The Committee, joined by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, met with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to receive a briefing on repurposing infrastructure for the post-school education and training system. The briefing by the DPWI was termed “disappointing” by Members because it did not provide sufficient information on the many various requests CET and TVET colleges have made to DPWI. Many of these requests were left unanswered by the DPWI, leaving colleges distressed and unable to move forward. Although the DPWI highlighted its SHIP programme aiming to build 300 000 beds by 2030, Members remained unimpressed and adamant that DPWI needs to attend to requests from other government departments quicker. The government and students continue to be exploited by scrupulous service providers while partnership and collaboration with the DPWI could save billions and put more students in school.
Members were also unimpressed that only two TVET colleges were mentioned to have requested Public Works when there were more. Eastern CET College requested 20 infrastructure buildings but there was no response. Western CET college requested five, two were accepted and three were rejected. Gauteng requested 22 and there was no response. Mpumalanga requested four, three were accepted and one was still being processed. KwaZulu-Natal CET requested 40 but was not responded to. Northern Cape requested seven but there was no response. In Limpopo, 143 were also requested but they were not requested. Free State requested 12 with no progress and the North West requested three, but two were accepted but one was not responded to.
Both Departments were encouraged to resuscitate the previously formed working committee for better coordination. The DHET was instructed to submit a list of all the sites, properties and buildings that were requested from the DPWI to be consolidated. The DPWI were instructed to provide status updates.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation outlined the reasons for the joint meeting with Public Works and Infrastructure. The Committee felt it was important to meet with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure because infrastructure plays a critical role in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector and across all branches of education programmes in the Department. The biggest challenge in the Community Education and Training (CET) branch is that the programme exists within the infrastructure of the Department of Basic Education (DBE). Having the CET programme hosted within the DBE infrastructure creates a complex for the dignity of the persons trying to upskill themselves.
The Committee would like to have the CET programme stand on its own. There could be Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and universities that could host the CET programme in terms of infrastructure. The centres must be accessible for CET and, most importantly, for those who enrolled in this programme. Key to the problem is ensuring that the dignity of the CET programme is upheld, and it is accessible.
There is a need to expand infrastructure support for lecture halls and workshops. When the Committee visited the Ehlanzeni TVET College, there were workshops used as lecture halls and a student residence that was not being utilised as a residence. Due to infrastructure pressures, part of this residence was turned into a lecture hall even though it was not suitable for such. There is a need for infrastructure support. If public works buildings or infrastructure are not being utilised, it would be beneficial to ensure this infrastructure is repurposed. It should support the PSET sector to meet the demand for infrastructure in teaching and learning.
Student accommodation is a challenge in the PSET sector, which is why the infrastructure in and around these institutions should be repurposed for that. The Committee would like to identify this infrastructure and assess if it can be repurposed and what the Department can do to utilise it. The Committee would also like to know if a private citizen can turn a building into student accommodation to support the state in its call for a social compact. Members would like to know what processes they would have to follow so that they can go out and encourage citizens to do so, considering the challenge of exploitation by private accommodation service providers as they want to charge exorbitant fees. There is now an intervention of R45 000 cap, creating serious challenges for the sector. The Committee also invites service providers willing to accept the R45 000 cap. Student accommodation is a social good and any resource that needs support is also a social good.
Members would also like to get an understanding of the existing relations between Public Works and Higher Education. Members commended what they saw at Sol Plaatjie University. A hall was built on the institution’s land, but the university repurposed this hall for educational purposes and it was not taken away from the community. Members also wanted to explore relations between the two Departments.
Deputy Minister’s opening remarks
Ms Noxolo Kiviet, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, said that it is through student accommodation that the government would be making a critical contribution to improving student performance. This area is important, as well as the quality and state of government institutions.
After the President’s pronouncement about student accommodation, SIP (Strategy Infrastructure Project) 34 was gazetted on 24 July 2020 with a special focus on student accommodation. It also contributes to the priorities of government, especially priority number two. This area also links to economic development given the current challenges of unemployment in the country. Any form of construction contributes to job creation. The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) welcomes the initiation of this conversation.
