Student unrest in tertiary sector; 2022 student admissions; NSFAS support to students; CGE Report on Gender Transformation Investigation in TVET colleges, with Minister

Higher Education, Science and Innovation

16 March 2022
Chairperson: Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, Portfolio Committee in Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the Multiparty Women’s Caucus met in a virtual meeting to discuss the student unrest in the tertiary sector, 2022 student admissions and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) support to students. The Committees were briefed by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on the student unrest in the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector and student admissions for the 2022 academic year. There was also a presentation done by NSFAS on student funding and support at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. Lastly, the Committees were briefed by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) on its report on gender transformation investigation in TVET colleges.

The CGE conducted transformation hearings with a specific focus on  TVET colleges. Four entities were selected and subpoenaed to appear before the Commission, namely, Nkangala TVET College, Northern Cape Urban TVET College, South West TVET College and Waterberg TVET College. Members of the Committees were concerned about the low number of TVET colleges selected. The CGE explained that the reason these four TVET colleges were selected was because some were triggered by complaints of sexual harassment, previous studies that were done and slow transformation. These colleges were selected to follow up on issues previously identified.

Members suggested that the Department engage with other stakeholders to deal with the issues of student unrest and protests. Issues that are identified should be resolved as soon as they can to prevent students from protesting over the same issues over and over again. Further, Members suggested that NSFAS update its system to deal with appeals more timeously.

Members of the different Committees were impressed with the work that has been done so far and suggested that more engagements be held in the future to ensure sustainable funding and the implementation of policies

Meeting report

Briefing by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)

Ms Jamela Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, CGE, took Members through the presentation that consisted of the CGE’s constitutional mandate, legal framework, hearings, purpose of the hearings, findings, recommendations, and conclusion.


During the 2019/2020 financial year, the Commission conducted transformation hearings with a specific focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges. Four entities were selected and subpoenaed to appear before the Commission, namely, Nkangala TVET College, Northern Cape Urban TVET College, South West TVET College and Waterberg TVET College. A questionnaire was dispatched to all four colleges, giving them an opportunity to respond during the investigative process. Data was received by the Commission from all colleges. When analysing the data submitted by the colleges, the Commission considered several factors, including gender representation at all occupational categories, race, disability, student safety, and reasonable accommodation. The Commission was prompted to undertake this investigation due to the lack of proper understanding of gender dynamics accompanied by a slow pace of transformation within institutions of higher learning. There are low levels of compliance with relevant laws aimed at transformation, more especially the Employment Equity Act (EEA), Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA).

Nkangala TVET College

There is a poor representation of persons with disabilities in academic and administrative positions at the Nkangala TVET College. Just 10% percent of administrative positions are filled by persons with disabilities and no academic positions. The college lacks mechanisms to track and manage cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) within and outside campus. The college does not have resources to support gender transformation because it is a national competency. The CGE made the following recommendations: the college must ensure that it implements employment equity, with a plan in place to recruit persons with disabilities. The college should work with disability organisations in Mpumalanga, it must develop mechanisms to track and manage cases of GBV within and outside campus and the Department of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation (DHESI), together with the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL), must play an active role in monitoring the implementation of employment equity plans by TVET colleges.

Northern Cape Urban TVET College

The Northern Cape Urban TVET College functions under the auspices DHESI, which is part of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) rules and regulations. As such, it does not have disaggregated data on the remuneration of employees. The College does not have resources to support gender transformation because it is a national competency. The sexual harassment policy of the College defines sexual harassment as repeated unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks of employees, students, or suppliers in the workplace or work context, which is unlawful and will not be tolerated at the College. This definition is not in line with the Code of Good Practice on Handling Sexual Harassment Cases in the Workplace, 2005. The College does not offer subjects for deaf or visually impaired students. Students with disability need to be accommodated. It also lacks representation of persons with disability in the top and senior management. Furthermore, the college lacks essential employment policies that address transformation in the workplace, and it demonstrated a lack of training and education on GBV and related topics.

The CGE made the following recommendations, which must be implemented within six months of the hearing date:

- The college should consult DHESI to compile gender and race disaggregated data for remuneration of employees to adhere to the requirement of equal pay for work of equal value.

- The college should liaise with DHESI regarding the allocation of resources to address transformation. There should be compliance notwithstanding the National competency.

- The college should ensure that its sexual harassment policy is reviewed and aligned with the    Code of Good Practice on Handling Sexual Harassment Cases in the Workplace, 2005.

- In providing reasonable accommodation, the College must offer subjects for deaf or visually impaired students.

- The College should include representation of persons with disability in the top and senior management of the College.

- The College must introduce and improve all employment policies, including leave policy, campus security (with SAPS), HR policies, breastfeeding policy, and sexual harassment policy.

- The College should undertake a training and education drive to train all staff on GBV and related topics. The Commission must be invited to monitor the training.

