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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!

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What is transformation in Higher Education? Nzimande

Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training addressed the issue of transformation of South African universities at the occasion of the University of the Free State public management memorial lecture, held on 3 September 2009. To read a transcript of his speech, published on PoliticsWeb Click Here!

Resistance against transformation at universities will not be tolerated anymore says Minister Blade Nzimande

The government is not going to tolerate resistance against transformation at universities anymore, Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande said on Wednesday 10 June 2009. 

He referred to The Report of the Ministerial Committee on Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions, and said he had considered and accepted the report and its major findings, and found it deeply disturbing.  “While the report commends institutions for initiatives on change, the report unfortunately states that discrimination, in particular with regard to racism and sexism, is still pervasive in our institutions”, Dr Nzimande said.

Admitting that there is no doubt that significant policy development has indeed occurred towards transformation, the next important step will be to make those policies work.

Nzimande said further that he expects co-operation from Higher Education South Africa (HESA) and he will soon be meeting with them to consider a number of issues. These included developing a transformation compact between institutions and the department. He wants them to consider that vice-chancellors be held responsible for transformation and that this be included in their performance management contracts. The extend to which the curriculum has been transformed to play a role in the socialisation of students with regards to values in the Constitution and broader participation in society, should also be considered

He singled out the The University of the Free State as the institution where racism was the worst, and expressed hope that the University of Stellenbosch will decide, without intervention, to stop using Afrikaans to exclude some students.

Nzimande also announced that the government plans to form a new monitoring- and oversight body to complement the work of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), to keep an eye on transformation issues at universities in South Africa. This oversight body will be based in the Higher Education and Training Department, and details regarding its composition, structure, and brief will be released in the near future. He emphasized that the new body will not be involved in witch-hunts, but that universities will have to be held accountable. The allocation of financial assistance could be used for example, to ensure that universities use these funds for “pressing issues”.

Nzimande stressed that universities should have academic freedom and autonomy, but this should not be an impediment on the way to transformation.

To read more on this go to the article on Politicsweb by Clicking Here!

To read the Afrikaans article by Pieter du Toit on this in Beeld Newspaper Click Here!

Majority of SA school leavers are functionally illiterate

Only 1 out of 29 matriculants are functionally literate after matric, according to adv. Paul Hoffman SC, director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights of the F.W. de Klerk Foundation. [Hoffman describes functional literacy as the means to have the reading and writing skills necessary for everyday living and the workplace]. In an article on the transformation of basic education in South Africa, Hoffman refers to the alarming statistics on the functional literacy of black matriculants that went through the school system the past 12 years.

According to statistics from the literacy consultants Hough& Horne in Johannesburg only two thirds of the 1.56 million 6 year-olds that started in the school system 12 years ago, obtained grade 10. Of these 360 000 passed matric at the end of last year.

When these matriculants were tested for functional literacy in English(the language of choice for teaching), it was found that only 15 % of the black candidates were functionally literate.

This means that only 42 000 black school leavers have the potential to do skilled work. When one divides this by province it means that “each province in 2007 delivered only 4600 functionally literate black matriculants”, Hoffman reiterated.

According to Hoffman this means that only 1 out of 29 (3.5%) of black chidren that enters the school system obtained a matric certificate that will enable them to enter the realms of trainability, skills acquisition, higher education and employability – this in an economy where a huge shortage of skills exist. He also points out that South African schools’ drop out rate of 77% over 12 years of schooling is much higher than the UNESCO norm of 21 %. To read more go to Paul Hoffman’s article(see link below) or the Afrikaans article that was published in the Beeld newspaper on 10 April 2008(see link below)

To read Paul Hoffman’s article that was published in the De Klerk Foundation’s Newsletter Click Here!

To read the Afrikaans version of Paul Hoffman’s article Click Here!

To read Beeld Newspaper’s article Click Here!

Racism Committee Members announced by SA Minister of Education

The South African Minister of Education, Mrs. Naledi Pandor, announced yesterday the establishment of a Ministerial Committee on “Progress towards Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions”. The primary purpose of the committee will be to investigate the nature and extent of discrimination in public higher education institutions, with a particular focus on racism. Prof Crain Soudien will chair the Ministerial Committee and its members are: Dr Olive Shisana, Professor Sipho Seepe, Ms. Gugu Nyanda, Mrs. Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, Dr Charles Villa-Vicencio, Prof. Mokubung Nkomo, Ms Mohau Pheko, Mr Nkateko Nyoka and Dr Wynoma Michaels. The Committee will also be expected to report on the following: the nature and extent of other forms of discrimination based on, for example, gender, ethnicity and disability in public higher education, and in particular university residences; the steps institutions have taken to combat discrimination, including an assessment of good practice as well as the shortcomings of the existing interventions; advise the Minister of Education and the key constituencies in higher education on the policies, strategies and interventions needed to combat discrimination and to promote inclusive institutional cultures for staff and students; identify implications for other sectors of the education system. Prof Crain Soudien is professor of education at UCT, the author of a study of integration in South African schools, and chair of the ministerial committee into school governing bodies (2004). Dr Olive Shisana is head of the HSRC and was previously DG of Health. Professor Sipho Seepe is the academic director the Henley College of Management and is the Chair of the South African Institute of Race Relations. Ms Gugu Nyanda was head of the DG of Education’s office until 2005 and is now a consultant. Mrs Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele was the Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC and is a former Minister of Housing. Dr Charles Villa-Vicencio recently retired as the head of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, and was the Director of Research at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Mokubung Nkomo is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria , and the co-editor of an HSRC conference proceedings on school integration. Ms Mohau Pheko ( http://secure.financialmail.co.za/06/1020/fox/ffox.htm ) is the co-ordinator of the gender and trade network in Africa . Mr Nkateko Nyoka is MTN’s group executive of corporate services and a former CEO of the Independent Communications Authority of SA. Dr Wynoma Michaels is a scientist and specialist trainer.