Technical & Vocational Education and Training (TVET) & Community Education & Training (CET) sectors: DHET briefing

Higher Education, Science and Innovation

14 September 2016
Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Department of Higher Education and Training, briefed the Committee on the latest developments in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector and on the state of Community Education and Training in South Africa. The Department cited from the onset that they were experiencing funding shortages with a current deficit of R2.7 million. The Department appealed to the Committee and Government for assistance in this regard.

The deficit had several negative effects, including students failing to get critical support services such as transport and sufficient accommodation. As a result, students were unable to attend classes which had a negative effect on performance. Colleges were diluting funds and spreading them thinly across students, which impacted on the quality of the services provided.

The Committee stressed the importance of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector in the economy as there was a higher demand for artisans and technicians on the ground than university graduates.

Members expressed concern on the issue of curriculum relevance as students in some programmes graduated with qualifications that were not being accepted in industry. The Department assured the Committee that this issue was being dealt with.

The Department reported that the state of the Community Education and Training sector was more distressing than the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector as this sector was severely underfunded. Members suggested if this sector was not viable it should be shut down.

Members questioned why the Department was responsible for the Community Education and Training sector instead of the Department of Basic education since Basic Education was funded better than Department of Higher Education and Training. They also questioned why the Department took over this function when they were aware of the challenges inherent in the system, especially after being warned against it by the Auditor General.

The Committee suggested that the Department approach the Department of Public Works to discuss how they could make use of already existing infrastructure instead of wasting resources by building new spaces for colleges.     

Meeting report

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, Director General, Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) presented on the latest developments in the TVET sector. He appealed upfront to the country and the Committee to assist the Department with pressing funding issues. The Department was under pressure to increase access which required additional funding, however the government had never availed these funds.

Ms Nadine Pote, CD: Examinations, DHET, reported that under the pressing funding issues: 1) Financial and social pressures existed on colleges as subsidies covered only 54% of required costs instead of 80% subsidy funding. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) tuition allocation, travel and accommodation allowances were stretched, 2) there was insufficient learning and teaching material and equipment including insufficient provisioning of protective clothing, 3) of great concern was that National Treasury (NT) allocation for the 2017/18 Medium Term Expenditure Framework was likely to remain the same or even be reduced in real terms; and 4) in addition to fee issues, students were also raising issues of curriculum relevance.

The R2.321 billion allocated for 2016 was intended to benefit 200 000 TVET College students. To date bursaries had been awarded to 171 432 students for the 2016 academic year. Some Colleges were still finalising their claims from NSFAS in relation to the final trimester National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) programmes

There was an ongoing lecturer development programme (e.g. Lean Six Sigma (LSS), in-house training) were more than 6 000 TVET college lecturers registered on the LSS web portal for support.

Preliminary observations emerging from the sector and subject to further consideration were:

1) The NC(V) curriculum was pitched too high for NQF Level 4, it needed to the reviewed and at least 70% of the content should be practical and work based. The level should be adjusted to NQF 5 or 6.

2) There was a need to look at qualifying learners with augmented work based learning without the need for work placement. In other words, investment in workshops, work place simulation and augmented reality should be made. Lecturer non-theoretical training should also be work based.

Mr C Kekana (ANC) asked if the Department could provide figures of how many students were in the TVET programme; whom they provided clothing for and for what purposes, given that they were underfunded.

Mr Y Cassim (DA) asked the Department to detail the success rates of the students they funded and the number of students who were affected by the R2.7 billion deficit in funding. Given the restrictive underfunding situation, how many students eligible for funding were not funded, and how many were part funded?

Mr Cassim also asked what the DHET had done to ensure that students received value from the courses they graduated with. He cited the Public health course that had left many students without jobs or prospective career paths after graduation, despite the course having been run at the request of the Department of Health.

