The Department of Higher Education and Training has officially launched a White Paper on Post School Education and Training, which sets out strategies to expand on the current delivery of education and training in South Africa for the period up to 2030.
The paper sets out a broad policy for expanding post-school provision to improve access to education and training opportunities and strengthen the institutions of post schooling, of Further Education and Training Colleges, universities, colleges and adult education centers to improve the quality of education.
Focused attention according to the paper would be given to:
- improving the quality through appropriate programmes;
- upgrading of lecturers;
- capacity building for management and governance;
- improved learner support;
- information technology systems;
- partnerships with employers and mainstreaming funding; and
- partnerships with rural areas, and distance education across the system.
The paper also recognises the resources of both the private and public sector drivers in deepening and transforming the entire post schooling system.
It allows the department to contribute more effectively to the goal of inclusive economic growth and development, and to contribute fundamentally in reducing unemployment and poverty, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and other strategic policy documents.
The NDP has highlighted the need to improve education, innovation and training as part of efforts to address the broader socio-economic challenges.
Expand skills development
Speaking at the launch of the paper, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said the paper is aimed at expanding the skills development of school leavers and anyone who wants to skill themselves.
He said the White Paper will build on the achievements of the government post 1994.
“We envisage a system that is made up of a diverse range of educational institutions that will expand considerably over the next 20 years to cater for the millions of people, especially the youth and help us use education as a driver in fighting poverty and inequality.”
Nzimande said there must be a clear link between schools, colleges, providers, universities and the world of work as well as a diversity of educational institutions in order to cope with the needs of a large and increasing student population.
By 2030, the goal is to have head-count enrolments of 1.6 million in public universities, 2.5 million in FET colleges. In addition there will be about 0.5 million enrolments in private further and higher educational institutions.
According to the White Paper, government is to introduce new institutions — the Community Colleges — for people who never attended school to complete their schooling.
Government aims to enrol about 1 million people for learning opportunities at these community colleges by 2030. These colleges will be aligned to FETs as well as to universities in order to thrive.
The introduction of these community colleges, which will be piloted first, according to Nzimande, will make a significant difference to people who never attended schools and give them a second chance.
According to the 2011 census, 3.2 million young between the ages 15 and 24 were not in employment, education or training, 523 000 of these had only achieved a primary school education or less and nearly 1.5 million had less than a grade 10 education.
One of the critical challenges that the paper will address is the regulatory role of professional bodies which the paper says, must safeguard professional standards without being gatekeepers who sought to restrict the supply of professionals.
The paper will further see the department uprooting short courses that were high cost-driven but did not lead to any meaningful qualification, and often did not lead to any work placement.
According to the document the current mix of courses at FETs is too complex to administer, hence the need to change track.
Unisa Vice Chanllellor Mondli Makhanya and Unisa Chairperson Matthew Phosa both described the launch of the paper as a historic event in South Africa’s education system.
However, Phosa said he was saddened that the country continues to have the biggest budget allocations into education, yet results do not show.
“We can turn this around together… We need to walk the talk to make the education system as a whole work.”
Nzimande also acknowledged this, saying government policy interventions are aimed at dealing with the legacy of apartheid.
“There’re still deep-seeded inequalities in South Africa and resistance to the legislative measures to transform…but we are seeing progress.” – SAnews.gov.za