The DPWI notes that SIP 34 addresses the number of beds required by the sector. These are 300 000 by 2030. The work is underway.
Briefing by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure
Dr Alec Moemi, Acting Director-General, DPWI, presented to the Committee on repurposing infrastructure for the PSET system.
The presentation focused on SHIP (Student Housing Infrastructure Programme). It highlighted SIP 34 which aims to build 300 000 student beds by 2030. SHIP’s estimated investment value is between R80 to R100 billion and Phase One targeted 19 061 beds, while Phase Two targeted 24 896. The presentation further covered the project updates of both phases. Construction is complete at some colleges and universities, while it is still ongoing at others.
On behalf of Gert Sibande TVET College and Northlink College, the DHET made disposal requests for two properties to the DPWI. The request on behalf of Gert Sibande was made in 2014, and it has not been approved as the Department is still awaiting documents from the DHET. The request on behalf of Northlink was made in 2021, but the Department of Defence (DOD) has declined to allow for the outright disposal of the property and said that the college can continue leasing the property. However, the College has indicated it will require a secure tenure to undertake expansions. At this stage, the DPWI is awaiting the development plan for expansion to quantify the extent of the requirement and engage DOD accordingly.
The Deputy Minister concluded the presentation by saying that a further conversation is warranted, especially for the CET branch. The DPWI also needs to engage with its counterparts, the provincial departments because some of the properties that would help were under the ownership of the provincial departments.
(See the presentation for more information).
Comments from the Department of Higher Education and Training
Mr Sam Zungu, Deputy Director-General (DDG): TVET College Education, said the engagement with DPWI was useful. It provided a picture of where the Department is concerning the properties the CET branch is trying to acquire for teaching and learning. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) is grappling with the issue of ownership of these properties. For more than 30 years, some colleges have occupied these properties, but there is no proof of ownership or lease agreements. This becomes an issue with the Auditor General of South Africa and leads to qualified audit opinions on Property, Plant and Equipment. There are two colleges in Pretoria, with a funded project with the Chinese government but the project is not moving because of the issue of ownership or leases. This project commenced ten years ago.
Ms Thembisa Futshane, DDG: CET, said the community colleges were not featured and it was problematic because 96% of the CET colleges operate at DBE’s public schools. The infrastructure is shared with the school learners. The college principals have expressed their frustrations, having made requests to DPWI for the use of unoccupied schools. Fortunately, there are a few unoccupied schools in the country, through the rationalisation programme of schools under the DBE. Most of these requests were made as soon as the school was unoccupied or shortly after it was unoccupied. In many instances, the processes have taken so long that they are not getting responses or by the time they get a response, it would be years later. By then, the school might already be vandalised and unsuitable for educational purposes. A list of all available facilities that could be used as CETs would assist the branch would be helpful.
The DHET CET branch has secured R1 billion to build some of the centres for CET colleges. The Department will start with one centre per college. One of the things being considered will be readily available land – the funds are available, and the Plan is to start by 1 April. Hopefully, the land is infrastructure-ready in terms of water and electricity. Even if it is dilapidated schools, they will be welcomed. Delays in implementing the infrastructure projects would mean these resources will be moved and taken where they can be spent. The biggest challenge is the lack of land and buildings owned by the Department.
Dr Marcia Socikwa, DDG: University Education, appreciated the initiatives introduced by DPWI. Comments were made during oversight visits that it is best to access buildings closest to campus to reduce travelling costs and enhance security coverage. The closer the buildings are to universities, the more attractive they are to them. Conversations between the DPWI and the universities are encouraged, but it would be preferred to access buildings closer to institutions, especially in metropolitan municipalities. Another significant challenge is pricing; in some of the proposals by the DPWI, their prices are market-related.
