Move to im­prove TVET col­leges

Saturday Star - - METRO - KGOPI MABOTJA

STUDENT who have en­rolled to study at Tech­ni­cal Vo­ca­tional Education and Train­ing (TVET) col­leges should not feel in­ad­e­quate as their skills are in­valu­able to the econ­omy.

This rea­sur­ance comes as student bod­ies and op­po­si­tion par­ties de­mand fun­da­men­tal changes in the sec­tor.

Yes­ter­day Higher Education min­is­ter Naledi Pan­dor en­cour­aged stu­dents at the Coastal KZN TVET Col­lege in Dur­ban to be­lieve in the col­leges.

TVET col­leges have re­cently come un­der the spot­light for em­ploy­ing un­der-qual­i­fied lec­tur­ers and us­ing out­dated cur­ric­ula.

Pan­dor told stu­dents that TVET col­leges were not meant to be like uni­ver­si­ties and did not as­pire to be such.

“TVET is not a Cin­derella sec­tor in South Africa. We pro­vide vo­ca­tional train­ing. We want you con­trib­ute to this econ­omy not only as em­ploy­ees but also as em­ploy­ers.”

Pan­dor said the de­part­ment was ex­plor­ing op­tions to en­hance cur­ric­ula.

“When you pur­sue a diploma in hos­pi­tal­ity, you mostly study French or Por­tuguese, and have at least one in­ter­na­tional lan­guage to make you more at­trac­tive to the job mar­ket.

“We want to mod­ernise tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional train­ing.”

Pan­dor said the de­part­ment has set plans re-brand TVET col­leges as first choices.

“Too many South African student want to go to uni­ver­sity and too few are choos­ing col­leges. We want to have the largest num­ber of stu­dents in the fu­ture. That is where the skills to grow the econ­omy will come from.”

Pan­dor said the govern­ment also planned to in­tro­duce cen­tres of spe­cial­i­sa­tion in the TVET sec­tor.

“We want spe­cialised fo­cus on plumbers, elec­tri­cians, me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neers and so on.”

How­ever DA youth leader Yusuf Cas­sim ar­gued that it is with good rea­son that the most stu­dents re­jected TVET col­leges.

He said the cur­ric­ula taught was a “shame, out­dated” and con­demned young peo­ple to a life of un­em­ploy­ment. “We’ve been say­ing for years that the cur­ricu­lum needs to be more rel­e­vant. We also said the qual­ity of lec­tur­ers is poor.”

Cas­sim lamented that the govern­ment was pre­oc­cu­pied with mak­ing grand prom­ises but failed to in­vest in im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture in TVET col­leges.

Last year, the South African Fur­ther Education and Train­ing Stu­dents As­so­ci­a­tion (Safetsa) shut down some TVET col­leges. They de­manded that the de­part­ment ad­dress the ques­tion of un­qual­i­fied lec­tures, de­lays in is­su­ing of cer­tifi­cates for cour­ses com­pleted, and in­ad­e­quate fund­ing for stu­dents by the Na­tional Student Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Safetsa sec­re­tary-gen­eral No­maz­izi Mz­izi said Pan­dor was not tak­ing the sec­tor se­ri­ously.

“How do you speak about ex­cel­lence in the sec­tor when lec­tur­ers are not even qual­i­fied for the jobs they are in? You find a lec­turer with an N4 cer­tifi­cate teach­ing stu­dents do­ing N5.”

Mz­izi said they had also raised the is­sue of out­dated cur­ric­ula with the de­part­ment but had not re­ceived a sat­is­fy­ing re­sponse.

“TVET col­leges are dump­ing grounds. The min­is­ter is busy preach­ing about the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, but I can as­sure you the text­books that are used are very an­cient.”

She added that NSFAS con­tin­ued to pro­vide in­ad­e­quate bud­gets for TVET stu­dents.

Mean­while, the SA Col­lege Prin­ci­pals’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion gen­eral-sec­re­tary Sam Zungu said the de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish cen­tres of spe­cial­i­sa­tion was an in­ter­ven­tion meant to breach the gap be­tween col­leges and in­dus­try.

“We can’t deny that TVET col­leges have not re­ceived at­ten­tion over the years. But we have made strides to im­prove the qual­ity of our education.

“There is a an ef­fort be­ing made to bring peo­ple with qual­ity skills to teach in our in­sti­tu­tions.”

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