ATC201022: Report of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings on the Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Higher Education and Training During the House Sitting of 29 May 2018, As Adopted On 14 October 2020
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON PETITIONS AND EXECUTIVE UNDERTAKINGS ON THE EXECUTIVE UNDERTAKINGS MADE BY THE MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING DURING THE HOUSE SITTING OF 29 MAY 2018, AS ADOPTED ON 14 OCTOBER 2020
On 29 May 2018, the Honourable Minister of Higher Education and Training (Minister) made the following executive undertakings during the Question and Answer Session in the National Council of Provinces (House):
- Executive Undertaking 1: “Our department plans to use this budget to develop and implement programmes that will provide skills and empowerment to young people."
- Executive Undertaking 2: “This year we plan to intensify our investment in skills programme development in the TVET colleges. We believe that these colleges can make a decisive contribution to the youth employment challenge.”
- Executive Undertaking 3: “This year the new Higher Education and Training bursary scheme for students is being implemented for all years of study in the TVET sector: 458 875 college students will receive bursaries for tuition and books; 50 480 students will receive travel, accommodation, and meals allowances; and 82 600 will receive a transport allowance.”
- Executive Undertaking 4: “We are also addressing capacity development in our universities. This year, our University Capacity Development Grant totals R928 million. It will support university quality development in four key areas.”
- REFERRAL PROCEDURE TO THE COMMITTEE
The executive undertakings were referred to the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings (Committee) by the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, on 13 August 2018, for it to scrutinise and subsequently report to the House on their implementation.
After the referral the Committee proceeded to extend an invitation to the Minister to appear before it and report on the progress made by the Department of Higher Education and Training (Department) in implementing the concerned executive undertakings.
- COMMITTEE MEETING PROCEDURES
On 16 September 2020, the Minister and relevant officials of the Department appeared before the Committee to report on the progress made in implementing the executive undertakings under consideration.
The following Committee Members were present at the meeting:
3.1 Hon Z V Ncitha, ANC, Eastern Cape (Chairperson);
3.2 Hon S Shaikh, ANC, Limpopo;
3.3 Hon T S C Dodovu, ANC, North-West;
3.4 Hon E M Mthethwa, ANC, KwaZulu-Natal;
3.5 Hon B M Bartlett, ANC, Northern Cape;
3.6 Hon G Michalakis, DA, Free State;
3.7 Hon I M Sileku, DA, Western Cape;
3.8 Hon K Motsamai, EFF, Gauteng;
3.9 Hon Zandamela, EFF; Mpumalanga; and
3.10 Hon S E Mfayela, IFP, KwaZulu-Natal
The following Committee officials were in attendance:
3.11 Mr N Mkhize, Committee Secretary;
3.12 Adv. T Sterris-Jaffer; Committee Researcher;
3.13 Mrs N Fakier; Executive Secretary; and
3.14 Mr M Dumezweni, Committee Assistant
The following representatives of the Department of Higher Education and Training appeared before the Committee during the meeting:
3.15 Hon. B Nzimande, Minister,
3.16 Mr Z Mvalo, Deputy Director General; Skills Development
3.17 Ms A Singh; Acting Director General; Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVET)
3.18 Mr M Cakwe- Director - University Education;
3.19 Mr S Buthelezi - Chief Director - Center of Specialisation;
3.20 Mr W Whitefield, University Education Branch of the Department
3.21 Mr M Lumka, Chief Director- Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) Performance;
3.22 Ms M Motla, Executive Manager: Office of the CEO (SSETA);
3.23 Ms C Monyane, Senior Officer: Special Projects; (SSETA)
3.24 Ms M Mathibe; Senior Manager: Special Projects; (SSETA)
3.25 Mr B Bingwa, Parliamentary Liaison Officer (PLO);
- PROGRESS REPORT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING
The Minister and the Director-General reported as follows:
- Executive Undertaking 1:
The Department of Higher Education and Training (Department) reported that the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), in 2018/19 financial year placed 182 852 learners in workplace-based learning opportunities, whilst it produced 19 627 artisans. This was a good indicator towards meeting the National Development Plan’s (NDP) 2030 target of producing 30 000 artisans per annum. The 2019/20 performance information was still being audited by the Auditor- General (AG).
A Tracer Study commissioned by the Department indicates that 77% of apprentices who qualified in the 2018/19 financial year transitioned to the labour market. The latest Tracer Study by the Universities in collaboration with the Bank SETA (May 2020) also shows that about 80% of learners who completed learnerships found employment.
- Executive Undertaking 2:
The Department reported that in 2019 it launched the Centres of Specialisation to meet industry standards in 26 college campuses to produce 13 trades identified in Strategic Infrastructure Projects; 59 Facilitators are employed and trained on latest technology to deliver on these trades, with 840 apprentices recruited and currently on training.
Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, the Department has further targeted an additional 840 apprentices, and so far, the Department has received expression of interest from employers and that exceeds its target while SETA’s confirmed grant commitments for about 889 apprentices.
- Executive Undertaking 3:
- Department reported that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) eligibility criteria are:
- Students must be from families with gross household incomes of up to R350,000 per annum;
- New students must be admitted into a college in line with the DHET’s approved enrolment plan and the college’s student admission policy; and
- Returning students must meet the academic progression requirement.
Students enrolled in a Ministerial approved programme are subsidised at 80% of the programme costs. Students are liable for 20% of the programme costs, which constitutes tuition fees (NSFAS covers tuition fees), transport or accommodation (inclusive of meals) and personal care allowances for qualifying students. All TVET college students receive textbooks, consumables, and safety gear regardless of their NSFAS status.
There is 112% increase of the bursary allocation from R2,437 billion in 2017 to R5,164 billion in 2018. Allowances awarded to college students were standardised in 2019 to improve administration of the bursary scheme. R6,779 billion bursary allocation is available for 2020 and is intended to benefit 240,406 TVET college students. To date 235,367 students (unaudited) have been awarded bursaries for the 2020 academic year. NSFAS progress reports reveal that about 60% of bursary recipients qualify for transport and 40% accommodation allowance. All bursary recipients qualify for the personal care allowance to assist them with their personal necessities.
- Executive Undertaking 4:
The Department reported that it earmarked grant as part of the funding framework for universities, and it is focussed on capacity building in specific areas in university education. A review of the funding framework led to the recommendation that the Teaching Development Grant and the Research Development Grant grants be merged into one grant so that an integrated approach can be taken to development in these areas, and the University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) was introduced from 2018. However, rather than just allocating a grant to each university, the Department worked with all the universities to conceptualise and develop an implementation programme - the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP), with the grant becoming the main resource to support implementation of the programme.
The UCDP was formalised as Department policy through a Ministerial Statement on the Implementation of the University Capacity Development Programme through Effective Management and Utilisation of the University Capacity Development (2018-2020). It is ppositioned as the Department’s primary instrument to drive transformation in the university sector.
The Department indicated that the strategic direction of the UCDP is to have an overarching goal of transforming teaching, learning, researching and leading towards enhanced quality, success and equity in universities. The programme is highly responsive to the imperatives outlined in, and the direction provided by the White Paper on Post-School Education and Training (“WPPSET”), published by the Department in 2013 which defines the priorities of the Department for building and strengthening the PSET system.
The UCDP is positioned to contribute significantly to all of the policy imperatives of the WPPSET through capacity development, addressing inequality and building quality in three intersecting areas:
- student development/success;
- staff development/success; and
- curriculum/programme development.
The total budget for the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) since its inception in 2018 is as follows:
- 2018/19: R945 000 000
- 2019/20: R997 920 000
- 2020/21: R1 052 806 000
In conclusion, the Department indicated that the UCDP is currently at the last year of the implementation of the first cycle (3 years 2018-2020). Therefore, 2021 marks the beginning of a second cycle (2021-2023) and while new initiatives are expected to be proposed by universities in the new plans, programmes that have been impactful will continue to be implemented in the second three-year cycle.
- OBSERVATIONS AND KEY FINDINGS
In noting the progress report given by the Department of Higher Education and Training in relation to the implementation of the executive undertakings under review, the Committee made the following observations and key findings:
5.1 ThatCovid-19 negatively impacted workplace placement programmes and apprentices but that this matter was being addressed by relevant stakeholders. The Committee also noted that the skills levy holiday lost close to R 10 billion but this was being address through NEDLAC to mitigate the loss.
5.2 The Department indicated that the UCDP was specifically focused on the development of South African academics and professional staff. The UCDP wasin the final year of its three-year cycle. A new cycle would start in 2021.
5.3 The Department would be launching a new programme to strengthen historically disadvantaged institutions, which will be called the “Prof S Bhengu HDI Development Grant”, to address institutional inequalities.
5.4 The Department will be working on methods to support the “missing middle.” The “missing middle” are those learners who come from households with an annual income exceeding the National Student Financial Scheme’s threshold of R350 000, but who do not qualify for alternative funding either.
5.5 The Committee noted that there are no formal MoU’s in place with Department and private companies since the private sector concludes MoU’s on a voluntary basis through the President’s programme.
Lastly, in noting the progress report made by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, the Committee, further observed that the executive undertakings have been adequately implemented and therefore recommends that they be closed.
Report to be tabled for consideration.
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