South West Gauteng TVET College

During the public investigative hearing, a representative from the College appeared before the Commission to account for the state of transformation at the workplace. The Commission expressed its displeasure at the lack of preparation of the representatives, including the lack of a detailed presentation to the Commission. Handwritten notes were submitted by the TVET College to the Commission, and it was expressed that the conduct of the representatives undermines the Constitutional mandate of the Commission. The College further lacked supporting documents and as such the Commission resolved that it could not engage the College fruitfully. To this end, the College was dismissed from the hearing and was requested to resubmit the information to the Commission.

Waterberg TVET College

It was found that the sexual harassment policy at the College is not aligned with the 2005 Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Its policies are not gender-sensitive. Waterberg TVET does not conduct adequate training on sexual harassment to students and staff members. The Employment Equity plan has lapsed, and a new plan must be submitted. Persons with disabilities are underrepresented in various occupational levels. Disciplinary processes are not adequate and steps must be taken by Waterberg TVET. There is no uniform structure to deal with the transformation programmes initiated by it. There are no policy frameworks that ensures continuity, accountability, and transparency in the implementation of equality and non-discrimination transformation initiatives. The College does not offer childcare facilities nor have a breastfeeding policy.

The CGE made the following recommendations:

- The sexual harassment policy must be adopted by June 2021 and be aligned with the 2005 Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

- The Waterberg TVET to review policies to be gender-sensitive.

- Waterberg TVET to conduct training on sexual harassment, and the CGE to be invited at the trainings

- The College is to provide disaggregated data demonstrating employees who were generally promoted in various levels in the past three years, from 2017.

- TVET to submit a New EE Plan, dress code policy, HIV & Aids Policy, and disability policy.

- Share minutes of the committee minutes for the past two years.

- Share the model with the commission.

- Share examples of advertisements that target persons with disability.

- The College to develop a policy framework that ensures continuity, accountability, and transparency in the implementation of equality and non-discrimination transformation initiatives.

In conclusion, the CGE is encouraged by the willingness to comply with the legal prescripts, however, the DHET is always used as a shield by the College as it is a custodian of TVET Colleges. Out of the four Colleges that participated only one is led by an African female as opposed to her three counterparts. Some Colleges do not have their own sexual harassment policies and use policy and procedures of the Management of Sexual Harassment 2013. The progression of women and people with disabilities into top and senior management positions appears to be a common challenge for the Colleges. Generally, the top and senior management positions are male-dominated. In terms of challenges relating to Employment Equity forum meetings, Colleges indicated that Covid 19-had impacted negatively on their plans. Transformation is taking place at a very slow pace and Principals and Acting Principals should commit themselves to achieve the same by including it in their Key Performance Areas (KPAs).

Briefing by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training, said that there are some strategic challenges about the registration processes at the start of the academic year. The Department has continuously been implementing key measures to address the issue of providing free higher education for students from the working class and poor backgrounds. There has been a massive increase in gross funding levels and overall numbers of NSFAS recipients. There is the issue of administrative capacity of measures, which at this point in time NSFAS only uses 0.9% of its total budget on administration which includes payment of staff, development of capacity systems, and payment systems for student allowances. This is worrisome, 5% to 10% of the budget should go towards administration.

The issue of funding is a necessary system to support students from working-class and poor backgrounds and should be an absolute priority. There is a new Board and CEO, and it is part of rebuilding NSFAS to represent a fresh mandate to modernise and upgrade systems and services. The Department is looking into a more sustainable model that would support the missing middle categories of students. This will be presented to the Cabinet at the end of April. The main focus now is to secure all the necessary funding for NSFAS. Cabinet has approved funding to cover the R10.3 Billion shortfall. This process was time-consuming. There must be a longer-term solution to the problem of mass shortfall. There must be a durable model to support NSFAS students and to support students in the missing middle-income category. It is not easy to address the issue of lack of skills amongst the youth because children go to grade one but never to university. This raises the problem of youth unemployment. The Minister and Director General (DG) have met with universities on how to deal with issues in the sector. Student leadership is important. A platform has been created to engage with student leaders.

In this way, the Department is able to share with them transparently what is being done and address the issues of vaccinations, eligibility criteria and other guidelines. An internal task team has been established and any information needed can be provided. The Department has encouraged the Management and Student Representative Councils (SRC) at tertiary institutions to engage with each other to address institutional and systemic issues. The sector has now started with both online and contact classes at institutions. The virus and its epidemiology seem now to have decreased in terms of numbers. The Ministerial task team is there to engage with trade unions and students to manage COVID-19. Institutions have been helping the Department, especially the Department of Health with issues surrounding GBV and gender discrimination. He informed the Committee that a separate session can be held for them to engage in discussions around these issues. It is hoped that the Department will be able to put in place an arrangement such that there is much more certainty about student funding, the issue of student accommodation and infrastructure.

Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, Director-General, DHET, took Members of the Committees through the presentation containing information about the university education branch, technical and vocational education, and training branch and community education and training.

