Higher Education Department to audit TVET colleges
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’