South Africa

South Africa

GroundUp: Nzimande’s department given 14 days to fix certificate backlog

TVET student leaders have called off a nationwide shutdown after the Department of Higher Education agreed to resolve the 2016 certificate backlog, release the pending 2016 results by March, and extend the deadline for NSFAS applications. By Barbara Maregele for GROUNDUP.

First published by GroundUp

Student leaders at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges say the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has two weeks to deliver outstanding certificates.

Members of the SA Further Education and Training Student Association (SAFETSA) met with Minister Blade Nzimande in Pretoria over the weekend to discuss a number of “critical issues” at the colleges.

SAFETSA president Yonke Twani said that during the meeting with Nzimande the department had agreed to resolve the 2016 certificate backlog, release the pending 2016 results by March, and extend the deadline for NSFAS applications.

This week the department will communicate with vice chancellors to give priority to TVET College graduates applying [for funding], particularly those who could not apply because of pending results,” he said.

Twani said they also agreed that around 230,000 additional positions should be made available for new students wanting to enrol this year.

Over the last two weeks, SAFETSA has been urging students to join a national shutdown of over 50 colleges if the department fails to meet their demands. Academic activity at more than 20 TVET colleges has been brought to a standstill nationwide.

Student leaders are calling for the deadline for student enrolments to be extended, for qualified lecturers and for the long-standing backlog of certificates to be resolved.

In a statement on Sunday, Nzimande thanked SAFETSA leadership for their participation over the weekend. “During our deliberations, my department was very clear on our commitment to ensure that any delays that may affect the system cannot and should not be to the detriment of hard working students looking to study further or entering the job market,” he said.

Last week, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education chairperson, Connie September, said only 973 certificates were still outstanding. September said the committee would be meeting with the relevant departments and colleges this week to discuss the other challenges.

There were 236,821 certificates outstanding from August 2015 backlog. Of these, 235,834 have been issued. We will hear [this] week whether there is a new backlog,” she said. DM

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