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The Portfolio Committee for Higher Education, Science and Innovation has cautioned stakeholders in the higher education sector about the seriousness of deliberately misleading parliamentary committees about the real state of affairs on the ground.
The committee is in Mpumalanga as part of its oversight into the higher education sectors’ readiness for the 2023 academic year. The committee visited Ehlanzeni Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in the Ehlanzeni District Municipality, as well as the Mpumalanga Community Education and Training (CET) Centre.
Ehlanzeni College told the committee that it was ready for the 2023 academic year and that preparations had begun in 2022 for classes commencing on 18 January 2023. The college also highlighted that at one of its campuses, classes were hampered by the delay in results for students writing National Certificate Vocational exams. However, the matter has since been resolved.
The college said applications to study at Ehlanzeni College are fully online, however if students struggle with the online application process provision is made to accommodate in-person and on-campus registrations. According to Ehlanzeni College, 91 per cent of students are funded through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, while 9 per cent are funded through the Sector Education and Training Authority.
The committee was concerned to hear differing views on the state of affairs at Ehlanzeni College from the student representative council and organised labour. The committee was also concerned about the filing of vacant funded posts and called for the college to speedily address this as a matter of urgency.
The committee proposed the immediate creation of a stakeholder engagement structure that would include all role players. On the oversight, the committee was joined by members of the Mpumulanga Provincial Legislature education committee members. The province committed itself to assist Ehlanzeni deal with some of its problems so that it can function more efficiently.
The committee also had engaged with Mpumalanga Community Education and Training (CET) Centre’s regional office on its readiness for the academic year ahead. The Mpumalanga CET has 108 learning centres within the Ehlanzeni District Municipality and some of the challenges it faces include insufficient funding to cover all its needs for effective service delivery, including funded programmes.
The committee reiterated that a discussion is needed on the proposal to move CETs from Basic Education and that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure needs to be engaged to release unused buildings to CETs. Some of the successes highlighted by the CET are that it has trained students in upholstery skills, however it does not have its own facilities to train students.
The committee applauded the work of the Mpumalanga CET and called for it to share its good practices with other struggling neighbouring centres.
Issued by The Chairperson of The Portfolio Committee for Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa
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