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SA: Dr Blade Nzimande: Address by Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, on the occasion of the TVET Curriculum Transformation and Innovation Summit, Vodaworld Dome, Midrand, 28/08/2023


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SA: Dr Blade Nzimande: Address by Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, on the occasion of the TVET Curriculum Transformation and Innovation Summit, Vodaworld Dome, Midrand, 28/08/2023

Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande
Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande

28th August 2023


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Programme Directors;
Director General, Dr. Nkosinathi Sishi;
Futsi Njoko, Vodacom Senior Education Accounts Officer;
Deputy Directors General of both my Departments;
Other Senior Management and Officials of both the Department of Higher Education and Training as well the Department of Science, and Innovation;
My Special Advisors;
Business and Industry Representatives;
Senior Management and Officials of Sister Departments;
TVET College Principals;
President and Members of the South African Public Colleges Organisation (SAPCO);
Chairperson and Members of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges Governors’ Council (TVETCGC);
President and Members of the South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training Student Association (SATVETSA);
SETA Chief Executive Officers and Officials;
Community Education and Training College Principals;
Organised Labour Representatives;
Distinguished Guests;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to be officially opening this ground-breaking three-day summit on TVET Curriculum Transformation and Innovation, under the theme: “TVET curriculum transformation: a key to unlock skills development for the modern economy”.
This summit brings together various role players in the TVET sector under one roof to engage and take to higher levels the curriculum transformation and innovation challenges of the TVET sector. We are not starting with such transformation but it comes as a very necessary follow up to the TVET Summit last year.
We had introduced the Centres of Specialisation in 2018 as part of significant interventions in curriculum transformation and repositioning the TVET college sector as a key provider of mid-level skills. Earlier in 2013 we had introduced the Decade of the Artisan as part of enhancing relevant TVET college curricula. Underpinning both was also our focus on building relations with industry.
We are now convening this Summit, that brings together under one roof all the key stakeholders, also as part of responding to the need to adjust and reposition TVET curricula in the light of new technological developments.
What further makes this Summit special is that it is held in a month in which we celebrate Women’s Month and also just few days after South Africa hosting of the successful BRICS Summit.
Before I can reflect on the theme of our summit today, I would like to share  a brief history of our South African TVET sector.
History of TVET in South Africa
The origin of the institutions formerly known as technical colleges in South Africa dates as far back as the 1800s.
The demand for technical education to be made available to young people was a response to the industrial development in the late 1800s.
The policy framework for education and training (ANC, 1994) released by the governing party, the  African National Congress (ANC) led to the promulgation of White Paper 4: A programme for the transformation of further education and training in 1998.
This policy document provided the core values and vision for establishing the new education and training system which from it the immediate focus of the TVET policy development process emerged.
The national curriculum framework for the TVET form of education suggested that some of the government’s key reasons for introducing these new policies had been to resolve the weaknesses and deficiencies of the TVET college curriculum.
The current TVET college sector in South Africa as we know it today,  was established in 2002 in terms of the Further Education and Training (FET) Act 98 of 1998.
The merger process transformed 152 former technical colleges (both state and state-aided) into 50 multi-site TVET colleges across South Africa’s nine provinces.  It is at that point where as a sector we declared that:
Curriculum is at the heart of the education and training system. ... It is imperative that the curriculum be restructured to reflect the values and principles of our new democratic society.
As a sector we did not just end there, but we went further to indicate that industry support and involvement in the TVET college sector is critical to curriculum renewal, enhancing student employability and curbing the lack of industry knowledge and experience of college leaders.
Another critical milestone we achieved as a  sector was the establishment of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) in 2010.  
This development brought new hope for curriculum reform, since its objectives included, among other things, ensuring the quality and industry relevance of occupational qualifications and developing replacement programmes for the outdated TVET curricula.
In 2007, as a Department of Higher Education and Training we made a significant move by introduced the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) programme as a replacement for the outdated Report 190/191 NATED programme.
This decision was aimed at addressing the need for a more modern and relevant curriculum that aligns with the changing needs of the workforce and the demands of the global economy.
Over the past 16 years since its inception, the NCV programme has played a crucial role in equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in various vocational fields.
Ladies and gentlemen
Progress on building a sustainable TVET sector
Our National Development Plan commits us to grow technical and vocational training with specific emphasis on its size and shape, differentiation, articulation, efficiency and functional effectiveness in response to the broader national development challenges.
Currently, South Africa is producing on average 20 000 qualified artisans per year. Ours is to ensure that the number increase significantly to meeting our National Development Plan (NDP) target to produce 30 000 qualified artisans per year by 2030.
