Hansard: NA: Mini-plenary 4
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 13 May 2021
No summary available.
MINI PLENARY - NATIONAL ASSEMBLY THURSDAY, 13 MAY 2021
VOTE NO 17 – HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING
PROCEEDINGS OF MINIPLENARY SESSION – NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Watch video here: Vote 17: Higher Education and Training
Members of the mini-plenary session met on the virtual platform at 16:30.
The HOUSE CHAIRPESON (Mr C T Frolick): Thank you, hon members before we proceed. I would like to remind you that the virtual mini plenary is deemed to be in the precincts of Parliament, and, it constitutes a meeting of the National Assembly for debating purposes only. In addition to the rules of virtual sitting, the rules of the National Assembly, including the rules of debate, will apply.
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When recognised to speak, please unmute your microphone and connect your video. Members may make use of the icons on the bar at the bottom of the screens, which has an option that allows a member to put up his or her hand to raise a point of order. The secretariat will assist me in identifying such members. When using the virtual system, members are urged to refrain and desist from making unnecessary points of order.
We shall now proceed to the order, which is debate on Vote no 17, Higher Education and Training - Appropriation Bill. I now recognise the hon Minister of Higher Education and Training, the hon Minister.
Debate on Budget Vote 17 – Higher Education and Training:
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND INNOVATION:
House Chairperson, hon members, Cabinet colleagues present, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, hon Buti Manamela, Members of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, led by hon Chairperson, Mr Phil Mapulane, Director General of the department, Chairpersons and Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, of the entities, heads of our post school organisations and institutions, officials of the Department of Higher Education and Training, trade unions and student leaders, those joining us from our various electronic platforms, ladies and gentlemen and comrades. This marks our third budget of the Department of Higher Education and Training since we commenced with the Sixth Democratic Parliament. I would like to once more pass my sincere condolences to all those in our sector who lost relatives, colleagues and friends due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a sector, we also had a tumultuous period recently, facing the challenge of COVID-19, including a calamitous event recently at the University of Cape Town, where an uncontrollable fire destroyed the repository of the Bleek Lloyd collection of recorded stories and note books of early
colonialist engagements with the time and XUN Cape San people of mid-19th century, as well as the loss of original copies of pioneering publications like IsiXhosa newspapers, Invo Zabantsundu. In heritage terms, this is a catastrophic blow to all of us. One of the challenges will continue to confront also, is the scourge another pandemic that of gender-based violence and femicide.
House Chairperson and hon members, I am pleased to say again that in July last year I published in the government gazette the policy framework to address gender-based violence in the post school education and training sector. This of course must be translated into practical plans of action by each institution and its stakeholders, so that we can together defeat this pandemic.
The post school education and training sector, like the rest of our country, has been significantly affected by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of this pandemic our institutions have put in place health and safety protocols to ensure that we limit the spread of this virus in our pre-set system. This work is coordinated by our higher health agency, which looks after health and wellness in our post school
sector. In March this year, I approved the strategy to support our intention, also to expand our online learning effort within the sector.
In addition, both my department of science and innovation and the higher education and training are working together to establish a national open learning system that will provide online learning opportunities. In the present system.
The departments are also working to consider the ministerial task team report on the sectoral implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as well as looking at the implications of the report of the presidential commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, for the post school education and training sector, in this regard and as part of ensuring that no student is left behind in the midst of the pandemic
I am glad to announce that we have now completed 97% zero rating of our departmental and public institutions, educational websites, for universities, Technical and Vocational Education and Training, TVET, colleges, community education and training, colleges, nursing and agricultural colleges. This is significant as it will enable free
electronic access to lectures, resources and other education content for both staff and students.
Our department is resolute in the expansion of our public university system, supported by a careful and systematic enrolment planning process that is in line with available resources capacity and funding. This process will ensure hon House Chair and hon members, equitable participation supported by increased numbers of quality staff, affordable fees inclusive and sustainable financial aid and improved infrastructure.
We will also intensify the implementation of our university capacity development programme to improve student success and the quality of teaching, learning and research, and to support curriculum renewal and transformation in our universities.
We have also started with the feasibility study, I am pleased to say, towards the building of two more universities in our country. Firstly, the university of Science and Innovation that will be located in the Ekurhuleni Metro, and the Crime Detection University that will be in Hammanskraal, North of Tshwane. We have established steering committees for these
projects under the leadership of one of my special advisors, Professor Derrick Swartz.
Our targeted goals, the TVET sector is to work towards producing TVET graduates who are work ready. We continue to improve our TVET system to ensure an enabling environment for quality teaching by having a competent teaching workforce, which entrenches an enterprising culture amongst students.
Currently, I am pleased to say 14 universities are developing TVET college, educational and training qualifications. In other words, we are now having dedicated lecturer qualifications for TVET college lecturers. Eleven programmes have already been accredited by the Council on Higher Education, three are already being offered, and the other eight are planned to offered from this year, 2021. More universities will be rolling out, their accredited advanced diploma in TVET education in 2022.
In addition, and working with the main business organisations, that is Business Unity South Africa and the Black Business Council. We are developing an online teaching and learning platform for TVET colleges. We are further inviting industry to forward people to serve on the councils and academic boards
of our TVET colleges as part of strengthening partnerships towards producing work ready college graduates. We have also approved 10 new and/or revised subject curricula for our TVET colleges for 2022.
I am also pleased hon House Chair and hon members, to announce that after a two decade struggle we have finally eliminated the TVET college certification backlog. Just over a month ago we had eliminated 95% of the certificate backlog and we would have reached one hundred percent. But unfortunately some of our students who requested certificates do not qualify in terms of our standards. In the new examination cycle we have certified students within the required three months’ turnaround time. In other words, we have set ourselves that, within three months of finishing your cause, you must get your certificate and will henceforth maintain this level of service delivery and timely production of certificates.
Most importantly, more than 90% of our TVET college students, are the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS funded, thus providing free higher education for children of the poor and working class in our colleges. To our detractors, we say
indeed South Africa does have free higher education, for the children of the working class and the poor.
We recently, introduced economic reconstruction and recovery plan, as announced by our President, Ramaphosa in October 2020, stresses skills development, science and innovation as not only critical in driving South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery, but also key in sustaining it. In support of this initiative, we have developed the skills strategy, to support governments effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and the initiatives towards economic and social recovery. In this, we are guided by the list of scarce skills and those skills in demand, which I released late last year.
This skills strategy will create a balance between the short and long term skills needs of the country, and ensure that our skills system is strengthened, together with its implementation. This strategy will target groups that are particularly seeking employment, those who are employed and require upskilling or reskilling programmes, as well as those who will be selecting careers in occupations where there are skills shortages.
I am also pleased to say we have also relicensed our Sector Education and Training Authorities, SETAs, to provide decent opportunities for youth and adults through education and skills development initiatives. We will continue to disburse the skills development levy for this purpose, and we will continue to prioritise artisan development as per the target of the National Development Plan that by 2030, our country must be producing 30 000 artisans a year, a matter that our Deputy Minister will possibly talk more about.
We will also continue to prioritise work based learning opportunities through revised service level agreements between my department and all of our SETAs, especially focusing on increasing the number of unemployed learners participating in learnerships.
To further promote skills development, I am also pleased to say that, we have also entered into a joint initiative on promoting skills development with the German government. As per the agreement signed by the German Chancellor, Ms Angela Merkel and our president. This partnership seeks to help South Africa to build a modern, high quality and agile skills development system aligned with our needs in the 21st century.
Underpinning such skills development, will be an apprenticeship based TVET college system similar to the dual system in Germany. This project will see more of our youth absorbed into workplaces while getting requisite technical skills, in a meaningful partnership between the post school education and training system and industry.
We also going to be focusing on expanding access to our community education and training colleges, which in the past, where our adult education centres and we are advocating a strategy to support these community colleges to meet their enrolment targets by attracting more youth into their education and training programmes. We continue to strive that community colleges must expand their offerings beyond traditional formal academic programmes, but also to offer skills programmes required by adults and communities.
