provide quality education.
Research shows that teenage pregnancy is not spread as result of the child support grant. In combating this problem, parents play a crucial role in educating their children about this issue.
Parents have a major role in protecting the schools. If the school does not have a good parental relationship, it will be vandalized.
There is no quality system without good results. The country has many teachers who cannot teach the New Curriculum. The current budget is not a problem, but capacity is the main problem.

5.2 South African Higher Education - Challenges and Opportunities, presentation by Prof De la Rey:
Professor C De la Rey welcomed the opportunity to present to the Committee. The committee congratulated on her for appointment as the new Chief Executive Office (CEO) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE). Her presentation focused on the following key issues:
National Plan for Higher Education
OECD Review
SWOT Analysis of Higher Education
Key challenges
Role of Council of Higher Education (CHE).

One of the main issues in the National Plan for Higher Education is the re-engineering of the Higher Education system. In addition, equity of access is another critical issue that was highlighted. Steering mechanisms such as funding, planning and quality assurance needed to be taken seriously. The higher education system was a building block of any education system in a country. Research shows that South Africa produces very low amount of PhD graduates as compared to other middle-income countries. However, it was highlighted that there was a need to focus more on Maths and Science as well as increasing research capacity in higher education. Another critical issue is the need to invest more funds in Higher Education.

SWOT Analysis of Higher Education:

Improved level of education
Infrastructure is a legitimate concern in the country
Our institutions have pockets of efficiency and excellence
There are number of recent improvements in Higher Education that can be pointed.

Failure in management of higher education institutions is a major concern
The country is experiencing a high rate of  unemployed graduates
There is a high drop-out rate and low through put in higher education istitutions
Skewed research output.

South Africa’s education system has a good international standard and recognition, e.g  the University of Cape Town (UCT) is among the top Universities in the world
The country’s economic growth is fairly stable
Introduction of internship programmes to give graduates the opportunity to be employed.

There is a lack of co-ordination in higher education institutions
Reality of student life in our residences is not pleasing at all
Inability to produce skilled labour.

Key challenges:
There is a need to review the National Plan and Institutions should have a longer term plan for education. e.g Japan has a 100 years term plan for education.
Not enough school learners go to higher education institutions because of socio economic- dynamics
Internationalisation of our higher education institutions is  inactive. 

Role of CHE:
Providing considered advice based on evidence and expert opinion
Quality assurance
Information gathering and dissemination
Posing questions, facilitating debate
Preparing independent reports on system performance against policy objectives.

The following formed part of the discussion:
The country has a skills shortage. What are the challenges and what can be done to solve this problem?
What is being done with unemployed graduates?
The issue of public confidence cannot be handled by higher education institutions only. HEI’s do not look at leadership dynamics and communities that are around them.
How do you promote a person to be a professor?
In relation to international standards, how do you measure international institutions with the country’s institutions?
What mechanisms are in place to reduce high drop-out rate in higher education institutions?
In relation to failures and gaps in governance, what is being done about the misuse of the mandate of the SRC in our HEI’s?
How do we deal with issues of equity and equality?
Does NSFAS contribute the to high drop-out rate in HEI’s?

 Te country is not producing enough graduates with special skills in key areas such as Maths and Science. Another major challenge is that the few skilled people that the country produces leave in search of greener pastures overseas. Chemical Engineering has been an example of success in the country. The problem is the lack of capacity in our system.
There is no institution in the country that has a problem of unemployable graduates. The Council of Higher Education has a monitoring policy tool to track the employability of graduates. 
Community engagement with HEI’s is a key element. However, the reality is that there is not a good relationship between HEI’s and the communities that surround them.
International standards can be measured in many ways. Ranking systems can somehow be biased. 
In order for one to be promoted as a professor, a number of aspects are considered. Firstly, the academic performance of an individual plays a major role. 
Student leaderships often push management to make wrong decisions. All SRC in HEI’s have separate budgets allocated to them. Most of the management of these SRC are often greedy for money, and as a result accept sponsorships promoting alcohol within the institution.
Equity is a challenge in the country. However co-operation is the key to solve this problem.
National Student Financial Aid Scheme is a very good financial aid scheme. However, the scheme’s criterion is missing an important income group, where both parents are working but unable to pay the required funds by the institutions.  The lifestyle of students is very expensive and it is often a problem for those students who cannot afford it.

