ATC090911: Report Engagement with the Department of Basic Education in Pretoria

Basic Education

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on its engagement with the Department of Basic Education in Pretoria on 11 and 12 August 2009


The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having undertaken an oversight visit to and workshop with the Department of Basic Education from 11 – 12 August 2009, reports as follows:


1. Background


1.1               During the first few months of the fourth Parliament, time was allocated for Portfolio Committees to focus on their mandate and that of the Department and entities that the Committees oversee. In pursuit of this goal, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education travelled to Pretoria and conducted working sessions with the various units of the Department of Basic Education at SolPlaatje House, 123 Schoeman Street.


1.2               The visit allowed the Portfolio Committee to engage and interact with the Department at its head office, and gain insight into its day-to-day operations. It also afforded the Committee the opportunity to meet officials from the Department whom it would otherwise not have met.


1.3               The workshop with the Department was conducted by way of presentations by senior officials from the six branches of the Department of Basic Education. At the introductory session, the Deputy Director General (DDG) in the Director-General’s (DG) office, Ms Vivienne Carelse provided a brief overview of the work of the Department. The presentations by the representatives of the Department were followed by deliberations from Members of the Committee. During the course of the two days, inputs were also received from the Minister, Deputy Minister and DG.


1.4               This report provides a brief summary of the presentations made by the Department to the Committee, which focused mainly on key activities of the various branches, their achievements and challenges in the previous financial year and their current priorities.


2.         Composition of delegation


2.1 Parliamentary Delegation


2.1.1     The delegation from the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education comprised of Ms F I Chohan MP (Chairperson), Ms N Gina MP (ANC), Ms M  T Kubayi MP          (ANC), Ms N      M Madlala MP (ANC), Ms N P Mkhulisi MP (ANC),  Ms A C Mashishi MP (ANC), Dr J C Kloppers-Lourens MP (DA), Mr D C Smiles MP (DA), Ms A Mda MP (Cope), Mr A M Mpontshane MP (IFP) and Mr N M Kganyago MP (UDM).


2.1.2     Administrative support for the visit included Mr L Brown (Committee Secretary: Portfolio Committee on Basic Education), Mr DBandi (Content Advisor) and Mr V Mfuniselwa (Committee Assistant).


2.2        Department of Basic Education representation


2.2.1     The Department of Basic Education was represented by Mr D Hindle - Director-General, Ms V Carelse - Deputy Director-General: Office of the Director-General, Prof V Mckay – Chief Executive Officer: Kha Ri Gude Literacy Project, Mr R van den Heever – Parliamentary Liaison Officer (Office of the Minister), Mr F Patel – Deputy Director-General: System Planning and Monitoring, Ms P Vinjevold – Deputy Director-General: Further Education and Training, Ms K Busisiwe – Branch Co-ordinator: Office of the Director-General, Mr D Ngobeni – Director: Office of the Director-General, Mr A Schoeman – Chief Director: Personnel Administration and Development, Mr  T Tredoux – Acting Chief Finance Officer, Ms T Khoza – Director: Training and Social Responsibility, Ms G Maaka-Tlokana – Director: Development Support, Mr A Mpanza – Chief Director: Information, Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr S Padayachee – Chief Director: Financial and Physical Planning and Analysis, Mr C Leukes – Director: Legal Services, Mrs P Tyobeka – Deputy Director-General: General Education and Training, Dr C Madiba – Chief Director: Strategic Co-ordination and Support, Dr S Sithole – Chief Director: Quality Promotion and Assurance, Dr W Green – Director: Initial Teacher Education, Mr H Mahomed – Director:          Continuing Professional Teacher Development, Mr J Ndlebe – Director: School Management and Governance, Ms M Samuels – Director: Early Childhood Development Integrated Plan, Ms J Joshua – Director: Foundations of Learning Campaign, Mr T Kojana – Chief Director: Social Inclusion in Education, Ms N Xulu – Director: School Safety and Enrichment Programme, Mr D Diale – Director: ABET, Dr F Kumalo – Chief Director: Health in Education, Ms SPanday: Director: Health Promotion , Ms M Hleki – Director: Gender Equity, Ms N Rakwena – Director: National School NutritionProgramme, Dr S Mannah – Director: Race and Values in Education, Mr G Coetzee – Director: Rural Education, Mr G Jeppie – Chief Director: International Relations and UNESCO, Dr G Whittle – Chief Director: Media Liaison and National and Provincial Communication, Mr S Mlambo – Chief Director: National and Provincial Co-ordination and Administration and Ms C Gcasamba – Parliamentary Liaison Officer (Office of the Director-General).