Mr M Mbatha (EFF) acknowledged that the system had to be built from the bottom up. It was vital that access be met with provision. In order to disenfranchise the rural poor, the system had to work on programmes that had relevance in a rural system. There was a need to invest in rural programs that attract industry to further assist and invest in rural colleges.

He gathered that the Department would run into quality issues due to the anticipated zero increase in funding. He suggested that the DHET use the same policy of access but focus on quality, if they did not they would be ignorant to the perspective of industry about the programme.

Dr B Bozzoli (ANC) said the presentation was depressing with only 700 000 students in colleges instead of the targeted 2 million. She asked what was the long term plan was to ensure that colleges were bigger than universities given the available budget.

It should be made clear to the President that that the national targets could not be met and should be changed. The Department could not perpetually fail to meet delivery agreements because of an insufficient budget. The DHET needed to present emergency plans to deal with this issue.

Prof C Msimang (IFP) said the report was very disconcerting, particularly the issue of funding, and wondered if the sector would be viable. We could be on a time bomb especially with the already existent student unrest. There was need for radical action and the Minister of Higher education might need to sit with the Committee since the Committee was mandated to assist the DHET with their budget.

He shared the concern of students expressing that they were unemployable because the curriculum they were studying was not relevant. It was not proper that colleges continued to produce irrelevant graduates.

The TVET sector was needed more than universities as there was a greater need for artisans and technicians than graduates on the ground. Funding universities was becoming more expensive as universities were enrolling courses that should be run by the TVET sector. Teachers and nurses should therefore be taken away from universities.

Ms S Mchunu (ANC) said she realised there was a great challenge of underfunding. She asked the DHET what they had done about curriculum irrelevance. She was pleased to know that programmes had been put in place to up skill lecturers.

Chairperson welcomes Lenyenye pensioners seated in the gallery.

The Chairperson asked the Department to disaggregate the funding and clarify how the DHET was appropriating its funding. Were they financing their main mandate, which was to educate children in South Africa, or were they trying to manage this mandate along with other responsibilities such as infrastructure development required within the Department.

She asked the DHET to state their position on various targets set such as the National Development Plan (NDP); and if in the DHETs policy formulation there were some outstanding policies that may be hampering the entire path of funding being provided. There should be consideration for the DHET to report quarterly to the Committee for progress monitoring.

Mr Qonde replied that in the medium and long run, the DHET was working on a White Paper that focused on the success of access which categorised all sectors. On the TVET sector the with White Paper focused on curriculum reform and requisite funding thereof. The implementation of the White Paper should be done by March 2017 and the DHET was working with NT to cost the implementation of the White Paper. The DHET was reforming the funding norms of the TVET sector as the current norms were not adequate in responding to the needs of the sector.

The Department received voted funds from the national fiscus but had to improvise on how to complement shortage of funding from the voted funds. NASFAS had allocated R2.5 billion for the next three years to build infrastructure in TVET colleges.

The design and architecture of the TVET colleges was premised on proximity to communities and as a result there were 50 TVET colleges with 250 campuses countrywide. The nature of student housing in TVET colleges was different from universities since universities were fewer and could not operate without the 80% requirement for housing.

On academic architecture, a programme had been developed in collaboration with universities to develop technical and vocational training in colleges and universities. 10 universities were rolling out this programme in 2019 with the University of Western Cape being the first to enrol the programme in 2017.

The problem of the primary health programme was currently being addressed. The Minister of Higher Education was working with the Minister of Health to deal with workplace integration. The programme developed in collaboration with the University of Pretoria was used in 13 colleges and was expecting about 1500 graduates in 2016. Five universities in the country were designed to articulate what was being taught in TVET colleges.

Mr Firoz Patel, DDG: TVET, DHET, replied that the clothing provided by DHET consisted of protective gear, (helmets, goggles, ear plugs) which were all vital in workshops.

The DHET worked according to available funding and not the number of students.

The consequence of over enrolment by colleges was diluted funds, spreading available funds thinly across students.

