ATC121123: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape Departments of Education, dated 20 November 2012

Basic Education

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape Departments of Education, dated 20 November 2012

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape Departments of Education, dated 20 November 2012

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having undertaken an oversight visit to the KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape Departments of Education from 28 – 31 October 2012, reports as follows:

1. Introduction

1.1 A delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education conducted an oversight visit from 28 – 31 October 2012 to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education (Port Shepstone and Pinetown Regions) and Northern Cape Department of Education (Kimberley Region).

1.2 The purpose of this oversight visit was to assess the state of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination readiness for 2012. This included assessing the state of security systems for the printing, distribution and storage of examination question papers as well as the procedures in place to conduct of the examinations. The Committee also aimed to provide support to departmental teams and to ensure the delivery of successful and credible examinations, with no or minimal irregularities. In pursuit of the oversight programme objectives, the delegation conducted working sessions with the Office of the Head of Department, District and Senior Curriculum and Examinations Officials as well as Organised Labour in the identified regions of the provincial departments. The delegation also undertook site tours of printing, packaging, distribution and storage facilities for the examination question papers in order to obtain first hand knowledge of the state of security in these facilities.

1.3 During 2010, the Committee undertook oversight visits to KwaZulu-Natal’s Pinetown District as well as other regions with the same objective. The Committee observed that there were challenges relating to power failures in some examination centres, as well as security measures, staffing and conditions in storage facilities of the examination section (Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on oversight visits to Provincial Examination Centres, dated 16 November 2010). Part of the current oversight visit to this district was to evaluate the progress made in addressing these issues. In respect of the Northern Cape , the Committee had undertaken an oversight visit in October 2012 where it was appraised on issues around the protest action experienced in this region and their effect on education. Part of the current oversight visit was to assess progress to date in attending to these issues.

1.4 This report provides a summary of the key issues that emerged from the interaction with officials of the provincial departments and organised labour, and the Portfolio Committee’s deliberations, observations and recommendations .

2. Delegations

2.1 National Portfolio Committee on Basic Education: Hon H H Malgas MP (ANC) (Chairperson), Hon N Gina MP (ANC) (Whip), Hon Z S Makhubele MP (ANC), Hon F F Mushwana MP (ANC), Hon A Lovemore MP (DA), Hon W Madisha MP (Cope) Hon A M Mpontshane MP (IFP), Mr D Bandi (Content Advisor), Mr L Mahada (Researcher), Mr L A Brown (Committee Secretary) and Ms S Ntabeni (Committee Assistant).

2.2 Provincial Portfolio Committee on Education ( KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature): Mr S Nkosi, Ms M Frazer and Mr V Mthembu.

2.3 Provincial Portfolio Committee on Education (Northern Cape Provincial Legislature): Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (MPL) (Chairperson), Mr N J Galela MPL and Dr G Allen Grootboom MPL.

2.4 National Department of Basic Education: Ms K Sechoaro, Ms M Fuzile and Ms N Msimanga.

2.5 KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Education Department: Dr S N P Sishi, Mr E Mosuwe, Mr M Gwala, Ms J Dlamini, Mr M Cele, Mr H Mcuma and Dr S Z Mbokazi.

2.6 Northern Cape Provincial Education Department: Ms G Cjiekella , Mr G T Pharasi, Ms A P Phuzi, Dr M Ismail, Mr H J Pekeur, Mr O S Stander, Mr E Laban.

2.7 South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU):

2.7.1 KwaZulu-Natal : Mr D Sibaya

2.8 National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA):

2.8.1 KwaZulu-Natal : Mr D Nair, Mr A Pierce, Ms T Moodley and Ms D Bassa.

2.8.2 Northern Cape: Mr H Sembisya, Mr D Snaar, Mr Strydom, Mr E Ramasehla, Mr G Titus, Mr A Taunyane and Mr G Motlhomi.

2.9 Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysunie (SAOU) Northern Cape :

2.9.1 KwaZulu-Natal : Ms M C Botha, Ms L A Scholtz,

2.10 Professional Educators Union (PEU):

2.10.1 Northern Cape - Mr T P Mongale ( Northern Cape ).

3. An Overview of the national examination system

The national examination system in South Africa is managed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) supported by the nine Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). National examinations are conducted in accordance with the Regulations Pertaining to the Conduct, Management and Administration of the National Senior Certificate . The DBE monitors the implementation of the regulations, while the heads of examinations in the provinces are responsible for their implementation. The DBE sets examination question papers for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. Printing, packaging and distribution of the question papers to examination centres is the responsibility of the Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). The PEDs have further operational responsibilities which include the supervision of the writing of the examinations and the capturing of marks on the Integrated Examination Computer System (IECS).

