ATC090908: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education & Training on its Strategic Planning Workshop and the proposed 5 year programme

Basic Education

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education & Training on its Strategic Planning Workshop and the proposed 5 year programme:


1. Introduction


The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education & Training in attempting to strengthen its relationship with the Department of Higher Education & Training and its entities conducted a two-day strategic planning workshop on the 5 & 6 August 2009 at the Villa Via Hotel in Gordon’s Bay. In a bid to enhance Members knowledge capacity especially in the higher education and training sector, the workshop provided a platform for deeper insight of critical issues for consideration in the higher education sector. In addition, the briefing sessions of the workshop provided Members with appropriate introduction to key concepts and terminology in the higher education sector.


2. Delegation


The delegation of the committee was led by the chairperson Mr M Fransman (ANC), accompanied by Ms M Kubayi (ANC), Mr G Lekgetho (ANC), Ms N Magazi (ANC), Mr S Makhubele (ANC), Ms F Mushwana (ANC), Mr G Radebe (ANC), Dr W James (DA), Mr G Boinamo (DA), Mr A Mpontshane (IFP), Ms N Vukuza (COPE), and Ms C Dudley (ACDP). The following Members apologized: Ms W Nelson (ANC) & Mr M Mangena (AZAPO)

Department of Higher Education & Training: Dr M Qhobela: Acting Director-General, Ms N Nqaba: PLO & Ms K Seboko: Receptionist

Department of Labour: Ms L Thobejane: Coordinator SETAs and Ms T Puzi: Coordinator NSF

Special guests: Mr B Sewell: MPA, People and Performance and Mr C Grobler: Observer


3. Objectives of the workshop


The objectives of the workshop included the following


  • To develop a five year programme of the committee that is in line with the mandate and objectives of the new Department of Higher Education and Training
  • To enhance the knowledge capacity of Members with critical issues affecting higher education and training
  • To develop a strategic framework for advanced monitoring and evaluation of the work of both the committee and the executive
  • To effectively understand the mandate of the new department for the next five years with a view to conduct robust oversight over its policy statement or goals
  • To further regulate the department to consider issues of national interest in higher education and training urgently
  • To deeply engage on mechanism or plans that can be implemented to improve the knowledge economy of the country
  • To understanding the significance of  re-aligning the skills sector into higher education


4. Summary of submissions


a) Overview of the Department of Higher Education & Training:


The new Department of Higher Education & Training was established by Presidential Proclamation No. 48 of 2009. The department has not yet developed a strategic plan and it is still using the approved budget of the former Department of Education for its operation. The new Ministry will incorporate all the SETA’s, National Skills Authority and the National Skills Fund to become part of the higher education and training system.


The primary purpose of the new department is to provide a diverse and differentiated post school learning opportunities to adults and youth for the individual, cultural, social and economic development of the country. A post school diversified system will be developed as a single nationally coordinated entity. The primary target audience would be youth (16-24) and adults (24-35) in and out of employment.


b) Overview on Higher Education


Improved access, success, equity and quality have been significant in higher education for the past 10 years. The enrolments in science, engineering and technology grew from 23 % in 1996 to 29 per cent in 2006. Enrolments of African and Coloured students as well as women students have also increased. The higher education budget has grown from R9.8 billion in 2004 to R14, 923 billion in 2008 which represents an increase of 52 % since 2004. The department targets 820 000 students by 2010 with an average annual growth of 2.1 % per annum.


The current participation rate of 18 – 24 year old students in higher education is 17 % compared to 36 % in South Korea. The Department aims to increase the participation rate to 20 per cent by 2014, which will add at least 100 000 new students. The rate of growth in Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges is much faster than in higher education institutions due to good capacity in the sector. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are now funded according to a specific formula and their needs. The demand for financial assistance in higher education outstrips supply and the value of the assistance is insufficient to meet all the needs of students and as a result the country has a low graduate output.


c) Overview on Skills Development


The primary objective of skills development is to improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and to increase the levels of investment in education and training in the labour market. The National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) was developed through stakeholder consultative processes guided by the National Skills Authority (NSA) and it is primarily based on national economic and growth development imperatives and strategies. It is currently under review and will conclude in 2010. The National Skills Fund (NSF) is focused on unemployed, poor and under-employed youth and adults.


