In a joint virtual meeting, the Portfolio and Select Committee heard briefings from the Minister that government intended building two new universities: University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni and a University for Crime Detection in Hammanskraal. The second project involved building education precincts over the next ten years across the country. This project was in support of the District Development Model.
In light of the infrastructural plans over the next ten years, the Minister had centralised and assigned all infrastructure coordination within the Department to the DPME. In addition, a Ministerial Advisory Committee on Infrastructure (MACI) was established to assist in addressing infrastructure in the sector in a systematic manner. The Minister was also preoccupied with addressing the situation of historically disadvantaged institutions. At the beginning of the year, the Minister started looking into the 'missing middle' students and commenced informal discussions with various institutions. A formal process would soon follow and establish a plan and work with the private sector to device an affordable loan system for this group of students. The Minister also planned to review the National Skills Fund and look into its efficiency as it pertains to the country’s skills priorities.
Due to the lockdown and the requirement to learn remotely, the Minister said that all students funded by NSFAS and registered at public universities and TVET colleges will have access to a digital device required for support to complete the academic year. The devices will not be free and will be offset against student NSFAS study material allowances. The Department was aware that the missing middle group of students also required these devices and their institutions have been made aware of this. To expedite the process, he wrote to the Minister of Finance to seek permission to solicit bids from companies that can provide the devices. The approach is to procure these devices centrally. Economies of scale were the main reason why the Department was planning to centralise procurement of these devices.
The Department spoke to saving the academic year. From 1 June all universities would offer some form of remote multi-modal flexible teaching and learning, supported by approved resource plans. Although, the academic year was largely dependent on how the Covid-19 trajectory would unfold, it was likely that the academic year would end during the first quarter of 2021. The Department had adopted a phase in approach to allow final year under-graduate students currently enrolled in clinical training and medicine students, to return to campus during May. When Level 3 commences, the plan is to bring back about a third of the students to onsite learning. From Level 2, it will be two thirds. From Level 1, all students will have returned. Institutions will have 27 weeks of onsite teaching and learning once campuses have fully opened. TVET and CET colleges will return to onsite learning once Level 3 has been declared. Safety precautions will have to be readied before onsite learning takes place. Classes will also be split to minimise large gatherings.
Members asked about institutions located in provinces or districts that might remain on Level 4 from 1 June; if the Department was planning to assist the 'missing middle' group of students now; if TVET College students would receive devices based on NSFAS criteria; financial implications of the TVET trimester being moved to 2021; criteria for students returning to onsite learning in Level 3; mechanisms in place to ensure that students who received gadgets will not deregister; plans to move students from the 'missing middle' to being eligible for NSFAS; internet connectivity assistance for students without access; how all TVET courses were accommodated in TV and radio broadcasts; fixing network connectivity for students living in rural areas; safety measures in private accommodation and student residences; assisting students that left their study material in residences when lockdown was initially announced; the location of the new University of Science and Innovation; and when tertiary institutions would submit their readiness checklist.
The Department presented its Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan and outlined the PSET challenges which included infrastructure, student housing; funding; low throughput rates; perverse incentives for research productivity; weak management information systems (MIS); weak partnerships between TVET colleges and industry; lack of funding for the ‘Missing Middle’ students; poorly qualified lecturers in CETs and poor programme offerings; poor governance in SETAs and inadequate human resources.
Members asked why DHET Plans lacked details on GBV; measures in place to increase internet connectivity in the TVET sector; target for beds for student accommodation; why the university sector received the bulk of the budget; if acting positions in the Department had been filled; if DHET had considered expanding existing universities rather than building new ones from scratch; if the Annual Performance Plan would be revised due to impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of on Higher Education and Training remarks
Minister Blade Nzimande said that in addition to what is entailed in the Strategic Plan, two new universities will be built. One will be the University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni and the other is a University for Crime Detection in Hammanskraal. He would assign his advisor to lead the project on the establishment of the University of Science and Innovation.
Over the next ten year period, the Department is planning on building at least three education precincts across the country in support of the District Development Model approved by Cabinet. The first step is the Imbali Education Project; he is in the process of appointing a Project Manager for it. The precincts would have a multiplicity of education institutions in one place and these institutions would have a relationship with each other. For example, the Imbali Education Centre has a school for those with disabilities; ECD (Early Childhood Development) and pre-school institutions; a university of technology campus, a TVET College campus and two high schools, which include a technical high school. He plans to locate technology parks in townships as well as science and innovation hubs.
