ATC200605: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on Consideration of the Budget Vote 17: Higher Education and Training, Dated 02 June 2020

Higher Education, Science and Technology

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ON CONSIDERATION OF THE BUDGET VOTE 17: HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING, DATED 02 JUNE 2020

1. INTRODUCTION AND MANDATE OF THE COMMITTEE, THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING AND ITS ENTITIES

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology (hereinafter referred to as the Committee), having considered the Strategic Plans 2020 – 2025 and Annual Performance Plans(APPs) 2020/21 and budgets of the Department of Higher Education and Training (hereinafter referred to as the Department), National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Council on Higher Education (CHE), South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), reports as follows:

 

1.1. Purpose of the Budget Vote 17 Report

The purpose of this report is to account for work done by the Committee in consideringthe 2020 - 2025 Strategic Plans and 2020/21 Annual Performance Plans (APP) and budgets of the Department, NSFAS, CHE, SAQA and the QCTO in accordance with Section 27(1) of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act. No 29 of 1999), and as referred by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) to the Committee in terms of Rule 338 for consideration and reporting.

1.2. Mandate of the Committee and the DHET

Section 55(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa stipulates that “the National Assembly (NA) must provide for mechanisms (a) to ensure that all executive organs of state in the national sphere of government are accountable to it; and (b) to maintain oversight of (i) national executive authority, including the implementation of the legislation; and (ii) any organ of state”. Rule 227 of the Rules of the National Assembly (9th edition) provides for mechanisms contemplated in section 55(2) of the Constitution.

The Department derives its mandate from section 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the following legislation: Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act No.101 of 1997), National Student Financial Scheme Act, 1999 (Act No. 56 of 1999), Continuing Education and Training Act, 2006 (Act No. 16 of 2006), National Qualifications Framework Act, 2008 (Act No. 67 of 2008), Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act No. 97 of 1998), Skills Development Levies Act, 1999 (Act No. 9 of 1999) and the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act, 2001 (Act No. 58 of 2001). The Committee oversees the implementation of the above mentioned legislation.

1.3. Method

The 2020 - 25 Strategic Plans and 2020/21 APPs and budgets of the Department, NSFAS, CHE, SAQA and the QCTO were considered against the background of key government policy documents, including, amongst others, the National Development Plan (NDP), the 2019 – 2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), and the 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA). The Committee had joint briefing sessions with the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Cultureto consider the Strategic Plans and the APPs of NSFAS, CHE and SAQA on 11 May 2020 and 20 May 2020, the Department on 14 May 2020, and the QCTO on 22 May 2020.

 

The Committee planned to convene a briefing session with the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) on the audit outcomes of the 2020/21 APPs of the Higher Education and Training Portfolio.  However, on 7 May 2020, the AGSA informed the Committee that it could not confirm the final 2020/21 APPs for the Portfoliodue to lockdown, which resulted in the withdrawal of the auditing teams from audits.

 

2. OVERVIEW OF THE KEY POLICY FOCUS AREAS RELEVANT FOR THE DEPARTMENT AND THE ENTITIES

2.1.Key government policies

2.1.1. The National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030

The NDP identifies decent work, education and the capacity of the state as particularly important priorities. For the post-school education and training (PSET) sector, the NDP envisages that by 2030, South Africans should have access to education and training of the highest quality. The education, training and innovation system should cater for different needs and produce highly skilled individuals; and graduates of the post-school system should have adequate skills and knowledge to meet the current and future needs of the economy and society.

 

 

2.1.2. The White Paper for Post-School Education and Training (WPPSET)

The White Paper articulates a vision for an integrated system of post-school education and training, with all institutions playing their role as parts of a coherent but differentiated system. The White Paper sets out strategies to expand the current provision of education and training in South Africa, to improve its quality, to integrate the various strands of the post-school system. There are interventions set in the White Paper for implementation by different sectors of the PSET system. Flowing from the White Paper, the Department has developed a Draft National Plan for Higher Education, which will be an implementation plan with measurable targets for each sub-system of the sector. The main policy objectives are:

  • A post-school system that can assist in building a fair, equitable, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa;
  • A single, coordinated post-school education and training system, expanded access, improved quality and increased diversity of provision; and
  • A post-school education and training that is responsive to the needs of individual citizens, employers in both private and public sectors, as well as broader societal and development objectives.

 

2.1.3. 2019 – 2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF)

In 2019, the new Administration identified seven priorities derived from its electoral mandate and the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA) to focus its interventions for the 2019 – 2024 MTSF period. The 2019 – 2024 MTSF is a five-year strategic plan of government, and forms the second five-year implementation phase of the NDP. The post-school education and training sector contributes to Priority 2: Education, Skills and Health. This priority contributes to pillar 2 of the NDP pillars, which is Capabilities of South Africans.

In implementing Priority 2: Education, Skills and Health, Government has developed the new 2019 – 2024 MTSF. The Strategy has four Outcomes that are relevant to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). These are: 

  • Expanded access to PSET opportunities;
  • Improved success and efficiency in the PSET system;
  • Improved quality of PSET provisioning;and
  • A responsive PSET system.

2.1.4. 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA)

The February 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) key focus is on inclusive growth and addresses critical priorities for the Post School Education and Training sector. These include, youth employment through appropriate skills development and capabilities, curriculum development, student accommodation and the establishment of two universities and nine Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

 

3. OVERVIEW AND ASSESSMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT’S STRATEGIC PLAN2020 – 2025

The 2019 – 2024 MTSF, which is a five-year strategic plan of government forms the second five-year implementation phase of the NDP.This requires that government departments at all levels, and entities incorporate its policy priorities of the sixth Administration. The Department of Higher Education and Training’s Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 is guided and aligned to the MTSF priorities. The Strategy identifies four outcomes for under Priority 2: Education, Skills and Health. The Department leads four of the 81 outcomes identified in the MTSF under Priority 2. The Department has incorporated most of the policy priorities under the following Outcomes:

  • Expanded access to PSET opportunities - aims to provide a diverse student population with access to a comprehensive and multifaceted range of PSET opportunities;
  • Improved success and efficiency in the PSET system- aims to improve efficiency and success of the PSET system;
  • Improved quality of PSET provisioning- aims to build the capacity of PSET institutions to provide quality education and training;
  • A responsive PSET system– aims to provide qualifications programmes and curricula that are responsive to the needs of the world of work, society and students; and
  • Excellent business operations within DHET– aims to ensure sound service delivery management and effective resource management within the department.

The Department and its entities will be required to implement different interventions over a five-year period to achievethe outcomes.Contributing to some of the interventions under Priority 2: Education, Skills and Health is the Department of Science and Innovation and the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Department of Employment and Labour, Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development through agricultural colleges.

3.1. Priority 2: Education, Skills and Health outcomes interventions, amongst others

3.1.1. Outcome 1: Expanded access to PSET opportunities

  • Implementing enrolment plans for universities, Technical and Vocational and Training (TVET) and Community Education and Training (CET) colleges (2020-24);
  • Ensuring eligible students receive funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursaries (through guidelines, policy, legislative review, effective oversight of the NSFAS by DHET and improve management of the NSFAS);
  • Implementing required agreements, financing systems, infrastructure frameworks and disability support to realise enrolment growth;
  • SETAs identifying increased number of workplace-based opportunities and make information of work-based learning known to the public;
  • Establishing centres of specialisation to support students with disabilities in TVET college; and
  • Promoting the take up of artisanal trades as career choices among youth.

3.1.2. Improved success and efficiency of the PSET system

  • Advocating the use of open access Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM) in CET colleges; Implement capacity building programmes and interventions at universities;
  • Increasing the number of TVET students attending foundation courses;
  • EradicatingNational Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) and National Certificate Vocational NC(V)certification backlog;
  • Implementing IT examination system for TVET Colleges; and
  • Increasing the number of universities offering accredited TVET college lecturer qualifications.

3.1.3. Improved quality of PSET provisioning

  • Increasing the number of universities offering accredited TVET college lecturer qualifications;
  • Implementing the New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP); and
  • Developing standards ofgood governance in public TVET colleges, CETCs, Universities and SETAs.

 

3.1.4. A responsive PSET system

  • Industry exposure for lecturers and students (especially in TVET colleges);
  • Reviewing all TVET college curriculum to align with regional industry needs;
  • Promoting entrepreneurship in TVET colleges through the establishment of hubs;
  • Training young artisans through the centres of specialisation at TVET colleges;
  • Introducing compulsory digital skills training specific to programme offerings at TVET colleges;
  • CET college skills program piloted around community needs; and
  • Supporting universities toimplement student-focussed entrepreneurship programmes; Conduct IP awareness sessions (IP Wise) at TVET colleges (at least two per annum).

 

Though the Department has incorporated most of the policy priorities, the following performance outcome indicators and targets have not been reflected in the five-year strategic plan of the Department as well as the Annual Performance Plan.

  • Outcome 1: Expanded access to the PSET opportunities:
    • NSFAS Policy in place for sustainable funding of students from poor background and from the ‘missing middle’ (guidelines, legislative review, effective oversight by DHET). The Department mentions it in the strategic plan as a focus area over the MTSF period. However, it is reflected as an output indicator and target; effective administration of NSFAS;
    • Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the DHET and SETAs to improve performance are met; number of learners registered for SETA-supported skills learnerships annually; and
    • Number of learners registered for SETA-supported internships annually.
  • Outcome 2: Improved success and efficiency of the PSET system:
    • Advocacy campaign on the use of Open Access Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM) is undertaken.
  • Outcome 3: Improve quality of provisioning:
    • Number of lecturers from Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs) and the target is to determine the target from analysing HDIs and Universities of Technology (UoTs) trend through the nGAP; and
    • Percentage of universities that have signed agreements with TVET to recognise their qualifications.
  • Outcome 4: A responsive PSET system:
    • Number of protocols signed with industry to place TVET college students and lecturers for workplace experience.

 

4. 2020/21 MEDIUM-TERM EXPENDITURE FRAMEWORK (MTEF) BUDGET

4.1. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Budget and the 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan (APP)

Table 1: Summary of the overall Budget Allocation and Expenditure Estimates: 2020/21MTEF

Programme

Budget

Nominal Rand change

Real Rand change

Nominal % change

Real % change

R million

2019/20

2020/21

2021/22

2022/23

 2019/20-2020/21

 2019/20-2020/21

Administration

  412.2

  491.2

  525.7

  552.2

  79.0

  58.3

19.17 %

14.14 %

Planning, Policy and Strategy

  180.7

  214.5

  227.5

  239.2

  33.8

  24.8

18.71 %

13.70 %

Programme 3: University Education

 73 365.0

 80 083.4

 84 332.6

 88 167.9

 6 718.4

 3 343.2

9.16 %

4.56 %

Technical and Vocational Education and Training

 12 630.9

 13 813.6

 14 644.0

 15 278.7

 1 182.7

  600.5

9.36 %

4.75 %

Skills Development

  280.9

  318.5

  336.6

  354.8

  37.6

  24.2

13.39 %

8.61 %

Community Education and Training

 2 143.8

 2 522.9

 2 686.7

 2 780.5

  379.1

  272.8

17.68 %

12.72 %

 

Subtotal

 

89 013.6

 

97 444.0

 

102 753.0

 

107373.4

 8 430.6

 4 323.8

9.5 %

4.86 %

Direct Charges against National Revenue

 18 576.3

 19 412.9

 20 585.0

 21 969.8

  836.6

  18.4

4.50 %

0.10 %

   

 

           

TOTAL

 107 589.8

 116 857.0

 123 338.1

 129 343.1

 9 267.2

 4 342.2

8.61 %

4.04 %

 

Over the MTEF period, the Department of Higher Education and Training’s budget amounts to R369.5 billion including direct charges. For the 2020/21 financial year, government allocated an amount of R116.85 billion to the Department of Higher Education and Training. This represents, when factoring inflation, an increase of 4% from the 2019/20 adjusted appropriation amounting to R107.58 billion. Government expenditure on higher education for 2020/21 represents a 2.15% as a share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This expenditure as a share of GDP is projected to decrease marginally in the two outer years of the MTEF period to 2.14% and 2.11%, respectively. For the current financial year, Government expenditure on the higher education represents 15.42% as a share of the total national expenditure and 29.90% of the total education spending.

 

The budget is made up of R97.44 billion from voted funds (Department’s programme budget) and R19.41 billion from Direct Charges against the National Revenue Fund, for the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and the National Skills Fund (NSF). Allocations from voted funds and Direct Charges against the National Revenue Fund have increased from the previous financial year by 4.86% and 0.10% when adjusted for inflation. The Department’s programme budget excluding Direct Charges, represents 83.3% of the total budget. The Department’s total budget, including Direct Charges is projected to grow in the two outer years of the MTEF period by an average growth rate of 6.3%, from R107.58 billion in 2019/20 to R129.34 billion in 2022/23.

