Education unveils post-matric chances

2013-01-04 00:00

HIGHER Education Minister Blade Nzimande yesterday unveiled an extensive range of post-school opportunities for matriculants, including those who have failed.

The highlight of his presentation was news of a Career Advice Clearing House (CACH) call centre, where matriculants and unemployed young people can get advice on the options open to them.

He was speaking in Pietermaritzburg, where a week earlier 35 000 hopefuls ran a race in sweltering heat for the chance to bag one of 90 positions as trainee traffic officers.

Eight people lost their lives in the gruelling conditions, which the minister said highlighted the extent of the problem of unemployment in the country. Nzimande said CACH was put in place to avoid such incidents and to end long registration queues at universities and colleges.

Nzimande expressed disappointment that there were still long queues at Unisa.

He said although there was the option of online registration, students said they felt more confident of securing a place if they applied in person.

He appealed to those who had not yet been accepted into a tertiary institution not to go and queue at any institution, but to contact the CACH centre, which would provide information on institutions that still have spaces open for applicants.

“Going to stand in queues at our institutions puts your life and safety at risk,” Nzimande said.

He referred to an incident last year when the mother of an aspiring student was crushed to death in a stampede at the University of Johannesburg.

He added that CACH was the first step in putting in place the department’s plan for a central application centre for all universities.

Another step in that direction was a plan for all universities to have the same cut-off date for applications next year.

Nzimande said the CACH helpline was also set up to provide support and assistance to all out-of-school youths and the unemployed, and especially those who had not passed matric.

They would have access to all sources of relevant information that the department had created specifically for them to choose from a range of options. Nzimande said those who had not passed matric must not be despondent, because there were other avenues for further learning.

“No one must lose hope because they have not passed. Learning does not begin and end with matric, but is rather a life-long experience with various options,” he said.

Nzimande said FET colleges had been vastly improved; lecturers were being re-trained and bursaries to the colleges had increased from R100 million in 2007 to R1,7 billion in 2012.

He added that skills were being taught that were directly linked to South Africa’s economic growth.

Nzimande said there were 180 000 places for matriculants at the country’s 23 universities, and 100 000 spaces at public Further Education and Training (FET) colleges.

He said space would always be a challenge at institutions of higher education. However, he added: “If you combine the places on offer at universities, including universities of technology and FETs, there is a significant increase in the variety of options open to matriculants.”

Nzimande welcomed the improved matric results, especially in maths and physical science, as this meant increased enrollment in faculties where these subjects were a prerequisite.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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