/ 19 January 2017

15 TVET colleges shut down over unresolved issues with higher education department

Practical: Students at the technical and vocational college in central Johannesburg attend a mechanics class.
The aim of the TVET Colleges is to develop and produce employable young people with high quality occupational and vocational education and training skills. Photo: Lisa Skinner

Protesting students shut down about 15 of the 50 public technical and vocational education and training colleges (TVET) today as a result of a host of unresolved issues with the department of higher education.

Among the colleges that were forced to close are the Tshwane North and Tshwane South colleges.

Yonke Twani, president of the South African Further Education and Training Student Association (Safetsa), confirmed that more colleges would be shutting down in days to come.

Issues that Safetsa wants the department to address urgently include:

  • the question of unqualified lecturers;
  • inadequate funding for students from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS);
  • late payment of allowances for accommodation and transport; and
  • the lengthy delay in the issuing of certificates for courses completed.

“We are tired and it’s high time we are taken seriously. We want to express our view to  society at large so that the community can pledge solidarity.”

He said that a memorandum of demands was sent to the department, adding: “The only time we will end the shutdown is when the department commits to discussing our memorandum and resolving our issues.”

A lecturer from the Ekurhuleni West College in Gauteng said the students’ demands were legitimate and that he “felt for them”.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande appealed to organisations representing students to have discussions with his department and with the administrators of the colleges to resolve issues.

In a statement he conceded that the colleges had a long way to go before they were “at peak performance”.

He said that although only 12 283 students in TVET colleges received NSFAS funding in 2007, the figure reached 256 904 last year.

Funding for students at TVET colleges increased from R66.7-million to over R2.3-billion last year.

Nzimande said that TVET colleges would make 207 510 places available to new entrants this year.

The Mail & Guardian reported late last year that enrolment at TVET colleges would be capped at 710 535 from this year until the end of 2019 because of fiscal constraints.