See presentation attached for more details

Briefing by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

Mr Ernest Khosa, Chairperson of the Board, said that NSFAS has been receiving support from both the Minister and DG. He said that the administrative budget for NSFAS is a big shame. NSFAS has changed its product and volume of students. The Board has visited both universities and colleges and identified a number of challenges. These challenges include; timeous responses, applications by students, allowances, accommodation, historical debt, projects, and specific problems relating to TVET. He said that there is an organisational structure to monitor and respond to these challenges.

Ms Nthuseng Mphahlele, Chief Operations Officer (COO), said to manage the risk of registration closing out before students could obtain funding decisions, NSFAS shared details of students who appealed with institutions so that Universities and TVET Colleges could manage the risks at institutional level. The system has since been restarted and is now processing appeals accurately for most of the students. The system issues have now been addressed and NSFAS is busy with the evaluation of appeals and issuing of funding decisions.

There was a budget shortfall of approximately R10 billion. Availability of funding was confirmed towards the end of January leading to delays in issuing of funding decisions and guidelines. NSFAS no longer has cash reserves. These were depleted with the 2020 extended academic year and as such no longer in the position to provide advances to institutions, particularly Universities. In the current academic cycle, this was exacerbated by the fact that the allocation of R3.2 billion of the 2021 budget shortfall has not yet been received from the National Skills Fund (NSF). NSFAS is currently engaging with the DHET to fast track this. The TVET sector had an available budget and as a result, NSFAS was able to advance 20% of tuition allocation to colleges. There is a fundamental timing issue of when NSFAS receives its allocation to when institutions start their academic programme, leading to students not receiving their allowances on time, thus creating instability at institutions. For future academic years, NSFAS is preparing a cash flow projection to discuss with the DHET and National Treasury to assess the possibility of receiving its funding allocation earlier to align to institutional academic programs.

Minister 's remarks 

Minister Nzimande said that the Department is working with institutions such as the CGE in order to be able to deal with important matters. There are guidelines that the Department must follow that describe in broad and strategic terms what is to be achieved. He pointed out that there are six key contradictions in society which are: class, race, people with disabilities, age and geography that NSFAS operates under. The Department seeks to address the issue of people with disabilities so that they feel like a part of the system. He acknowledged that there are many shortcomings in the education sector that reflect a patriarchal society. However, this is not used as an excuse, as there are always ways to address the issues of the larger society.

The TVET college and university sectors are facing huge resource challenges and this has had an impact on infrastructure that is friendly to people with disabilities. The Department is among the very few to confront gender inequality or a framework to promote gender equality in the sector. In the future, CGE can assist the Department with investigations to follow up on these policy frameworks and the monitoring and supervisory mechanisms, as well as measures for capacity building to be able to promote gender equality and incorporate people with disabilities.

It is helpful to look at the policy frameworks that are now in place to identify potential shortcomings, by considering what is in the background of other laws. This will assist identify the areas that need to be improved. There needs to be a deeper investigation into the policies that are implemented at TVET colleges to sharpen the current framework. The Minister asked for clarity on TVET colleges using the DHET as a shield. The Department is willing to work with CGE because the issue of gender equality is a priority.


The Chairperson acknowledged that the observations and recommendations of the discussion will not be different from some of those mentioned in the university programme. This speaks to the fact that the Committee needs to ensure that those recommendations made in relation to the implementation of the National strategic panel for GBV and budgets dedicated to fight GBV and femicide are prioritised. There is a need for clear and measurable indicators in the APP of the Department and other Departments for example in the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the SRC. This will ensure that the SRC has the capacity to be active and influential in the revising and reviewing of sexual harassment policies that should exist within institutions. If these policies do not exist, at least be able to initiate policies. Generally, gender-related matters cannot be in isolation from the other challenges that the sector is faced with. The incapacities of the TVET programme are being dealt with. There has been a discussion around capacitating the financial unit and institutions to be able to develop policies that speak to sexual harassment and GBV to ensure inclusivity. Is there specified gender officers and Human Resources to deal with issues? There needs to be capacity development programmes that would directly speak to alleviating or mitigating GBV in the centre of finding inequities not only for the program at large but even within the allowances for students. In addressing this, the Portfolio Committee and the Department may be able to overcome particular challenges that may relate to GBV and ensuring intersectionality and inclusivity.

Ms J Mananiso (ANC) said it is disappointing that certain issues could have been addressed by the HR department in the institutions where the research was conducted. She asked why these four institutions were selected. The issues of transformation cut across any aspect of development, for example, infrastructure. It should be dealt with on a daily basis if transformation is a top priority. If there are no policies, this should be addressed. Issues such as lack of capacity should be looked at. There needs to be a follow-up in these particular institutions in terms of their plan of action regarding the recommendations made by CGE. She suggested that there be a summit of some sort for transformational issues such as GBV and femicide with all the stakeholders involved to address loopholes and transformational agendas to address people with disabilities and the youth. She said she wanted to advocate for those who have been marginalised and vulnerable.

