South Africa

HIGHER EDUCATION

Blade Nzimande urges students to apply to TVET colleges

Blade Nzimande urges students to apply to TVET colleges
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

With a 2020 academic year ahead, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande has urged 2019 matriculants to look at all the options available when it comes to higher learning institutions.

It’s crunch time for the 2019 matric students to finalise which higher learning institution to attend, with the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande, urging young people to consider alternatives to university by considering technical, vocational, educational and training (TVET) colleges.

The 2019 matriculants set a record with a pass rate of 81.3%. Of these, 186,058 passed with bachelor passes, 144,672 with diploma passes and 78,984 passed with a higher certificate entry.

Nzimande told the media at a briefing on Thursday that students prefer applying to universities than to TVET colleges. Application statistics show that the number of first-time entrants who applied to universities was 453,157 while only 90,111 applied to TVET colleges.

This is not a new trend. In 2018, then higher education minister Naledi Pandor revealed that 24% of the applications received at NSFAS for the 2019 academic year were for pupils planning to enrol at TVET colleges.

South Africa has 26 universities and 135 private higher education institutions. The number of registered private higher education institutions varies, depending on the accreditation status of programmes and compliance with regulations.

There are 50 TVET colleges across 364 campuses in the country. Students can do welding, IT and engineering. They also provide practical experience for students.

TVET colleges play a pivotal role in addressing South Africa’s skills needs and cater for a wide spectrum,” said Nzimande.

Nzimande acknowledged that the government needed to ensure that TVET colleges are improved in terms of their curricula, lecturer development, administration and governance so that they can attract the best staff and students.

TVET colleges are often found to have governance issues. In 2019, students from Eastcape Midlands College (EMC), a TVET college in the Eastern Cape, protested because they did not receive their monthly allowance for three months. They said they worked in outdated laboratories and were not provided with protective equipment when they were welding.

The department is well aware of the challenges facing the TVET sector. In September 2019, the portfolio committee of the department of higher education heard from the South African Further Education and Training Student Association and the South African College Principals’ Organisation about the challenges TVET colleges face, including mismanagement, funding and outdated curricula.

In the 2020 academic year, 226,685 “new entrant opportunities will be provided by TVET colleges of which 156,800 opportunities will be available for students interested in studying towards a national diploma in engineering, general or business studies”, said Nzimande.

Nzimande also said through the school housing infrastructure programme 300,000 new beds would be provided to universities and TVET colleges over the next 10 years. Only one TVET college has however been allocated beds in the 2019/2020 year, that is King Hintsa TVET College.

Nzimande maintains that more resources need to be put into TVET colleges “so that TVET colleges become institutions of choice” which “will be achieved through joint planning in using different funding sources to scale up enrolments in the occupational qualifications”. DM

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