3.         Site Tour of the New Education Building


3.1            The visit began with the Parliamentary delegation being taken on site of the new Department of Education building currently under construction in Struben Street in Pretoria. Members were taken through the partly constructed building and shown the different levels, sections and office locations for officials and the Ministry. While the building was designed and planned for a single ministry of education, it seems that with the division of the department into two separate legal personas, it will be the Department of Basic Education that will be occupying the new building in March 2010.


4.         Address by the Minister


  4.1      The Minister in her address to the Committee expressed appreciation of the Committee’s decision to visit the Department. She stated in agreement with the Committee, that the visit would lay the foundation for a close working relationship between the Department and the Committee, which is vital for ensuring the effective delivery of services. Against the backdrop of a global economic meltdown, the Minister outlined the key challenges facing government, which included balancing the interests of the state and of educator unions, particularly with reference to wage demands from teacher unions. She added that despite some concerns the Department was preparing itself for the 2011 international benchmark assessment which would             be useful in measuringSouth Africa’s progress in improving learner achievement.


4.2        The Minister stressed that the core function of the department is to deliver on the curriculum and that it is a priority for the Department and the advancement of South Africa.


5.          Branch: Administration


            5.1        The Branch has the following Chief Directorates:


                        5.1.1     Strategic Co-ordination and Support


                                    The main purpose of the Chief Directorate is to integrate all planning of the Department with the strategic objectives of theorganisation.


                        5.1.2     Personnel Administration and Development


This Chief Directorate renders a professional human resource service which includes adherence to new initiatives. The directorates that support this Chief Directorate are Staffing Services, Internal Training, Social Responsibility and Labour Relations and Human Resource Support to Provinces.


5.1.3          Financial Support Services


This Chief Directorate ensures sound financial management of the Department and the development of policy and co-ordination of education and training. The directorate also renders budgetary support and an advice service to provincial education departments. It is supported by the following directorates – Financial Services, Provincial Budget Monitoring and Development Support


5.1.4          Internal Audit


This Chief Directorate evaluates and monitors the efficacy of risk management controls and governance processes in the Department and its public entities. The reporting line is to the accounting officer of the Department.


5.2        The branch provides administrative support to the line functions in the Department as well as administrative support in the Office of the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the Director-General. The following services are also provided:


                              -     Personnel

                              -     Financial

                              -     Logistical

                              -     Security

                              -     Asset management


                        The above functions include services such as tender administration, budgetary processes, staff recruitment, cleaning and other auxiliary services.


            5.3        Achievements


                        Achievements of the branch include the following:


5.3.1     receiving unqualified audit reports for the past few years;


5.3.2   achieving the 2% disability employment equity target and being  

fully representative of all racial and gender groups;


5.3.3     assisting provincial education departments with budgeting and human resource matters; and


5.3.4     being close to the completion of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) project in regard to the new office building.


5.4        Challenges


5.4.1     The main challenges are the splitting of the Department into two: the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training while simultaneously rendering an agency service on corporate matters to both departments until 31 March 2010 without an increase in the staff complement of the unit.


5.4.2     The Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) warned that while the Department usually obtains a non-qualified audit, the pace at which the splitting has to happen and given the lack of capacity in the unit a qualified audit could be expected in this financial year.


