TVET col­leges ‘dump­ing ground’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - METRO - KGOPI MABOTJA

STU­DENTS who en­rolled to study at tech­ni­cal vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing (TVET) col­leges should not feel in­ad­e­quate as their skills are in­valu­able to the econ­omy.

This 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have re­cently come un­der the spot­light for is­sues of em­ploy­ing un­der-qual­i­fied lec­tur­ers and us­ing outdated cur­ric­ula.

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

Pan­dor said the depart­ment was ex­plor­ing op­tions to en­hance the cur­ricu­lum.

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

Pan­dor said the depart­ment has set plans to re­brand TVET col­leges as first-choices.

“Too many South African stu­dents 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 plans to in­tro­duce cen­tres of spe­cial­i­sa­tion in the TVET sec­tor.

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

How­ever the DA’s youth leader, Yusuf Cas­sim ar­gued that it was with good rea­son that the ma­jor­ity of stu­dents re­ject TVET col­leges.

He said the cur­ricu­lum taught at the col­leges was a “shame, outdated and con­demned young peo­ple to a life of un­em­ploy­ment”.

“Young peo­ple in­sist on go­ing to uni­ver­si­ties for a rea­son. We have been say­ing for years that the cur­ricu­lum needs to be changed so that it’s more rel­e­vant to modern times. We also said the qual­ity of lec­tur­ers is poor.”

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

Last year, the SA 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 “course com­pleted” and in­ad­e­quate fund­ing for stu­dents by the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Safetsa’s 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 N4 cer­tifi­cate, teach­ing stu­dents do­ing N5. What is that?”

Mz­izi said they have also raised the is­sue of outdated cur­ric­ula with the depart­ment but have 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.”

Mean­while The SA Col­lege Prin­ci­pals Or­gan­i­sa­tion sec­re­tary-gen­eral 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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