Ms C Ndaba (ANC) asked what progress has been made by institutions in implementing the recommendations since the report was published. It is assumed that after recommendations are made, CGE goes back and checks if the recommendations have been implemented. If follow-ups are not made it will be a fruitless exercise and wasting of resources. She asked for a report on this. She asked what the key challenges noted by TVET colleges are, in giving effect to their recommendations and how is CGE monitoring and evaluating implementations of recommendations?

She told the Minister that there should be a unit that does monitoring and evaluation so that people can be held accountable if they are not implementing policies. Statistics showed that women are lesser than men in higher positions. In higher institutions, there are fewer women in senior management. This issue is not being addressed. It is as if women do not exist or are not worthy of those positions. What measures or mechanisms has the Department put in place to ensure that women are being considered for those senior positions? It should also take responsibility for ensuring that people with disabilities are accommodated. It is clear when visiting TVET institutions that people with disabilities are being reasonably accommodated.

What is the nature of collaboration or partnership between the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, the Department of Health, Social Development and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to address issues of GBV and mental health? It is important that institutions and Departments that are dealing with issues of GBV and all role-playing Departments should collaborate to ensure that whatever programs or work that they are doing in institutions of higher learning produce good results. Working in silos will not produce the desired results.

Dr N Khumalo (DA) asked how enforcement in relation to performance management is handled in the various institutions. Is there a standardized process of performance management in relation to GBV and people with disabilities and the policies? Is there sufficient or adequate infrastructure and funding available to institutions in the Northern Cape to actually enable access to those particular individuals with disabilities, hearing or visual impairment? The question around infrastructure and funding is, whether it is an issue of capacity or an issue of lack of resources? Dr Khumalo said that she was curious about the implementation of policies and the existence of policies or nonexistence of policies in some institutions as well as the development of these policies relating to GBV. She wanted to know more about the level of managerial oversight and monitoring of policies and their alignment with the laws of the Republic. It seems like an incident has to happen more than once before it becomes an issue. This is not how laws are structured or dictated on how to deal with GBV. There is a need to regularise oversight over the implementation of various policies and also standardisation of these policies in the various institutions. It is important to ensure that there is policy formulation and to consider conducive environments for the implementation of these policies.

Ms N Tarabella Marchesi (DA) asked what plans the CGE has put in place to ensure that the footprint of this Commission is expanded because GBV is now regarded as a pandemic. The foundations of policies are not at institutions. The presentation by CGE gave the impression that oversight was done at these institutions for the first time and with such oversight it just goes through having the implementation of policies and infrastructure. It is known that TVET Colleges are not properly funded and do not have the proper infrastructure. When visiting these institutions, one can see that the infrastructure is not of a high standard and is not suitable for people with disabilities. There is still a long way to go to ensure that there is adequate infrastructure and able to accommodate people with disabilities. The Department and its entities should ensure that the budget is able to provide TVET Colleges with the type of infrastructure that they need. Policies should exist in these institutions and should be standardised to ensure that there is uniformity in all these institutions. She asked if the institutions that previously had no policies have it now, for example, HIV/AIDS policy and disability policies. Is there a report of this?

Ms Tarabella Marchesi also asked how accessible CGE is in all provinces and if the offices are accessible for people with disabilities. She asked how to lay a complaint and whether there is a way to make contact immediately. Previously there were only nine Commissioners. Are there any plans to increase the number of Commissioners? Will there be more offices around the country and how many offices are there currently?

Ms F Masiko (ANC) said one cannot overemphasise the need for progress because it is one thing to conduct research but it’s another to follow up on progress in relation to the implementation of the recommendations. It is important for the Department to get an understanding of whether or not the situation is the same across all Colleges. The report explained whether there is a framework or if there are existing policies in place, however it also tells the Committee that there is no implementation of those policies. Certain institutions have policies in place that they just do not know about. The Department should monitor and evaluate these policies. Those responsible for implementing the recommendations should be held accountable. The issue of uniformity on policies on sexual harassment must be some form of coordinated effort from the Department to ensure that tertiary institutions are aware of these policies. It is important to get a sense of the percentage of employees with disabilities in a tertiary institution and if reasonable accommodations are being made. There are no balances between men and females for the head of TVET colleges. She hoped that this picture would change in the near future.

Ms N Sharif (DA) asked why the CGE only looked at four TVET colleges. There are many TVET colleges across the country and four is a low number. It is important to look at GBV in its entirety to understand the issues, tracking and managing of GBV cases. Are there plans in place such as mitigation strategies to ensure some sort of uniformity and implementation of policies? Although the main job of CGE is oversight, they do have the capacity to assist the Department where needed. The Minister said the Department lacks resources. The CGE can assist with paperwork and finding policies to ensure that tracking and managing cases of GBV is happening around National competencies. She asked how the Department is helping to give the disaggregated data to the CGE. Does the Department have plans on ensuring training and education on GBV that is happening at TVET colleges? Is there a capacity building program within the Department where these Principles or these Executives of TVET colleges can enrol to get training and capacity? It was noted that Southwest College was dismissed because it did not have the correct or enough information. Did the College come back to the CGE with the correct information? There needs to be collaboration between the Department and the CGE on sexual harassment policies. There were hearings held in 2020, and some of the deadlines were in 2021. She asked for an update and whether follow-ups are being done. She asked if CGE has gotten feedback from the Department for the reports that they have submitted.