Day 2:
5.3 Presentation on the Draft New Model of Oversight by Hon. Bapela MP:

Hon Bapela indicated that the New Model was still a draft and was to be finalised by the task team the following Wednesday.
His presentation focused on the following key issues:
Oversight and Accountability
Public Participation
International Forum.
 Since 1994, Parliament has done considerable work in passing legislation. Parliament passed about 100 pieces of legislation per year.  Research shows that legislation that has been coming to Parliament in the past five years has declined as compared with previous years. 

In defining oversight Hon Bapela mentioned that it is a constitutionally mandated function of the legislative organs of state to scrutinise executive action. Parliament has a legislative power of action over the Executive. This means that Parliament can summon anyone to appear before and report to it as a way of exercising its authority. Committees of Parliament were designed in a manner to observe and scrutinise executive action. The Inter-Parliamentary Union’s studies the show South African Parliament as the leader in terms of oversight. 

The Committee was informed that it is not only Parliament that conducts oversight over the Executive and also other bodies like the Auditor-General and the Chapter 9 institutions. On the absence of legislation to regulate the financial administration of Parliament, Parliament is also accountable to the Committee on Public Accounts. The President is questioned by Parliament, unlike in Ghana, where no one has the authority to question the President. This means that Parliament, regardless of its enormous powers, is accountable.

Public participation forms part of the key role of Parliament. Parliament is the voice of the people; therefore it is a representative of all people of the country. The public is regularly invited to make submissions before legislation can be passed. All laws made in Parliament are passed with the mission to ensure a better life for all citizens.

Parliament participates in international forums. This means that it does not operate in isolation.  It has partnerships with other international legislative bodies. The importance of international forums is that Members have an opportunity to share their political experiences with other international stakeholders. Parliament will be hosting the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on 13 – 18 April 2008, a good example of an international forum.

The following formed part of the discussion:
International participation is critical in our constitution. However, some Members representing Parliament in international forums do not submit reports
The issue of oversight in our constituency is a problem. Members are often told to ask for permission before conducting oversight. What is being done to improve this?
There is a problem with regard to power relations between Parliament and the Executive. Committees are often taken lightly by most cepartments. What can be done to solve this problem?
The issue of Member’s training is compulsory.  What is the significance of the training

It is a responsibility of a Member to bring a report of the conference or international forum that he/she participated in before the House for debate. 
 There is a lack of space in Parliament. However, construction opposite the 90 Plein Street Building is taking place for the development of the new Chamber. The 120 Plein Street Building will belong to Parliament soon.
The new model does not require Members of Parliament to apply for permission before conducting oversight visits. However, the model requires that a surprise visit not disrupt activities of a place.
 Parliament has been undermined by the executive and there is a need for committees to exercise their legislative power over the departments.
Training of Members will empower Members to engage substantially in presentations. 

5.4 Department of Education’s Annual Programme Review:
Dr Chris Madiba, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in Strategic Planning handled the presentation. He apologised on behalf of the Director General Mr D Hindle, who was attending an important meeting with the Minister. His presentation focused on four broad priorities namely:

Dealing with poverty
Skills development
Review of the National Qualifications Framework
Quality improvement

Dealing with poverty
The declaration of “No Fee Schools” has been a major achievement by the department in combating poverty especially in poor schools. Schools in quintiles 1, 2, and some schools in quintile 3 have been declared “No Fee Schools”. Approximately 6 million learners are benefiting from this initiative.
 The National Schools Nutrition Plan (NSNP) ahs also contributed to combating poverty. The department has set aside a budget of R1, 152 billion to feed poor schools. The department is planning to extend this programme to include secondary schools.
The department established the FET Colleges Bursary Scheme to assist learners, especially from poor communities, and to access quality skills programmes in Further Education and Training Colleges.