Underfunding diluted funds for travel and accommodation, which led to socioeconomic challenges. Without transport learners failed to attend classes and this affected performance.

Mr Patel agreed that the system should be structured from bottom up because if additional funding could not be obtained the available funds should be used as efficiently as possible. The solution should not be diluting funding as this would result in failure to produce good artisans and technicians. The system may need to be rationalised and therefore targets may need to be revisited.

Students needed a safe environment with proper food and accommodation and the DHET had to provide it. In the face of limited resources, the Department had to use available resources as efficiently as possible and may need to constrain enrolment. 

Mr Mbatha asked if the Department could demonstrate that new campuses being built were suitable for the purposes for which they were built.

Mr Qonde replied that Mr Mbatha should go and visit the Thabazimbi campus and assured him that the campuses are state of the art and built to meet the requirements of the communities.

The Chairperson agreed to that.

State of Community Education and Training in South Africa
Dr Kgotso Mahloko, DHET briefed the Committee.
A major inefficiency in 2014 was the student to teacher ratio was 1:17.

Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and the Northern Cape were serial underperforming provinces with respect to academic performance. The whole system was underperforming, so certain community colleges would inherit this.40 % of staff were under qualified, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.

Of the R2.06 billion expenditure in the CET sector for 2016, 95 % went to compensation, while only 5% goes to the centres. The centres therefore could not even afford the materials needed by learners and were therefore perpetually looking for partners to support them.

On budget spending, the PFMA mandated that public funds should have a proper transfer chain in place. Since systems of financial management did not exist a memorandum of agreement was reached with TVEC colleges where the TVEC colleges would procure on behalf of the CETs. The 2015/16 budget allocation for CETs was not spent as this transfer chain had not yet been clear to the parties. However, 50% of the 2016/17 budget had been transferred to TVECs so that they could procure for CETs.

Dr Mahloko cited various consequential challenges and provided the following statistics from StatsSA: 1.7 million (9%) people in SA had no schooling, 3.7million (18.4%) had some primary schooling, 1.6 million ( 8.4%) had completed primary schooling,  and 12.1 million (64%) had some secondary school but had not attained NQF level qualifications.   

Education, including basic education in SA was a right. It was of great concern that 1.7million had not enjoyed this basic right which was an issue of social justice. There was a need to link community learning programmes to municipalities to find what kind of programmes were needed for a specific community. Community colleges should respond to the economic drivers within communities

On the structure of community colleges, there should be more satellite campuses than community colleges in order to reduce inefficiencies. Community colleges should be in municipalities as this was more efficient in ensuring the colleges dealt with issues in the specific community.

While formal qualifications were vital and should be maintained, not all qualifications should require certification e.g. HIV training in a community. The system should create space for short term and part time qualifications. If community colleges identified a particular issue within a community, they should provide the necessary training or get a service provider to deal with the issue. Individual colleges should align to provincial development and councils should be established to deal with what communities required.

Lack of capacity was a transitional problem inherited when the system was adopted from the provinces. He listed two problems within the sector, highlighting funding as the major one; the other being lack of infrastructure which compromised the quality of learning, particularly for adult learners who did not get sufficient class time.                                              

Mr Cassim asked what the DHET was doing to reduce double dipping whereby individuals obtained double salaries, a basic salary and also salary from teaching at CETs. He also asked if there was a standardised test for educators on the materials they teach.

Dr Bozzoli commented that the system currently seemed totally unviable, although she admired the DHETs commitment to it. There was no plan as there was no funding and therefor the systems must be closed down. She asked why this programme was being funded by DHET which had a much smaller budget instead of the Department of Basic Education which had larger budget.

Mr Mbatha said there must be political agreement between MECs and National Treasury. He asked the DHET to provide a timeline for when they anticipated reaching the goal of a literate society.

