The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has raised concerns about underfunding of the college sector, saying available funding is extremely inadequate.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Connie September, said underfunding is a challenge that has arisen consistently in all reviews of the budgetary needs of entities administered by the Department of Higher Education and Training.
“We need to look into funding of higher education in general and the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVETs) and College Education and Training (CETs) in particular. This is the post-school sector, which admits the greatest number of students in the country and provides skills training that our country requires,” Ms September said.
“Furthermore, the greatest number of poor students from rural areas and townships are accommodated at colleges. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that the sector is well looked after and that it contributes skills to the economy,” she said.
The Department and the entities it administers were in Parliament to present annual performance plans and strategic plans, as required by the statutory budget review process. Minister Mr Blade Nzimande told Members that funding is a general challenge facing the Department.
Ms September said it was unacceptable that there is no infrastructure budget for colleges that are so in need of accommodation. “A lot has been done to improve the sector, but a lot more still needs to be done, especially given that education is one of government’s apex priorities,” she said.
“Of concern too is the problem of the strategic plan that has been revised downwards on some targets and this does not bode well for the commitments in the National Development Plan and the commitment to bring about radical economic transformation through much-needed skills revolution,” she said.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.
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