ATC151015: Report of the Select Committee on Education and Recreation on an oversight visit to the Free State dated 14 October 2015

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture







1.         Mrs LL Zwane – Chairperson - Leader of the delegation (African National Congress) (KwaZulu-Natal) 

2.         Mrs L C Dlamini (African National Congress) (Mpumalanga)

3.         Mr HB Groenewald (Democratic Alliance) (North West)

4.         Ms TK Mampuru – Committee Whip (African National Congress) (Limpopo)

5.         Ms PC Samka (African National Congress) (Eastern Cape)

6.         Ms TG Mpabo-Sibhukwana (Democratic Alliance) (Western Cape)

7.         Ms L Matthys – (Economic Freedom Fighters) (Gauteng)


The following members tendered apologies:


  1. Mr M Khawula  (Inkatha Freedom Party) (KwaZulu-Natal)
  2. Mr DM Stock (African National Congress) (Northern Cape)
  3. Ms MF Tlake (African National Congress) (Free State)





1.         Mr M Dlanga – Committee Secretary

2.         Mr G Mankay – Committee Assistant

3.         Mrs L Stofile – Committee Researcher







The Select Committee on Education and Recreation, having undertaken an oversight visit to the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality in the Free State, to assess the implementation of the rationalisation programme of the Department of Education in the Free State, to monitor the transformation programme of the University of the Free State and to visit the Anglo-Boer War Museum, reports as follows:


  1. Introduction and background


In fulfilling its Constitutional mandate, the Select Committee on Education and Recreation (hereinafter, the Committee) undertook an oversight visit to the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality in the Free State from 8 to 11 September 2015.


During the National Council of Province’s (NCOP) Annual Planning session held in 2015, the Committee identified conducting oversight over the transformation programme at the University of the Free State, the rationalisation programme of the provincial Department of Education in the Free State and state of governance and transformation programmes at the Anglo-Boer War Museum as a priority.


  1. Purpose of the oversight visit

The purpose of undertaking an oversight visit to the Department of Education in the Free State was to:

  • Monitor the implementation of the rationalisation programme. This includes but was not limited to getting reports on the state of the environment of schools that have been merged, infrastructure, aspects of teaching and learning, human resources, the availability of textbooks and workbooks.

The purpose of undertaking an oversight visit to the University of the Free State was to:

  • Monitor functionality of the university after it had challenges of racism back in 2008 and to get first-hand information on the progress made on transformation programmes.
  • Get reports on the programmes aimed at exempting students from paying application fees as well as waiving registration fees for students who want to pursue studies in at honours level.

The purpose of undertaking an oversight visit to the Anglo-Boer War Museum was to:

  • Assess the state of transformation of the war museum.
  • Receive reports on the governance, strategic priorities and challenges faced by the museum.


  1. Meeting with Free State Department of Education


It was reported that the education system in South Africa had been divided into urban and rural schooling and this was manifested in the quality of the education system and resource allocation in support of it. In order to address the educational division and segregation of the schooling system in the dawn of democracy, government had a dire need to transform the schooling system. Section 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa ensures effectiveness and access to education. The State must consider reasonable alternatives and take into account the need to redress the results of past racially discriminatory laws and practices. The redressing programme commenced with the appointment of the Ministerial Committee on Rural Education by the Minister of Education. The report of this Committee recommended the establishment of a Directorate of Rural Education to facilitate the removal of education barriers. The Department of Education established a Rural Education Directorate in 2007 that drafted the National Guidelines for the Rationalisation of Small and/or Non-Viable Schools supported by Provincial Rural Education Coordinators. Additional to that, guidelines and agreements were established between Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) and the land owners regarding public schools existing on private properties. Subsequent to that, procedures were incorporated relating to expropriation of land, development of multigrade educators and a hostel strategy. The Inter-provincial Committee on School Rationalization was later established and timeframes for the merger and rationalisation process were developed. The guidelines seek to address the following key issues:

  • The implementation of agreements with land owners in terms of Section 14 of the South African Schools Act (No. 84 of 1996); and
  • The merger and closure of rural and farm schools.


  1. Legislative framework


The Committee was informed that the Department of Education complies with the following pieces of legislation:


  • South African Schools Act, (SASA) - Section 12 A, paragraphs 6, 47 and 58, the section specifically addresses the closure and merger of schools.
  • Regulations relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure as well as Government Gazette no 37081, Regulation Gazette no 10067, volume 581, 29 Nov 2013.


