Hansard: NCOP: Debate on Higher Education: Expanding Funding Opportunities to Higher Education and Training for the Poor ; Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill [B14B – 2011]

House: National Council of Provinces

Date of Meeting: 02 Nov 2011

Summary

No summary available.


Minutes

 

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THURSDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 2011

 

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

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The Council met at 14:06.

The Chairperson took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.

NOTICES OF MOTION

Mr S H PLAATJIE: Chairperson, I hereby give notice on behalf of Cope that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move:

That the Council-

(1) debates –

(a) the web of corruption that has been revealed in the Special Investigating Unit's dossier regarding the Moses Kotane Local Municipality in the North West;

(b) the gross administrative failures that have led to the suspension of the municipal manager, Gobakwang Moatshe, who was charged with 21 counts of gross misconduct;

(c) the allegation that the council paid up to R11 million for a civic centre that was supposed to have been completed in 2008; and

(2) acknowledges the urgent need for corruption in the municipalities to be addressed and for justice to be served immediately.

Mr F ADAMS

 

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Mr S H PLAATJIE

 

Mr F ADAMS: Chair, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move on behalf of the ANC:

That the Council -

(1) notes that although the DA often lauded the administration of the City of Cape Town as being open, effective and efficient, Mayor Patricia de Lille slowly but surely realises that the administration that she inherited from her leader and predecessor, Premier Helen Zille, is, in fact, not so open but conducts its work under a shroud of secrecy as they are apparently still remote-controlled by Premier Helen Zille;

(2) further notes that this was again recently evidenced by the city's administration practice and demonstration of secretive bureaucracy when it failed or refused to provide information about basic services involving billions of rands being paid by the City to private entities because of the policy of outsourcing basic services;

(3) also notes that the same practice of secrecy was also illustrated by Premier Zille and her administration at the Legislature when she openly misled Scopa by testifying that provincial programmes are uploaded on the provincial government's website that is open to the public, whereas the media and members of the Legislature could not locate any projects on the website; and

(4) condemns these secretive practices of Premier Zille and the DA in the harshest terms and calls on her not only to provide lip service to clean and transparent governance, but indeed to practise it.

Mr M J R DE VILLIERS

 

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Mr F ADAMS

 

Mr M J R DE VILLIERS (DA): Chairperson, on behalf of the DA I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move:

That the Council –

(1) notes that President Jacob Zuma, the current President of South Africa was, from 1999 until 2005, the Deputy President of South Africa and was axed by the then president, Thabo Mbeki, for reasons linked to the alleged corruption related to the arms deal;

(2) further notes that President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of a commission of enquiry which is much welcomed by the DA;

(3) also notes that the President also said that he will avail himself to testify before the commission of enquiry, although the President would have had no option but to testify if he were summoned to do so; and

[Interjections.]

(4) acknowledges that this step and decision is long overdue and the DA hopes that all the relevant and true information will be revealed and those responsible for corruption and mismanagement will be brought to account for their deeds and crimes against our nation.

Mr O DE BEER

 

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Mr M J R DE VILLIERS

 

Mr O DE BEER: Chair, I hereby give notice on behalf of Cope that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move on behalf of Cope:

That the Council -

(1) notes that the MEC of Police in the Western Cape, Mr Dan Plato, has clearly lost the battle against gangsterism in the Western Cape;

(2) further notes the lack of fresh ideas and strong leadership in tackling gangsterism in the Western Cape;

(3) also notes the failure of Mr Plato to address this issue since taking over this office two months ago; and

(4) acknowledges the urgent need for the national Minister of Police to intervene by deploying the Special Investigating Unit in the Western Cape.

I so move.

Mr D B FELDMAN

 

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Mr O DE BEER

 

Mr D B FELDMAN: Chairperson, I hereby give notice on behalf of Cope that in the next sitting of the Council I shall move:

That the Council -

(1) debates the continuous squandering of public funds by the embattled Department of Public Works;

(2) notes the shocking revelations of yet another suspicious lease deal entered into on behalf of the Independent Complaints Directorate in Pretoria in the Gauteng province; and

(3) further notes the inability of the ANC-led government to effectively act against corruption in its own ranks.

Mr D A WORTH

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Mr D B FELDMAN

 

Mr D A WORTH: Chairperson, on behalf of the DA I wish to give notice that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move:

That the Council-

(1) notes that –

(a) this week the world's population increased to the 7 billion mark;

(b) the population is set to increase even faster in future;

(2) further notes that in the 18th and 19th centuries it took 125 years to increase the world's population by 1 billion people, these days it takes only 12 years;

(3) acknowledges –

(a) the good news that it is anticipated that the world's population will start stabilising in the 21st century;

(b) the bad news is that the world's population will be more than 9 billion people then and Africa's population will continue to grow;

(4) also notes that the depletion of the world's rainforests, fishing resources, fresh water and the emission of greenhouse gases, which leads to global warming, is a major threat to the world as we know it; and

(5) acknowledges that the world's resources are finite, not infinite, and this calls for a drastic change of lifestyle.

Mr K A SINCLAIR

 

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Mr D A WORTH

 

Mr K A SINCLAIR: Chairperson, I hereby give notice on behalf of Cope that in the next sitting of the Council I shall move:

That the Council -

(1) debates the ongoing lack of a clear and detailed agricultural policy which has continued to fuel uncertainty and translates into disinvestment in agriculture;

(2) notes that, as a result of this blatant failure by the department, the number of commercial famers has drastically declined from 128 000 in 1980, to today's 40 000;

(3) further notes that, at this rate, commercial enterprises in our country will decline to 15 000 by 2025, thus posing a major threat to both employment and food security; and

(4) calls on government to recognise the enormous danger to South Africa's economy and the welfare of the nation in continuing to handle agriculture in this lax and careless manner.

Mr M P JACOBS

 

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Mr K A SINCLAIR

 

Mr M P JACOBS: Chair, on behalf of the DA I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move:

That the Council -

(1) recommends that the tollgates to be built on the N1 and N2 in the Western Cape, particularly Cape Town, be cancelled for the following reasons:

(a) this can have costly legal implications for government;

(b) South African citizens will be economically disadvantaged through this project; and

(c) the plan can have serious financial implications for the business fraternity, which will be shiftedonto the consumers.

Mr D V BLOEM

 

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Mr M P JACOBS

 

Mr D V BLOEM: Chair, I hereby give notice on behalf of the Cope that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move:

That the Council-

(1) debates the desperate situation that the community of Meqheleng in Ficksburg have found themselves in after the area was hit by a tornado on 2 October 2011;

(2) notes that many citizens have been left homeless;

(3) further notes that identity documents and other important documents were lost due to the strong wind that tour apart the RDP houses and shacks;

(4) also notes that the community of Meqheleng Zone 8 are still picking up the pieces; and

(5) acknowledges the urgent need for local government to intervene and to rebuild the community.

Ms E C VAN LINGEN

 

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Mr D V BLOEM

 

Ms E C VAN LINGEN: Chairperson, on behalf of the DA I give notice that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move:

That the Council -

(1) notes that the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Qoboshiyane, has requested a forensic audit for Kouga Municipality in February 2011;

(2) further notes -

(a) that the previous MEC, Gqobana, had a report by the Auditor-General and another by the Special Investigating Unit in 2010;

(b) none of those reports were revealed;

(3) also notes that, at a special council meeting held on 4 October 2011, in Kouga Local Municipality, a resolution was passed that a subcommittee of councillors would study the legal action options against some of the major transgressors in the Kouga administration; and

(4) calls on the Minister of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs to please make these reports available as soon as possible to empower this subcommittee to implement the council resolution of 4 October 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr T E CHAANE

 

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Mrs E C VAN LINGEN

 

 

 

 

 

AGREEMENT SIGNED FOR PROCUREMENT OF LOCAL GOODS AND SERVICES

(Draft Resolution)

Mr T E CHAANE: I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1) notes that government, business, labour and community groups signed a milestone agreement in Pretoria on Monday, under which an "aspirational" target of 75% was set for the level of goods and services that should be procured locally by both government and the private sector;

(2) further notes that the Local Procurement Accord emerged following consultations held under the New Growth Path, which itself aims to bolster the domestic manufacturing sector in support of a larger goal to ensure the creation of five million new jobs by 2020, by stimulating the demand from manufacturers and bolstering production;

(3) notes that government indicated that an immediate objective was to leverage public procurement in line with the amended Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, which will come into force from 7 December; and

(4) takes this opportunity to welcome this progressive initiative by civil society, government and labour to intervene in the economy and to stimulate local growth in the midst of an international economic crisis.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

MR G G MOKGORO

 

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MR T E CHAANE

 

FIRST SCIENCE CENTRE OPENS IN THE NORTHERN CAPE

(Draft Resolution)

Mr G G MOKGORO: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1) notes that the Department of Science and Technology has opened the first Science Centre in the Northern Cape in Mothibistad, Kuruman, which boasts more than R600 000 worth of interactive exhibits;

(2) further notes that the department has made a bid to bring the world's largest ever radio telescope to the province and if awarded, it will be built at Carnarvon, and the decision to house the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope is expected in February;

(3) also notes that these initiatives have generated much interest in the Northern Cape as a base for astronomy and related disciplines, and will nurture talent in the field of science and technology in the province; and

(4) takes this opportunity to welcome these programmes aimed at enhancing our capabilities in the field of science and technology and bring much-needed resources and opportunities to the people of the Northern Cape.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

MR M J R DE VILLIERS

 

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MR G G MOKGORO

 

EFFECTS ON THE ECONOMY OF LIQUEFIED PETROLEUM GAS SHORTAGE

(Draft Resolution)

Mr M J R DE VILLIERS: Chairperson, on behalf of the DA, I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1)notes that the shortage of liquefied petroleum gas, LPG, in South Africa is one of the negative factors which can damage our fragile economy further if not recovered as soon as possible;

(2)further notes that LPG is not imported from other countries, like oil and is produced by our own refineries;

(3)notes that this shortage of LPG will hurt the economy of the hospitality, manufacturing and automotive sectors if not speedily stopped;

(4)acknowledges that the situation is very serious and worrisome because it can damage our economy and lead to more poverty and unemployment; and

(5)calls upon those in this manufacturing trade and industry to take special care and decisions and to make plans to address this issue of LPG shortages as soon as possible.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

THE CHIEF WHIP OF THE COUNCIL

 

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MR M J R DE VILLIERS

 

