Recapitalisation of FET Colleges: Provinces’ Progress Reports

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


21 JUNE 2006

Chairperson: Mr B J Tolo

Documents handed out
National Education Department report on FET recapitalisation program
Eastern Cape progress report on FET recapitalisation program
Gauteng progress report on FET recapitalisation program
Free State progress report on FET recapitalisation program
Kwazulu Natal progress report on FET recapitalisation program
Kwazulu Natal recapitalisation report
Western Cape progress report on FET recapitalisation program

The National Department of Education and five of the provincial departments gave a progress report to the Committee on the recapitalisation of the FET colleges. The aim of the programme was to address the problem of unemployed youth and to improve the quality and focus of programmes offered. The old N1 to N6 programmes would be phased out and replaced by programmes that had the support of industry. There would be a concentration on mathematics, language skills and information technology. Provinces confirmed that the process was generally going well although there were still some challenges such as low enrolment and staffing vacancies. The Department faced the challenge of providing life-long learning. Funding still remained a challenge, and many of the colleges still needed to improve their infrastructure and facilities.

Questions were asked by members on the poor infrastructure and facilities of some colleges, the number of acting appointments, the role of satellite campuses, the subject choices offered, the apparent discrepancy in funding, student bursaries and enrolment figures, the spending patterns and the reasons behind the allocation of funding.

The Chairperson welcomed the various provinces and explained that some provinces had sent apologies. He said that it was disappointing that not all the MECs were present, but he appreciated the presence of the delegations that had been sent.

The National Department of Education (DOE) Presentation
Ms Penny Vinjevold (Deputy Director-General: Further Education and Training (FET), DOE) addressed the Committee as in the presentation attached. She explained that the recapitalisation of the Further Education and Training Colleges (FET Colleges) was aiming to address the problem of unemployed youth in the country. At present 87% of children were enrolled in secondary schools, and the FET colleges had the least enrolment in South Africa. The Department aimed to improve the quality of the programmes offered and increase the enrolment in the colleges. The old N1 to N6 programs were out of date and were not leading to employment. These programmes would be phased out from 2007. The FET colleges did have the capacity and infrastructure, Treasury had given R1,9 billion for the recapitalisation process and thirteen new programmes would be introduced in 2007. The staff, management and governance of these colleges were very important. The FET Act would separate schools from these colleges. This aspect was controversial, but it was important to note that schools were different from colleges. Schools would continue to offer grades 10 to 12 while the colleges would offer programs that led to skills development. There would be a concentration on mathematics, language skills and information technology. Research had shown that these subjects were crucial for employment, as the world of work had become very sophisticated. The design of the programmes would include theory, practice and workplace experience. She stressed that the thirteen programs that would be introduced had been approved by the business sector.

Eastern Cape Education Department
Mr K Ngaso (Eastern Cape DOE) addressed the Committee as in the presentation attached. He added that colleges in the former Transkei had to be improved as they lagged behind the rest of the province. The problem was that learners were moving away to attend colleges in the urban areas, and it was therefore important that the former Transkei colleges were developed to attract these students. There were some colleges that did not have the capacity to spend the money, but they would be visited by the Department to ensure that under spending did not occur.

Free State Education Department Presentation
Mr M
Rakometsi, (Chief Superintendent, Free State DOE) , addressed the Committee as in the presentation attached. He added that one of the biggest challenges was to increase enrolment at the colleges. The equitable share to the province had also been reduced which added an extra challenge to the department. The Department in the province had also reached an agreement with the MEC of Housing in the province by which the learners that were doing bricklaying could get practical experience by working on the RDP housing.

Kwazulu Natal Education Department Presentation
Dr Simon Mbokazi (Deputy Director General: FET, Kwazulu-Natal DOE) introduced the presentation by saying that the rectors and principals were on board for the process. A project manager for the recapitalisation process had been appointed and staffing for the colleges had proceeded well. Dr E Nzama (Chief Director: FET, DOE) continued with the presentation and added that procurement of services was done at college level. Some colleges had appointed project managers to oversee the process. A provincial project manager had also been appointed who would see to the development of infrastructure in the province.

The Chairperson noted the general agreement that there needed to be a focus on young people who should be attending colleges and not universities. In Germany and in the United Kingdom, the majority of young people attended this kind of college.

Questions fell into the following broad categories:

Poor facilities
Ms J Masilo (ANC – North West) said that the progress made in the Eastern Cape was pleasing. She welcomed that involvement of the other departments in the process. She commented that during the Committee's provincial visit some serious problems, such as poor infrastructure and lack of sanitation, had been noted at some of the colleges.

Ms A Qikani (UDM – Eastern Cape) raised similar concerns. She asked what mechanisms were in place in the Eastern Cape with poor colleges, especially in the rural areas. These colleges had students that came from poor households and could therefore not afford education fees. The Committee had noted during their visit that some of the buildings were not user friendly, especially for students with disabilities.

Mr Ngaso confirmed that immediately after the provincial visit, the hostels and sanitation problems at the relevant colleges were attended to. The Department had spent R4 million on renovating the hostels and fixing the sanitation, and the hostels had been re-commissioned in January 2006.

Subject choices
Ms Qikani was concerned that the Free State did not mention that agriculture was offered at any of their colleges. It was also a concern that the colleges in Kwazulu Natal did not offer educare, clothing or agriculture.

Dr Mbokazi confirmed that educare and clothing was offered by all the colleges in Kwazulu Natal, under the learning area called Utility Studies.

Mr Ngaso stated that the Eastern Cape colleges offered engineering, business studies and the arts. The Department had however stressed that they should also offer agriculture, as most of the province was rural. The motor industry was also strong in the province and learnerships were introduced in this field. The various programmes should not be confined to the urban areas.

MrRakometsi apologised for not including agriculture in the Free State presentation, which had been merely a summary, but he could confirm that the colleges did offer agriculture. The agriculture initiatives were being offered in consultation with the Umsumbomvu Youth Fund, had been successful, and some of the learners on a learnership would be graduating in September.

Mr R Maharaj (KZN – ANC) asked to what extent the colleges were buying in to fertilisation and whether organic farming was being practiced. He also felt that the colleges needed to be more community based.

Dr Nzama said that there two colleges in Kwazulu Natal specialising in organic farming. He added that equipment and the curriculum that was needed for the different programs were included in the budget. He confirmed that the colleges did connect with the local industries. Two colleges in the Richards Bay areas were training learners in the area of shipbuilding. They also consulted with other local businesses. Many of the members of the various Chambers of Commerce served on the councils of the colleges.

Mr Ngaso also confirmed that Lovedale College was offering organic farming.
Discrepancy in funding
Ms N Madlala-Magubane (ANC – Gauteng) also said that on the provincial visit the staff at the King Sabata and King Hintsa Colleges had complained that they were short staffed and that the hostels were not in a good condition. She wanted to know if anything had been done about this.

Ms Madlala-Magubane noted that there was also a huge difference between the colleges in the urban areas and those in the rural areas. This caused students to move to the urban areas. The province should try to make the colleges of equal standard.

Mr D Qwase (ANC) asked about the funding formula that was used to fund the colleges. He had noted that some colleges in the Eastern Cape that were in previously disadvantaged areas had received almost the same amount of money than those in the advantaged areas, only seeming to receive more in the third year. He stressed that redress had to be deliberate. The way the money was distributed at present was not accomplishing redress. He also felt that there needed to be financial support for FET students, as there was for university students. This would also act as an incentive for learners to go to the colleges. He noted that the money given for the recapitalisation did not include money to administer the grant, and felt that this needed to be attended to. He was also concerned that the first tranche was only sent to some provinces in May and June. The Division of Revenue Act (DORA) stipulated when the tranches had to go to provinces, and if this was not done properly, it would show under-expenditure by certain provinces.

Ms Madlala-Magubane queried why, in the Free State, some colleges such as Motheo were given less money although they had more students.

 Mr Ngaso responded that colleges had been required to submit financial statements since 2002 to see their spending patterns. King Hintsa and King Sabata had received less than the others to ensure that there was no under-spending, even though these were rural colleges. The aim was to build capacity first at these colleges and then to increase the amount given to them. In the following years this amount would increase. He emphasised that the province was spending more than the amount allocated to it for the colleges. The spending was also more biased to the rural colleges. There was a deliberate effort to see that the colleges built in the rural areas matched those in the urban areas.