4. Oversight in KwaZulu-Natal

Overview of Education in KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal had approximately 2.8 million learners taught by 91 926 educators in 6 147 schools. The province had the highest number of learners, educators and schools in the country. The Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) in the Primary Phase stood at 92 percent while at the Secondary Phase it stood at 88 percent, with a total Province GER of 90 percent. KwaZulu-Natal was one of the provinces that had an increase in the number of schools between 2000 and 2011. An increase of 4.6 percent was recorded.

The education system in the Province was demarcated into four regions. Pinetown had the highest number of learners while Umlazi had the highest number of educators with Vryheid having the highest number of schools. This showed some anomalies where Pinetown district had the highest number of learners with fewer schools than Vryheid which had a high number of schools with fewer learners than Pinetown. This raised serious questions around the distribution of learners and educators. In the 2011 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination, the Province recorded a 68.1 percent pass, a decrease from the 70.7 percent pass in 2010. Most of the districts experienced a slight decline in performance with only Sisonke and Umzinyathi recording improvements. The lowest performing district was Obonjeni at 55.3 percent while Umlazi was the highest performing at 77.0 percent.

5. Engagement with the Department of Education, KwaZulu-Natal

The Head of Department (HOD) submitted apologies from the MEC for Education due to prior commitments, as well as the members of the Provincial Portfolio Committee on Education who were abroad. The HOD thanked the Portfolio Committee for the opportunity to engage with the Department at this level. He reiterated that the classroom remained the centre-piece for all activities of the Department; remaining the focus area. The HOD spoke broadly about interventions from the Department since 2010, the last visit by the Portfolio Committee. The Portfolio Committee had raised the following issues, among others that required the Department’s attention:

  • The issue of power failures – and their effect on examinations
  • Staffing – there were too many acting positions
  • Security issues
  • Conditions in storage facilities

In response to the above issues raised, the Department indicated that remedial action had been taken as follows:

  • The Province made preparations for back-up systems and the use of nearby areas with the relevant infrastructure. Some schools in Ulundi had experienced power failures but generators were on hand.
  • Appointments had been secured in key positions in the Department (e.g. Senior General Manager, General Manager: Examinations, Assessment and Quality Assurance, Manager: Assessment, Accreditation and Certification, Manager: Examination Administration and Manager: Quality Assurance). None of these managers were in acting positions.
  • The Department had installed cameras in all the critical areas of the examination section. All materials in storage areas were removed and only question papers or answer sheets were stored there.
  • Further, the Department had also installed cameras in the loading areas at these facilities. All material posing any risk had been removed from the storage facilities.

The 2012 National Senior Certificate Examination in KwaZulu-Natal

Preparations during the year: The Department had been engaged with preparing learners for examinations from very early in the year through the Matric Intervention Programme which included:

· Studying previous learner performance and identifying the challenges

· Schools who scored below 60 percent wrote a common test and learner camps were established across the province

· A study skills manual was developed to give learners the necessary study and planning skills

· The Department also had supplementary tuition e.g. Saturday classes, Winter School Programmes and Spring Study Camps

A challenge facing the Department was that they had received no Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) funds for adult and technical education. The Department therefore reported over expenditure on personnel as funds were transferred from other programmes to fund this item. The budget could be broken down into 75 percent - compensation, 9.8 percent - goods and services, 7.1 percent – transfers and subsidies, 6.3 percent – buildings. A further challenge was the backlog in respect of infrastructure.

The Department boasted with at least 2.2 million learners who benefited from the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP).

The magnitude of the examination : The magnitude and scope of the 2012 National Senior Certificate Examination in KwaZulu-Natal was as follows:

Number of candidates


Question papers


Printed question papers


Expected scripts

1 983 240

Examination centres




Marking centres


The Printing, Packing and Distribution of Question Papers : The province had successfully printed, packed and distributed the first consignment of question papers. The delivery of question papers to district offices was done by a contracted company and the trucks were escorted by a private security company and the South African Police Service. The question papers were delivered to nodal points and then to examination centres on a daily basis. The printing, packing and distribution of examination material was in order and security measures were in place and sufficiently reliable to protect the integrity of the examination.

