The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) is not only concerned with universities but they are looking at the re-configuration of the entire post-schooling education as its core mandate, this is according to Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.
“Post-schooling education does not only speak to universities but it also speaks to Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges as well, although billions went to universities since the start of #FeesMustFall campaign,” said Mkhize.
She said the colleges have been identified as key strategic institutions to provide alternative quality education to learners who could not make it to universities.
“TVETS colleges are very important. If you look at countries that have succeeded in cutting down unemployment they all say one thing that colleges are designed to do so. I have met with the ambassadors of the Nordic countries, Germany, Switzerland and others and they all say their colleges don’t compete with the universities. They offer integrated learning – meaning there is a combination of theoretical concepts and work experience so that when you complete your studies somebody in the sector will grab you,” said Mkhize.
She said TVET colleges were transferred to DHET and “what I proposed is that we put them under ‘Operation Phakisa’ so that we can look at everything that is still outstanding. This could be about, for instance, legislation that is not finalised or the curriculum that is still the same as that in the old policy framework of the department of basic education. Now they are closer to the SETAs, skills hubs, which have billions in their coffers”.
Mkhize said it was a question of how you position post-schooling education to be at the centre of skills production. And putting it under Operation Phakisa, she said, will help expedite the process of turning the colleges around. She said the process of revitalising the colleges entailed looking at, among other things, curriculum alignment, review of the colleges to ascertain if they are producing students with the skills society needs especially in driving the economy and in fighting unemployment.
Mkhize said the private sector has a role to play such as giving students works experience as well place them afterwards. She said much work has been done but it is fragmented and they intend to strengthen their partnerships with the private sector.
“We are even looking at the BBBEE as we feel we have never emphasised the importance of supporting our educational programmes by incentivising companies through the BEE policy and how to make sure you are not taken advantage of by companies that do not apply the policy,” said Mkhize.
She singled out Ekurhuleni West TVET College as an archetype of what they want other colleges in the country to emulate.
“It is different and its uniqueness is that students get placement after completing their studies and captains of industry go there to teach. This is what our colleges should be focusing on and universities should also align their curriculum in such a way that they evaluate students with college experience,” said Mkhize
She said these are some of the intervention measures they are currently working on and will be implemented early next year so that they can see their impact on the post-schooling education and training.