Mr W Letsie (ANC) asked which TVET Colleges are not complying with meeting the CGE. TVET colleges need to work together with the DEL to see how more females can be employed in the institutions and how much they pay. It is noted that the Department must play an active role. He asked if there was a timeframe to implement the recommendations made, and if so, how far are they. There are 15 TVET Colleges and as such how many have female principals? There are over 200 campuses, how many females hold managerial positions and what percentage is of people with disabilities? Transformation should not only be limited to women and people with disabilities but white people institutions and Indians at these institutions. Policies at institutions should be communicated to students and lecturers. He asked why certain TVET Colleges were selected and how they were selected.

Mr L Mphithi (DA) asked if there was any statistical information related to the reports of rape cases at these colleges. Additionally, do these colleges have any statistics on sexual harassment incidents? It is important to provide this type of report and what this has to do with having or not having transformation offices in that particular College. It is important to note that having a transformation office does not necessarily mean that there will be some progress on a variety of issues. A transformation office should be conceptualised on how the lever of that office works to protect students and women. He asked how this particular correlation can be made if it is to be made in this report by the CGE and whether it has any opinion on that particular issue. He asked what interventions have been implemented and what type of observations have been made based on those interventions that have been implemented. Certain colleges refused to appear before the CGE, and they need to be held accountable. These colleges should adhere to the CGE which has constitutional authority. He suggested that transformation offices be looked at on how to bring about meaningful and substantive actions.

Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape) said as a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Select Committee, it is important to represent provinces. She asked why only four TVET colleges were identified. Issues are experienced in each and every province. TVET is becoming the new higher education and should be promoted to young people. TVET colleges should be promoted so that children and those from rural areas can attend these colleges. She asked how the Department is going to make sure that the recommendations provided are implemented. Young girls do not feel safe in the different accommodations where they are accommodated when they must attend TVET colleges and universities. She said it will be interesting to see how the conditions and environment will change for young people at TVET colleges and universities.

Ms K Mahlatsi (ANC) said the report presented speaks on issues of TVET Colleges not being accessible due to lack of training on GBV and lack of uniformity in as far as policies are concerned within the sector. There is a concern around the lack of policy definition in so far as sexual harassment is concerned. She asked whether the Department was on board with the outcomes of the investigations of the CGE. She asked if the programmes that the CGE has undertaken, take cognisance of the fact of limited resources. There needs to be consistent programmes not only with CGE but TVET colleges to ensure that recommendations are being implemented in so far as progress is concerned. She suggested that the Department should be able to identify how far a particular programme is and also ensure that there are mainstream gender programs throughout the Department. It is important to monitor these issues and the measures taken. There should be a TVET summit to be able to deal with issues relating to uniformity and make TVET colleges aware that issues are critical to their own performance and ensure that there is uniform reporting for all colleges and all universities for that matter. It will be able to assist the Department in identifying the work that has been done.

Ms T Masondo (ANC) said the completed progress report should be shared with its findings with the Department of Social Development and the Department for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. People with disabilities are marginalised. What are the key recommendations that the CGE has made that could be helpful across the country?

The Chairperson said that in relation to the Northern Cape TVET College, it is important to note that CGE raised its concerns that the College could not provide disaggregated data relating to gender and race. She said that a meeting would be important considering the misalignment identified. She suggested that matters that relate to data should be reported to the Committee in writing in the next seven days.

Minister Nzimande said that there is no need for the CGE to be taking criminal steps against colleges that are not cooperating before approaching the Department. The Department is willing to cooperate with the CGE if there are any problems. He asked them to do so in the future. CGE must timeously inform the Department what type of cooperation it needs. Resources are wasted by going to court when the problem can be resolved without courts. There is now an anomalous situation because the Department was not asked to report on what it is doing with gender and disability in TVET colleges. Only four out of 50 TVET colleges were selected. These four colleges do not represent all of them. The Department has been doing management of gender profile. For instance, students are profiled according to gender to provide a more comprehensive picture. He said that a report and discussion should be done with the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities to inform them about what the Department has been doing.

Ms Ndaba thanked the Committee for being able to be part of this meeting and welcomed the Minister to report issues to the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities.

The Chairperson said the Committee had expressed previously that the CGE should expand its work into Sector Education and Training Authority (SETAs). A meeting was held where the Department presented a national policy framework for GBV on the entire sector. Only four colleges have been identified for the report. It was suggested that there be a broader engagement on TVET Cclleges through a TVET summit. Additionally, there should be a summit on transformation not only on the work being done in isolation but to the broader work as well.