5.5        Deliberations


            The Committee raised issues related to responses to parliamentary questions and the ability of the Department to respond. It also requested details regarding the contingency plans in place due to the split of the DoE into two new departments. In respect of Parliamentary questions, Department officials indicated that there was a central point for receiving them and the Minister was responsible for signing them off.


6.         Branch: Systems Planning and Monitoring


            6.1        The branch comprises of 4 Chief Directorates:


·     Education Human Resources Management

·     Information, Monitoring and Evaluation

·     Financial and Physical Planning and Analysis

·     Legal and Legislative Services


                  6.1.1 Education Human Resources Management


                  Education Human Resource Planning, Provisioning and Monitoring


             This directorate includes human resource planning for educators at schools at schools, provisioning norms for educators and support staff at schools and the effective human resource management in provinces


                              Educator Performance Management and Development


                            This directorate includes the monitoring of the performance of educators and the facilitation of the establishment of an external unit to evaluate the performance of schools – National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU).


                              Education Labour Relations and Conditions of Service


                            This directorate is tasked with the improvement of conditions of service and expediting the filling of posts at schools.


                  6.1.2     Information, Monitoring and Evaluation

                        The main purpose of the Chief Directorate is to develop, maintain and support a national education information system, to design, develop and monitor operational systems for education policy and coordinate research, monitoring and evaluation of various education policies. The structure of the Chief Directorate is as follows:


                              Education Management Systems (EMS)


             This directorate develops systems to support the integrated Education Management Information System (EMIS) and develops systems and procedures to support education policy implementation.



                              Education Management Information Systems (EMIS)


            This directorate implements and reports on the implementation of the Education Information Policy and develops and maintains an Integrated Education Management Information System based on individual learner records.


                        Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation


This directorate develops and implements a monitoring and evaluation framework for education using macro service delivery and other indicators. The directorate also facilitates and undertakes research and analyses to support planning processes in the Department. This includes development of  sector indicators, programme performance measures and reporting on macro indicators, service delivery indicators and development indicators to the Presidency.


                              National Human Resource Development


             This directorate implements a human resource development strategy for South Africa and to advise the Minister and Cabinet Committee. The directorate also optimises the efficacy and outcomes of human resource development in respect of South Africa’s development agenda.


                  6.1.3     Financial and Physical Planning and Analysis

                      The main purpose of this Chief Directorate is to analyze the medium to long range financing and physical resource and provisioning of education in South Africa and to produce analysis reports, models, plans and policies needed for national leadership in this regard. These include physical planning, financial planning and economic analysis.


            6.1.4     Legal and Legislative Services


This Chief Directorate has two directorates i.e. Legal Services and Legislative Services. The Legislative Services Directorate assists in assigning the statutory functions of the Ministers and ensures that the two new Departments are functioning within the legal ambit. It also creates and monitors a legislative framework for the education system where quality education can be provided in institutions to learners and students. The directorate also processes legislation assigned to the new Minister and drafts new legislation applicable to education – thus ensuring that the procedure to table draft Bills is properly managed.


                        The Legal Services Directorate also manages all litigation of the Department. It monitors, co-ordinates and evaluates litigation in the provincial education departments. It scrutinises and provides advice and co-ordinates complaints of a legal nature. The focus of litigation in the next five years will be to identify litigation risk to the education system and manage such risk in order to limit court cases and legal costs in the system.


            6.2        Achievements


                        Achievements of the Branch include:


·             School Realities 2008 and Education Statistics 2007 were published and disseminated to all schools in South Africa;

·             Standard SC006, which provides a standard for education terms and definitions, was approved by the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) and it will go out for public comment subsequent to the recommendation of HEDCOM. The item is on the agenda of the HEDCOM meeting of 31 August – 1 September 2009;

·             the audit of the Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) data for 2008 was completed;

·             the Data Dictionary (a dictionary explaining the use of terms, especially in the EMIS context) is ready to be gazetted for public comments;

·             Data Quality Assessment Framework Report compiled by UNESCO gave the Department a score of 77% in data management;