The other matter he mentioned was the effective coordination of integrated infrastructure development within Post School Education and Training (PSET). The Department is planning to build massive infrastructure over the next ten years. He was now re-assigning all infrastructure coordination within the Department to Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) so that it can focus its attention on this. He has also appointed a Ministerial Advisory Committee on Infrastructure (MACI). The issue of infrastructure must be approached in a systematic manner.
He is also preoccupied with addressing historically disadvantaged institutions, particularly to strengthen institutional management and governance systems; improving institutional infrastructure and facilities; enhancing effective staff recruitment, development and retrenchments; strengthening the academic enterprise and leveraging locality and communities in which these institutions are located. He asked the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) to pay attention to these institutions as the interest in Artificial Intelligence peaks. He had done a survey on what tertiary institutions are doing on this front and he was not happy with the outcome at all. It has been only the five former white institutions that have been conducting research on AI. He was not pleased with this at all. Ideally there should be centre for AI in each of the 26 universities. The historically disadvantaged universities service mostly students coming from rural areas and previously disadvantaged backgrounds; thus, they cannot be left behind on issues of such importance.
At the beginning of the year, the Minister himself began addressing the issue of the 'missing middle'. He started having some informal discussions with various institutions. He wants to start a formal process to come up with a plan and work with the private sector to establish an affordable loan system for these students.
In this year, he would also review the National Skills Fund. He wants to look at its efficiency, operations and relevance for the country’s skills priorities. This will be more important with the rising unemployment and sluggish economic growth.
On the 30 April, he announced that the Department would provide digital devices for NSFAS students. The Department has not yet reached the intended stage but this will be expedited. All NSFAS registered students in public universities and TVET colleges will have access to an appropriate digital device to assist them to complete the 2020 academic year. The Department will ensure that it does not award students who have already received these devices from their institutions. Some of these institutions include UKZN, UJ, University of Venda, Sol Plaatjie University and Nelson Mandela University. Information is being gathered and the Department will have information on the status. These mechanisms will be put in place at institutional level.
The Department may not be able to provide these devices to all students at the same time due to the issue of availability. DHET is working with all institutions on the reprioritisation of funds for the purchase of the devices. NSFAS students who wish to access the device through their institutions will do so based on the agreement that the cost of the device will be offset against their learning materials allowance for 2021. The Department is developing a policy based on what various universities have done on how these devices may be acquired. The plan is not to make these for free so that students can take responsibility for them. The required specifications will ensure that they are traceable to minimise theft.
We are aware that it is not only NSFAS students that require these devices; the 'missing middle' students may also need these devices and we have made institutions aware of this. Our approach is that we want to procure the devices centrally and today he is writing to the Minister of Finance to allow the Department to call for expression of interest, hopefully as early as next week. For TVET colleges, we are acquiring them centrally. For universities the Department is recommending that they are acquired centrally as well. However, if universities feel that they have already started giving them out or they think it is better to provide them separately, DHET is willing to agree to that provided their plans are in line with the Departments’ planning.
The reason centralised procurement is encouraged is because of economies of scale and avoiding a situation where the prices acquired at different levels are not the same as well as delays in acquisition and distribution of these gadgets.
Saving the 2020 Academic Year
Ms Diane Parker, Deputy Director-General: Universities, said that the Department adopted a risk-based plan to save the academic year as well as lives. From 1 June, all institutions would offer forms of remote multimodal flexible teaching and learning, supported by approved resourced plans.
During Level 4 of lockdown, a strictly controlled phased-in return of final-year undergraduate students in programmes requiring clinical training will commence, beginning with MBChB students form 11 May 2020. Under Level 3 and 2, there will be a further phasing in of groups of students (undergraduate and post graduate) based on national criteria to ensure controlled return, social distancing and other protocols to support student and staff health and safety.
Basically, we might bring in a third of the students during Level 3 and two-thirds during Level 2. The final decision for return of students in these categories will take place only once the National Command Council has taken into account all necessary health and safety precautions.
Under Level 1, a full return of all students will be implemented; however, social distancing and health protocols would still be in place. There will still be 27 weeks of contact teaching as planned to ensure effective completion of academic year 2020 and a fair chance of success for all students to assist those students that may have been left behind during the lockdown.
As for progress made so far, the Department conducted two surveys to ascertain progress made by institutions in preparation and implementation of safety and health precautions to operate effectively during lockdown. Thus, four broad areas were identified:
• Devices, data and connectivity for students and staff.