The process involved analysing the Norms and Standards for infrastructure, analysing the statistics of schools - identified schools with low learner numbers. All Free State schools with low learner numbers were farm schools as well as Public Schools on Private Property (PSPP).


The process further involved consultation with the Strategic Management Leadership Committee of the Free State Department of Education (FSDoE). The strategic management is guided by the following process:

  • Process of rationalisation.
  • Focus on the 243 farm schools with 20 or fewer learners.
  • Compilation of guidelines to support the process, read with SASA.
  • Provincial Directorate to drive the process.


  1. Consultations with districts

The Department was required to reach a common understanding of the legislative framework and to understand the guidelines and actions to be taken to ensure compliance with legislation as well as to identify hostels where learners could be accommodated (project and non-project - the space available for girls and boys). The District Director, Physical Planners / Property Officers, CES for Management and Governance, Circuit Managers, District Officials responsible for rural education, hostels and learner transport were part and parcel of the consultative process.


  1. Consultations with various stakeholders

The law required that various stakeholders should be consulted prior to the implementation of the rationalisation programme. Among the key stakeholders the Department consulted were parents, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in the schools, where applicable, traditional leaders, broader community around the school, farmer unions and organisations, land owners / managers of farms where schools are located, teacher unions at the bargaining councils as well as the school governing bodies ( SGB ) structures.





  1. Findings


The Committee learnt that the process of rationalising schools in the Free State was still ongoing. The Districts further identified 84 schools for closures. The teachers and learners were placed at other schools. Once a school had been identified for rationalisation, learners were accommodated in hostels and were subsidised by the FSDoE.  The subsidy was for meals, medical expenses, toiletries, taking part in sporting  events, transport for going home at out weekends and holidays, administrative expenses, water, electricity at approximately R17 000 per learner per year.


The first phase of rationalisation had been concluded. The Department was in the process of publishing names of schools identified for the programme in the government gazette for official closure. The Department intended to further identify another round of schools with 20 or fewer learners to be considered for possible closure or merger during 2015/2016. The process would be the same as the one followed in 2014.


The work was in progress due to the fact that learner numbers on farms fluctuated and this impacted on when a school should be considered for closure and whether learners should be taken elsewhere. The Department did not move learners from one school to another, if at all possible, before the Annual National Assessment (ANA) is written. The learner registrations and admissions process impact on the rationalisation process.


The Norms and Standards for Infrastructure was published in November 2013, which required every school, irrespective of size, to have fully fledged administration facilities, laboratories, and libraries. This will be the biggest cost saving item over the long term when schools were closed or merged. The costs of services related to amongst others, providing water, sanitation, electricity, educational support services, such as the subject advisory services, teacher training, monitoring of schools by the circuit managers, delivery costs of food for the National School Nutrition Programme.

The Norms and Standards for School Funding determines yearly a “Small Schools National Fixed Amount”.  In 2015 this amounted to R25 843 and 2016 it was R27 264 (Government Gazette of 16 Jan 2015, no 38397 vol 595).


The schools that have been identified for closure were faced with many challenges, amongst others, multi grade teaching and other curriculum delivery implications, access to learner support activities, example barriers to learning and access to learner wellbeing activities like sport and cultural events, and debating competitions.


  1. Visit to the University of the Free State (UFS)


The Committee was informed that the institution was one of 26 Public Universities in the country. The university had 30 969 students (2014 figures) and these students were distributed over three campuses, namely, Bloemfontein, Qwaqwa and South campuses, each with seven faculties. The university had been on the news for its transformation programmes, especially after the racial incident that occurred there in 2008.


In February 2008, a video made by four young white Afrikaner male students residing at the Reitz Residence at the university came into the public domain. The video showed the students forcing a group of cleaning staff, consisting of four elderly black women and one man, to eat food that was urinated on by one of the students. The real intent of the video was to protest against the university’s recently introduced policy to integrate the student residences. The video also reflected the following message:


“The Boers (Afrikaners) lived happily in Reitz until the day that the previously disadvantaged discovered the word integration in a dictionary. Reitz was then forced to integrate and we started our own selection process.”


The university responded by instituting disciplinary procedures as the public outcry condemned the act by the students and demanded action. Two of the students were still registered and the other two had graduated at the end of 2007 when the video was made. It was in the wake of this incident that the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, MP, announced in March 2008, the establishment of a Ministerial Committee on Progress Towards Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions to “investigate discrimination in public higher education institutions, with a particular focus on racism and to make appropriate recommendations to combat discrimination and promote social cohesion.


