Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment to au­dit TVET col­leges

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA

THE Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment will un­der­take an au­dit and ver­i­fi­ca­tion of the in­fra­struc­ture at tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing (TVET) col­leges later this year, Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande has re­vealed.

He said this in a writ­ten par­lia­men­tary re­ply to the DA’s Michael Ba­graim, who en­quired about the re­port on the main­te­nance of in­fra­struc­ture at TVET col­leges, which the depart­ment re­ported to Par­lia­ment last month.

Ba­graim wanted to know if the re­port had quan­ti­fied the bud­get needed to main­tain and re­place the in­fra­struc­ture at col­leges.

Nz­i­mande said the re­port was not yet avail­able.

“The depart­ment has se­cured donor fund­ing from the Euro­pean Union to en­able a full au­dit and ver­i­fi­ca­tion of TVET col­lege in­fra­struc­ture,” he said.

He added that a ser­vice provider was ex­pected to start with the au­dit in the third quar­ter, begin­ning in Oc­to­ber.

Nz­i­mande’s par­lia­men­tary re­ply fol­lows calls by the DA last week for the stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion “cri­sis” at TVET col­leges to be ad­dressed.

This, the DA said, was im­por­tant for the at­tain­ment of equal ed­u­ca­tion.

“The lack of ac­com­mo­da­tion is a se­ri­ous prob­lem given the cru­cial role that col­leges should play in en­sur­ing young peo­ple re­ceive tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional train­ing,” the DA’s An­dri­cus van der Westhuizen had said last week.

“The lack of ac­com­mo­da­tion was the source of many protests at TVET col­leges ear­lier this year,” he said.

Van der Westhuizen made the calls af­ter Nz­i­mande re­vealed his depart­ment did not have in­for­ma­tion on how many beds were avail­able, and the num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions re­ceived, for stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion at TVET col­leges, at the start of this year.

Nz­i­mande also said no ren­o­va­tions were tak­ing place, or were be­ing planned at TVET col­leges be­cause Par­lia­ment had not al­lo­cated a bud­get in this fi­nan­cial year.

The only con­struc­tion project un­der way was for 248 beds at uM­folozi TVET col­lege, through an al­lo­ca­tion from the Na­tional Skills Fund.

But the depart­ment was work­ing with the Na­tional Trea­sury to investigate pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ships (PPPs) to pro­vide stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion at the col­leges.

Van der Westhuizen said the col­leges were vi­tal as they were the only op­tion for hun­dreds of thou­sands of ma­tric­u­lants to re­ceive train­ing in the skills needed for the job mar­ket.

“If we are truly se­ri­ous about get­ting the 9.3 mil­lion un­em­ployed peo­ple to work, then we need to start pri­ori­tis­ing these in­sti­tu­tions as a cru­cial higher ed­u­ca­tion plat­form for skills train­ing,” Van der Westhuizen said.

Asked how much was al­lo­cated to col­lege in­fra­struc­ture, Nz­i­mande said R1.1 bil­lion was ear­marked in 2015/16, R1.2bn in the last fi­nan­cial year and R1.3bn in the current year.

“Col­leges are re­quired to set aside 10% of their sub­sidy al­lo­ca­tion to cover costs to­wards main­te­nance.

“It should be noted that, since 2009, no ear­marked cap­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture al­lo­ca­tions have been re­ceived from Na­tional Trea­sury,” he said.

Nz­i­mande also said col­leges were ex­pected to pay for the main­te­nance of in­fra­struc­ture from their sub­sidy al­lo­ca­tion, which was in­suf­fi­cient.

‘The depart­ment has se­cured donor fund­ing’

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