Conduct of the Examinations: The invigilators who supervised the conduct of the examination in the province were trained on the rules of the examination. Those educators who had close relatives writing the National Senior Certificate and Adult Education and Training Examination were not involved in sensitive examination processes. This was done to protect the integrity of the examination. All the Chief Invigilators and invigilators had signed secrecy forms where they bound themselves to the protection of examination information. All Chief Invigilators and invigilators were officially appointed for the duration of the National Senior Certificate and Adult Education and Training examinations. The province used the Regulations pertaining to the conduct, administration and management of the examination to manage irregularities. The examination was monitored by district and provincial personnel. There were also external monitors in the province (from DBE and Umalusi)

Irregularities: Two serious irregularities had been identified to date. In one instance a candidate was found with crib notes. In the second instance, a principal denied learners access to examinations claiming that they were not ready to write. Indications were that the efforts of the districts and province to discourage examination malpractices were effective. The Provincial Department reported that the provincial monitors had identified technical irregularities which were dealt with immediately as they had no direct potential to compromise the integrity of the examination.

School Based Assessment : The province had completed the moderation of school based assessments. The Committee heard that the province had benefited maximally from the comments and evaluation of school based assessment practices by the National Department of Basic Education and Umalusi. Another area for quality improvement was the administration of a common Life Orientation Task which was written by all the schools in the province.

Marking: The marking centres were organised in such a way that a specific paper was marked at a particular centre under the management of the Chief Marker. Markers marked specific questions to allow for greater standardisation of marking and to avoid inter-marker and intra-marker variations. The supervision at each level of the marking hierarchy entailed moderation of the scripts that were marked. Internal moderators had been appointed for each subject or paper at each marking centre. The National Department would appoint external moderators and Umalusi would appoint verifiers.

Letters of appointment for markers would be released to districts on 31 October 2012. Marking would commence on 1 December 2012. There was still the question of competency tests that needed to be piloted in 2012. The results of these tests would inform the placement of markers to questions of different cognitive demands. The training of Chief Invigilators took place in September and the training of moderators would take place on 26 October 2012.

The discussion and finalisation of the memoranda would take place in Pretoria . A centralised memorandum discussion would ensure that the standards of marking in the nine provinces were consistent. The memorandum discussion would be done by incorporating all possible alternative answers, responses and solutions in the marking guideline.

Processing and release of results: After the completion of marking, processes leading to the release of results would commence. These processes included the capturing and computing of marks, standardisation, and the final approval and release of results. The dates are as follows:



Completion of marking

14 December 2012

Mark capturing

16 December 2012


21 December 2012

Checking of results by province

23-27 December 2012

Final approval of results by Umalusi

27 December 2012

Release of results

3 January 2012

The final analysis and providing feedback to the system: The province would present a detailed analysis of results per school and per district. The analytical presentation of learner performance would form a qualitative feedback to the system. This would be presented in the form of a booklet that contained all the subjects. All schools would receive this document to ensure that educators could improve their teaching of certain parts of the syllabus.

Workshops and seminars would be conducted with teachers and subject advisors to share the findings of the 2012 examination qualitative and quantitative results. Underperforming schools would be expected to contribute towards the improvement of learner performance by accounting to the Head of Department by providing their improvement plans.

Finalising of irregularities: The structures that coordinated the handling and processing of irregularities in the province was the Provincial Assessment and Examination Irregularity Committee (PAEIC). The PEIC ensured that there was a consistent approach in handling irregularities in the twelve districts. Each district had established the District Assessment and Examination Irregularity Committee (DAEIC) which took responsibility for the handling and finalisation of irregularities at district level. The irregularities for the 2012 National Senior Certificate and Adult Education and Training would be finalised on 30 January 2013. Letters informing candidates of the outcome would be released on 1 February 2013. All the appeals had to reach the district offices on 16 February 2012 and all the appeals would reach provincial examinations on 18 February 2013. The office of the MEC would deal with the appeals and provide feedback to provincial examinations to communicate to districts and schools.

Committee Observations

The Committee noted the following key issues and concerns regarding the state of examination readiness in KwaZulu-Natal :

  • The Committee commended the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education for the thorough preparation for the 2012 National Senior Certificate examination, which included preparing learners early on in the year through intervention programmes and addressing issues raised by the Committee in its previous oversight visit.

  • It was important that the Department give the necessary support to those districts that had performed poorly in the past.