Skills Development
The National Human Resource Development (NHRD) plan of the Department of Education and the Department of Labour has been a progressive plan to improve skills development. The implementation of the National Teacher Framework (NTF) on teacher education and development is another good example of progress made by the department.
The Fundza Lushaka Teacher Bursary was introduced to increase the capacity of teachers in the education system. 
The Khari Gude Mass Literacy Campaign and the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) have been implemented to address illiterate adults. The cepartment has appointed a new chief executive officer (CEO) to advocate the Mass Literacy Campaign.

Review of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
The new policy on Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HQEF) has been approved.
The Council of Higher Education (CHE) has considered the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Bill.

Quality Improvement:
The department has a partnership with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) to ensure supply of water and sanitation to schools.
The department has been on a mission to get rid of mud schools in rural areas through its infrastructure development initiative.
The implementation of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) has been strengthened to assess and improve skills of teachers.
The department is also implementing the National Education Infrastructure Management System that will give information about the status of schools.

5.5 Presentation on the Strategic Plan 2008-2011 & Budget and Operational Plans 2008-2009:
Dr Chris Madiba, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), in Strategic Planning handled the presentation. He mentioned that the way the department has drawn the operational plan will give strategic objectives and performance indicators. The presentation highlighted the following strategic issues:
Systems planning and monitoring
General education
Further education and training
Social and school enrichment
Higher education
 Budget Vote 13 Hearings

The CFO indicated that the Minister’s continuing vision is to impact urgently and directly on poverty, unemployment, social cohesion by providing quality education for all. Some of the continuing approaches highlighted are the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance teaching and learning as well as building effective partnerships with non governmental Organisations (NGO’s). The Ministers five broad priorities are as follows:
Quality improvement
Health education
Institutional development
Dealing with poverty
Human resource development

The Minister’s Goals for 2008/09 have been summarised as follows:
Improving learning outcomes, especially reading, writing and numeracy
 Preparing for e-learning in schools 
Increasing the number of “No Fee Schools” 
Finalizing the recapitalization of FET Colleges
Implementation of Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign 
Review of Adult Education programmes
Implementing the Education Laws Amendment Act  No 5 of 2002
Building on Funza Lushaka teacher bursaries
Improving the School Nutrition Programme 

Systems Planning and Monitoring
The main priority areas for the planning and monitoring programme were reported as follows

Need to strengthen the Education Management Information System (EMIS) to collect data from schools. This data would be useful to analyse expenditure of education in schools, and improve labour relations to enhance quality teaching in schools. 
The Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) is intended to benefit teachers thereby ensuring improved teaching conditions

General Education:
The Department is planning to increase access to quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) opportunities particularly in poor communities. The Quality Management and Improvement Programme (QIDSUP) have been identified as a good example of redressing inequality in schools. Implementation of the QIDSUP initiative means more resources would be delivered to schools through the resource provision. The department has been focusing its plan in giving more attention to Learner Schools with special Education Needs (LSEN). The department has done this by implementing the Inclusive Education Policy to increase the access of learners with disabilities to schools as well as training teachers with necessary skills for disabled learners. The department is aiming to attract qualified and competent teachers through the OSD.

Further Education and Training:
The department has been focusing on increasing the number of FET learners, with special emphasis on languages, mathematics and science proficiency. In addition, a national examination system for the National Senior Certificate has been implemented. The department supports the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) in Grades 10 to 12. One of the key challenges has been to combat the drop out and repeat rate of Grade 10 to 12 and increasing the number of Dinaledi Schools.
In FET Colleges, the focus has been to strengthen the existing partnership with FET stakeholders e.g. SETA’s, NGO’s and Universities. The department has done a lot of work in improving the throughput and placement rate of college students. The department has been supporting the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in teaching and learning at all colleges.

Social and School Enrichment
The issue of safety of schools has been a very critical issue. In response to this, the department has done a lot of work in creating safe and caring schools by supporting schools that experience high rate of violence and crime.
The department has introduced the Khari Gude Mass Literacy Campaign in response to the large number of illiterate adults.
The department has ensured the implementation of the National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP) reaches poor schools and that learners are fed properly.

Higher Education
The department has embarked on a mission to promote internationalisation of Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s).
The department has been assisting HEI with bursary schemes, especially for students from poor socio-economic background
The department has also been promoting institutional diversity, especially in institutions that were unequally still exist.