The NDP requires our community college system to significantly increase its enrolments in appreciation of the challenge of youth who are not in education, employment or training.
Hon members, the NSFAS has approved a budget for two 2020-2021 of R41,5 billion, and this excludes the R6,4 billion additional budget approved.
Following the shortfalls experienced by NSFAS, we reprioritising our departmental budget to ensure that all deserving NSFAS qualifying students are able to receive funding for the 2021 academic year. We undertake that indeed this will be done. Irrespective of the challenges that we had earlier, NSFAS’s funding has increased more than fivefold just in six years from R5,9 billion in 2014 to R34,7 billion in 2020. In the current financial year, NSFAS funding is expected to reach over R43 billion, a further increase of nearly R10 billion in just two years. Indeed, we are meeting our commitment to the poor and the working class of our country to provide free higher education.
In support of the expansion of access to the post school education and training system. The Department of Science and Innovation will also be awarding bursaries to Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, students in particular, and also increase the rest of the postgraduate pipeline.
Our Department of Science and Innovation will also be placing graduates and students in departmentally funded work preparation programmes in science, engineering, technology and innovation institutions in support of the initiatives towards ensuring the responsiveness of our post school education and training system.
This year, NSFAS received approximately 799 000 applications, with 67% of new applicants being the South African Social Security Agency, SASSA beneficiaries. This shows how one government programme of the child grant is increasing opportunities for those children, when they actually finish school, to actually access university and college education.
We are also examining new mechanisms possibly backed by both public and private sectors to support students in the so called “missing middle income bracket” and postgraduate funding. In a matter of weeks, I will be tabling for cabinet consideration, revised options for comprehensive student funding, including for the missing middle.
In ensuring that students are further supported in their studies, NSFAS awarded supply and delivery tenders for laptops
for NSFAS students to ... [Inaudible.] ... service providers, on 5 November 2020. However, surging global demand for laptops, triggered by the pandemic meant that NSFAS could not meet its planned delivery of the laptop, for 18 April this year. NSFAS is therefore working on a revised timetable to deliver the laptop in batches until 30 September 2021.
Hon House Chair and hon members, we remain committed to strengthening and developing the ... [Inaudible.] ... sector by investing in infrastructure to provide quality teaching, learning and research and innovation spaces. The total amount currently available for investment in infrastructure projects across our 26 public universities during the 2021- 2022 to 2023-24, medium term expenditure framework period is R9,5 billion. My department will use this amount to invest in infrastructure projects that seek to achieve the following priorities; priority, number one, being student housing and also infrastructure for facilities for strategic studies fields, digital transformation of universities, and effective and efficient use of existing university buildings. We will continue to prioritise infrastructure development at our historically disadvantaged universities to ensure that maintenance backlogs are addressed and the quality of
infrastructure delivery management is improved at these institutions.
My department is currently in the process of reviewing the 2015 student housing minimum norms and standards. In order to incorporate student housing at TVET colleges. We will also use the capital infrastructure expansion grant to address the serious backlogs in infrastructure maintenance in TVET colleges, with particular focus on improving the teaching and learning environment.
I am also pleased to say that through our student housing infrastructure programme, we have completed feasibility studies for about 14 000 student beds, as part of phase one developments spread over six public universities. University of Fort Hare, one of the first institution supported through the student housing infrastructure programme called ship as recently been completed, and I will be personally inaugurating these beds of these 1437 new beds in this institution, at its Alice Campus, at the total cost of R400 million at the end of this month.
Phase one ship developments enabled an investment of R3,5 billion, including the Development Bank of Southern Africa, DBSA, commitment of R1,6 billion debt funding for 12 000 student beds.
Phase two, of student housing infrastructure project developments, comprise of about 24 000 student beds that is made up of 12 institutions, which are six universities and six TVET colleges in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and Free State provinces.
Feasibility studies for these 12 institutions are underway and scheduled for completion by September this year. With construction of these 24 000 beds planned for the start of the year, 2022.
As part of its 2000 student beds development, the Nelson Mandela University also completed 200 student beds for its George Campus, and currently is constructing one 1800 student beds at its main campus in Port Elizabeth.
University of the North West and the Western Cape, who have currently under construction 2700 and 1700 student beds respectively. There are additional 5500 student beds included
in our student housing infrastructure project, phase one, targeted for the university of Limpopo and the Sifako Makgatho University
During this year, we will also be conducting a comprehensive feasibility studies to determine the nature, scope and location of new institution and new infrastructure. We are determined to tackle the problem of shortage of student housing. And later in the year, I will also be announcing plans until 2030, in line with the announcement that has been made, that by the President in the last two state of the nation address.
Hon House Chair and members, our budget has an annual average increase of 4,1% over 2021 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, therefore our budget for this financial year stands at R115,596 868. Indeed, the budget cuts unfortunately we slowdown down even faster movement in the expansion of post school education and training.
Hon House Chair and members, let me take this opportunity in conclusion to thank the hon President, the Deputy President, my Cabinet colleagues and our Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela,
the Chairperson of the portfolio committee, and members of the portfolio committee for their support and guidance, albeit critical sometimes. I also would like to thank ... [Inaudible.] ... the principals, organisations of TVET colleges, the South African Union students, the South African TVET College Students of South Africa and our trade unions, for working with us through the ministerial task team to find collective Solutions to the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Gratitude also goes to my dear wife, Phumelele, my staff in the ministry and to the entire executive management committee and staff of our Department of Higher Education and Training, the boards and executives of our entities, and everybody who contributed towards the achievement of our mandate as the department. Under the ANC-led government leadership, we table this Budget Vote hon House Chairperson and to say siyachuba [we are progressing]. Thank you very much.
Mr M P MAPULANE: Hon Minister Nzimande, Deputy Minister Manamela, hon members of the portfolio committee, all Members of Parliament, the Presiding Officer, hon Frolick, fellow South Africans, good afternoon, exactly five days ago on 8 May the country celebrated the 25th Anniversary since the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
The Constitution which is the supreme law of the Republic and is acknowledged globally as amongst the most progressive in the world is the backdrop upon which democratic rights of all citizens of South Africa are anchored.
One of the fundamental rights is the right to education which is enshrined in section 29 sub section 1 of the Bill of Rights.
As we reflect on the journey that we trivets in our national efforts for attaining these efforts rights we should pose the question that 25 years since the Constitution was adopted by this very House, to what extent have we managed to create an equitable responsive, non-racial, non-sexist access to Higher Education and Training
The system of colonialism of a special type and apartheid has left the visible scars not only on our collective consciousness but also on our physical being. The consequences of apartheid discriminatory access to education are still evident today 25 years after the adoption of the Constitution. Studies has shown that gross participation on race in higher education is 17% and highly skewed by race.
The Council on Higher Education report publication 2004 titled South African higher education in the first decade of democracy shows that participation rates of Africans on higher education is supposed to be approximately 9%, 13% for coloureds, 40% for Indians, 70% for whites despite the demographic representation which shows that Africans constituted 89% of the population of 1993.
While South Africans constituted 11% of the population, but white students constituted 48% of enrolments. This higher education participation rates also reflected in the labour market which is still the case even today. Whites and males still dominates senior management positions like in certain sectors like engineering bearing witness to decade long unequal access to education.
Hon Chair, as a direct consequence of the advancement of the people’s national demographic revolution, the ANC government is turning the corner. Significance strides in access to education has been recorded. Work is continuing to expand access to education and training.
The latest published vital statistics public higher education for 2018 shows that 26% of the total head count enrolments in public higher education sectors in 2018 where Africans and also women were in the majority.
The participation rates of Africans increased to 19%, 15% for coloureds, 55% for white. The participation rate for Africans although it is still low is increasing steadily.
The democratic government is expanding access to higher education but amongst others the building of two fully fledged universities in the form of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatje University and the two new ones WHICH the Minister has just announced which are now at the feasibility stage.