DEATH OF FORMER US CONGRESSMAN, HOWARD WOLPE

(Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE COUNCIL: Chair, I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1) notes that Howard E Wolpe, a former congressman who played a crucial role in passing legislation that imposed economic sanctions on South Africa in the 1980s, helping to bring an end to apartheid, while overcoming two vetoes by President Ronald Reagan, died at his home in Saugatuck, Michigan, on Tuesday 25 October, at the age of 71;

(2) further notes that Mr Wolpe, a Democrat, represented the Third Congressional District in south-western Michigan for 14 years, starting in 1978, was Chairman of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Africa from 1982 to 1992, and was a private sponsor of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, which imposed sanctions against American companies doing business in South Africa - among its provisions, it called for government pension plans to withdraw their investments from corporations doing billions of dollars of business here;

(3) acknowledges that this legislation played a critical role in the international campaign led by the ANC to isolate the apartheid regime which expedited the process leading to the achievement of freedom for our people; and

(4) takes this opportunity to join the nation to dip our revolutionary banner in recognition of the contributions made by Mr Wolpe and the many international supporters of the liberation of South Africa.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

MS B V MNCUBE

 

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THE CHIEF WHIP OF THE COUNCIL

 

SERVICE DELIVERY FRIDAYS AND OTHER EKURHULENI METRO COUNCIL INITIATIVES

(Draft Resolution)

Ms B V MNCUBE: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1) notes and welcomes the proactive and innovative initiatives of the executive mayor of Ekurhuleni Metro Council, Mr Mondli Gungubele -

(a) firstly, to introduce Service Delivery Fridays, which involves his executive visiting local communities regularly to identify their service delivery problems and to assist them in solving them and/or to bring them to the attention of the various departments which will then respond to them through planning, budgeting and implementation; and

(b) secondly, his initiative to commit himself to an "executive mayor's contract with the residents of Ekurhuleni", following performance contracts that he had signed with all 10 members of his mayoral committee during September; and

(2) calls on all other mayors to commit themselves and their executives as well as their administrations to improving service delivery and creating a better life for all their residents.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

MR T M H MOFOKENG

 

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MS B V MNCUBE

 

HANDOVER OF HOMES TO THE DISABLED AND DESTITUTE IN LIMPOPO

(Draft Resolution)

Mr T M H MOFOKENG: Chair, I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1) notes that on Tuesday, 1 November 2011, the Limpopo MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Soviet Lekganyane, handed homes to the disabled;

(2) further notes that during the hand over to a destitute and disabled father of nine and another member of the Lwamondo area, the MEC called on all members of the public to help identify the poorest of the poor who have no shelter so that government can intervene and also urged them to inform political or traditional leaders of people whose circumstances they believe needed intervention; and

(3) takes this opportunity to applaud the continuous and speedy delivery of services to the people, especially to the disabled and destitute and their families.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

Mr S S MAZOSIWE

 

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MR T M H MOFOKENG

 

LAUNCH OF EASTERN CAPE GOVERNMENT'S JOBS FUND

(Draft Resolution)

Mr S S MAZOSIWE: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1) notes that the Eastern Cape government has launched a R50 million jobs fund via its Department of Economic Development, and that this amount will grow to R150 million next year, with the aim of creating 30 000 jobs over the next three years;

(2) also notes that the fund will be managed by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation in terms of strict measures and prescripts imposed by the Eastern Cape government, among others, to ensure that the funds are used to create sustainable jobs and not used by tenderpreneurs who are only creating short-term jobs without growing the economy;

(3) further notes that the Eastern Cape is the first province to roll out this initiative; and

(4) takes this opportunity to commend the Eastern Cape government for its proactive approach to creating sustainable jobs.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

MR D D GAMEDE

 

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Mr S S MAZOSIWE

 

LUNGISA INDLELA VILLAGE FOR ORPHANS IN KZN

(Draft Resolution)

Mr D D GAMEDE: Chair, I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1) notes that on Wednesday, 2 November 2011, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize, announced that his government is building a R90 million village for orphans and abandoned children in Verulam just north of Durban;

(2) further notes that this project, which is in partnership with a nongovernmental organisation, is called Lungisa Indlela, and is seen as a new chapter for many rejected, neglected and abused children who will now have homes and grow up in a warm family environment; and that 16 of the 96 units in the village have been completed; and

(3) takes this opportunity to applaud this great initiative by the Premier and his government for ensuring that our children are, indeed, taken care of, because we believe that in nurturing them, we build a bright future for our country, as they are the leaders of tomorrow.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

MR J M G BEKKER

 

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MR D D GAMEDE

 

Mr J M G BEKKER: Chairperson, on behalf of the DA, I give notice that I will move a notice of motion in the next sitting of the Council:

That the Council-

Firstly, notes information points to the fact that the economy created 93 000 new jobs in the third quarter of the year;

Secondly, notes the DA welcomes these new job opportunities and we are very happy for those who ...

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE COUNCIL: Chairperson, I rise on a point of order: The member is moving a notice of a motion.

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: We are busy with motions without notice, Mr Bekker.

Mr J M G BEKKER: I apologise to the Chief Whip. I made a mistake with the wording. This is a motion without notice. [Laughter.]

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: All right. [Interjections.]

Mr J M G BEKKER: I continue:

The DA welcomes these new job opportunities and we are happy for those whose financial circumstances will be improved.

[Interjections.]

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: He has now corrected himself. He said he is moving a motion without notice.

Mr J M G BEKKER: I have corrected myself. [Interjections.]

Thirdly, that the DA also asks the different departments to fast-track the implementation of projects and infrastructure, development, the building of houses, Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, projects, and others.

Fourthly, our citizens, especially the unemployed youth, are in need of these job opportunities.

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: In the light of the objection, the motion may not be continued with. The motion without notice will now become a notice of motion.

MS M G BOROTO

 

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The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP

 

 

CALL TO IMPLEMENT THE MINING CHARTER SIGNED IN 2002

(Draft Resolution)

Ms M G BOROTO: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the Council-

(1) notes that during the recent Provincial Week programme and the visits to different mining operations and mining communities, and in the midst of the grand operations excavating the nation's minerals, one was again struck by the immense poverty and the people aimlessly waiting for some economic and social benefit;

(2) notes that while mining has been productive and profitable for almost two centuries, despite the government and the mining industry having signed the Mining Charter in 2002, with the express purpose of integrating the economy whilst ensuring that ownership and management were diversified, real transformation has not taken place in the mining sector, and the issue of the skills shortage is still used as an excuse for the lack of real transformation of the industry, while the people's outcry in search of economic and social justice is ignored;

(3) calls on the mining industry to honour it's obligations in terms of the Mining Charter and to transform itself in such a way that will fundamentally change the magnitude of the mining sector's contribution to economic upliftment and development of the relevant communities and to environmental sustainability; and

(4) further calls on the government as well as the Department of Mineral Resources, the Chamber of Mines, unions and local government to ensure robust monitoring of the implementation of the Mining Charter.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

SUBJECT FOR DISCUSSION

 

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MOTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

 

DEBATE ON HIGHER EDUCATION: EXPANDING FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES TO HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR THE POOR

(Subject for Discussion)

The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Chairperson and hon members of thE House, firstly, let me say thank you very much to the House and congratulations for deciding to debate this matter.

On 26 June 1955, a group of extraordinary men and women convened in Kliptown, Johannesburg, and adopted the Freedom Charter, which became the basis of the basic human rights enshrined in our Constitution. The Freedom Charter declared that-

The doors of learning and culture shall be opened.

and stated that-

Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all

children. Higher education and training shall be opened to all by

means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of

merit.

Since 1994, we have made significant progress in terms of opening the doors of learning through increased access for students from the working class and the poor. However, we still face immense challenges as many students, despite our best efforts, cannot proceed with their studies due to a lack of financial resources, inadequate or poor academic support and their inability to find jobs that would change their economic circumstances.

Critical to the commitment of government, though, to ensure access for all, President Zuma decided, in 2009, to create a dedicated Department of Higher Education and Training, and this is beginning to yield positive results.

Our department has built on the advances made since 1994, and on its own has also added further impetus with its own new interventions. It was to ensure both improved access to and success in higher education and training, with a specific focus on students from the working class and the poor.

Allow me, Chairperson, to share with the House some of the interventions we have made since 2009, and some of the plans we have to improve access and success in higher education and training.

We have sought to define our mandate as that of expanding post-school education and training, in order to emphasise the fact that we have to respond to the education and training needs of all those who have left school and are unlikely to return, whether they have matric or not. This mandate allows us to better respond to the various needs of youths and adults who are out of school.

The Department of Higher Education and Training has received R37,4 billion in this financial year, of which R9,1 billion is levies for the Sector Education and Training Authorities, the Setas, and the National Skills Fund. Four billion rand was allocated to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, this financial year.

With regard to further improving access for poor students at universities, as from the beginning of this year, all final year students who qualify for the NSFAS have received loans equivalent to the full cost of study. This includes tuition, accommodation, food and books. If they successfully complete their studies, these loans will be converted into a full bursary, which means they will not have to pay it back.

Again, as from this year, all FET college students, who are pursuing the National Certificate Vocational or Nated programmes and qualify for NSFAS, have also been completely exempted from paying fees. This is indeed the first of its kind in our country. [Applause.]

In addition to this, our department has also set aside a special bursary fund of about R77 million, dedicated to supporting students with disabilities at universities and to cover the full cost of their studies.

The department has also set aside an amount of R200 million this year to assist all those students who have successfully completed their university diplomas and degrees, but have not received their certificates or have not graduated since they owe money to universities.

This money will be in a form of a loan to cover all students between 2000 and 2010, and to be paid back once the student starts working. This fund is estimated to benefit about 25 000 students according to the records we have been given by the universities. We are, however, concerned that there is slow uptake of this offer. We call upon hon members of the NCOP to please also help to spread the word in this regard because we know that there are many of these students out there.

The NSFAS funding has increased the most in any one year for universities since its inception in 1999, with a 27,8% increase between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years. During this period, we have also tripled in one year the allocation of full bursary support for FET colleges, from R318 million to R1,235 billion.

I am pleased to also inform you that the NSFAS has received an unqualified audit for this financial year after the many years that it had been getting qualified audits. [Applause]. This is after our own interventions in setting up a new board and giving it very clear marching orders on the need to sort out this scheme, as it is our main weapon to support students from poor backgrounds. The fund is now in a healthy state to continue to assist poor students.

I have further instructed the board of NSFAS to explore options and possibilities of giving financial assistance to those students whose family income is above the NSFAS threshold, yet whose families are still poor. For instance, the threshold is R122 000 per annum family income, but if you are earning R125 000, it doesn't mean you are rich, yet you don't qualify and the banks will also not give you a loan to educate your children.