• Implementation of alternative flexible teaching and learning modalities
• Phased-in return of students and staff and campus readiness
• Financial sustainability into the future.
The current academic year might trickle into 2021 and a full restoration of the 2020 academic year might resume in September. The Department would ensure that the Plan was finalised and completed with the institutions to assist students that may have been left behind during the lockdown. It is evident that not all students may have been able to learn online during the lockdown. So, all different groups of students will be catered for in that Plan. Included in that Plan are students living with disabilities.
Assessments should also be flexible to the conditions imposed by the pandemic. Students who were unable to access these online, should be given an opportunity to do the assessments on campus. Institutions must explain how they plan to cater for these students as well. Institution staff will be provided training to ensure that safety precautions are adhered to minimise and fight the spread of Covid-19.
For the Level 4 Phase-in of final year medical students, the Minister will publish directions allowing them to travel over the period 11 May – 31 May to resume clinical training programmes. Nine institutions with medical schools were already preparing to phase-in final year students in medical programmes from May. A Phase-In Plan will be finalised by 18 May for the Minister's approval. Further directions will be published once the Plan is approved.
Ms Arona Singh, Deputy Director-General, TVET College, said that May has been dedicated for preparedness of the return of students for onsite learning. Students may only return at the end of May, under Level 3 if so declared. When students return to campus for onsite learning, daily screening will become a norm and measures will be put in place to ensure daily screening. The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that about 10 health workers will be deployed to assist the colleges with these screenings.
When students return for onsite learning, classes will be split to avoid a large gathering of students at one place. Students are encouraged to learn independently because contact learning will be minimised. Additional learning support materials will be provided for students. Colleges are allowed, together with the oversight of regional managers, to work details of the revised timetables. Different colleges may have different timetables; thus different modalities. The discretion to determine these modalities will be left completely to the colleges with the oversight of regional managers.
A readiness checklist has been developed to ensure that by the time onsite learning resumes, all the safety guidelines were adhered to. Today was the deadline for all Colleges to submit their responses on progress made on the checklist. In the last week of May, DHET expects that all Colleges will be ready for onsite learning. DHET and DOH started on 4 May 2020 with the training of college staff to understand and manage the learning environment in the context of COVID-19. These webinar-based training sessions will be completed by 25 May 2020 across all six regions covering the 50 colleges. A national picture on the state of readiness of all colleges will be developed over the next three weeks.
Lastly, on remote learning, the provision of devices for students was non-existent because at this stage it was not viable for TVET colleges financially. However; the initiative towards provision of devices for students and lecturers is already under way to drive a technology-driven pedagogy in colleges in future.
Mr Bheki Mahlobo, Deputy Director-General: CET Colleges, said the conditions of return to onsite learning for CET students and staff are the same as that for TVET colleges. The CET sector will adhere to the same safety and precaution guidelines and screening and testing guidelines that are mandatory for all institutions for the resumption of onsite learning. In addition to the pre-condition of Lockdown Level 3, students will only return once there is compliance clearance of the 9 CET colleges.
Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC) said the Committee had asked for a detailed breakdown on the state of readiness of all institutions of higher learning. She was not pleased with the detail provided by the Department today.
The sector intends on resuming on 1 June but the entire country may not be ready for Level 3 by then. What will happen to institutions that are located in provinces or districts that are declared Level 4 or 5 by 1 June? There is a tendency for lack of consequence management in the sector; institutions need to complete their plans as per the deadline. Are there repercussions for those that fail to abide by the deadline?
Mr B Nodada (DA) asked the Minister if there will be assistance provided for the ‘Missing Middle’ and if institutions will be given guidelines on how assistance can be provided for that group of students. He asked if TVET college students would get devices based on NSFAS criteria or if another guideline would be considered. What are the implications of the TVET trimester being moved to 2021 for students that are on NSFAS? Moving the trimester to 2021 will certainly have financial implications for NSFAS.
He suggested that the Ministerial Task Teams should be included in the Annual Performance Plan in detail, this would give Members the opportunity to familiarise themselves with their mandates and ask related questions.
To the university branch, what is the national criterion to determine which students will be returning to onsite learning?
Mr T Letsie (ANC) commended the Minister for the efforts made by the Department to procure devices for students who lack devices to study from home. He asked about mechanisms put in place to ensure that those students that have received gadgets will not deregister, since this would be allowed by some universities due to the lost academic time in 2020.