Hon Chair, universities are key institutions in reaching our national democratic developmental objectives. They are national assets whose governance is key if we are to fulfil their developmental objectives.
The White Paper on peasants articulate a vision of a system governs by the principle of academic freedom institutional autonomy and public accountability. The White Paper recognises
that these principles may at time conflict with one another. However, the White Paper aidless that there are no moral bases for using institutional autonomy as a pretext for resisting democratic change or in defence of management or government failures.
Institutional autonomy is therefore inexplicable link to public accountability. Recognising this continuing debate which are part of commission of university landscape.
The portfolio committee will be convening a colloquium on institutional autonomy and public accountability On 28 May this year to further contribute towards the refinement of ours and that of the sectors understanding an application of these concepts.
As we debate this Budget Vote we do so amaze the challenges the country and indeed as a whole has ever faced.
The National Treasury has estimated that Covid-19 pandemic will lead to 7,2% contraction in the gross domestic product in 2020. The peasants sector has not been sped shocks and roughages of the Covid-19.
The announcement of the four months’ skills development levies sees a fallen in revenue of approximately R6 billion of the Sectors Education and Training Authorities, SETAs; and the National Skills Fund which indirectly impacting also on the Quality Council of Traders and Occupations, QCTO.
The impact of Covid-19 has been acutely fell by the peasant sectors when the budget reductions to the department base line budget amounting to R24,6 billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, period was announced by the Minister of Finance resulting in reductions to the National Students Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, budget and university subsidies.
Cabinet had to approve the reallocation of funds from within the department in order to finance the budget shortfall of NSFAS. The academic year had to be extended in some universities which some finishing this year in March.
The SA Qualifications Authority, SAQA, was also impacted by the Covid-19 as the borders were closed. SAQA ability to generate income from verification of foreign qualifications was severely impacted.
In 2021 SAQA had a budget deficit of R19 million and this resulted in the retrenchment of almost half of its staff complement which resulted in a critical loss of institutional memory.
We would like to commend the efforts of the department in its effort to trying to avert the situation. However, the impact was too deep. Jobs could not be saved.
The budget allocation of the department for 2021-22 financial year amount to R215 billion which include the skills levies. However, the voted funds amount to R97,7 billion shared among the six budget programmes. The bulk of the budget of the voted funds represent 86,6% is a portion to programme three university education
University subsidies and the allocation to NSFAS to support access to education through students funding takes the bulk of this.
The government continues to support the development of two universities in the Northern Cape and in Mpumalanga respectively R1,59 billion infrastructure efficiency grants is
allocated to the Sol Plaatje University and the University of Mpumalanga.
The work of establishing the other two universities is continuing. The Tvet sectors is allocated R13 billion for 2021-22. The budget has increased in real terms when factoring in in inflation. The support of this sector is very crucial especially in the wake of Presidential Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
The enrolment in the sectors has been kept to 620 annually over the medium term period which is to ensure that sources are allocated to the sector are able to support the enrolment. The effort of QCTO is occupational qualifications that are relevant to the labour market are slowly paying off.
New entrepreneur digital skills aimed at ensuring the responsiveness of the sectors are implemented in the Tvet and the Community Education and Training, CET, sectors. The department will dedicate efforts in the 2021-22 financial year to addressing the issues of gender-based violence, GBV, as announced now by the Minister
Allocation to higher health to strengthen the fight against GBV within the peasant sector is highly welcome, including the allocation of R5 million within the department GBV. Artisan development is key to supporting the economic growth in ensuring that relevant graduates with relevant trades are produced
The skills development will ensure that 21 000 learners enrol within artisan development, 147 000 learners will be placed in work-based learning programmes and 60 650 in learnership programmes.
Notwithstanding the budget reduction, we are hoping that our economy will bounce back and return to its formal glory of the late 1986 of sustainable growth and the financial position of the country will improve. We call on all who will be responsible for the implementation of this Budget Vote to do more with less and to be innovative in their task of ensuring that they deliver services to our people. The ANC support the adoption of this Budget Vote. I would like to thank you, hon Chair.
Ms C V KING: Chairperson, colleagues, PSC sector stakeholders and students, former President Jacob Zuma left the Department of Higher Education with major issues, which has become tricky to fix. His announcement on the 16 December 2017 of fee-free higher education ahead of the ANC’s 54th National Elective Conference, has left the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, in a financially crippling crisis.
By raising the expectations of students through the #FeesMustFall protest in 2016, and a surprising announcement of the fee-free higher education for poor students, the government should have been seen the foresight and note that the start of the following academic year would be critical and, should have prepared accordingly with care and sensitivity for the follow up which ensued.
Becloud moves by the Minister of Finance to steer clear of the higher education budget during his Budget Speech in February, was a clear indication that there were no funds and that NSFAS would be the casualty of budgets squares with the R6,8 billion cut.
At the height of the student unrest, just before the commencement of the 2021 academic year, there was still no finality on funding support for first year entrance and communication to returning beneficiaries. As we are addressing this House now, in this current moment, the University of Fort Hare Alice Campus, is marred by student protests due to the uncertainty looming around the NSFAS funding.
Minister, yes, you are speaking about creating more accommodation and beds, but who will occupy those beds when these students are not funded? The Ethekwini Tvet college students are still uncertain of the dreams of being funded. And, whilst more students are excluded financially, more empty promises are being made. Section 29(1)(b) of the Constitution states; to further education, which the state through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible. This raises the question, is fee-free higher education feasible?
Minister Nzimande, feasibility is not merely whether a project is affordable or doable. But according to the Oxford dictionary, whether it is capable of being done and carried out, or dealt with successfully in any way possible or
practical. Many are motivated by idealism, political or economic philosophy or desire to further human rights. And while we honor such motives, each proposal must in the end stand or fall by the degree of its practical application, Minister.
Fee-free Higher education, while in its generosity, does not fulfil the criteria of being sustainable. We warned the Minister, that as the actual budget implications of the scheme emerge, student funding will once again become dangerously unsustainable, and universities and Tvet colleges will once again be plunged into violence and forced to take on the financial burden of students, with media duress at its neck.
The Minister’s duck and dive approach to addressing the student funding, ultimately lead to student protests at various institutions. The destruction of property and the loss of life can squarely be laid at his feet due to the correlating and chain effect of these poor decision making.
The ANC’s policy of fee-free education at institutions of higher learning, has led to an unsustainable increase in NSFAS students funding with R12,3 billion spent in 2017 to
R38 billion spent in 2021 financial year; which begs the question Minister, at which point do universities have to make a decision on quality or quantity?
A R2,49 billion cut university subsidies, and a R500 million reduction of Tvet infrastructure funding to fund NSFAS, further exacerbate the funding crisis, where the missing middle remains excluded from the funding, and we are funding to those who do qualify, is increasingly unreliable.
Quantity over quality in higher education sector takes center stage. With this policy, unfortunately, there will be limits. So what will ANC promises look then? The National Commission of Higher Education Report, as well as the Heher Commission Report, identified the risk that would out any financial support any progress achieved through public funding remain, could be offset by inadequate and ad hoc financial aid policies that are not in line with institutional and tuition fee. Ironically Minister, this is exactly what has happened.
With the Minister Nzimande’s announcements of 4,7% tuition fee and 6,7% accommodation fee increases, amidst budget shortfall of NSFAS, a decision will see more financial exclusion than
financial inclusion. Minister Nzimande, you were there when NSFAS was nationalized into a kind of a state-owned enterprise, with a bloated staff component and ballooning student debt.
In 2009, Minister Nzimande seemingly implemented his cadre deployment plan through the appointment of a new CEO of NSFAS thereby ensuring the deprofessionalization of NSFAS. NSFAS has been placed under two processes of administration. Minister Nzimande applauded the work and insisted was a job well done. This is contrary to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education’s view and the Auditor-General’s review of the 2018-
20 financial years presented to the committee, which proved that the administration has the worst performance in years.