So, I have asked NSFAS to actually explore a mechanism and a method through which we can address this, because in essence, by the way, this affects our nurses, policemen and -women, teachers, and all those professions.

The NSFAS annual report for 2010-11, of course, showcased various students from these poor communities. One student, Lesego Shoromoma, who is a graduate from the North-West University and comes from a poor family in Orkney, North-West Province, reflected, and I quote,

NSFAS provided me with funding for tuition fees, accommodation and text books that I would not have acquired on my own due to my family's situation.

You will agree with me, however, that money alone will not solve all of our problems.

With regard to universities, my department continues to provide earmarked funds for academic support, particularly targeted at students who require such assistance. In addition, we are restructuring our own budget in order to give additional funds to historically disadvantaged institutions in order to address the many infrastructure backlogs in these institutions.

We are also exploring setting up a dedicated financial assistance programme in the form of a bursary for lecturers in the historically disadvantaged universities, to improve their qualifications, so that we significantly increase the number of lecturers with Ph Ds in these institutions.

The department has also earmarked, what we call, teaching development grants for the 2012-13 financial year, to the tune of R499 million, to improve the quality of learning and teaching, especially in our historically disadvantaged institutions.

Over the next two years, we will be allocating to these universities R600 million for student housing and R900 million for infrastructure backlogs. We are also having discussions with the National Treasury to explore additional avenues to address infrastructure for the entire postschool education and training landscape.

We have also embarked on an extensive change strategy to improve quality in our FET colleges. Particular attention is being paid to the improvement of governance, financial management, curriculum and programme mix. This is to ensure that these institutions offer relevant programmes that will improve both the pass rates as well as employability of FET college graduates. We have developed a Student Support Scheme for these colleges that we will be rolling out soon.

Earlier this year, in fact, in July 2011, government, labour, business and community representatives at Nedlac signed a National Skills Accord as part of significantly increasing training and skills development, especially for the youth. In this Accord, employers, including state-owned enterprises, have agreed to open their workplaces to FET college lecturers to be exposed to current technologies in industry today, so that the knowledge they impart to students is relevant to current employer needs.

Indeed, our biggest challenge still remains the low throughput rate in both our universities and colleges. Whilst these interventions will go a long way in improving quality and also the pass rate, it is also important that you join us, as members of the House, to take out the message, to say to our students that they should make use of the opportunities provided by this ANC-led government and work hard in order to pass. It is also because of slow throughput that our department has set aside R194 million for foundation programmes designed to support and develop underprepared students.

Another related but distinct matter that we are addressing is that of closer relationship and articulation between FET college qualifications and universities. I have asked all the Quality Councils to look into this matter, as a matter of extreme urgency, so that the progression between FET colleges and universities for those students, who want to do so, becomes a reality.

Allow me also to say that one of the critical dimensions of post-school education and training is to strengthen work-integrated learning. The National Skills Accord further commits employers to identify training capacity beyond their needs in order to place young apprenticeships and other learnerships in their workplaces. The partners have agreed that such trainees will not be guaranteed employment when they finish, just as they will not be used as substitute for permanent workers.

I am pleased to announce that as of 30 September 2011, working together with the Setas, various employers have already registered 11 335 learnerships and apprenticeships against the target we have set for this financial year of 30 000 placements. Many of these are FET college students who otherwise would not have received an opportunity to get workplace exposure.

We have also set the Setas the task of working closely with FET colleges and universities of technology in order to facilitate student placement. I'm pleased also to announce, by the way, that one of our state-owned enterprises, Telkom, has actually committed to an intake of learnerships and apprenticeships of 10 000 during this financial year. [Applause.]

Moving towards closure, let me say that underpinning all our work is a also strategy that we are we are developing to combat corruption in the entire public education and training system, in order to ensure that every cent meant for the education of our people is used only, and only, for that.

All these things are meant to ensure that we build an accessible, quality, affordable postschool education and training system with a particular focus on our youth. I thank you. [Applause.]

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon Minister, we actually should thank you for acceding to the request to come and debate this issue with us and to share the information that we have. You will see more of these discussions coming. That's the route we've taken as the NCOP.

Mr M J R DE VILLIERS

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 460

 

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING

 

The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Mr M J R DE VILLIERS: Chairperson, Ministers, hon members of the Council, hon guests, this debate is very important as we look at the percentage of unemployment which is more than 20%.

Issues of concern which threaten the nation's continued development are the growing poverty levels and increasing gap between the rich and the poor, poor municipal service delivery, poor educational outcomes, the high crime rate, constant rise of petrol and diesel prices, moral standards decreasing in communities, etc.

To bring substance to the bigger understanding of the subject of poverty and opportunities, we must understand what poverty is. Poverty is not only the lack of financial resources, but it is more than that. According to Amartya Sen's book, Inequality re-examined, poverty is the lack of capability to function effectively in society.

Absolute poverty and absence of adequate resources hampers learning in developing countries through poor nutrition, health, home circumstances, lack of books, lighting or places to do homework and the educational status of the parents.

I want to point out to the Minister that there is a huge lack of student housing accommodation at universities and FET colleges. Hon Minister, I have written a letter to your department to request a report on this situation and I hope that I'll receive the answer as soon as possible and I thank you for now.

The percentage level of people with HIV/Aids is high and the lack of educational skills and qualifications can also hamper our capacity to provide more opportunities for our citizens as more money has to be spent on health and medicine to tackle this pandemic. This brings me immediately to this question: Must we expand opportunities to higher education to the poor or not?

In our education sector we have the problem of low standards in numeracy and literacy especially in the basic education sector, low morale of teachers, inadequate libraries at schools, curriculum challenges, learners who walk long distances to school, mismanagement of funds and corruption, infrastructure needs and others.

It is very important that we must concentrate on these things in order to better that situation in that sector so that we in higher education can then improve on those standard levels. I know that it's not your mandate, but that of other Ministers.

The government did make available nutrition programmes to poor learners and no-fee schools; no school fees for learners in different quintiles; bursaries and loan to students in universities, FET colleges and other educational institutions like the Funza Lushaka Bursary; funds to study social work; National Skills Funds; and National Students Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, loans, etc.

I'm not sure that learners at secondary schools have the whole benefit of the nutrition programmes, no-fee schools and no school fees to learners. In that situation our learners in poorer communities, especially in the rural areas, are not benefiting from these government opportunities.

In rural areas we will then not be successful in lifting up the poor standard of the community so that they can get opportunities and access to higher education.

We experienced a high drop-out rate before Grade 10 in our schools. Learners experience poverty at home and when reaching puberty, they are very sensitive to material things like clothes, shoes, to afford to pay for things while on school, university or colleges trips and other activities.

We must think out of the box on how we can provide more opportunities for the poor so that they make use of the opportunities in higher education. Education can lift you out of poverty and poor circumstances. A certificate in higher education gives you a better chance and transforms your circumstances and life expectations to higher levels.

We have to make more opportunities available for our youth and also for older persons to have much easier access to higher educational opportunities. To make funds available for further study and to be used for personal needs is just one of the solutions.

The DA is a party which believes in opportunities and opportunities for different people with different possibilities in terms of intellect, skills and capabilities and so on - in short the diversity of the capacity of people. Therefore, we must provide for this variety of people so that everyone can reach their potential.

Better educated people have a greater probability of being employed, are more economically productive and earn higher incomes. There is much evidence that investment in education at secondary and tertiary levels brings a higher return in some countries. We are better stocked with educated people than other states in Africa. Therefore, we are seen as "America in Africa".

Education also stimulates economic growth and if we succeed in producing a better quality education system and more educated people, we can increase our growth to 7% or 8%, which is just one of the factors to reach this goal in economical growth.

To expand opportunities of higher education will not only benefit the poor, but also the different communities, regions, provinces and South Africa as a whole. I thank you.

Ms B V MCUBE

UNREVISED HANSARD

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 461

 

Mr M J R DE VILLIERS

 

 

Mr M J R de VILLIERS

 

 

IsiZulu:

Nksz B V MNCUBE: Mhlonishwa ngivumele ngibingelele iNdlu eHloniphekile.

English:

Chairperson, it is an honour for me to participate in the debate on higher education today, under the theme, Expanding Opportunities to Higher Education and Training for the Poor.

Fifty years ago in Kliptown the people of South Africa, The Congress of the People, from across the length and breadth of our country, gathered in order to lay the foundation of their vision of the new South Africa. It is there where South Africans said:

The doors of learning and culture shall be opened. Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children. Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit. Adult illiteracy shall be ended by means of a mass education plan. These freedoms we will fight for, side by side, throughout our lives, until we have won our liberty.

It is against this backdrop that the ANC-led government in this fourth Parliament decided to make education an apex priority. Furthermore it decided to establish a new department which focuses on Adult Education and Training, Further Education and Training and Higher Education.

This was informed by the realisation that not much had been done in achieving people's education for people's power, due to the legacy of apartheid and Verwoed's policy of education that we inherited in 1994.

Chairperson, allow me to take this House down memory lane. In 1954, Verwoerd, one of the main architects of the apartheid system, said that blacks ought not to be trained above certain forms of labour. In 1953, Hendrik Verwoerd, Minister of Native Affairs from 1950 to 1958, and later the Prime Minister from 1958 to 1966, piloted the Bantu Education Act through Parliament. This was designed to prepare blacks for an inferior place in society.

It was in this august House where he said that-

The new educational system should have its roots in the spirit and being of a bantu society and serve the respective ethnic communities.

He also said -

It does not serve any purpose to teach a black child mathematics if he could not use it.

It is a fallacy for the critics and learned people to doubt the product of the new education system that we established 17 years ago, when the system had been entrenched for 40 years.

Hon Minister, access to FET colleges for the working class is still a challenge. We are trying to fix our education system in the manner that one would fix the tyre of a car while it is in motion. The introduction of the National Certificate Vocational, NCV, has a great impact on access as it requires very few learners in a class and most potential learners do not gain access.

We are talking of 2,7 million young people who have lost hope, who have matriculated, who are unemployed and who lack skills. The introduction of the Skills Development Act and the Skills Development Levies Act were mechanisms of the ANC-led government to respond to this challenge.

It is a fact that the working class and the poor have not benefited much from this project. Learnerships were established for the purpose of giving learners 70% workplace experience and 30% theoretical experience. However, the system ended up being a milking cow for the elite. The system became very bureaucratic and difficult and this limited access.

The National Skills Fund, the Skills Education Training Authorities in South Africa, Seta, grants and the National Skills Development Strategy, NSDS3, have to help us to solve this problem.

