Nzimande sees key role for expanded FET colleges

2009-07-27 00:00

MINISTER of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande was guest of honour at the graduation ceremony of uMgungundlovu Further Education and Training (FET) College at the Northdale campus on Saturday.

Nzimande, who is from Dambuza, told the graduates that such ceremonies are not just about academic achievement, but also recognise people who have prepared to make a meaningful contribution for their country.

Speaking to The Witness afterwards, Nzimande said the government’s commitment to providing quality education to all who need it means catering for different educational and training needs.

The fact that there are not enough post-school options remains one of the biggest challenges facing the country, he said.

“Universities and technikons can’t be the only route. We need a diverse set of options for our young people.”

This is why one of the top objectives during his administration will be to strengthen the college sector and expand FET colleges to cater for a wider spectrum of students.

Nzimande said that having South African Qualifications Authority-registered programmes in response to specific stakeholder needs shows that FET colleges play a pivotal role in addressing skills needs.

Among the changes on the cards is the transfer of Department of Labour skills training programmes to the Department of Higher Education and Training. Another is the possibility of a student bank. A committee has been tasked to look into the restructuring and expansion of student funding. Part of its mandate is to look into the possibility of opening a student bank.

Nzimande has been quoted as saying that last year’s 18% matric exemption pass does not reflect the country’s potential.

When asked by The Witness how potential could be unearthed, he said universities need to better systematise entrance exams to help them identify potential. Research by UKZN has identified people who do not necessarily get exemptions in high school, but who are working as successful engineers, lawyers and business people.

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