While students are defunded from NSFAS, where the entity disregarding students’ financial plight, the entity wrap up R50 billion in irregular expenditure, compared to R6,8 billion in 2019. To add insult to injury, evidence of syndicated fraud and corruption lead to 440 000 ghosts’ students being funded. NSFAS is in a tight financial position, yet they are making payments to invisible students, Minister. This is attributed
to the failing ICT system of NSFAS, which is not fit for purpose to support the core operations.
The ICT system is not capacitated to deal with huge application numbers. Technological challenges, data integrity and integrating between disparate ICT systems resulted in data systems and processes deficiencies being carried over since 2018. The system is expensive to maintain and, its supporting teams are based internationally, meaning foreign exchange differences have an impact on the cost of ICT support.
The inability of NSFAS to procure and recruit local skills is laughable for an institution who fund students to obtain skills in demand in the job market. The challenges of NSFAS are a direct consequence of decisions taken by a rogue President, the ANC’s political point scoring and cadre deployment. The ultimate victims of this bad policy and bad legislation are the students and institutions of higher learning collectively, Minister.
During my oversight visit at various institutions last month, it was evident that bad policy and decision making is impacting institutions. Students raised concern about the cost
of laptops, and study materials are increasing, meaning that the now has to be a choice between either procuring study material or a laptop.
I saw first year and returning students worried about their NSFAS payouts. I spoke to pleading students studying postgraduate degrees, desperate for funding to secure a recognized qualification and yet Minister, you say that PhD students will be funded. Where is a mismatch in communication between you and NSFAS when a second degree will not be funded by NSFAS?
Minister, during your busy schedule, have you ever taken time out to speak to female students of Msunduzi Tvet college and Buffalo City college who were evicted by landlords due to NSFAS payment which did not come through? Have you spoken to the protesting students at Walter Sisulu University and Wits who were regarded as criminals while they were protesting for student funding? These are the consequences of fee-free higher education.
A review of the funding model should take center stage to avoid policy uncertainty. A three tier system of bursaries and
loans should be introduced to ensure sustainability of NSFAS for future generations that will focus on giving students from low income households the most comprehensive support, providing proportional assistance to those in the missing middle and students from high income households to be self- funded.
The DA proposes a total review of the student funding model, in optimizing funding to students by renaming the fund to the National Fund for Students, Minister. And, bringing the NSFAS funding and the national research fund into the NFS fund, to ensure most students secure income contingency loans converted into bursaries on good academic performance, which will be repayable only when employment is secured at a specified income level as indicated by a Heher Commission to mitigate skill shortage of critical skills and research output.
Funding should be geared towards students in these fields. The central application system of NSFAS should be abolished and application should be taken up by university financial aid offices; creating a funding database of students that need funding or crowdfunding, allowing companies to set filters, to find types of candidate they want to support for university or
college sponsorship for learnerships, entrepreneurship or internship.
Minister, the irony is that you will leave a legacy of a dysfunctional and an unstable financial aid scheme, and the transformation or successful universities into low level training institutions, by continually implementing that policy of fee-free higher education.
Minister, all of the things we learn from the Covid-19 lockdown is that our tax base has shrunk, leaving little room for budget increase. More students will need financial assistance and investment in critical skills, which are of paramount importance to ensure higher education is confronting challenges in our economy and in our society. The government must realize that higher education is both a private and a public good, and the contribution towards its finances must be seen as an investment, instead of just being a mere expenditure.
Minister Nzimande, students are waiting on NSFAS payouts, appeal outcomes and ... [Inaudible.] ..., missing middle funding and ... [Inaudible.] ... through postgraduate funding,
which the cash strapped National Research Foundation, NRF, can't offer. The status of these students Minister, is really a status of the true reflection of democracy. Students are waiting for the answer. Answer them, Minister.
Mr S TAMBO: Thank you very much hon Chair. The EFF rejects higher education proposed austerity budget. We must register this is a point of departure that the budget for the higher education science and innovation sector is a product of the fable minded economic policy that defines South Africa today.
By this we mean there is a broader agenda in this country to chronically underfunded cripple social welfare and developmental efforts through cutting public spending with no reasonable prospect of achieving people centred growth.
Education, the cornerstone of any society and a fundamental developmental indicator is a victim of this deliberate attempt to subject South Africa to permanent junior status in the world.
The budget plan tabled here today is nothing but an endorsement of failure, failure that has defined this department ever since the so called communist known as Mr
Blade Nzimande occupied the position over a decade ago. We will outline this by pointing to specific non plans and how chronic underfunding during a pandemic that requires comprehensive reconstruction of how the sector but it is a recipe for disaster.
Firstly, we must note that to cut the baseline budget for higher education by R24,8 billion is indicative of a government that is alleged to knowledge production which is of no surprise if you consider where the country finds itself in terms of the economy and unemployment. Year after year the supposedly consultation within the higher education sector and civil society on what needs to be done to improve access to higher education while promoting academic excellence and quality research.
Seemingly though, all of these consultations are for show because none of these proposals manifest themselves pragmatically. Instead, stakeholders are ridiculed by allow dealing Minister who has led the charge of increasing intake at Unisa, one of the most technically ready institutions in Africa and the world to adapt to distance learning and
increase the intake of students into the sector during a pandemic.
It is a department that is complicit in the reducing of the allocation of NSFAS by R6,8 billion. Reducing university subsidies by R5 billion and a staggering R947,1 million reductions on TVET infrastructure grants.
These palpably stupid decisions will result in institutions of higher learning having to drastically reduce their intake, meaning thousands of young people will be condemned to drug abuse. The cutting of TVET infrastructure grants means a continued abandonment or the vocational sector in a country that is desperately in need of vocationally qualified people to lead industrialisation as seen in powerful nations such as China.
One wonders what is the point of South Africa being a member of BRICS if we cannot learn one of the most basic developmental lessons from our counterparts. Instead of making meaningful change, Nzimande’s tenure has been characterised by withholding of qualifications for over 106 000 graduates and there is no plan in his budget to alleviate this to allow for
these students to register their postgraduate studies and transform the postgraduate sphere and apply for jobs properly.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon Tambo, there’s a point of order. Let me just hear what the point of order is before I allow you to continue.
Mr A H M PAPO: Point of order: Member Tambo just called Minister Nzimande, Nzimande and just used that first word like that without any reference to hon or Minister and that's against the rules.
Mr S TAMBO: That’s a lie! I said Mr Nzimande. We are not bound
to call him hon or anything.
Mr A H M PAPO: He just said I’m lying now. He violated the
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Thank you hon Papo. Your point is noted. Hon members let’s continue to refer to one another in respectful terms. Please continue hon member.
Mr S TAMBO: Thank you hon Chair. As I was saying, instead of making meaningful change, Mr Nzimande’s tenure has been characterised by withholding of qualifications for over
106 000 graduates. There is no plan in his budgeting to alleviate this to allow for these students to register for their postgraduate studies and transform the postgraduate sphere and apply for jobs properly.
As we are gathered here the chronic underfunding of the South African Qualifications Authority has led to massive retrenchments and entities incapacity. This will allow bogus institutions to scam our people without reprieve and diminish the outputs of our academic sector quality. We are then left to seriously question when constructing their budgets, who exactly is this department considering what and is it that justifies this department being regarded as one that exists to facilitate the interests of higher education, science innovation and technology.
In their budgeting there is no consideration of the need to make innovative and sophisticated contributions to science and innovation. Further, proving that this department is not worthy of the name that it holds. This is a department that is
charged with developing South Africa’s own research to transform the state pharmaceutical company into a vaccine introducing company as per the very resolution of their own ruling party.
Instead of doing this to ensure that we can develop our own vaccines and sophisticated medicine it is a ruling party at war with itself and preoccupied with resolutions that are of no national consequence. It is no wonder that the Ketlaphela pharmaceutical project is a shell of an initiative that has wasted money because this government has never developed anything during its term.