Budget Vote Hearings:
The total budget allocation for education has increased from R104, 710,636 in 2007/08 to R 122,878,295 in 2008/09.
The National Department has been allocated R18, 857,546, while most of the Budget has been aallocated to Provincial Education Departments at a cost of R 104,020,749.
The Kwa-Zulu Natal Education Department is the leading province in terms of budget allocated with R 14,645,637 budget set aside for education.
Northern Cape the largest province of the country has the least budget allocated for 2008/09 with R 2,286,860 set aside for education. The reason for this low budget is because the Province has the smallest population.
The summary of Vote 13 indicated that the department spends more money on higher institutions of learning.

The following formed part of the discussion:
A concern was raised regarding the operational plan of the department that it did not include quantitative indicators. The committee wanted to know whether the department had plans to include quantitative indicators. The department has been focusing extensively on the challenges in rural schools forgetting that there are poor schools in urban areas. This approach is not viable.
The committee revealed that in some rural areas there were schools that were still collecting fees form poor learners. The committee wanted to know why this was happening. How does the department ensure safety for teachers and learners in school? What are the plans of the department for learners with disabilities?
The Human Resource Development Framework agreements of the department were not reached yet. The committee wanted to know the problems in reaching agreements. 
A concern was raised on the issue of “No Fee Schools”. The committee wanted to know whether the department has reached the 40% target. 
A concern was raised regarding the Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HEQF). The committee wanted to know if the heads of Higher Education Institutions were consulted with regards to the HEQF, and what kind of feedback has the department received from them.
It emerged that the department through the School Nutrition Programme (SNP) feeds learners from Grades 1-7. The Committee wanted to know whether the department had plans to expand this programme to other grades.
A question was asked whether the department had a policy in place to deal with using school premises to operate businesses or other activities.

Quantitative indicators are very important and provide analytical data. However, the department has been struggling to provide them. The department has been focusing on rural schools while there is mass poverty in urban schools.
The issue of schools still collecting fees from poor learners is totally unacceptable. The reason the department introduced “No Fee Schools” was to deal with this problem.
The National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP) should be extended to secondary schools. However, the department does not have funds o extend this programme.
The safety at schools is a priority for the department. There is a section within the department that has been established to deal with the issue of safety at schools.
The corruption of scholar transport is a major concern. The department monitors scholar transport in provinces. The problem is of capacity in the Provinces to deal with this challenge.
There is a change in the structuring of the HEQF to stretch it up to level 10, in order to solve the problems of learners from FET Colleges not getting enough attention on their qualifications.
 Currently legislation does not deal with the hiring of school premises to conduct other activities.

5.6 PC on Education Review of Activities 2007:
Mr Randall van den Heever welcomed the opportunity to present to the committee.  He began the presentation by indicating that he has considered the 2007 annual report of the committee in reviewing the committee’s activities for 2007. The Report had as its main subsection the following:
Objectives of the Committee
Various milestones of the activities of the Committee
Challenges of the Committee
Departmental entities overseen by the DoE
Meetings held in 2007
Oversight visit by the Committee
International Study Tours
Papers referred to the Committee
Budget Vote
Annual Reports of entities
Support Staff

 He further indicated that, in order to determine the measure of success of the committee, there is a need to consider and interrogate the objectives set for the committee and the extent to which the committee has fulfilled these objectives. 

Challenges facing the Committee:
The Committee’s interaction with the NCOP is weak in respect of education legislation affecting the provincial legislatures. The committee should improve its working relationship with the Select Committee on Education in the NCOP, in order to get a well oiled system of co-operation.
International study tours and visits to the provinces undertaken by the committee are not co-ordinated with the NCOP in order to avoid duplication and unnecessary repetition.
Presentations by the department and its entities are question-answer sessions. Members are not informed enough to decisively interrogate various budgets, annual reports and strategic plans of the department and its entities.
Formulation of education policies is largely in the hands of the Minister of Education. Most of the times, policy processes proceed without active participation or even the knowledge of the committee, leaving the Committee ineffective in dealing with this important area of work.
The committee has not been active in initiating a matter of public importance to be discussed in Parliament.
The committee has also not been able to initiate legislation. This is a matter which the committee has to apply greater attention.
The department and its entities have a tendency of submitting their documents late, leaving the Members with little time to interact with the content of the presentation. 