·             GIS (Spatial Analysis) and Statistics Unit were set up. The Department is able to portray schools on a GIS system, which enable spatial analysis (analysing data using geographic positions such as provinces, regions, districts, municipalities, wards etc) on a visualised mapping environment;  

·             the Revised Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa (HRD-SA) 2010-2030 was approved by Cabinet;

·             the development of the Learner Unit Record Information and Tracking System (LURITS) which is now in the implementation phase;

·             successful ongoing maintenance and enhancement of the South African Schools Administration System (SA-SAMS) and support to provinces for the rollout of SA-SAMS to schools;

·             the Business Intelligence (BI) reporting layer (a data integration and reporting layer built on Business Object Software) and the DoE Data warehouse with GIS functionality has been developed; and  

·             Learner Attendance Policy and Procedures was published for public comments in the Government Gazette 32414 of 17 July 2009. The closing date to submit comments was 11 August 2009.


            6.3        Deliberations


                        The Committee raised a number of issues pertaining to the briefing. These related to the salary structure of educators, qualifications of early childhood development (ECD) teachers, the employment of foreign teachers and the posting of the external Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) moderators and their location. These are outlined below.


                        6.3.1     Salary structure of educators


            A concern was expressed that there is no uniform salary structure for educators in place, particularly regarding ECD teachers. The Committee suggested that this matter be reviewed.


                        6.3.2     Qualifications of ECD teachers


            In regard to the matter of the qualifications of ECD educators, the department responded that the White Paper 5 outlined their required qualifications. The Committee noted that there was a need for all teachers of Grade R programmes (whether in schools or ECD centres) to have access to the same professional development and curriculum support materials.


                        6.3.3     Employment of foreign teachers


            The employment of foreign teachers was raised and the Department was asked why some qualified educators were employed in temporary positions. The DDG concurred that there was a need to reduce the number of temporary teachers and emphasised that the Department was committed to the achievement of this goal.


6.3.4          Posting of external IQMS moderators and their location


            In response to the enquiry about the posting of the 76 external moderators for the purpose of moderating IQMS outcomes and their location, the Department indicated that although the moderators were appointed at national level, they were based in rural areas.


7.         Branch: General Education and Training


      7.1        The Branch consists of 4 Chief Directorates:

·             NCS Implementation: Grades R – 9

·             Teacher Education (Initial Teacher Education and Training; Continuing Professional Development; Teacher Qualifications and Programmes)

·             Institutional Development (School Management and Governance; District Development and Support)

·             Quality Promotion and Support (Systemic Evaluation; Whole School Evaluation)

                  Special programmes within this directorate include QIDS UP and Foundation for Learning Campaign.


7.2        A curriculum implementation committee has been established comprising members of the curriculum review committee, teachers and union representatives. Their main focus is on the clarity of curriculum expectations and implementation challenges; teacher administrative workload and Intermediate Phase Curriculum.


7.3        With teachers in the Foundation Phase the focus is on guiding resourcing and teacher classroom activities. Guidelines were provided on Grade R classroom lay-out, resources and daily teaching activities. Currently underway are country-wide workshops with Foundation Phase curriculum advisors.


7.4        There is a move to strengthening literacy and numeracy teaching through   Foundations for Learning and the monitoring of learner performance.


7.5        The focus on “Special Schools” is to ensure quality through guidelines with respect to infrastructure, learning programmes, resources and teacher capacity. Schools identified as under stress in the 2002 audit have been prioritised. Teacher training is focused on Braille and Sign Language for all schools catering for learners with these needs.     


      7.6        Deliberations


                  The Committee members deliberated on the content of presentations pertaining to the GET branch and discussed, amongst others, the following:


·                 the concern of underperformance in literacy and numeracy;

·                 the need to have competent teachers who teach effectively with a thorough knowledge and practice of the curriculum;

·                 the need to know the subject areas teachers should qualify in;

·                 the need to acquire funding to train teachers; and

·                 the need for adequate training within districts.