The language used in skills development programmes has to be simplified and understood by all the intended beneficiaries – these are the youth, women, blacks and people with disabilities. There is a great need to refocus our education and training in vocational directions and to destigmatise it.

There is also a need to increase the infrastructure of FET colleges so that they can absorb more learners, as many working class communities become victims of private providers and fly-by-night colleges.

There is a need to increase the pace of establishing community colleges so that adult education and training through FET colleges, community colleges, schools of skills and or focus academies can increase access and create more opportunities. The "T" of training has to be promoted and applied as equally as the "E" which is education.

Minister, articulation is still a problem in our system. Take, for example, a learner who had passed Grade 12 and goes to an FET college. That learner will have to start at an N1 National Certificate level, which is equivalent to Grade 9. In fact, it actually means that the school curriculum is not articulated towards the vocational stream.

This also relates to the recognition of prior learning which the South African Qualifications Authority, Saqa, has long resolved. All the qualifications from any South African institution have an RPL component. However, workers and adults who are able to demonstrate a capacity to perform a certain skill cannot be accredited and certified as qualified persons. They have to be taken through cumbersome processes and procedures. At the end they have regrets and the whole process is a flop, and then they drop out. Hon Minister, this has to be looked into as RPL remains a compliance issue for the registration of a programme or a qualification by the providers.

The ruling party's manifesto talked of the reopening of colleges of education. This infrastructure that is deteriorating and is underutilised in other provinces, can also salvage this situation. Limpopo, for instance, is a rural province that has the following former teacher training colleges, Tivumbeni, Naomo, Setotoluane, Giyani, Hoxani, Modjadji, Mokopane, Dr Phatudi and others,that can be used fruitfully in order to skill the unemployed and create opportunities for a better life.

There are mining houses in Limpopo which mine platinum, the most expensive mineral in South Africa. There is a need for this department to open debates with the Department of Mineral Resources, so that, as part of their social responsibility, these mining houses contribute by issuing bursaries to communities in the field of engineering and other skills needed by the mining houses.

In Gauteng we are currently faced with a big challenge around acidic water drainage and access to water. We can only get experts who come from these communities if we channel our resources correctly, not just by building playgrounds as is currently being done by the mining houses.

Minister, his Excellency the State President in his address on 11 February 2011, announced that the focus of higher education will be to expand access, especially for the children of the poor. This includes the conversion of loans into bursaries for qualifying final year students.

The National Assembly has just passed the Higher Education Act Amendment Bill without effecting this important pronouncement. Chances are that the implementation of this pronouncement might be a challenge. Immediately after this debate the NCOP will issue a statement for concurrency purposes without effecting it.

Whilst we celebrate the matric results percentage increase and the increase of exemptions, institutions of higher learning continue placing learners in bridging courses for a year, and this puts a burden on the children of the poor and the learners who are from no-fee paying schools, as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, loans and bursaries do not cover the bridging courses. This is a recipe for creating dropouts and closes the doors of learning. What it literally means is that a course that is supposed to take three years now becomes a four-year course. This then suggests that there has to be amendments.

Mhlonishwa, let me raise the case of the community of Msinga that we visited in October 2011. Msinga is a deep rural area with rich agriculture land. Coal has also been found there. The uThukela River runs close by.

However, after passing grade 12, learners from Msinga roam around without going anywhere because there is no community college or FET college within the district. There is no access to loans and bursaries. Girls have babies and seek to get married as a means of survival.

IsiZulu

Mhlonishwa ngivumele ngihlale phansi ngelithi, mayihlome impi yezikhali zemfundo ephakeme kubantu abampofu nabahluphekayo, abaseGiyani, eMuyexe, eThembisa, e-North West. Iyabonga inkosazana yaMazilankatha. Ngiyabonga. [Ihlombe.]

Ms P MPUSHE

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 462

 

Ms B V MNCUBE

 

 

IsiXhosa:

Nksz P MPUSHE: Sihlalo ohloniphekileyo, baPhathiswa kulawulo lwenqanaba eliphezulu eburhulumenteni, malungu ahloniphekileyo ale Ndlu yoWiso-Mthetho, egameni elihle le-ANC namahlakani ayo, mandibulise.

English:

It is indeed a great honour...

 

IsiXhosa:

... kuluvuyo ukuma apha kule Ndlu yoWiso-Mthetho yoMzantsi Afrika, ndimele iMpuma Koloni. Mandigqithise ilizwi lesingxengxezo elisuka kusihlalo wekomiti othe akakwazi ukubakho apha, endilapha ke ngokumela yena.

 

 

English:

On the topic of expanding opportunities to higher education and training for the poor, I am going to present the case of the Eastern Cape. It is also indeed and honour to be here with the hon Minister. In introducing my speech, I will start with the fact that the doors of learning and culture shall be open for all.

This requires that-

The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life. All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands. The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace ...

The understanding is that, as is practised in Cuba, learners are taught the values of patriotism at an early age. We think it is mainly because of the lack of such values that we find that we are confronted with the challenge of corruption within the education system. I was raising that in passing -

... Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children. Higher education and technical training shall be open to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit.

The ideals of the Freedom Charter are as relevant today as they were 56 years ago, in Kliptown at the Congress of the People, when the Freedom Charter was adopted. We have come a long way and we have a lot of wrongs to correct. The introduction of the apartheid system, by the National Party government and, subsequently, the implementation of Bantu education in 1956, was nothing but a tool to perpetuate subservience and inferiority to the African child.

The question of expanding opportunities to access higher education and training is, inter alia, related to skills development as an integral part of our education system. It is prudent to introduce the essence of technical skills at the foundation phase of our education, instead of leaving this aspect until the tertiary level.

It is, therefore, paramount to identify the talent of all pupils at an early age, in order to make education a useful implement to boost the economy of the Eastern Cape and that of the country as a whole.

Our education system will not open the doors of learning and culture to all if it continues to confine pupils and students to only maths, science, history and geography, or in the old ways of physics and social studies. Prof Saleem Badat has the following to say on the concept of skills:

Here, inasmuch as it is recognised that lack of competent people with requisite technical capabilities is a brake on economic and social development, it should not be taken as self-evident that developing skills or technical capabilities alone are sufficient conditions to address our socioeconomic challenges and enhance economic and social development.

It is, however, important to note that education, training and development of people must, therefore, be approached from the perspective of the overall and particular configuration of knowledge, skills, attitudes and expertise that are needed by the economy and society.

The following are some of the condensed points to consider on how higher education can empower and open opportunities for the poor, especially the poor disadvantaged youth in the vastly rural Eastern Cape. The four universities and eight Further Education and Training, FET, colleges in the Eastern Cape could consider the following to expand opportunities to higher education and training for the poor.

Given the fact that chances are young people and the poor in South Africa in general, and in the Eastern Cape in particular, will be caught in a poverty trap, to avoid this development, higher education institutions in the province should have astute plans.

These plans should be aimed at recruiting and admitting students from poor backgrounds, in order to train them in management, administration and language skills that are imperative in the job market. The vicious cycle of poverty might just be broken by a quality higher education and training qualification in the said aspects.

We would recall that the high rate of unemployment in South Africa, mostly affects young people and, as a result of that, they are unskilled and unemployable. In the Eastern Cape young people usually take short cuts. Due to the fact that they are unskilled, they jump at the opportunity to become tenderpreneurs and end up doing shoddy work.

The higher education and training sector of the Eastern Cape Province, which includes universities and FETs, should partner with other governmental and private finance stakeholders to provide programmes that will provide jobs and life skills training internships relevant to societal needs.

Disadvantaged youth should be specifically groomed from an early age and government must expand the mandate of technical schools and also equip them.

Tertiary institutions of the province should have diversified curricula and programmes that cater for the various ranges of interests and academic abilities of the poor in the province.

As per the envisaged development of the Eastern Cape stakeholders, teacher colleges should be opened, especially in rural areas, in order to cater for local youth who could be absorbed by them, thereby eradicating the dire shortage of teachers in the rural marginalised communities. [Interjections.]

Let me conclude, Chairperson. [Laughter.] In conclusion, all of the above will be realised through a people-driven approach involving civil society workers, learners and other society members. This calls for a regulation of the actual composition and constitution of the councils as we amend the FET Bill. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]

Mr S H PLAATJIE

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 463

 

Ms P MPUSHE

 

Mr S H PLAATJIE: Chairperson, Minister, the primary goal of the Department of Higher Education is to improve access to higher institutions of learning and to shift from an exclusive system to an inclusive system.

This year, we have seen violent student protests about academic exclusions, lack of accommodation, and fee increments. This is in total contrast to the Minister's reply that conflicts arise particularly during the registration period. The situation at universities has prompted SA Student Congress president, Mbulelo Mandlana, to remark that the separation of basic and higher education has still to yield the intended results.

Academic exclusions occur, while the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, is allocated billions to help promote equity of access and provide free undergraduate education to students from the working class and poor communities who cannot afford higher education.

Cope believes that the Department of Higher Education's progressive realisation of the constitutional right of access to education by providing free higher education to students from poor and working class communities will remain elusive.

In his state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma said:

We are working with higher education institutions to ensure that eligible students obtain financial assistance through NSFAS.

While the President refers to "eligible students", the Minister of Higher Education and Training uses the term "deserving students". Who are these "eligible" and "deserving" students? Are not all students who have applied for financial assistance "eligible" and "deserving"?

It is reported that the R200 million set aside by the Minister in May to help graduates settle their outstanding university fees is sitting at NSFAS unused. Which graduates are being targeted by the department?

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme's unused allocation for student loans has risen to R2,6 billion in the 2009-10 financial year. NSFAS is also recovering loans from past student debtors and will reallocate monies to fund new students in the subsequent year. NSFAS was established by the South African government to ensure that students who cannot afford to fund their own studies have access to tertiary education.

There is a disturbing 45% drop-out rate amongst students in higher education. Financial difficulties amongst the country's large pool of poor black students are largely to blame. According to the Student Pathways study by the Human Sciences Research Council, "first generation" students from low-income, less-educated families are the most likely to drop out.

Approximately 35% of the students on the NSFAS loan scheme do not complete their studies. Loans do not cover the full costs of study, leaving students struggling to cover living and other costs.

In conclusion, Cope strongly supports the idea that NSFAS loans be converted into bursaries for students from low-income families and that they should cover the full costs of study, including accommodation. NSFAS should follow the J B Marks Educational Trust Fund model, which has recently celebrated disadvantaged students. The trust was initiated by the National Union of Mineworkers and has awarded bursaries to more than 3 500 students. I thank you.