She asked the Committee to ensure that data is provided within seven days. She also asked that reports that are supposed to be completed at the end of March also be provided to the various Committees because the Minister was not aware of everything that was being done. She implored the Department and the CGE to work better with each other to deal with GBV in the country. She was impressed that TVETs and the CGE have been doing a lot of work despite their limited budgets. There is a need to increase the budget of the CGE for it to be able to carry out its work effectively.

The Department and its entities should work towards capacitating the sector to adequately spend the budget. She suggested that all previous engagements should be put into a transformation summit of some sort to ensure that all institutions have the policies in responding to GBV and the implementation thereof. CGE should report to the Department and there needs to be stronger repercussions against the TVET that does not provide the necessary information.

Mr Letsie said that government is doing a great job by using its resources to change the skills deficit. Students from the working class and poor families can learn things online. They are not being excluded. In this process skills are increasing and this is commendable. He thanked the Minister and the Department for their continuous engagement with stakeholders in the sector and for ensuring that students do not protest everywhere. He suggested that issues be addressed and resolved immediately to prevent students from protesting old issues at the beginning of the academic year. Therefore, there should be a report covering insufficient student residences, academic exclusion, and financial exclusions.

He said it is concerning that certain protests with fires and so repeatedly happen at campuses such as UKZN, Durban and Scottsville, etc. He suggested that the Department work with these institutions to prevent this from happening again in the near future. Meetings should be held with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and its intelligence unit to find out why this happens. NSFAS assists over a million students, and as such allowances are sometimes not only to buy meals but to help younger siblings and sustain their families. There should not always be a budget problem when asking operational questions. Certain appeals for NSFAS students have been resolved, and some have not. These appeals have been going on for a very long time. Some appeals have not been resolved since 2020. The NSFAS portal should be updated to ensure that payments are made. Some students cannot appeal due to the portal. Issues should be resolved timeously.

Ms Mananiso said both institutions should have submitted a programme of action regarding implementation of specific timeframes, issues of unrest, issues of COVID-19 and protests at TVET colleges and elsewhere. She was impressed with the Department for not using consultants but using people that have been in the system for a long period of time. She hoped that what was discussed at that particular summit will be implemented by all stakeholders and entities. She suggested that NSFAS say what it is doing instead of what needs to be done. It needs to inform the Committee on issues and what and when it expects to do something to resolve it. There are issues of fake news because there is no effective communication in the system. The Department needs to develop a communication strategy to mitigate inconsistent communication.

The Department needs to report on the effectiveness of their casting system, admission status for each institution, plans surrounding vaccinations, status quo of multimodal teaching, speed test of online applications, status of procurement and allocation of devices and laptops and allocation of textbooks.

Ms Tarabella Marchesi asked what the scope of the internal task team is. The number of enrolment of students is concerning. She acknowledged that there is a targeted plan, but sometimes those targets are not reached. How does this affect their work and how does it affect NSFAS in particular? Sometimes, the capacity is full, and students are referred to other institutions that have a lower capacity. She said that not everyone applies to all the institutions, but some do. She asked if NSFAS can use this information in a way. For instance, there are about 50 000 registrations in the space within this institution, so that means that 30 000 students may not be able to get placement because they applied to an institution where there are more interests. It was recommended that Universities and TVET Colleges will be able to return to full-time face-to-face teaching without specific restriction. It is assumed that all other safety protocols such as masking, hand washing, and sanitizing continue. There needs to be protocols and social distancing. Not everyone is vaccinated, and students go and interact with other people outside of campus. She asked for more information on returning to campuses full time.

Things are becoming more digitalised, and one can find learning material online. COVID-19 has delayed many things, including the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results. TVET Colleges are not well funded and there are issues of curriculum, issues of placement of students and lecturers not being qualified. The Department is saying that they are doing well, but there is nothing tangible to prove this. The Department must ensure colleges are funded first before anything else. This is to ensure that South Africans are skilled. However, there are always issues with budget allocations. It is these South Africans that suffer as a result of not having jobs and not being able to put food on the table. Career guidance should be more of a matching kind of career guidance because students do not have deep thoughts of the degrees they want to do, then they end up staying at home. NSFAS students often lie and say that they do not have parents and although NSFAS requests payslips more must be done because students find a way for funding by breaking the rules. There has to be collaboration between Departments and institutions. There are students who are not supposed to be funded but they are. Whereas those that should be funded are not, because there is not enough funding as a result there was a student that committed suicide at one of these institutions. There needs to be an office that deals with GBV and mental health issues.

Ms Mahlatsi said external step models should be extended to the challenges at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). The Department can assist institutions to alleviate issues. The TVET sector has reached out and said that they needed help in that particular space concerning protests and so forth. There should be a close relationship between SAPS and law enforcement agencies to assist institutions and aid to prevent such from happening. There should be a proactive approach in dealing with issues of protest. The NSFAS system was said to be old and outdated. So, is it possible that the system is vulnerable to corruption? She asked if an audit is done on the system to ensure that there is no maladministration as far as the system is concerned. It is concerning because it shows on the portal that students are funded, but they are not. She said it seems quite unfair to accuse the Chairperson because she has been having robust engagements with the Department and its entities. She suggested that there be a physical meeting plan to discuss the issues raised. There is not enough funding, so the Department sometimes has to dip into its operational funding to ensure NSFAS is funded.