8.         Kha Ri Gude (South African Mass Literacy Campaign)


8.1          The Campaign was launched on 28 February 2008, The Kha Ri Gude Unit was established as an “arms length” Unit to enable it to respond timeously to the imperatives of Campaign implementation. The organogram of the Unit provides for the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, four Directors and four administrative support staff. The Kha Ri Gude Unit is supported by an external administrative agency (SAB&T) to assist with procurement as well as data, financial, project and human resource management.


                                Kha Ri Gude is a mass literacy campaign aimed at enabling 4,7 million South Africans to become literate, in one of the eleven official languages including Braille and Sign language, by 2012. In 2008, some 360 000 learners were reached whilst 620 000 learners are reached in 2009. Learners are able to read, write and calculate in their mother tongue. The campaign also provides 40 000 volunteers with a stipend income. Kha Ri Gude is available at no cost to learners. Classes are held in communities, at times convenient to the learners, and take place in homes, churches and schools.


8.2        Achievements


                        Achievements of the Campaign include:


·     Kha Ri Gude will have one million new literates by the end of 2009;

·     the Campaign contributes to poverty alleviation by paying stipends to the unemployed volunteers;

·     the development of original highly-rated literacy materials in all 11 official South African languages and Braille;

·     financial systems and risk management processes are operational;

·     the development of monitoring & evaluation systems to ensure quality control and assurance of all Campaign activities;

·     approximately 80% of the learners completing and returning their assessment portfolio;

·     administrative & management tools such as forms, registers, educators’ reports, and monthly reporting templates are developed;

·     the databases for registering all learners, volunteer educators, supervisors and coordinators are  populated;

·     statistical and demographic profiles of learners and volunteers are updated on a weekly basis; and

·     interactions with UNESCO, the Commonwealth of Learning, and SAQA with regard to monitoring and evaluation.


                        8.3        Challenges


                              Some of the systemic challenges include:


·     insufficient funding to meet the demand, which delays time frames of the Campaign;

·     the need to reduce the per capita cost by 50%;

·     confusion of the role of Kha Ri Gude in relation to ABET level 1 in the respective provincial education departments;

·     accessing suitable sites;

·     outreach for the blind and deaf in rural areas;

·     the time lag between receiving claims and verifying and paying volunteers;

·     incorrect numbers and/or IDs of volunteers;

·     a very high bank return rate of 52% – (after a huge payment is made into the bank account for the payment of volunteers, 52% is returned due to incorrect initials or incorrect branch codes);

·     banks not being attuned to the needs of the poor such as closing accounts which are deemed to be dormant; and

·     sustainable solutions to these operational challenges are being found and challenges were reduced from 52% in 2008 to 16% in 2009.


8.4      Deliberations


                        Members of the Committee commended the Kha Ri Gude unit for running an impressive cost-effective campaign that is well on course to achieving its       targets. The Committee highlighted the need for other branches to draw lessons from the successes of this campaign, especially regarding the need for every primary school learner to have access to a workbook or manual.


9.         Branch: Social and School Enrichment


                    9.1      The branch has 3 Chief Directorates i.e. Equity in Education, Health in Education and Social Inclusion. The aim is to provide strategic direction in the provision of quality education by promoting social transformation, justice and cohesion, as well as South African identity in the education system.


                              9.1.1 Equity in Education


                                  This Chief Directorate monitors equity in the education system, and develop national programmes that are responsive to changes in schools, with the overall goal of ensuring quality education and education support programmes in all schools. It ensures that all South Africans regardless of race, gender         and socio-economic status gain access to quality education. The directorates in this Chief Directorate are Gender Equity, Race and Values and Rural Education.


                        9.1.2 Health in Education


                            This Chief Directorate develops and guides the implementation of policies and programmes and coordinates and monitors the implementation of the National School Nutrition Programme. It also promotes healthy lifestyles and educates learners and educators towards risk-free behaviour. It coordinates the development and implementation of an integrated comprehensive HIV response by the department. Two directorates fall under this Chief Directorate: Health Promotion and National School Nutrition Programmes.