Mr McMaster (Eastern Cape DOE) added that there was a historical backlog in the area of Transkei. The MEC was keen to see this addressed. The equitable share had not addressed this in the past.

Ms Vinjevold clarified that the most important criterion for the distribution of the money was the number of young people in the age group 16 to 22 in the province. In the Free State many young people were moving out of the province. Treasury had instructed the Department not to recapitalise areas where there were not enough young people living. Other criteria included redress of past imbalances, and the business plans that were submitted by the colleges.

MrRakometsi explained that Motheo College had received less money than Goldfields College because the Department of Education had stated very clearly that the business plans, submitted by the colleges, had to be drawn according to the guidelines. The request for funds also had to be based on aspects where they were lagging behind. Since Motheo was in an urban area, it did not face the same challenges as Goldfields. Goldfields was in an area where there was a high unemployment rate, following the closure of many of the mines. Maluti College had received even less because the Department felt that their plans were not convincing. A Chief Director had now been appointed who would oversee the business plans in future. The spending of the conditional grants had improved over the years, but DOE did not want to become complacent about this.

Ms Quikani queried the qualifications of the seven-member team had that evaluated the conditional grants.

MrRakometsi replied that the team were management accountants, and would monitor spending on conditional grants.  

Satellite campuses
Ms A Qikani questioned the role of the satellite campuses.

Mr Ngaso explained that 26 colleges had merged in 2002. Previously advantaged colleges were matched with disadvantaged. The satellites were thus the different campuses of these colleges.

Acting appointments
Ms Masilo and Ms Qikani, both expressed concern at the number of officials that were in acting capacities at some of the colleges, and queried what progress had been made in making these appointments permanent.

Ms Madlala-Magubane added that all the lecturers at Buffalo City College were acting.

Ms H Lamoela (DA – Western Cape) also said that she was still worried about the temporary educators that they found at the colleges visited in the Eastern Cape. She had heard that these teachers would become permanent at the end of February 2006 and wanted to confirm this.

Mr Ngaso confirmed that the Eastern Cape was dealing with the issue of acting staff. The colleges had been given a time frame to describe the vacant posts, so that they could be put in the bulletin, with the aim of filling the posts in line with the planned courses. All the specifications of the infrastructure plans took people with disabilities into account. These vacancies should all be filled by the end of 2006.

Mr McMaster added that the Chief Director posts were advertised in April. It was hoped that the appointments would be finalised in a month's time.

Bursaries and enrolments
Ms Lamoela enquired if there were any bursaries offered for the students at the FET colleges and what strategies were in place to ensure that the enrolment increased.

Ms J Vilikazi (IFP – ANC) endorsed requests that there be financial assistance for FET learners.

Ms F Mazibuko (ANC – Gauteng) was concerned that white learners were leaving the colleges. She wanted to what was being done about this and what amount was being spent per learner. She suggested that provinces also give the Committee a breakdown of the number of learners doing certain courses. She also noted that some colleges girls were not being encouraged to do engineering.

Ms Vinjevold confirmed that bursaries could become available from business for programmes that met the needs of the economy.

Mr Ngaso added that included in the transfers that were made to the colleges was an amount dedicated for bursaries. These were geared particularly to female learners,  to encourage them to enter the engineering field. All the Eastern Cape colleges had been tasked to work on strategies to increase the enrolment at these institutions.

Mr McMaster added that there was a disarticulation between the senior GET phase and the FET phase. This was being addressed. It should not be necessary for FET colleges to advertise; their enrolments should come directly from Grade 9.

MrRakometsi said that the open days held at the Free State colleges were targeting industry, mayors, councillors, traditional leaders, chiefs and secondary school learners. During these open days it was also clear that there were a number of girls doing engineering and mechanics. Attention was thus being given to the stereotypes that existed.

Spending and budgeting
Ms Mazibuko asked that in future, the provinces give a clearer breakdown of the amounts spent at the various colleges.

Ms Mazibuko added that the Committee, during the site visit, had noted that the equipment at the Flavius Mareka College in the Free State was obsolete yet there was no amount budgeted for it. She was also concerned that. Maluti College had also not budgeted to improve the buildings.

MrRakometsi could not answer why Flavius Mareka College did not budget for infrastructure. The Department had however put into its budget a certain amount for infrastructure spending at the FET colleges.

The Chairperson asked if the different courses were standardised across the country. He was also concerned that despite rationalisation of the colleges, in the Eastern Cape, there was still a number of colleges concentrated in one municipality. He was also concerned that Maluti College was not spending enough on purchasing new equipment even though the present equipment was obsolete. He wanted to know from the National Department, whether the amount of money given for the recapitalisation process was enough.

The Chairperson referred to R65 million that Kwazulu Natal had spent on connectivity, and pointed out that the other provinces had not done this. He asked whether the colleges were not considering specialisation. It seemed that all the colleges in Kwazulu Natal were offering the same courses, namely engineering and business studies. He also wanted to know whether there was any consultation with the local businesses in determining the type of courses offered.

Ms Masilo (ANC – North West) asked the Eastern Cape if any assistance was being given to colleges regarding the slowness in spending.

Ms Vinjevold answered the Chairperson that there was not sufficient money for the recapitalisation process. The plans submitted by the colleges indicated that R3,8 billion was needed. The Department had given R1,9 billion. Treasury had indicated that they would give more if there were proven successes. The allocations also had to take redress into account. The rural colleges in the Eastern Cape were getting the same amount as those in the urban areas despite the fact that they had very few students. The costing of the programmes was being done by KPMG, and would probably amount to between R18 000 and R30 000 per programme,  depending on the equipment that was needed. DOE would then provide 80% of this amount.

The poorest learners would receive 100% funding from the Department. The Western Cape Education Department had a R50 million loan-scheme that it was using. The National Department was examining this and if it worked, might follow a similar scheme. Bursaries would also be available from business for programs that met the needs of the economy. She said that she understood that there was money available for the administration of the grant but would have to check on this.

Ms Vinjevold agreed that some provinces did not meet the DORA requirements. This did not mean however that there would be insufficient spending by the end of the financial year. There would be pressure, but it had to be fast tracked or it would compromise the Department getting more money from Treasury. She agreed that much of the equipment was obsolete in the colleges. Not all of them however will be replaced, as this would depend on the type of course the college would be offering in the future. She confirmed that the syllabus was common and that there would be national examinations. The frequency of the examinations still needed to be decided. The learner support units established in the colleges would give career guidance to learners in subject choice.

Mr Ngaso confirmed that the Eastern Cape Executive had taken a decision to offer bursaries for FET colleges. All lecturers had been provided with R10 000 for upskilling themselves by way of staff development. . An amount was also allocated for the training of non-teaching staff. Consultation was taking place with local businesses. Colleges had been tasked to do this when they had drawn up their plans. Referring to the slow spending, he said that the various Directorates were involved in monitoring this.

Gauteng Education Department Presentation
Ms Angie Motshekga (MEC for Education, Gauteng Legislature) addressed the Committee as in the presentation attached. She stated that the province had eight colleges on 28 sites. The colleges had linked up with the niche areas in the province. For example the Tshwane areas would specialise in the motor industry. The allocation of funds was determined by the needs of the colleges as well as the type of courses offered. The FET colleges faced a huge challenge, which was to halve unemployment. The colleges worked with the industries in the area. Problems included the fact that many graduates did not get jobs. Gauteng had many students from outside the province, so a quota system had been developed where colleges only took 40% learners from outside the province. There was also a problem filling the posts at the colleges, which was being addressed. The Department faced the challenge of providing life-long learning, including skills that learners could use even if they left their areas of training. There were tensions between the FETs in the townships and those in the suburbs that had better resources. These colleges had the same fee structure despite differing facilities. In many cases the management of these colleges were still continuing the old trend.

Ms Masilo wanted clarity about the FET/ ABET directorate that was mentioned in the report. She also wanted to know if the Tshwane North College would fall under the North West because of the new boundaries.

Ms Motshekga said that the ABET/FET was a directorate that would be separated in the near future. She said Western College would be ceded to the North West. She could not comment on the one in Tshwane North. 