  • There were huge anomalies in the provinces in respect of the learner numbers vs. educator numbers in the various districts. The Committee was concerned how this impacted on the smooth running of the Department.

  • Also of concern were the infrastructure backlogs and the budget for this backlog.

  • The Committee was interested to know what systems were in place to give assistance and support to Special Needs learners.

  • The issue of management of leave needed to be addressed as there seemed to be different systems used by different Departments. It was noted that the Auditor-General had given the Department a qualified report in respect of leave management.

  • The Department needed to give the Committee a much more comprehensive report in respect of Dinaledi Schools.

  • It was heartening to establish that the Department did not employ any unqualified educators.

  • The NSNP was working very efficiently in the Province though the Committee was concerned with learners during weekends and holidays in respect of meals.

  • The Committee emphasised that it was illegal to use the Capital Budget for funding personnel.

6. Engagement with District Officials – Port Shepstone (Ugu District)

There were 507 registered public and independent schools in the District (491 ordinary public, 16 ordinary independent and 3 special schools). The District had five categories of schools i.e. primary, secondary, combined, and pre-primary and LSEN. Schools were categorised in two Circuits with each Circuit being divided into wards. Wards were managed by Superintendent of Education Managers (SEMs). Each SEM had approximately 30 schools to manage with daily operations managed by Circuit Managers. Unfortunately, schools in the district were not equally distributed through the 17 wards thus creating a discrepancy in the number of schools per ward.

The District was ready and prepared for the upcoming examination with all systems go and all structures on board. The District was in control of the marking centres. All principals attended workshops on the examinations arranged by the Department. For inaccessible areas, the Department worked closely with the South African Police Services to render the necessary support vehicles to distribute material. The district unfortunately had a problem with not having sufficient storage space. A major issue remained the weather. When it rained there were areas that became inaccessible. All moderation of Schools Based Assessments was completed. Invigilators had already been appointed in writing and had undergone the necessary oath of secrecy.

Schools achieving less than 60 percent wrote a common test in the critical subjects in March 2012. The tests were analysed and feedback was given to subject advisors with the necessary resultant interventions taking place. Tools were developed for subject specialists to monitor the coverage of the curriculum. The Department also supplied all districts with a 4X4 vehicle for the distribution of material. There were plans in place to construct buildings, specifically for the Department in the districts to mitigate the problems of space and storage. The competency tests for markers remained a National programme and would be implemented by the provincial department to enhance the caliber of markers.

7. Engagement with Unions (Port Shepstone)

7.1 Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysunie (SAOU) : The Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysunie (SAOU) indicated that they were satisfied with the preparations by the Provincial Department for the final examinations. The relationship that SAOU had with the provincial department was congenial. SAOU also indicated that the curriculum coverage was properly monitored and learners were ready and prepared for the examinations.

7.2 National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA): NAPTOSA had engaged with the Department in respect of the launch of the Matric Intervention Programme. The only problem the union had concerned the timing of the launch which was too late in the year. NAPTOSA was of the view that there needed to be concerted efforts to have suitable interventions at all levels of schooling and not only for matriculants. The Union also had no problem with the competency tests for the markers except for their bad timing. NAPTOSA had a concern as to who would be setting and marking these competency tests. The Union re-iterated that the province was well ahead in respect of administration and preparations for the examinations. There was regular consultation and good communication between the unions and the department. There was also a close working relationship between the various unions in the bargaining council.

Committee Observations

  • The Committee was heartened by the fact that all seemed in order in the District with few or no weaknesses. A cause for concern was the issue of the insufficient storage space.

  • The Committee sought reasons for the underperformance of the Dinaledi Schools in the district.

  • The Committee was concerned over the significance of the competency test at this crucial time of the year – whether the test was well placed.

  • The Committee requested that the Department supply them with the details pertaining to those educators who were selected to do the testing of the question papers at a National level. There was a feeling that schools connected to these educators had an unfair advantage over others.

  • Unions and the Department needed to engage with each other over the issues around the setting and marking of the competency tests. The Committee was of the view that it required an urgent briefing by the Department on regulations pertaining to the competency testing.

8. Engagement with District Officials – Pinetown

The Pinetown district had the following statistics in respect of centres and candidates:

· Number of full-time centres = 165

· Number of full-time candidates = 15 997

· Number of part-time candidates = 2 195

· Total number of candidates = 18 192

· Number of deregistered centres = 316

· Number of Chief Invigilators = 165

· Number of exam monitors = 120

In respect of the 2012 ANA pilot analysis, the Department recorded a slight improvement in the Grade 3 performance. According to the Department, the challenge was not with the quality of learners but rather with the educators who lacked the required content knowledge as one moved higher with Grades.