Mr Bhekithemba Mlamb, Chief Director: Infrastructure Support, said that when it comes to student accommodation, identifying buildings that can be utilised in the urban areas needs to be a priority. There were issues related to township schemes, especially in KZN, where they have been struggling to attain ownership of the land. The issue of identifying these assets closer to institutions and a database for what is identified by CETs, TVET colleges and universities should be shared with the DPWI. The Department will facilitate this conversation with the DPWI.
The Chairperson said she was disappointed with the presentation and what Mr Mlambo said would assist the DHET. A type of working committee existed between the two Departments in the past. It is important to implore both departments to revive that structure.
The presentation speaks to an existing program but not the spaces that could be used for student accommodation. The working committee should assess the demand for student accommodation in all institutions. The demand must be understood per institution, per campus and matched with what could be available to support that demand across the country. There has been no inclusion for discussions for CET colleges. CET colleges have made requests, but the DPWI has not responded. The Committee is advocating for the DPWI to fulfil its mandate. There is a lot of information missing – where various requests have been made to the DPWI but to no avail. The DPWI seems to have more requests from the PSET sector that it cannot account for. Only two TVET colleges were mentioned to have made requests to Public Works but there are certainly more.
Eastern Cape CET College has requested 20 infrastructure or buildings but has not responded. Western Cape CET College requested five. Two were accepted and three were rejected. Gauteng requested 22 and there was no response. Mpumalanga requested four. Three were accepted and one was still being processed. KwaZulu-Natal CET requested 40 but was not responded to. Northern Cape requested seven but there was no response. In Limpopo, 143 were requested but they were not responded to. Free State requested 12 with no progress and the North West requested three. Two were accepted but one was not responded to.
She was perplexed that DPWI did not have this information. There is a need to strengthen the partnership and coordination between the two Departments. The platform must be revived and consolidate all the information and requests. One of the biggest conversations that took place at the start of the academic year was the issue of space. Members have been visiting institutions and telling them that there is no space. There is also a human resource capacity challenge which is linked to funding. One hopes the MTT on Sustainable Student Funding considered sustainable funding for the PSET system to ensure access to education for the students and a sustainable PSET system. Lecture halls cannot accommodate capacity, workshops, and student accommodation. There are instances where students are forced to sleep on bunk beds.
Mr T Letsie (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson that the presentation did not respond to Member’s expectations. It did not do justice to what Members were hoping to hear. Mr Moemi would have said if there was not enough time for the DPWI to respond. The letter was sent eight days ago, so how much time did the DPWI need? DPWI should have consulted its records and listed the properties that it has that are not utilised or under-utilised. Could this mean the DPWI did not have an asset register for all its assets across the country?
The presentation stated that the 2030 targets for student accommodation are 300 000 beds between R80 to R100 billion. He asked the DPWI for a breakdown of this cost and the cost per bed. Is it in line with the rent per square metre according to the norms and standards? What are the challenges with the repurposed infrastructure? If there are cost implications, what are those, and how will the DPWI mitigate such?
Is there infrastructure identified for repurposing? If so, what are the locations and what was identified for repurposing? Are there any legal implications for the repurposing of some infrastructure buildings?
Based on the presentation, one can safely assume that there is no effective modus operandi because both Departments did not seem to understand their role in this whole DPWI/DHET matter. Thus, problems will continue as Department A blames Department B. He suggested that Mr Moemi’s Department submit a list of DPWI properties underutilised or not utilised to the DHET to identify the buildings for repurposing. Why must a government Department lease property or land to another government Department? This arrangement is holding the PSET sector at ransom. Why is that asset not transferred to the Department that will utilise the asset? Some of these buildings are being hijacked daily in inner cities.
The DPWI did acknowledge in its presentation the request was received from DHET for Gert Sibande in September 2015. The property would have been recommended for disposal ever since October 2015, but the DPWI says it was still awaiting documents from DHET and the last engagement was in July 2021. There is an opportunity to get a stand for Gert Sibande but this has gone on for too long – eight years. What is so complicated about this? It is because of the lack of implementation of consequence management against underperforming officials. What were the reasons provided by DHET for these delays? What did the DPWI do when it realised that DHET was not coming to the party to finalise the transaction?
Lastly, this discussion should not end here and hopefully, both Ministers will be present for a follow-up meeting.
Ms M Siwisa (EFF) said a feasibility study was completed but there has been a delay in the Minister signing off. This means the issue of student accommodation is not a crisis for them. In rural areas, students are accommodated by people where the environment is unsafe and students are robbed and raped in their rooms. What are the criteria for accommodation selection, especially for private service providers?
In the case of Gert Sibande, nothing has been concluded. What are the reasons for such a long delay if the process was completed? There is a crisis of student accommodation and yesterday on SABC News, the Deputy Minister said that she might ask Cabinet to get rid of some of the properties in the custodianship of the DPWI. Yet, there is now a huge problem and the reason why the Deputy Minister is selling these properties is because the DPWI cannot maintain them. How can these properties be sold when the country is sitting with a student accommodation crisis? Some of the service providers raise prices when it comes to student accommodation. They need to come up with a solution as to how they are going to decrease the use of private accommodation for student accommodation, as some of them are extremely expensive. These service providers are robbing government and the Departments allow this to continue.
The matter of Tshwane North and South belongs to the Chinese but there is no production. What is the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure doing about this? She also wanted to know if the CET centres per province will be built from scratch or if they will be built from existing centres.
Ms N Marchesi (DA) also echoed her disappointment with the presentation by the DPWI. It seems like this may start from scratch because the communication from the DPWI is unclear. Perhaps they could ask the Minister of Basic Education about the number of schools readily available before the R1 billion allocation is spent. Does the DBE own the property of the schools that have shut down or are these transferred to the DPWI? Those schools are non-viable schools (and usually farm schools) and rural communities could utilise these. Who is responsible for the infrastructure in the DBE?
She wanted to know what can be expected from the R1 billion allocation for infrastructure for CET colleges or centres and the model for CETs in the country. What is the R1 billion allocation going to be assigned for?
Ms S Graham (DA) said that there are a lot of schools at the local level and in poorer areas that lack the funding and resources to maintain the schools. Perhaps the R1 billion could be utilised to upgrade the schools so that there are shared costs and services. This means government would spend less while keeping schools and DBE and CET colleges maintained. How much engagement is done with the local government in developing student accommodation projects? In drought areas (like Nelson Mandela Bay, where 2 000 beds are being built), plans do not seem to consider the fact that water is an issue.
A new TVET college was opened about a year or two ago in Graaf Reinet and accommodation is an issue. Many public works houses are not being utilised. Would refurbishing these houses for student accommodation not be a good idea? At NMU, students protested for NSFAS funding but also shut down the construction site where student accommodation is being built. Students cannot interfere and delay the student accommodation site when it has nothing to do with the issue they are protesting. Is the greening of these buildings considered when they are being constructed?
Ms C King (DA) said that in June 2020, the Committee had a meeting regarding the SHIP programme. Challenges with title deeds, rezoning, land claims of rural campuses and uncoordinated sequencing of funding cause project delays. What is the status of ensuring that the issue of title deeds and rezoning is considered? The land claim might be problematic because people may have claimed patches of land where institutions are now harvested.
She noticed that the EU (European Union), through the infrastructure investment programme, and DBSA (Development Bank of South Africa) had made considerable investments in student housing. Which institutions were these made to? Are there any discussions on the table that would also incorporate the CETs?
The Minister has indicated that 11 universities will receive close to R7.5 billion. R2.9 billion will be used for student accommodation. With the slow pace of the SHIP program, she was concerned whether the 300 000 mark would be achieved, as well as the 100 000 beds for TVET colleges in 2030. She was concerned that the DPWI did not seem to know or understand its own asset management and raised concerns about how accurately it understands the immovable asset disposal policy.