Are there plans in place to move students from the 'missing middle' to become eligible for NSFAS? Some of the students and their parents will be greatly affected by Covid-19. Is there research conducted to quantify the students that do not have access to network or connectivity and so cannot learn online during lockdown?
He asked DHET to share the Readiness Checklist with the Committee so it is aware of what it entailed.
Mr P Keetse (EFF) said that if the by 1 June, students will return to onsite learning, where does that leave the students that could not receive the devices on time to learn online during the lockdown? Reports were received about a significant number of students unable to catch up, particularly those that lacked the study material or devices to study online. With more than 1 000 modules in the TVET sector, given the lack of devices, how are TV and radio broadcasts going to assist students as 1 000 modules is a lot to cater for?
Mr M Mapulane (ANC) said that specific questions can be provided to the Minister’s office at a later stage if by the Minister is no longer present to answer questions.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF; KZN) mentioned the network challenges in the rural parts of the country. She struggles to connect in order to attend committee meetings. She hoped that DHET, in its long term plans of encouraging online learning, will address this structural problem. This brings imbalances in the sector. Students should all be on equal footing in access to internet connectivity to be effective in their online learning.
She was also concerned if safety measures at residences will be conducted before students move back into their residences, particularly those located in rural areas.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) emphasized in the procurement of devices that hopefully the Minister will bear in mind the costs. CETs should be given the same attention as universities. On slide 17, the CET branch should provide some clarity on its preparedness for onsite learning. She was not pleased with the detail provided. As for private accommodation providers for students, what is the status of that plan?
Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) stressed the importance of ensuring that the 'missing middle' must not be left behind on funding after the country has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. He asked for details on 360 degree screening, particularly how institutions would do it.
He asked the Minister if timeframes could be provided for ensuring students located in rural areas struggling with network connectivity, are addressed.
Ms D Christians (DA; Western Cape) noted there were concerns from students that did not have their study material with them. Some of the students had left their study material in their residences in haste when the lockdown was initially announced. She asked if provision will be made to assist these students to get their study materials.
At TVET colleges, some of their programmes run up until the evenings, has the Department already started working on the revised timetables?
Lastly, for students going back to private residences, are there any plans by the Department or their institutions to protect them from exposure to Covid-19. Are there guidelines for private residence providers to adhere to Covid-19 safety precautions?
Dr W Boshoff (FF+) asked if the MACI is a state owned enterprise or what exactly it is going to be.
Mr B Yabo (ANC) asked for clarity on the plans of the new University of Science and Innovation and where this institution will be located. He encouraged the Department and tertiary institutions to send a clear message on recovering the academic year. Most students remain unaware of what is to unfold.
Mr Mapulane indicated that when he interacted with the Department he was under the impression that the universities have already completed their online learning plans. Is the Department still waiting for the universities to make those submissions?
He told the Minister that there was a serious lack of accountability by senior officials in public institutions. Some of them have given Parliament the middle finger when they were requested to appear before the Committee to account. He was pleased that the Minister had replaced the Vice Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare, who had previously disregarded Parliament when called to account. It was good riddance. The Vice Chancellor of Sefako Makgotho University was becoming problematic as well and he asked the Minister to comment on this.
Mr Mapulane said that the Committees were pleased to hear about the Department’s plans for the provision of the devices for students. Consequently, there will be a massive procurement process. He appealed to the Minister that the procurement must be done in accordance with Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) requirements so that there is proper accountability.
Minister Nzimande replied that the Department would have liked to provide the state of readiness per institution today but unfortunately the Department is not there. The institutions were now saying that they would be ready only on some aspects. The institutions must not be allowed to delay the work; however, we are confronted and constrained by some institutions battling to provide the information on time due to a lack of capacity. The Minister would have liked to inform the Committee on this as his media briefing is on Tuesday.
The Department is doing its best to hold the institutions to account. The Ministerial Task Team chaired by the Deputy Minister primarily ensures that each institution has a plan and the national framework was developed with all institutions adhering to it.
Government policy is to assist students who come from families not earning more than R350 000 per annum to acquire the first qualification from university or college. This is policy but one is aware of the matter of the 'missing middle'. Hence, the Ministry conducted an investigation to ascertain how those parents and students can be assisted through an affordable loan scheme with the private sector.
