"Junk status could make university funding harder"

2017-04-12 14:27
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande refused to answer any questions related to the ongoing political turmoil in the country when he visited Imbali on Wednesday.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande refused to answer any questions related to the ongoing political turmoil in the country when he visited Imbali on Wednesday. (Sabelo Nsele)

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The downgrading of the SA economy to junk status by two rating agencies might add to the dilemma of university funding.

This is the concern of Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, who was speaking to reporters in Imbali at the graduation ceremony and the launch of the Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP) Seta at Umgungundlovu TVET College on Tuesday.

Nzimande said it was difficult to determine the full extent of the impact it will have on the department’s budget, but the consequences could be huge.

He warned that workers and the poor would be hit hard.

Nzimande said since the university fee increment protests started in 2015, government has been spending “too much” money on universities.

He said this needed to change as the department needed to support TVET colleges as well.

“Last year we took R5,6 billion from the National Skills Fund to fund universities.

“The reality is that out of 100 pupils, only 12 of them get to university. The question we need to be asking is what happens to the other 88.

“All our youth requires support and government cannot only support university students. We need to distribute money equally,” he said.

Nzimande admitted he had thought the “typhoon” (#FeesMustFall), was going to “swamp” him when the protests started in 2015.

The minister, who is also the secretary-general of the SACP, declined to comment on the ongoing political turmoil in the country, saying “this is not an appropriate platform”.

More than 90 students graduated in Early Child Development at NQF Level 4 at yesterday’s event.

Nzimande said the pilot programme had cost the Sector Education and Training Authority R3 million. The qualification is equivalent to a matric.

He said one of the conditions of the selection process of potential students was that the applicants must have a minimum of three years of experience working in either early childhood development or a community development environment.

“I am aware that many of the graduates had to sacrifice earning on the days that they attended classes at various TVET colleges. I would like to see research being conducted into the experiences of graduates after having completed their studies to determine how their lives have been impacted or changed,” he said.

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  pietermaritzburg

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