                              9.1.3 Social Inclusion


                          This Chief Directorate ensures access and participation by all learners in school enrichment, adult literacy and ABETprogrammes. Its three directorates include Adult Education and Training, Adult Literacy and School and Social Enrichment Programmes.


                  9.2        Achievements


                        Achievements for this Chief Directorate include:


·       an overall gender parity in education, with the focus being on quality;

·       the prevention of discrimination towards pregnant learners and young mothers;

·       a coordinated approach to managing gender-based violence in the education system directed by the Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Sexual Harassment and Violence, produced in 2008;

·       the production of support materials for teachers on learner pregnancy and sexual harassment and violence: Genderations;

·       initiated the mainstreaming of care and support for teaching and learning in public schools across all provinces;

·       care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) adopted as a SADC programme;

·       facilitated early identification of health barriers to teaching and learning and the alleviation of their impact;

·       promoted healthy lifestyle choices amongst secondary school learners;

·       peer education successfully piloted;

·       information and educational materials (e.g. Health Mate) published and distributed;

·       6 359 901 learners in quintiles 1-3 primary schools have access to meals; and

·       806 240 learners in quintile 1 secondary schools received meals from April 2009.


            9.3        Challenges


                        One of the main challenges facing the Chief Directorate is the absence of a national policy or standardized approach for the implementation of Section 14 Agreements at public schools situated on private property. Section 14 Agreements are agreements regulating the provision of public schools on private property between the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) and the owner of a private property, as provided for in the South African schools Act No.84 of 1996.


            9.4        Deliberations


                        The Committee raised a number of issues related to rural schools, learner pregnancies, teachers affected by HIV and AIDS. These are briefly outlined below.


                        9.4.1     Rural schools


The issue of whether there was an agreed definition of rural schools was raised. In response, the DDG responsible for the branch explained that rural schools generally referred to smaller schools on farms, poorly resourced schools and those with multi-grade classes which could be located anywhere. The Committee also enquired whether e-learning has ever been considered as a mode of teaching and learning in rural schools since highly qualified teachers rarely teach at rural schools. The department acknowledged that many teachers who teach in these schools do not live in the area and stated that it was exploring incentives which would encourage teachers to reside closer to these schools.


                        9.4.2     Learner pregnancies


                        The DDG indicated that the Minister of Basic Education was convening a meeting on 28 August 2009 to discuss findings of a study on learner pregnancies.


                        9.4.3     Teachers affected by HIV and AIDS


In light of a 2004 findings that 12.7% of South African educators were HIV positive, the issue of support measures to teachers affected by HIV and AIDS was raised. The department agreed that little was done to address this matter and noted that in future it would intensify measures for addressing this issue.



10.        Branch: Further Education and Training


10.1      The aim of the Branch is to improve the quality of learning and teaching in Grades 10 - 12 through the support of curriculum delivery in schools. It also plans to enhance learner participation and high level performance in Mathematics and Science in Grade 10 – 12. There was a strategy to harness the potential ICT to support the curriculum and strengthen e-Education initiatives.


10.2      Support for the NCS Grades 10 – 12 includes the following:

·             monitoring on the provision of quality learner materials;

·             teacher and subject advisor training in subject content;

·             to support and strengthen the teaching of Life Orientation; and

·             to develop and plan for expanding specialist subjects in poor areas


10.3      There is a 3-phase approach to the transformation of Technical Colleges:

·           Phase 1: Restructuring the Institutional Landscape of Colleges;

·              Phase 2: Revamping existing curricula and implementing curriculum programmes that are responsive to the needs of the economy and society; and Phase 3: Implementation of governance, management and funding systems that are sensitive to colleges of transformation.


10.4      Between 2006 – 2008, there was an allocation of R 1,9 billion for the re- capitalisation of colleges. R 50 million was provided for the planning of the recapitalisation of the 50 colleges. This period also saw the implementation of of the National Certificate (Vocational) of Levels 2, 3 and 4.