It is simply a budget for the sake of it, formulated to tick administrative boxes while institutions of higher learning collapse awaiting disbursements of money supposedly budgeted for them fictitious. It is a department defined by irregular expenditure, ghost employees and ghost students who receive monies as proxies of corrupt officials in the department. It is a department that has [Inaudible.] to regulate the procurement of private security militia on campuses that are paid millions to suppress genuine cries of students, arrest them, beat them and kill them. This is the very militia
campuses to retain their corrupt tenders such that today one student Lukhanyo Metanise has been wrongfully jailed for five years.
Chair, to endorse this budget when we know it is nothing but a failing exercise would be to partake in a collective waste of time of the students, workers, lecturers and all those involved in academia in this country.
There needs to be a substantial increase in funding allocated to the sector and this will not happen through dependency on foreign direct investments loans from banks or loans that come from the IMF, International Monetary Fund and World Bank that seek to recolonise the continent and South Africa.
It has not happened through the privatising SOEs or blaming allocation of funding to SOEs and surrounding our capacity to private monopolies and it will certainly not happen through austerity which defines the character of our economy today.
It is only through a decisive redirection of our wealth through nationalising of our minerals the establishment of a state bank whose interests are controlled by a developmental
state that education can become a viable sector with correct budgeting measures. Outside of this, we are all engaged in a collective exercise of breathing hot air and for this reason the EFF rejects this budget. Thank you.
Mr M N NXUMALO: The success of this generation will be measured against their ability to respond to the global phenomena of their time; their competence to participate in the race to industrialisation and to respond to the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s technologies, which all South Africans require for online learning and remote working.
In light of this, the Department of Higher Education, Science and technology plays a crucial role in equipping young people with the necessary tools to participate effectively in education and economic activities during the period of COVID-
19. The creation of a competent workforce produced by various education and training centres aligns the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, the National Skills Development plan, the Human Resource Development Strategy and more broadly, the National Development Plan, NDP.
Therefore, matters concerning Budget Vote 17 are crosscutting. The topic of education goes beyond employment. The education of our people has to ensure that skills development aligns with the demands of the job market, so that issues of representativeness in economic activities are addressed.
Education also speaks to creating a competent workforce and improving the ... [Inaudible.] ... capacity.
However, there are still shortfalls in implementing this provision. Firstly, the anticipated collaboration between the National Treasury and the department on policy and funding options that would inform the Medium-Term Budget Statement is not even under way. This limits the potential for better co- ordination on inputs or outputs which are required, particularly in taking a multistakeholder approach in the response to the impact of COVID-19.
In addition to the above limitations, the technical and vocational education and training, TVET, budget, in keeping with the inflation rate, has decreased while the infrastructure efficiency grant is projected to decrease by R168 million in the 2023-24 academic year. In the context of COVID-19, reducing the infrastructure efficiency grant may
have implications on adopting the strategic Fourth Industrial Revolution strategies and technologies which have become indispensable in the area of online learning and remote working.
Furthermore, owing to COVID-19 and ensuring a socioeconomic crisis, the department’s five-year strategic plan was revised. Targets in the number of student enrolments at TVET colleges were reduced to 90 000, whereas the number of students
enrolled in ... [Inaudible.] ... colleges were reduced by over
166 000. Even though these adjustments have the prospect of enhancing substantive outputs rather than quantity, on the other hand the exclusion of 450 students in total will affect students from previously disadvantaged groups the most. On the other hand, this measure will reinforce existing inequalities in our country as a result.
Now with regard this this budget, concerns remain around the governance of funds and accountability. The government-wide monitoring and evaluation ... needs to protect our democracy and further the future of the youth by ensuring that funds are reserved for education and training purposes and that their
future is not misused for personal gain through corrupt practices.
While the IFP supports the private-public partnership in line with improving the quality of life of all South Africans, the responsibility is on the state to protect learners within the education system from very high residence fees as this increases student debt which threatens to reverse efforts towards inclusivity in education.
The provision of effective community-driven and relevant education, training and development programmes is a focal point of the IFP’s reconstruction and social development policy. The declining subsidies for education affects the ability to create a competent workforce, which is one of the tenets of the NDP 2030.
To conclude, my party supports this budget in the hope that the above concerns will be addressed with efficiency so that South Africa’s future through youth is not jeopardised. Thank you, Chair.
Dr W J BOSHOFF: Hon House Chair, today we debate one of the biggest and most important Votes because it funds the post- school education and training sector, which is important because whatever our basic education system does, it does not prepare children for the world of work.
South Africa has a sophisticated economy which needs schooled labour; skilled artisans in industry and construction, but also in beauty; innovative engineers; expert scientists in human, natural and commercial disciplines; lawyers specialising in different fields; management experts — qualified people in every trade and profession conceivable.
However, people are not only qualified. They are also educated. Qualification content is definable and presented in textbooks and study material. Education on the other hand, is evasive. It can be outlined and formulated in outcomes envisaged but much of it happens in the sideshows — discussions in classes, residences, student associations and holiday jobs. These all form part of education. Also the way in which studies are funded, and funding is what the budget is about.
Since 2018, this department has been implementing a policy of free education for the poor and working class. Funding for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, had to double from around R10 billion in 2017-18 to nearly R22 billion the following year to around R40 billion in this budget. The department as such, on the other hand, could not be allocated the R123 billion envisaged in last year’s budget nor even the R116,8 billion budgeted for last year, but only some
R115,6 billion. Take note that NSFAS received more, while the department as a whole received less. The grants to universities had to be cut accordingly, robbing Peter to pay Paul.
In the national budget but also within Higher Education and Training, productive spending is cut in order to maintain social spending. That is cautiously descending the fiscal cliff rather than tumbling down, which is commendable because it could possibly be reversed.
What hinders the department is a set of flawed ideological notions. One is that higher education and training should be free, not financed by loans or bursaries, but by grants. This is a fatal notion because there is never enough to be handed
out for free. The N+2 rule allows students to spend five years on a three-year degree, without incentive to use only three years or penalties for using five. However, if a student is tax-registered when awarded a NSFAS loan, the money can be recovered when the qualified person starts working. It can even solve the problem of the missing middle that currently earn too much for NSFAS and too little to pay themselves.
Another flawed notion is to solve problems by the centralisation of management. Therefore, we have
26 universities with 59 campuses and 50 TVET colleges with some 240 campuses. This creates a divide between learning institutions and their communities. This notion does not translate into good educational practice either.
The opposing notion of a close tie between an educational institution and the community it serves, is also prevalent. In the portfolio committee, issues pertaining the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University had been discussed a number of days. Several stakeholders proudly declared what a privilege it is for them to be involved in the education and betterment of “the black child, coming from the communities where we come from”. I welcome this notion.
Dit is die idee, nee, nee, die ideaal, wat tot instellings soos Akademia, Sol-Tech en Bo-Karoo Opleiding lei. Nadat belasting betaal is, waarmee eens Afrikaanse universiteite verengels word en waarmee NSFAS toelae gefinansier word, dra mense uit hierdie missing middle by om eersteklas hoër onderwysinstellings te skep. En dan betaal hulle self hul kinders se klasgelde. Daardie studente betoog nie en brand nie, want vir hulle is dit ’n voorreg om in hul eie taal opgevoed en opgelei te word. Hulle respekteer hul akademiese seniors. So bou ’n mens ’n hele tegniese kollege met die geld wat Gauteng gebruik het om skole wat leeggestaan het, skoon te maak.
On the positive side, in this department very capable officials work extremely hard to make the state-sponsored system work. The portfolio committee works hard to hold institutions to account and the Minister is obviously serious about his work. However, the ideological foundation is flawed.
Die VF Plus stem dus teen die begroting. Baie dankie.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Hon House Chair, hon members, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, hon Dr Blade Nzimande, members of the portfolio committee together with the Chair, Mr Philly Mapulane, the director-general, DG, and senior staff from the department, chairpersons and chief executives officers, CEOs, of the entities, the heads of our postschool organisations and institutions, officials of the department, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour and privilege to join the Minister in presenting this Budget Vote of the Department of Higher Education and Training. In his inauguration speech in May 1994, Nelson Mandela declared that:
Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud. Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for glorious life for all.
