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South Africa’s FET colleges receives R2.5 billion boost

South Africa’s 50 further education and training colleges (FET) recently received their share of the R2.5 billion which have been earmarked for the expansion of the FET sector to help in skills development in the key growth sectors of the South African economy. A further R1.5 billion will be made available for infrastructure improvement of the colleges.

To read more go to Megan Wait’s article in Creamer Media’s Engineering News by Clicking Here!

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Plan to expand and improve South Africa’s Higher Education sector

In a Green Paper on Post-School Education and Training, the South African government Department of Higher Education and Training recently announced its plans to raise university enrolments from the current 900 000 students to 1.5 million by 2030. Also mooted was a target of 4 million students for colleges and other post-school institutions – 6 times more than current numbers. These changes will raise the participation rate in post-school education of 18-24 year olds from the current 16% to 23%.

The Green Paper includes in its agenda:

  • new funding;
  • improvement of access to education and training opportunities;
  • research on financial problems facing many students as well as poor living conditions and student support services;
  • strengthening of institutions to improve education quality;
  • the development of a post-school education and training system that is equitable, accessible and affordable to all sections of the population, with free education and training for the poor;
  • support for previously disadvantaged universities, including asisstance to improve infrastructure and quality of teaching and research;
  • reform of South Africa’s complex regulatory system, by doing away with duplication. and incoherence and inconsistency in the functioning parts of the system;
  • building coherence between basic education and the post-school system and between the post-school system and the labour market;
  • strengthening of collaboration between private and public sectors;
  • expansion of distance education, using appropriate information communication technologies, other technologies and methods;
  • the creation of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces;
  • improvement of throughput rates;
  • addressing concern sbout low participation rate of Africans;
  • addressing concern about decrease of male students;
  • improvement of graduation rates in science, engineering and technology, because it is not meeting economic development objectives;
  • strengthening of scholarship in the humanities;
  • provision of resources and funding to strenthen teaching in universities, without reducing the importance of research;
  • exploration of the possibility of partnerships between public and private institutions;
  • strengthening of African languages as part of formal programmes

 The Department of Higher Education and Training also plans to work with the Department of Science and Technology to ensure increased support for postgraduate study and for senior researchers, as well as a stable funding model for all educational institutions that conduct research. This means improving research capacity as a major focus for universities with a specific focus on meeting the country’s developmental objectives.

To read more go to Karen McGregor’s article on University World News by Clicking Here!

To read more go to Kim Cloete’s article at Cross Currents on MoneyWeb by Clicking Here!

To read the Green Paper on Post-School Education and Training Click Here!

Blade Nzimande announces immediate priorities for Department of Higher Education and Training

Dr Blade Nzimande, South African Higher Education and Training Minister recently announced some immediate priorities of the Department of Higher Education and Training. Speaking on post-school options for the Matric Class of 2009, he reiterrated that the next few months will see progress to many of the goals that has been set for the Department.

Some immediate priorities that Nzimande highlighted is support for the South African Deputy-president in the establishment of the HRD-SA Council, the strengthening of the National Skills Authority and paying particular attention to issues such as improving access and success rates in universities and colleges, developing the post-school funding system, advancing access to and quality of the College sector, redefining the SETA landscape and addressing efficiency challenges in the National Skills Fund.

He also announced that a higher education summit will be held in April where the challenge of transformation in higher education will be confronted. At the summit the the role of universities in interacting with and strengthening of other sectors of the system, especially colleges, will also be discussed.

Nzimande will also meet with the Chairs of Councils of the 23 South African universities to discuss the Soudien report on racial and other discrimination at higher education institutions.

The South African Government is committed to strengthen the country’s skills and human resource base, and as part of this commitment the Department of Higher Education and Training intend to broaden access to post-school education over time, Nzimande said. He indicated that the shape of the South African post-secondary system is not appropriately balanced between universities and colleges. Whilst access to universities must increase, enrolment in colleges should double in the next five years.  

For Universities, expansion of the system will be preceded by the careful prior development of capacity as part of the Department’s enrolment planning process with the sector: Enrolments must be matched to available resources, physical, human and financial. The average annual growth rate in head count student enrolments between 2005 (the base year for the enrolment planning process) and 2008 was 2.8%, compared to the target rate of 2.0% set in October 2007 by the Ministry of Education. The data available shows that student enrolments surged above these averages between 2007 and 2008. The head count student enrolment total rose from 761 000 in 2007 to 799 000 in 2008; an increase of 38 000 or 5%. The Full-Time Equivalent enrolled total, which is an indicator of the student load carried by the higher education system, rose from 519 000 in 2007 to 540 000 in 2008; an increase of 21 000 or 4%. Enrolments in Science and Technology majors grew at a rate of only 1.1% pa, between 2005 and 2008; compared to the target rate of 2.9% pa. The Department is awaiting the enrolment data for 2009, but understand that a further surge in headcount was experienced in many Universities. Work has begun on the second Cycle of System and Institutional Enrolment Planning.

He emphasized that increase in access, particularly of the poor and the working class, must be accompanied by increases in graduation rates, and success rates at all levels of study. Success is related to institutional investment in improving teaching and learning, and in student support and the social and living conditions of students.

To read Dr Blade Nzimande’s full speech Click Here!