The Department of Basic Education (DBE) will give special attention to technical high schools because they are poised to play a vital role in the country’s broader economic growth plan. This is according to basic education minister Angie Motshekga, who spoke during her visit to Hebron Technical College in the North West Province on Wednesday.
The school which is part of Madibeng sub-district under Bojanala district, attained 55,2% in the recent 2017 matric results. This was the lowest mark in the region and is believed to have impacted the North West’s overall 2017 National Senior Certificate (NSC).
Motshekga said the main reason for the poor performance was that the school did not have a principal for a long time. She said a new principal with requisite qualification has already been appointed with the specific brief to improve the school pass rate.
Motshekga said technical colleges are expensive to run but her department is determined to assist them to operate optimally to fulfil their key economic roles. She said the North West MEC of education, Sello Lehari, put together a strong team comprising municipality officials and big business to provide the necessary support and revitalise the technical colleges.
“Technical schools are very important to us, we have embarked aggressively on three streamed curriculum where we really want to do the best with technical schools. They are very expensive to run though they are extremely important to our economy. So it really concerns us if they don’t perform because we have put them at the centre of our work. It is really to find out what more can be done to get them to perform to their optimum,” said Motshekga.
Motshekga said the other purpose of the visit was to congratulate farm schools that did well during the NSC examinations and also motivated those that performed poorly. Two schools that produced outstanding matric results are Machadam Farm School in Mooi Nooi which obtained 100% pass rate in 2016 and 2017 and the Madikete High School in Maboloka which scored 82.5% in the NSC.
The provincial department, Motshekga said, has established a Directorate of Rural Education to specifically focus and provide targeted interventions to farm schools as particularly those that they decided not to close them down.
Motshekga’s sentiments resonate with her counterparts in the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Both Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and her deputy, Buti Manamela, also highlighted the need to beef up the TVET sector to accommodate learners who did not qualify for university.
This is part of the post-schooling education and training (PSET), which forms the cornerstone of the DHET’s strategic objective of creating a workforce of young people with skills set that meet the needs of the business community and the broader economy.
During his visit to the Capricorn TVET college Manamela emphasised the need to invest more resource to meet the growing demand shown by young people for training and vocational education.
He told Inside Education that TVET colleges statistics increased from 350,000 to at least 750,000 over the past four years.
“This shows that more people are responding to TVET colleges, therefore we need to respond to that,” he said.
But the huge and sudden demand for spaces at these colleges has also exposed the weaknesses in the system chief of which is lack of capacity of the TVET sector to accommodate the students.
The stampede at the Capricorn TVET college and the influx of students at Motheo TVET college in the Free State are a case in point.