Lastly, Members have not received the timeframes from the planning phase to the completion phase. How long are they sitting in the planning phase and how long would it take to move to the completion phase?
Ms M Hicklin (DA) spoke about the Government Immovable Register Act, which determines the User Asset Management (UAM) Plan. It must be decided whether the DPWI must ask the DHET what its exact requirements are, so that it knows how best it can assist. This has to be in the User Asset Management Plan and she heard that this was not done or it was not being implemented correctly. Part of that UAM means that there is extensive engagement that takes place. However, from the presentation, it remains clear that this has not happened. It is not possible that regular communication has happened if the last communication happened about a year ago. If a UAM is conducted, these kinds of lags would be highlighted. The DPWI should make this standard practice: UAMs are done timeously to avoid this to the detriment of both Departments. When considering a new building or land acquisition to build an infrastructure through ISA (Infrastructure South Africa), one must consider AgrimaSA, which is a certification agency of the DPWI that looks at innovative building technology. AgrimaSA has the technology that would greatly assist the development of infrastructure buildings for student accommodation. This must be incorporated into the conversation between the departments.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) asked about the projects awaiting Ministerial approval and when these approvals will be done. She also asked about the database of all the spaces available by the DPWI that can be used for repurposing. Can the Committee get an update on which ones have been identified for repurposing and what work these buildings require? When the CET plans are rolled out, the DHET should not take up more than it can handle. The DHET should provide a list of the areas that were identified as starting pilot projects. Monitoring and evaluation would play a significant role in implementing these projects.
Mr T Mogale (EFF) expected a detailed presentation on this matter. Part of the student accommodation crisis is that government became very reliant on private service providers for accommodation. If the DPWI was doing its job, the conversation would be different. Many buildings in Tshwane belong to the DPWI and even houses. The DPWI does not seem to know what is in its Register and it was not assisting DHET to assist with the issue of student accommodation. Private service providers have inflated prices in Pretoria around Hatfield and there are buildings and houses owned by the Department in that area but the DPWI does not know about them. The people who do have hijacked these properties and are using them for nefarious reasons. The state owns those properties but DPWI is not aware of them. He believed that there is significant entrenched corruption in the DPWI. Officials are renting state properties and enriching themselves through state assets.
In future discussions with the DPWI, the Committee should invite the metros and provincial DPWI departments and municipalities. There are also municipal buildings that were not being utilised and can be repurposed for student accommodation.
At Sol Plaatjie University, one of the accommodation providers was disqualified because they needed to comply with certain issues. Since this person was disqualified, the University went out to acquire new service providers. These new service providers’ buildings are being renovated with students occupying the building at the same time. There is a lot of corruption in this space and some of them are working together with the officials within these institutions.
Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked why the requests from the DHET were being rejected.
Mr M Montwedi (EFF) said universities often compromise on the quality of student accommodation because of savings or other reasons. How is the rent determined, and are any levies or administration fees landlords must pay the universities? There is a process of accrediting student accommodation, but what role does the DPWI play in accrediting these? Or is this left to the officials in universities or institutions, who sometimes tend to do the opposite?
The Chairperson said the biggest challenge with NSFAS is that issues are not concluded. People must take the initiative to conclude matters and there is no time to address unemployment, poverty, and inequality. There must be a follow-up meeting for an update from both departments. She said that Mr Zungu wrote in the chat that repurposing infrastructure could also afford an opportunity for work-integrated learning for students in the TVET space. This is a great idea as South Africa has a challenge of students not getting placement for WIL and government could play a role in filling that gap.
The Chairperson handed over to Mr Letsie to chair the meeting.
Department of Public Works and Infrastructure response
Deputy Minister Kiviet said that there were areas that would have already been answered but required further processing. This includes the CET sector, which has not been focused on much. Comments from Members have made it clear that provincial departments need to be more involved, because the process of the closed basic education schools would have involved the provincial DBE and DPWI. In some cases, this did not happen, hence the importance of involving the provinces in this discussion. Ordinarily, those unused buildings or schools would be under the custodianship of the provincial DPWI, and the province is left solely to determine how it would utilise the building going forward.