 

Spending on transfers and subsidies constitutes 90.5%(R105.85 billion) of the R116.85 billion budget of the Department. The bulk of the allocation for transfers and subsidies, R86.43 billion (73.9%) is apportioned for Departmental Agencies and accounts, higher education institutions, foreign governments and international organisations, non-profit organisations (TVET and CET colleges).The second largest allocation of R19.41 billion in the transfers and subsidies goes to the SETAs and the NSF. The allocation for transfers and subsidies is projected to grow at an average growth rate of 6.3% from R97.46 billion in 2019/20 to R117.12 billion in 2022/23. An allocation of R10.98 billion, which represents 9.4% of spending on current payments constitutes the second highest expenditure of the Department’s budget. Payments for capital assets amounts to R16.3 million and it is also projected to decrease in the two outer years of the MTEF period to R13.5 million and R13.2 million, respectively.

 

The Cabinet has approved budget reductions amounting to R4.5 billion over the MTEF period to be effected mainly on transfers and subsidies in the University Education programme and the TVET programme; a technical inflation adjustment amounting to R62.2 million in 2020/21 and R66.2 million in 2021/22 on the compensation of employees across programmes. An additional adjustment of R60.1 million on the compensation of employees and goods and services is effected as a result of the consolidation of the offices of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers of the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Science and Innovation through the 2019 national macro organisation of government.

The Department’s budget, excluding Direct Charges funds its six programmes, namely:

  • Programme 1: Administration;
  • Programme 2: Planning, Policy and Strategy;
  • Programme 3: University Education;
  • Programme 4: TVET;
  • Programme 5: Skills Development; and
  • Programme 6: CET.

4.2. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21MTEF budget allocation per programme and the 2020/21 performance targets

4.2.1. Programme 1: Administration

The purpose of this programme is to provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the Department. The Programme’s sub-programmes have been reduced from six to five, namely: Department Management, Corporate Services, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Internal Audit and Office Accommodation. Sub-programme: Ministry has been discontinued due to the consolidation of the offices of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers of the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Science and Innovation through the 2019 national macro organisation of government.

4.2.1.1.Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 MTEF budget allocation

Over the MTEF period, the programme has a total budget of R1.569 billion. For the 2020/21 financial year, the budget amounts to R491.2 million, which represents 0.5% of the Department’s total voted funds. The programme’s 2020/21 budget increases by R79 million from R412.2 million in 2019/20. This represents, when considering inflation, an increase of 14.1%.

Sub-programme 2: Corporate Services, continues to receive the bulk, 50% (R246.7 million) of the programme’s total allocation, followed by sub-programme 3: Office of the Chief Financial Officer at 24% (R124.3 million). The two sub-programmes received the bulk of the budget increase at 15% and 28%, respectively. In terms of economic classification, R487.6 million is for current payments, of which R298.9 million is for compensation of employees and R188.6 million for goods and services. The bulk of the budget in goods and services allocation, R61.3 million is allocated for operating leases, followed by R43.8 million for computer services and R16.7 million on property payments.

 

4.2.1.2. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 performance targets

The programme is responsible for one of the five DHET MTSF outcomes, 5: Excellent business operations within the DHET. For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has seven output indicators and seven predetermined targets.The programme will focus on implementing sound human resource management practices, including staffing, human resource development, performance management, labour relations and human resource administrative systems. The Branch will, amongst others, ensure development of demand and procurement for 2021/22 is approved by the Director-General; work towards achieving an unqualified audit opinion; resolving 100% of disciplinary cases and ensuring 98% network connectivity uptime and conclude 100% of investigations on irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

4.2.2. Programme 2: Planning, Policy and Strategy

The programme aims to provide strategic direction in the development, implementation and monitoring of departmental policies and in the human resource development strategy for South Africa. The Programme retained its six budget sub-programmes, namely; Programme Management: Planning, Policy and Strategy; Human Resource Development Council of South Africa; Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; International Relations; Legal and Legislative Services and Social Inclusion and Quality.

 

4.2.2.1. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 MTEF budget allocation

The programme’s budget over the MTEF amounts to R681.3 million. For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has a total budget of R214.5 million, which increased, when adjusted for inflation, by 13.6%from previous financial year. The programme’s budget constitutes 0.2% of the Department’s totalvoted funds. The significant increase in the budget is due to the shifting of the budget of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) from programme 3: University Education to this programme. Spending on sub-programme 6: Social Inclusion and Quality constitutes 62% (R132.9 million) of the programme’s total budget. The sub-programme aims to promote access to higher education and participation by all learners in training programmes, manages the development, evaluation and maintenance of policy, programmes and systems for learners with special needs; and monitors the implementation of these policies. The budget allocation is projected to grow to R227.5 million and R239.2 million in 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively.

An amount of R116.1 million is apportioned for current payments, of which R101.9 million is for compensation of employees and R14.1 million is for goods and services. The bulk of the budget on goods and services allocation, R10.2 million is equally spent on two line items, legal services and travel and subsistence.  An amount of R97.7 million is apportioned for transfers and subsidies, of which R73.7 million is to the SAQA, R19.8 million to Universities South Africa and R4.1 million to foreign governments and international organisations (India-Brazil-South Africa Trilateral Commission and Commonwealth of Learning).

 

4.2.2.3. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 performance targets

The programme contributes to the interventions to achieve four of the five MTSF outcomes of the DHET, namely: Expanded access to PSET opportunities; improved success and efficiency of the PSET system; improved quality of PSET provisioning and a responsive PSET system.

During the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has 10 output indicators and 11 predetermined targets. In contributing to expanding access to PSET opportunities, the programme will, amongst others, ensure availability of two courses or subjects on the NOLSs by 31 March 2021; get the Strategy for expanding online learning in PSET approved; review the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) coordination Policy and report on the recommendations and proposed amendments by 31 March 2021; and develop a model for programme articulation of TVET college programmes into university programmes by 31 March 2021.

 

In improving the success and efficiency of the PSET system, two reports on Statistics in the PSET and PSET monitoring will be published. The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Amendment Bill will be approved by the Minister for public comments by 31 March 2021. This is to support improved quality of PSET provisioning. In contributing to the responsiveness of the PSET system, the programme will produce three research reports to support decision making. A conceptual framework on integrated planning in the PSET system will be developed and get approved by the DG by 31 March 2021.

 

 

4.2.3. Programme 3: University Education

The programmeaims to develop and coordinate policy and regulatory frameworks for an effective and efficient university education system and to provide financial and other support to universities, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and national higher education institutions. This programme has six budget sub-programmes, namely: Programme Management, University Planning and Institutional Funding, University Governance and Management Support, Higher Education Policy Development and Research, Teaching, Learning and Research Development and Universities Subsidies.

 

4.2.3.1. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 MTEF budget allocation

Over the MTEF period, the programme has a total budget of R252.58 billion and its 2020/21 financial year allocation amounts to R80.08 billion. The programme’s budget constitutes 82.1% of the Department’s total voted funds. The 2020/21 allocation increased, when adjusted for inflation, by 4.5% from R73.36 billion in 2019/20. The programme’s budget is dominated by sub-programmes 3: Institutional Governance and Management Support and 6: University Subsidies, which constitutes 43% and 56% of the total programme budget, respectively. Sub-programme 3: University Governance and Management Support is responsible for transfer and subsidies to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS). Allocation to NSFAS, accounts for 98.81% (R34.79) of the sub-programme’s total budget. The budget increased in real terms by 9.03%. This budget is mainly to support the expanded access to education and training at universities and TVET colleges, through phasing in of the Fee Free Education Policy to support students from households with a combined annual income of less than R350 000, and students with disabilities from households with a combined annual income of less than R600 000.

Sub-programme 6: University Subsidies’ budget for 2020/21 amounts to R44.79 billion, which increased, when inflation adjusted, by 1.3% from previous financial year. The budget is towards expanding access to universities by ensuring that there is adequate infrastructure for teaching and learning as well as student accommodation. An amount of R3.85 billion is allocated for capital expenditure for the 2020/21, of which R2.84 billion is for infrastructure efficiency grants for the 24 universities and R1.01 billion is allocated to the University of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatje University. An amount of R40.93 billion is allocated for higher education institutions, of which R39.46 billion is subsidies to the 24 universities. To support the operationalization of Sol Plaatje University and the University of Mpumalanga, earmarked grants amounting to R793.6 million are allocated for the two universities.

Though the programme budget is projected to grow to R84.33 billion and R88.16 billion in 2021/22 and 2022/23, Cabinet has approved budget reductions over the MTEF period to be effected mainly on transfers and subsidies.

In terms of economic classification, R101.3 million is allocated for current payments, of which R92 million is for compensation of employees and R9.3 million is for goods and services. In terms of the projected spending on goods and services. An amount of R79.98 billion is allocated for transfer and subsidies.

 

4.2.3.2. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 performance targets

The programme contributes towards the achievement of the following DHET MTSF Outcomes: Expanded access to PSET opportunities; improved success and efficiency of the PSET system; improved quality of PSET provisioning; and a responsive PSET system. The programme also contributes to the Department’s direct deliverables and the system deliverables as per the MTSF. For 2020/21, the programme has 31 direct deliverables and 15 MTSF system deliverables.

The expansion of the public university system requires a careful and systematic enrolment planning process that is in line with available resources, capacity and funding. The programme, together with its public universities, will develop and ensure the implementation of enrolment plans for the period 2020 to 2025. This process will ensure equitable participation that is supported by increased numbers of quality staff, affordable fees, inclusive and sustainable financial aid and improved infrastructure.In expanding access to PSET opportunities, the programme will amongst others, conduct a feasibility study to establish the nature and scope as well as the location of the new institution in Ekurhuleni Metro; develop and implement the Central Applications System at six universities and nine TVET colleges; and develop and submit for approval by the Minister a multifaceted student accommodation strategy.

 

To improve success and efficiency within the public university system, the programme will intensify the implementation of the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) to improve student success, and the quality of teaching and learning and the curriculum in universities. The programme will track and produce a report on the number of undergraduate cohort study reports tracking student throughput. In terms of the system targets for this Outcome, the programme will focus on increased graduate outputs in engineering, natural and physical sciences, human and animal sciences, initial teacher education and doctoral graduates.

 

To improve quality of provisioning in the higher education sector, the programme will focus implementing a university council support programme and Higher Education Leadership Management Programme. It will also produce reports on the evaluation of research outputs of public universities and on the evaluation of creativity and innovation by public universities. In terms of MTSF system targets, the programme will implement the New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP), which is part of the Staffing South Africa’s Universities Framework (SSAUF) within the UCDP. The nGAPwill receive continued support to recruit new permanent university academics, while at the same time improving staff demographic profiles and addressing the ratio of permanent to temporary staff members. The programme will also support for increased number of university lecturers with PhDs.

The programme will also steer the sector to be responsive to the needs of the society. The programme will support effort by the universities towards developing and implementing programme for Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education, develop an implementation strategy and plan on the internationalisation of higher education, implement a framework for the policy on languages in higher education. Support will also be provided to the universities to offer TVET college lecturer qualifications.

4.2.4. Programme 4: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

The programmeaims to plan, develop, implement, monitor, maintain and evaluate national policy, programme assessment practices and systems for TVET colleges. It also aims to provide financial and other support to TVET colleges and regional offices. The programme has six budget sub-programmes, namely: Programme Management: Technical and Vocational Education and Training; Technical and Vocational Education and Training System Planning and Institutional Support; Programmes and Qualifications; National Examination and Assessment; Technical and Vocational Education and Training Financial Planning and Regional Offices.

 

 

4.2.4.1. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 MTEF budget allocation

The programme’s budget over the MTEF period amounts to R43.73 billion for the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has a total budget of R13.81 billion. This budget increased, when inflation adjusted, in real terms by 4.7% from adjusted budget of R12.63 billion in 2019/20. The programme’s budget accounts for 14.1% of the Department’s total voted funds. The programme’s budget is projected to grow to R14.64 billion and R15.27 billion in 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively. Notwithstanding the budget increase, Cabinet has approved budget reductions amounting to R2.6 billion over the MTEF period to be effected mainly on transfers and subsidies.

Sub-programme 2: Technical and Vocational Education and Training System Planning and Institutional Support continues to dominate the programme budget. It accounts for 92% of the total programme budget. This sub-programme provides support to management and councils, monitors and evaluate the performance of the TVET system against set indicators, develops regulatory frameworks for the system, manages and monitors the procurement and distribution of learning and teaching support materials, provides leadership for TVET colleges to enter into partnerships for the use of infrastructure and funding resources, and maps out the institutional landscape for the rollout of the TVET college system.

Sub-programme 4: National Examinations and Assessment 2020/21 budget decreased by R60.7 million to R633.6 million. The budget cuts in this sub-programme is concerning, given that the Department experienced challenges in conducting the national examination and assessment due to inadequate funding. Compounding the situation, is the IT examination system challenges that have contributed to the certification backlog.

The programme’s funding will go towards supporting expanded access to education and skills programmes that address the labour market’s needs for immediate skills that include practical components, improving success and efficiency, improving quality and responsiveness of the TVET sector.Transfers and subsidies allocations for 2020/21 amounts to R6.05 billion and it is projected to grow to R6.38 billion and R6.65 billion in 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively.  Over the MTEF period, an amount of R1.2 billion is allocated for the operationalisation of the three new TVET college campuses, Nkandla and Bhambanana in Umfolozi TVET college and Waterberg in Thabazimbi. Of this, R1.2 billion, R309.1 million is allocated for the 2020/21 financial year. The programme is also responsible for transfer allocation to the Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP SETA).

Allocation for capital expenditure for the 2020/21 financial year amounts to R959.2 million, from R1.1 billion in 2019/20. The infrastructure efficiency grant is mainly towards refurbishment of TVET college buildings, purchasing of modern workshop equipment and for maintenance of existing facilities.

Spending on current payments for the 2020/21 financial year amounts to R7.75 billion, of which R7.27 billion is allocated for compensation of employees and R475.5 million is for goods and services. Spending on compensation of employees accounts for 52.6% of the programme’s total budget. Payments for capital assets amounts to R8.7 million.

4.2.4.2. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 performance targets

The programme contributes towards the achievement of the following DHET MTSF Outcomes: Expanded access to PSET opportunities; improved success and efficiency of the PSET system; improved quality of PSET provisioning; and a responsive PSET system. The key contribution of the programme is to provide mid-level skills to support the priority sectors targeted by government. It is expected that the critical issue of pervasive youth unemployment and acute shortage of scarce and critical skills provision will be addressed and mitigated. The goal is ultimately to produce TVET graduates who are ready for the world of work. Achieving this requires an enabling environment for quality teaching, a competent teaching workforce, entrenching an enterprising culture among students, fostering skills for the digital economy, and strengthening the management and governance structures in TVET colleges, while ensuring accountability through an improvement in monitoring and oversight of these institutions by the Department.

A key output of the programme is aimed at improving access and the success of enrolled students to contribute to the employment of youth, and consequently, contribute towards combatting unemployment, poverty and social inequality. The increase in student enrolments is, however, constrained by fiscal funding to colleges, which sees capping off of student enrolments at 710 000 over the MTSF period. The focus on scaling up occupational qualifications in TVET colleges also requires colleges to seek alternate sources of funding through concrete and sustainable partnerships with various stakeholders.

Based on the projected budgets for student enrolments, the programme will keep student enrolments consistent over the next five years with provision only factored in for inflationary escalations.In terms of improving student access, success and efficiency in the sector, the programme, will amongst others, enrol students in the Pre-Vocational Learning Programme, improve lecturer competencies to deliver vocational education and review the college programmes and qualifications to make them more responsive and aligned to government priorities.

The new examination system is aimed at significantly transforming the conduct of national examinations across the value chain, from setting question papers through to the certification of successful candidates, thus improving both provisioning and efficiency in service delivery to students in TVET colleges. To achieve improvement and efficiency in TVET colleges, the Department will strengthen governance standards and regulations, and thereby intensify the oversight function of college councils.To improve the governance function in TVET colleges, the effectiveness of college councils will be closely monitored, and evaluated for compliance with their statutory remit.

The development of entrepreneurial skills, as well as the focus on digital training, is aimed at improving the quality of provisioning in TVET colleges, as well as strengthening exit support to graduates for self-employment in the context of a poor labour-absorptive capacity in the economy.

4.2.5. Programme 5: Skills Development

The programmeaims to promote and monitor the National Skills Development Strategy. Develop skills development policies and regulatory frameworks for an effective skills development system. This programme has five sub-programmes, namely: Programme Management: Skills Development; Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) Coordination; National Skills Authority Secretariat; Quality Development and Promotion, and National Artisan Development.

 

4.2.5.1. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21MTEF budget allocation

Over the MTEF period, the programme has a total budget of R1.09 billion. For the 2020/21 financial year, the budget amounts to R318.5 million, which represents 0.3% of the Department’s total voted funds. The programme’s 2020/21 budget increases by R37.6 million from R280.9 million in 2019/20. This represents, when considering inflation, an increase of 8.6 % when factoring in inflation rate. The budget is projected to grow in two outer years of the MTEF to R336.6 million and R354.8 million, respectively.

The programme’s budget is dominated by sub-programme 2: Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) Coordination at 48.7% (R155.2 million). This sub-programmesupports, monitors, reports on the implementation of the national skills development strategy at the sectoral level by establishing and managing the performance of service level agreements with SETAs, and conducting trade test at the Institute for National Development of Learnerships, Employment Skills and Labour Assessments (INDLELA). Sub-programme 5: National Artisan Development’s budget for 2020/21 amounts to R109.5 million, which is the second largest spending of the programme’s total budget, accounting for 34.3%.

An amount of R170.6 million is apportioned for current payments, of which R154.7 million is allocated for compensation of employees and R15.9 million for goods and services. The allocation for transfers and subsidies amounts to R146 million, of which R27.4 million is for the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and R118.5 million is for transfer to the Public Services SETA. It is critical to note that allocation for the QCTO is not growing in real terms when factoring in inflation. Spending on payments for capital assets amounts to R2 million.

4.2.5.2. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 performance targets

The programme contributes towards the achievement of three of the five DHET MTSF Outcomes: Expanded access to PSET opportunities; improved success and efficiency of the PSET system; and a responsive PSET system. The programme 11 output indicators and 14 predetermined targets. Of the 14 targets, eight are direct deliverables and six MTSF system targets.

 

In expanding access to PSET opportunities, the programme will ensure alignment of the sector skills plans (SSPs) to the updated SSP approved framework. Service Level Agreements (SLA) framework will also be approved. The programme will monitor the achievements of the SLA agreed upon with the SETAs are achieved. For the 2020/21, the programme will monitor that SETAs enrol 170 000 learners or students in work-based learning programmes; 146 000 learners are registered in skills development programmes and 30 500 learners enrol in artisan programmes. Contributing towards the achievement of Outcome 2: improved success and efficiency of the PSET system, the programme will focus on increased completion of learners in artisanal. Skills development and learnership programmes.

 

During the current financial year, the programme will ensure responsiveness to the needs of the society and labour market, by identifying sectoral occupations in high demand, developing SETA monitoring reports and conducting trade tests.

 

4.2.6. Programme 6: Community Education and Training (CET)

The purpose of this programme is to plan, develop, implement, monitor, maintain and evaluate national policy, programme assessment practices and systems for community education and training. The programme has four sub-programmes, namely: Programme Management: Community Education and Training; Community Education and Training Colleges Systems Planning, Institutional Development and Support; Community Education and Training Financial Planning and Management; and Education and Training and Development Assessment.

 

4.2.6.1. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21MTEF budget allocation

The Community Education and Training (CET) programme budget over the MTEF periodamounts to R7.99 billion. For the 2020/21 financial year, the budget amounts to R2.52billion, which constitutes 2.59% of the Department’s total voted funds. The budget for 2020/21 increases, when inflation adjusted, 0.18% from the adjusted appropriation of R2.14billion in 2019/20. The budget is projected to grow to R2.68 million and R2.78billion over the MTEF period respectively.

The bulk of the budget of the programme, at 92.4% (R2.33 billion) is apportioned to sub-programme 2: Community Education and Training Colleges Systems Planning, Institutional Development and Support.This sub-programme provides support to management and councils; monitors and evaluates the performance of the CET system; develops regulatory frameworks for the system; manages and monitors the procurement and distribution of learning and teaching support materials; provides leadership for community education and training colleges to enter into partnerships for the use of infrastructure for college site-hosting centres, and the funding of these partnerships, maps and institutional landscape for the rollout of the CET system; and is responsible for the planning and development of CET infrastructure. The second largest allocation amounting to R167.2 million is apportioned for sub-programme 3: Community Education and Training Financial Planning and Management.

 

For the 2020/21 financial year, current payments budget amounts to R2.36 billion, of which R2.35 billion is for compensation of employees and R4.8 million for goods and services. allocation for compensation of employees, accounts for 93.4% of the programme’s total budget.Spending on compensation of employees increased by R469.6 million in 2020/21 from R1.99 million in 2019/20. Transfers and subsidies budget amounts to R159.9 million, of which R156.8 million is transfers to CET colleges and R3.1 million is transfer to ETDP SETA.

4.2.6.2. Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 performance targets

The programme contributes towards the achievement of four of the five DHET MTSF Outcomes: Expanded access to PSET opportunities; improved success and efficiency of the PSET system; improved quality of the PSET provisioning and a responsive PSET system. For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has 14 output indicators and 14 predetermined targets. The programme has both direct and system deliverables.

 

Working towards improving access to CET opportunities, the programme will focus on the development and implementation of the sustainable funding model. This will enable the holistic implementation of the national norms and standards for funding CET colleges. The NDP committed government to increase youth and adult participation in the CET sector to 1 million by 2030in appreciation of the challenge of the growing number of young people who are not in education, employment and training (NEETs). Lack or inadequate advocacy has contributed to the low enrolment in the CET colleges. The majority of young people who are not in education, employment and training (NEET) and who can benefit from education and training provided by the sector are not aware of the opportunities provided by the CET sector. The programme will dedicated its effort to developing and implementingadvocacy strategies for the sector.  The strategy will support CET colleges to meet their enrolments targets by attracting more youth into CET opportunities.

 

To improve success and efficiency as well as quality of provisioning of the CET sector, the programme will develop bi-annual reports on teaching and learning improvement plans as well as increasing open access Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTMS) for students. CET lecturers will be trained to improve their competencies and improve quality of teaching in the sector. The programme will work towards the diversification of programme offerings in CET colleges, which are geared towards expanded access and responsive CET colleges by providing for the needs of a wider community while catering for individuals. The accreditation of community learning centres will open opportunities for further study to individuals who could not meet the requirements for entry into TVET colleges and other institutions of further learning.The introduction of entrepreneurship and skills programmes, e.g. digital and other skills programmes, seeks to address issues of unemployment, poverty and inequality within communities while providing skills for establishing sustainable entrepreneurship.

 

5. OVERVIEW AND ASSESSMENT OF THE NATIONAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID (NSFAS), COUNCIL ON HIGHER EDUCATION (CHE), SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SAQA) AND THE QUALITY COUNCIL FOR TRADES AND OCCUPATIONS (QCTO’s) STRATEGIC PLANS 2020 - 2025 AND ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLANS (APPs) 2020/21

 

5.1. NATIONAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID SCHEME (NSFAS)

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) was established in terms of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, 1999 (Act No 56 of 1999). Its main mandate is to provide loans and bursaries to eligible students, developing criteria and conditions for the granting of loans and bursaries to eligible students in consultation with the Minister of Higher Education and Training, raising funds, recovering loans, maintaining and analysing a database, undertaking research for the better utilisation of financial resources, and advising the Minister on matters relating to financial aid for students.

5.1.1.Alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP) and 2019 – 2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF)

Table 2: Key government policy priorities pertaining to the NSFAS

NDP vision 2030

2019 – 2024 MTSF

NSFAS 2020/21 – 2024/25 Strategic Plan

NSFAS 2020/21 APP

Priorities

Outcome

Outcome Indicator

Target by 2024

Target by 2024

Target

Providing all students who qualify for NSFAS with access to full funding through loans and bursaries to cover cost of tuition, books, accommodation and other living expenses.

 

Expanded access to PSET opportunities

Effective administration of NSFAS

Elimination of delays in disbursement of funds

N/A

N/A

Number of university

students receive

funding through

the NSFAS bursaries

450 000

450 000

426 268

Number of TVET

college students

receive funding

through the NSFAS

bursaries

400 000

400 000

310 900

Students who do not qualify should have access to bank loans, backed by state sureties.

 

Both the NSFAS and bank loans should be recovered through arrangements with the SARS.

 

NSFAS Policy in

place for sustainable funding of students

from poor background

and from the ‘missing middle’

(guidelines,

legislative review,

effective oversight by DHET)

Sustainable policy on the missing middle adopted and

implemented

N/A

N/A

Considering extending the NSFAS to qualifying students in registered private colleges as an incentive for private sector

 

Not included in the 2014 – 2019  MTSF and the 2019 – 2024 MTSF

             

 

NSFAS aims to support the objectives of the NDP and the targets of the governments’ 2019 - 2024 MTSF priorities, specifically, Priority 2: Education, Skills and Health outcome. The NDP proposes an increase in participation rates at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to 25% of 20 to 24 year olds and more than 30% participation rate in the higher education sector. The NDP further states that all students who qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) should be provided with access to full funding through loans and bursaries to cover the costs of tuition, accommodation and other living expenses. The targets for the MTSF include; increasing student enrolment at public universities annually to 1,13 million by 2024, and the number of student enrolments at TVET colleges annually to 710 000 by 2024.

