Implications and Impact of 2024 SONA; Updated Status Report on ECD Migration

Basic Education

27 February 2024
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


President Cyril Ramaphosa: 2024 State of the Nation Address (SONA)

The Committee met online to be briefed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on an analysis of the 2024 SONA and its impact on the basic education sector and for an update on the migration of Early Childhood Development (ECD) from social development to basic education. On the ECD migration, the DBE briefed the Committee on key priorities for the year, following up on matters from previous Committee meetings. The presentation discussed efforts to expand access to early learning programmes and outlined the Department's work since the President of the Republic of South Africa announced the function shift in 2019.

Members questioned the quality of reporting, failure of government's policy to screen and identify children with special education needs.

Members were concerned about the inadequate coverage of ECD subsidies, disparity in investment between ECD and higher grades and learner-to-teacher ratio. Members raised issues that arose from their study tour to Finland to study the country’s approach to ECD policies. Further concerns were raised about the timeframe for addressing significant ECD challenges, including infrastructure, such as pit latrines.

On the 2024 SONA analysis, the Department informed the Committee of the strategic priorities of the sector and progress made in meeting SONA announcements. The Department touched on discussing the African Union's Year of Education for 2024, outlining its vision and targeted outcomes, as well as key concerns such as out-of-school rates, learning poverty and teacher shortages across the continent. The presentation also covered progress in the basic education sector over the last five years, including improvements in access, redress, equity, quality, efficiency and inclusivity.

Meeting report

The Committee Secretariat, Mr Llewellyn Brown, greeted the Members, acknowledging the presence of the Chairperson, Members of the Portfolio Committee, the Director-General (DG) and officials from the Department of Basic Education (DBE). He then informed everyone that six Members were present in the meeting and offered to conduct a roll call.

The Chairperson, Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC), extended greetings to all attendees, noting the presence of the DG, officials from the DBE and Members who managed to join.

Apologies were received from the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga and the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule.

She then addressed the agenda, reminding Members of the rescheduled presentation on the Migration of Early Childhood Development (ECD) and the State of the Nation Address (SONA) implications and impact on Basic Education. She highlighted that both presentations were from the DBE and emphasised the importance of managing time while ensuring thoroughness in the presentations. She requested Members to adopt the agenda.

Mr R Moroatshehla (ANC) moved to adopt the agenda, and then Ms M Moroane (ANC) seconded the motion.

The Chairperson reminded Members about the Legacy Report, indicating that it should have been received the previous week. She urged Members to review the report, make any necessary additions, and send these for inclusion. Additionally, she mentioned considering recommendations for the forthcoming administration, aiming to streamline discussions for the next meeting. She requested members to complete these tasks throughout the week to facilitate a smooth process.

The Chairperson then passed the floor to the DG, Mr Hubert Mweli.

DBE opening remarks

Mr Hubert Mweli, Director-General, DBE, discussed the ongoing 14th policy dialogue of the Teacher Task Force, hosted by South Africa's Minister and attended by dignitaries from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and various global ministers and deputy ministers. The dialogue focused on addressing teacher shortages to meet Sustainable Development Goal 4C (SDG 4.C), emphasising conditions, retention and attraction of teachers. He mentioned that the African National Congress (ANC) manifesto declared 2024 as the year of education.

Mr Mweli outlined the agenda for their presentation, highlighting progress in ECD and the analysis of the SONA. He explained the shift in responsibility for basic education to the nine provincial education departments and their progress in implementing a new delivery model.

He mentioned ongoing efforts to gather comprehensive data on ECD and the importance of distinguishing it from social development initiatives. He also touched upon the upcoming African Union (AU) event on skills and competencies for a changing world, aligning with UNESCO’s Education 2030 and the African Agenda 2063.

Concluding his remarks, Mr Mweli introduced Ms Geyer, who was to lead the team in presenting on ECD and Mr Padayachee for the analysis of the SONA. He then handed over the floor to them to commence the presentations.

Status Report on Early Childhood Development Migration

Ms Simone Geyer, Deputy Director-General: Planning and Delivery Oversight (DDG: PDO), DBE, said Dr Kotzé was doing the presentation. She highlighted that much has been done in the ECD since the DBE took over. However, the presentation would provide more information thereof.

Dr Janeli Kotzé, Acting Director: Early Childhood Development (AD: ECD), DBE, began by outlining the significance of ECD, emphasising the importance of providing the right foundations for children to thrive. Dr Kotzé highlighted key priorities for 2024, addressing questions from the previous Portfolio Committee meeting. She stressed the urgency of investing in ECD to secure a prosperous future for the country.

Dr Kotzé discussed efforts to expand access to early learning programmes and outlined the Department's work since the President of the Republic of South Africa announced the function shift in 2019. She explained that the shift transferred responsibility for ECD to the DBE but clarified that it did not mean ECD programmes were moving to schools. Dr Kotzé detailed plans to implement a new service delivery model and launch a results-based financing initiative.

She noted the President's recent SONA, which underscored the importance of expanding ECD efforts and enhancing cooperative governance. Dr Kotzé concluded by stressing the need for cooperation, collaboration, and coordination to ensure equitable access to early learning opportunities and foster inclusive economic growth.

See attached for full presentation

Analysis, Implications and Impact of the President’s 2024 SONA

Mr Paddy Padayachee, Deputy Director-General: Planning, Quality Assessment and Monitoring and Evaluation (DDG: PQAME), DBE, highlighted the additional slides to be presented by Dr Stephen Taylor, focusing on analysis, impacts, and implications, including suggestions for the future.

Dr Stephen Taylor, Director: Research, Monitoring and Evaluation (D: RME), DBE, outlined the purpose of the presentation, providing background information on strategic priorities within the sector derived from various mandates and plans. Dr Taylor then proceeded to discuss progress made in the sector over the previous five years, noting a focus on achievements of the current administration in this year's SONA, rather than new announcements. He further analysed the SONA, comparing it to previous speeches and assessing progress against previous commitments. Looking ahead, he identified urgent priorities for the next five years.

Dr Taylor continued by discussing the African Union's Year of Education for 2024, outlining its vision and targeted outcomes, as well as key concerns such as out-of-school rates, learning poverty and teacher shortages across the continent.

The presentation also covered progress in the basic education sector over the last five years, including improvements in access, redress, equity, quality, efficiency and inclusivity. Dr Taylor highlighted trends in learning outcomes, throughput rates, access for children with special educational needs and efforts to promote social cohesion and safety in schools. He summarised recent achievements, including matric results and developments in ECD and the Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) rollout.

The presentation provided an analysis of the SONA's implications for basic education, offering suggestions for implementing the commitments made. Dr Taylor expressed anticipation for further discussions on the topic.

See attached for full presentation


Ms M van Zyl (DA) said it was important to highlight several concerns regarding progress in the schooling system. Referring to recent presentations, she noted South Africa's improvement in international standardised assessments but raised concerns about the lack of accurate reporting on teacher knowledge levels, highlighting that many teachers achieve results below 50%, with 41% in math and 37% in reading subjects. She emphasised the disadvantage this places on learners, particularly in terms of equity and inclusivity, pointing out shortcomings in the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) and failures to address hunger among children.

Ms van Zyl further discussed the failure of government's policy to screen and identify children with special education needs, citing examples of schools in Limpopo struggling with insufficient support staff and inadequate resources for learners with disabilities. She highlighted specific cases of neglect, including shortages of house mothers and essential medical equipment in schools catering to deaf and blind children.

Regarding ECD, Ms van Zyl raised concerns about the inadequate coverage of ECD subsidies, leaving over half a million children without support. She shared a personal experience visiting a school in the Eastern Cape, run by a dedicated individual but lacking basic facilities and resources. She urged the Department to provide a comprehensive plan to address these issues, emphasising that despite government policies and statements, many schools continue to lack basic necessities such as flushing toilets, face overcrowding and are unsafe for learners. She concluded by asserting that government is not doing enough to address these challenges.

Ms D van der Walt (DA) raised two main points, both related to ECD. Firstly, she highlighted the disparity in investment between ECD and higher grades, emphasising the critical importance of ECD in cognitive development. She questioned the allocation of funds, suggesting that more investment should be directed towards the foundational stages of learning, particularly considering the disadvantaged backgrounds many children come from.

Secondly, Ms van der Walt addressed the learner-to-teacher ratio, noting that a lower ratio is essential for healthy academic development. She inquired about the current average ratio and proposed measures to reduce it, ensuring better quality education outcomes.

Additionally, Ms van Der Walt emphasised the importance of mother tongue language instruction, commending the Minister's focus on this aspect during the matric results announcement. However, she stressed the need for concrete plans and presentations outlining how this initiative will be implemented, including details on logistics, timing and costs, to enhance reading comprehension and mathematical understanding.