10.5      The new vocational programmes consist of seven subjects: Language, Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy, Life Skills with a strong IT component and four vocational subjects. The programmes run over one year for a full- time student.


10.6      Student support allows for increased student access into FET Colleges and to improve student retention. The focus is as follows:

·         pre-entry support - career guidance, selection and placement, student code of conduct and orientation;

·         on-course support - academic support, financial assistance through provision of bursaries and personal support; and

·         Exit-support – student tracking, articulation into Higher Education, self-employment and employment.


10.7       Challenges faced included the following:

·         the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination, with new subjects and different pass requirements;

·         new Integrated Examination Computer System (IECS);

·         a larger volume of candidates;

·         examinations commenced one month later to maximise teaching time – this reduced the time to process results from 47 days to 27 days;

·         the previous programme did not specify the component of school-based assessment – resulting in a casual approach by learners, teachers and schools;

·         IECS only accepted computer generated mark sheets this year; and

·         candidates changing courses at a late stage.


                        The overall findings of the Ministerial Committee were that: “the delay in the release of the results of the 26 737 candidates could not be attributed to a single factor but a collection of variables that impacted on the examination processes and procedures”.


            10.8      Deliberations


The Committee commended the NSC examination unit for running an effective examination system. With regard to FET colleges, it was raised strongly with the department that these should be in the main practically orientated. A view was also expressed about the need for the introduction of more options to school leavers.


11.        Branch: Office of the Director-General


            11.1      The Branch comprises of the following Chief Directorates:


·                 Ministerial Services;

·                 Media Liaison and National and Provincial Communication;

·                 International Relations and UNESCO; and

·                 National and Provincial Coordination


11.2      Ministerial Services

      The functions in the Ministry are interrelated to the Office of the Deputy Minister and the Office of the Director-General especially regarding the following matters:


·     parliamentary services;

·     Cabinet documents;

·     the Council of Education Ministers;

·     ministerial management meetings; and

·     minister’s meeting with senior management;

·     multilateral meetings;

·     domestic and international travel;

·     institutional visits; and

·     stakeholder liaison.


            11.3      Media Liaison and National and Provincial Communications


            This Chief Directorate provides the following key communications services to the Minister and the Department:

·                 events management;

·                 media monitoring;

·                 brand management;

·                 on-line communications; and

·                 internal communications.


            Branding and brand development are key aspects of the communications function.  GCIS has finalized the new logos of the two departments and the logos will then be incorporated on all stationery (business cards, letterheads, etc).  The website will also be re-branded.


            A series of public engagements and meetings with key stakeholders will be arranged to introduce the Ministers to the key stakeholders in the sector. This “listening campaign” will also position the new Minister as responsive to the needs of the sector.


            Coordination and consistent messaging are key aspects of effective communications services. Ministers and DGs are our primary messengers and all media related engagements (statements, responses, briefings, etc) must be signed off by either the DG or Ministers. On technical/professional issues, DDGs are allowed to communicate with the media.

            Generally the media, and the education journalistic corps, have been very supportive of the efforts of the department to improve the quality of education for all. It is important to build partnerships with a range of media platforms (both mainstream and community-based) in order to ensure the presence of government/departmental messages in the public space. A focus on good practice in the education system and showcasing success are key ingredients in this regard.


11.4      National and Provincial Co-ordination and Administration

This Chief Directorate deals inter alia with mediating disputes referred to it from provincial departments relating to pensions, salaries and appointments as well as general queries from provincial administrations.




·                     liaise with provincial departments regarding speeches, reports, and parliamentary questions;

·                     liaise with the Office of the Public Protector;

·                     liaise with Pensions Chief Directorate (Finance);

·                     liaise with provinces; and

·                     establish indicators.


Customer Care Centre


·     manage the Departmental Customer Care; and

·     compile reports.


Provincial visits


·     conduct provincial visits for investigations and meetings; and

·     compile reports on observations and findings.


