TVET colleges ‘dumping ground’
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TVET colleges have recently come under the spotlight for issues of employing under-qualified lecturers and using outdated curricula.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He said the curriculum taught at the colleges was a “shame, outdated and condemned young people to a life of unemployment”.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.”