In conclusion, Ms van Der Walt reiterated her two points regarding the need for increased investment in ECD and efforts to lower the learner-to-teacher ratio, along with a comprehensive plan for mother tongue language instruction.

Mr B Nodada (DA) began his remarks by acknowledging the commendable vision presented for ECD, emphasising its crucial role in preparing children for future participation in the economy. He mentioned his recent visit to Finland to study their approach to ECD policies. He highlighted feedback received regarding the fragmented nature of ECD in South Africa, lacking a comprehensive curriculum and professionalisation.

Mr Nodada expressed concern about the timeframe for addressing ECD challenges, stressing the need for immediate short-term goals alongside long-term plans. He then posed a series of questions regarding the registration process for ECD centres, minimum norms and standards, collaboration with other departments and budgetary allocations for nutrition and infrastructure.

He highlighted significant challenges facing the ECD sector, including infrastructure, nutrition, programme quality, teacher training, institutional capacity, and funding. Mr Nodada questioned how these challenges are being mitigated and emphasised the importance of addressing them promptly.

Additionally, he inquired about the qualifications and training of ECD practitioners, support for learners with special needs, and the development of formal curriculum frameworks for pre-primary education. Mr Nodada stressed the urgency of improving early learning and reading outcomes, advocating for dedicated strategies to address reading comprehension issues among children.

Further, Mr Nodada raised questions about the allocation of Funza Lushaka bursaries, particularly regarding the focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI) subjects to assist the DBE. He concluded by asking whether the DBE is on track to eradicate pit toilets in schools in the 2024/25 financial year and requested specific data on the current number of schools with pit toilets.

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) raised several questions regarding the oversight of the Children's Amendment Bill (CAB) of 2023, inquiring about the role of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education if the Bill falls under the Department of Social Development (DSD). Ms Sukers highlighted the omission of ECD clauses in the previous CAB due to timing constraints and sought clarification on whether these clauses would be included in the new Bill.

Further, Ms Sukers questioned the practical implementation of a unique South African programme, emphasising the need for pilot projects and research to assess its effectiveness. She also inquired about the identity of the social signal partners mentioned and stressed the importance of involving stakeholders in policy development.

Regarding ECD, Ms Sukers emphasised the need for engagement structures involving government departments, civil society and ECD operators. She urged consideration of inputs from public hearings on the CAB held across the nine provinces.

Ms Sukers also sought clarity on establishing formal engagement structures for the National Protocol for Assessment (NAPA) and raised concerns about the imposition of an ECD curriculum on all centres, including those with alternative curricula. Additionally, she questioned the mandatory inclusion of gender education in schools and its alignment with the compulsory curriculum.

Regarding improvements in the schooling system, Ms Sukers urged an evaluation of their cost-effectiveness compared to other countries. She mentioned an upcoming march by Mothers of the City –  related to the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill and violence issues in the Cape Flats areas.

Lastly, Ms Sukers emphasised the need for measures to address current challenges impacting children, particularly in terms of security, safety and violence. She highlighted the shortage of social workers in schools and called for practical commitments to ensure children's well-being.

Mr R Moroatshehla (ANC) commended the DBE for consistently meeting the Committee’s briefing requests and acknowledged the challenges inherited from the apartheid regime. He said that Mr Nodada needed to be aware that years of apartheid had caused a lot of damage – that it could not be reversed in a short period of 30 years. Mr Moroatshehla urged collaboration across party lines to improve education and criticised the opposition for hindering progress, citing the BELA appeal as an example. He emphasised the need to prioritise education over politics.

Mr Moroatshehla then posed several questions to the DBE:

  • What capacity is needed to improve access to ECD?
  • What creative methods can increase ECD provision in communities?
  • How will the new delivery model accommodate children's digital literacy, considering their advanced use of technology?
  • How will ECD practitioner standards be raised through quality training?
  • What tools will expose children to technological advancements and changing global dynamics?
  • How does language impact child development and what is the Department's approach to language policy?

Lastly, Mr Moroatshehla touched on infrastructure challenges and suggested seeking additional funding from the Ministry of Finance. He proposed expanding religious and social facilities and inquired about the Department's engagement with stakeholders and partners.

Ms M Moroane (ANC) raised several questions regarding ECD:

  • She requested a detailed report from the DBE on the number of Early Childhood Education centres in each province and the number of learners aged three to five that each centre caters to.
  • Ms Moroane inquired whether the DBE provides scholar transport to ensure easier access to educational centres for young children who cannot walk long distances.
  • Lastly, she questioned why only five provinces receive subsidies from the DBE and when the DBE plans to support and monitor the other provinces.

