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South Africa: Community Colleges for SA
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Thursday, August 28, 2014
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: South Africa
Created: Aug 28, 2014

Currently, South Africa’s Public Adult Learning Centres cater for approximately 300 000 individuals, which according to Minister Nzimande is inadequate.

“A draft national policy on community colleges will soon be gazetted and I urge all stakeholders to interact with it and give feedback to us,” Minister Nzimande said on Tuesday in his pre-Budget Vote Speech briefing.

Widening the FET market

Minister Nzimande also used the occasion to announce government will continue expanding Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, which are now Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

Head–count enrolments in these TVET colleges, according to the minister, have increased by over 130%.

Over the 2014 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period, Minister Nzimande said government has allocated R19.2 billion to ensure that TVET college enrolments continue expanding.

“We are building more TVET colleges across the country and more money will be directed to elevate their stature and programme offerings. Our top priority is to expand them while improving their quality.”

Focus will also be put on expanding these institutions to rural areas, which are currently being poorly served.

“To correct this distribution, R 2.5 billion has been committed by the department towards the refurbishment of two existing TVET college campuses and the building of 12 new campuses.”

The minister said work is set to begin in three of these campuses: Nkandla, Bambanani and Thabazimbi.

The department has also transferred all TVET college principals and deputy principals to the national department from the provincial education departments with effect from 1 April 2013.

The minister has also appointed councils to all colleges.

New universities

Turning to the new universities, the minister said government has established three new universities: the University of Mpumalanga, Sol Plaatje University in Northern Cape, and the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Gauteng.

The University of Mpumalanga and the Sol Plaatje University have commenced with their intake this year, while the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University – which will be merged with the Medical University of Southern Africa (Medunsa) campus in Garankuwa, Pretoria -- will begin with its first intake next year.

The department, according to Minister Nzimande, has established the new National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences to respond to the declining trends from universities in producing more Social Science graduates.

Producing more teachers

In the university sector, the minister said they are prioritising the development of infrastructure for historically disadvantaged institutions, support for teaching and learning and the production of the next generation of academics.

He said the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training, which was released in January, will go a long way in helping the department as it transforms the post-school system.

The department has also maintained a strong focus on strengthening the production of school teachers over the last five years.

In 2013, approximately 14 700 new teachers graduated compared to 6 885 in 2009, an increase of 113% in new teachers per annum.

In the next five years, Minister Nzimande said the focus will be on expanding the focus from basic education teachers to include the production of teachers for the whole system including early childhood development, TVET colleges, the planned community colleges and teaching at public universities.

“Our projections are that public universities will produce in excess of 23 000 new teachers annually by 2020.”

The department is also working to address the shortage of academics and improve their qualifications.

They have set a target of increasing the number of university academics with PhDs from 39% in 2012 to 47% in 2019.

Improving infrastructure

Over the MTEF period of 2012/13 to 2014/15, R6 billion was allocated towards infrastructure projects across the existing 23 universities with an amount of R2.3 billion committed for the current financial year.

A total of R1.6 billion from the R6 billion was allocated for student housing development.

With regards to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) – Minister Nzimande said they have expanded it to include students in TVET colleges and the amount disbursed annually has grown rapidly by approximately 270% since 2008.

Government will continue with this trend of funding, despite criticism, said Minister Nzimande.

“NSFAS has made a great contribution and has produced university graduates in many families and has changed their lives for the better. It is something we should be proud of. But this does not mean we do not have challenges,” said the minister, adding that they are working with NSFAS to improve the management of the system.

NSFAS has assisted over 1.4 million students. The department’s allocation to NSFAS for 2014/15 amounts to R6.139 billion. This includes R3.914 billion for loans and bursaries to universities, R2.107 billion for bursaries for TVET colleges and R116.2 million for administration.

This is supplemented further by R2.42 billion made available through NSFAS recoveries, the National Skills Fund (NSF) scarce skills bursaries, through Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) bursaries and from bursaries such as the Department of Basic Education’s Funza Lushaka programme, bringing the total funding available for loans and bursaries for the 2014 academic year to R8.85 billion.
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