ATC210604: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on the 2020/21third-Quarter Performance Report of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Dated 2 June 2021

Higher Education, Science and Technology

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on the 2020/21third-Quarter Performance Report of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Dated 2 June 2021

 

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology (hereinafter the Committee), having considered the 2020/21Third-Quarter performance reportofthe Department of Higher Education and Training (hereinafter as the Department), reports as follows:

1. INTRODUCTION

Section 5 (1) (c) of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, 2009 (Act No. 9 of 2009) determines that the National Assembly (NA), through its committees, must annually assess the performance of each national department in relation to the expenditure report of the said department published by the National Treasury in terms of section 32 of the PFMA.

The Portfolio Committee conducts an oversight function over the Department and it is responsible for closely monitoring the progress made concerning the achievement of the financial and non-financial performance of the Department against its pre-determined objectives and targets. The quarterly assessments of the Department’s financial and non-financial performance also assist the Committee in its preparation for the annual submission of the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) as determined by section 5 (2) of the Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act, 2009 (Act No. 9 of 2009).

To give effect to the requirement of Section 5 of the Money Bills Act, the Committee considered the 2020/21 Third-Quarter performance reportof the Department on 10 March 2021.

 

2. OVERVIEW AND ASSESSMENT OF THE DEPARTMENT’S THIRD-QUARTER FINANCIAL AND SERVICE DELIVERY PERFORMANCE

2.1. Overview of the Third-Quarter allocation and expenditure

Table 1: Budget allocation and expenditure for the Third-Quarter of the 2020/21 financial year

R million

 

 

Adjusted Appropriation

Available budget

 

 

Q3 Actual Expenditure

Expenditure as % of available budget

Q3 Projected expenditure

Underspending

% Underspending

Programme

Administration

402.2

402.2

296.5

73.7%

280.2

-16.3

-5.8%

Planning, Policy and Strategy

189.0

189.0

 

 

149.1

78.9%

139.0

-10.1

-7.2%

University Education

78 321.5

78 321.5

 

76 535.3

97.7%

76 618.7

83.4

0.1%

Technical and Vocational Education and Training

12 652.2

12 652.2

 

 

 

8 680.5

68.6%

8 897.3

216.9

2.4%

 

Skills Development

282.6

282.6

 

202.4

71.6%

207.7

5.4

2.6%

Community Education and Training

2 247.4

2 247.4

 

 

1 549.1

68.9%

1 623.4

74.3

4.6%

Sub-total

 

 

94 094.9

 

94 094.9

 

 

87 412.8

 

92.9%

 

87 766.3

 

353.5

 

0.4%

Direct charges

10 174.6

 

10 174.6

 

7 650.1

75.2%

7 250.7

-399.5

-5.5%

SETAs

8 139.7

8 139.7

6 130.1

75.3%

5 800.6

-329.6

-5.7%

National Skills Fund

2 034.9

2 034.9

1 520.0

74.7%

1 450.1

-69.9

-4.8%

 

Total

 

104 269.6

104 269.6

 

95 063.0

 

91.2%

 

95 017.0

 

-45.9

 

0.0%

Source: National Treasury, 2021

The Department’s 2020/21 adjusted appropriation, inclusive of direct charges against the National Revenue Fund amounted to R104,269 billion. The Third-Quarter (1 October to 31 December 2020) projected spending amounted to R95,017 billion. At the end of the Third-Quarter, the Department had spent R95,063 billion or 93% of the available budget, of which R87,412 billion was from voted funds and R7,650 billion from skills levies. The Department had recorded lower than projected spending amounting to R353,5 million of voted funds,translating into 0.4% of the available budget. The lower than projected spending was attributed to the delays in the transfer of earmarked grants in Programme3: University Education and compensation of employees in programmes 4: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and 6: Community Education and Training (CET).

Expenditure on compensation of employees amounted to R6,568billion against the projected expenditure amounting to R6,996 billion, translating into an underspending of R428,3 million or 6.1% from the projected expenditure. At the end of the Third-Quarter, the Department had spent R235,2 million of the projected R299,7 million on goods and services, recording lower than projected spending amounting to R64,6 million.

In terms of expenditure on transfers and subsidies at the end of the Third-Quarter, spending, excluding direct charges amounted to R80,604 billion against the quarterly projected expenditure of R80,457. This translated into overspending amounting to R147.5 million. Spending on payments for capital assets amounted to R4.6 million at the end of the Third-Quarter. This was against the quarterly projected expenditure of R12.9 million, translating in lower than projected spending amounting to R8,2 million or 63.9% of the available budget.

 

2.2. Overview and assessment 2019/20 Third-Quarter service delivery performance and financial performance per programme.

For the 2020/21Third-Quarter, the Department had seven planned targets shared amongst the three budget programmes: University Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and Skills Development. Of the seven targets, five (71.4%) were achieved as planned and two (28.6%) were not achieved.