The SETA’s are primarily responsible for stakeholder relations and skills demand needs in the sector. There is currently a national debate around the efficiency of the SETA’s and the NSA has been reviewing this debate around the SETA’s. The major challenges of the SETA’s are the lack of job opportunities that they provide to candidates upon completion of the learnerships as well as their visibility in rural communities.


d) Mandate of Committees


Committees are established in terms of the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament. Section 57 (2) (a) of the Constitution states that, the National Assembly may provide for the establishment, composition, powers, functions, procedures and the duration of its committees. The National Assembly Rule 199 establishes committees and provides for their function. Committee derive their mandate from the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament. The main mandates of committees are to, consider legislation, oversee the executive, consider international agreements and facilitate public participation on any matter before them especially on legislation.


Rule 138 of the National Assembly explains the powers for the committees. Committees are given powers to conduct oversight over the executive and they can summon anyone to appear and provide evidence if needed. Committees are extension of the House and they are required to report back to the House on any matter referred to them. The 4th Parliament has set its focus more on oversight to make sure service delivery is implemented. Oversight may be done through site visits, constituency work, and it is very important for committees to make follow up to executive on recommendations made during the oversight.

5. Way forward for the committee


The Committee had an opportunity to strategise its framework and mandate for this Parliamentary term. The pertinent issue that the Committee canvassed for was the need to focus on improving the quality of higher education and training as well as ensuring that the activist Parliament reaches out to the needs of civil society. The burden of addressing the past imbalances in the education system, as well as relieving poverty through education underlines the key strategy of the committee in its way forward. The common goal and vision among Members of the Committee emerged as a critical instrument of continuity in their work over the next five years.


In its way forward, the Committee will place special emphasis on ensuring robust oversight over the executive taking into account the needs of the people. The committee aims to strive for excellence by working with the Department to speed up policy and other interventions for the betterment of the quality of education for all. As the democratically elected representatives of the people, Members will convey the quest of the people with special emphasis on those in rural areas and marginalised groups in this 4th Parliament.


6. Deliberations on Higher Education


The following emerged as critical oversight issues in higher education:


  • Education should be used as a tool to alleviate poverty and sustain economic growth
  • Attention should be paid to the improvement of retention and throughput rate as well as increasing access to higher education institutions
  • The Committee should monitor plans to incorporate unemployed youth in the labour market by providing better access to education and training
  • The new department is still developing a strategic plan and budget. Steps are being taken to fast track the process in order to facilitate the formulation of its mandate
  • The growth in the participation rate in higher education institutions does not compare well with other developing countries
  • There is a high drop out rate in HEI’s which is likely influenced by socio economic factors
  • Lack of financial assistance in higher education is a major contributor to the loss of skilled learners in the system
  • Lack of information regarding the services offered by government in assisting poor learners especially in rural areas remains a serious challenge
  • Stereotypes and untested assumptions in the culture of HEI’s are delaying the transformation process in the education system
  • There is a need to evaluate the impact of mergers to determine whether they have improved the research capacity and knowledge economy of the country
  • The country needs to implement long-term planning for education over a much longer time span e.g. over 20 years
  • It is advisable for the country to have a sustainable tracking system for all students and graduates in the higher education and training sector
  • Socio-economic dynamics result in under-enrolment in higher education institutions
  • NSFAS should review the criteria – income thresholds specifically – that exclude deserving students from eligibility for financial aid.
  • There is an urgent need to provide students living in remote areas with information about the NSFAS student financial aid system
  • There is a need to engage stakeholders in examining interventions that improve the number of students – especially black – graduating at universities
  • There is a need for closer interaction of HEIs with its surrounding social and economic environment
  • More attention should be paid to social factors such as class size in improving the quality of education
  • It is essential to improve stakeholder engagement and outreach to the broader society.


7. Key deliberations on Skills Development


The following emerged as the main oversight issues on Skills Development:


  • There are serious challenges in the SETA skills development programme insofar as it fails to meet the demands of the labour market
  • The ongoing review of the SETA system would benefit from engagement from all stakeholders in the skills training field
  • Lack of consultation is a concern of the committee with regards to recertification of the SETAs
  • A workshop should be held with the department to discuss the critical issues affecting the SETAs
  • There is a need to review the mandate of the boards of SETAs.
  • Lack of cooperation between companies and the SETA’s resulted in huge amounts of unspent funds
  • There is a need to expand Trade Test Centres to all provinces in order to allow marginalised groups easy access to quality training as well as targeting industries to allow lower level skills to be upgraded
  • Private sector participation in reskilling disadvantaged people needs to be improved so that more opportunities can be explored


8. Strategic priorities arising from the 2009 State of the Nation Address


The Committee recognises that if it is to be effective in its oversight functions, it would have to monitor the achievement of government goals for higher education and training as outlined in the 2009 State of the Nation Address. These include:

·         Intensifying the implementation of the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programme and Kha Ri Gude National Mass Literacy Campaign to promote lifelong learning.

