A joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture has raised concerns with the underfunding of the Council for Quality Assurance and Training (Umalusi).
The meeting heard that Umalusi has over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period in December 2019, experienced a budget cut of 2 percent, which means that there is a shortage of R7.07 million in its baseline allocation. "Quality assurance will bleed if the budget cuts are not confronted," Umalusi's Chief Executive officer, Dr Mafu Rakometsi, told the meeting. Umalusi and the Department of Basic Education is currently looking at alternative funding models.
The committees are concerned by Umalusi's high staff turn-over and the fact that Umalusi is unable to retain the high level of skills needed in the council. The committees were told that staff are lured to departments and entities that are able to offer more competitive salaries at a lower workload.
The committees also heard that Umalusi continues to engage the department on strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, but quality assurance will not be compromised by revising the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations set for Grade 12s. Dr Rakometsi highlighted the importance of maintaining education standards and said that Umalusi will not allow learners to be stigmatised for not having covered the full scope of work. The committees advised Umalusi to take cognisance of the psychological implications of Covid-19 for leaners and their ability to adjust during this period.
The committees are concerned by the stagnation in the provision and verification of certificates. In response to this, the committees were told that Umalusi is currently consulting education ministers about allowing certain functions, such as the verification and processing of certificates, to be allowed under lock-down level 4.
While satisfied with the view that Umalusi's annual performance plans targets will have to be adjusted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the committees stressed the importance of ensuring that Umalusi is well-funded and well-resourced in terms of human capabilities to ensure that quality assurance is maintained.
The committees are of the opinion that special attention should be given to outdated NATED programmes, which need to be revised. Attention also should be directed towards the shortage of education professionals to teach new qualifications, especially the new General Education Certificate (GEC), which is still to be rolled out.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON BASIC EDUCATION, MS BONGIWE MBINQO-GIGABA, AND THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND TECHNOLOGY, SPORTS, ARTS AND CULTURE, MR ELLECK NCHABELENG.