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1 September 2014
   
 
 
 
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Minister of Higher Education,
Deputy Minister and Invited Guests
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
 
Census 2011 confirmed that South Africa is a nation of young people. Just over a third of the population is under the age of 15.

It is for this reason that we are investing in education and skills development and the Census results showcased the strides we have made in educating our country’s children.

According to the Census results, the proportion of children with no schooling was halved over the period between 1996 and 2011.  

There is also a huge increase in the enrolment of our children from pre-school to primary and high school right up to tertiary level.

Today’s occasion marks an important milestone in taking forward this investment in education to secure a brighter future for all in our country.

We have called this briefing to update you on the establishment of new universities, one in the Northern Cape and one in Mpumalanga.  We are establishing these institutions because we want every province in the country to provide institutions of higher learning.

The National Development Plan envisages an increase in higher education enrolments from 17.9 percent in 2012 to 25 percent by 2030. Indeed our young people are hungry for education.

In the last decade we have witnessed growth of over 50% in the number of enrolments. Numbers moved from six hundred and three thousand (603 000) students enrolled in 2001 to nine hundred and thirty five thousand (935 000) in 2012.

The building of new institutions is designed to respond to this hunger for education and give our youth an opportunity to earn the skills that would enable them to lead this country in future.

We made a commitment that the two new universities would open their doors for learning in the 2014 academic year.

A number of significant milestones have been achieved, which make a modest start-up in 2014 possible.

The milestones are the following:

1.   In July 2010 two Task Teams were appointed to do feasibility reports and explore models for establishing the new universities. They submitted reports in September 2011.

2.   On the 5th of July 2012, I announced that the new universities for Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape will be located on selected sites in Nelspruit and Kimberley.

3.   In September 2012, National Treasury confirmed  an allocation of over two billion rand for the 2013/14 – 2015/16 Medium Term Expenditure Framework period;

·        In December 2012, the public was invited to suggest names for each university and to nominate members of the Interim Councils;

·        In January, 2013, preliminary academic programmes were established for each institution and a range of partnerships have been formed with established universities to support academic programme development and delivery;

·        In March this year, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, the Premiers of the two provinces and the Minister of Public Works signed a Record of Intention to Facilitate the Rapid Establishment of the New University and the Transfer and Development of Publicly Owned Land .

We are pleased with this progress as it takes us closer to the opening of these institutions.

After a significant process of consultation, I am pleased to announce today the names of the new universities:

They will be Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga.

Our target is to grow each university over a 10-year development period to accommodate fifteen thousand (15 000) full time equivalent students at the main campus in Nelspruit and five thousand (5 000) at the main campus in Kimberley.

Each university will therefore grow its institutional, academic and infrastructure capacity in a planned and gradual manner.

The University of Mpumalanga will start its life as a multi-campus institution with two campuses, one in Nelspruit and one in Siyabuswa.

Sol Plaatje University will be established initially on the main campus, but it is envisaged that it may expand further, as a multi-campus university in the future.

With these targets in mind, the planned start in 2014 will accommodate a modest initial intake of one hundred and fifty  students at Sol Plaatje and one hundred and forty in Mpumalanga.

The two universities are expected to provide additional specialist capacity to our higher education system enabling the establishment of academic niche areas that do not exist elsewhere or are underrepresented in the country.

Given the rich heritage of Kimberley and the Northern Cape in general, it is envisaged that Sol Plaatje will specialise in heritage studies, including interconnected academic fields such as museum management, archaeology, indigenous languages, and restoration architecture.

Mpumalanga University will specialise in agriculture and biodiversity, linking into food security, natural resource management, nature conservation, plant and animal sciences, forestry and wood sciences, technology as well as wild life management. These represent only the initial ideas which will be given greater definition as the new Interim Councils take up their duties.

Thus it falls on the shoulders of the newly appointed Interim Council members to take this journey forward.

Nominations for membership of the Interim Councils were issued publicly.

I am happy to announce the names of the men and women who will have the historic duty of driving the establishment of the nation’s two brand new universities.

They are the following:

University in Mpumalanga

·        Dr Madoda Mabunda as Chairperson and as members,

·        Ms Helen Thrush

·        Prof Chris de Beer

·        Prof Connie Mokadi

·        Mr Fidel Mlombo.

The University in the Northern Cape:

Ms Jennifer Glennie as Chairperson and as members,

·        Mr Abel Madonsela

·        Mr Maruping Lekwene

·        Dr Yvonne Muthien

·        Prof Vishnu Padayachee.

I wish to congratulate them on their appointment. We have assured them of our full support.

To further feed the hunger of our youth for education and invest in the socio-economic development of our country, we are also expanding technical and vocational education and training.

We invested 2.5 billion rand in FET colleges last year to support the expansion of access and capacity building of college staff.

The Department of Higher Education and Training is establishing 12 new Further Education and Training (FET) College Campuses across the country and refurbishing two other campuses as part of government’s infrastructure programme.

This intensive focus on FET Colleges is yielding results.

Student enrolments have increased by 90 percent, from three hundred and forty five thousand five hundred and sixty six (345 566) in 2009 to six hundred and fifty seven thousand six hundred and ninety (657 690) in 2012.

We are also pleased with progress made in expanding access to education for children of the poor and the working class.

Investment in FET college bursaries has increased from 318 million rand in 2010, benefitting sixty one thousand seven hundred and three (61 703) students, to one point nine billion rand (R1.9 billion) in 2013, targeting two hundred and twenty two thousand, eight hundred and seventeen (222 817) financially needy students.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has to date assisted 1.4 million students.  

Funding for NSFAS student loans at Universities has increased from 2.2 billion rand (R2,2 billion) in 2010 benefitting one hundred and forty eight thousand three hundred and eighty seven (148 387) students to R3,6 billion rand in 2013, targeting two hundred and ten thousand (210 000) students.

All successful countries in the world succeeded because they invested in education and skills development.

The fruits of our investments will become visible soon, when these young people graduate and take our country and the economy to greater heights.

I thank you.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
 
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