The South African Council for Educators (SACE) today came under fire from Members of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education for the manner in which it conducted its business and for not receiving a clean audit from the Auditor-General.

The committee today engaged with SACE on its 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan (APP) and audit report, which was unqualified, but with several misstatements identified by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AG).

According to SACE, the misstatements identified in the audit report are being addressed through a SACE-approved remedial action plan and oversight process. Key elements of the remedial action include a review of overall organisational performance in light of the audit findings. The lessons learnt from the review will be used to enhance the APP 2021/2022 and to develop the 2022/2023 APP. A remedial action plan will also be developed and systems and processes will be improved to ensure credible and reliable performance information in line with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)/National Treasury frameworks.

The committee heard that 2020/21 performance declined by 12%, when compared with the previous year. Some of this can be attributed to the effect of Covid-19 disruptions in the schooling sector, which had a ripple effect on programme 3 (ethical standards) and programme 4 (professional development) in particular. Internal systems and processes were not adequate to mitigate the situation.

SACE also indicated that it did not reach its target of number of educators supported on professional matters during the 2020/2021 financial year. This programme also performed poorly, particularly in areas performance indicators, which deal with educators, mainly due to their unavailability and their focus on curriculum recovery with the little time that they had.

Committee Chairperson Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said SACE is not a big entity. “You cannot have books that are consistently not accurate. The AG cannot say you don’t submit documents.”

She also asked what SACE has done to prepare educators for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “There should be some value in it for them, for the money that they pay to you.”

SACE reported that, as in 2019/2020, the top three categories of professional and unethical misconduct cases against educators during the period under review are corporal punishment and assault, sexual misconduct, rape, indecent assault, sexual assault and sexual harassment, as well as verbal abuse or use of improper language, victimisation, harassment and defamation. 11 educators were removed indefinitely from the Register of Educators in 2020/2021. Five of these were for sexual misconduct, followed by two for severe assault of leaners.

The committee also received a briefing from the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) on its annual report for 2020/21. Umalusi received a clean/unqualified audit report with no material finding. The committee commended Umalusi for this performance.

Rajaa Azzakani
23 November 2021