South Africa: Department Provides Clarity On Administration and Management System

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has disputed media reports saying that the latest version of the South African Administration and Management System (SA-SAMS) has not been released.

"The release has in fact taken place and schools are currently using the system to prepare reports for learners as the first term comes to an end tomorrow [Friday]," the department said in a statement on Thursday.

The department said it has made the software available to schools who are currently seized with the work of compiling learner records of performance, among other things.

The department said it needed to make some adjustments to the system, which include amongst others, the SA-SAMS version 21.1.1 which has been released and includes the 2021 Curriculum settings.

According to the department, the release differs from previous years, as it was developed in complete collaboration with relevant Policy Owners which include Curriculum, and Examination Assessment.

"The change of methodology in releasing SA-SAMS version 21.1.1 originated from the demand of correct and up-to-date data that could be sourced, using the SA-SAMS. Emanating from the revision of the Annual Teaching Plans (ATPs) and Programmes of Assessment (POAs) across all grades, and the associated amendments to Section 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), major amendments to the SA-SAMS programme were required for 2021.

"This version was therefore pending the submission of the 2021 subject assessment programme of GET [General Education and Training] and FET [Further Education and Training] subjects, including the verification thereof by the relevant Subject Specialists and Assessment officials, which has concluded," the department explained.

SA-SAMS is designed for the South African Education Sector and is maintained by the DBE, ensuring that it is aligned to education policies. It is freely provided to all school and aims to assist schools with their own school administration and reporting.

The department highlighted that SA-SAMS provides the only electronic platform to ensure efficient and standardised policy implementation and reporting across all provinces.

"The system is able to save on exorbitant resources for the sector by eliminating data duplication, since it is the source system to collect the National Senior Certificate (NSC) registration information.

SA-SAMS is updated quarterly with requests received from users and various policy owners.

"Changes are only included after consultation and recommendation from relevant governance structures, with representation from all Provincial Education Management and Information Systems (EMIS). The new version is only released after being tested by the Provincial Education Management and Information Systems (EMIS) sections as well as the relevant Policy Owners.

"Changes are audited by Internal Audit and the usage of SA-SAMS for reporting by schools, as well as the data submitted is audited annually by the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) as part of the audits of national systems," the department said.

Revision of Annual Teaching Plans

The department also noted that disruptions to schooling in 2020, emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated amendments to Section 4 of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), resulted in the revision of the Annual Teaching Plans (ATPs) and Programmes of Assessment (PoA), across all grades and all subjects for both 2020 and 2021.

One of the most significant additions to the PoA in 2021, is the inclusion of fixed weightings for all assessment tasks that are administered and this "will ensure consistency in the computation of School Based Assessment (SBA) marks across the various schools."

"This led to the need for major amendments to the South African School Administration and Management System programme for 2021. These amendments have a direct impact on the capturing of marks and the calculation of the SBA marks for all learners, as well as the quarterly reporting of the learner assessment results."

The department emphasised that the release of SA-SAMA will lay a foundation for the sector and assist schools to accurately report on learner performance. It will also ensure uniformity across the country.

The changes have now been captured on the SA-SAMS programme, and the Recovery Curriculum Programme will remain stable for next three years.

"A test version of 21.1.0 was found in the schools. Changes were done in response to verification and sign off by the subject specialists and therefore, the final release is renamed 21.1.1 to ensure that the correct version is run by the schools. Schools must ensure that this version is installed on their computers as this is a user friendly release," said the department.

More From: SAnews.gov.za

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