            11.5      International Relations and UNESCO


                        This Chief Directorate is charged with the co-ordination and monitoring of the Department of Education’s international obligations and commitments. On South Africa’s re-entry into the international community in 1994, the Department was inundated with requests and offers of support from foreign governments, bilateral and multilateral agencies, and education and training institutions to formalise educational co-operation with South Africa. The offers have abated somewhat and the department is consolidating its international relations by collaborating with a lesser number of solid partners.


                        The Department’s international relations activities are guided by the government’s foreign policy; hence it maintains a close working relationship with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and all other relevant government departments and stakeholders working towards furthering South Africa’s educational interests abroad. The Departments relations straddle both an exchange between north-south and south-south countries.


                        The DoE views its international relations as an important means of sharing ideas, learning from the experiences of other countries and enlisting the support needed to speed up the process of transformation. The DoE is committed to mutual educational collaboration, both with individual countries and multilateral organisations, to provide a global dimension to the DoE’s policy makers, thereby ensuring that they have access to the best international practices, and also to share our experiences and expertise.


                        Each relationship and agreement entered into is thoroughly scrutinised in order to ensure that it is in line with the DoE’s priorities by taking into account its human and financial implications. This is done to protect South Africa’s educational interests and also to forge strong educational alliances. The primary focus for collaboration is to ensure that there are mutual educational benefits. A comprehensive list of international agreements is located in the International Relations Chief Directorate. The agreements are at various stages of implementation. Some proposed agreements are still under consideration.


            11.6. Deliberations


The Committee welcomed the Branch’s intention to develop a more structured approach in communicating its services, particularly in respect to the communication of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursaries and loans to schools. A view was expressed to the effect that it is crucial to include constituency offices as part of the communication       structures.


12.        Conclusion


            12.1      Based on the deliberations with the Department, the Committee concluded the following:


·                 Learner outcomes particularly in Foundation and Intermediate phases are not of the desired standard. Hence the Committee welcomes initiatives by the Department to improve the quality of education at schools, including the Foundations for Learning Campaign which aims to increase every child’s performance in literacy and numeracy in Grades R – 6 by at least 50% by 2011. However, while the Department was commended for these initiatives, the Committee expressed the need for each branch within the department to learn from achievements of other branches. In particular, in the Committee’s opinion, the General Education and Training Branch should draw lessons from the successful Kha Ri Gude approach of teaching literacy and numeracy. The success of Kha Ri Gude is due to the comprehensive and tailor-made manuals that are used by volunteer teachers and learners. It was noted that there was a paucity of such manuals being used at Foundation and Intermediate Phases and that the Department should urgently address this matter if the literacy and numeracy levels are to be improved in schools. The Committee was assured by the DG in his closing remarks that the Presidency has noted this point and was preparing to obtain funds for the development of such manuals. The Committee requires a progress report in this regard and will require regular reports from the Department on the matter of gains in quality outcomes in schools over the next five years.

·                 The level of support provided to schools by district offices was a matter of concern to Members. It was apparent that the Committee needs to undertake a visit to some of the districts and provincial head offices.

·                 The Chairperson requested that members of the Committee contact at least two schools in their constituency and check if they had received all documentation on the “Foundation for Learning Campaign”. Members of the Committee are to report back in writing on their findings. 

·                 The Committee resolved to call a meeting on the subject of literacy and numeracy competence of school-leavers and invite the Department and authors of the report showing low literacy and numeracy competence at first year university level, to engage in Parliament.


            12.2      It was agreed that the Department would supply the Committee with the                             following information:


·                     a comprehensive list of all relevant key stakeholders;

·                     quarterly budget reports to Treasury;

·                     a quarterly update on all vacancies throughout the country;

·                     a draft legislative programme;

·                     a report on all funding received from sources outside of the South African government (conditions and value) as well as a report on the Millennium Goals;

·                     a list of all textbooks/workbooks that were compulsory for use by students in all grades, including prices and publishers; and

·                     3 sets of Kha Ri Gude manuals in English.


Report to be considered.



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