·         Increasing graduate output in areas of skills shortages. This will include measures to streamline Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and other institutions to addressing existing and forecast skills shortages.

·         Embarking on the re-opening of teacher training colleges where appropriate.

·         Placing Further Education and Training colleges at the centre of a drive to develop skills development for the economy.

·         Encouraging students from working class and poor communities to go to tertiary institutions by reviewing and improving the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

8. Resolutions


  • The Committee resolved that there is an urgent need to engage the department by conducting  a workshop that will specifically focus on scrutinising the SETA’s
  • The Committee should strengthen the accountability of the executive to Parliament and formulate a protocol of follow up after conducting oversight visits
  • There will be a quarterly review of the decision taken by the Committee as well as a performance assessment on the work of the executive
  • A strong relationship between the Committee and the NCOP must be develop in order to ensure progress in provinces in the education and training sector
  • Quality control of the Committee reports has to be of the highest standard and additional capacity should be requested where necessary
  • Sub-committees should be formed. The Committee has to elect conveners and agree on the functional areas of those sub-committees and identify their priority areas
  • The workshop was useful in mapping the Committee’s direction with regard to its oversight work over the executive but more work will be required to develop a comprehensive work plan for the Committee.





9. Summary

Various pertinent issues were explored and identified in order for the committee to focus specifically on addressing them. These included, among other things, the optimal use of Sector Education and Training (SETA) funds in order to improve training which will relieve unemployment and poverty in South Africa. The committee agreed that its core business will be to ensure robust oversight over the executive and serve the needs of citizens. It will also focus on the role of higher education and industrial skilling sectors in achieving the human resources development goals.


Section B


The five year plan of the committee


The five year plan provides the committee with a strategic framework and medium term plan for the implementation of the strategic objectives of the committee that are in line with the Department of Higher Education & Training for the next five years. The strategic framework of the committee has been developed specifically to focus on the role of higher education and industrial skilling sectors in achieving the human resources development goals for the next five years. The framework will guide the committee’s work and highlight key issues that need to be addressed.


The committee acknowledges that the Department of Higher Education & Training is new and still in the process of structuring its mandate and strategic plans. This department will oversee the operations of the 50 Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges, 23 public Higher Education Institutions, 23 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and other entities and stakeholders involved in the education and training sector. The new department has not yet been appropriated and the appointment of key strategic personnel has not yet been formalised. The next financial year will be used to develop a solid structure of the new department and the committee has been cautious in developing a strategic plan that would be far ahead of the plans of the new department. In this regard, the current plan of the committee is work in progress that will be reviewed and realigned to be consistent with the strategic priorities that the new department will have.   




a) Mandate of the committee


  • Facilitate public participation, monitoring and oversight function over the legislative processes relating to higher education and training
  • Confer with relevant governmental and civil society organs on higher education and training matters
  • Enhance and develop the capacity of its Members to exercise effective oversight over the Executive Authority in higher education and training
  • Monitor whether the Department of Higher Education and Training fulfil its mandate
  • Process and approve legislation and international protocols and conventions relating to higher education and training
  • Participate in National and International educational conferences
  • Confer with the National Council of Provinces on higher education legislation affecting the Provincial Legislatures, and
  • Engage in any activities and programmes aimed at the development and delivery of quality public higher education and training to all South Africans.


b) Method of work of the committee


The fourth Parliament has placed emphasis on oversight to ensure the implementation of service delivery targets is met. The committee resolved that its method of work for this Parliamentary term will be more action orientated. The committee plans to conduct oversight visits that are well informed by the needs of society and will ensure that the executive is accountable to the needs of the public. Taking into account the mandate of the new government, the committee will influence the executive to implement policy measures that will fast track the post school system process which is targeted at educating both the youth and adults out of school to alleviate poverty.