Mr Moemi acknowledged the questions and comments made by Members and indicated that the DPWI would supplement the information presented today.
Regarding the Immovable Asset Register, he confirmed that this Register exists. There is some degree of truth in the comment that the DPWI did not fully know what it owned or the asset base in its Register. The issue is the completeness of the Register and there are reasons for this, albeit some of them may not be acceptable to Members. Some reasons stem from the handovers of properties and the continued disputes inter-governmentally. The DPWI has a provincial stakeholder forum with all the state land communities, including municipalities and provincial departments, to deal with these matters. There were other complications where state land was stolen or where people disposed of this land just before 1994 and there were direct acts of fraud in some areas. These matters have contributed to the lack of completeness of the asset register of the DPWI.
The DPWI has been successfully utilising the Register together with the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and its agency HDA (Housing Development Agency) to dispose of the land necessary for the resettlement of communities. Similarly, for DHET, DPWI had been able to dispose of land in favour of DHET to establish universities and other institutions. The Asset Register is being utilised, but it is incomplete and not all of it is properly profiled to provide the information. The way the information is packaged is problematic and it takes time for the DPWI to repackage information requested by users. It always attempts to provide the information as users request but it takes time and resources. An instruction was issued that all practitioners must stop what they are doing and focus on releasing land for Eskom and distributing power lines. Their capacity is facing competing priorities in terms of what can be achieved.
The Plan is to digitise the Register because data mining cannot be done on it and assets cannot be profiled with ease. Profiling in the Register is a significant challenge but the digitisation work has commenced. It is a huge project considering the 90 000 entries in the Register. This should have been completed a long time ago.
Regarding the collective list of requests, most of these requests are referrals. It would be important to invite provinces because the DPWI has long devolved schools and hospitals to provinces. Even if the DPWI engaged the provincial departments of public works, it would still not be assisted if the sister departments were not engaged in the state land community forum.
The DPWI has been struggling with many issues, including rezoning, title deeds, synchronisation of financing and land claims that have been lodged against some of the properties. These challenges still cripple the DPWI as well as the municipal capacity. As a result, the DPWI has been actively engaging the municipalities, sending town planners, and drafting council resolutions for prioritised projects. Capacity is being enhanced, but the active disputes in the system continue to be a significant challenge. This is because they cause delay in the lodgements with municipalities, the proficiency of title deeds and the finalisation of site clearances so that the procurement instructions can be issued for repurposing.
The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) requires the DPWI to put out property on market-related costs. However, on a case-by-case basis, the DPWI has to apply to Treasury to give land to another government agency or a department. Once the property is vested on the DPWI, it must honour the obligations to the municipalities where these properties are located and pay for utilities and other costs. The DPWI works on a cost-recovery model that bills the departments to pay the DPWI. Now, this model does not necessarily work for the DPWI. Discussions have commenced with the Treasury on this. It has been requested to relook at this model and tweak it for things to work faster when DPWI agrees to a default position. This general principle must apply for transfers to happen much quicker.
On the User Asset Management Plan, the DHET submitted this Plan, which can be shared with the Committee. However, the completeness of this Plan was a central issue and additional requests regarding the validity of what is submitted as the User Asset Management Plan. The DPWI always augments for that because the plans are not cast in stone and can be amended. It always considers what is requested besides what is contained in the UAM. This is often challenging for the DPWI because these excluded requests ought to be part of that UAM from the initial submission to DPWI.
Mr Alvino Wildschutt-Prins, Programme Manager, Infrastructure South Africa (ISA), said that after the feasibility study, the project could take up to 12 to 18 months to be constructed and completed. It would be best for the DHET to respond to the status of the SHIP program. It is the sponsor and the strategy is in the final stages. The DPWI was also hoping to get a status update on it.