Mrs N MOERANE

UNREVISED HANSARD

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 464

 

Mr S H PLAATJIE

 

Mrs N MOERANE: Chairperson, hon Minister Blade Nzimande, hon members of the NCOP, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to for me to be participating in the debate, representing Gauteng. We all know that South Africa's university sector is the strongest and most diverse in Africa.

In the new landscape there is nearly double the number of students of all races. Three quarters of a million in all are enrolled in the fewer, but larger public universities, and nearly one in five young South Africans enter higher education. More than half of all students are women, and some 8% are international students. Most of them are from other African countries; but also thousands are from Europe, Asia and America.

South Africa's apartheid legacy was a higher education sector that was racially divided, of uneven quality and beset by duplications and inefficiencies. Higher education in a democratic South Africa faced huge challenges, primarily the need to achieve greater equality, efficiency and effectiveness within institutions and across the system.

Since 1994, the new government drove a radical restructuring of higher education aimed at making it stronger and more focused and efficient, within a framework of policies and regulations. Universities had to open their doors to students of all races; transform curricula to become more locally relevant but also geared to a knowledge-driven world; train growing numbers of different types of graduates essential to economic growth and development; and to produce scholars that are able to tackle South Africa's problems through research that is responsive to all of society's needs.

Public funding of higher education has increased in recent years. Universities have received a major funding boost from government to refurbish buildings, construct new facilities, upgrade equipment and libraries, to improve outputs and produce more science, engineering and technology graduates.

The expansion and transformation of the South African student population has been nothing less than astounding. According to provisional Department of Education figures, student numbers have nearly doubled in the past 16 years, from 473 000 in 1993, to 799 658 in 2008.

In as far as South Africa's student participation rate is concerned, the proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds in higher education is fast approaching 20%. While access to higher education has significantly improved, there are still racial divides between the participation rates of young people.

Because disadvantages start before young people are born and continue right through to the workplace, it became clear that we should not think of higher education in isolation but rather as one link in an educational chain that begins much earlier.

Most research finds that social mobility or the chances of a young person climbing the social ladder, was higher for those born in better-off families. The researchers found that a major reason for this was that the expansion of higher education opportunities had disproportionately benefited the better-off and that the inequality gap in terms of university participation had actually widened.

Over the past two years, the South African government has been asking higher education to play a fundamentally greater role in the development of the country. Through a range of initiatives that are intended to accelerate economic growth, reduce poverty and supply scarce skills, the government is calling on higher education to assist in this drive towards citizen empowerment. While still respecting the autonomy of our institutions, government has become highly sensitised to the role that the universities play in society.

The linkage between education and development is direct and simple: Higher education enhances human capital, which in turn makes higher growth possible; and universal education universalises the benefits of development.

It has never been more important to ensure that we make full use of the talents of all young people and provide pathways into higher education for all of those who can benefit. It is not only a matter of social justice, but of economic necessity.

We have always believed that it is unfair that some young people stand a significantly lower chance of going to universities because of their backgrounds, regardless of their talents and abilities.

The importance of education and higher education transcends the material benefits it brings to individuals and society. All too often, we tend to focus mostly on the economic benefits of education. Of course, that is an important dimension, which must receive our paramount attention. However, we must not lose sight of the nonmaterial benefit of learning to the learner himself, and to society as a whole.

I would like to share my views on a few main challenges. I will start with access to higher education. There has been a phenomenal expansion of college and university education in our country. I remember how difficult it was in my student days to gain access to a college education; and how rarer still was the entry into universities.

We have come a long way since 1994 in democratising college and university education, which has moved closer to the poor and rural populations and other marginalised sections of our society.

Nevertheless, it should be our endeavour to further expand access to higher education, especially to professional education, and to levels that are comparable to those in developed countries.

The new growth path has placed a strong emphasis on this as an essential requirement for raising our annual gross domestic product, GDP, growth rate to 8%. Enriching the knowledge base and enlarging the skill sets of a far larger percentage of our working population is critical for achieving our objective of higher growth through higher productivity.

Access to quality education cannot be measured merely in numerical terms. It is important to access quality education. I share the concern of many educational and developmental experts that the quality of college and university education has not kept pace with its quantitative growth. This is all too evident at the beginning of each academic year, when students and their parents have an agonising time trying to get admission in good institutions, the number of which is too small to cater to the growing demand.

A point I wish to drive home is the urgent imperative of post-school educational opportunities for matriculants who completed the national senior certificate without a Bachelors. There are a limited number of programmes for the majority of youth who cannot find employment or training opportunities and cannot get in university programmes. Some of these learners from poor communities enrol in FET colleges to complete a second matric and are still not employable. In real terms, this also cheats them of three years of future economic activity.

I am glad to know that the Ministry of Higher Education has drawn up plans to address this issue. I have heard many people telling me that our college and university education has not shown sufficient flexibility and adaptability to respond to the needs and opportunities in the external environment.

Take, for example, the fact that the share of services in South Africa's GDP is consistently growing and today accounts for about 50%. In the coming two decades, almost 60% to 70% of the jobs would be in the services sector. I do not think that our system of higher education is adequately geared to meet this need.

Similarly, it should also gear itself up to seize the rapidly expanding opportunities in the global employment market. Experts have pointed out that in twenty years from now, when many of the advanced nations would have a fairly large percentage of senior citizens in their populations.

Nearly 45% of South Africans would be in their mid- to late twenties. This demographic change can be turned to our advantage if we improve and re-orient higher education in our country to harness the opportunities provided by the globalisation of the employment market.

Whatever the funding mix for higher education is, there must always be a link between what an institution charges and its performance in widening access and supporting those without the ability to pay. While South Africans must face up to the challenge of paying for excellence, universities that charge higher fees must support poor students.

The principle is very clear that where the funding system permits expansion, the excellence of that expansion and widening participation must be equally important.

We want to recognise the progress being made in turning around the National Students Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS. We believe that there are still some challenges of access by the poor to the loan facility that must be addressed. This includes improving the way NSFAS communicates its message to learners so that they are aware of the financial assistance that is available long before they leave school; the explicit targeting of learners in no-fee schools; streamlining the application process to universities and the loan facility; and the removal of registration fees for the poor.

 

We welcome the commitment to ensure that NSFAS becomes a model public entity that delivers on its mandate to provide financial assistance to poor students so that the pool of educated and trained young South Africans can be increased. These young people are our future.

Chairperson, allow me to conclude by informing you that in Gauteng we have adopted a set of interventions to enable young people to make the transition from school to further education and or work that provides further training opportunities. As we are improving pass rates at the Grade-12-level, we are even more committed to increasing the survival and flow of learners to higher education and gainful employment.

In conclusion, it is time that same nonnegotiables that our President laid down for the schooling sector need to be applied to colleges and universities; and I quote:

Lecturers should be at university, in class, on time, teaching, with no neglect of responsibility. The students should be in class, on time, learning, be respectful of their lecturers and each other, and do their assignments and projects on time and to the best of their ability.

 

I thank you. [Applause.]

Ms N C MAMABOLO

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 465

 

Mrs N MOERANE

 

Ms N C MAMABOLO: Chairperson of the NCOP, Deputy Chairperson, Chairperson of the Select Committee, hon Minister B E Nzimande and hon members of the NCOP, I humbly greet you all and bring with me greetings from the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature.

IsiNdebele:

Mhlonitjhwa Sihlalo, kulithabo kimi kobana ngilotjhise godu ngibandakanywe ekulumenipikiswano le bonyana sibonelele bona singathuthikisa bunjani amathuba wefundo ephakemeko ebantwini abatlhagako enarheni yekhethu le. Yeke-ke, irherho leli litjho bonyana sitswenyeke kwamambala ngesitjhaba esinzima ngombana ngiso ebesisasalele emuva ngetuthuko kwezefundo ngaphasi kombuso wegandelelo.

English:

Allow me to quote from our greatest statesman and our former President Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela when he says:

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.

It is indeed a great thing to give a proper and quality education to all our people, but it is indeed very good to provide higher quality education to the poor. The poorest of the poorest also need this education to take care of themselves in the future and their surroundings. Education is a powerful instrument to change the future of all societies and lay a firm foundation for the betterment of life for both the rich and poor.

It is through an increase in access to higher education and training that the power of education's transformative effect on society and individual lives can be realised. The government's efforts at identifying the critical challenges facing our country in order to enhance the relevance and responsiveness of the country's education and training system are beginning to yield the desired results.

We are beginning to realise the remarkable increase in the number of postschool registrations. The national participation rate of 17% for tertiary study, for the head count 18-to-24 enrolments, is an improvement, but is insufficient to achieve the desired objective as set out in the current ministerial statement.

In Mpumalanga province, FET college enrolments have seen this growth moving from 1 900 to 8 400 over the past 10 years. There is no doubt that an astronomical percentage of these new registrations derives from the poor working backgrounds. This, and other credible independent institutions, adds impetus to the government's desire and effort to promote quality education across all levels of the education system; increase postschool opportunities; and expands access to the higher education and training system, particularly for poor and working class citizens.

The government is steadfast in its acknowledgement of constitutional imperatives to ensure the provision of quality education to all and thereby free the potential of all citizens. In this context, fundamental mechanism are put in place to guarantee access to postschool education.

This includes the strategic mandate and goals articulated in the creation of national institutions for higher education, which play a pivotal role in fostering a coherent and well co-ordinated higher education and training for parts of the country which do not have the formal, localised university infrastructures.

These fundamentals commence with a force to ensure that all school-going children attends schools and learn every school day. This then creates an appropriate foundation for these future generations to develop and progress accordingly upon reaching Grade 12. This takes into account and is driven by the clarion call made by His Excellency President Dr J G Zuma that teachers must be in school teaching for at least seven hours a day.

We take pride in the fact that our children of today are no longer faced with what used to be almost insurmountable challenges in efforts to enrol and meaningfully participate in institutions of higher education. This is thanks to the visionary foresight of this government that continues to make provisions for bursaries through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and other related awards.

Hon Minister, we really appreciate that upon the full completion of the course of study, the loan will become a full bursary to learners. This is the empowerment of the poor and the working class at its best, and Cope must not claim victory over that.

As envisaged by the former President Mandela, today it's a norm that a child of a farmworker can seamlessly become an engineer and that the financial status of families is no longer a hinderance for the children to acquire quality education. There is growing evidence in all our institutions that the commitment of government, business and society in investing in the future by empowering the youth of this country has begun to bear tangible fruits.

This government's categorisation of education's number one priority for the current administration indicates the appreciation of its centrality in the socioeconomic transformation and development agenda.

IsiNdebele:

Ukuthuthukisa amathuba wefundo ephakemeko ebantwini abatlhogako kulihlelo esiliyelelako eMpumalanga. Ihlelo leli lenze kobana i-RDP yenze kobana kuvuselelwe i-Agricultural College esele ithomileko ukunikela ilwazi ebafundini. Imifundaze ekhona ikwazile ukuthuthukisa nokulwa nezinga lobutlhagi ngombana abafundi bafundiswa nokuthi bangathuthukisa bunjani izinga lobulili nokulima iintoni nanyana iingadi ezingabasiza emakhaya.

Singathokoza nangabe iindawo zebanga lefundo ephakemeko, njengeNdebele College of Education neMapulaneng College of Education, okumaboda amahle kodwana angasizi ngalitho zingavulwa begodu zithuthukiswe.

English:

Our higher learning institutions continue to offer world-class tuition to enable graduates to contribute meaningfully to the sustainance of livelihoods and mankind. This can only happen in a cukture that takes pride in investing resources into its future, and this government will remain committed to these endeavours for as long the educational development of our youth and the poor remains a challenge.

It remains prudent therefore that we should continue to call upon our youth to take advantage of all available opportunities to turn their situations around for the better. Our communities must equally be empowered to remain as ambassadors of our quest to liberate this country through access to education without hinderances. Thank you, Deputy Chairperson. [Applause.]

Mr M P JACOBS

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 466

 

Ms N C MAMABOLO

 

Mr M P JACOBS: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Chief Whip in absentia, hon permanent delegates, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, hon Plaatjie said that he wants clarity on the two ways - as if they contradict one another. He said the President talked about "eligible" and the Minister talked about "deserving".

Unfortunately, I don't have my dictionary with me. I just want to coin the two words so that they make sense to you. The deserving students will be eligible to receive these funds. I think it makes sense.

Our debate lies at the centre of the transformation of our society into a more just society. We want to thank the Minister for the initiatives and strides he is taking to transform the higher education system. We applaud the opportunities you are opening to our students to have easy access to tertiary education, as well as converting loans to bursaries for deserving students; the authority you now have over sector education and training authorities, Setas, and the manner in which you want to transform them and the initiatives of trying to make one of the African languages compulsory in tertiary institutions.

These and other measures show your determination to improve our young people's lives. The theme of the debate is, "Expanding opportunities to higher education and training for the poor". The topic clarifies itself that, yes, opportunities are there but we need to do more. Time is overdue for the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga to have Universities on their soil. Promises have been made and must be made realities if we are to address the needs of the poor. The Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng should cease to host pupils from these provinces because they should be having universities of their own. We are awaiting a sod-turning next year, as a first step of opening up.

We appeal that institutions that teacher-training and nursing colleges that were closed should be reopened because this measure resulted in the scarcity of personnel in these fields. These institutions provided our country with skills that even poor children could afford to get these skills because they are nearer to their homes. We don't need to import these skills from other countries because we can produce them ourselves and reduce the rate of unemployment.

We have an unequal society which is ravaged and riddled with racism, tribalism and stereotypes. We need to create and enabling environment conducive for teaching and learning to allow these opportunities to thrive. We should not allow a disjuncture which is there between the basic education and the higher education. The outcome –based education or the National Curriculum Statement or whatever, does not talk to each other. As a result, many students cannot succeed in tertiary institutions. Our education system does not assist the business world. This results in many of our graduates' not finding employment because there is mishmash with their qualifications

South Africa is a developing country which finds itself between the First World and the Third World. Our education system focused mostly on the needs of the First World, and ignores the needs of the Third World, where most of our poor people come from. For most of the children from the disadvantaged areas, the exit point in education is Grade 12 and below. After that exit point, they join a reservoir of unemployable and unskilled labour.

Our education system does not provide our children with life skills even if they exit at Grade 12. Most of the African countries provide their children with self-reliant education, which ensures that they can survive with skills they have acquired at an early age.

South Africa is so rich that it can provide these opportunities. As we expand these opportunities to the poor, we need to address these anomalies. We can utilise Further Education and Training Colleges, FETs, and Setas to respond to these anomalies. We need to close the gap between the First and the Third World as a matter of urgency. Most of our voters find themselves in the Third World.

Whilst we are expanding these opportunities, we cannot leave the transformation of our institutions of learning behind. The Rector of the University of Free State, my province, is being hailed as a progressive academic who is on course to transform and get better opportunities for that institution.

However, the contrary is happening because transformation is sugar-coated at that institution. The university culture is conservative and race relations are questionable. He has banned student political activity and some other students are copying this example.

The employment equity is not adhered to because most black lecturers at University of Free State, UOFS, are confined to the Qwaqwa campus. Most of the white lecturers are confined to the campus in Bloemfontein.

Discrimination still persists in hostel residences because there is no integration. The environment should be conducive to learning as we are expanding these opportunities. Maybe we need to introduce Dr Motsoaledi's concept of National Health Insurance, NHI, into education.

We agree that the doors of learning have been opened, but opportunities are elusive for the poor. Those who have resources want better education and opportunities for their children. That is why they take them to former Model C and private schools. Those who are poor will remain in poor conditions, underfunded, with demoralised teachers, and will have to endure all these hardships. Therefore, the NHI concept in education is needed now. Thank you [Applause.]

Ms W MATSEMELA

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 467

 

Mr M P JACOBS

 

Setswana:

Ms W MATSEMELA: Motlotlegi Modulasetilo, motlotlegi Tona wa thuto e kgolwane, Maloko a a tlotlegang a Ntlo eno. Dumelang bagaetsho. Modulasetilo, ntetle go tsaya karolo mo puisanong eno ka setlhogo se se botlhokwa se se buang ka katoloso ya ditšhono mo dithutong tse di kgolwane le thupelelo ya ba ba dikobo dikhutswane.

 

English:

It is not my fault that some people do not understand Setswana. We have 11 official languages in this country. In our 17 years of democracy, we could have been well-equipped with knowledge of other languages.

Education is the greatest equaliser in closing the socioeconomic disparities between economic classes. Societies that place emphasis on research and development, collaborating with institutions of higher learning, have proved, through empirically based evidence, to be the most innovative and prosperous.

Just to give an anecdote on that, the World Economic Forum has just come out with its Competitive Annual Report for the year 2010-11. In terms of the overall ranking, we are ranked 54 out of 139 economies, that being the highest ranking in sub-Saharan Africa.

What stood out for me in their findings was how reasonably we did when it comes to scientific research and collaborations with the business sector. In that respect, we are ranked 29. I presume this is because of the good education policies and investments that we continue to make in education.

Let me just make a few statistical illustrations. According to the Council on Higher Education, we have about 23 public higher education institutions, 11 of which are universities, six are comprehensive universities and another six are universities of technology.

These public higher education institutions enrol about 837 779 students in total. Of that number, about 684 419 are undergraduate students and a negligible 128 747 are postgraduate students.

This is where it gets interesting: Of that total of 837 779, we are awarded, as a country, about 144 852 qualifications at all levels. About 33 788 are in Business and Commerce, about 39 984 in Science and Technology, and about 71 036 in the Humanities and Social Sciences. It gets even better when we look at our postgraduate production. At Masters level, we produce 8 112 per year and at Doctoral level we produce just 1 380 per year. I have not broken down these figures in terms of race because it may reveal both race and class disparities.

By contrast and comparison, in China, in terms of their production in the scarce and critical areas like engineering, they produce about 300 000 graduates per year. I don't want to mention the number when it comes to their postgraduate level.

This means that China produces twice the number in just one field, whereas we do that in all qualifications. We had 20 applications from people wanting to study at Masters level, whereas in one bank in China, the CAD Fund, 6 000 people had applied. That is where the numbers stand.

We need a paradigm shift in terms of the above picture that I have just painted. We need to create significant incentives in scarce and critical fields by making subjects such as science and technology attractive to our learners. These are the subjects of the future.

Setswana:

Modulasetilo, ntetle gore ke tshwaele ka dingwe tse di leng teng kwa porofenseng ya rona ya Bokone Bophirima. Kwa Bokone Bophirima, ra re re lebogela ditšhono tseno gonne nnete ke gore eno ke tsweletso fela ya ditšhono tseno le fa go nnile le phokotsego mo makaleng a diyunibesithi a re neng rena le ona mme re setse ka makalana a le mabedi fela. Yunibesithi ya thekenoloji kwa Matlosana e sale ya tswalwa gonne go ne go sena thupelelo le kgogedi e e neng e le matshwanedi go tlisa baithuti ka bontsi kwa go yona.

 

English:

If we want to expand opportunities in higher education for the poor, we need to accelerate our transformation agenda in education. It should not just be about the numbers, but it should also integrate quality, not just quantity.

We ought to be able to produce the type of student that can out-compete a student in India or Finland, respectively. A child from Ngaka Modiri Molema in the North West or Bojanala in a small hamlet in the North West province should not be afraid to know that she is capable of becoming an astronomer or a doctor, because our education system has taught her that she could be whatever she wants, irrespective of whether or not anyone in her family ever dreamt of that.

In the era of rapid change that is reinforced through technological innovation and globalisation, it is fundamental that the focus of government be on the utmost asset of our country - human capital.

A great educationist, Paulo Freire, in his book, Critical Pedagogy, asserted that there is a lacuna between education and critical independent thinking, especially when it comes to how education is being conveyed to students. His theoretical proposition was that education is delivered as if it is a dead body intended to be consumed.

He advocated for a paradigm shift in education, which is to elicit an independent, critically-thinking and curious student, the latter who is able to challenge his professor about orthodoxy and conventional wisdom.

As a country, we invest a lot of money per capita in our education, relatively speaking, but the yields are very disappointing. Of course, I also have to consider the historical nature of our country. Some of it can be attributed to the historical residue of the apartheid legacy which we are still struggling to eliminate, hence my above assertion about the need to transform and reform our education system to include those who were previously disadvantaged.

Our White Paper on Education and our national plan set out a clear vision of what type of a student we should produce in the next decade or so.

The funding model has been another thorny issue in our education. Education is a common commodity, because if you educate one child, the returns are going to be multifold. However, if you fail to educate one child, we all know what the repercussions will be.

Hence we should really applaud the bold decision that has been taken by the hon Minister Blade Nzimande in terms of making interventions as far as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme is concerned. This intervention allows students' loans for the final year to be converted into full bursaries which will not have to be paid back if the student graduates.

This is a massive contribution to the morale of students, which then allows them to focus on the business of the day – study, and study to pass.