 

The 2019 – 2024 MTSF commits NSFAS to have an effective administration and the target is to eliminate delays in the disbursement of funds. However, this outcome indicator and target are not reflected in the NSFAS’2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan and the 2020/21 APP. The MTSF also set a priority to have a sustainable policy on the missing middle adopted and implemented. While this is mentioned in the Strategic Plan of the Department as focus areas for the MTSF period, it is not reflected as an outcome indicator and target in both the Strategic Plans and APPs of the Department and NSFAS. The NSFAS Administrator reported to the Committee that the Department is responsible for policy development, whilst NSFAS is only responsible for implementation.

 

5.1.2. Overview and assessment of the NSFAS 2020/21 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Budget

For the 2020/21 financial year, the NSFAS has a total revenue amounting to R38,44 billion. The budget is made up of R1,43 billion entity revenue, R37,01 billion (R34,79 billion DHET Loans and Bursaries); R299,16 million DHET Administration Grant, R1.51 billion from other government units, R332,87 million Department agencies and accounts and R70,70 million from higher education institutions). NSFAS overall budget is projected to grow to R40,45 billion and R42,11 billion in the two outer years of the 2020/21 MTEF period.

The phased-in approach of the implementation of the fee-free education policy that was announced in December 2017 is in its third year of implementation. The steep increase in the revenue, especially the DHET Loans and Bursaries is to support this Policy and towards access to education and training of students TVET College and university students coming from poor and working class households with an average annual income of up to R350 000. The 2020/21 revenue increased by R3.81 billion from R34.62 billion in 2019/20.

The bulk of the budget, 99.2% (R36,81 billion) is apportioned for programme 2: Student Centred Financial Aid, excluding an allocation amounting to R1,35 billion for accounting expenses (depreciation/ impairment losses). The allocation increased by R4,13 billion, which represents a nominal increase of 12.6 % from R32.68 billion in 2019/20. Of this budget, R36.71 billion is allocated for bursaries and R103.10 million is for operations. Administration programme’s budget for the 2020/21 financial year amounts to R275.44 million. The allocation decreased by R28.72 million compared to R304.16 million in 2019/20, which represents a 9.4% decrease. The programme’s total budget represents 0.7% of the NSFAS’ total budget, excluding the accounting expenses.

In terms of economic classification, R234.62 million is apportioned for compensation of employees, which accounts for 0.6% of the NSFAS’ 2020/21 total revenue. The allocation for compensation of employees increased by R14.49 million, which represents a nominal percent increase of 6.5%.  The budget is projected to grow to R239.61 million and R252.19 million in the two outer years of the MTEF period. An allocation amounting to R139.09 million is apportioned for spending on goods, which decreased by R61.6 million from R200.69 million in 2019/20. The budget is projected to grow to R153.64 million and R159.04 million in 2021/22 and 2022/23 respectively.

An allocation amounting to R36.71 billion is for transfer and subsidies, which accounts for 95.48 % of the total budget of the NSFAS. The allocation increased by R4.15 billion, which represents a nominal increase of 12.7% and it is projected to grow to R38.71 billion and R40.35 billion in the outer two years of the 2020/21 MTEF period. The projected increase is to continue the phasing of the implementation of Fee-Free Education Policy. Payments for capital assets allocation for the 2020/21 financial year amounts to R4.83 million.

NSFAS has not budgeted for a surplus or deficit, its total income equals the total expenditure estimates.

5.1.3. Overview and analysis of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2020/21

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has two budget programmes, Administration and Core Mandate, previously known as a Student-Centred Financial Aid. NSFAS 2020/21 targets have been developed under four strategic outcomes, which are:

 

 

Table 3: The NSFAS Strategic Outcomes:

Programme 1:

Strategic Outcome

Statement

No. of targets

Administration

NSFAS is compliant with all Governance requirements in the delivery of its mandate

To implement governance, risk and compliance processes such that external audit outcomes are improved

3

NSFAS empowers the Minister with advice on matters relating to financial aid

 

To provide relevant insights and thought leadership to the Minister and DHET to assist in developing policy impacting on financial aid.

 

1

NSFAS core mandate is enabled by effective internal support services.

 

To provide effective support services that enable NSFAS to deliver on its mandate

 

2

Programme 2: Core Mandate

NSFAS delivers on its core mandate to provide financial aid to eligible students at public universities and TVET colleges.

 

To manage the funding application process, funding decision process, and disbursement and payment processes efficiently and effectively.

 

6

 

The NSFAS’ two budget programmes have a combined total of 13 output indicators, of which 10 have predetermined targets for the 2020/21 financial year. For the 2020/21 financial year, there are 12 targets spread across the 10 indicators.

5.1.3.1. Programme 1: Administration

The purpose of the programme is to provide governance and oversight, systems, activities and structures that enable the organisation to deliver on its core mandate effectively and efficiently in pursuit of its strategic outcomes. The programme focuses on lifting governance maturity in key areas of the entity, as well as ensuring that organisational support functions are delivering on key activities in support of the NSFAS value chain. To this end, the role ofthe Human Resource(HR) and Finance are critical in enabling the organisation to have the necessary capacity and adhere to agreed service levels in order to deliver the mandate of the organisation. Similarly, NSFAS needs to reach its target student population, and to this end, brand awareness is critical. This facilitates the access to funding for tertiary education for the poor and working- class.

In ensuring that NSFAS is compliant with governance imperatives with respect to external audit outcomes, ICT governance and cybersecurity, in 2020/21, the entity planned to receive an unqualified audit rating with matters of emphasis; achieve level 2 maturity in terms of the Corporate Governance of Information Communication Technology (CGICT) framework and level 1 maturity with respect to cybersecurity.

With regards to empowering the Minister with advice on matters relating to financial aid, the NSFAS will produce four policy advisory briefs related to its mandate. NSFAS also planned to achieve 5% employee turn-over and ensure that 100% payments to institutions that are completed within seven working days of receiving the approved disbursement file from operations.

5.1.3.2. Student-Centred Financial Aid

The purpose of this programme is to ensure that the NSFAS delivers on its core mandate in providing financial aid for tertiary education to the poor and working-class. Qualitative characteristics have been embedded within the performance indicators in order to ensure that NSFAS not only delivers in terms of volume, but also in terms of ensuring that the relevant rules and

The 2019 – 2024 MTSF targets for the number of poor and working-class students as per the NSFAS eligibility criteria in public universities and TVET colleges funded by NSFAS are 450 000 and 400 000, respectively. For the 2020/21 financial year, the NSFAS planned to fund a total of 426 268 and 308 467 students in universities and TVET college, respectively. The number of funded students is projected to increase over the 2020/21 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). The number of NSFAS eligible students in universities and TVET colleges is projected to increase by 5 144 to 431 412 and by 38 090 to 346 258 in 2022/23, respectively. This represents an increase of 1.19% in universities and 11% in TVET Colleges.

Notably, the total Rand value in funding administered, in addition to funding received from the DHET, for financial aid annually, is projected to increase by R240.25 million to R1.9 billion in 2020/21. Planned total Rand value recovered and allocated to loan accounts annually is also projected to increase to R776.7 million in 2020/21 from R691.5 million.

 

5.2. COUNCIL ON HIGHER EDUCATION (CHE)

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) is an independent statutory body established in terms of the Higher Education Act,1997 (Act No. 101 of 1997, as amended and also derives its quality assurance mandate for higher education in terms of the National Qualifications Framework Act, 2008 (Act No 67 of 2008, as amended).

The mandate of the CHE as the Quality Council for Higher Education is to advise the Minister of Higher Education and Training on all higher education issues, and is responsible for quality assurance and promotion through the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC).

5.2.1.Alignment of CHE Strategic Plan and the 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan with key national policies

5.2.1.1. Alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP) and 2019 – 2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF)

The National Development Plan (NDP) envisages that by 2030, South Africans should have access to education and training of the highest quality. The education, training and innovation system should cater for different needs and produce highly skilled individuals. The further argues that graduates of the post-school system should have adequate skills and knowledge to meet the current and future needs of the economy and society.

The 2019 – 2024 MTSF does not specify any direct contribution from the CHE to the five-year outcome indicators and targets. However, the CHE, as the quality council for the higher education sector has a critical role to play in supporting the Department of Higher Education and Training and the institutions to ensure achievements of the MTSF targets. The MTSF has four outcomes which are relevant for the Post-School Education and Training sector and they are: Expanded access to PSET opportunities; improved success and efficiency in the PSET system; improved quality of PSET provisioning, and a responsive PSET system.

The CHE’s has developed its own strategic outcomes, output indicators and targets to contribute to the MTSF outcomes, which include, amongst others; expanded access to PSET opportunities through implementation of Recognition of Prior Learning and articulation; improved success and efficiency in the PSET system through its quality assurance function and monitoring to assess the performance of the system against targets on national key performance indicators. 

5.2.1.2. White Paper for Post-School Education and Training

The White Paper on Post-School Education (WPPSET) asserts that quality education is an important right, which plays a vital role in relation to a person’s health, quality of life, self-esteem, and the ability of citizens to be actively engaged and empowered. In terms of the WPPSET, the Quality Councils are responsible for assisting the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in creating a single, coherent and integrated PSET system. An important part of establishing a coherent and coordinated PSET system is ensuring that there is easy articulation between different parts of the system. This entails, among other things, ensuring that curricula are designed to permit articulation between succeeding levels of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) wherever possible. It is the duty of all institutions in the post-school education and training system, including the CHE as a Quality Assurance Council for the higher education working with other QCs and institutions, to work together to ensure that there are no dead ends for learners. The WPPSET emphasises that articulation should be both vertical in terms of moving to higher levels of the NQF and horizontal, catering for movement from, say, a vocational “stream” to an academic one or vice versa.

 

Inadequate implementation of the Recognition of prior learning (RPL) within the PSET system is another area of concern. The WPPSET indicate that RPL remains a key approach to redressing past injustices and recognising the competence gained through practical workplace learning and experience. During the five-year MTSF period, the CHE aims to contribute to expanding access to PSET opportunities through implementation of RPL and articulation within the higher education sector.

 

5.2.2.Overview and assessment of the CHE’s 2020/21 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Budget

 

 

 

 

Table 4:The CHE 2020/21 Medium term expenditure estimates per programme

 

The CHE’s total revenue for the 2020/21 financial year amounts to R62.90 million. The revenue is made up of R56.28 million Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Grant, R5.25 million Private Accreditation – Cost Recovery and R1.56 million from income from other income (interests, rental income etc.). The Council’s 2020/21 budget has decreased significantly by R18.37 million, which represent a real per cent change of 25.8%, when factoring in inflation. The decrease in revenue was due to the discontinuation of the National Skills Fund (NSF) conditional grant to the Council. Budget cuts have been effected in all the four budget programmes. The overall budget is projected to grow to R66.46 million and R69.82 million in the outer two years of the 2020/21 MTEF period. The DHET Grant Allocation (voted funds) is projected to grow by an average growth rate of 5.1% over the 2019/20 to 2022/23 MTEF period. The CHE has also experienced Cabinet approved freeze on salary increase for senior managers earning more than R1.5 million per year and reductions in spending on goods and services, which were effected on transfers to the DHET Grant. The reductions amounting to R1 million were applied for the 2019/20 to 2020/21 financial years.

In terms of economic classification, an amount of R45.87 million, which constitutes 72.9% of the total budget of the CHE is apportioned for compensation of employees for the 2020/21 financial year. Allocation for employee cost constitutes 81.6% of the grant allocation from the DHET and National Treasury. This means that without the additional income generated from Private Accreditation, the CHE would not have adequate funds for its other operations.

An amount of R16.62 million is apportioned for spending on goods and services for the 2020/21. Budget allocation for goods and services decreased significantly in real terms by 61.6% (R21.02 million) from the previous financial year. The decrease in the budget was due to a Cabinet approved reductions in spending on goods and services for the 2020/21, which was approved during the 2019/20 MTEF period. The cost drivers in goods and services are spending on consultants: R4.36 million, travel and subsistence: R3.89 million, and other costs: R3.28 million. For the 2020/21 financial year, an amount of R400 000 is allocated for spending on capital expenditure.

The CHE has adhered to National Treasury Instruction No. 2 of 2016/17 by effecting cost containment measures in the 2020/21 budget allocation. The Council’s budget allocation for goods and services has decreased significantly in real terms when inflation is taken into consideration by 61.61% (R21.02 million) from the previous financial year. When considering the total income of R62.90 million, the CHE has not budgeted for a deficit nor surplus, its total income equals the total expenditure estimates.

5.2.3.Overview and analysis of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2020/21

For the 2020/21 financial year, the CHE has four budget programmes, namely: Administration, Institutional Quality Assurance, Research, Monitoring and Advice and Qualifications Management and Programme Review.

Table 5: The CHE Strategic Outcomes:

Outcome

Implementation Programme

No. of output indicators

No. of targets

CHE as an effective custodian of the HEQSF

Management of the HEQSF

15

15

Comprehensive and coherent quality assurance system for the higher education sector

 

Quality Assurance

 

12

 

12

A reputable centre of intellectual discourse, knowledge generation and advancement

Research, Monitoring and  Advice

 

9

 

9

Governance compliance and risk management

 

 

Corporate

 

16

 

16

Sustainable, responsive and dynamic organisation

 

Total

52

52

 

The programmes have a combined total of 52 output indicators and 52 predetermined targets for the 2020/21 financial year.

5.2.3.1 Programme 1: Management of the Higher Education Qualifications Sub- Framework (HEQSF)

The purpose of the Management of the HEQSF Programme is to manage the development and implementation of HEQSF policies, qualification standards and data in order to meet the goals of the NQF, NPPSET and the National Development Plan (NDP). The programme has five sub-programmes; Qualification Standards Development; Data Management; Policy Development and Review; Partnerships and Collaboration; and Quality Promotion and Capacity Development. The programme is responsible for implementing strategic outcome 1: CHE as an effective custodian of the HEQSF.

The programme has 15 predetermined targets which are spread across the five sub-programmes. The priority focus during the financial year will be, amongst others; the development or review of three qualification standards; initiating qualifications standards development or review processes; verification and validation of data sets submitted by the institutions; data uploading onto the National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD); development or review and approval of policies; development and implementation of the HEQSF; producing good practice guides and coordinate capacity development interventions.

The programme’s budget for 2020/21 amounts to R7.91 million. The budget allocation decreased significantly by R5.69 million in real terms when inflation is considered, representing 42.9% decrease. Notably, significant budget decrease representing 88.3% (R2.90 million) in real terms is effected in sub-programme 4: Quality Promotion and Capacity Development. This sub-programme focuses on maintaining the currency of the HEQSF by ensuring that it is reviewed regularly and further developed in response to changes in the NQF or other pertinent developments within the higher education sector. Furthermore, it is responsible for the development and review of policies that seek to facilitate the implementation of the NQF, including policies on Recognition of Prior Learning, credit accumulation and transfer, assessment and quality assurance, as required by the Act. Sub-programme 1: Qualifications Standards Development and sub-programme 2: Data Management also experienced a decline in their budget representing 39.02% and 30.05%, respectively. 

5.2.3.2. Programme 2: Quality Assurance

The purpose of the Quality Assurance Programme is to contribute towards the fulfilment of the mandate of the CHE as the national authority for quality assurance in higher education. The programme develops and implements processes to inform, assure, promote and monitor quality in higher education institutions (HEIs). The programme has four sub-programmes, Accreditation; Institutional Audits; National Review; and Development of the Integrated Quality Assurance Framework.

The programme has 12 predetermined targets planned for the 2020/21 financial year. Under this programme, the CHE will work towards processing 85% of programme accreditation applications within the turnaround time; processing of programme reaccreditation applications; undertaking site visits to institutions whose reports are presented to the HEQC; conducting new cycle of full-scale institutional audits; convening stakeholder engagement meetings and the finalisation of report and plan of action on the capacity development needs of the higher education institutions.

For the 2020/21 financial, the programme’s total budget amounts to R23.86 million. The allocation constitutes 39.1% of the CHE’s total budget for the year. Notably, the allocation decreased by R4.84 million in real terms, which represents 17% from the previous financial year. A significant decreases representing 49% (R11.33 million) in real terms is effected in sub-programme 2: Accreditation. This sub-programme is responsible for the assessment of the quality of provision of a higher education institution, either as a whole or of specific educational programmes in order to formally recognise the institution and/or the programmes as having met certain predetermined criteria or standards of quality. Sub-programme 1: Institutional Audits received a significant increase amounting to R3.92 million in real terms from the previous financial year allocation of R5.37 million. Sub-programme 4: Development of the Integrated Quality Assurance Framework does not have budget allocation over the MTEF period.

5.2.3.3. Programme 3: Research, Monitoring and Advice (RMA)

The purpose of the RMA Programme is to revitalise and strengthen the research, monitoring, evaluation and advice capabilities of the CHE in order to advance the realisation of Outcome: 3 in the Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025, namely to make the CHE a reputable centre of intellectual discourse, knowledge generation and advice on higher education. There are three sub-programmes, Research, Monitoring and Advice.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has nine predetermined targets spread across the three sub-programmes. The CHE will provide platforms for fostering critical discourses on contemporary issues by convening conferences, colloquia, seminars, or symposia organised. The Council’s focus during 2020/21 will be dedicated to synthesising and packaging research findings by producing policy briefs or Briefly Speaking articles and to collate and analyse information on key trends and developments in higher education through higher education monitor or review. In providing advice to the Minister, the CHE will also source, analyse and package information in responding to all requests for advice. The CHE also planned to issue proactive advice to the Minister.

 

The programme’s budget for the 2020/21 financial year amounts to R6.52 million, which constitutes 10.3% of the Council’s total budget allocation. The programme’s budget decreased in real terms by 26.9% from the previous financial year (2019/20) budget of R8.56 million. Sub-programmes, Research and Monitoring’s allocations decreased in real terms by 46.4% and 25.1%, respectively, from the previous year. The programme’s allocation is projected to grow to R8.87 million and R8.88 million in the outer two years of the MTEF period.

5.2.3.4. Programme 4: Corporate

The purpose of the Corporate Programme is to provide leadership, oversight, systems, activities and structures that enable the organisation to operate effectively and efficiently in fulfillment of its mandates and pursuit of its outcomes. The programme focuses on setting the policy and tone for good governance, statutory compliance, and transfer of business best practice across the organisation; and ensuring the efficient and effective provision of corporate services – administrative, financial, technical and professional - to support the discharge of the core functions of the CHE. It is the vehicle by which the organisation seeks to achieve outcomes 4 and 5 in the Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025. These outcomes are, ‘Governance, compliance and risk management, and ‘Sustainable, responsive and dynamic organisation’.

 

The programme has four sub-programmes, Governance; Corporate Services; Finance and Supply Chain Management; and Communications and Stakeholder Relations. For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has 16 predetermined targets.The focus of this programme for the 2020/21 financial year will be on, amongst others: developing or reviewing of Information Communication Technology (ICT) policies, frameworks, guidelines and procedure; developing or reviewing of financial management and supply chain management policies, frameworks, guidelines and procedures. In providing a leading-edge integrated ICT online system in line with the IQAF, the CHE will submit a number of reports for the different phases in the development of the integrated online CHE information management system. The Council will further endeavour to attract and retain the necessary capabilities by ensuring that 85% of approved posts on the organisational structure have incumbents throughout the financial year. For 2020/21, the CHE planned to produce 18 media releases, newsletters and other information resources for external stakeholders to organise or participate in 12 events or forums organised for stakeholders within South Africa.

 

The programme’s total budget amounts to R24.60 million for 2020/21, which constitutes 39.11% of the total CHE budget. The allocation decreased by 17.06 % (R4.84 million) in real terms. Three sub-programmes, Governance; Corporate Services and Finance and SCM received decreased allocations representing 11.25%, 13.85% and 35.61%, respectively. The programme’s allocation is projected to decrease marginally by R600 000 in 2021/22.

 

5.3. SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SAQA)

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is a statutory body established in terms of the South African Qualifications Act, (Act No. 58 of 1995). It continues to exist under the National Qualifications Act (Act No. 67 of 2008, as amended). The NQF Act positions SAQA as the oversight body of the NQF and the custodian of its values. SAQA is responsible for coordinating the work of the Quality Councils (Umalusi, South African Qualifications Authority, and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations) and other NQF partners.

SAQA’s functions as set out in the National Qualifications Framework Act are:

  • To provide advice, oversee NQF implementation and to collaborate with the Quality Councils;
  • To develop NQF policies and criteria;
  • To maintain a National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD), and to provide an evaluation and advisory service with respect to foreign qualifications;
  • Undertake research, collaborate with international counterparts, and drive the communication and advocacy strategy to promote the understanding of the NQF architecture; and
  • To perform any function consistent with the NQF Act that the Minister of Higher Education and Training may determine.

 

 

5.3.1. Alignment of the SAQA’s 2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan with the National Development Plan (NDP) and 2019 – 2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF)

The MTSF does not specify any direct contribution from the SAQA to the five-year outcomes, outcome indicators and targets. The DHET recommended that the SAQA, as the custodian of the NQF should focus their work towards contributing to the achievement of the three outcomes, improved quality; expanded access (Recognition of Prior Learning and Articulation) and improved efficiency. Over the five-year period, the SAQA in contributing to expanding access to education and training, will review its NQF policies and amend them so as to ensure a dynamic NQF that is responsive, adapts to, and supports the changing needs of life-long learning. In ensuring a well-articulated quality-assured qualifications and relevant professional designations that instill trust and meets the needs of people, it will ensure that all qualifications registered on the NQF after 1 January 2014 have at least one Articulation pathway within or across Sub-Frameworks. The SAQA will also re-design its organisational structure to better suit delivery of its strategy.

The White Paper on Post-School Education (WPPSET) asserts that SAQA and Quality Councils are responsible for assisting the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in creating a single, coherent and integrated PSET system. An important part of establishing a coherent and coordinated PSET system is ensuring that there is easy articulation between different parts of the system. The WPPSET emphasises that articulation should be both vertical in terms of moving to higher levels of the NQF and horizontal, catering for movement from, say, a vocational “stream” to an academic one or vice versa.

 

In its five-year strategic Plan, the entity has committed to ensuring a well-articulated quality-assured qualifications and relevant professional designations that instill trust and meets the needs of people. The entity will not register a qualification that does not have clear horizontal and vertical articulation pathways and will also monitor the implementation of the Policy and Criteria for registering a Qualification and Part-Qualification on the NQF, which was published in March 2013. SAQA’s 2020/21 – 2024/25Strategic plan contributes to the achievements of the 2019 – 2024 MTSF policy priorities. The entity’s five-year strategic plan aligns well with the key national policy priorities.

 

 

5.3.2. Overview and assessment of the SAQA 2020/21 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Budget

Table 6:The SAQA 2020/21 Medium term expenditure estimates per programme

 

For the 2020/21 financial year, SAQA’s total revenue amounts to R167.36 million. The revenue is made up of DHET Grant: R73.73 million, R48 million from Evaluation Fees, R37 million from Verifications and R8.62 million from other sources (rental, sundry, interest and income from professional bodies). The budget increased in real terms by 12.1% from the previous year budget of R142.97 million. The DHET grant constitutes 44% of the SAQA’s total budget. The Authority’s budget is projected to grow to R175.63 million and R184.54 million in the outer two years of the 2020/21 MTEF, respectively.

The budget is shared among the six programmes, Administration and Support, Recognition and Registration, National Learners Records Database Including Verifications, Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services, Research and International Liaison. The bulk of the budget, representing 48.8% (R81.75 million) of the total budget of the Authority. Programme 4: Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services received the second largest budget amounting to R34.84 million, which constitutes 20.8% of the total budget of the Authority. This is followed by programme 3: National Learners’ Records Database which is apportioned the third largest allocation amounting to R29.24 million.

In terms of economic classification, R105.09 million is for compensation of employees for the 2020/21 financial year, which represents 62.8% of the Authority’s total budget. The budget increased in real terms by 6.1% from the previous year allocation of R94.85 million and it is projected to grow at an average growth rate of 5.1% between 2019/20 to 2022/23. Allocation for goods and services amounts to R53.93 million, which increased substantially in real terms by 20.61% from the previous financial year budget of R42.83 million. In terms of spending on goods and services per line item, the bulk of the budget, representing 36.3% (R19.58 million) is allocated to outsourced services. The allocation for spending on outsourced services increased significantly by 120.5% (R10.70 million), from the previous year allocation of R8.883 million.

An amount of R8.33 million is apportioned for payments for capital assets. The allocation for payment capital assets increased in real terms by 50.78% from the previous financial year.  Allocation for payment for capital assets is projected to decrease in the two outer years of the 2020/21 MTEF period to R7.80 million and R7.46 million, respectively. The projected decrease is mainly due to the projected decrease in the allocation of computer equipment in 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively.

The Authority has adhered to the Treasury Instruction by effecting cost containment measures in the following line items: advertising, communication, legal fees, property payments, travel and subsistence and staff training.

5.3.3. Overview and analysis of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2020/21

For the 2020/21 financial year, the SAQA has six budget programmes, Administration, Registration and Recognition, National Learners’ Records Database including Verifications, Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services, Research and International Liaison. The Authority has maintained all its six budget programmes from the previous MTSF 2015/16 – 2019/20.

Table 6: The SAQA Strategic Outcomes:

Outcome

Implementation Programme

No. of output indicators

No. of targets

To have visionary and influential leadership that drives a clear, evidence-based NQF Agenda

 

Administration

 

5

 

5

 

International Liaison

 

3

 

3

To have a competent and capable team, dedicated and resourced to further develop and maintain the NQF

 

Administration

 

3

 

3

To have stakeholders and role-players who are aligned to deliver on the NQF

 

Administration

 

2

 

3

 

Registration and Recognition

 

2

 

2

 

National Learners’ Records Database

 

4

 

6

To have well-articulated Quality assured qualifications and relevant professional designations that instil trust and meet the needs of the people

 

Registration and Recognition

 

2

 

2

 

National Learners’ Records Database

 

2

 

2

 

Research

 

1

 

1

To have a dynamic NQF that is responsive, adapts to, and support the changing needs of lifelong learners

Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Service

 

2

 

2

 

Research

 

3

 

3

 

Total

 

 

29

 

32

 

The SAQA’s six programmes have a combined total of 29 output indicators and 32 predetermined targets planned for 2020/21 financial year

5.3.3.1. Programme 1: Administration and Support

The purpose of this programme is to support the operations of the entity. It covers the activities of the Executive Office and the following Directorates: Finance and Administration; Human Resources; Information Technology; and Advocacy, Communication and Support. The programme contributes to the achievements of three of the five Outcomes, to have a visionary and influential leadership that drives a clear, evidence-based NQF Agenda; to have a competent and capable team, dedicated and resourced to further develop and maintain the NQF and to have stakeholders and role-players who are aligned to deliver on the NQF.

Through its Executive Office, the Authority will assess and report on the effectiveness of the system of collaboration; provide advice to the Executive Authority on the NQF related matters if required. In terms of its Finance and Administration Directorate, the focus for 2020/21 will be on developing a strategy to secure alternative funding.

The Human Resources Directorate will review and re-design the organisational structure and focus on staff development by ensuring that every staff member has at least two learning interventions. The IT Directorate will develop Registers for professional designations; misrepresented qualifications and fraudulent qualifications; to conceptualise the system for the evaluation of foreign qualifications; to conceptualise a workflow tracking system for qualifications and part-qualifications. Through its Advocacy, Communication and Support Directorate, the Authority will implement four comprehensive campaigns aimed at informing the public about the NQF in a simplified manner that is easy to understand.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has 10 output indicators and 11 predetermined targets. The programme’s budget for the current year amounts to R81.75 million, which represents 48.8% of the Authority’s total budget of R167.36 million for 2020/21. The budget increased in real terms by 7% when factoring in inflation from previous financial year (2020/21) budget of R73.16 million. The budget is projected to increase in the outer two years of the MTEF period to R85.94 million and R90.54 million, respectively.

 

5.3.3.2. Programme 2: Recognition and Registration

This programme is responsible for registering qualifications and part-qualifications, recognising professional bodies and registering professional designations. This programme contributes to two of the five Outcomes, to have stakeholders and role-players who are aligned to deliver on the NQF and to have well-articulated Quality assured qualifications and relevant professional designations that instill trust and meet the needs of the people. The programme has four output indicators and four predetermined targets for 2020/21.For the 2020/21 financial year, the Authority will focus on registering qualifications recommended by the Quality Councils (QCs) that meet all the SAQA’s criteria; producing a concept paper on the registration of national qualifications on the NQF in consultation with the three QCs and researching the roles of statutory and non-statutory professional bodies.

The programme’s budget for the 2020/21 financial year amounts to R11.51 million, which represents 6.88% of the SAQA’s total budget for 2020/21. The budget increased 7% in real terms from the previous year (2019/20) budget of R10.30 million. The budget is projected to increase to R12.09 million and R12.67 million in 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively.

5.3.3.3. Programme 3: National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD)

The NLRD Directorate is responsible for maintaining and further developing the NLRD as the critical national source of information for human resource and skills development in policy, infrastructure and planning. This programme has two sub-programmes, the National Learners’ Records Database and Verification Project. This programme contributes to two of the entity’s five Outcomes, to have stakeholders and role-players who are aligned to deliver on the NQF and to have well-articulated Quality assured qualifications and relevant professional designations that instill trust and meet the needs of the people.

 

The programme has a combined total of six output indicators and eight predetermined targets spread across the two sub-programmes. For the 2020/21 financial year, the Authority, through the National Learners’ Records Database, will make the public on the NLRD easily accessible and usable by all stakeholders; to ensure that the QCs load learner achievement records on the NLRD within the turnaround time; to ensure that all recognised professional bodies load professional designation achievements that meet requirements on the NLRD and complete all applications received for the verification of national qualifications within 20 working days.

 

For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme received an allocation amounting to R29.24 million, which represents 17.4% of the SAQA’s total budget. The budget increased significantly in real terms by 49.3% from previous year allocation of R18.76 million. The budget will grow marginally to R30.64 million and R32.12 million in the outer two years of the 2020/21 MTEF period.

 

5.3.3.4. Programme 4: Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Service

This programme is responsible for evaluating foreign qualifications and providing advice on international learning and qualifications. It contributes to one of the five SAQA’s Outcomes, to have a dynamic NQF that is responsive, adapts to, and support the changing needs of lifelong learners. For 2020/21, the programme has two output indicators and two predetermined targets.

During 2020/21, the programme will conceptualise and develop a mechanism to track the access of foreign qualification holders in the South African educational and work environment and to develop evaluation criteria in line with the NQF Act, 2008, as amended, and other relevant legal instruments.

 

For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme’s allocation amounts to R34.84 million, which represents 20.8% of the SAQA’s total budget. The budget increased in real terms by 4.8 % from previous year allocation of R31.82 million. The budget is projected to grow to R36.45 million and R38.20 million in the outer two years of the 2020/21 MTEF period.

 

5.3.3.5. Programme 5: Research

 

The programme is responsible for conducting evidence-based research to track the development and implementation of the NQF and to evaluate the impact of the NQF on the people in South Africa. It contributes to the two of the five SAQA Outcomes, to have well-articulated Quality assured qualifications and relevant professional designations that instill trust and meet the needs of the people and to have a dynamic NQF that is responsive, adapts to, and support the changing needs of lifelong learners. The programme has four output indicators and four predetermined targets.

 

For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme’s allocation amounts to R6.78 million, which represents 4% of the SAQA’s total budget. The budget increased in real terms by 11.8% from previous year allocation of R5.81 million. The budget is projected to grow marginally in 2021/22 and 2022/23 to R7.12 million and R7.46 million, respectively. The budget will support activities towards the reviewing of one NQF policy, producing a progress report on the 2021 NQF Impact Study, and to provide the Minister with a report on progress made by the SAQA and the QCs in implementing the Articulation Policy.

 

5.3.3.6. Programme 6: International Liaison

 

The programme is responsible for working with international partners on matters concerning qualifications frameworks and sharing best practice with stakeholders. It contributes to Outcome 1 of the SAQA’s five outcomes, to have a visionary and influential leadership that drives a clear, evidence-based NQF Agenda. For 2020/21, the programme has three output indicators and three predetermined targets. For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme will focus on identifying and implementing two initiatives to promote the South African NQF, to identify and implement two initiatives to share national and international best practice with stakeholders and to develop a plan to implement the Addis Convention.

 

The programme received an allocation amounting to R3.21 million, which represents 1.9% of the Authority’s total budget of R167.36 million. The budget decreased in real terms by 0.2% from previous financial year allocation of R3.11 million. Though the budget is projected to grow to R3.37 million and R3.54 million in 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively, this increase will not be material when factoring in inflation.

 

5.4. QUALITY COUNCIL FOR TRADES AND OCCUPATIONS (QCTO)

The QCTO was established as a juristic person in 2010 in terms of the Skills Development Act (SDA), 97 of 1998 as amended in 2008. QCTO is one of three Quality Councils (QCs) responsible for a part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which is the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF). The QCTO performs its functions in accordance with the Skills Development Act, 1998 as amended and the National Qualifications Framework Act, 2008.

5.4.1.Alignment of the SAQA’s 2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan with the National Development Plan (NDP), the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training (WPPSET), the 2019 – 2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and 2020 SONA

The National Development Plan (NDP) has set a target of producing 30 000 artisans per year by 2030. The 2019 – 2024 MTSF commits the DHET to have 36 375 artisan learners who enter artisan programmes annually by 2024 and to have 26 500 artisans certified annually by 2024. The MTSF also sets targets on placement of students in work-based learning, SETA-funded skills programmes and learnerships. The MTSF commits the QCTO to contribute towards two outcomes, to expand access to the post-school education and training opportunities and a responsive PSET system. The QCTO will contribute to the interventions to implement the macro infrastructure framework at universities and TVET and CET colleges; to the training young artisans through the centres of specialisation at TVET colleges; to introducing compulsory digital skills training specific to programme offerings at TVET colleges and to the piloting of the CET college skills programmes around community needs. The development of new occupational and trade qualifications will increase access to trades and occupational programmes and therefore, contributing towards the achievement of the target of 30 000 artisans by 2030.

Working in partnership with the South African Qualifications Authority and the other Quality Councils, the QCTO will work towards ensuring the implementation of the Recognition of Prior Learning, including the Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning and Articulation across the NQF sub-frameworks. White Paper for Post-School Education and Training indicate that the Quality Council for Trades and Occupation has to ensure that there are no dead ends for learners who graduate from occupational programmes. It further states that articulation should be both vertical in terms of moving to higher levels of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and horizontal, catering for movement from, a vocational stream to an academic one or vice versa.

 

The February 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) key focus is on inclusive growth and addresses critical priorities for the PSET sector. These include, youth employment through appropriate skills development and capabilities, curriculum development, student accommodation and the establishment of two universities and nine Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. The QCTO is responsible for ensuring that new occupational skills programmes and trades that responds to industry needs and local economic needs are developed for the TVET and CET colleges. The QCTO is also responsible for ensuring that the TVET curriculum is re-designed to provide critical skills for the future in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and beyond.

 

5.4.2.Overview and assessment of the 2020/21 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Budget

Table 7: The QCTO 2020/21 expenditure estimates per programme

 

For the 2020/21 financial year, the QCTO’s total revenue amounts to R124.63 million, which is made up of R27.43 million Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Grant and R97.20 million Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) Grant allocations.  The revenue increased marginally by R1 million, which represents an increase of 0.8% in nominal terms, from R123.56 million allocated in 2019/20. When factoring in inflation, the budget has actually decreased by 3.3%. The overall budget is projected to grow to R135.86 million and R147.63 million in the outer two years of the 2020/21 MTEF period. The DHET Grant Allocation (voted funds) is projected to grow by an average growth rate of 5% over the MTEF period. The Cabinet approved a freeze on salary increase for senior managers in public entities earning more than R1.5 million per year and reductions in spending on goods and services, which were effected on transfers to the DHET public entities receiving voted funds, including the QCTO. The reductions amounting to R9.3 million were applied for the 2019/20 to 2020/21 financial years. This has resulted in the reduction in the baseline allocation of the QCTO DHET Grant.

SETA Grant allocation to the QCTO increased by R6.8 million from R90.348 million in 2019/20. SETA Grants constitute 77.9% of the total budget of the QCTO. The allocation is projected to grow to R106.92 million and R117.61 million in the outer two years of the 2020/21 MTEF period.

In terms of economic classification, an amount of R80.33 million, which constitutes 64.4% of the total budget of the QCTO is apportioned for compensation of employees for the 2020/21 financial year. The allocation for compensation of employees increased by 27.2% (R17.2 million) in nominal terms from R63.1 million in 2020/21. The budget is projected to grow to R87.57 million and R95.15 million in the 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively.

An amount of R40.81 million, which constitutes 32.7% of the QCTO’s total revenue is apportioned for spending on goods and services for the 2020/21. The allocation decreased by R5.4 million, which represents a real percent decrease of 15.4% when factoring in inflation. The decrease in the budget was due to a Cabinet approved reductions in spending on goods and services for the 2020/21, which was approved during the 2019/20 MTEF period.  For the 2020/21 financial year, an amount of R3.47 million is allocated for spending on capital expenditure.

 

 

5.4.3. Overview and analysis of the 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan (APP)

For the new 2020/21 – 2024/25 the QCTO has four budget programmes, Administration, Occupational Qualifications Management & Certification, Occupational Qualifications Quality Assurance and Research Analysis and Quality Assurance.

During 2020/21 financial year, the QCTO has two outcomes, namely, the QCTO is a responsive learning organisation and a single, national, quality assured Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework that promotes synergy, simplification and effectiveness. The two outcomes have a combined total of 28 output indicators and 28 predetermined targets spread across the four programmes.

5.4.3.1.  Programme 1: Administration

The purpose of the programme is to enable QCTO’s performance through strategic leadership and reliable delivery of management support services that will ensure a responsive and learning organisation. For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme will implement four predetermined targets, which are: to have a capacity building strategy approved by the Management Committee, to have the Master System Plan (MSP) approved by council, to have marketing and communications strategy approved by the council and approval of the change management strategy approved by Management Committee.

The programme’s budget for 2020/21 amounts to R51.56 million, which R24.01 million and R24.07 million is allocated for spending on compensation of employees and good and services, respectively. An allocation amounting to R3.47 million is allocated for spending on capital expenditure.

5.4.3.2. Programme 2: Occupational Qualifications Management and Certification

The purpose of the programme is to ensure that occupational qualifications, part qualifications and skills programmes on the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF) are available; issue certificates to qualifying learners; verify the authenticity of issued certificates; and maintain stakeholder relationships. This programme implements has six output indicators and six predetermined targets.

During the year, the QCTO planned to have 120 prioritised occupational qualifications (full and part) recommended to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) for registration on the OQSF; to have 100 historically registered qualifications recommended to SAQA for deactivation on the OQSF, to have 80 skills programmes approved by the QCTO council; have 95% of certificates issued within turnaround time (21 working days) and to digitise 70% of learner records against the number on the projected plan.

The programme’s budget for 2020/21 amounts to R31.94million, which represents 25.6% of the QCTO’s total budget for the year. The budget increased in real terms by 5.4% from previous financial year allocation. The bulk of the programme’s budget, R24.81 million is apportioned to compensation of employees and R7.12 million is for spending goods and services.

5.4.3.3. Programme 3: Occupational Qualifications Quality Assurance

The programme’ s purpose is to establish and maintain quality standards for Accreditation and Assessment within the OQSF.

For 2020/21, the programme has nine output indicators and nine predetermined targets. The QCTO planned to, amongst others, have 100% of assessment for occupational qualifications and part qualifications quality assured against the QCTO standards within 21 working days turnaround time; to quality assure 75% of assessments for historically registered qualifications against the QCTO standards (excluding historical skills programmes and NATED) within 21 working days turnaround time;to process within 90 working days 90% of Skills Development Providers accreditation applications for occupational qualifications and part qualifications; to process within 90 working days 25% of Council-approved Skills Development Providers accreditation applications for skills programmes; to process within 90 working days 80% of Skills Development Providers accreditation applications for historically registered Qualifications (trades, non-trades, NATED Report 190/191, skills programmes) and to process within 30 working days 100% of assessment centre accreditation applications.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme’s total budget amounts to R36.07 million, which represents 28.9% of the Council’s total budget. The budget increased in real terms by 9.58% from the previous year allocation of R31.52 million. 79.8% (R28.791 million) of the programmes’ budget is apportioned to compensation of employees. Allocation amounting to R7.27 million is allocated for spending on goods and services.

5.4.3.4. Programme 4: Research Analysis and Quality Assurance

The purpose of the programme is to establish and maintain the QCTO standards for quality assurance through research, monitoring, evaluation and analysis. For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme has nine output indicators and nine predetermined targets.

The QCTO planned to, amongst others, to have four research reports approved by the Chief Executive Officer; to publish online one research bulletin; to quality-assure according to the QCTO standards; 80% of accredited Skills Development Providers with implemented occupational qualifications and part qualifications; to quality-assure against the QCTO standards 100 NATED Report 190/191 Exam sessions conducted at accredited Skills Development Providers and to quality-assure against the QCTO standards 60% of accredited Assessment Centres conducting External Integrated Summative Assessments.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the programme’s total budget amounts to R5.05 million, which represents 4% of the Council’s total budget. The budget increased in real terms by 79.4% from the previous year allocation of R2.70 million. Of the R5.05 million budget, R2.71 million is allocated for compensation costs and R2.33 million is for spending on goods and services.

 

6. COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS

The Committee, having considered and deliberated on the Strategic Plans 2020 - 2025 and Annual Performance Plans 2020/21 made the following key observations and findings:

 

6.1. Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

6.1.1. Programme 1: Administration

6.1.1.1. The filling of senior management positions, in particular the Deputy Director-General (DDG) post has been very slow. The DDG for the CET programme has been in an acting position since 2016, previously, he acted as a DDG for the Vocational and Continuing Education and Training (VCET) programme since 2009, before it was split into TVET and CET branches in 2015. This is in gross violation with the Public Service Regulations, 2001 B5.3 which states that “an employee may not act in a higher vacant post for an uninterrupted period exceeding 12 months”.

6.1.1.2. The increase in the budget allocation for expenditure on consultants and advisory services amounting to R11.8 million was noted as a concern, and the Committee questioned whether the Department does not have in-house capacity to render these services.

 

 

6.1.2. Programme 2: Planning, Policy and Strategy

6.1.2.1. The Committee noted that the plans of the Department do not reflect interventions to curb the spread of gender-based violence (GBV) incidences in the PSET system.

6.1.3. Programme 3: University Education

6.1.3.1. The COVID-19 pandemic has put enormous pressure on teaching and learning in higher education for the 2020 academic year. Universities had to shift from contact learning into multimodal remote learning systems in an attempt to provide a reasonable level of academic support to students and save the remainder of the 2020 academic years. However, universities’ ICT capabilities vary, in particular, historically disadvantaged institutions (HDIs) have been struggling to adjust to remote learning mechanisms due to insufficient capacity and funding.

6.1.3.2. The interventions that have been introduced by the Department in an attempt to save the 2020 academic year in higher education were commended by the Committee. The concern that was highlighted by the Committee relates to the students’ accessibility to digital devices (laptops) so that they could access online learning, and the affordability of data to enable access to the internet. Compounding the situation was the poor network connectivity in geographically remote areas. In this respect, the Committee urged the Department to request the services of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to undertake a Geo-spatial analysis to identify those students that would be affected by poor network connectivity so that they could be an alternative means to assist the students in those areas not to be left behind.

6.1.3.3. The establishment of the two new universities in Gauteng, the University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni and a University for Combating Crime in Hammanskraal was welcomed by the Committee. The development of these two new universities would not only expand access to education and training, but will diversify provisioning of the PSET system. The Committee urged the Department to consider expanding the teaching and learning sites/campuses of existing universities in Gauteng as other alternatives to expand access.

6.1.3.4. The plans to improve and expand infrastructure in higher education, particularly the HDIs development programme was welcomed by the Committee, including the establishment of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Infrastructure (MACI). The Committee reiterated its concern with respect to the constructors that are awarded infrastructure development/expansion contracts and abandon them before completion, and the lack of consequence management implemented against these service providers by universities.

6.1.3.5. The absence of a policy to respond to the plight of the missing middle students in higher education remains a concern for the sector. The various student support interventions of the Department are mostly directed at the NSFAS funded students, and the missing middle students are mostly assisted by their respective institutions, at a huge cost leaving them indebted. The Minister undertook to work with the private sector partners to develop a financial aid system that cater for the missing middle students.

6.1.3.6. Whilst noting the importance and magnitude of the higher education sector, the Committee expressed its concern that the bulk of the budget for the entire PSET system, approximately 80% is allocated to the University Education programme, whilst the TVET and CET programmes which are earmarked for developing mid-level occupational skills for young people to access the economy, continue to receive inadequate funding.

6.1.3.7. The abuse of institutional autonomy by some universities at the expense of being transparent and accountable when required by the Committee was noted as a concern.

6.1.4. Programme 4: TVET

6.1.4.1. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the TVET sector posed a serious threat towards saving the 2020 academic year for the sector. Compounding the situation is that less than 10% of TVET colleges indicated their readiness to implement multimodal remote learning systems to provide student academic support during the lockdown period.  The ICT infrastructure in the TVET sector is lagging behind and this could be attributed to historic insufficient funding for the sector.

6.1.4.2. The majority of students in the TVET sector have been idle during the lockdown period and there have been inadequate communication with students on teaching and learning mechanisms aimed at saving the 2020 academic year.

6.1.4.3. Insufficient funding for the expansion of infrastructure and enrolment in the TVET remains an ongoing concern, and poses a risk towards the attainment of the NDP targets for this sector. TVET colleges are critical in the training of young people to develop skills, knowledge and attitudes needed in the labour market. The demand of skilled and capable artisans to grow the ailing South African economy largely depends on TVETs and the insufficient investment towards making them institutions of choice poses a risk for the PSET system.

6.1.4.4. The slow pace in the curriculum review of the TVET sector to make it aligned and relevant to the requirements of industry remains an ongoing concern.

6.1.4.5. The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for those students that are part of the work-integrated learning (WIL) programme was noted as a concern, given that most industries have been closed, and others have been unable to recover from the financial losses due to the lockdown period. This also poses a threat on the ability of the student to complete their workplace practical component of the studies to attain their qualifications.

6.1.4.6. Inadequate infrastructure, particularly safe and conducive student accommodation in the TVET sector remains an ongoing concern. The utilisation of private accommodation that does not meet the DHET minimum norms and standards for student housing in the TVET sector poses health and safety risks for students.

6.1.5. Programme 5: Skills Development

6.1.5.1. The poor governance and management of some SETAs, including the lack of consequence management against officials responsible for irregularities and corruption remains an ongoing concern.

6.1.5.2. The appointment of the new SETAs’ Accounting Authorities (AAs) by the Minister with effect from 1 April 2020 was welcomed by the Committee.

6.1.6. Programme 6: Community Education and Training

6.1.6.1. Insufficient funding for the CET sector remains an ongoing concern, given that the sector does not have its dedicated infrastructure and sufficient teaching and learning support interventions.

6.1.6.2. The COVID-19 pandemic posed a serious threat towards the saving of the 2020 academic year in the CET sector, given that there are no alternative modes of learning except for contact learning. Students in the CET sector do not receive financial support from the NSFAS. Consequently, they rely on their learning centres to receive all the learning materials. In addition, the closure of schools during the lockdown period has had a huge impact on the CET sector given that most of the learning centres are operating in schools.

6.1.6.3. The various interventions in the PSET system, especially those dealing with infrastructure development and expansion do not take into cognisance the needs of the CET sector. The Committee expressed a concern with what appears to be a neglect of the CET sector in the development and expansion of the PSET system.

6.1.7. Budget

6.1.7.1. As part of the measures announced by the President to respond to COVID-19, a budget of R500 billion was announced, of which R130 billion is to come from reprioritisation of the current 2020/21 financial year budget. The Committee noted that the reprioritisation of funds would impact the Department and its entities’ current financial year plans and budget. Consequently, the APPs would have to be revised to align with the reprioritised budget.

6.1.7.2. The Committee was concerned that the DHET grant allocation to the CHE, SAQA and the QCTO has not been growing in real terms when considering inflation. The entities had to rely on special grants from the National Skills Fund (NSF) to implement some of their projects.

6.2. Council on Higher Education (CHE)

6.2.1.    The budget cut amounting to R18 million for the current financial was noted as a concern by the Committee and a possible risk to the entity’s ability to meet its mandate. The entity indicated that it anticipates an injection of R25 million into its baseline as promised by the Minister in his statement.

6.2.2.    The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled institutions of higher learning to consider other alternative mechanisms for teaching and learning such as online learning during the lockdown period. The Committee expressed concern with respect to the quality of teaching and learning through the introduction of online learning and the credibility of qualifications that would emerge from the 2020 academic year. The CHE assured the Committee about its mandate to ensure that the quality of higher education is not compromised by the recent changes to online modes of teaching and learning.

6.2.3.    The Committee expressed a concern that some students might be left behind due to various online learning approaches that are implemented by institutions. In this respect, other institutions have already implemented online learning and other are still grappling with ICT capacity to support students during the lockdown period. The implications of this would be the completion of the 2020 academic year at different times, and the undesirable implications thereof.

6.2.4.    The delays with the accreditation of higher education institutions learning programmes and the turnaround times of the entity was noted as a concern. The CHE indicated that the protracted accreditation process is largely attributed to institutions submitting inaccurate or incomplete information.

6.2.5.    Inadequate articulation of TVET college students into higher education institution remains an ongoing concern in the PSET system, and there are inconsistencies in the implementation of articulation policy across the entire PSET system.

6.3. South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

6.3.1.    The Committee expressed its concern with respect to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the revenue generation streams of the entity. The entity indicated that it continuously withdrew from its invested funds to service unavoidable expenses such as compensation of employees and operational costs.

6.3.2.    The insufficient budget of the entity to meet its expanded mandate remains an ongoing concern and the subsidies from the Department have not been sufficient to improve the financial position of the entity. 64% (R106 million) of the entity’s income is spent on compensation of employees, which is not covered by the government subsidies.

6.3.3.    The entity’s budget for outsourced services increased for the current financial year and the Committee was concerned that the entity’s budget was already constrained to meet its key objectives.  The entity indicated that the budget increase for the current financial year is not from voted funds, but on projected income through its verification function. The verifications projects are affected by the delays in the proclamation of the NQF Amendment Act, 2019 by the President and the adjustment to the budget would be effected.

6.3.4.    The entity as a custodian of the NQF plays an important role with respect to articulation in the PSET system. The Committee reiterated its concern with respect to inadequate articulation of TVET students into higher education. The entity indicated that it worked on a three-year partnership with the Durban University of Technology (DUT) that dealt with the articulation of TVET and University of Technology qualifications, and good practices emerged from this project.

6.3.5.    The delays in the completion of the digitisation of the pre-1992 learners’ records was noted as a concern. Insufficient funding was cited as being the major hindrance in the ability of the entity to complete this project given the costs involved.

6.3.6.    The entity employed a number of staff on fixed-term contracts as part of the verifications project and the Committee inquired about the appointment of these employees on a permanent basis. The entity indicated that it has developed plans to turn the verification function into a Directorate with permanent staffing positions.

