Nzimande: Change view of FETs

2009-12-07 22:35

Durban - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Monday called on the SA Students' Congress (Sasco) to help his department promote Further Education and Training colleges.

"We need you to assist us in promoting FET colleges as colleges of choice, rather than how they are viewed now," Nzimande told a Sasco conference at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pinetown, Durban.

He said FETs were seen as consolation prizes when students could not qualify for university. Some matric students committed suicide if they could not get a matric exemption, he said.

The higher education department wanted to expand the college sector and increase enrolment at FET colleges to at least a million by 2014.

NSFAS being reviewed

The conference was attended by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize.

Nzimande said a ministerial committee was reviewing the National Students' Financial Aid Scheme.

"The scheme has acute shortcomings in providing adequate support for needy students," he said.

This resulted in poor students and their parents going to loan sharks to finance studies.

"Deficiencies in the scheme also propagate a high dropout rate as financial aid often excludes essentials such as food."

A report on the matter was being prepared by a ministerial committee.

"I expect that the report would contain proposals which may significantly change the nature and the functioning of the scheme."

On transformation at universities, he said he had written to all university councils asking them to detail their plans for dealing with racism and other forms of discrimination. Early next year he would convene the first ever higher education summit to discuss transformation.

Looking at 2010 registrations, Nzimande said there was a major problem in the application process.

"Students have to pay large amounts of money applying for admission to multiple institutions," he said, adding that a central application system needed to be worked towards.