The Ministerial projects are part of the Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Plan; they are not running outside the projects of the Department. If Members feel that these projects are not adequately outlined in the APP and Strategic Plan, they are free to raise that and it will be attended to.
On the Sefako Makgotho University (SMU) matter, he left it to the officials, saying he wanted the student voice to be heard across the board.
On students being allowed to deregister, he believed the matter was misunderstood. In each academic year, institutions do allow students to deregister and change courses if they so wish. This is how he understood the deregistration – it was not from the institution itself but rather about the courses.
By 1 June, the academic year needs to resume using multi-modal remote support. The Minister had asked the CSIR to conduct geo-mapping as to where connectivity is and what can be done by when to enhance connectivity. This is one of the priority areas. There is no going back on gadgets and connectivity; it is very clear what the future holds. We must move towards developing full capacity for online learning. It is the future otherwise the boundaries of national universities may be overwhelmed. We need to prepare for the future systematically. He would like to compose a team that will specifically focus on how we can heighten online learning at full capacity.
Minister Nzimande replied that CET should not be treated as distant cousins in the PSET system; unfortunately there is no budget for it. CETs have been piggy-backing on the Department of Basic Education for places of learning and utilising funds from the National Skills Fund (NSF) and SETAs but that is not sustainable. We need a budget to properly fund CET.
AI research and studies need to be expanded from the former white universities to other universities as well. He spoke to his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates in discussions on deepening relations in higher education. The UAE has a dedicated Minister of Artificial Intelligence and a University of Artificial Intelligence. The Minister has been told several times that any country that is left behind on AI is doomed.
The Department is engaging with the private accommodation providers; it is a complex matter. The challenge is that some of them are complaining whether they will be getting their rents since students are not occupying these places. Engagements are ongoing to find an amicable resolution.
DHET is not establishing an SOE on infrastructure, the MACI intends to centralise building infrastructure which is an agreement that comes from the national plan. The Minister wants to get proper advice on zooming into student accommodation, particularly on private accommodation. DHET wants to now start supervising some of the institutions as funding has been provided but some institutions take a long time to start building.
The new universities each need a feasibility study and there is no place that has been identified as yet. Feasibility studies will be conducted first.
He emphasized that he was concerned about the incomplete data received from institutions, even more so now after the President’s address last night. We need to move with speed.
Ms Parker said that institutions were already planning for their lockdown plans but not all of them were fully worked out; hence, DHET developed the document to guide the institutions on the principles and guidelines required. By next week, complete plans will be provided to the Minister.
The lockdown levels for provinces were being assessed as well as how the level will affect the institutions in those locations. The lockdown requirements will be adhered to.
On the 'missing middle', the Department was still working on this and particularly the provision of loans in partnership with the private sector.
Ms Singh said that TVETs will be getting devices and this is incorporated into the plans for the universities. In terms of timeframes, the universities will be prioritised but there is some funding that has been made available for this including some savings from NSFAS.
All students are represented in the Ministerial Task Team chaired by the Deputy Minister.
On the discrepancy in lockdown levels in the different areas, those colleges that fall within the geographical areas of Level 4 – this means that safety measures will be intensified. If for whatever reason, there is a Level 5 where those colleges are located, the Level 5 measures will have to be adhered to.
In dealing with subjects, the Department caters for the priority subjects for broadcasting on TV and radio. Colleges have started working on their revised timetables and there will be no additional time for lecturing because that will require hiring additional staff.
Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan
Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, DHET Director General, outlined PSET challenges across the board from university level to SETA level. Challenges included infrastructure; student housing; funding; low throughput rates; perverse incentives for research productivity; weak Management Information System (MIS); weak partnerships between TVET colleges and industry; lack of funding for the ‘missing middle’ students; poorly qualified CET lecturers and poor programme offerings; poor governance in SETAs and inadequate human resources.
The Five-Year outcome targets for enrolments were:
• Number of students enrolled at public universities to increase from 1 085 568 in 2018 to 1 131 000 by 2025
• Enrolments at TVET colleges are expected to increase from 657 133 in 2018 to 710 000 and remain constant between 2020 and 2025 due to the funding shortfall averaging R800 million per annum
• Enrolments at CET colleges will increase from 258 199 in 2017 to 555 194 by 2025
• 450 000 university and 340 000 TVET students will receive funding through NSFAS bursaries in 2025
• Learners entering artisanal programmes annually will increase from 29 982 in 2018 to 36 375 by 2025
The annual number of students placed in Work-Based Learning (WBL) programmes will increase from 182 852 in 2018 to 190 000 by 2025. See presentation on key outputs for each programme.