Ms N Adoons (ANC) commended the reports presented during the meeting. She acknowledged the progress made in the ECD migration update but raised concerns about the slow pace of ECD registration across the country. Ms Adoons highlighted issues such as overcrowding and inadequate facilities in some areas, emphasising the need for improvement. She mentioned an upcoming registration drive but was disconnected before completing her statement.

In Ms Adoons' absence, the Chairperson continued the meeting, expressing the need to proceed while awaiting her return. She commended the DBE for their presentations and progress, with a particular focus on ECD matters. Reflecting on an oversight visit to the Butterworth High School in the Eastern Cape, she raised concerns about inadequate facilities for ECD classes within the school, which caters to learners from Grade 1 to Grade 12. The Chairperson highlighted that the situation was far from ideal, noting that the ECD centre did not resemble a typical kindergarten, lacked essential facilities such as toilets, and lacked scholar transport services. She questioned the readiness and feasibility of the migration process, acknowledging the DBE's efforts while also raising critical questions about the rationale behind establishing such a school in the central business district (CBD), catering to rural learners without addressing scholar transport needs.

The Chairperson inquired about plans to accommodate learners with special needs and emphasised the importance of training practitioners and establishing supportive institutions for ECD development. She underscored the challenges facing ECD centers, including infrastructure, sanitation and scholar transport, emphasising the need to address these issues to ensure young learners' readiness.

Regarding infrastructure challenges, the Chairperson highlighted overcrowding in some schools and questioned the DBE's monitoring and support mechanisms. She drew attention to the disparities in infrastructure and performance between schools with ample space and underperforming schools, urging the Department to address these discrepancies.

Regarding pit toilets, the Chairperson emphasised the importance of modernised and safe sanitation facilities, particularly in areas with water scarcity. She questioned the DBE's approach to addressing this issue and stressed the need for clean and appropriate facilities for all learners. Additionally, she raised concerns about overpricing in infrastructure projects and called for action plans to regulate prices and hold project managers and constructors accountable.

Regarding implementing information communication technology (ICT) in rural areas, the Chairperson inquired about the progress and challenges faced. She emphasised the importance of bridging the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to technology in all areas.

Ms Adoons raised inquiries about the registration drive for ECD centres, questioning the progress and timeline for completion. She emphasised the potential impact of this registration drive on improving learning and teaching outcomes and sought clarification on any set timeframes for registering ECDs.

Ms Adoons also underscored the importance of coupling ECD practitioner registration with teacher development, inquiring about the current status and timeline for developing practitioners to teach at a competitive international level. She expressed confidence that the Committee would receive further information as the Department continues with the registration drive.

Addressing infrastructure challenges, Ms Adoons highlighted the impact of overcrowding on teachers and learners, citing an example of an overcrowded Grade 1 classroom in North West. She noted the discrepancy in performance between overcrowded and less crowded schools, emphasising the need to ensure a balance in addressing this issue. Ms Adoons remarked on the role of parents in choosing schools based on performance, noting observations made in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. She acknowledged teachers' efforts to provide quality education despite challenges but criticised provincial districts for inadequate monitoring of schools. Ms Adoons also raised concerns about nonviable schools in certain areas and socio-economic factors contributing to resistance against school closures.

Regarding eradicating pit toilets, Ms Adoons questioned how the Department plans to address the issue, particularly in areas with water scarcity. She emphasised the need for balanced reporting and suggested designating someone within the Department to oversee this matter.

In discussing comparisons with other countries, Ms Adoons highlighted the enduring challenges of inequality in South Africa, particularly referencing the injustices of the apartheid era. She contrasted Finland's lack of experience with inequality to South Africa's ongoing struggles, criticising the portrayal of the Western Cape as a model of governance despite persistent service delivery issues. Ms Adoons became emotional when discussing apartheid and the struggles faced by Black South Africans, urging political parties to prioritise national interests over differences and echoing recent calls by the ANC leadership to invest in education and address societal inequalities. She did mention that an ANC-led South Africa would be like Finland after 70 years.


Dr Mweli, acknowledged the unique nature of the Portfolio Committee meeting, noting its diverse composition and history of productive engagement. He expressed appreciation for the Committee's commitment to a multi-party forum, contrasting it with the dynamics of the present meeting. Despite any perceived differences, he proceeded to address the questions at hand.

The Chairperson interjected, attributing any deviations in the meeting's atmosphere to election fever, acknowledging the heightened political climate surrounding the upcoming elections.