Mr Kekana asked if the DHET had engaged with the Department of Public Works to see if they could use existing buildings for the CETS instead of building new and wasting resources.

Ms Mchunu acknowledges the importance of community colleges but stressed the need for more information to be provided.  Adult education was doing well but more needed to be done to reduce numbers for the youth. CETs operating within TVET colleges were a way to regulate and ensure they operated independently. There was a need for a headcount of people to avoid double dipping of salaries. A more efficient system was required to place unemployed graduates so that employment was spread evenly.

Mr Msimang referred to perpetual underperformances in some provinces, this could be attributed to unqualified teachers. Graduates without jobs should be asked to help in communities. He asked if the CET system was a permanent or temporary system. He implored that the Department of Basic Education be asked to do more to ensure that students did not waste the academic opportunity afforded to them by basic education. Wasting this opportunity would result in students failing and repeating in higher education which was costly for DHET.

The Chairperson said the Committee was worried that a lot of money was being spent on administration. It was therefore critical that the Department know the requirements of specific communities so there was less wastage and the Department’s problems should be aligned to these. The programme was vital as it dealt with the issue of school drop outs and assisted those without access to education. The Department should not focus on administrative issues but on their main mandate.  

Mr Qonde stated that the DHET was there to present how they were fulfilling the mandate of providing education and training.

The challenges presented by the CET sector were systemic and not one dimensional. The department had embarked on a long journey to deal with the CET sector after they commissioned the Attorney General The AG had initially warned the DHET against taking the responsibility of the sector as it was chaos. The DHET took the programme on mindful that it was a huge task, however they recognised that it was their mandate was to provide the population of 18 million people with education with notwithstanding the 1,7 million who were illiterate.

Dr Mahloko said the DHET was engaging with stakeholders to deal with the under qualified educators and this was a problem in the system inherited from the provinces. Being qualified in this space included adult education but did not deal exclusively with adult education only.

The DHET acknowledged the problem of double dipping of salaries and was dealing with it; however, it was a process that may take time.

The CET programme was under the DHET because it was placed in charge by presidential proclamation.

The quality of the curriculum product was indeed compromised as the programme was not critically evaluated. It was a challenge for much to be achieved in a six-month programme. About 50% of graduates were functionally illiterate and needed to go back into the system.

He agreed that it was counterproductive to get new buildings and there was need to sort out an approach to occupy existing infrastructure. There was need for more learning centres instead of spaces for management and governance.

Mr Patel stated that it would be a real travesty if nothing was done about the 1.7million population that was illiterate.

Dr Bozzoli asked on what specific things the Auditor general advised the DHET to not take up the programme and if the DHET considered it reckless to take up the programme against warning. She asked what the problem was with the teacher student ratio of 1:17.

Mr Cassim was still not convinced that this function should be taken up by the DHET instead of the DBE. There was no prerequisite age limit for education and the DBE could as well take the role. Basic Education held a fifth of the national budget and so was better positioned to take this function.

Ms Mchunu commented that a better marketing strategy should be implemented on the offerings of the CETs. Community colleges were not only about adult education as was assumed. The DHET should present to the Committee on the offerings of the CETs.

Mr Qonde replied that the AG advised the department after an empirical analysis of the sector’s performance and state. The AG acknowledged the importance of the sector and the services it provided to communities. The DHET after identifying the need in the communities for literacy, numeracy and skill, and the shortage of this service undertook the responsibility for the sector by providing CETs.

Dr Mahloko replied that the lecturer student ratio was of concern and currently at 1:17 as lectures were currently not as efficient as possible. A lecturer should take at least 25-30 students.

An appeal was made that emphasis must not be put on which department must take the function of the CET. Instead energy should be focused on dealing with the inherited problems

Dr Bozzoli replied that it was still unfair for DHET to be responsible as the DBE was better funded to take on the responsibility.

The Chairperson thanked the Department for the presentations.

The meeting was adjourned

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: