Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Post Council of Education Ministers Meeting (CEM) Statement

The Council of Education Minister (CEM) met on Thursday in Pretoria. CEM received and considered a number of reports reflecting on the performance of the Basic Education Sector. Key among these was the report on the implementation on the National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA). This report included progress on the implementation on the recommendations of the Basic Education Sector Lekgotla which was held in January 2016. CEM also received a progress report on the implementation of the findings and recommendations of the Portfolio and Select Committees’ oversight visits. CEM was also informed that a Roundtable has been organised by the Portfolio Committee for 22 - 24 March 2016, and this will be attended by the Minister, Deputy Minister, MECs, DG, and PED HODs.

CEM discussed the report on the financial and non-financial performance of the sector and directed that HEDCOM should come up with measures to urgently deal with all areas of under-performance. CEM also received a report on District Excellence ‎Awards and capacity building programme. CEM was also informed of the Minister's receipt of the report on the selling of posts and the process which will be followed to process it.


CEM received the detailed report on the analysis of the 2015 NSC Examinations. The report inter alia reflected on some of the following key factors attributable to the drop in the overall percentage ‎pass rate in 2015 NSC results:

  • Increase in learner enrolment without the commensurate requisite resources. 
  • Increase in the number of progressed Learners. 
  • Increase in the papers cognitive demand in line with the Curriculum Assessment and Policy Statements ( CAPS)
  • The introduction of a very stringent and rigorous marking system.
CEM reaffirmed and appreciated the role played by Umalusi and undertook to support it and ensure its independence. The meeting was extremely appalled and disappointed with the article carried in the last Sunday Times paper on standardisation. This article reduced a very complex and extensive process involving well respected experts in South Africa to just an unwarranted exercise of the inflation of learner marks. This can only come from those who do not have an intimate understanding and appreciation of how large scale examinations are standardised and moderated throughout the world.

CEM made it clear that at no stage will they interfere in the work of UMALUSI by questioning or “investigating” their practices as incorrectly reported in the Sunday Times. There is no investigation into the standardisation decisions of UMALUSI, but the implementation of intervention strategies to improve the quality of teaching and learning across the system that will be driven by all managers at the different levels of the system.

The Department is committed to improving learner performance and therefore effective strategies will be implemented in future years to ensure that the factors the 2015 NSC results are appropriately mitigated. So the study of the standardisation report relates to understanding the factors that contributed to the drop in the performance and putting mechanisms in place across all levels of the system to ensure that performance improves despite the impeding contextual factors.

All Provincial MEC’s have committed to the process and have submitted comprehensive improvement strategies.

Infrastructure spending especially with respect to the Eastern Cape dominated this portion of the discussions. The meeting received a progress report on education infrastructure expenditure as well as progress made in addressing pertinent issues around school infrastructure delivery including the provision of basic services like water, sanitation and electricity and school furniture.

The MEC’s were taken through the reasons for a moving of Infrastructure grant funding from the Eastern Cape which is in a process of reviewing its infrastructure roll out plans as it embarks on a process of rationalising unviable small and multi-grade schools.

The Education Infrastructure Grant is a schedule 4 conditional grant that is transferred to Provincial Education Department (PEDs) to supplement funding for school infrastructure delivery. The DBE is the national transferring department as stated the Division of Revenue Act (DoRA) 2015. Over and above the transfer function, the DBE is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the grant. In performing this function DBE has to ensure that the necessary monitoring mechanisms are in place to execute delivery and that school infrastructure delivery is in line with national priorities. It further includes assessment of progress on projects on site and monitoring expenditure, but also to assess the overall infrastructure delivery environment in the respective provinces and suggest approaches that will increase the efficiency of delivering school infrastructure.

Section 19 (1) of the Division Of Revenue Act 2015 states, “The National Treasury may in its discretion or on request of a transferring officer or a receiving officer stop the transfer of a Schedule 4 or 5 allocation, or a portion thereof, to a province or municipality— (a) on the grounds of persistent and material non-compliance with this Act; (b) if the National Treasury anticipates that a province or municipality will substantially under-spend on the allocation, or any programme, partially or fully funded by the allocation, in the 2015/16 financial year”.

On that basis, an expenditure analysis is undertaken quarterly to determine expenditure trends and implement remedial measures. From the analysis, it was determined that the Eastern Cape would not spend the entire allocation before the end of the financial year 2015/16. It is on that basis that a portion of the allocation to the Eastern Cape was withheld.

Further, in terms of Section 20 of the Division of Revenue Act 2015; “When a Schedule 4 or 5 allocation or a portion thereof is stopped in terms of section 19(1)(a), (b) or (d), the National Treasury may, after consultation with the transferring officer and the relevant provincial treasury, determine the portion of the allocation to be reallocated, as the same type of allocation as it was allocated originally, to one or more provinces or municipalities”. It is on that basis that a decision was taken to reallocate the funds to provinces that exhibit the likelihood to overspend, thereby not able to pay service providers and contractors on time, which might have an adverse effect on the infrastructure programme. The provinces that were, from the analysis, identified as having a likelihood to overspend were Gauteng, Limpopo and Western Cape, and lists of projects to be funded from the re-allocated funds as an indication of their readiness to spend the funds before the end of the financial year were submitted to the DBE.

A Ministerial Task team consisting of the Eastern Cape Department of Education, the DBE, National Treasury, Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury, Eastern Cape Premiers Office has been established for EC DoE School Infrastructure Delivery to provide support on the current situation which will result in expediting expenditure for 2015/16 and to ensure that the projects for 2016/17 and 2017/18 are planned for and implemented according to best practices thus ensuring delivery of the much needed infrastructure.

These are infrastructure funds and the National Treasury and DBE will assist the Eastern Cape to ensure that the province improves its performance and is not adversely affected by the reallocation.


The meeting also received a report on the processes currently underway in remodelling National Assessments. The meeting noted progress reports on the Capability programme for district officials, guidelines for the recruitment and employment of foreign educators as well as the placement of Funza Lushaka graduates.

Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275
Troy Martens – 079 899 3070


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