In his Budget Vote speech, Minister Nzimande stated that this intervention will be worth between R2,4 billion to R2,7 billion, benefiting 47 000 students. Simply put, this means that education will pay for itself at the end. When a student goes to the job market, he or she will have more disposable income. This extra money will be not only for him or her, but also for the parents who sweated for this day.

I now look into the critical area of training in as far as the role of Further Education and Training colleges is concerned. Given the fact that the North West is the mining hub of the country, can we proudly say the colleges in the North West are actually offering the necessary curriculum that will assist the communities of the North West at large? [Interjections.]

Setswana:

Ke a leboga mma.

English:

The training component is the key to the reforms that have been introduced and, consequently, further transformation to the society. The more we train technicians, nurses and plumbers, the more we produce a cadre of people our society and economy so need.

Setswana:

Re lebogela ditsereganyo tseo di tlisiwang ke puso e e eteletsweng pele ke ANC gonne e le modisa was setšhaba. Ke tlogatloga e tloga pele, modisa wa dikgomo o tswa natso sakeng.

English:

If you don't understand me, it is your problem, not mine. [Laughter.] [Applause.]

Mr J J GUNDA

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 467

 

Ms W MATSEMELA

 

Mr J J GUNDA: Deputy Chair, hon Minister, let me just say this: On countless occasions our government has identified education as a key factor and one of the primary building blocks of a strong and fully functional economy. The current status of higher education and skills development and training of the less fortunate factions of our society adds to the fruitless work opportunities, lack of job creation and high levels of economic and social uncertainty.

Serious government intervention is crucial to expanding rural opportunities for youth development. The absence of proper and much needed higher education facilities in rural areas is fast becoming a crippling economic problem. It deepens the demand for education among poor parents and adds to the vicious cycle of poverty and social injustice.

We welcome the Minister's comments on the financial assistance for students who cannot afford the exorbitant tuition fees. We also welcome the finances being made available for refurbishing previously disadvantaged tertiary institutions, as the Minister mentioned in his speech.

The Department of Science and Technology opened its 36th dedicated centre in the Northern Cape in a bid to increase the exposure to science and raise interest among the youth in the province. The lack of a university in the province, along with previous inadequate funding and tertiary education facilities, has made it near impossible for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in the increasing education in the field of science.

Hon Minister, I just need to ask you this question while you are here: Can you inform this House how much progress has been made with regard to the establishment of a university in the Northern Cape?

The World Bank, which granted the funding through its Clean Technology Fund, will finance a 100 megawatt solar power plant in Upington in the Northern Cape Province, as it has been further identified as an internationally preferred destination for renewable energy investment.

This is a clear indication that new industries and sectors are on the increase. It is only fitting that government invests in erecting a much needed tertiary institution, where youngsters from the Northern Cape and surrounding areas can study and be trained in the industries being introduced to and concentrated in this province.

Let me just say that I also welcome the amount that you mention for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, but some of the members who are here are not rich and wish to study as well. [Laughter.] Thank you. Ke a leboga. Ngiyabonga. Baie dankie. [Applause.]

Mr D D GAMEDE

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 468

 

Mr J J GUNDA:

 

Mr D D GAMEDE: Chairperson, to start with, I think we need to correct something. The hon De Villiers described poverty as a lack of capability and educational skills to perform in a society. I would add to what hon Mncube actually said about Verwoerd. Verwoerd said:

Let us create a system of education that will make a black person more inferior to us.

He continued and said:

We don't need him, we only need him for his labour.

Now, you cannot after the period from 1948 to 1993, expect a black child and a black person to have the capabilities and skills to do all these things. [Applause.]

I would just like to add my voice to the issue of the universities for Mpumalanga and Northern Cape, as well as on the pronouncement that has been made by the Ministry. I am sure we will definitely get an update on that.

Also, on the issue of the unintended consequences of the Central Applications Offices, CAOs, which was a good idea, learners and students apply and put their preferences for studying for a Bachelor of Science, BSc, and so on. They say they want to study B Sc Marine and so on, but what you find is that students really do not get what they want in those particular clusters.

They do not get admission to their first, second or even third preferences. Thus we find that we have an unintended consequence whereby there can be an admission to another cluster like Bachelor of Administration and then a student ends up finally doing the degree for Bachelor of Administration. It is this issue where an investigation needs to be done to get solution on how it can be corrected.

Thirdly, with regard to the fly-by-nights issue, it is also in the Sowetan papers of today 3 November 2011, more especially the nursing colleges and other Further Education Training, FET, colleges that are not registered. I am sure the department would need to work with SAPS to deal with these issues.

Fourthly, with regard to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, issue, a statement was made by the Minister today that once a student completes his or her studies the loan becomes a full bursary, but we would have loved to have that formalised by including it in the Bill.

Lastly, with regard to the areas in South Africa, more especially in KwaZulu-Natal, that do not have FET colleges - public areas like Nquthu, Nkandla, Msinga, Ngwavuma and so on - I am sure it is in the plans that we should get those things in a distant future and we will be have the FET colleges in those areas.

Now today, we begin a new journey in which we commit to making public FET colleges institutions of excellence and to challenge the widespread perception that they are poorly resourced and second-choice institutions. The FET Colleges are a critical component of the Department of Education. They are also a key performance area and are a focus point of the current Higher Education and Training administration.

There are several key areas of focus for the ANC-led government in respect of colleges: The shift of the function of managing the college system from provincial to the national government; quality improvements including increased success and throughput; increased enrolment of youth and adults; close alignment with skills development strategies and funding, including training partnerships and work placement; increasing apprenticeships and learnerships; and the production of quality artisans as one of the key goals of the FET college sector.

The President, in his state of the nation address, reiterated these themes with particular emphasis on the expansion of access in the context of the need to develop a skilled and a capable workforce to support growth and job creation.

A key challenge is for the sector to grow as rapidly as possible to be accessible to both young and adults, but to drive that growth on a firm basis together with increasing quality in the provision. Colleges are well positioned to contribute to the acute middle-level skills crisis; this is precisely the domain of FET colleges.

They are currently distributed across all nine provinces and have a wider geographic reach than universities. The lower unit cost of the FET college education means that a significant increase in access can be achieved with less investment than a corresponding increase in university enrolment.

Increased FET access would have the social benefit of including young people currently not in education or in employment or training opportunities to participate by studying in work-oriented programmes.

As we all know, the dimensions of these challenges are enormous. Of the 2,8 million South Africans between the ages of 18 and 24 who were not in employment or education or training in 2007, 2 million of them - that is 71% - had not achieved Grade 12. Of these, 18% had not progressed beyond primary school.

The college community therefore must expand its horizons and see the world beyond individual institutions and campuses, whilst at the same time not losing sight of building each institution as a centre of excellence.

As an integral part of the Department of Higher Education and Training family, the FET college community must understand that our broad goal is to develop the economy in a way that it responds to the needs of all South Africans, especially the poor. That is why it is also important to locate our discussions today against the background of an urgent necessity to contribute towards a new economic growth path of our country.

It is also important that we all study closely government's Industrial Policy Action Plan 2, Ipap 2, as well as the Human Resources Development Strategy for South Africa, as critical guidelines for the further transformation of the FET colleges in particular, and the revitalisation of the college sector in general.

In other words, the transformation of the FET college sector must not only be guided by these key broader commitments and policy documents, but are a critical component in the realisation of a new and more inclusive growth path and our industrial policy.

The central question is: How do we also build the capacity of FET colleges to build skills for a green economy? For all this to happen, we must widen our scope and see the challenges in the FET sector, no matter how complex, as part of a multifaceted process to revamp and rejuvenate the entire postschool education and training system.

We cannot deal with the challenges in the colleges in isolation from the challenges in the rest of the system.

We are aware of many difficulties that have been experienced in recent years in the FET college subsystem as a result of a complex and incomplete transition with multiple and overlapping changes of a profound nature for which many were ill-equipped. These difficulties have affected the colleges as institutions in different degrees.

They include loss of lecturers from the colleges, low morale and a high vacancy rate; poor learner performances, with low pass rates and high drop-out rates; increasing reliance on the private sector for skills training, coupled with growing loss of confidence in the public sector provision; institutional instability and labour instability; and severe financial difficulties.

However, these challenges and complexities must not lead to further lamentations; instead, they should make us focus on practical and concrete solutions to these problems. The principal task is that of growing a quality FET college sector, and this is non-negotiable.

Part of this is curriculum transformation to produce college graduates that do not only possess quality technical skills, but

also to introduce civic education as a critical component of the curriculum.

We also have to respond to the challenges of providing resources for both quality improvements and higher enrolment in colleges, and closer alignment with the funding arrangements contained under the skills development levy was required.

This means that the sector education and training authority, Seta, programmes and collaboration with public Further Education Training colleges, must no longer be ad hoc, but be mainstreamed into the very work of the Seta.

The FET colleges are pivotal in our mission to address skills shortages and mismatches, as well as helping young and less skilled workers to access jobs. We must ensure that further education and training programmes provide the real-world skills needed by the public sector.

In conclusion, South Africa is committed to the equality of all, but too many still suffer unfair exclusion. The ANC-led government is committed to ending all forms of discrimination be the class, race, gender, age, disability and HIV and Aids. I thank you. [Applause.]

The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 469

 

Mr D D GAMEDE

 

The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Deputy Chairperson, hon members and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans sitting right next to me, I am lucky and safe.

In five minutes I cannot do justice to the many important issues that have been raised by members, which I would say, on the whole, reflected the fact that the House is really grappling with the issue of higher education and training.

Obviously, some of the things that are being raised are things that we are doing, but of course it does not mean that if we are doing them we are not benefiting from ideas of how we could do them better or differently.

Therefore, I will just mention very few things quickly given the time. I would like to make a proposal perhaps along the lines of what the chairperson said when he opened this session. Maybe at the beginning of the year we need a much more intense engagement with the relevant select committee. One platform that would help us is that sometimes in January I will be releasing a Green Paper on postschool education and training for public debate. We can use that as a platform to actually engage on a whole range of issues as well as to report on other issues.

Indeed, I do agree with hon member Mncube that it is very significant that I am standing exactly where Verwoerd used to sit to share measures that are aimed at burying that terrible legacy. Chairperson, it's a nice revenge in many ways.

I would like also to inform members that between now and, I hope, by April next year I will be doing road shows in all the provinces on postschool education and training with a focus more on trying to facilitate engagements around skills development in relation to the needs and priorities in each province.