Regardless of major challenges the committee has been successful with regard to its monitoring and oversight functions in respect of education legislation. In fact, this counts as one of the committee’s most effective oversight function of education legislation.  The Members of the committee have developed skills and expertise with regard to the legislative process and indeed the committee exercises its right to intervene and amend various pieces of legislation under consideration by the committee. In 2007, the committee recommended the adoption of the Education Laws Amendment Bill. The Members demonstrated great experience and maturity in the consideration of the Bill.
The following formed part of the discussions:
It emerged that, the committee has not been able to meet its obligations and mandate. The committee has an opportunity to improve its delivery. There is a need for the committee to review its mandate and engage more in visiting areas where problems in education persists. Engaging with other education stakeholders closely will help the committee to attain its objectives. Education related conferences enable Members of the committee to meet with other academics and share common experiences with regards to education. The committee has not taken seriously the need for Members to attend these conferences. 

A concern was raised in respect of the committee’s operations. The committee is reactive, meaning that, the committee does not lead instead it follows the Department. There is a need to clearly redefine the mandate of the committee. Service Delivery is a point of departure and, the committee has to be responsive to the needs of the people. The way the Committee operates currently needs to be changed. There is a lot of knowledge among the Members of the committee; therefore the committee needs to be divided into Sub-Committees with specialised tasks. These Sub-Committees will improve the work of the committee by identifying important issues related to education. The committee has a researcher and, it needs to utilise the service of the Researcher effectively.

It was discovered that, there was a serious challenge facing the Members of the Committee. Members often lacked the understanding of why they are in Parliament as party representatives. The Members of the committee should work together not as different parties but as Members that are representing education in Parliament. The committee should work closely with the Select Committee on Education in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to effectively tackle issues that affect education.

The idea of establishing Sub-Committees within the committee will bring transformation in the manner in which the committee is currently operating. The Sub-Committees will be headed, and the head of each Sub-Committee will have a link with a relevant stakeholder to the Sub-Committee.

5.7 Committee Priorities for 2008/09:
Prof Shepherd M Mayatula, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Education handled the presentation. He indicated that, everything that the committee does should be driven by, among others, the following themes:

Business Unusual as propound by the President in the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
National Campaign on Mobilising Communities to ensure Quality Education for all.

Prof Mayatula further mentioned that, the committee needs to follow the following guiding principles:

Over the next five years, the committee needs to undertake a concerted campaign to support and promote the continued transformation of education. (Taken from the January 8 statement).
Education needs to be elevated from being a departmental issue, or even a government issue, to a societal issue one that occupies the attention and energy of all our people. 
Implementation of Legislation with special reference to: FET Colleges Act No. 16 of 2006 and the Education Laws Amendment Act No 31 of 2007.
Visits to Institutions of Higher Learning to bring stability.

Oversight and Monitoring:
The presentation included the following oversight matters that could be prioritized and included in the programme of action of the committee:
Provision of Quality Education; Monitoring the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) in Grade R, Foundation Phase, Intermediate Phase, Senior Phase and FET Band.
Improvement of schools infrastructure; the department has been slow in terms of implementing service delivery in schools. Investigation of progress on library provisioning in schools and development of infrastructure should be taken seriously. 
Free education for poor learners is a key issue and expanding the nutrition programme to include high schools should be considered seriously.
Norms and standards should be developed to classify schools, given the variation of school types in the Provinces.
The No-Fee Schools should be expanded to 60% by 2009.
The New Curriculum must be accompanied with skills development of teachers.

The following formed part of discussions:
 There is a need for a serious interaction with the Minister to discuss issues of service delivery especially in rural schools.
 Free education for poor learners has not been achieved yet. The country has the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in institutions of higher learning that assists disadvantaged students to further their education. However this fund comes as a loan, meaning that at a certain period, the candidate will return the assistance he/she received while studying. Therefore, this is not free education at all.
There is need to focus on developing local teachers with necessary skills especially in areas of maths and science. 