Ms Sasa Subban, DDG: Real Estate and Investment Services, DPWI, said the process for the land request must include the Needs Assessment, the extent of the development and the purpose for the development. This would support the feasibility study that must be done. With the feasibility study, an evaluation is also done because ISA requirements and PFMA processes must be adhered to. Approval for the property would then follow from the Minister. Then the case is built for National Treasury.
The longest period in the process is the feasibility study, which takes about three to four months. This is because the land must be assessed and environmental considerations of land must be linked to the planned developments in the area as required by SPLUMA. It is also linked to the IDPs of the municipalities. The land parcels are available in the Register, but they range between 1 hectare to 500 hectares and the requirements would have to be superimposed to link the requirement to the land parcel and allocate it accordingly.
For buildings, the Needs Assessment would be linked to the vacant building and undertake a physical inspection with the user department. Both suitability and viability of the building are also assessed. Most of the vacant buildings are not in good condition hence most of them are condemned and why they are vacant – this is an excess of 957 properties including residential properties. Costing would also have to be conducted, linked to the plans and requirements, and if all agree, it will be submitted for approval.
The Deputy Minister said that the DPWI has a rule that when memo requests are made, once they reach the stage of the Minister, these memos should not exceed three days without approval. Where a memo is delayed, it must be investigated because, at times, they get delayed in the administrative offices. As part of the enhancement of information that will be brought to the Committee, it will also be clearly stated what the cause of the delay is. Apex areas are usually expedited.
It has come out that there has been poor communication and coordination between the two Departments. The reason for not approving some of the CET requests would be around the suitability and the condition of the property that is being requested.
Department of Higher Education and Training response
Mr Zungu said he has engaged with the Gert Sibande institution and appointed a legal team. The feedback was that there were outstanding documents from their lawyers regarding a government gazette. A submission has since been made to the College and it will now submit to the DPWI before 10 March.
He agreed that the two Departments should work closely in dealing with these matters. He also noted the recommendations and suggestions of Members.
Ms Futshane welcomed the support pledged in assisting CETs. The merged schools were not only in rural areas, but urban areas too. The R1 billion may seem like a lot, but it is not considering that nine centres need to be built. The total number of community centres is 1791, which means the R1 billion does not scratch the surface. Therefore, vacant facilities will still be needed, especially schools. The determination of building or refurbishing will be based on the most cost-effective manner. There is a criterion for the centre but at the core of that is teaching and learning. The issue of cost will be part of the criteria and the potential students that can be accommodated in the centre. The centres must be built for the current required use and future use. Some provinces have already identified the parcels of land and others have already commenced operating in existing structures, which may be refurbished to be fit for purpose.
Current experience in sharing infrastructure facilities with the DBE indicates that the environment is not conducive for CETs. CETs also offer skills, occupational and non-formal programmes that require certain workshops not in use in the schools. Most of the schools used by CETs are primary schools. Most high schools have indicated that their programmes run until very late in the day.
Combining children with adults is also risky, especially for young primary school children. There is a reason why the DBE developed a policy to separate young children from older young adults and teenagers.
The R1 billion allocation is spread over the next three years. In the first financial year, the DHET aims to build four centres. This funding allocation will incorporate completely new buildings, remodelling, and using existing facilities and renovations.
The Acting Chairperson thanked the Members and the Departments for their engagement. He apologised on behalf of the Members if they were a bit harsh, but it should be seen as a reflection of frustration with a system failing people.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mkhatshwa, Ms NT
Ntobongwana, Ms N
Graham, Ms SJ
Hicklin, Ms MB
King, Ms C
Kiviet, Ms N
Letsie, Mr WT
Mahlatsi, Ms KD
Mananiso, Ms JS
Mogale, Mr T
Montwedi, Mr Mk
Sibiya, Ms DP
Siwisa, Ms AM
Tarabella - Marchesi, Ms NI
Thring, Mr WM
Van Schalkwyk, Ms SR
Yabo, Mr BS
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