(i) Programme 1: Administration

The purpose of this Programme is to provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the Department. During the quarter under review, the Programme had no planned targets. The Programme’s expenditure at the end of the quarter under review amounted to R296,5 million against the quarterly projected expenditure of R280,2 million. This translated into higher than projected spending of R16,3 million or 5.8% of the quarterly projected expenditure. The higher than projected spending, mainly in goods and services was attributed to invoices for operating leases having received earlier than expected.

Though the Programme had no planned targets, the Department reported some significant development that occurred during the quarter under review, which included the process of filling of the three Deputy-Director Generals (DDGs) and Chief Financial Officer posts, which was at an advanced stage. Interviews had been held and recommendations were submitted to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) for further processing to Cabinet. It was reported that 141 posts were also advertised for both national and regional offices, of which the target was to get them finalised during the first quarter of 2021/22.

(ii) Programme 2: Planning, Policy and Strategy

The purpose of the Programme is to provide strategic direction in the development, implementation and monitoring of Departmental policies and the Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa. The Programme had no targets planned for the Quarter under review. Significant developments that occurred under this Programmes during the Quarter under review include, the publishing by the Minister of the 2020 National List of Occupations in High Demand (OIHD) together with a Technical Report, and a Technical Report for the 2020 Critical Skills List, which was mentioned by the President in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 11 February 2021. The Department of Home Affairs had since published it for public comment with a due date of 31 March 2021.The Department also reported that the workshops on articulation were held with the Universities South Africa (USAf), the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), the Council for Higher Education (CHE), Umalusi and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), and inputs have been received.

The programme had spent R149.1million against quarterly projected expenditure ofR139.0million, translating in higher than projected spending amounting to R10.1 million or 7.2% of the available quarterly projected expenditure. The higher than projected spending was attributed mainly because of transfers to the SAQA and Universities South Africa (USAf) for their HIV and Aids programme, which were brought forward to quarter three from quarter four to assist these entities with their cash flow management.

(iii) Programme 3: University Education

The programme aims 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. The programme had four targets planned for the quarter under review. The programme achieved three (75%) of the four planned targets.

The Department did not achieve the target to have updated guidelines for the implementation of the DHET bursary scheme for the poor and working-class students at public universities submitted to the Minister for approval by 31 December 2020. The Department reported that policy decisions that needed to be made could not be finalised by 31 December 2020 in part due to the extended academic year.  This impacted the updating of the guidelines in time.

The programme had spent R76,535 billion against the quarterly projected expenditure of R76,618 billion, translating into a lower than projected expenditure amounting to R83.4million, or 0.1% of the quarterly projected expenditure. The lower than projected spending was attributed to thedelays in the transfer payments to higher education institutions for the earmarked grants: University Capital Development Grant, University Capital Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant, University National Collaboration programme and University Clinical Training Grant. These grants could not be processed as initially projected as the required progress reports were not timeously received.

(iv) Programme 4: Technical and Vocational Education and Training

The programme aims to plan, develop, implement, monitor, maintain and evaluate national policy, programmes, assessment practices and systems for TVET. The programme had one planned target for the quarter under review, which was achieved. The Department planned to have a final conceptual framework for the development of a three-year enrolment plan with differentiation in programme enrolment approved by the Director-General (DG) by 10 December 2020. The non-achievement of the target was ascribed to the delayed process of preparing the Strategic and Annual Performance Plan, because of the delayed budget determination by the National Treasury and the limited staff on the ground made it difficult to make much progress. It was reported that the draft three-year enrolment plan was still in the process of being developed through consultation with the TVET inter-branch units.

At the end of the Third-Quarter, the programme had spent R8,680 billion against the quarterly projected expenditure of R8,897 billion, translating into a lower than projected expenditure amounting to R216.9 million, or 2.4% of the quarterly projected expenditure. The underspending was mainly under compensation of employees and was ascribed to claims from examiners and moderators for October/November 2020 examinations, which were not received as projected due to the postponement and restructuring of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College national examinations due to lockdown restrictions.

 

(v) Programme 5: Skills Development

The programme aims to promote and monitor the National Skills Development Strategy. Develop skills development policies and regulatory frameworks for an effective skills development system.During the quarter under review, the programme had two planned targets, which were both achieved. The programme approved a report on the implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) and achieved 37 days on average lead time for processing qualifying applications for trade test, against the target of 40 days.

The programme expenditure at the end of the Third-Quarter amounted to R202.4 million against the projected expenditure of R207.7 million, with lower than projected spending amounting to R5.4 million or 2.6% of the quarterly projected expenditure.