Cash Flow Impact of Covid-19 pandemic
DHET will manage the procurement of dedicated items (gloves, face masks, sanitizers) through reprioritization based on efficiency gains due to the lockdown position. Cash Flow Management is regulated through a Treasury Instruction in terms of Section 29 of the PFMA. Until the budget vote has been approved by Parliament: expenditure (including all transfers and subsidies) is limited to 45% of the allocation until 31 July 2020; and from August 2020, expenditure will be limited to a further 10% of the allocation.
Ms Mananiso said the Department APP made no mention of Gender-Based Violence. Programme 1 Administration plans to spend R11.8 million on consultants. She asked for details on this. The TVET programme on examinations has been under-funded for so long. Why was the budget of this critical programme decreased?
Mr Ngcobo said that student accommodation is critical and something must be done because it trickles into other challenges as well. If the 'missing middle' is not properly accounted for, particularly with the provision of gadgets on the basis of loans, it will be problematic.
Mr Nodada said that since the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual learning and meetings have increased. He asked the Department to indicate if there were measures put in place in the TVET sector to increase internet connectivity. What is the target for beds for student accommodation in the TVET sector? Universities receive the bulk of the budget, what is the reason for this, because there is limited budget for the TVET and CETs?
Ms Mkhatshwa indicated that higher education infrastructure development has been a great concern to the Committee. She believed this can be attributed to the lack of consequence management for services providers that fail to deliver on time. Network challenges need to be prioritised and dealt with so that students can learn online. She asked if the many acting positions in DHET have been filled yet.
Dr Boshoff said that on slide 27 on staffing South African universities that it is clear that the development programme is reserved for black academics. Does the Department realise that the students are then not expected to perform well but expected to be black? Similarly black prospective academics are not expected to be excellent because they are black. The net result is not to encourage transformation but mediocrity as some will disregard academia as a possible career and for others the message is ‘less than your best is good enough’. Are these unintended consequences thought through by the Department?
Chairperson Mapulane said that Dr Boshoff comment is a political statement.
Mr Keetse commented on the establishment of the two universities mentioned by the Minister. Government or rather the Department has failed on this before and he hopes that this was not going to be another failure as building a university from scratch is much harder than the Department had previously anticipated. He asked if it would not be more prudent to negotiate with an existing university to expand and extend their campus as opposed to establishing a new university. There had been a proposal for a new university in Ekurhuleni; perhaps the Committee could be given details on why that project failed to understand the causes that led to that.
He emphasized that the reason the outlined PSET challenges persisted each year was due to lack of governance and consequence management.
Ms Maleka asked for the reasons for adding the sub-programme: national artisan development, which increased the number of targets. What are the reasons for not increasing allocation for TVET and CETs? University Education had an increase in the number of programmes offered – what were the reasons for this as these programmes continued to receive more chunks of the budget?
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC) said that the Department did not provide a budget for Skills Development.
Mr Letsie made it clear that he was not pleased with the fact that there were three acting DDGs in the Department; he wanted to know about what will be done about this.
Chairperson Mapulane asked if DHET would revise its Annual Performance Plan due to Covid-19.
Mr Qonde replied that the revision of the Annual Performance Plan will be considered guided by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Ms Singh replied that internet for TVET is already being attended to along with the devices. It is already an ongoing process.
Ms Parker replied that on the policy of NSFAS students’ in the future, the policy does allow students to utilise their learning material allowances for devices. The policy may be altered for 2021/22 years to allow NSFAS students to be able to have required devices for learning and support materials through their learning material allowance.
Mr Qonde replied in light of GBV, all institutions measures have been put in place for training, establishment of facilities and support is provided to any student that may become a casualty of such acts.
The most enrolments numbers from institutions are made up of more women than males, as of late. This was because of biasness in our society and the appetite women have in the system. They record higher pass rates than males, our funding is biased towards women.
The Minister had indicated that the acting posts will be advertised but the hindrance was due to the pandemic. The reason the DDG for CET has been acting was because that branch was established in 2015. The CET and TVET branch were combined, so in 2015 they were separated because of the magnitude of their responsibilities separately. The DDG has been acting for five years, not ten years.
The Chairperson was not pleased with the fact that someone has been acting in one position for such a long time. He was sure this was even lawful and that it created legitimate expectations.
The meeting was adjourned.
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