6.4. National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

6.4.1.    The various intervenes implemented by the Administrator since his appointment to improve the administration and disbursement of funds and allowances to students was commended by the Committee. The Committee also urged the Administrator to put proper systems in place in preparation for the future of the entity post-administration period.

6.4.2.    The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled institutions of higher learning and TVET colleges to re-organise their academic year. The Committee was concerned about the implications of the possibilities of a prolonged academic year on the funding of students. NSFAS indicated that it would cost an estimated R9.9 billion to pay the tuition and allowances to students for an additional period of three (3) months.

6.4.3.    The consequence management implemented against employees and syndicates involved in fraudulent activities at the entity was noted as a concern given the R7.5 billion irregular expenditures as disclosed in the 2018/19 financial year. The entity indicated that all cases of suspected fraud involving both employees and syndicates have been handed to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigation.

6.4.4.    The delays in the finalisation of the outstanding students’ appeals, particularly in higher education remains an ongoing concern. In addition, the financial exclusion of students due to the N+2 rules has to be reviewed, given the unique circumstances associated with these exclusions.

6.4.5.    The Committee expressed its concern with respect to the appointment of a private service provider that assisted with the compilation of the entity’s Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 and APP 2020/21 at a cost amounting to R490 000. In addition, the APP 2020/21 of the entity had errors and was not consistent with the presentation made by the Administrator. The entity undertook to submit a revised APP 2020/21.

6.4.6.    The Committee expressed its reservations with respect to the proposed central procurement of digital devices (laptops) as planned by the Department, despite NSFAS allocating R5 200 per annum to each student as part of the teaching aid allowance. This concern of the Committee is attributed to the reality that some students utilised this allowance for other purposes instead of buying learning devices such as laptops. In addition, other institutions are utilising this allocation to purchase laptops for students.

6.4.7.    The Committee was concerned that some of the students that were part of the missing middle might be eligible for the NSFAS funding post the COVID-19 period due to reduced household income or job losses. This would put a strain on the resources of the NSFAS beyond 2020/21.

6.4.8.    The COVID-19 pandemic has led to some people losing their jobs and others receiving reduced monthly income due to the lockdown period. The Committee inquired about the possibility of the NSFAS giving payment holiday to former students who are repaying their student loans. The entity undertook to seek a directive from the Department in concurrence with the Minister of Finance on the possibility of extending a loan payment holiday due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

6.4.9.    The delays with respect to the equalisation of stipends paid to the University and TVET college students remains an ongoing concern. NSFAS indicated that it implements policy directives from the Department, and it could not provide a way forward with regard to this concern.

 

 

 

6.5. Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO)

6.5.1.    The delays by the Minister in the appointment of the new Council members for entity was noted with serious concern.

6.5.2.    The Committee was concerned that the QCTO did not receive the requested funding to implement its business model and to take over the delegated quality assurance function from the Quality Assurance Partners (QAPs). The entity indicated that it made a submission of its business case requesting R275 million to centralise all the quality assurance (QA) functions delegated to the QAPs. However, it received R97.2 million, which is inadequate for the quality assurance function. Going forward, the entity would enter into service level agreements (SLAs) with the SETAs to continue with the QA roles, and also to report to the QCTO.

6.5.3.    The Committee was concerned about the delays in the purchase of the leased building to reduce the exorbitant rental costs. The entity said that the delays have been attributed to the need for submission of all the necessary documents required before the transaction can be made, and the process is ongoing.

6.5.4.    The low uptake of the QCTO occupational and trades qualifications by the TVET colleges due to lack of funding was concerning.

6.5.5.    A concern was raised with respect to the outdated curriculum of the TVET sector and its relevance to the industry needs. The entity indicated that it has reconstructed the N4-6 (Business Studies) programmes into occupational qualifications and work is underway to review the Engineering programmes.

 

7. SUMMARY

The Department presented its first Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 and APP 2020/21 under the reconfigured Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, following the pronouncement of the merging of the two Ministries by the President of the Republic in June 2019. The Plans were also presented at an unprecedented time when the country was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the livelihoods of the human race across the world. The tabling of these Plans in Parliament was done during the month of March 2020, before the national lockdown was announced, and the COVID-19 pandemic could not have been anticipated when the Plans were compiled.

The Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 of the Department re-emphasises the strides made towards building and expanding the PSET system that caters for the needs of the youth and adults in training and those that are not in any form of training and employment. The Plan also aligns to Priority 2: Education, Skills and Health of the new 2019 – 2024 MTSF, and the objectives of the White Paper for PSET, which identifies the need to: expand access to opportunities to PSET; improve quality of PSET provisioning; improve the success and efficiency of PSET and improve the responsiveness of the PSET system to the needs of the economy and society in general.

For the next five years, the Department has prioritised to deliver on key interventions which include, the establishment of two new universities in Gauteng (University of Science and Innovation and University for Combating Crime in Hammanskraal); rollout of the integrated infrastructure development support programme for PSET; implementation of the HDIs development programmes and the review of the National Skills Fund (NSF) operations.

The APP 2020/21 of the Department reflects the key outputs for the current financial year in each of the six programmes. With respect to Programme 1: Administration, the Department aims to improve efficiency in corporate services by setting revised targets to improve the turnaround time in dealing with the recruitment process and other related administration operations. Programme 2: Planning focuses on producing reports to support decision-making in response to improving the responsiveness of the PSET system. Programme 3: University Education and other programmes are core delivery programmes of the Department, and they generally aim at expanding access and success in the PSET system.

The Committee was mindful that the Plans of the Department would have to be revised due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the imminent budget reprioritisation which is expected to be announced by the Minister of Finance later in the year. Irrespective, the consideration of the Department’s Plans by the Committee was necessary to ensure that the Committee exercises its oversight function to hold the Department accountable for its outputs and to provide ideas and proposals to strengthen the work of the Department. The Committee also noted with concern that some of the MTSF outputs indicators and targets do not reflect in the Department’s Strategic Plan.

The Committee also considered the Plans of NSFAS, CHE, SAQA and the QCTO. The entities have also aligned their five-year plans with the outcomes of the Priority 2 of the new MTSF and will work collaboratively with the Department to implement the interventions. In terms of NSFAS, the Committee welcomed the budget increase, especially the allocation from the DHET Loans and Bursaries towards supporting the phased-in approach of the implementation of the fee-free education policy that was announced in December 2017. The Committee was concerned about the inconsistencies in the indicators and targets in the APP of NSFAS. The entity was requested to table a revised APP in Parliament.

The Committee considered and accepted the Plans of the CHE, SAQA and the QCTO. The Committee was seriously concerned about the DHET Grant allocation to the entities which is not growing in real terms and its impact on the ability of the entities to perform their mandate.Compounding the situation, is the impact of the COVID-19 on the activities of the entities and their income generating streams. This will adversely have a huge impact on the projected budget of the entities. The Committee recommended that the Department considers a stimulus/relief package for the SAQA.

8. RECOMMENDATIONS

The Committee, having considered the Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025 and Annual Performance Plan 2020/21 of the Department, NSFAS, CHE and SAQA recommends that the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation consider the following:

8.1. DHET

8.1.1. Programme 1: Administration

8.1.1.1. The filling of all the acting DDG positions (Planning, TVET and CET) should be expedited. The Minister should also submit to the Committee an action plan with timeframes on the filling of all senior management posts in the Department.

8.1.1.2. The Department should strengthen its internal capacity to limit expenditure on outsourced services.

8.1.2. Planning, Policy and Strategy

8.1.2.1. The Department should ensure that the 2020/21APPreflects plans to curb gender-based violence in the PSET sector.

8.1.2.2. The Department should ensure that all the outcome indicators and targets outline in the 2019 – 2024 MTSF are reflected in its 2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan and are implemented annually.

8.1.2.3. The Department should table in Parliament an addendum of the adjusted budget and APP targets.

8.1.2.4. The Department working in collaboration with the SAQA and the three Quality Councils should put in place mechanisms to ensure that all institutions of higher learning are implementing the articulation policy and consequence management should be implemented against those who are not compliant. Furthermore, the Department should ensure that the MTSF target to have 95 % of universities sign agreements with TVET colleges to recognise their qualifications is implemented and this should be monitored and reported to Parliament annually.

 

8.1.3. Programme 3: University Education

8.1.3.1. The restructuring of the 2020 academic year should take into consideration the differentiated COVID-19 alert levels at provincial and district levels so that students residing in the hotspots areas are not disadvantaged.

8.1.3.2. The Department should have proper systems in place to ensure that the centralised procurement of digital devices is done in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Act No. 29 of 1999 regulations so that there is accountability.

8.1.3.3. The Minister should consider formulating a policy for the equalisation of stipends paid to the University and TVET college students.

8.1.3.4. The various student support interventions in higher education are mostly directed at NSFAS funded students, and the missing middle students are at the mercy of their respective institutions. It is imperative that the missing middle students are considered since they also face similar socio-economic pressures with their peers that are funded by NSFAS.

8.1.3.5. The Department working in collaboration with institutions of higher learning other stakeholders in the built environment should ensure that consequence management is implemented against construction companies that do not complete infrastructure projects and those that undertake shoddy work.

 

 

8.1.4. Programme 4: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

8.1.4.1. Notwithstanding the current and future fiscal constraints, the Department should engage the National Treasury to increase baseline funding for the TVET colleges subsidies so that they could increase enrolment in line with the NDP targets.

8.1.4.2. The processes with respect to the review of the curriculum of the TVET sector should be expedited so that students are offered programmes that are aligned to industry requirements.

8.1.4.3. The ICT infrastructure and capabilities of the TVET sector needs to be developed taking into consideration the need to implement online learning for the sector so that students are not left behind due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and for the future.

8.1.4.4. Inadequate student accommodation in the TVET sector remains an ongoing concern, and the integrated infrastructure programme of the Department should prioritise the expansion of student housing in the sector.

 

8.1.5. Programme 5: Skills Development

8.1.5.1. The Department ought to improve its oversight and monitoring functions over the work of the SETAs and make sure that all the newly appointed SETAs Accounting Authorities (AAs) are held into account for the governance and performance of their respective SETAs.

 

8.1.6. Community Education and Training (CET)

8.1.6.1. The 2019 – 2024 MTSF commits the Department to have 90 % of those not in education, employment or training taking part in CET colleges’ occupational skills programmes and becoming economically active. Currently, over 90 % of the CET budget is allocated towards compensation of employees. The Department should ensure that the development of a sustainable funding model for the CET is expedited and that consideration be made to increase baseline funding to address infrastructure related challenges, purchase of teaching and learning materials and ensure that the sector is responsive to the local and regional economic needs.

 

 

 

8.2. National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

8.2.1.    Given the errors identified by the Committee in the APP 2020/21 of the entity, it is important that an amended APP 2020/21 with the correct information and other key deliverables is tabled in Parliament.

8.2.2.    The terms of reference with respect to the appointment of a private service provider that provided advisory services regarding the compilation of the entity’s APP 2020/21 should be submitted to the Committee.

8.2.3.    The finalisation of outstanding students’ appeals particularly in the University sector should be accelerated. In addition, it is imperative for the entity to reconsider the rejection of students appeals due to the N+2 rule given the circumstances associated with each appeal.

8.2.4.    It is imperative for the entity working in collaboration with the respective institutions to ensure that the R5 200 teaching aid allowance that is allocated to all the NSFAS funded students is utilised for its intended purposes. There should be a requirement for students to produce some kind of evidence showing that the teaching aid allowance has been used to purchase learning support materials.

 

8.3. Council on Higher Education (CHE)

8.3.1.    The Department should ensure that the CHE receives the R25 million additional allocation into its baseline timeously as undertaken by the Minister so that the work of the entity is not compromised.

8.3.2.    The CHE should ensure that the quality of higher education is not compromised due to the changes from contact learning to multimodal remote learning strategies due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

8.3.3.    The CHE will be expected to re-submit its APP 2020/21 if there are changes as a result of the reprioritised budget.

8.3.4.    A Joint-Meeting be convened with the Portfolio Committee on Health and the Minister of Health, the CHE and the South African Nursing Council (SANC) to deliberate on the delays in the accreditation of nursing qualifications, which impact on the training of nurses.

 

 

 

8.4. South African Qualifications Authority

8.4.1.    The Minister considers the possibilities of providing stimulus relief funds for SAQA to mitigate against the budget cuts and potential loss of revenue due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

8.5. Quality Council for Trades and Occupations

8.5.1.    The Committee convenes a meeting with the QCTO, Umalusi and the Department to get a briefing on progress made with regard to TVET college curriculum review of the National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) and National Certificate Vocational NC(V) programmes.

8.5.2.    The appointment of the new Council members of the entity should be expedited to ensure that good governance is not compromised.

8.5.3.    The process with respect to the approval of the business case of the entity should be accelerated so that it is able to take over the ETQA function of the SETAs. This would also require additional funding to support shifting of this function from the SETAs.

 

The Democratic Alliance reserved their right to an opinion on the Budget Vote Report and the Economic Freedom Fighters objected to the approval of the Budget Vote Report.

 

Report to be considered.

 

 

 

 

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