South Africa: Minister Angie Motshekga Addresses Portfolio Committee On Priority Matters of the Education Sector

The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga has addressed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and gave an update on a wide range of issues raised by parliamentarians. The Minister reported to the committee on school evaluations, the licensing of teachers and the criteria for the appointment of NSC examination markers among other issues.

One of the questions raised was a request by DA MP Gavin Davis for the Minister give an update on where the DBE is with regards to releasing the “Jobs For Cash” report.

The Minister outlined the process going forward as advised by DBE lawyers and reassured the committee that she was processing the report and that it will be released as is indicated on the 6th May 2016. The Minister agreed that once the report was released publically the Portfolio Committee would get a detailed briefing and could then discuss the report in the Education Portfolio Committee.

The MP’s welcomed the Minister’s commitment to bringing the report to Parliament and that she has agreed to table the report in its original format.

Criteria for the appointment of markers for National Senior Certificate examination papers

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has not excluded from its considerations for the future the testing of matric markers. The DBE is committed to ensuring that the most competent educators are appointed for the marking process and, therefore, this option will be pursued based on more extensive consultation with the teacher formations that are vital to the success of this initiative.

The competency test is only but one measure to improve the quality of marking. The department is embarking on a whole range of initiatives to improve the accuracy and reliability of marking for which Umalusi has commended the department. These include looking at the marks teachers who are considered for marking obtain in their schools as well as comprehensive training. Each Province has stringent criteria on the appointment of markers and it was noted that the quality of markers have improved to such a degree that UMALUSI commended the DBE for the improvements in the quality of markers.

School evaluations

The question raised by the committee was if there would be an introduction of school inspectors in the system. The Minister briefed the committee on the school evaluation system that is currently in place across the system.

On such mechanism is NEEDU. The purpose of NEEDU is to assist in the creation of a quality basic education system through the establishment of a countrywide credible, sustainable and holistic performance review system which focuses systemically on the state of teaching and learning in classrooms, and on the monitoring, administration and support functions at school, provincial and national levels.

NEEDU is tasked with identifying, on a system-wide basis, the factors that inhibit or advance school improvement. The team analyses and identifies approaches and strategies necessary for achieving equality in the provision of quality education.

The bulk of NEEDU’s work involves the evaluation of schools, including the support provided to schools, school governing bodies, professional managements and educators by the provincial and national departments. Based on these evaluations, NEEDU has reported to the schools, district offices, and provincial offices evaluated, as well as to the Minister to assist the Department in remedying shortcomings in educational practice; eliminating barriers to quality education; emulating examples of good practice; developing the knowledge and professional capacity of educators; and improving the support provided to schools.

NEEDU is being established as an independent government component, and will be known as the Office of Standards and Compliance for Basic Education (OSCBE). This means that this Unit will monitor or inspect how the system as a whole, from the national office to schools, comply with certain standards. OSCBE, will not only function as school inspectors but will play a broader role of monitoring compliance at a systemic level.

The main arguments for establishing the unit as an independent OSCBE, as opposed to traditional “school inspectors,” whose functions are narrowly defined, are two-fold. First, an OSCBE which is independent of all institutions responsible for the delivery of schooling has more space to be objective in its judgements concerning the quality of teaching and learning and adherence to regulatory norms on the part of educators and institutions. Consequently, reports of such an independent OSCBE will be more credible, both to the general public and to management structures within the system.

The second advantage of establishing an evaluation OSCBE outside the system is that, from this vantage point, it is able to evaluate all four levels of schooling, from the national DBE, through the provinces and districts, down to individual schools. No unit that is part of the system is able to stand outside the system in this way, in order to assess how the different parts fit together in enabling or constraining quality teaching and learning.

Performance-related pay and incentives for educators

Teachers have a performance management system – the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) which can be used for the determination of incentives and performance related pay. Presently, teachers receive performance related pay progression of 1% per annum.

Collective Agreement 1 of 2008 of the Education Labour Relations Council provided a mechanism where teachers would be incentivised to remain teaching by providing them with accelerated pay progression; however, this was abandoned in Collective Agreement number 4 of 2009.

In order to address the performance-related pay and incentives for teachers as called for in the NDP, the President established the Presidential Remuneration Review Commission in August 2013.

The commission is tasked to investigate remuneration and conditions of service in the public service and public entities listed in Schedule 3A and 3C of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999) (PFMA), with the remuneration of educators receiving priority attention.

The Department has submitted its inputs to the Presidential Remuneration Review Commission which will release its report to the President in August 2017.

Licensing of Teachers

The committee welcomed the DBE’s report on the process towards the professionalisation of the teaching profession through the licensing of teacher. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is working with the South African Council for Educators (SACE) to professionalise teaching through standard setting and the strengthening of the induction of new teachers. The proposal is to provide newly qualified teachers with provisional registration and to require them to meet teacher professional standards upon completion of an introductory three year programme in order to obtain full registration.

Many of the questions raised in the committee are issues that are currently being processed by the DBE and are at varying degrees of process. Some of the matters raised by the committee were suggestions by various MP’s. These have been noted by the DBE.

Source: Department of Basic Education