We have expanded our Centres of Specialisation to thirty-four (34) Centres at twenty-seven (27) TVET Colleges, to enhance workplace linked training of artisans and related occupations, with a further investment of R68 million in sixteen (16) of our Colleges who now have thirty-three (33) Trade Test Centres.
These trade test centres have trade tested over 600 apprentices of which over 500 have qualified as artisans. 
Currently twenty-six (26) of our colleges are engaged in entrepreneurial training through our Entrepreneurship Hubs.
We are hard at work to ensure that all our colleges are involved in some form of entrepreneurship training and we plan to, through my Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), also to introduce innovation hubs in our TVET colleges.
To date our Department has opened up 14 954 TVET placement opportunities to the value of R726 Million and we also committed to achieve a target of 20 000 placements of TVET graduates work placements as per the President’s commitment at this year’s State of the Nation Address.
We have subsidised our colleges to meet their developmental goals, and we also provided TVET college student with financial support through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
I am proud  to indicate that the growth in NSFAS funding over these years has been substantial, increasing from around R125m at its inception to the current allocation of just under R3bn for our TVET sector.
However, despite this growth, our aspiration to deliver a well-resourced and relevant TVET sector is ongoing.
The responsiveness of TVET colleges to the twenty-first-century conditions, both locally and globally, is crucial.
Various initiatives are underway to achieve this, including the establishment of seven (7) Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) centres.
These centres, with the support of stakeholders such as the ETDP SETA, aim to scale up digital skills among students and staff.
Leveraging the potential of the digital economy to reduce youth unemployment is a priority, and we are grateful to our partners such as  HUAWEI, Cisco, GIZ, IYF, and others for their contributions to our digital skilling mission.
Let me take this opportunity to appreciate the partnership we have with the Allan and Gill Gray Foundation, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), and other partners for their support in help us to produce young entrepreneurs.
The Vhembe TVET college in Limpopo has reported producing three millionaires through this development initiative. Congratulations!
TVET Infrastructure
To date, our Department has invested over R3.701 Billion for the maintenance and repairs of TVET Colleges’ infrastructure through the Capital Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant (CIEG) since the grant inception during the 2018/19 financial year.
Areas of maintenance includes renovations of existing student accommodation, new roofing, painting, plumbing, glazing, electrical works, water as well as sewer reticulation.
We have also completed the construction of nine (9) TVET college Campuses at a cost of R2.6 billion. This therefore means that the majority of our students mostly in the rural areas of our country will have access to technical and vocational education.
I must say today that this ANC government has committed and delivered to the people of South Africa by developing the TVET college sector!!!
Importance of curriculum development
Ladies and gentlemen
TVET college curriculum reform is important because it has the  potential to contribute in various ways to improve the employability, productivity and success rates of TVET college graduates.
In order for us to be successful in bring these changes, there is also a need for change in the management strategies to prepare for current and future TVET curriculum challenges.
What also critical is the need for more substantial industry involvement in the TVET curriculum review process to enhance responsiveness to industry needs and requirements.
Furthermore, we need to develop  leadership programmes to help leaders within the TVET sector to bring about the necessary curriculum change.
Another important consideration is our deliberate decision to relook at the funding model of  our colleges  in order for them to fulfil  their mandate of expanding student numbers, meeting the need for adequate resources, and delivering the quality of teaching needed to develop South Africa’s skills workforce.
We know by now that our funding model for our institution is skewed towards university or it is university centric. This has to change if we are to create the jobs we need in our economy.
We need to ensure that there is  ongoing professional development of college staff. This will ensure that TVET staff gain the relevant knowledge and skills required to plan and deliver a responsive vocational and occupational curriculum.
Industry knowledge and experience is critical for curriculum developers. Once the curriculum becomes industry-aligned, the employability of students will surely improve and forging industry partnerships with TVET colleges will become more likely.
Furthermore, the TVET curriculum has to allow for articulation between the different levels of an occupation and at the same time allow for access to further studies.
Way forward
Ladies and gentlemen
I have recently approved the DHET Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the 2023/24 financial year with the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) targets in respect of the number of students enrolled at TVET colleges annually which are planned at 520 000 (2023/24FY), 620 000 (2024/25FY) and 640 000 (2025/26FY).
These targets constitute a significant increase considering that the fiscus baseline is far below the envisaged growth required by the National Development Plan (NDP) target of 2.5 million TVET enrolments by 2030.
As the Department of Higher Education and training, we further plan to expand programmes of Centres of Specialization (CoS) at TVET Colleges.
As part of this expansion strategy, the APP sets targets for the development and implementation of operating model to incentivize TVET students to complete occupational qualifications linked to the Centres of Specialisation.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes TVET education as a vital type of education that prepares both young people and adults for work by providing them with knowledge, skills, and competencies for gainful employment, increased productivity, and improved quality of life.