Distribution of Question Paper

In terms of the guidelines, examination answer booklets had to be checked at the Nodal points by examination personnel together with the Chief Invigilator to ensure maximum safety, security and confidentiality of all scripts. Exam material for both morning and afternoon sessions would be delivered to Nodal points at 06H00am each morning. Materials were unpacked and controlled against acknowledgement provided. The original acknowledgement was retained by the circuit officials and a copy returned to district officials. Circuit officials ensured the safekeeping of question papers for both morning and afternoon sessions. Chief invigilators verified that the correct package/s was received before proceeding to the centres. The issuing of question papers and stationery commenced from 07H00am for the morning session and 12H30pm for the afternoon session.

Interventions: All 55 National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA) participated fully in the common tests. The March/June test performance was presented to the District management committee and subject targeted interventions were being implemented by FET. Circuit management was focusing on proper school management for the creation of favourable progress towards quality teaching and learning. The 2012 ANA Pilot analysis was being discussed with schools. The Department was addressing the issue of competent educators for correct subjects and correct classes.

Security: The whole examination section was separated from other sections. Access to the examination section was also safe, with gates, CCVTC cameras; alarm systems linked to armed response and 24-hour on-site security personnel. Question papers were stored in two strong rooms and three store rooms. The loading zone was controlled through the electronic gate and was wide enough for the trucks to enter.

Monitoring: The training of monitors and invigilators focused on the manual but with emphasis on the moral obligation to ensure that learners were ready for the examination and would be able to write a credible examination. There were 120 monitors taking into account all Deputy Chief Education Specialists (DCESs), Assistant Directors (ADs), First Education Specialists (FESs), Superintendent of Education Management (SEMs), Chief Superintendent Education Management (CSEMs) and Chief Education Specialists (CESs). For some of the known centres the Department would apply the strategy of fixed monitors during the examinations of specific subjects. Signing of secrecy forms by Chief Invigilators would be undertaken on 21 August 2012.

Irregularities: Over the two year period the Deparment had reduced the number of irregularities. Chief invigilators whose centres were involved were not re-appointed. For centres that were known for irregularities the Department appointed a camping monitor. All monitors worked in teams led by ward managers.

Other Stakeholders: The Department held regular briefing meetings with SAPS during the examination session. There were SAPS officials tasked to have regular checks on nodal point strong rooms and distribution points. For Information Technology (IT) and Computer Aided Technology (CAT) purposes the relevant centres would provide backups in the event of power failure.

Challenges: Of concern was the control of scripts and their distribution between morning and afternoon sessions. There were uncoordinated submissions and distribution of materials. There was a lack of urgency in dealing with cases of misconduct by officials and the time taken to conclude cases. A further concern was the delay in authorizing the removal of old scripts from store rooms.

9. Engagement with Unions (Pinetown)

9.1 National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA): The relationship with the Department was far better than in the past – cordial though cautious. The union needed to give recognition to the leadership in the Department for the efforts put in place for the final exams. The union acknowledged the work of the MEC in encouraging early and timeous registration of learners. The union had problems with the issue of the payment of markers as markers were not happy with what was being offered. The matter currently resided with the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) where a date had been set for arbitration. Although their view did not find favour with other unions, NAPTOSA indicated their willingness to participate in competency tests for markers. The main concern with competency testing was the poor timing on the eve of the start of marking. The thinking was that markers needed to be informed timeously of being appointed and making themselves available. The union was also of the view that all the negative publicity around the examinations and marking was not healthy for learners who were about to start writing the examinations. The Department needed to give clear and unambiguous communication to all concerned on matters concerning the examinations.

9.2 Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysunie (SAOU): Although SAOU echoed the sentiments of NAPTOSA, they further indicated that many within the Department and their membership had gone far beyond the call of duty to ensure a smooth examinations period in the province. They were also in favour of the competency tests as these guaranteed competent markers. SAOU also indicated the concern that markers had not been informed as yet due to the timing of the test.