Dr Mweli addressed the concerns raised, starting with measures to tackle overpricing of infrastructure projects. He explained that the government dictates prices to contractors, similar to practices in countries like China. The aim is to ensure affordability and prevent overpricing. He highlighted the importance of negotiating prices in line with what the government can afford and emphasised that infrastructure projects, particularly sanitation, are not overpriced.

Regarding ICT implementation in schools, Dr Mweli outlined the collaboration with the Department of Communication and Digital Technology (DCDT) to provide connectivity. He explained that network operators are obligated to connect schools as part of their licensing agreements, with schools eventually bearing the cost over time. He stressed the need for adequate funding and maintenance of infrastructure.

Regarding solar commitments, Dr Mweli stated that these commitments are discussed at various levels before being included in official addresses like the SONA. However, he acknowledged challenges due to budget cuts, which affect project implementation and completion. He highlighted the difficulty of reversing commitments once projects are underway.

Dr Mweli acknowledged the need for age-appropriate facilities in schools, especially regarding toilets. He mentioned challenges such as bullying and emphasised the importance of creating safe environments for learners.

Addressing plans for learners with special educational needs in ECD centres, Dr Mweli emphasised the importance of accessibility and support. He discussed transitioning from institution-based to programme-based ECD models, citing examples from other countries like Cuba. He stressed the need for quality programmes and access to support services for learners with special needs.

Dr Mweli said he advocates for honesty regarding the successes and weaknesses in education. He referenced Dr Taylor's research-based approach and emphasised the importance of evidence-based decision-making. He highlighted external indicators as measures of progress and stressed the need for continuous improvement based on objective assessments.

Dr Mweli addressed various issues and concerns raised during the meeting. During his observation of Butterworth High School, he expressed his intention to visit the school personally to assess the situation. Regarding comparisons between countries, he emphasised the importance of relying on expert opinions rather than personal comparisons, acknowledging the complexity of such evaluations.

On the eradication of pit toilets, Dr Mweli explained the challenges of water scarcity in South Africa and mentioned approved alternative solutions by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for safe sanitation facilities without running water.

Concerning the closure of unviable schools, he highlighted the trend of depopulation in certain areas due to people moving to areas with economic opportunities, resulting in some schools closing down. Regarding overcrowding in schools, Dr Mweli discussed efforts to address the issue, including discussions with the Minister of Finance to allocate funds for addressing overcrowding. Progress on teacher development in ECD was also discussed, with mentions of improvements in teacher qualifications, particularly in the Grade R sector and ongoing registration drives for ECD programmes.

On the language policy in education, Dr Mweli emphasised the importance of mother tongue-based bilingual education as part of the broader language policy outlined in the National Education Policy Framework (NEPF). Concerning skills development for a changing world, he discussed the role of ICT and collaboration with industries to provide modern workshops for skills development. Regarding access to ECD, Dr Mweli stressed the importance of preserving existing structures while making necessary improvements to ensure accessibility.

Concerning funding for ECD, he acknowledged funding challenges and mentioned that the team could provide more specific figures. On the CAB, Dr Mweli discussed the transfer of responsibility for the Bill to the Portfolio Committee for Basic Education and the need for clarification on the next steps, including public comments. Regarding the eradication of pit toilets, he provided an update on the progress of the eradication plan and highlighted challenges due to budget cuts and unreliable data from provinces.

Regarding the shortage of teachers, Dr Mweli discussed efforts to address shortages through initiatives focusing on specific areas and subjects like mathematics, science, and technology (MST).

On the provision of meals in schools, he mentioned the need to obtain specific information from relevant sources regarding the number of schools providing meals. Regarding the formal curriculum for zero to four-year-olds, Dr Mweli expressed disappointment at the lack of awareness about the existing national curriculum framework for this age group and emphasised the importance of following it effectively.

Dr Mweli emphasised the existence of a curriculum for ECD that was developed eight years ago and has been followed since. Regarding the qualifications of ECD practitioners, improvements were seen in Grade R, but more information is needed for the zero to four-year-old age group. He clarified that there is no allocation for ECD transport, but there is a small initial amount for infrastructure, with a focus on maintenance due to ageing infrastructure.

Dr Mweli addressed various topics, such as identifying challenges in teaching, the budget for ECD, support for teacher training, partnerships with other departments, registration requirements, short-term goals and literacy challenges among ten-year-olds. He stressed the importance of mother tongue-based bilingual education and clarified misconceptions about benchmarking with other countries.