Mr Sam Zungu, Deputy Director-General: TVET, DHET, said that statistical data will be provided. It was projected that for 2030 there would be more than a million students enrolled in the TVET sector. Currently, there is about half of that number, and is due to a lack of resources. However, colleges have now started implementing post provision loans which seek to address the issue of capacity in terms of staffing and ensuring that those posts are filled adequately. The majority of colleges (56%) have already implemented this. Student support services units are only on the main issue of financial aid support that is provided to students working with NSFAS. These units still need to be strengthened to provide adequate academic support for students. There is an infrastructure efficiency grant that makes provisions of about 10% of that allocation to each college that has to be dedicated towards the building infrastructure that is conducive to accommodate all the students that have disabilities in those institutions. These grants are being lamented, and progress is being monitored.

However, there are challenges that still need to be addressed and the issue around equipment regarding students that have disabilities. Colleges (such as in the Free State and Cape Town) have started to accommodate students that have visual and hearing impairments with state-of-the-art facilities. It may not be adequate, but with the limited resources available, progress is being made. Once the framework has been designed it will allow and assist dolleges in ensuring that issues are addressed to accommodate students with disabilities. A pallet of 40 TVET colleges will implement this particular framework to establish disability support units in each and every TVET college. Due diligence processes are being carried out to see what is required to have fully functional disability units.

The Department is working in partnership with the Department of Health to address a number of health and social issues that affect students, including the issues around HIV and AIDS and mental health. There is a process underway to provide online mental health assistance to students. Mental health problems became a problem during the COVID-19 pandemic when students were sitting at home. This resource has now been made available to students, especially for GBV. As far as policies are concerned, there are for example HIV and employment equity policies. There have been some capacity building workshops conducted throughout the regions. This is done to ensure that TVET colleges are aware of these policies and also monitoring the implementation thereof. The Department in relation to Employment Equity has pledged to report to the DEL at a National level. TVET colleges are also obliged at an instructional level to provide such statistics in terms of employment equity. He emphasised that the Department would provide any statistical data that is requested.

Ms Robertson said that the CGE conducts investigations on how TVETs are actually implementing the national framework that has been provided. She clarified that what is meant by TVET colleges using the Department as a shield is that TVET colleges kept on saying this is a national competency. There have been many discussions around national competency and it was indicated that it becomes effective when national guidelines are implemented. Hearings are not only there to find fault, but to acknowledge that often around these issues there is lack of knowledge when it comes to putting policies or frameworks into operation. It is true that there might be policies in place and the TVET colleges not being aware of them. It is still a patriarchal society that leads people to resist certain things. Therefore, mindsets contribute in different ways to efforts being made to implement the transformation agenda. She made an example that simply because someone is a woman and making her the Head of a Gender Transformation Unit, for instance, does not guarantee that the woman will automatically know what it is that must be addressed to promote gender equality.

Everyone wants to redress the past but do not understand how to do that. There are many factors that come into play. Some colleges say material resources are a problem, some say they do not understand the issues, and some have transformation committees and an employment equity manager, but the results are still the same as all the other colleges. The reason these four TVET colleges were selected is because some were triggered by complaints of sexual harassment, previous studies that were done and slow transformation. These colleges were selected to follow up on issues previously identified. The issue of a lack of resources affects most institutions. Each province has one legal investigator, one public education officer, researcher and so on. A report on follow ups has been done. It seems like the progress report provided and what was presented at this meeting might have changed.

Dr Dennis Matotoka, Legal Researcher, CGE, said the updated progress report for TVET colleges will be published at the end of March 2022. There has been tremendous progress in some of the TVET colleges such as Waterberg TVET. A recommendation was made for it to submit employment equity minutes for CGE to assess whether issues of transformation are prioritised by the College itself. Waterberg submitted those minutes, and it was clear to see that it was addressing issues of disability and infrastructure to create reasonable accommodation. It was further requested to provide a sexual harassment policy. Unfortunately, the College was still busy developing a sexual harassment policy. Waterberg TVET College was chosen on the basis of its surrounding areas and the prevalence of GBV cases that are being monitored. The College went beyond the recommendations of CGE and conducted a survey with female students, and it was able to find 24 students who are at risk of GBV and an additional 24 students at risk of mental health issues because of GBV related issues.

