'Miracle' that some TVET colleges are still open

2017-05-03 18:18
Police in riot gear prevent protesting students from entering Ekurhuleni West College in Gauteng during a nationwide shutdown of TVET colleges. (Yonke Twani, GroundUp, file)

Police in riot gear prevent protesting students from entering Ekurhuleni West College in Gauteng during a nationwide shutdown of TVET colleges. (Yonke Twani, GroundUp, file)

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Cape Town - It is a miracle that some TVET colleges are still open given their lack of funding, chairperson of the TVET colleges governors' council told MPs on Wednesday.

MPs from across the political spectrum reacted with concern to Dan Mabuyakhulu's presentation to a joint meeting of the National Assembly's portfolio committee on higher education and training, and the National Council of Provinces' committee on education and training.

"Colleges are highly underfunded and it is a miracle that none have closed doors. We can only thank colleges' councils for the prudent manner in which they govern colleges," Mabuyakhulu said.

While universities' funding had been in the spotlight since the #FeesMustFall movement started in 2015, the same could not be said of Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges.

Earlier in the day, the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) told the committees that allocations for university education would grow by close to 6% over the 2017 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

Reason for underfunding

Allocations for TVET colleges would grow by less than 2% over this period.

"Historical underfunding of colleges, especially TVET colleges, persists and raises concerns around how these institutions will contribute to developing skills the economy requires," the FFC's presentation to Parliament read.

Mabuyakhulu said not providing TVET colleges with adequate funding was not in line with government policy. TVET colleges should be the biggest sector in post-school education, he said.

He disputed claims that the reason for the underfunding was caused by over-enrolment.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mntomuhle Khawula described Mabuyakhulu's presentation as "very sad".

Democratic Alliance MP Andricus van der Westhuizen said it was a "potentially extremely serious situation".

"That we've seen low student activism [at TVET colleges] is something to be grateful for."

He praised the TVET colleges' management for the way they had communicated with students.

DA MP Belinda Bozzoli suggested that government look at how much money was left over from government's scuppered nuclear plan and spend it on higher education.

The National Freedom Party's Moses Khubisa was worried about the lack of funding for infrastructure at TVET colleges.

Lungelwa Zwane, ANC MP and chairperson of the NCOP's committee on education and recreation, said Parliament had enormous powers that could be used to address the issue.

"Because we pass the budget. It is not the department that passes the budget. We are all very, very concerned about the state of TVET colleges in the country."


Read more on:    nfp  |  parliament  |  da  |  anc  |  ifp  |  cape town  |  education

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