Newsletter 272 - Reports on School & General - The Auditor-General of SA - PART 5

Auditor-General’s Report on Education district (2014/2015)

  1. “It is widely recognized that the country’s schooling system performs well below its potential and that improving basic education outcomes is a prerequisite for the country’s long-range development goals.
  2. Improved education will increase the skills and life chances of all South Africans.
  3. The education service delivery chain consists of a number of role-players who together strive to improve education.
  4. While schools are the main mechanism for delivering quality teaching and learning, support from the Department of Basic Education, provincial education departments and education districts are essential to ensure the effective delivery of quality education.
  5. The poor quality of teaching and learning in South African schools is caused by poor school leadership from principals and
  6. The lack of curriculum interventions to assist teachers improve their teaching skills and subject knowledge.
  7. Education districts are accountable to provide both the principals and teachers with the required support and to monitor whether the support provided is put into practice to improve the schools performance. 
  8. Poor curriculum support by education districts was selected as an audit topic.”

South African research on Districts has repeatedly found that along the supply-chain Education Districts have failed our schools and teachers.

Transversal performance audit on the guidance provided and implemented to ensure that education districts provide efficient and effective curriculum support, training and monitoring to schools to improve the quality of education

Objectives, Criteria and Researchable questions

1. Overall audit question

Did the national department provide guidance in time, and did provincial education departments implement the guidance economically to ensure that education districts delivered efficient and effective curriculum support, training and monitoring to schools to improve the quality of education?

2. Audit Objectives

To determine whether:

2.1 education districts implemented formally approved, policies, guidelines and strategy.

2.2 education districts had the resources (financial, physical and skilled human resources) to provide curriculum support to principals and educators.

2.3 education districts’ training, monitoring and support improved the educational outcomes at schools.

2.4 the provincial education departments effectively monitored and supported the education districts’ performance.  

3. Audit Criteria

3.1 Policy, guidelines, strategy and planning

3.1.1 The national department should develop, approve and communicate national policies and guidelines in a timely manner that clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of education districts.

3.1.2 The national department should provide support to PEDs to ensure that its national policies and guidelines are effectively implemented.

3.1.3 PEDs should develop, approve, communicate and implement approved provincial policies and guidelines that are aligned to national policies and guidelines to education districts and schools in a timely manner.

3.1.4 PEDs should develop, approve and implement a roll-out strategy and operational plan which includes the determination of the optimal education district sizes, boundaries and structures as well as the objectives and activities of education districts.

3.1.5 Delegated authority, roles, relationships and lines of accountability of provincial head offices, district offices and schools should be clearly formulated, understood and exercised.

3.1.6 Education districts should communicate their roles and responsibilities to schools in a clear and timely manner to create awareness regarding the allocated roles and responsibilities of education districts.

3.1.7 Education districts should implement job descriptions that clearly stipulate the roles, functions and responsibilities of district officials.

3.1.8 Education districts should determine areas of improvement, and craft and implement a District Implementation/development Plan (DIP). Education districts should incorporate School Improvement/development Plans (SIP) into their DIP. This should be used as a basis to plan and deliver professional development training and other required interventions (e.g. school visits to monitor, support and evaluate policy implementation) during the school year.

3.1.9 Education districts should follow a formal process to identify training needs at schools. These training needs should be included in a formal training plan that addresses the needs of all schools.

3.2 Enabling resources

3.2.1 PEDs should determine and implement the organisational structure required by education districts to effectively deliver curriculum support, training and monitoring to schools.

3.2.2 Sufficient education district officials with knowledge and skills should be appointed to ensure that curriculum support, training and monitoring are effectively delivered to schools.

3.2.3 Education district officials should continuously receive job-related training to meet the necessary skills required to provide curriculum support and oversight.

3.2.4 Sufficient funding should be available to enable education districts to provide the required curriculum support and oversight to schools.

3.2.5 Education districts should have the physical resources, which includes vehicles and computers, at their disposal to effectively provide curriculum support, training and monitoring.

3.3 Training, monitoring, support and supervision of schools by education districts

3.3.1 Continuous and punctual training and development should be provided in the most economical way.

3.3.2 Relevant and reliable management information should continuously be available to enable district officials to assess whether the education districts’ curriculum support, training and monitoring were effective. The progress of learners should also be monitored by reviewing the results of ANA and/or other internal assessments for schools in their area.

3.3.3 Education districts should support and assist schools that underperformed by recommending remedial action and monitoring the progress made.

3.3.4 Education district officials should support schools to prepare SIPs (focusing on curriculum) at the start of every year, and regularly monitor their successful implementation.

3.3.5 Education district officials should assist principals and educators to improve the quality of teaching and learning in their institutions through school visits, classroom observation, consultation, cluster meetings, feedback reports and by other means.

3.3.6 Education district directors should institute disciplinary proceedings and impose sanctions on educators or district officials when necessary.

3.4 Monitoring and supervision of education districts by the PEDs

3.4.1 A structured process should be in place to monitor the performance of education districts.

3.4.2 The PED should monitor whether education districts implemented the provincial education district strategy, plan, policy and guideline.

3.4.3 Relevant and reliable information should be reported on time to all levels (i.e. schools to circuit to education district, and from education district to PED and national department).

3.4.4 Performance agreements that hold district directors and district officials accountable in terms of the performance of education districts should exist.

3.4.5 DIPs should be monitored continuously to develop strategies for improvement.

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