I am starting in KwaZulu-Natal on the 18th. I hope to do Gauteng before the end of the year and then continue with the rest of the provinces for the first three to four months next year. Members, I urge you that we will try to give you information that you participate.

I want to talk very quickly about the issue of the two universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga. I have received the two reports from the teams that I had asked to do this work. Also, we have now drafted and completed an implementation plan. The next step is that I'll go and discuss with the premiers of those provinces.

I can assure you that there is progress. I will announce it at an appropriate time once I have engaged the principals. We know that we are not the principals because we account to you here. It is important that they don't hear through the media that I was at NCOP.

The issue of expanding postschool education and training is about the need to massify colleges and increase the numbers drastically. I was going to say to the hon member from Cope that I'm worried about the way in which he talks about postschools because he is essentially talking about postmatric and university routes.

We have to reverse this trend that we have now; the trend of three university students to one college student. The ratio should be the opposite. No country does what we are doing.

In addition, what we are doing is that I have asked the department to do an audit of all postschool institutions, whether it is an empty building, former colleges that are sitting there or also the ones that are being used. Our thinking is that we would like to move forward and increasingly use our institutions as multipurpose educational institutions.

Further Education and Training, FET, finishes at 15:00 and those buildings are then not used. Why not offer university education in the evenings for those who are working in the same buildings? Or You can offer basic literacy. We are doing an audit to get a sense of what is the usage of all our institutions including universities.

In order to really turn our country around we need a Sunday to Sunday kind of postschool education and training so that even those plumbers who work for themselves and have no time to upgrade themselves will be able to go to an FET college on a Saturday or Sunday in order to be able to upgrade themselves.

The other matter I thought I needed to raise is that we are doing interventions in the Eastern Cape around the state and quality of these places. Well, we are doing this nationally. We are giving additional attention to the FET colleges in the Eastern Cape because we are worried about their state of functioning.

It is not only in the Eastern Cape, but also in many other provinces as well where colleges are not in an optimal state, but the Eastern Cape was a bit of a problem. We have a dedicated team which is working there because we want to do precisely what we are saying. There are lots of opportunities that we can exploit in bringing these FET colleges closer to employers in the private and public sectors.

I won't mention the other intervention that I recently made in relation to a particular university because it might upset my colleague, the Minister here, who always insists that if we are talking about negative things about Walter Sisulu University, we must not call it in full. We mustn't say that Walter Sisulu University has problems; we must rather say WSU has problems.

However, if it's a positive thing that the university is doing then we must say Walter Sisulu University is doing very well. [Laughter.] We are making some interventions at WSU as well in order to ensure that that university receives inputs.

Chairperson, allow me very quickly to say two last things. I am aware that I have gone beyond the time allowed, but I am very happy that we have agreed to share. I agree with the issue of critical thinking and curriculum transformation. We can share some of the interventions that we are also making.

Lastly, we are hoping that the President in his state of the nation address next year will make some very critical announcements about infrastructure investment for the postschool education and training landscape. We are doing a lot of work.

I have heard complaints about that there has no FET college in this or that place. We will not be able to build campuses all at the same time, but we are prioritising areas where there is nothing. One or two of the areas that have been mentioned here may be lucky to get a campus next year.

I am not privy to being able to say those things now until we are able to do further work under the leadership of the President, especially the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission.

Thank you very much. Ngiyabonga kakhulu zingane zakwethu. [I thank you very much, my brethren.] [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

Mr T M H MOFOKENG

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 470

 

The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION

 

The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Ms T C Memela): Hon members, could we acknowledge the presence of the minister of defence from Ecuador. You are welcome in South Africa, sir. Thank you very much for the visit. [Applause.]

ANNOUNCEMENT

 

Order Number 1 on the Order Paper deferred for consideration.

The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Hon members, I have been informed that the First Order has been deferred. The Secretary will read the Second Order of the Day.

Mr T M H MOFOKENG

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 470

 

 

 

The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON

 

 

 

 

PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT BILL

(Consideration of Bill and of report thereon)

Mr T M H MOFOKENG: Thank very much, Chair. Maybe I should first make a correction. The person who is a visitor to the Minister is the ambassador and not the minister of defence.

Chairperson, if you allow me, I will start with the Military Veterans Bill and conclude with the Protection from Harassment Bill. The Military Veterans Bill follows closely on the heels of the establishment of the Department of Military Veterans. The department is responsible for the overall management and administration of military veterans' affairs.

The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Ms T C Memela): Hon member, on a point of order: I said the Second Order of the day, which is the Protection from Harassment Bill.

Mr T M H MOFOKENG: I am sorry, Deputy Chair. The Protection from Harassment Bill emanates from the investigation by the SA Law Reform Commission, which provides for the granting of a protection order for the victimS of harassment.

The Bill has a concurrent application with the Domestic Violence Act and provides a clause that a person who may apply for relief against harassment or stalking in terms of the Act is not precluded from applying for relief in terms of the Bill. It is therefore incumbent upon the SAPS to consider the current challenges in respect of the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act and the challenges that victims encounter in accessing Domestic Violence Act services at courts and police stations.

The select committee will monitor the regulation and implementation of the Protection from Harassment Bill during its oversight activities of the police and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development, having received a briefing on the Protection from Harassment Bill and concluded its deliberations on the Bill, recommends that the House approve the Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

Bill agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.

Mr T M H MOFOKENG

UNREVISED HANSARD

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 471

 

Mr T M H MOFOKENG

 

 

 

 

 

MILITARY VETERANS BILL

(Consideration of Bill and of report thereon)

Mr T M H MOFOKENG: Deputy Chair, the Military Veterans Bill follows closely on the heels of the establishment of the Department of Military Veterans whose responsibility is the overall management and administration of military veterans' affairs including but not limited to developing legislation, policy, programmes, benefits and services that facilitate the transition from active service to civilian.

The purpose of the Bill is to put in place institutional structures to address the plight of the military veterans, recommend benefits to be paid to military veterans or their dependents and advise on the appropriateness of current legislation.

The Bill also establishes an advisory council on military veterans as well as a military veterans appeal board.

The powers of the Department of Military Veterans, in relation to the advisory council and appeal board should be contained in the regulations which must be submitted to Parliament for approval. The Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development having received briefing on the Military Veteran's Bill and having concluded its deliberations on the Bill, recommends to the Council that the Bill be approved. Thank you.

Debate concluded

Bill agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.

SOUTH AFRICAN POST OFFICE BILL

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

 

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES

Thursday, 3 November 2011 Take: 472

 

Mr T H M MOFOKENG - MILITARY VETERANS BILL

 

SOUTH AFRICAN POST OFFICE SOC LTD BILL

(Consideration of Bill and of report thereon)

Mr M P SIBANDE: Chairperson, today telecommunications and electronic communications provide an easier and quicker means of keeping in touch. Indeed, such technologies are serving as substitutes for postal communication and, in turn, diminishing the importance of the social function of the postal service.

That is not to say that mail does not have a part to play in the social and economic development of our country. It certainly does, but the role of the postal sector needs to be viewed on present need and not historic precedent.

The country's economic framework, known as the New Growth Path, NGP, outlines government's approach to accelerate growth and employment. The NGP focuses on several key drivers, amongst those drivers being continuing and broadening public investment in infrastructure, and supporting rural development and regional integration.

The SA Post Office is one of the state-owned companies, SOEs, under the Department of Communications, whose main function is to provide mail, financial, logistical and consumer services. The SA Post Office complies with legislation governing state-owned enterprises and is guided by various postal, courier and financial regulations laid down by regulatory bodies such as the Independent Communications Authority of SA, Icasa, and the Financial Services Board.

The SA Post Office's business model is aimed at managing its services in the context of a developing economy. The intention is to make it an effective arm of service delivery for government by using its infrastructure for the service and development of the people of South Africa.

The Government's aim is to increase the number of people making use of the postal services offered by the SA Post Office. However, the SA Post Office remains subject to regulatory scrutiny by Icasa and the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act of 1999.

The SA Post Office Bill seeks to put new provisions in place regarding the governance and structure of the SA Post Office. A comprehensive legal framework will be established that deals with corporate governance at the SA Post Office.

The proposed legislation will set up institutional arrangements that foster efficiency, improve competitiveness and enhance accountability within the SA Post Office. The South African Post Office SOC Ltd Bill will also aim to facilitate universal access to postal services.

It is important to mention that the South African Post Bank Limited Act, Act 9 of 2010, which was passed in December 2010, and came into operation on 22 July 2011, provides for the establishment of the SA Post Bank as a subsidiary of the SA Post Office. The synergy between these two Bills exists because both create precedent governance models that will still be adopted by many other state-owned enterprises.

The objective of the Act is to provide for, inter alia, the provision of universal, accessible, reliable and affordable postal services. It is also to ensure that there is provision of a wide range of postal services in the interests of economic growth and development and the development of human resources and capacity within the postal industry, especially among historically disadvantaged groups.

The National Assembly passed the Bill on 16 August 2011. On 21 September 2011, after two subsequent briefings to the select committee, the Department of Communications appeared before the select committee for deliberations and finalisation of the Bill.

In terms of the Constitution, the NCOP could not amend a section 75 Bill but it could propose amendments. After intense deliberations, the select committee members were satisfied with the responses from the Department of Communications and proposed the following amendments. The Bill should omit the word "concurrence" in clause 4 and substitute it with the word "approval".

The two words were used on separate occasions in the same clause and for the sake of consistency, only "approval" should be used. References to the National Assembly in clause 22, 25 and 29 were to be replaced by the word "Parliament" in order for the NCOP to be given an equal role to that of the National Assembly. Thereafter, the select committee adopted the Bill with the proposed amendments.

The Post Office exists in all areas of the country and provides services to economically disadvantaged communities. Access to basic services, including postal services, is the right of all South African citizens. The South African Constitution demands that certain criteria should influence service delivery to ensure basic human rights. Accordingly, a universal postal service suggests that all citizens, regardless of race or gender, shall have equal access to basic postal services.

This obligation is placed on the SA Post Office to ensure such access, as well as a rebalancing of the postal network for equity, improvement of scale, scope and quality of service, and the elimination of cost inefficiencies. In the light of this, the Bill states that the Post Office will actively provide and develop a citizen's post office that contributes to community and rural development and education, thereby serving as an interface between government and the community.

The SA Post Office SOC Ltd Bill is, therefore, one step towards ensuring the universal, affordable provision of postal services, especially in the rural areas as it seeks, in the main, to increase the number of people making use of the Post Office services. I thank you. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

Bill, subject to proposed amendments, agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.

The Council adjourned at 16:45.