Medunsa beefed up - Nzimande

2013-02-20 22:14
Blade Nzimande. (File, Sapa)

Blade Nzimande. (File, Sapa)

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Cape Town - A new health sciences university earmarked for the Medunsa campus will offer expanded medical tuition, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday.

The Medical University of SA (Medunsa) was being "de-merged" from the University of Limpopo, he told the National Assembly during debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the nation speech.

"I must emphasise that this will be more than just a de-merger. The new university will be a much expanded institution, and will include not only the training of medical doctors, but also other health professionals such as dentists, veterinarians, nurses, physiotherapists, medical technologists, radiographers, and so on," he said.

The 2009 decision to split education into two "was indeed a stroke of genius that is beginning to bear fruit", said Nzimande.

The higher education and training department had developed a vision of post-school education and training, and had already made significant practical advances which were beginning to improve opportunities for youth and adults in acquiring further education and skills.

Further education and training (FET) college enrolments had grown substantially over the past few years, from about 350 000 in 2010 to over 650 000 in 2012.

This had been made possible through a variety of strategies.

These included a concerted effort to raise awareness of FET education, free education for poor students in FET colleges, and expanding shorter skills courses offered in FET colleges, with the assistance of sector education and training authorities.

Turnaround strategy

A turnaround strategy to improve the quality of FET college teaching and management had been developed.

This included short-term interventions to stabilise some of the weaker colleges, appointing qualified chartered accountants as chief financial officers in 43 of the 50 FET colleges, developing specialised qualifications for college lecturers, and special interventions to strengthen student support.

National Student Financial Assistance Scheme funding for loans and bursaries to students in universities and colleges had expanded massively from R2.375bn in 2008 to well over R6bn this year.

"FET college students coming from poor backgrounds and following occupational programmes are now completely exempted from paying fees."

This meant bursary funds for FET college students coming from poor families had increased from R310m in 2009 to R1.75bn in 2012, and would reach R2bn in 2013.

"Such a massive increase, largely to the benefit of poor black students, has never ever happened in our country before," Nzimande said.

Substantial progress had been made the past decade and a half in relation to schooling, and the 2011 census showed educational levels had significantly increased.

The proportion of South Africans with a Grade 12 education or higher had risen from 28.8% in 2001 to 40.7% in 2011, an increase of 41.3%.

School participation rates of seven to 15-year-olds in 2011 was 98.8%, he said.

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  jacob zuma  |  education  |  parliament 2013

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