Western Cape Education Department Presentation
Mr Cameron Dugmore (MEC for Education, Western Cape Legislature) addressed the Committee as in the presentation attached. He added that funding was still a major challenge for the Department; it related both to the funding of the colleges and developing a loan scheme for students. It was hoped that once this was addressed, the enrolment at the colleges would increase. There was movement in this direction and the access to the colleges had to be improved as well as staffing issues addressed. He said that this issue around the FET colleges was very important and requested the Chairperson to ask for a special discussion in the plenary in the NCOP.


The Chairperson agreed and confirmed that he would request the discussion

Ms Mazibuko asked if the Western Cape FET colleges used part time employees. She also suggested holding open days where matriculants and others could get information about the FET Colleges and what they could offer.

Mr Cassie Kruger (CEO, False Bay College) answered that 40% of the staff was temporary employees. After the process of short-listing and hiring was completed 80% would be permanent employees. The Colleges did already hold open days and the Western Cape had held a general open day for all colleges on 18 May 2006.

Ms Madlala-Magubane asked about the colleges’ breakdown into rural and metropolitan areas

The Chairperson answered that the breakdown was mentioned in the presentation.

Mr Kruger added that of the six institutions, three were rural and three were metropolitan.

Mr D Mkono (ANC, Eastern Cape) referred to the introduction that showed a higher unemployment rate for Africans in the Western Cape compared to the national average, and the suggestion that vocational education be increased. He asked if the vocational education and other interventions will assist the high unemployment amongst Africans. He also asked if the FET-colleges offer maritime studies and if any studies regarding their training have been conducted.

Mr Kruger answered that the Western Cape had an unique history because during apartheid Africans were considered permanent residents, which lead to them being especially discriminated against. 508 of the people benefiting from the Loan Schemes in 2004, and 1272 of those benefiting in 2005, were Africans, which was a specially targeted group for the Loans. No statistical surveys had compared the provinces. The highest drop-out rates in the colleges were still for coloreds and blacks.

Ms Masilo asked how far the rehabilitation process has gone, especially regarding infrastructure in rural areas.

Mr Kruger answered that the distance between the campuses in rural areas was still a problem.

Ms Zozo Siyengo (Director FET Colleges, Western Cape DOE) said that the provincial offices had a strategic plan, and the colleges then made their own strategic plans based on those of the province. Problems could be encountered when colleges merged, and the actual campuses remained the same and taught the same subjects. The colleges needed some time to decide where and which subject to teach, but this process could not go on for longer than two or three years.

The Chairperson commented on the high staff-shortages in all provinces and asked how this problem would be addressed. He also asked how many benefited from the Loan Schemes and what happened if the student could find work after completing the education.

Mr Kruger said that the Loan Schemes had existed for 3 years and 7400 students have benefited from them; (2600 in 2004, 3500 in 2005 and 2500 in 2006). DOE planned to change the name from “Loan Scheme” to make it sound less intimidating. Various elements were taken into account when an application was processed, including the field of study, race and gender and family income. The student started to pay off the loan on completion of studies and no interest was paid while studying. The learning institutions were responsible for administering the Loan Schemes and the student applied directly to the colleges. The DOE advised the institutions to claim back at least 70% of the loan. If the institutions failed to claim back the last 30%, this part was often considered a bursary. The students, however, were not informed about this practice.

The Chairperson asked who decided which fields the learner must study in to be granted the loan.

Mr Kruger answered that the students themselves chose the fields; the college could only guide the student.

Mr M Mulcahy (Ministry of Education delegate) noted that the conditions for receiving the grant were clear.

The Chairperson commented that he did not consider that the conditions were very clear.

Ms Siyengo said that there were uncertainties regarding operational issues; for instance if the colleges of the Conditional Grant were responsible for the costs.

Mr Muleay answered that these issues could be dealt with in the provinces.

The Chairperson said that a public hearing on the recapitalisation of the FET-colleges was needed before a debate could start. Hopefully the problem will be dealt with before the budget is finalized in September/October.

Mr Mkono commented that a hearing should be held involving the Portfolio Commitees on Finance, Labour, and Education, and that the human resources department of DOE should present arguments.

The meeting adjourned.


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