These words remind us of the noble commitment that we as a people made 27 years ago at the birth of our democracy. A
commitment to usher in a society of which all humanity will be proud.
Hon members, by all accounts, 2020 has been a challenging year for the Postschool Education System. The COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown continues to impact on teaching and learning at our institutions. Our institutions had to move to emergency remote multimodal teaching and learning for much of the 2020 academic year, which had to be extended, with some institutions continuing until March 2021. The goal for the system was to save lives and also to save the academic year.
All institutions have now completed the 2020 academic year. We supported the implementation of the plans through the allocation of a COVID-19 responsiveness grant, CRG, in 2020-21 that was utilised towards teaching, learning and assessment activities. Institutional Plans were aimed at, among others, the acquisition of devices for students and staff, the upgrading of learning management systems, ICT hardware, bandwidth, ICT security features, acquisition of appropriate software applications, the distribution of data to students and staff, and the implementation of catch up programmes as students return to campus.
We will continue to monitor the implementation of the COVID-19 Post-School Education and Training, PSET, response to teaching and learning plans during the 2021 academic year and to support institutions for the 2021 academic year. We will take every opportunity to learn from our response to the pandemic so that we are able to understand how hybrid and blended learning approaches to teaching and learning can be improved in the PSET sector, so that we integrate all of these into the system. In our effort to strengthen the technical and vocational education and training, TVET, college sector, we established a capital efficiency grant which originally focussed on the maintenance of current infrastructure. In addition to the roll out of the maintenance of TVET colleges, new infrastructure is continuing within a downscaled budget.
We are pleased to report that of the 16 sites which we started in 2014, four of these have been occupied by their recipient colleges. Msinga and Kwagqikasi sites are scheduled for completion within this quarter. Balfour and Ngqungqushe in the third quarter of this year. Greytown is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of this financial year. There are a further 3 sites, which includes Vryheid, Giyani and Nkandla B, which are underway within this financial year. In
addition, there is a co-funded project with Tshwane North and Tshwane South TVET colleges and the Peoples Republic of China, which will commence in the third quarter of this financial year through the centres for specialisation. TVET colleges are playing a central role in artisan training, as the response to economic reconstruction and recovery plan.
As the Minister has indicated, these are part of the skills strategy working with the sector, with Setas to address the immediate crisis of COVID-19, as well as changing demands, aspirations and expectations of people, employers and communities. Artisan training will empower people throughout their lives with skills. They need to get it on in life support, better productivity and innovation. Currently centres of specialisation are training 1260 apprentices at 26 sites, on 13 trades, which we believe are needed within our economy. These occupational trades scarce and critical for building infrastructure.
In our efforts to strengthen the community education and training sector, CETs, we have appointed all eligible employees in the sector, on permanent employment with the retention of their conditions of service. We have been working
hard to implement the standardisation of pay and benefits for eligible academic staff in CET colleges with effect from 1 May 2021, which will result in equal pay for work of equal nature. Furthermore, all CET colleges are implementing the national sector plan as informed by the White Paper on PSET and through this, the sector managed to reconfigure the landscape from 3276 learning sites to 1791 in pursuit of quality and efficiency.
We are pleased to report also that through the partnership with the MICT Seta, will be introducing 54 pilot centres identified in the CET sector, and a commitment of R40 million has been set aside for ICT laboratories. One of the exciting initiatives within the CET space is the construction of an agricultural skills centre at Reitz in the Free State where R60 million has been set aside for this purpose.
Over the years, the nature of higher education has changed, students face new and varied challenges in navigating higher education. To respond to these complexities, we are working with stakeholders in the sector, to develop a student governance framework that will provide a framework for ideal student governance models in the university sector, and that
will contribute towards functional and effective student governance in public higher education.
We now understand the challenges we face much better than we did during the inception and the second wave of this pandemic. In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, through our agency Higher Health, we were able to implement COVID-19 protocols, screening stations, student volunteer programme, within our campuses. We have directed Higher Health to establish a COVID-
19 warrior campaign, by ensuring that there are over 10 000 student volunteers who have been trained by Higher Health, with the advocacy work that they have been conducting throughout every campus. We are also proud that Higher Health has extended the 24-hour toll free dedicated student helpline to the CETs and we urge students to use this particular call.
We have seen how effective this was, in attending, to some of the post-trauma need of the student at the University of Cape Town. Everywhere else in all our institutions, as the hon members may be aware, sexual harassment and gender-based violence on campuses in South Africa remains a social problem requiring greater intervention and support. To this extent, we established a Gender-Based Violence Technical Task Team to
guide the implementation of the Department of Higher Education and Training Policy Framework to address gender-based violence in the PSET sector, which the Minister launched in July 2020. Hon members, these are some of the interventions that we have made over the period under review.
To conclude, I wish to share with you the inspirational story of 24-year-old South African, Mihle Mvelakubi. Mihle is a qualified bricklaying artisan, who studied at the former TVET College of Cape Town. As a student, he used his skills to open his own engineering company, Mvelakubi Civil Engineering. This would not have been possible as alleged by a member from the DA, had it not been of the platforms created by free-fee higher education.
Now I wonder where the member has been throughout when students were on the streets demanding that we provide free- fee higher education. When asked what he hopes to achieve, Mihle stated that “one of their main aims is to create job opportunities in order to lower unemployment, and boost the South African economy.” One of his proud achievements was representing the South African team in the bricklaying trade at the 2017 World Skills International Competition in Abu
Dhabi, where there were 76 other competitors. The story of Mihle is a powerful one and is representative of our democracy. Thank you very much, hon House Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Thank you, hon Deputy Minister, I now invite the hon Dyantyi who will preside over the rest of this mini plenary, as he will introduce the next speaker.
Ms M E SUKERS: Hon Chairperson, the department notes in its report that the sector has been impacted by the economic downturn which preceded covid. The fact is that the poor performance of the department is one of the causes of that economic downturn.
Hundreds of billions have been spent on higher education and training over the years but millions of our citizens remain unemployed. The current configuration of National Students Financial Scheme, NSFAS, increases our debt burden and pushes us to the edge of the fiscal cliff. This deters investors and therefore, you spend billions to educate graduates but there are no jobs for them when they leave tertiary education.
Every year the department needs more money and this impacts, among others, the Basic Education Department. This means learners coming from schools are less able to successfully complete a course of tertiary study. Hundreds of thousands of graduates take years to find employment, if they ever do. Many of those who are lucky enough to find employment have to accept jobs for which they are overqualified. We must have the world’s highest number of graduate waiters and barristers.
These are jobs that many students used to do while studying and they have now become the jobs they are studying for.
Turning to university students, one merely has to speak to students and parents and they will tell you that many undergraduate qualifications do not open the door to employment. The student has to embark on postgraduate studies, therefore, either first years are being sold the lie when they enrol, unless you fund postgraduate education for low income students as well.
The other solution is that the department work with our universities to restore them to the world leading status. Year on year our university rankings fall while for while other
developing and Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Brics nations improve their rankings.
We have 8,5 million youth who are not in employment, education or training; the majority of them are girls and young women.
We, therefore, welcome the commitment by Umalusi to implement the long delayed national senior certificate for adults and call on the Department of Higher Education and Training to support this.
We need robust plans to re-engage these citizens with learning.
This sector needs a carefully conceived holistic plan that puts students first, not bureaucrats.
COVID-19 is not just a challenge, it is a unique opportunity for the sector to transform and meet these challenges.
The ACDP calls on the Minister and the department to reach out to all sectors of society to develop a comprehensive plan to reform the higher education sector. I thank you.
Ms J S MANANISO: Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Minister, hon members, Post-School Education and Training, PSET, stakeholders and fellow South Africans.
In memory of those we have lost due with COVID-19, we will continue to practicing and observing COVID-19 protocols; and those whom we lost to gender-based violence and femicide, GBVF, we say ‘aluta continua’ [the struggle continues.].