  1. The University of the Free State programme on transformation


The University of the Free State which once served the white minority, primarily in the Free State, with Afrikaans being the sole medium of instruction, needed to open up access to black students and staff who had not previously been able to either study or teach there. The university’s programme was amongst others aimed at ensuring diversity and equality.


The management of the UFS indicated that it was committed to ensuring that black students not only access the university but succeed within it. It was committed not only to ensuring an increase in the number of black academics and administrations but that they become more visible both in numbers and in authority in key bodies of the campus such as the senate and as heads of department. The university was committed to introducing curricula that challenge partisan and parochial thinking and that take a stand on offensive beliefs and practices.


The UFS saw the social prerogatives of racial justice and radical reconciliation as equally important and mutually reinforcing. It insisted on not replacing old victims with new ones and required staff and students to learn and to live together. The university emphasised that it rejected the divisive associations and affiliations and was committed to finding solutions that brought its people together even as it corrected past wrongs.


The Committee was informed that while race featured prominently in the universities history and politics, it was the only feature of inequality and discrimination that afflicted higher education institutions. A compassionate and inclusive university dealt simultaneously with problems of gender imbalances, the problems of access for students and staff with disabilities, the problems of ethnic strain, the problems of xenophobia and homophobia, indeed all prejudice.


The university held the view that varied dimensions of institutional inequalities and discrimination must be addressed together and in recognition of the intersections between problems of discrimination.


UFS subscribed to the notion that transformation infuses both the academic and human projects. It had several important dimensions, which were drawn together, namely demographics, transformation of symbols, democratisation and de-racialization of campuses, culture and intellectual diversity.


  1. The University of the Free State’s (UFS) programme on waiving application fees for 2016.


The UFS  waived application fees for all prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students - nationally and internationally - who want to study at the institution in 2016.


All universities charge application fees that vary in amount. With 25 universities in South Africa, this fee becomes a burden for students who want to apply to more than one university. The university leadership had also realised that tens of thousands of students who qualify for university entrance stumble at the first hurdle, which was finding the money to apply. The intervention by the university was aimed at ensuring that more students access the university.

 The UFS held the view that if all public universities could scrap the application fee, more young people from poor communities could realise their dream of accessing higher education. At the same time, the universities would benefit from more top talent coming into higher learning.


The university noted that the more students enrol and graduate, the stronger the financial position the university would be in. It was thus a win-win policy, and the university leadership had done the maths on this.


The application fees for 2016 were R235 for South African students and R500 for international students. Prospective students, who had already applied for admission in 2016, would not be refunded. However, students who had already registered successfully for 2016 may apply to have the application fee credited to their tuition fee account after they had registered for the following year.


To support this initiative, the UFS marketing section conducted an on-site application campaign by visiting East London, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, Qwaqwa, Kathu, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Newcastle, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, and Ladysmith from 28 August 2015.


  1. The University of the Free State programme on waiving of registration fees


All prospective students currently doing their final-year undergraduate studies at either the UFS or any other university would also pay no registration fee if they wished to continue with an Honours degree in 2016. The registration fee for 2016 was R950.


The university had invited all prospective students who wished to continue postgraduate studies at the university for 2016. The UFS strongly believed that in recent years, the job market had become more and more fierce, even for graduates, and standing out was becoming increasingly tougher. The programme was aimed at ensuring that those who were not ready to enter the job market and prefer to study further were afforded an opportunity to further their studies.


The postgraduate qualification gave students more options as far as work was concerned.

The additional qualification gave students a platform to continue directly into master’s degree studies now, or later in their career − and this was important because as more and more students graduate from university, the demand for higher level skills and qualifications would surely increase as well. In other words, students remained ahead of the pack, in the workplace.


In order to enable students to continue with postgraduate studies, the UFS had decided to embark on this free registration programme. The university would provide students with free registration for the Honours degree. To assist them, UFS had asked the deans of the various faculties to use the final year marks in majors for the admissions decision. The university had also decided to double its bursary fund available for Honours students, so that more students could study without the burden of tuition fees.


(iv)          Findings


The university had taken the following concrete actions to combat racism and prejudice:


The leadership of the university had issued clear, unequivocal and regular statements on where the institution stood with respect to racism and institutional transformation. This had been done through public pronouncements by the Council and announcements at almost every public event including at the welcoming of new students. The programme also included amongst others, reading of the Council statement on racism.


The institution had recently appointed black women as resident heads. Through these appointments, the institution prided itself as one of the few universities with the most diverse residential leadership profiles in the country. Black and white residence heads were carefully chosen and supported on the basis that they represent the transformation ambitions of the university.


The institution had introduced a compulsory core curriculum for all first-year students, regardless of discipline, without which no student could obtain a university degree. The curriculum dealt with six major questions drawn from history, law, ethics, economics and many other disciplines. Difficult issues such as race and identity were presented in large sessions and discussed in well-organised, smaller tutorial sessions with well-trained tutors.

The institution had transformed campus symbols, which range from the new more inclusive and embracing emblem and motto of the university, new campus monuments and curated exhibitions as well as the renaming of the residences. The implementation of these programmes had posed a challenge to the management especially from certain sections that were not ready for the change. The academia and the Council leadership had been supportive of the programme. The implementation of the above programmes had been done through proper consultation and the symbols removed were only those that were either offensive or outdated.


The university had transformed the student demographics. The institution currently had 71% black students, which suggests a favourable profile in comparative terms. The university had put a plan in place to de-racialise the Qwaqwa campus in the Free State. Academic staff transformation had also been taking place but at a very slow pace.


The rectorate senior leadership had been transformed with a majority being women, of which 50% were white and 50% black. This was an important leadership commitment to demonstrate excellence and equity at the highest levels of the university.


There was a rigorous drive for the transformation of placements in residences. The programme had largely been accomplished in all the women residences, but with greater difficulty in some of the male residences. The largely black student enrolment meant that ideal numbers of black and whites were not likely to be achieved on the Bloemfontein campus. The composition of residences had started to change.


The institution had spearheaded specific cross-campus campaigns such as the ‘No-Racism and Discrimination’ campaign. The programme had been running from 8 to 25 March 2015 and the ‘Yes to Human Equality’ part of it started to run from 16 March to 10 April 2015. The canvas version of the equality pledge was launched on the 10 April 2015 with a discussion series at the institute. The university had partnered with the Student Representative Council (SRC) and the student affairs rectorate.


A new organisational structure was created to spearhead transformation discussions and anti-racism initiatives across campus, such as the Institution for Reconciliation and Social Justice and the Human Rights and Transformation Desk. The structures enhanced investigative capacity when complaints were deposited and they also created a safe space where students and staff met and conducted difficult dialogues. In addition, discussions focused on the review of the transformation charter, the integrated transformation plan and dialogue on race, reconciliation and social justice in academia department faculties.


The exposure of students were done through three carefully planned study-abroad programmes. The programmes were aimed at discussions, debates and seminars on race, identity and social change as a way of breaking the relative isolation of many UFS students. The study-abroad programmes include the F1 leadership for Change, The Stanford Sophomore College Programme and the SRC Global Leadership Study. In 2015, partner universities from across the world would be conducting the international leadership training on the UFS campuses, bringing their staff and students to the university.


The university has been involved in extensive research and publication on race, racism and institutional change with major articles on these subjects having appeared in journals and books with several monographs appearing in 2015.


Institutional curricula such as the BA and the Bachelor of Social Sciences have been reviewed, using external expert panels so that the body of knowledge at the heart of the university itself is updated, renewed and transformed.


Facilitative conditions of student leaders and students to participate meaningfully in the transformation project of the university was created, thus improving the response to incidents and transparency in the way matters were dealt with.


Allegations of ethnicism on campuses (such as in Qwaqwa) have been investigated, followed by immediate action, including dialogue and changes in student and staff appointments as well as direct teaching on the subject to enable greater including (inclusion?) and mutual recognition of all campus stakeholders.


Transformation oversight at the UFS was taken seriously by the Institutional Forum (IF) of the university. The IF regular called upon relevant staff, including senior managers to report on matters related to transformation without mixing the oversight mandate with operational action. The IF ensured through actions like these that the transformation agenda of the university permeated every aspect of the university life.


  1. Visit to the Anglo-Boer War Museum


The Committee was informed that the Anglo Boer War Museum acknowledged inclusively those communities that suffered during the Second Anglo-Boer War (from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902). The war was fought between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.


The museum provided an understanding of the background against which the Anglo-Boer War took place through its unique art collection, dioramas and exhibition.

The museum was one of the entities under the Department of Arts and Culture. It was established in terms of Section 3(1) of the Cultural Institutions Act (119 of 1998). The Act provided for the establishment and payment of subsidies to certain cultural institutions and to provide for the establishment of certain institutions declared under the control of the Museum Council.


  1. Findings


The museum had established an educational centre and children’s museum. The institution also had outreach programmes to schools with special focus on previously disadvantaged communities.


A research centre had also been established at the museum and its capacity had considerably increased through website and documentation available in electronic format. Two volumes of the new Anglo-Boer War journals were completed and published.


The museum had established many partnerships. Amongst other institutions it has partnered with was the University of the Free State, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Department of Arts and Culture.


  1. Audit Outcomes


The museum had received a clean audit from the Auditor General for the 2012/2013, 2013/2014, 2014/2015 financial years. The internal audit unit of the museum was outsourced on a three year basis. The council of the museum was 90% black with only one white (Museum Councillor?), who was the Chairperson of the Council. 


  1. Challenges


The following challenges were raised:


  1. The museum was faced with a challenge of financial sustainability. This included audit fees and limited growth baseline allocation as well as the increasing liability for post-retirement medical aid.
  2. National Treasury had not been consistent in terms of paying audit fees of the museum as it was their responsibility in terms of the law.
  3. Inadequate inclusion of the South African war history in the school curriculum.
  4. Perceptions that the museum was not accessible to all communities.


  1. Recommendations


  1. Free State Department of Education


The national Department of Basic Education and the Free State Department of Education should consider the following factors before closure or merger processes were started:


  1. The curriculum offered by the releasing and the receiving schools.
  2. The languages offered by the releasing and receiving schools. The Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) of the releasing and receiving schools.
  3. Grades in receiving schools as well as grades and curriculum changes at receiving schools. Grades that the learners have to progress to so that they can complete grade 12.


In addition, the national Department of Basic Education and the Free State Department of Education should ensure that:


  1. Learners are informed of the schools they would progress to so that they had a vision for themselves and their schooling education.
  2. The status of the school infrastructure at the releasing and receiving schools meet the requirements in terms of the norms and standards for infrastructure.
  3. There is sanitation, water and electricity at the receiving school and that the receiving school is on the list of the department (provincially or nationally) for upgrading of its infrastructure.
  4. There is appropriate furniture at the receiving schools and to consider that resources follow learners.
  5. Data is collected about learners living on farms who will be of school-going age in 2015.
  6. The data mentioned in point (h) should be considered before taking any decision about relocating learners to another school, as the out-of-school learners and those becoming compulsory school going age may change the learner numbers at the schools with current low learner numbers.
  7. Schools do not get closed this year, only to learn at a later stage that there are learners who needed to attend the very school that would have just been closed.
  8. All assets of the schools are managed in accordance with the South African School’s Act, section 12A, 37 and 58. 
  9. The staffing situation are addressed in that warm bodies and qualifications of educators at the releasing and receiving schools and possibilities of any reskilling required and that the staff complement best be used most effectively.
  10. That learners from no fee schools to fee paying schools automatically get exempted from paying school fees.


  1. The University of the Free State


  1. The university should fast track its transformation programme, especially on the academic staff personnel.
  2. The Department of Higher Education and Training should encourage all universities to follow the example of UFS and scrap the application fees, so that many more young people from poor communities could realise their dream of accessing higher education.


  1.  The Anglo-Boer War Museum


The museum should:


  1. Develop a plan aimed at strengthening its programme of social cohesion.
  2. Develop a clear plan outlining the role it plays in recognising those, especially women, who participated in the war.
  3. Develop a fundraising plan in order to address constraints that it was experiencing, as well as plans to addressing equity.
  4. Strengthen its relationship with the University of the Free State, more especially in the wake of the Reitz residence video.
  5. Develop advocacy and outreach programmes to ensure that perceptions that the museum was not accessible to all communities was addressed.


The Department of Arts and Culture should ensure that:


  1. It continued to engage National Treasury in an attempt to find a solution to the challenge of audit fees that have not been handed over to the museum.
  2. The challenge of benefits such as medical aid allowances for former employees of the museum were addressed as a matter of urgency.
  3. The museum resides under the legacy museums and not on any cluster museums. This will prevent a situation where the museum appears to be regarded as an exclusive Afrikaner museum as was the tendency among certain population groups that claim Afrikaner heritage as theirs.


The Department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Basic Education should ensure that:


  1. There was inclusion of the South African war history in the school curriculum.


Report to be considered.



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