Responding to concerns about government efforts, Dr Mweli defended the commitment of officials despite existing challenges. He acknowledged issues such as schools without flushing toilets and children without subsidies for ECD centres, highlighting ongoing efforts to address these issues through mass registration drives.

Regarding learners with special education needs, Dr Mweli emphasised prioritisation and support for their requirements, including facilities and support staff. He concluded by inviting other officials to provide additional information and thanked the Committee for their patience in addressing the numerous questions.

Ms Geyer expressed appreciation for Dr Mweli's comprehensive responses and focused on addressing qualifications in the ECD space. She highlighted the challenge of practitioners lacking formal qualifications and outlined plans to develop short learning programmes to upgrade their skills. The goal is to provide opportunities for those working in the field to gain recognition and accreditation for their experience through these programmes.

In terms of early identification of health needs in ECD centres, Ms Geyer emphasised the importance of recognising and addressing challenges early on. She discussed potential partnerships with organisations like Lego to provide stimulating materials for children with identified needs.

Regarding nutrition in ECD, Ms Geyer mentioned plans to extend the nutrition programme into this space, acknowledging the different nutritional needs of young learners aged zero to four compared to school-age children. This extension would require adjustments to the grant allocation to accommodate specific menus and requirements.

Ms Kulula Manona, Chief Director: Foundations for Learning (CD: FL), DBE, delved deeper into the issue of registration in the ECD sector, highlighting barriers that limit children's access to ECD centers and subsidies. Ms Manona mentioned an increase in funding, with an additional R240 million allocated for the current year and a plan to more than double this amount in the following financial year (2025/26).

She explained that the registration drive aims to address these barriers by amending norms and standards, engaging with municipalities, and providing registration packs for ECD programmes. Ms Manona emphasised that subsidies are available in all provinces, but not every child is eligible, prompting efforts to increase accessibility.

Ms Manona outlined plans for a nationwide scaling-up of the registration drive, starting in April and involving district directors to localise services and ensure adequate resources.

Dr Kotzé addressed the Members, acknowledging the correct observation regarding the CAB introduced by the DSD in 2019. This Bill initially included sections related to ECD, but due to a function shift, it was decided not to proceed with the equity sections, as this responsibility now falls under the Minister of Basic Education. Therefore, the Portfolio Committee for Basic Education is tasked with leading those sections, hence the need for a completely new bill.

Dr Kotzé explained that the advantage of starting afresh with a new bill is that it aligns 100% with the vision of ECD, building on feedback received during public consultations. Many concerns raised during these consultations, particularly regarding registration, have informed the development of the new Bill and the ongoing registration drive.

The new Bill will amend Chapter Six of the Children's Act 38 of 2005, which falls under the responsibility of the Minister of Basic Education, thus requiring the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education to take the lead. Dr Kotzé emphasised that the new Bill addresses these concerns by providing permanent solutions to complex issues. She concluded by noting that the amendments are extensive, resulting in a significantly different Bill from the previous version.

Dr Taylor provided some brief clarifications to the Members. Regarding the challenge of teacher content knowledge highlighted in the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) surveys, there has been some improvement between 2007 and 2013, particularly among younger teachers, indicating progress with new entrants to the profession.

Addressing a comment about potentially manipulating statistics to present improvement falsely, Dr Taylor emphasised that while the journey to improve reading outcomes is long-term and the COVID-19 pandemic posed setbacks, there have been clear improvements over time. International assessments such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) have shown improved average scores in South Africa since 2002, coinciding with increased access to schooling, which he views as a significant achievement.

Lastly, Dr Taylor touched on the question about the percentage of three to five-year-olds attending education, stating that this data is tracked and reported using the General Household Survey data, which is publicly available on the DBE website. This transparency ensures clarity regarding the attendance rates of children in this age group.

Mr Mweli offered to provide (in writing) any additional information if needed, regarding the number of pit toilets and other information not covered in the responses.

The Chairperson thanked the DG and the team for their comprehensive responses, noting that the DBE officials had addressed the questions satisfactorily. She mentioned upcoming matters, including sessions with the Human Rights Commission and the Legacy Report, expressing anticipation for future engagements with the Department in March during the budget process.

The officials were released from the meeting.

Committee Minutes

Minutes dated 20 February 2024

Mr T Letsie (ANC) moved to adopt the minutes, with Ms Adoons seconding the motion.

Following this, the meeting transitioned to a closed session, with only Members who were present in Finland participating.


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