The ANC as the liberation movement ...
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr Q R Dyantyi): Hon Mananiso, whatever you have, whatever you have switched on please switch if off so that we can hear you properly. There is a lot of echo. If your TV is on, please switch it off.
Ms J S MANANISO: Chair, nothing is on and I’m alone.
The ANC as a liberation movement is in a struggle for social transformation. The Post-Schooling Education and Training sector has been a key component of affirming a social order which marginalised blacks and women.
The budget vote is designed to respond to the commitments made by the ANC to the people of South Africa in creating equal opportunities for all South Africans, including those who did not complete schooling. This higher education budget vote responds to the social and economic challenges facing our nation.
The scourge of gender-based violence is the priority of the ANC government. The implementation of the Gender-Based Violence Policy Framework is the critical intervention by the sector to ensure all institutions have norms and standards in addressing issues of GBV and awareness amongst the students.
The department will also be developing and collating transformative materials, curriculums, tools and approaches for prevention of interventions. This includes the training and support for capacity to deliver gender-based violence and femicide prevention and interventions. The fact that the majority of students graduating are women is an important milestone for the sector in transformation and to address gender inequality.
The ANC acknowledges the commitment by the department through higher health of being part of the integrated GBV-F response strategy.
We would like to urge our scholars to use all avenues and systems in place to combat the pandemic because it is only through their usage that our people can monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of government services.
Gender mainstreaming must find expression in our educational curriculum, institutional policies, and in all initiatives that are undertaken within the higher education landscape.
Discrimination and racism in some universities requires a systematic transformation as such racism is mainly institutional. We need to teach the youth through this sector to respect and internalise appreciation of women, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual, LGBTQIA+ society and persons with disabilities as equals irrespective of their race and colour.
The mental health of students is another key focus the department should further support in order to ensure psychosocial support exists in higher education institutions.
Accessibility in higher education for persons with disabilities is another critical priority. The budget support for disability units in Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Tvet colleges as part of ensuring equal support in the sector.
The persistent challenge in our society is poverty, inequality and unemployment. The Department of Higher Education and Training is part of the sectoral integrated responsive approach on GBVF. GBVF is a societal problem and we all need to play our part.
Community Education Training, CET colleges provide a developmental opportunity to the youth and adults to further their skills development and training which will enable them to find economic opportunities through the different programmes implemented in the Community Education Training colleges.
This budget vote increases its support for this Community Education Training from R163,9 million in the previous year to R219,3 million in the current budget vote of 2021.
This is a positive development to expand and improve the quality of CET colleges which are important to empower and skill the people. This includes the introduction of digital and entrepreneurial skills programmes and to provide support and guide CET colleges to meet their enrolment targets to attract more young people.
For the current financial year, the department’s Annual Performance Plan, APP, sets a target in accrediting 54 community learning centres by the financial year end.
The changing world and the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will require people to have digital skills.
Despite the increase in the Budget Vote the infrastructure backlog in community education training which negatively impacts class attendance as teaching and learning takes place in the evening. Infrastructure support will be a critical tool to encourage people to enrol with CET colleges.
A weakness in supporting Community Education and Training colleges is due to the lack of publicity on its enrolments and awareness in communities; like the university and Tvet college registration profiling, also CET should be promoted.
National competence over CET should also have local support mechanism at a regional level to support CET colleges. CET colleges still require a lot of support from various stakeholders in order to create support ecosystems to expand its impact particularly amongst the youth who have not further studies. The CET system will be piloted in 54 community learning centres by 2024.
Hon Minister and Deputy Minister, as I was conducting my Parliamentary Constituency Office, PCO constituency work I interviewed the school principal who is the host of one of the CET at Kgotalang High School, Mr Makgoana, and one of the scholars who attends at the satellite CET at Phahama Senior Secondary School, Mrs Matlhaba, who is 45 years old, they agree with the committee that the CETs must be given the attention it deserves because it is the only hope for those who didn’t get an opportunity to finish or continue with their primary and secondary school attendance.
Increasing literacy through the adult education and training is important for employability and the development of an open learning. Teaching support materials will improve the outcomes of the training.
The ANC supports Budget Vote 17 as a tool to transform the lives of our people, particularly the poor and the marginalized.
As I conclude, the President has ... [Inaudible.] ... the statement that this year of the Sixth Parliament, ours is to follow up on the commitments that we have made as the ANC.
We support the budget. Thank you.
Mr W T LETSIE: Thank you very much, hon Chair, hon Minister, Deputy Minister, hon chair Mapulane, all members of the committee, members of Parliament and indeed the biggest stakeholders ... [Inaudible.] ... students at home. The ANC in its 2019 manifesto the people of South Africa committed to ensure that Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Tvet, colleges are adequately funded and response to the country's skills need high levels of unemployment through
progressive policies such as the skills levy and placing education as an apex priority of government.
The coronavirus had a significant impact on the wellbeing of the people and their livelihoods. The democratic breakthrough has brought about a new trajectory of the post school education and training sector. The 26 years of democratic an ANC-led government has seen the expansion of the higher education to bring about social transformation. Less people work today and the world is adapting to the digital age in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The budget vote of a focused training on digital skills for 50 Tvet colleges. This is a welcome move which will give students urge as a digital economy continues to grow. Our reliance on digital platform for trade, learning, leisure, communication and many other functions necessitate this focus by the department. The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated how digital skills and technological developments are becoming central and business processes and the economy in general.
Whilst the Fourth Industrial Revolution can lead to a loss of jobs in various industries when industries begin to introduce artificial intelligence and automation of production, new
opportunities in industries will also develop and the curriculum of the Tvet sector should adapt to this changing conditions. Failure to adapt on training and curriculum will result in leaving many workers behind, this brings about a change in the needs of the labour market as institutions and business also adapt to the changes. Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges plays a critical role in expanding skills development which support the economy. The productive sectors of the budget vote of 2021, has an incremental increase for the Tvet sector programme as illustrated by the Deputy Minister from just over
R12,6 billion to just over R13 billion. This increase signifies a continued commitment by government to support skills development.
One of the major successes of the Tvet college programme is lingered with their workplaces in various industries. This relation in learning and training link has increased the exposure of students to transition to the workplace with no difficulties. The 2021 budget vote responds to challenges in our society today of unemployment through the establishment of
14 entrepreneurship hubs for Tvet students so that they can be actively involved in the economy and for their own
self-sustenance. Our economy requires a focus and entrepreneurship as you have been experiencing a low economic growth with increasing unemployment particularly amongst the youth. The creativity amongst the youth requires such interventions to support innovation and business development.
The target and support to place the 5% eligible students in workplaces for experimental learning is important to ensure training for workplace opportunities through such interventions. The private sector and all workplaces are critical and expanding skills development opportunities. It is important to note, hon members, that the fiscal consolidation policy framework while necessary to curb the debt has impacted government spending into the Tvet sector. The infrastructure development is a key pillar of the economic reconstruction and recovery plan. One of the challenges which require support is the capacity and capability of implementation of infrastructure projects. The inability to spend - which was the case even before Covid-19 - requires monitoring to ensure that the backlog in infrastructure development in colleges is pivotal.
The Tvet infrastructure efficiency grant has decreased to about R714 million from R1 billion in the 2019 budget vote. The construction sector is pivotal in them infrastructure project and it creates more work opportunities for the youth. Due to the expanded access to higher education, investment in student housing has not been equal to the growth within the sector. This has resulted in a student housing backlog which may and mainly affects the poor. We are happy, Minister, that you are even opening one now but the slow pace there needs to be addressed. The scarcity of student accommodation has increased the cost of student accommodation, creating a financial constraint for those who are from the missing middle and the poor whilst this also increases the cost for National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, on providing financial aid for the two I have just mentioned.
