ATC110413: Report on Briefing by Basic Education Department on Intervention to Eastern Cape Department of Education

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture



1.    Background and Overview

1.1. The Select Committee on Education and Recreation having considered the directive of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to consider and report on the intervention by the Department of Basic Education in the Eastern Cape Department of Education(ECDOE) reports to the House as follows:


2.    Introduction


2.1. On 17 March 2011, the Minister for Basic Education tabled a notice of intervention to the Eastern Cape Education Department in terms of Section 100 (1) (b) of the Constitution (Act 108 of 1996) to the National Council of Provinces. Subsequent to that, the notice of intervention was referred to the Select Committee on Education and Recreation for consideration and reporting in accordance with Rule 101. In compliance with the Council referral, the Select Committee had a briefing meeting on 23 March 2011 with the Department of Basic Education to consider the referred notice by the National Council of Provinces.


3.  Intervention to the Eastern Cape Education Department  


3.1. The Director-General of the Department of Basic Education made a presentation to the Select Committee on Education and Recreation. The presentation focused on the following: background of the intervention; scope and nature of the intervention and progress made since the date of the intervention.


3.2  According to the Director- General, the ECDOE has been plagued by many serious problems over the years and the manifestation of severe challenges has been a recurring problem.


3.3. The most recent challenges in the Eastern Cape Education Department have manifested themselves in the following areas:

·         Over-expenditure of the budget for compensation of employees, because the province failed over a number of years to effectively comply with policies and norms and standards related to Educator Post Provisioning. The problem has placed an enormous strain on the overall budget for education in the province and this has also impacted on the province's overall budget and spending trends;

·         Failure to provide textbooks and stationery to section 20 schools in the province due to poor management of the procurement process;

·         Sudden suspension of the scholar transport programme due to over-spending. The situation arose due to poor implementation of policy, 

·         Termination of the School Nutrition Programme (SNP) before the end of the financial year due to non-compliance with policy; poor management of the budget; and poor supply chain management processes, 

·         Failure to effectively implement the school infrastructure development programme. This has resulted in funding earmarked for school infrastructure being returned to the National Treasury.


      I.      It was noted that the serious problem of educator provisioning has been around for a number of years and, for all of this time, it has had a particularly adverse impact on budgeting and expenditure. In its current manifestation, this problem has plunged the ECDOE into an untenable situation. It was reported that the provincial department does not have the capacity and enabling conditions to mount an effective turnaround of these serious challenges.


     II.      Given the recurring nature of the problems in the ECDOE and based on the findings of various reviews, it is clear that the current high-profile problems are symptoms of serious underlying problems in the department. Any effort to bring about a sustainable turnaround of the department must effectively identify and remediate all of the critical and systemic underlying problems in the department.


   III.      It must be highlighted that there are many positive conditions and achievement for which the ECDOE should receive due recognition. The number of candidates in the 2010 NSC examination who qualified for admission to study for a bachelors degree increased from 13.9% in 2009 to 16% in 2010 - this on top of a 7% improvement in the overall result.

  IV.      It has the second highest percentage for Grade 1 learners who received formal Grade R - at 68%. The province performed better than four other provinces in the 2007 Systemic Evaluation. This confirms that certain parts of the system are working.


   V.      However, it has become clear that the overall conditions in education in the province amount to a serious challenge in terms of compliance with national policy, minimum norms and standards for education service delivery, the obligations arising from the Constitution, the National Education Policy, 1996 (Act No 27 of 1996); the South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act No.84 of 1996) and relevant regulations formulated in terms of these statutes.


  VI.      Following consultations with the Premier of Eastern Cape, Noxolo Kiviet and the MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula, the ruling party, coupled with the Education Ministry’s visit to the Eastern Cape on the 27th January 2011, all parties agreed that an intervention was required to remediate the situation faced by the Eastern Cape Department of Education.


VII.      In view of the seriousness of these challenges, the Minister of Basic Education, Ms A Motshekga was obliged, in terms of her statutory obligations to take the steps required to ensure a sustainable turnaround of basic education in the Eastern Cape Province.


VIII.      In pursuance of the above, the President directed the Minister of Basic Education to table the matter for discussion at the Cabinet meeting of 2 March 2011. The meeting of Cabinet resolved that the Minister of Basic Education would, in terms of Section 100 (1) (b) of The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996), assume responsibility for those obligations that the ECDOE have failed in achieving minimum standards of service delivery.


  IX.      Cabinet directed that Section 100 of the constitution be used in order to provide the required constitutional and legal authority for this intervention. Cabinet was of the view that this intervention should be implemented in the spirit of cooperative governance.


4.      Scope and nature of the intervention

 Section 100 (1) in Chapter 5 of the Constitution of Republic South Africa provides that:

When a province cannot or does not fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution or legislation, the national executive may intervene by taking any appropriate steps to ensure fulfilment of that obligation, including–

(a) issuing a directive to the provincial executive, describing the extent of the failure to fulfil its obligations and stating any steps required to meet its obligations; and

(b) assuming responsibility for the relevant obligation in that province to the extent necessary to-

(i)  maintain essential national standards or meet established minimum standards for the rendering of a service;

(iv) prevent that province from taking unreasonable action that is prejudicial to the interests of another  province or to the country as a whole.


      I.      The aims of the turnaround strategy are two-fold: firstly to stabilize the education system in the province in the short term and secondly to address decisively the administrative, management and systemic challenges over a longer period.


     II.      It was reported that the ministry remains convinced that the intervention must result in the creation of long-term capacity in the department and a sustainable turnaround of education service delivery in the province. This should include the creation of positive and sustainable changes at a systemic level to achieve efficiency and stability in the Provincial Department of Education.


   III.      It is therefore expected that the duration of the intervention will last for three to four years with an annual review to assess whether a continuation is necessary based on progress made against clearly defined targets.


  IV.      The key objectives of the intervention, amongst others, is to arrest and deal with immediate challenges in respect of appointments of teachers and allocation of teachers, to implement a credible Learner Performance Improvement Strategy and address underlying causes that impact on the efficiency and efficacy of the department with a particular focus on organisational performance, size and shape of education and also deal with root causes.


   V.      The department would review the financing, budgeting and resourcing of mandates with particular focus on addressing adequacy of funding, credibility of budget and expenditure management.


5.       Progress to date

      I.       In pursuance of this Cabinet decision, the Minister of Basic Education and the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, accompanied by the Director-General and senior officials of the Department of Basic Education visited the Eastern Cape Province on 2 and 3 March 2011.


     II.      Various meetings were conducted with the Premier, MEC for Education and senior officials of the ECDOE to explain and discuss the implications of the intervention. The delegation also met with other relevant stakeholders in the province to share the same information.


   III.      A media conference was convened by the Minister of Basic Education on 3 March 2011 in which a media statement, jointly prepared with the Premier and MEC, was released. The Premier, the MEC and the Superintendent-General for Education joined the Minister and Deputy Minister in this media conference.


  IV.      The DBE appointed a technical team comprising of senior officials to develop a problem analysis and draft intervention plan. The first draft of this plan was completed on 8 March 2011.


   V.      The Director-General of Basic Education led a seven-person technical team which held a meeting with senior officials of the ECDOE in East London on 10 March 2011.

  VI.      Deliberations at the meeting were very constructive and all senior officials of the ECDOE indicated that their earlier anxieties had been addressed and that they were happy to participate in the intervention.


VII.      As required in terms of Section 100 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996), a notice regarding this intervention was duly lodged with the NCOP within 14 days of the commencement of the intervention.


VIII.      The Minister of Basic Education held a meeting with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Service and Administration on the Section 100 intervention in the ECDOE on 14 March 2011. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Service and Administration agreed to actively support the intervention. The director-generals of the respective departments are working together to define the practical contributions of each department to the process.


  IX.      A framework for the intervention is in the final stages of development. This framework draws on the turnaround strategy formulated by the ECDOE senior management team.


   X.      A follow up visit will be conducted on 24 March to finalise the framework and to proceed with implementation.


  XI.      The framework will be used to formulate a protocol that will guide the content, processes, institutional mechanisms and definition of roles and responsibilities. The Minister will provide regular reports to Cabinet on progress.


XII.      The Eastern Cape Provincial Executive Committee will also receive regular briefings on progress.


XIII.      The Minister of Basic Education, the Eastern Cape Premier and the MEC for Education in the Eastern Cape Province will jointly exercise political oversight over the process.


6.        Recommendations


Having interacted with the Department of Basic Education, the Select Committee on Education and Recreation recommends as follows:   


  • The National Council of Provinces approves the intervention as issued by the Department of Basic Education in terms of section 100 (1) (b) of the Constitution.
  • The Department of Basic Education to give quarterly reports to the committee on the progress made in the Eastern Cape Education Department.
  • The Select Committee on Education and Recreation in collaboration with the standing committee in the provincial Legislature to undertake an oversight visit to Eastern Cape Department of Education once the National Council of Provinces has approved the said intervention.   


Report to be considered.


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