The country’s 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges are headed for a total shutdown this week‚ with students saying the time for talk is over.
The South African Further Education and Training Student Association (SAFETSA) said weak leadership‚ corruption‚ unqualified lecturers‚ and a lack of certification and student support have collapsed the sector.
Yonke Twani‚ the association’s president‚ told journalists in Pretoria on Tuesday that their repeated pleas to the department of higher education and training have fallen on deaf ears.
He said students have no choice but to shut down the sector from Thursday.
“We have been patient and lenient since 2013 trying to persuade college management and the higher education and training department‚ hoping that we can as a collective work together to sort these issues out‚” he said.
Twani said students in the TVET colleges sector have been grappling with delays in the release of results and certificates since 2012‚ with no explanation.
He said this was also coupled by insufficient student funding‚ an outdated curriculum that was not aligned to the country’s skills needs as well as the lack of expansion to boost enrolment.
“The future of young people in the (TVET) space is at risk. We are saying it is at risk because many young people who exited the colleges between 2010-2014 have not received their certificates‚” he said.
Twani said this prevented college graduates from venturing into the labour market because somehow their future was not taken seriously.
He said students were subjected to unqualified lecturers employed through nepotism and he threatened to name and shame the “quacks” if nothing was done about the matter.
Twani said infrastructure at the colleges was also a cause for concern as students were forced into small residences where they have to wash their dishes in bathrooms.
He said delays in the payment of accommodation and transport allowances was pushing students into prostitution and into the hands of blessers so that they could pay for transport and accommodation.
“We are not going to tamper with property during our programme of action because we are going to need these institutions when our programme becomes a success‚” he said.
Mani Hulisani‚ the association’s chairperson‚ said many colleges have received disclaimers from the Auditor-General but the department has yet to take action against their councils.
“We are fighting for more funding for the colleges but what is the point because these funds will be mismanaged by councils. They must be taken to task for their squandering of the funds‚” he said.
The budget for TVET colleges for the 2017-18 financial year amounted to R19.8-billion‚ higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande said last week.
Three technical and vocational education and training (TVET) campuses are set to open this year to enrol some of the hundreds of thousands of matrics who failed to achieve university entrance. This year the department’s target enrolment is 207‚510 new students.