Business Day

Col­leges face myr­iad prob­lems

- BEKEZELA PHAKATHI Cape Writer phakathib@bdfm.co.za Business · Illiteracy · Education · Higher Education · European Union · Jacob Zuma

COL­LEGES are fac­ing acute fund­ing, hu­man re­sources and in­fra­struc­ture prob­lems that are threat­en­ing their vi­a­bil­ity.

The sec­tor in­cludes tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing col­leges, as well as com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing col­leges.

The newly in­tro­duced com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing col­leges emerged from the merger of pub­lic adult learn­ing cen­tres.

The prob­lems be­set­ting the sec­tor will likely make them a hard sell to prospec­tive stu­dents as in­sti­tu­tions of choice, as en­vi­sioned by govern­ment as part of its plan to ease pres­sure on univer­si­ties.

The white pa­per for post-school ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing en­vis­ages ex­pand­ing en­rol­ments at col­leges from about 700,000 to 2.5-mil­lion by 2030. The Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan states that the col­lege sys­tem is not ef­fec­tive, is too small and has poor out­put.

Depart­ment of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral Gwe­binkundla Qonde said col­leges had to grap­ple with both fi­nan­cial and so­cial pres­sures.

In ad­di­tion, the R6bn in state fund­ing given to the sec­tor was not ad­e­quate, but in­di­ca­tions were this would not in­crease in 2017, said Qonde who was brief­ing mem­bers of Par­lia­ment’s higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day on the lat­est de­vel­op­ments at col­leges.

The sec­tor’s prob­lems are symp­to­matic of the cri­sis in broader higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing. Univer­si­ties re­main on ten­ter­hooks amid un­cer­tainty over fee in­creases for 2017 and grow­ing threats of fresh stu­dent protests.

Qonde said state sub­si­dies cov­ered only 53% of costs and this had left many col­leges in fi­nan­cial dire straits. The col­leges also face stu­dent un­rest.

Qonde said the Na­tional Skills Fund was ap­proached to make funds avail­able for ur­gent main­te­nance at col­leges that were un­der fi­nan­cial dis­tress.

Com­pre­hen­sive work plans are be­ing put in place for the skills de­vel­op­ment of col­lege lec­tur­ers.

EU fund­ing to­talling €26m has been made avail­able for ca­pac­i­tat­ing univer­si­ties to of­fer col­lege lec­turer qual­i­fi­ca­tions, said Qonde.

Qonde said 40% of lec­tur­ers at com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing col­leges were un­qual­i­fied or un­der­qual­i­fied and fund­ing was a prob­lem. The col­leges are also ham­pered by in­ad­e­quate learn­ing and teach­ing ma­te­rial, and a lack of ap­pro­pri­ate in­fra­struc­ture.

A task team has been set up to pro­vide ad­vice on pro­grammes and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, as well as fund­ing and cost­ing mod­els.

DA MP and higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing spokes­woman Belinda Boz­zoli said yet another ed­u­ca­tional cri­sis was emerg­ing un­der the “fail­ing govern­ment of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, this time in the col­lege sec­tor”.

“The DA calls upon Trea­sury to take se­ri­ously this state­ment, against a back­ground of si­mul­ta­ne­ous univer­sity un­der­fund­ing, stu­dent riots, the fee-free move­ment and shrink­ing bud­gets.”

She said the DA wel­comed the fact that the Na­tional Skills Fund was as­sist­ing the col­lege sec­tor fi­nan­cially, but be­lieved that the con­tri­bu­tions of the fund, and some of the Se­tas (sec­tor ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing au­thor­i­ties), would not make a se­ri­ous dent in the ba­sic fund­ing short­fall in the sec­tor.

 ?? Pic­ture: BUSI­NESS DAY ?? CRI­SIS: Depart­ment of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral Gwe­binkundla Qonde says col­leges need more funds.
Pic­ture: BUSI­NESS DAY CRI­SIS: Depart­ment of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral Gwe­binkundla Qonde says col­leges need more funds.

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