There was no cooperation from the Northern Cape TVET College, and so the CGE has been resolved to laying criminal charges against the principal of that college. The College did not submit a progress report to the CGE when requested timeously. There was follow-up correspondence sent to seek progress, but it failed to do so. Letters from lawyers were received declaring that they will appear on behalf of the principal of Northern Cape College at the transformation hearing. CGE felt the need to have the principal and accounting officers present to take them through the plans and progress made relating to the recommendations. However, the explanations provided by the lawyer were not sufficient on why the principal could not appear before the CGE. There was no reason why the progress report was not provided. The CGE was not satisfied with the handling of the recommendations. The solution was to lay criminal charges because it was a pure violation of the Commission for Gender Equality Act particularly s18. This is not always an easy process. There is written correspondence for them to voluntarily submit data, and very few TVET colleges do so. Only when threatened to invoke the Act is there cooperation. CGE has to go above and beyond and call principals for outstanding information even after written requests. Sometimes there are policies, but those are gender blind in terms of accommodating and promoting inclusivity of all staff members and students.

In particular, at the Nkangala TVET College, there were many complaints emanating from staff members who have resigned raising issues about the lack of transformation and lack of trust for reporting complaints within the TVET College itself. This is one of the reasons that Nkangala TVET College was selected. There are issues around sex for marks, sex for jobs, bullying, prevalence of GBV complaints and sexual harassment incidents. These were the main factors considered when these four colleges were selected. There are issues of dress code policies for males, females, and the lack of inclusivity for LGBTQ+.

Ms Robertson said that with the new APP and strategy for 2022 the ultimate goal is to analyse business processes and costs. It is hoped that there will be an accosted business plan to motivate for a budget increase that will show the resources that will allow the CGE to implement its mandate more effectively.

An official from NSFAS said that there should be another session with the Committee around the vulnerability issues of the system. He said there are three parties to NSFAS funding. The main party is NSFAS itself, the students, and the institutions. If students do not provide the information that NSFAS needs, the queries become difficult to attend to. There are issues such as dual registration that require institutions to timely deregister students. In this instance, students are funded, but on the NSFAS side it is sitting with two sets of registration information and unable to process any payments because it is stuck between two institutions. The system was associated with something called a user interface meaning you are able as a user to make whatever changes that needs to be made, but now it requires developers to make routine changes. To resolve issues, one must log in a code at the developers. NSFAS has updated its application portal with the little funding available. The information provided by students during applications is checked and verified. The information of parents is checked on the Department of Home Affairs database. The income of the household is also checked with SARS. NSFAS has reached out to SARS to have a direct link with the database in real time. Initially, there is a waiting period of 72 hours to confirm information.

Dr Sishi welcomed the guidance provided in the meeting. There will be follow-ups to see how the Department can intervene and help institutions regarding protests. The report of NSFAS and issues identified have been noted and matters will be addressed by the Department.

Concluding remarks

The Chairperson thanked Members for their continued commitment to their work. She asked the DG to provide in writing information on the work that is being done in the sector. It is important for Members to be able to understand how the Department operates and what measures have been put in place. If such measures do exist, a report should be provided. The Department and its entities account to the citizens. It is important that if an issue is identified, the Department looks at its committee as an extension to communicate and alleviate some of the anxieties that exist amongst parents, students, and academics. The Chair of NSFAS should respond to sound bites that are requested by the media. It is noted that NSFAS started its attempts to seek funds as soon as it became aware of its shortfall. This was done early at the beginning of the academic year, so the planning should go into action that will bear fruits for the reality of students and the work at universities and TVET colleges. There should not be a repetition of the ongoing challenges. There should be sustainable funding for the sector at large and a session with NSFAS to have a deeper understanding of the intricacy to advocate for an increased budget, in particular an increased administrative budget. There needs to be tracing to historic concerns and the concerns currently.

Dr Sishi said there is a ministerial trustee that is currently in place looking at a more comprehensive funding model for students broadly. He said that those who may have substantive inputs could assist the Department by ensuring that those inputs are forwarded to the relevant task team. In this way, the Department will be able to balance the transition vs. the plan. There is a dedicated team that carries out the work of generating reports daily, requesting that two teams be converted into a single team to strengthen the capacity of the stakeholder relations unit and the communication unit.

The Chairperson said the meeting with stakeholders contributing to particular processes can be discussed. The focus now is on how the Committee can work with the sector to address certain concerns. It is worrisome that NSFAS is not in a financial position to assist institutions. A synopsis on the impact of the financial constraints of the entity, the impact that has had perhaps on different institutions considering that we have historically black or historically disadvantaged institutions and historically white or privileged institutions would be appreciated. A written response on the shortfalls that have been received by NSFAS was requested.

It is important for the Department to evaluate the issues around the loan scheme. It is fundamental for the Committee to play a role in these particular processes and other issues. The tracking of students, funding, and dual registration should be addressed. The Committee’s concern is not solely on the challenges of funding for tuition in the sector, but funding in the sector at large. The previous engagements were about funding for students, but in these last engagements, there is a concern about administrative capacity. She emphasised that there should be sustainable funding for the sector at large for a better TVET programme, better lectures, and better systems. Furtherm, it is very insulting to Members to think that there are any Members of this Committee that are not committed to the robust oversight that must fulfilled.

The meeting was adjourned.






Share this page: