ATC170315: Report of the Select Committee on Education and Recreation on an oversight visit to Limpopo, dated 15 March 2017

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

Report of the Select Committee on Education and Recreation on an oversight visit to Limpopo, dated 15 March 2017


The Select Committee on Education and Recreation, having undertaken an oversight visit to Limpopo, reports as follows:


1.         Introduction and Background


  1. The Select Committee on Education and Recreation, in conjunction with the Portfolio Committee on Social Services, conducted oversight visits to the Vhembe District in Limpopo from 29 August to 02 September 2016.


  1. The primary purpose of the oversight visits was to assess the extent of damage of schools in Vuwani area (which occurred during the protests for municipal demarcation) and the school’s readiness for the end of the year examinations.  Also programmes that the District aided by the Province have put together to ensure that learners will catch-up before the end of the year examinations.  There was also a need to provide support to the District, and schools in finding effective solutions to the challenges being faced.  Parliament of South Africa
  2. The framework for the oversight was guided by key interventions and priorities for the Basic Education sector set out in major government plans to ensure that enabling conditions for quality teaching and learning are established. In this regard, the Committee’s oversight sought to focus primarily on the following:


  • The state of the school environment;
  • The provision of Learner Teacher Support Materials (LTSM);
  • The catch-up programmes;
  • The management and availability of learner transport;
  • The management and availability of the School Nutrition Programme to qualifying learners;
  • The functionality of School Governing Bodies (SGBs) and School Management Teams (SMTs);
  • The state of the school’s infrastructure and ICT; and
  • The availability of school furniture.


  1. The Select Committee selected Limpopo province, Vhembe District and schools in Vuwani area based on the schools that were torched during the protests (for municipal demarcation). The burning of schools come at the backdrop that Limpopo has not been performing well in the grade 12 results.


  1. As part of the oversight, the Select Committee received briefings from the Member of Executive Council (MEC), senior officials of the Provincial Department of Education and District Officials, Traditional Leaders and Social Development officials. The Select Committee also conducted in-loco site visits to seven schools where members held meetings with school managers in order to get first-hand information about the state of schools and how they are dealing with the challenge at hand with a view to find solutions.


  1. This report provides a summary of the key issues that emerged from the interaction with stakeholders and officials of the Provincial Department’s deliberations, observations and recommendations.


2.         Delegations


  1. Select Committee on Education and Recreation: Hon L L Zwane, MP (Chairperson) (KwaZulu-Natal), Hon P C Samka, MP, (Eastern Cape), Hon M Khawula, MP (KwaZulu-Natal), Hon T K Mampuru, MP (Limpopo), Hon L C Dlamini, MP (Mpumalanga), Hon D M Stock, MP (Northern Cape) and Hon T G Mpambo-Sibhukwana, MP (Western Cape). Parliamentary staff consisted of Ms M Williams (Secretary), Mr L Komle (Content Advisor), Ms L Stofile (Parliamentary Researcher) and Mr G Mankay (Committee Assistant).
  2. National Department of Basic Education: Mr Livhuwani Mahada (PLO); Vusiwe Mankam(DBE-DCES) and Mr MJ Mahlangu (Deputy Director),
  3. Limpopo Department of Education: Ms LR Sithole (Principal of Vhunzani Secondary School), Mr NO Ramugondo (Circuit Manager), Mr SM Ravhuanzawo (Acting District Director), Mr SD Letsedi (Chief Director: District Coordination), Mr AT Mudau (Principal: Maligana Wilson Secondary), Mr VV Musandiwa (Teacher: Maligana Wilson Secondary), Mr M Chabane (PLO), Mr KO Dederen (DDG), Mr CJ Legora (Assistant Director), Ms MN Beauty (Acting HOD), Ms MP Maseema (Director), Mr SS Makhondo (Deputy Director),
  4. National Department of Arts and Culture: Dr AC Serote (Director for Social Cohesion) and Ms P Kekana (Director: Library Policy and Coordination),
  5. Limpopo Department of Sports, Arts and Culture: Mr MM Mokgele (Chairperson of Limpopo Library Board), Mr M Mayeni (Deputy Director), Mr G S Mabunda (Acting Chief Director), Mr D Lebel (Provincial Coordinator) and MR j Nkalingi (Acting Director: library and archives).
  6. Traditional Leaders: Mr Jambatani (Headman), Mr HJ Mwamba (Headman), Mr Vhamuganda (Traditional leader).
  7. Limpopo Department of Social Development: Mr NR Musandiwa (Community Development supervisor), Mr M Kanakana (Deputy Director), Mr NJ Lidala (Social Worker), and Mr NE Munyai (Social Worker).


3. Oversight visit to the Thulamela Library in Thohoyandou (Limpopo)


The Select Committee met with the National Department of Arts and Culture at the Thulamela library in Thohoyandou. The presentation for Arts and Culture was done by the Director for Social Cohesion and Nation Building from the National Department of Arts and Culture, Dr Serote.

The presenter stated that the National Strategy for developing an Inclusive and Cohesive South African Society was approved in 2012. All the NDP commitments, Social Cohesion and Nation Building finds expression in the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The Outcome 14 programme of action had 81 performance indicators but were revised to 42 performance indicators.


Limpopo is getting the least grant compared to other provinces because they could not spend the money previously. However, they are now turning the corner. Money used to be returned to National Treasury. In 2015/16 they have spent better that the previous 5 years. Modular libraries were bought and placed inside the schools that do not have libraries and these modular libraries are also accessible to the communities.  

The Department of Arts and Culture reacted to the Vuwani protests by holding community conversations in Vuwani so as to enhance social cohesion and nation building. The Department viewed the community conversations as an antidote to the social dislocation and violence in Vuwani. As a response, the Department held 8 dialogues in the area and the dialogues were led by social cohesion advocates and community leaders in the area. The dialogues began from 27 June 2016 to 13 July 2016.


The community conversations had the following themes:

  • Recreation facilities to keep the youth active;
  • Inter-cultural activities involve the different cultural groups;
  • Socio-economic redress for all in the area remains critical – community leaders and elected local representatives must pay attention to this; and
  • Allocation of public resources to the different villages in the area.


3.1 Challenges


  • Staff capacity: the library does not have adequately qualified staff.
  • Contract management: some contracts are left too late before they are renewed.
  • Rotation of senior managers
  • Late implementation of projects results in the department asking for rollovers.


3.2 Committee observations


  • The library is well used and it has a good auditorium.
  • There are a variety of books, and functional computers.
  • The library has Wi-Fi and students are able to connect to do their projects and do research work.
  • There was a mixture of students from high school and from tertiary institution (UNISA).
  • There was space for more books.


3.3 Committee recommendations


  • The library auditorium should be used for other community activities like arts and drama.
  • The library should have books in the local language and about the history of the region, province and the country.
  • Local municipalities should play a huge role in libraries so as to ensure their functionality.
  • The library should have resources that cater for adult literacy.
  • The Department of Arts and Culture should provide all schools with the national flag.


4.         Oversight and Monitoring Visit in Limpopo (Vhembe District: Vuwani area)


The oversight visit started on the 29 August 2016 at Beit Bridge and proceeded to Vhembe District on 30 September 2016 with a visit to the Thulamela Library followed by a visit to Vhudzani Secondary school in Vuwani area. The oversight visit concluded with a debriefing session in Polokwane at the Water Board Offices on 01 September 2016. The meetings of the Select Committee were as follows:


  • A meeting with the MEC and Head of Department for Education in Limpopo and Senior Provincial and District officials;
  • Schools visited by the delegation were:
    • Vhudzani Secondary School
    • Mashau Primary School
    • Avhatondwi Primary School
    • Maligana Wilson Secondary School
    • Mugoidwa Secondary School 
    • Masia Primary School
    • Tshipakoni Secondary School


  1. Meeting with the Limpopo Provincial Education Department.


The MEC for Education, Hon Ishmael Kgetjepe stated that over the past 5 years, the Department received a disclaimer form the Auditor-General. The Province has 96 percent of no fee schools. In 2015 the Department obtained 65.9 percent in the grade 12 results. When supplementary examinations were written, the grade 12 results were increased by 2 percent, thus the result became 67.9 percent. The decline in the matric results is as a result of some declining districts which are pulling the overall matric results. In terms of circuits, in 2014, 133 circuits performed well and in 2915, 84 circuits performed well. This shows that 49 circuits underperformed in 2015 as compared to 2014.  It is worrying that Mathematics, Physical Science and Accounting results had declined in 2015.

The MEC indicated that the major challenges for the Province were the following:

  • Language skills and competency of learners was below the expected level;
  • Many small non-viable schools (301), however, 130 were merged;
  • Scholar transport; and
  • Vacant principal posts, although they were being filled.


The stakeholders that were involved in the Vuwani area during and after the protests gave the following presentations:


4.1.1 Department of Education


The Department of Education intervene by providing 76 mobile classes at a value of R17 million. The Department is still running short of 35 mobile units. School furniture was relocated from those that had surpluses. On top of that 10 000 units of furniture have been provided. The Department is busy with requisition to identify needs for more furniture. National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) assisted in the intervention by providing photocopier machines for printing. Three centres were established namely; Mastec, Makhado and Tivumbeni from the 26th June to 30th July 2016 to cater for Grade 12 learners from Vuwani. The Department contracted three service providers to provide catering in the three catch-up centres and these service providers are the ones that were delivering food to secondary schools in Vuwani before the community protests. The number of learners per centre were: MASTEC had 783 learners; Makhado had 292 learners and Tivumbeni had 893 learners. The total expenditure for the three centres per day was R102 888.00. The cost of feeding from 1st July 2016 to 1st August 2016 was R3 260 752. There was a total savings of R1 867 364 in the same time.

The Department has taken the following measures to mitigate the situation in Vuwani:


  • 74 mobile classrooms have been delivered to 18 schools and 2 had to be redirected due to inaccessibility to the affected areas.
  • School furniture needs finalised and delivered to 1 school, however the process was halted due to uncertainties.

Challenges that the Department was faced with were:

  • Learners and educators were prevented from attending school for an extended period of time on matters unrelated to education.
  • Damaged school infrastructure and related tools of trade became an additional budget responsibility which the Department does not have.


The following risks were identified by the Department:

  • Vandalism and torching of school infrastructure
  • Loss of contact time that will impact negatively on curriculum coverage.
  • Possible loss/forfeiture of the school based assessment component to the total marks.
  • Possible exclusion of grade 12 learners from Tertiary Institutions admission processes and bursary opportunities.


The Department reported that schools in Vuwani area are easily accessible such that the need for provision of scholar transport is not a necessity. However recently only one route that was allocated transport with effect from July 2016 in order to cater for learners coming from Hlanganani Phase One RDP area. Currently, a total of 49 learners are being transported to Radzambo Secondary School.

4.1.2 Traditional Leaders


In most schools there is a problem of overcrowding.  Appointment of principals is delaying and schools without leadership cannot run. There is a need to appoint teachers. Foreign teachers that were appointed at schools for physical science and mathematics had their employment summarily withdrawn although they were assisting and were having good results. The language skills of learners are poor. In the midst of the challenge that learners had missed three months of their schooling time, a question was asked if learners can be given automatic entry to supplementary examinations.


4.1.3 Social Development

The Department of Social Development got involved because homes were in distress. This included parents and learners. The Department wanted to go to schools as early as possible and to debrief the learners, however, the roads were barricaded and teachers were not at school. A team of 25 social workers is still in place ready to do debriefing in schools.


4.2 Committee Observations


  • The Department of Education has been receiving disclaimers for the past 5 years.
  • 96 percent of schools in the province are no fee schools.
  • The matric results decreased because 49 district did not perform well as compared to 2014.
  • There was a decline in performance of gateway subjects (Mathematics, Physical Science and Accounting).
  • Leaners have challenges when it comes to language proficiency.
  • The Department sourced 76 mobile classrooms at a value of R17 million to replace the burnt classrooms.
  • The Department held three camps for matriculants in order to catch-up.
  • There is a possibility of matric learners to be excluded when it comes to admission for 2017.


4.3 Committee Recommendations


  • The Department has to ensure that it follows all PFMA prescripts, Treasury regulations and Supply Chain Management so that it does not get disclaimer any more.
  • The Department must ensure that the no fee schools perform well.
  • The 49 Districts that did not perform well should be assisted so that they can improve, and in turn they can improve the pass rate of the province.
  • There should be a concerted effort by the Department to assist in improving the pass rate of gateway subjects (mathematics, Physical Science and Accounting). 
  • The Department should liaise with the Department of Higher Education for them to ensure that learners are not disadvantaged when it comes to application for admission at higher education institutions.


  1. Visit to Schools in the Vhembe Education District, Vuwani Area


5.1 Vhudzani Secondary School


Teaching and learning in the school is going on well and there are no disturbances. The District has decided to re-chunk and rearrange the curriculum so that by the time they write the final examinations, they should have covered the entire curriculum. The re-chunking for grades 1 to 11 is done at school level guided by the pace setters. The school has extended contact time such that the school starts at 07h00 (instead of 8h00) and ends at 16h00 (instead of 14h30). The school has also Saturday classes. The school intimated that some informal tasks maybe suspended in favour of formal tasks. The midyear examinations were started in July.


5.1.1     Challenges:


  • The school is still lagging behind in curriculum coverage.
  • Two blocks of buildings were burnt.
  • The school has serious water shortage.
  • The school had not had an SGB meeting since its resumption.
  • The school had no HIV/AIDS programme


5.1.2     Committees Observations:


  • Members were concerned that the school had to see how it does its catch-up programme as the department did not have money to pay for extra lessons.
  • Members were concerned that the school had serious water shortage.
  • Members were concerned that the school had not held an SGB and a parents meeting since its resumption.
  • Members were concerned that the school did not have an HIV/AIDS programme.


5.1.3     Committees Recommendations:


  • The Provincial Department should assist the school with the catch-up programme during September holidays.
  • The Provincial Department should assist the school with developing the necessary recovery programmes and intervention plans to improve performance at the school.
  • The Department of Education assisted by Department of Public Works should ensure that there is water in all schools.
  • The school has to ensure that it holds regular meetings with parents and other stakeholders.
  • The school has to ensure that it puts together a HIV/AIDS programme.


5.2  Mashu Primary School – The school was affected in the burning of schools in Vuwani. Two blocks were burnt and one is an administration block. The school received four mobile classrooms. The torching of the school affected the School Based Assessment (SBA) as all the workbooks were burnt and photocopier machines were burnt too. The school is still doing work of term 2. The school has no water because its borehole is not working as the control box was destroyed by the fire.

5.2.1     Challenges

  • The school has no water as its borehole is not working because there is no electricity
  • Books and machines were burnt and it affected the SBA.
  • The school is lagging behind on its work as it is still on term two while it is term three.



5.2.2     Committees Observations:


  • The school is in dire need of water because the borehole was not working.
  • The school is struggling with tuition because the machines and books are burnt.
  • The school does not have an administration block as it is also burnt.


5.2.3     Committees Recommendations:


  • Electricity must be immediately installed so that the borehole can function for the school to get water.
  • The Department of Basic Education should provide for workbooks so that learners can continue with the SBA.
  • The school needs to catch-up so that before the final examination, the school should have covered the fourth term work.


5.3  Maligana Wilson Secondary School – The lower grades (grades 8 – 11) still have scope to cover. The school has adopted its catch-up programme, such that the school starts at 07h00 and end at 16h00. The school has not yet started trial examinations yet. Two blocks got burnt and one is an administration building. The school received one mobile classroom and it is expecting two more mobile classrooms. The school has Saturday classes for the science and commerce stream. The school will start the trial examinations on 01 September 2016. The school has no water because its borehole is not working as it uses electricity.


5.3.1     Challenges


  • The school has no electricity.
  • There is no water as the borehole is not functioning.
  • Teachers use science laboratory as a staffroom and the administration block was damaged by fire.


5.3.2     Committees Observations


  • The borehole is not working because there is no electricity at the school.
  • The administration block was gutted by fire, so teachers use science laboratory as the staffroom.


5.3.3     Committees Recommendations


  • Eskom should install electricity at the school with immediacy so that the borehole can work and the school can have water.
  • The Department should deliver the mobile classrooms as soon as possible.


5.4  Avhatondwi Primary School


The school had one classroom burnt. There were two groups of learners that were taught under a tree. There is no intervention in order to catch-up the curriculum. The school needs more classrooms.  


5.4.1     Challenges


  • The school needs more classrooms as there were two groups of learners that were taught under a tree.


5.4.2     Committees Observations


  • There were two groups of learners that were taught under a tree, thus, more classrooms are needed.


5.4.3     Committees Recommendations


  • The Department should build the required number of classrooms so that leaners do not learn under a tree.
  • The school should ensure that learners catch-up with the curriculum before they write the end of the year examinations.


5.6 Masia Primary School


The school was using a classroom as a library which was burnt down. All the books and the machines that were in that classroom were burnt. The school has serious challenges for teaching and learning because books that learners were using are burnt.


5.6.1 Challenges


  • The books that are used by learners are burnt which poses a challenge on the teachers and learners when it comes to tasks to be done.
  • Machines that are used for photocopying tasks of learners are also burnt.
  • Teaching and learning is thus highly challenged because of the burnt learning and teaching support material.


                        5.6.2 Committee observations


  • Books and machines are burnt and teaching and learning is going to be a challenge moving forward.
  • Only the classroom used as library was burnt, and other classrooms were not affected.


5.6.3 Committee recommendations


  • The Department of Education has to provide LTSM to enable teaching and learning to take place in a meaningful manner.
  • The burnt classroom needs to be refurbished.
  • The machines that were destroyed need to be replaced.


5.7 Tshipakoni Secondary School


Tshipakoni secondary school has neglected buildings that are dilapidated such that windows are broken. Community members were able to extinguish the fire at the school such that only one chair was burnt. Its ablution facilities are in a bad state. When the MPs went to the school, they found learners taking drugs in the toilets.


5.7.1 Challenges


  • Learners at this school use or abuse drugs.
  • Ablution facilities are in a bad state and almost unusable.
  • Buildings are dilapidated with broken windows.



5.7.2 Committee Observations


  • Neglected buildings with broken windows.
  • Ablution facilities that are in a bad state need attention.
  • Drug abuse by learners.


5.7.3 Committee Recommendations


  • The school has to ensure that it replace broken windows.
  • The ablution facilities need to be looked at.
  • The school needs to work with South African Police Services and Department of Social Development to curb drug abuse at school.


6.         Wrap-up/Report-back Session


With the conclusion of the oversight visit to the Vhembe District in Limpopo, the Committees had a brief wrap-up/report-back session with the Provincial Departments of Education, Arts and Culture and Social Development. The objective was to receive a broad summary of the major challenges as a result of the burning of schools in the Vuwani area and the interventions that the respective departments had taken to assist the schools in the Vuwani area to ensure that quality teaching and learning takes place. What the Committees drew from the monitoring and oversight visit would also assist the Provincial Department and its districts to improve its preparations for end of the year examinations. 


The Chairpersons of the Committees appreciated the time spent in Limpopo Province and noted that it was money well spent. The Committees were able to interact with various stakeholders in the Province and have visited the schools as identified. Members were able to give input, guidance and support. It must be noted that the oversight visit focused on the schools in the Vuwani area. The Chairpersons gave an overview of some of the key challenges observed in the schools visited. These related to shortage of classrooms, lack of water in the schools, the intervention programme and its costs, the curriculum delivery and management, foreign teacher employment contracts. 


The Committees indicated that the oversight was biased to those schools that were burned in Vuwani.



7. Committees Observations


7.1 Education


The Committees reported the following critical issues, requiring the attention of the Department of Education:


  1. Curriculum delivery: The Committees observed that although teaching had resumed in the schools visited, schools were still behind in the curriculum delivery. there was little teaching and learning happening in many of the schools visited.


  1. The relationship with stakeholders and their support to schools: The Committee was happy that there were different stakeholders that assisted the Department of Education in the Vuwani area, namely; National Educational Collaboration Trust, Social Development, COGTA, Traditional leaders and SAPS. Furthermore, the Committee appreciated the willingness of Social Development to counsel both the parents and learners as the need arise. The Committee requested the schools to ensure that they call for parents meeting with immediate effect so as to ensure that they rebuild the relationship with them.


  1. Staffing: Members were concerned regarding the delays in the appointment of principals in some schools. The members were also concerned with the short contracts offered to foreign national teachers, and members were also concerned that the contracts of some foreign national teachers were not renewed although they taught critical gateway subjects, namely: Mathematics and Physical Science.


  1. Planning and prioritising: Whilst the budgetary constraints faced by the Province because of the funds needed to run the intervention programme were noted, the Select Committee urged the Department to focus on urgent matters. These included building of proper ablution facilities, renovating the burnt buildings and purchasing the relevant materials (LTSM and Machinery). It was also important to ensure that there was value for money in the spending of budget allocations at all levels of the system.


  1. Non-negotiables: Members urged the Department to ensure that the non-negotiables were observed and implemented in schools. These included that learners and teachers were at school on time; that teachers were teaching, covering the Curriculum; and that principals were managing schools effectively.


  1. Infrastructure: Members observed that infrastructure in the schools visited was not good even before the buildings were torched. Thus, the buildings needed refurbishing. Moreover, most of the schools visited needed more classrooms. All the schools visited had no water as they are using boreholes which cannot work because schools had no electricity after the burning.  Members were happy that furniture was made available to school where it was burnt. The department needs to attend to sanitation issues in schools. All schools need to have South African Flags.


  1.  Multi-grade and non-viable schools: It was important to fast track the rationalisation of small schools. The province has 301 small and non-viable schools and it has merged 130 schools.  


  1. Areas showing positive preparations: Areas that were fairly well managed in respect of school readiness for the end of the year examinations because of the catch-up programmes. The availability of mobile classrooms to mitigate the challenge of burnt classrooms is commendable.


7.2 Arts and Culture


The Committees reported the following critical issues, requiring the attention of the Department of Arts and Culture:


  1. Space usage: The library is used very well by both secondary learners and tertiary education    








         of the district, region and the province, and there should be books that about the history of the

         region and the province written in the mother tongue.



         depleted easily.


8. Overall recommendations


8.1 Education


The Committees, having conducted the oversight visits to Limpopo, and having considered the issues that were highlighted, requests that the Minister of Basic Education ensure that the Department consider the following overall recommendations:


8.1.1     The Limpopo Education Department, including Districts and Circuits, should ensure that the affected schools in the Vuwani area finish the curriculum before they write the end of the year examinations. There should be clear plans of a catch-up programme for all the affected schools in the Vuwani area, and the Districts and circuits should monitor them closely. 


8.1.2     The Limpopo Education Department should prioritise the refurbishment of the burnt schools and also ensure that there are no learners who are taught under a tree.


8.1.3     The Limpopo Education Department should ensure that all schools are effectively monitored to implement the basic requirements of functionality, including that learners and teachers are in class on time, teachers teach and principals manage schools effectively.


8.1.4     The Limpopo Education Department should fast track the filling of critical posts directly linked to school functionality, including teachers and principals.


8.1.5     The Limpopo Education Department should ensure that schools improve in the gateway subjects (Mathematics, Physical Science and Accounting.


8.1.5     The Limpopo Education Department should fast-track the rationalisation of small non-viable schools.


8.1.6     The Department of Basic Education should provide Parliament with a progress report in addressing the recommendations made in this report, within two months of the adoption of the report by the National Assembly.


8.2 Arts and Culture


The Committees, having conducted the oversight visits to Limpopo, and having considered the issues that were highlighted, requests that the Minister of Arts and Culture ensure that the Department consider the following overall recommendations:


  1. The Department of Arts and Culture has to ensure that the community conversations are a continuous phenomenon.


  1. The Department has to ensure that all contracts are renewed on time so that there can be no vacuum.


  1. All projects should be implemented timeously so that the Department can stop asking for rollovers.


  1. Libraries across the country must have books in indigenous languages.


  1. Adult literacy should also be catered for so that students in the community colleges can benefit too.


9. Appreciation


The delegation, led by Hon L L Zwane MP (Chairperson: Select Committee on Education and Recreation) and Hon C Dlamini MP (Chairperson: Select Committee on Social Services), would like to thank the National and Provincial Departments of Education, Arts and Culture and Social Development for the support given during the oversight visit.



Report to be considered.




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