The recent and highly successful BRICS Summit held in South Africa last week, also placed TVET system at the centre of skills development co-operation by these countries. I would like to see a very concrete programme on our side to implement and ensure benefit from this BRICS commitment, particularly the implementation of the Charter of the BRICS TVET Cooperation Alliance.
BIRICS commit to strengthen collaboration in technical vocational education and training amongst BRICS Member States through hosting of a seminar to provide an overview of the TVET education systems and foster closer collaboration.
BRICS emphasize that the TVET programmes and projects should be coordinated by relevant BRICS senior TVET officials and focal points assigned by their respective Ministries.
This places TVET education at the centre of the developmental agenda of governments, supporting initiatives and interventions to revive and enhance the economy.
As a result, TVET curriculum transformation is a crucial step towards unlocking skills development for the modern economy.
As industries evolve and technology advances at an unprecedented rate, it becomes essential for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions to adapt their curricula to meet the changing needs of the job market.
The traditional approach to TVET education, which focused solely on providing students with specific trade skills, is no longer sufficient in today's dynamic and globalized economy.
Therefore, to bridge the skills gap and equip individuals with the competencies required for the modern workforce, a comprehensive curriculum transformation is necessary.
This transformation involves a shift from a narrow focus on technical skills to 21st-century skills which advocates for a broader emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and adaptability.
By integrating these 21st-century skills into TVET curricula, students will be better prepared to navigate the complexities of the modern economy, where job roles are constantly evolving, and cross-disciplinary expertise is highly valued.
Moreover, the inclusion of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and data analytics in TVET curricula, will equip students with the necessary digital skills.
One of the resolutions we took during our TVET Imbizo held in 2017, was  to have regular curriculum reviews of TVET programs and qualifications aligned with the current needs of industry and society.
The focus is on updating the content of current programs, by introducing modern delivery methods, integrating digital skills, and rationalizing outdated programs that no longer serve their intended purposes.
In line with this objective, over 70 subjects in the NATED Report 191 programs have been reviewed since 2018.
Additionally, in January this year (2003), we introduced a new NCV program in IT and Computer Science focusing on Programming and Robotics. Ten (10) of our TVET colleges are currently offering this program and more of our colleges are planning to offer this program from 2024.
As a Department, we are collaborating with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) in reconstructing curricula for Engineering Studies to align with the rapidly changing industry needs and professional standards.
The prioritized fields currently undergoing reconstruction include Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Civil Engineering.
Furthermore, we will be phasing-out the NATED N1 to N3 programs from January 2024.
In conclusion, this summit signifies a commitment to enhancing skills development for the modern economy.
By aligning TVET programs with industry needs, integrating digital skills, and fostering entrepreneurship, we aim to equip young people and adults with the knowledge and competencies necessary for gainful employment and improved quality of life.
Through collaboration and continued efforts, we will gradually build a well-resourced and relevant TVET sector that meets the needs of all South Africans, particularly the needs of our youth.
Our strategy to change the size and shape of the TVET sector in South Africa through curriculum transformation is a crucial step towards ensuring the TVET sectors relevance and responsiveness to the economy and society as a whole.
By aligning the TVET curriculum with the evolving needs of industries and the broader society, the sector will be better equipped to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world.
This transformation will not only enhance the employability of TVET graduates but also contribute to the overall economic growth and social development of South Africa.
It is also critical for this Summit to reflect on the performance of both the NCV and NATED programmes.
This reflection should consider factors such as the relevance of the curriculum to the current job market, the quality of teaching and learning, the success rates of students, and the overall impact of the programme on the economy and society.
By critically assessing the strengths and weaknesses of both programmes, the Summit should identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to further enhance the vocational education system in South Africa.
With a focus on relevance and responsiveness, the TVET sector has the potential to become a key driver of innovation, productivity, and inclusive growth in the country.
Therefore, it is imperative for policymakers, educators, and stakeholders continue collaborating and implementing effective strategies to bring about this much-needed change.
Today I am particularly pleased to see our key stakeholders represented in this summit, including our partners from industry, academia, quality councils, labour, students, government developmental agencies and others. Please use this gathering to network and create new connections, including sharing experiences, especially by principals on building stronger relations with industry!!!
I am confident that the engagements in this summit will yield tangible solutions to realise our vision of an integrated, coordinated and articulated TVET system for improved economic participation and the social development of youth and adults.
Thank you



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