South Africa: Basic Education Briefs Portfolio Committee On Jobs for Cash Progress

The Department of Basic Education, led by Minister Angie Motshekga, today gave the Portfolio Committee for Basic Education a very detailed progress report on the "Jobs for Cash Report". The Minister committed to bring the report back to Parliament once it was completed and she has done so in line with her commitment to her parliamentary obligations.

The Ministerial Task Team (MTT) submitted its report to the Minister and it was released publicly on 20 May 2016.

Due to the number of cases that were referred late, the MTT was further afforded an opportunity to continue with the forensic investigations on the outstanding and new allegations.

Subsequent to the release of the MTT Report:

the Cabinet was briefed on the report and its findings;

the Portfolio Committee was briefed on the actions to be taken to remedy the challenges emanating from the report; and

Presentations were made to both the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) and Heads of Education Committee (HEDCOM).

Due to the sensitive nature of the matter it was found appropriate to appoint a service provider to undertake the forensic investigation into possible irregular or criminal activities and to report to the Task Team on these investigations. The committee was informed that the contracted service provider had to be an Audit firm that had expertise in both auditing as well as HR matters within the government sector. After due process, Deloitte was appointed as the service provider.

The report made a number of findings and recommendations and the Department briefed the committee on the progress made in terms of implementing the recommendations of the MTT to date.

In cases where the MTT found there was possible criminal activity, these were referred to the Provincial Education Departments to open cases with the police.

The ELRC is in the process of reviewing and strengthening the appointment procedures contained in Collective Agreements. The department has also developed a policy that will see the introduction of Competency Assessment for School Principals. The Minister has gazetted the standards for principals on 18 March 2016, Gazette No. 39827.

During the oversight visit of the Minister and Director-General to all provinces, the importance of strict adherence to roles and responsibilities in recruitment policies was emphasised. Recruitment processes and procedures are being strengthened through legislation and policy amendments to ensure that only those with adequate qualifications and competencies can become principals.

In order to ensure those who are appointed to Districts and provincial offices demonstrate their capacity to carry out the job for which they have applied, the DBE is working with DHET, SACE, the Education Deans Forum and other stakeholders in the education sector towards the development of a professional standards framework for teachers. A SACE Advisory Group on professional standards has already been established to start this work.

The Director-General, Mr Mathanzima Mweli went into great detail to on the progress made in the investigation of each and every one of the 81 cases identified in the forensic audit.

The DBE has resolved to establish a Task Team that will follow up on all outstanding cases with the view of monitoring and supporting provinces to finalise them. This process is on-going and the DBE commits to keeping the public up to date on developments as they occur.

Kha Ri Gude

The DBE also briefed the portfolio committee on the successes and challenges of the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign for 2015. The campaign has reached over 4.2 million illiterate people since its inception in 2008. These are people who never had the right to an education under the Apartheid system and have been able to learn basic literacy and numeracy skills to empower them in their everyday lives.

The Kha Ri Gude campaign has almost reached its target of reaching 4.7 million people and the 2016/17 campaign, which started on the 1st of November 2016, will be the last year the campaign will run. The DBE reported that the campaign is seeing dwindling numbers in terms of registration, meaning that it has managed to reach the large numbers of people who were its intended target when the campaign was launched.

The committee also heard that the campaign was awarded the UNESCO literacy award due to the success of the Kha Ri Gude campaign. The committee congratulated the DBE for this achievement.

Source: Department of Basic Education.

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