Through the student housing infrastructure programme the department should encourage private investment and an increase of public investment in the student housing sector to ensure equitable access for all. The backlog on certification has been an issue we have been raising consistently with the department as part of our oversight. We welcome the target of reaching 100% within this financial year including those who
have finished three months earlier, as the Minister will have alluded earlier on. This success in this regard will enable many young people to apply for different work opportunities and entrepreneurial endeavours. The sector education and training authority, Seta, is another important entity which provide skills and development for many South Africans the decade of an artisan programme has yielded good outcomes with the 2021-year target being a 19 500 the artisan found competent and 21 500 learners entering artisanal programmes.
The 13 650 learnership opportunities 103 750 work based learning reflect the contribution of the skills fund in contributing to the human capability development of the country as the chairperson of the portfolio committee ... [Inaudible.] ... The result of increasing support for Tvet colleges and sector education and training authority have developed an effective ecosystem which harnesses skills development activities in the workplace. This is critical area in order to develop a national labour capacity to grow the economy and to produce the goods and services required for socioeconomic development. Addressing the inequalities within the peace at sector and ensuring that Tvet are institutions of choice, will require strengthening of their governance
structures and systems to ensure quality infrastructure development and expanding the training networks to increase the number of learners getting skills development opportunities. Social transformation is about equipping the peoples with the skills and support for them to liberate themselves and live to their full potential.
Now, let’s address few things that we believe are important. The DA spoke for 13 minutes, the only thing they spoke about was how feasible or not feasible a fee-free education is. We are going to tell you why they would have spent so much time deliberating on one principle of one fact called fee-free education. First, we must understand who they represent. The DA do not represent the poor of the poor; they are not worried if the poor the poor in Nqcobo, the poor of the poor in Khutsong Township and the poor of the poor in Imbali Township, Maritzburg, do not go to school. They are not worried about those. In fact, it is possibly their programme to make sure that majority of our people do not access a higher education. They represent those who have the means, money to pay for themselves to go to university. They spent 13 minutes telling us that fee-free education must be abolished, we must introduce loans for people who as they exit the university
space they still have homes, they still have parents, they still have families to also feed. So, they believe in a system that believes in black people, you know, being slaves forever.
Hon King also correctly states that we moved from
R12,3 billion funding for NSFAS in 2017, to R38 billion but instead of saying let’s celebrate that the department has done so well, has created space for many of our black people to go to school and to access skills to access higher education; no, no, she does not concentrate on that, she speaks about how bad that is for everybody else. Maybe, you know, if we understand what they stand for we will not be surprised by that. She speaks about the information and communications technology, ICT, systems being a problem at NSFAS, at least, if she was honest, I would expect her to have said that let us thank the ANC for being the ones to raise this thing in the portfolio committee as a problem. We have engaged with NSFAS and said they must make sure that they are going to change the system and maybe let’s give feedback also.
I think also, on what is happening currently NSFAS, is that the new leadership of NSFAS are looking at changing the information and communications technology system that will
respond to the needs of today because they are currently using a system designed for the previous funding model. All of these things paints a picture of the DA. I will not be surprised, she speaks about a rogue President of the ANC who made a pronouncement in 2017, a rogue Minister and all of those things. Maybe, we do not understand the word, rogue. I think I am not surprised because hon King represent a political party here in Parliament that is led by the president of that party who is a self-confessed racist. A person who says racism and apartheid were good for the betterment of this country. So, I will not be surprised by what she has been saying.
I thank the IFP for supporting the budget. The EFF again hypocrisy, hon Tambo, comes here and says, no, why do we close Tvet colleges, take them into remote learning, whereas it is them! When lockdown started in South Africa, they were very vocal making noise everyone saying that, no, close down schools! closed down universities! I mean, really, it means those people are saying let us close down everything and let’s not have education in this country until Covid-19 is done and then they will also come and criticise. That is just hypocrisy. The Freedom Front Plus, the hon Boshoff, I think one part that you keep missing - and we will be patient with
you because you do that every time when you are in the public gallery - you are saying, we are saying that we must close universities that teachers in Afrikaans. That is never what we said. We said, we must open them, we must not have a system like you are having now in Orania where you want to teach only Afrikaans. E-e (no, no) we are saying that let us open for everybody let’s be together, bring English ones and bring Zulu ones in that Stellenbosch even in that university that you are building there in Pretoria, let’s bring everybody. I mean, what is this thing of segregation, we have moved away from that thing.
Lastly, to the ACDP, sometimes I think the advice I would give to her is that when we do not have anything to add I think you could have just behaved like other parties like hon Kwankwa and others. Just pass, I mean, you took three minutes and said nothing. Having said that ...
... siyaqhuba, asimanga.
The ANC support this budget vote because this is a tool to change the lives of the poor particularly the marginalised creating equal opportunity for all South Africans as affirmed in the Freedom Charter that the doors of learning and culture shall be open for all. Thank you very much, Chairperson.
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND INNOVATION:
Thank you very much, hon House Chair. Let me take this opportunity to thank all those who supported this budget, starting with my ANC comrades, the chairperson comrade Mapulane, comrade Mananiso and comrade Letsie, as well as to hon Nxumalo of the IFP for their support ...
... siyabonga Zwide.
Just a few points maybe in conclusion. I would like to welcome the issues that hon. Mapulane is raising, the issue for instance of the black women and black academics in South Africa and so on. Indeed, one agrees that still remains one of our biggest tasks. As I normally say, the challenge facing our higher education sector at the heart of it, is the necessity to transform the patriarchal gender and racialized relations
of knowledge production. Some call it decolonisation, others calling it building peoples education for peoples’ power, but at the heart of it, is to transform relations of knowledge production. We welcome the support we often get from the portfolio committee in implementing this goal of the ANC through this government.
Just also very briefly, I would like to say that to hon King, I think that hon Letsie has done very well to expose sometimes the hypocrisy in the ranks of the opposition. So I am not going to repeat his eloquent response. Sometimes I get a sense that hon King is attacking the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, Nsfas just because it is not privatised. It is also wrong to say Nsfas was nationalised. Nsfas was forever, right from its inception, was a state system to assist poor and working class students.
The DA is more all the time talking for everything to be put into the hands of the private sector. I wonder how you feel about the fact that, this government gave banks R200 billion to support small business, mainly black business. They only spent R75 billion. That’s the private sector for you, sometimes, when it comes to matters of this nature. Hon Tambo,
it is unfortunate you have got such an hon surname, but you are the opposite of Tambo we know very well in the ANC in particular. I just want to say that, yes we have challenges with TVET colleges but we have also achieved a lot, as our Deputy Minister was an articulating. Between 2010 and 2013, we introduced Nsfas for the first time in TVET colleges, we doubled the intake within that period. As the Deputy Minister was saying, we now have been developing centres of specialisation, and we are introducing, as I was saying, lecturer training, and seeking to bring a closer relationship between our TVET colleges and industry. Yes, be critical, but it’s good to be critical if you also you notice positive things that are actually being done.
Hon Boshoff, just to add to what hon Letsie was saying, all what you are trying to do is simply which - sometimes we hope that someone like yourself would support. You are doing what the Afrikaner governors of yesteryear did in uplifting poor whites in South Africa. The two differences are that, we are doing this for everybody rather than for section of the South African population, focusing especially on those who were oppressed. Secondly, we are not doing this by oppressing anybody else. So that is what we are doing. We would have
thought that someone like yourself, would understand the importance of uplifting the poor that, in doing so, we are not wanting to destroy the system. Our system can be strong if it is able to actually support the poor and the working class.
Hon Sukers, we do support poor students for post graduate studies, but if they meet the criteria, because competition is stiff for postgraduate studies. Even now we are saying, we are going to expand the amount of money we give to postgraduate students, especially those who were beneficiaries of Nsfas, because we realise that they need additional support. We can’t also under - not look at the issue of supporting our best performers, even in particular those who are actually coming from poor families.
I just want to say with that, thank you very much once more to those who supported us. This government led by the ANC is showing its determination, despite the difficulties we are facing, to make sure that postschool, education and training is open to all, especially to the working class and the poor.
Siyabonga kakhulu Sihlalo.
The Mini plenary rose at 18:20