9.3 South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU): SADTU had been engaged with the Department since the beginning of the year on all processes and programme in respect of the state-of-readiness for the final examinations. The union was satisfied that the Department was ready for the examinations. SADTU was also part of the monitoring processes and had been visiting schools and the provincial office to check their readiness. The union also engaged with the Department in respect of the number of marking centres. SADTU had been part of the selection procedures for markers from the start and indicated that there had been much improvement in the process of the selection of markers. The marking process was not an event but a process. The exposure received by these markers was very valuable for confidence building. SADTU was strongly against the competency testing of markers as they felt that if markers were good enough to do the School Based Assessment (SBA) marking, they should also be good enough for the NSC marking. SADTU further cautioned against gate-keeping practiced by many schools in the province.

Committee Observations

  • A concern for the Committee was that learners who had failed the previous year were not allowed to register as full time students the following year, but needed to register as part-time candidates. This meant they did not have the luxury of full-time classes which placed them at a disadvantage.

  • It was important to understand the basis and rationale involved in de-registering an examination centre and the criteria used for these centres to re-register.

  • Members were concerned about the impasse with the ELRC in respect of the payment of markers. Members also noted the concerns around the timing of the testing and the short notification of markers selected.

  • The Committee was interested in the broader picture in respect of teacher development and the various programmes in place.

  • The Committee noted with concern the challenge of not having a Subject Advisor for Mathematics.

10. Engagement with the Portfolio Committee on Education, Northern Cape Provincial Legislature

The Committee was informed that due to the size of the Legislature, Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs) were spread thinly and needed to attend many Committee meetings in the course of the day. Only three MPLs could join the meeting due to others being tasked with attending meetings dealing with Annual Reports during this period. Although the Provincial Portfolio Committee on Education was satisfied with the performance of the Department, there remained serious challenges in respect of Special Schools and staffing challenges. The Provincial Portfolio Committee was satisfied with, and commended the Department on the interventions on behalf of learners during the period of protest action. Special Schools was a key focus area for the Provincial Portfolio Committee. The Committee had submitted a report to the Legislature and was awaiting the Department to action the recommendations in the Report. The Provincial Portfolio Committee also recently engaged with the Department on the state-of-readiness for the Matric Examinations; and was satisfied that the Department was, in fact, ready for them. The Department had indicated that all examination centres had been properly registered, a risk management strategy was in place, question papers delivered on time and professional invigilators appointed. An issue that needed to be addressed was that of implementing the plans for promotion/progression and repeaters. Another question was the criteria used for appointing moderators as many experienced moderators had been excluded. There was a view that there needed to be a mix of experienced and new moderators to prime them for the future.

11. Engagement with the Department of Education, Northern Cape

The MEC for Education, Hon G Cjiekella, expressed her gratitude for the support from the Portfolio Committee. She alluded to the protest action that had occurred and reiterated that the issues protested about had nothing to do with Education, though it was impacted on when learners were held back from attending schools. She indicated the lengths the Department went to, to ensure the safety and continued schooling of the affected learners. She also mentioned that a similar briefing was given to the Portfolio Committee on Education in the legislature. The Head of Department, Mr Pharasi indicated that as per the National Department of Basic Education, the province was in the clear, without risks and ready for the national examinations.

The State of Readiness to Administer the 2012 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examinations – Ms A P Phuzi.

In preparation for the November 2012 NSC Examination, the directorate responsible for Examinations and Assessment in the Northern Cape underwent a self-evaluation process, followed by the annual “Monitoring of the State of Readiness 2012” visit by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) conducted from 20 - 21 August 2012. The DBE declared that the Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDOE) was ready to administer the NSC Examination in November 2012.

Management: The department had filled most of its vacant posts - 46 posts had been filled in 2011/12 (including director, deputy director, deputy chief education specialist, assistant director, two senior education specialists and one senior education specialist per district). An examination unit was established in each of the districts (two officials per district had undergone induction and various training courses). The department was complimented for upgrading and purchasing new machines, and proper access control systems to the printing unit. The department was further commended for the establishment of nodal points to reduce storage at schools, as well as infrastructure developments.

Registration: For the province, 134 Examination Centres were registered for the approximately 11 420 registered candidates (9 281 full-time and 2 139 part-time). These could further be broken down per district as follows:

· John Taolo Gaetsewe - 1 841

· Frances Baard - 3 434

· Namaqua - 860

· Pixley - 1 279

· Siyanda - 1 867

The number of learners registered in the nine affected schools was 425. Approximately 388 learners were registered in camps (Warrenton Kultuur Oord - 360 and Langberg/S C Kearns Camp – 28). The DBE conducted an audit on registration at the end of August 2012.