5.8 Emerging Strategic Issues for the 2008 Programme of Action:
Mr Ben Mthembu, Member of the Portfolio Committee on Education led the presentation on behalf of the Steering Committee. He indicated that, the theme of the committee for 2008 was developed as follows:
“Towards the provision of Quality Education for all in the Second Decade of Freedom and Democracy”.
He further indicated that, this theme would guide the committee’s activities for the year. The committee has taken a decision to focus on the provision of quality education for all. This theme is predicated on the general consensus that, considerable progress has been made in the first decade of freedom and democracy to achieve the goal of access to quality education. The need to focus on the provision of quality education for all without loosing sight of the equity goal is in part informed by concerns raised by various stakeholders in our civil society.

The presentation highlighted the following key issues:
Need for meaningful reports to quality education.
Need to divide the committee into sub-committees.
Invitation of provincial MEC’s on education to report to the committee on their progress.
Co-operation of Parliament and the Executive.
Student governance and instability in higher education Institutions is a serious challenge.
The way the committee operates is reactive and needs to be changed
Permission for Members to conduct oversight, totally unacceptable.

5.9 Address by the Honourable Deputy Minister: 
Honourable Deputy Minister, Mr Enver Surty, welcomed the opportunity to address the committee. He highlighted the issue of Batho Pele meaning “Putting People First” as a very important key issue that the committee should understand. He informed the committee that, what happens overseas has an impact on the economy of the country. He further indicated that, the country was shifting from a producing economy to a knowledge economy. The following key issues formed part of his address:
Education is a societal issue, not only the responsibility of the Committee or the department.
When Members conduct oversight in their Constituencies, it is important for them to do so within an acceptable framework. Tension from the provincial representatives of education arises because Members often disturb school activities during their oversight visits. When Members conduct oversight visits to schools, it is important to observe the critical issues that affect a particular school. 
Access to education has indeed increased; hence the focus now is on the need for the provision of quality education for all.  
Members need to be very critical about the state of education in this country. This means that, as the representatives of education in this country, Members need to be responsive to the needs of education. 
The cepartment has been promoting the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in schools. The establishment of E-Learning as a system of learning in schools has been a good example of the use of ICT in schools. 
The education system of the country has been compared with many countries including first world countries. Comparisons are good; but they need to be contextualized. 
Members should submit their oversight reports on schools to the Ministry, so that those schools that need special attention should be addressed by the department with immediate effect.

6. Resolutions:
The committee identified the following resolutions for its progress:
The need to conduct more oversights to areas where the problems in education persist and engaging closely with other education stakeholders will assist the committee to meet its objective.
There should be greater emphasis on participation in Education Conferences in order to sharpen the committee’s understanding of universal educational issues.
The committee should call Provinces, MEC’s and Heads of Institutions to account to it because of the seriousness of problems in the field of education in various provinces.

6.1 Conclusion:
The idea of the strategic workshop has been described by the committee as an opportunity to dig deeper and interrogate issues that affect the committee directly. The idea to invite influential and special guest speakers to the workshop has been very enriching in assisting the Committee to enhance its work. Presentations made by the Members of the committee resulted in the formation of new ideas that were developed to enhance the work of the committee and to solve some of the political tensions that exist among the Members of the committee. 

The invitation extended to the epartment to present its strategic plans and budget was meant to challenge and interrogate the lack of service delivery to schools especially in rural schools. It was clear to the committee that, the department has not been able to achieve its objective contrary to its claims. This has been revealed by information derived from the various guest speakers who on a large scale made useful inputs. The hard work of the steering committee developed a new programme of the committee for 2008 based on the theme “Towards the Provision of Quality Education in the Second Decade of Freedom and Democracy”. The overall presence of the Department as well as different guests was deeply appreciated by the committee. 

6.2 Recommendations:
The Portfolio Committee on Education, having conducted a strategic workshop with the Department of Education and special guests recommends the following key issues:

The department needs to address the persistent unequal provision of quality education, that is, equality of access to quality education.
The Department of Education has to supply the committee with performance and quarterly reports
Presentations from the department to the committee should be submitted timeuosly to allow Members more time in preparing for the meeting.

Report to be considered.



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