As part of its plan for the next five years, the committee will develop various subcommittees that will be allocated different tasks with the view to strengthen the committee’s oversight function over the executive. The subcommittees will focus on skills development, access to higher education, financial support to needy students, oversight visits, involvement of stakeholders in higher education and training and other key issues in higher education and training. The committee aims to assist government in relieving poverty by involving SETAs in its plan to develop a programme within Parliament where graduate interns would be provided with an opportunity to gain work experience and develop skills. This programme will be developed to strengthen the capacity of the Parliamentary Constituency Offices (PCOs) so that Members can be better equipped. The committee will develop a partnership with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to develop a roadmap for skills development. The committee will also consider outstanding issues or recommendations in higher education and training that needed follow-up from the previous Portfolio Committee on Education

c) Operational Plan of the committee


The operational plan of the committee provides the scheduled time frame of the activities that will be taken during the next five years. The plan also highlights future legislation that the committee will process.













  1. Process legislation (x2 Bills)


  • Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill, 2009 (Section 76 Bill)


  • Higher Education Amendment Bill, 2009 (Section 75 Bill).

·         Amend legislation



Briefing by the Department

Research conducted

Committee deliberation

Formal consideration (vote)


·   Conduct public hearings




Information materials

Report on inputs (research service)


·   Table reports



Drafting of report

   Tabling of report

Start date: Oct 2009

End date: Feb 2010

Legislation amended








Public hearings conducted







Reports tabled



2. Conduct oversight

























2.1 Programme: Higher Education










































































2.2 Programme: Further Education Training and Skills Development














































2.3 Programme: Adult Basic Education






·         Scrutinise Strategic Plan and budget vote of the Department


Briefing on Budget Vote and Strategic Plans:

Department of Higher Education & Training


Statutory bodies: Council on Higher Education, National Student Financial Aid Scheme, South African Qualifications Authority  



·         Scrutinise Annual Reports


Briefing on the Annual Report:


Department of Higher Education & Training, Council on Higher Education, National Student Financial Aid Scheme, South African Qualifications Authority & HESA



·   Scrutinise briefings and reports


Briefing by the Department on:


-          Plans to increase the enrolment and graduate output in higher education and FET Colleges

-          Ministerial Committee on the NSFAS model review

-          Briefing by the department on plans to improve infrastructure development among poor HEIs



Interaction with:


-          NSFAS on its plans to include secondary schools as part of its advocacy campaign

-          Council on Higher Education (CHE) on the impact of language policy in higher education institutions

-          HESA on the review of mergers

-          Education stakeholders / unions on transformation in higher education

-          HESA on the impact of academic freedom in higher education

-          National Planning Commission on its plans to increase the state capacity in education and training

-          Auditor General on mismanagement of funds in HEIs







·         Conduct site visits


Oversight visit to:


-          University of Stellenbosch

-          Best and worst performing universities in the country

-          Universities of Venda and Western Cape to monitor progress in infrastructure development

-          Universities of Fort Hare and Zululand to monitor progress in establishing new footprints


International Study Tour to Brazil


International Study Tour to Tanzania



·         Oversee performance of department and agencies against objectives set


Consider quarterly reports of the department



·   Scrutinise briefings and reports

Strategic Planning Workshop with the Department of Labour and Higher Education and Training on the review of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs)


Interaction with the National Board for Further Education and Training (NBFET) on success and challenges of FET Colleges


Briefing by the department on the development of the post schooling



Interaction with the Quality Council on Trades and Occupation (QCTO)  on its plans to increase the artisans output in skills sector





·         Conduct site visits



Oversight visit to the best and worst performing FET Colleges in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West, and Free State


Oversight visit to the Public Trade Test Centres



Oversight visit to the best private colleges in Western Cape



·         Oversee performance of department and agencies against objectives set


Consider quarterly reports of the department




·   Scrutinise briefings and reports


Interaction with department on the success and challenges of the adult basic education


Briefing by the department on its plans expand the ABET centres



·         Conduct site visits

Oversight visit to Muyexe Village Giyani, Limpopo




·         Oversee performance of department and agencies against objectives set


Consider quarterly reports of the department









February & March 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013











September & October 2009, 2010 2011, 2012, 2013
























































Sep 2009











July 2010


July 2012
















October 2009
























































September 2009




Briefings considered













Briefings considered


3. Facilitate public participation and involvement




·         Facilitate public participation




-          How do we expand access to higher education

-          How do we intervene to ensure students pass through the system





4. Facilitate co-operative government




·         Perform statutory functions







5.  Facilitate international participation








·         Facilitate international participation and track issues







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