(vi) Programme 6: Community Education and Training

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 had no planned targets during the quarter under review.However, the Department reported significant developments, which includes, the establishment of information communication technology (ICT) laboratories in the 54 pilot centres,which were at an advanced stage. The Department reported that this was made possible through the support from the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA). Four Community Learning Centres have been accredited. It was also reported that Higher Health has extended the services of health and wellness to CET Colleges, covering virtual capacity building for staff and management in CET Colleges, screeners for COVID-19, support to COVID-19 steering committees in Colleges, and mental health support for staff and students

The programme expenditure at the end of the Third-Quarter amounted to R1,549 billion against the projected expenditure of R1,623billion, with lower than projected spending amounting to R74,3 million or 4.6% of the quarterly projected expenditure. The lower than projected spending was mainly in compensation of employees, and was ascribed to unfilled posts and the delays in the receipt of travel and subsistence claims from moderators and examiners.

 

4. OBSERVATIONS

The Committee, having considered and deliberated on the 2020/21 Third-Quarter performance report of the Department, made the following key observations and findings:

 

4.1. Programme 1: Administration

4.1.1.    The Committee commended progress made with the filling of the three DDGs                 and CFO posts, which was at an advanced staged and that the submission was made          to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)for further                      processing at Cabinet.

4.1.2.    The Committee expressed concerns with respect to the delays with the filling of              the 141 posts advertised in August 2020.

 

4.2. Programme 2: Planning, Policy and Strategy

4.2.1.    The Committee commended the improved performance of the Department from 50%       in the 2020/21 Second-Quarter to 71.4% in the Third-Quarter.

 

4.3. Programme 3: University Education

4.3.1.    The recurring student protests in higher education, especially during the   commencement of the academic year were noted as a serious concern. Members noted       that better planning by the Department working in collaboration with universities would          avert the disruptions to teaching and learning during the beginning of an academic year. By way of example, members referred to the University of   Witwatersrandstudent protest, which       resulted in the death of an innocent   civilian who was allegedly shot by the police.

4.3.2.    The Committee welcomed the publication of the Language Policy for Higher        Education; the publication of the Internationalisation Framework for Higher Education        in South Africa; the publication of the report of the Ministerial Task Teamon Black   Academics and the finalisation of the report of the Ministerial Task Team on the Fourth    Industrial Revolution (4IR).

4.4. Programme 4: TVET

  1.  
  2.  

4.5. Programme 5: Skills Development

4.5.1.    The recruitment and placement of 659 Social Work interns with the Departments of          Social Development, and Health and the non-governmental organisations across the          provinces was commended.

4.5.2.    The training support for small enterprises and cooperatives in rural areas to produce        Covid-19 essentials as well as the training support extended by the Health and Welfare         Sector Education and    Training Authority (HWSETA) to include manufacturing of           clothing apparels for major retail shops was commended. The Committee requested a             detailed report of the project in each province.

 

4.6. Programme 6: Community Education and Training

  1.  
  2.  

5. Summary

The Department’s budget for the 2020/21 financial year was adjusted during the national budget adjustments due to the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and the national fiscus. Consequently, the APP 2020/21 of the Department was accordingly adjusted in line with the budget and some targets were shifted to later delivery dates or later quarters or moved to the 2021/22 financial year. For the quarter under review, the Department’s expenditure, excluding direct charges amounted to R87.412billion, against the quarterly projected budget of R87,766billion resulting in a variance of R353.5 million.

With respect to the performance for the term under review, the Department achieved five (5) out of the seven targets that were planned. The two targets that were not achieved related to the submission of the NSFAS updated guidelines for the implementation of the DHET bursary scheme guidelines for the poor and working-class students at universities for the Minister’s approval, and approval of the conceptual framework for the development of the three-year enrolment plan with differentiation in programme enrolment. The Committee welcomed the improved performance of the Department for the quarter under review despite the two targets that were not achieved due to circumstances beyond the Department’s control.

 

6. Recommendations

The Committee, having considered and deliberated on the 2020/21Third-Quarter performance report of the Department, recommends that the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation considers the following:

 

6.1. The Department presents to the Committee, the report of the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on Black Academics; the report of the MTT on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the Internationalisation Framework for Higher Education in South Africa and Language Policy for Higher Education.

  1.  

6.3.       The Department should find a long-term, definitive solution to funding the PSET system in response to the growing demand for education and training         opportunities.

6.4.       The funding model for the PSET sector should be reviewed so that more resources         could be allocated to the TVET and CET sectors.

6.5.       The Department working in collaboration with universities and TVET colleges should        develop a comprehensive strategy and plan for the enrolment process to mitigate against   recurring student protests during the beginning of the academic year, and the Committee be consulted in the planning process.

 

Report to be considered.

 

Documents

No related documents