Printing and Packing: All NSC question papers had been printed under strict security. These question papers were packed and sealed with newly acquired packing machines to ensure minimal human contact under strict security. Question papers were packed per subject, per paper, per centre including centres at risk (special camps).

Storage and Distribution: Papers were stored centrally and distributed, with armed security, to Nodal points on a weekly basis. The Province had a total of 18 Nodal points servicing 112 schools (with 22 schools which were delivered to directly). This meant that 112 out of 134 centres receive their question papers on a daily basis. The province mitigated risk at the 22 schools by deploying daily monitors to these 22 schools, with officials being rotated. The storage period of question papers was substantially reduced from a period of 3 weeks to 1 week.

Collecting, Control and Archiving of Scripts: The province was in the process of constructing a new system administration building and a warehouse to alleviate the problem of undue access of script management officials in printing area. The province planned to split the different sections on completion of the warehouse, but for 2012, scripts would be controlled in the new packaging building. In enhancing control mechanisms for answer booklets, the Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDOE) had introduced the weekly delivery of stationery, which would be controlled on a stationery control list. (In the past, stationary was delivered in two consignments). The daily collection of scripts was done at the camps .

Security: The DBE commended the NCDOE on the high security measures in place, which include amongst others:

· The integrity of staff (long history and signed declarations of secrecy)

· Buildings with proper security

· Electronic Access control

· Strong Rooms complying with all safety specifications

· Closed circuit camera surveillance and recording in all buildings

· Control registers

· Security personnel at all high risk entrances

· Burglar proofing

· Security Gates

· Alarm Systems

· Smoke detectors

· Fire extinguishers

· No History of Security Incidents

Monitoring and Conduct of Examinations: All Chief Invigilators were trained on the conduct of the examination from the 6 - 24 August 2012. All monitors were trained from 1 – 12 October 2012. Circuit Managers and other officials attended a workshop on examination processes including dealing with irregularities, progressions and promotions in September 2012. All examination processes were monitored with a focus on the writing phase of the examination by Province, DBE and Umalusi. Centres at risk would be monitored on a daily basis.

School Based Assessment (SBA): The Province introduced a mid-year NSC SBA moderation that was conducted and monitored (verified) from 9 - 13 July 2012 in the five respective districts. Portfolios/evidence of 20 learners and educators were sampled from selected subjects from 10 schools per district. The provincial end of the year SBA moderation was conducted from 20 – 26 October 2012, whereby learner evidence from all schools and all subjects were moderated. The DBE and Umalusi monitored the provincial moderation process. The capturing of the SBA marks would take place from the 1 - 19 November 2012. It was important that all centres submit an SBA mark, including centres at risk. Special arrangements were made for Langberg learners to ensure compliance.

Marking: Three marking venues were identified and contracted in Kimberley . A total of 900 staff had been appointed to mark and administer the marking of the Grade 12 scripts. Venue Management Training was scheduled for 26 November 2012 with markers training scheduled for 1 - 2 December 2012. Marking would commence on 1 December 2012 and would be concluded by 14 December 2012. Marking would be monitored by the province, the DBE as well as monitors from Umalusi. The capturing of marks would take place from 1 - 16 December 2012. The marking statistics were as follows:



Marking centres




Senior Markers


Chief Markers


Internal Moderators


Total number of marking officials


End of Year Processes: The Provincial Irregularity Meeting was scheduled for 13 December 2012 and the National Irregularity Meeting was scheduled for 18 December 2012. The DBE and Umalusi Standardisation Meeting was scheduled for 21 December 2012 with the printing of results scheduled for 29 and 31 December 2012. The release of results and media briefing of the MEC was scheduled for 3 January 2012.

12. Engagement with Organised Labour Unions – Northern Cape

12.1 National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) – One issue raised was that of the learners at cross-boundary schools that was brought to the attention of the department and had been resolved. Shop stewards had been monitoring at various examination centres and to date had no major problems to report. Although protest action had stopped at the John Taole Gaetsewe District, Saturday classes continued. The relationship with the provinces had since deteriorated but a meeting was planned with the provincial department in the near future. The view of NAPTOSA in respect of the competency testing was that the testing played an important role in the selection of markers. Markers needed to be at a certain level to be eligible to mark. The union received no negative feedback from its members who wrote the competency test. The union also urged the Department to speedily address the issue of the delivery of books to schools.

12.2 Professional Educators Union (PEU) – The union concurred with NAPTOSA and added that it was important that there be a good working relationship between the unions and the provincial department.

13. In-loco Site Visits to Printing, Packaging and Distribution Facilities

Apart from the engagements with all the stakeholders in the districts visited, the Portfolio Committee also undertook in-loco site visits to the printing, packaging and distribution facilities at the Ugu and Pinetown District offices as well as Kimberly in the Northern Cape .

The Committee was very impressed with the high standard and the heightened security at these facilities. Members of the Committee were able to tour the factory floor and gain first-hand knowledge of how the questions papers were printed, packaged and ready for distribution. Members were taken through the procedures followed when scripts were received from principals after the days writing and how these scripts were collated, monitored and stored.

14. Committee Observations

The Committee noted the following key issues and concerns regarding the state of examination readiness in the Northern Cape:

· The Committee was satisfied that the Northern Cape Department of Education was ready and prepared to administer the National Senior Certificate examination. The NCDOE had made the necessary preparations, including the registration of learners and examination centres, the packing, printing, storing and distribution of question papers under strict security controls. The examination was also progressing well without major irregularities. During the previous oversight visit to the Province at the beginning of October 2012, t he Portfolio Committee applauded the efforts of the NCDOE, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, to create the necessary environment for learners affected by the protest action in order to continue schooling at special centres. However, of concern to the Committee was the number of learners who had had very little or no schooling for the period of the protest action and beyond. To date some were still not receiving any tuition nor were they writing the examination. The situation needed to be resolved speedily.

· Competency tests for markers remained a contentious issue. It was important that this issue be finalised as soon as possible through engagements with all unions.

· Members queried the reason for some schools being allowed to store question papers at the school. What were the security issues pertaining to this storage? How was the integrity and assessment of those who handled the papers physically ascertained?

· It was important that the province pronounced itself on the “pass-one-pass-all” scenario. Questions were raised about possible protest action calling for “pass-one-pass-all” Was the Department investigating this scenario?

· The Committee noted the challenges in respect of infrastructure that sparked the protest action and accepted that these formed part of the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of municipalities. Plans were in place to address these challenges, but due to budgetary constraints they could not be rolled-out.

· The costs of study camps were approximately R17 million and these were not budgeted for or planned. The Committee advised the Department during the previous oversight visit to approach the Provincial Treasury for assistance in accessing additional funds.

· It was important that schools develop their own recovery plans, with the provincial department adapting work schedules, as well as common task assessments. Curriculum coverage needed to be monitored very closely.

· Members were further concerned about possible disruptions at marking centres.

· Irrespective of the protest action, Members were concerned with the low pass percentage for some of the districts generally.

· It was essential that the dispute on the remuneration of markers be resolved as soon as possible.

· The Portfolio Committee agreed that it should meet with Provincial Portfolio Committee Chairpersons at least once per term/quarter to close gaps that exist and create synergy.

· The Committee was concerned about reports that CAPS textbooks for the Foundation Phase and Grade 10 were not delivered to some schools in the Northern Cape and the impact that this had on teaching and learning. It was important to receive a list of those schools who, to date, had not received any textbooks for the Foundation Phase and Grade 10, as well as workbooks.

15. Recommendations

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having conducted the oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape, and considered the issues that were raised, makes the following recommendations:

The Minister of Education should ensure that:

15.1 Parliament is updated on plans to address the challenge of insufficient storage space for examination material in Port Shepstone (Ugu District).

15.2 The Northern Cape Department of Education should continue giving support into 2013 to learners who had very little or no schooling for the period of the protest action. It is important that there be consultation with the Northern Cape Department of Education to investigate how the Province could find the necessary funding. A report on the Department’s learner support plans for 2013 should be submitted to Parliament within three months of the adoption of this report.

15.3 The issue of the competency tests for markers should be resolved as soon as possible through engagements with all unions. A report in this regard should be submitted to Parliament within three months of the adoption of this report by the National Assembly.

15.4 The dispute on the remuneration of markers should be resolved as a matter of urgency.

15.5 The Northern Cape Department of Education should enquire about the allegations of the non-delivery of textbooks and workbooks.

15.6 The allegations made by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education of not receiving the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) allowances are investigated and the necessary procedures be put in place to ensure that the Department receives its OSD allowances in accordance with the relevant regulations.

Report to be considered


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