The Portfolio on Committee on Higher Education and Training visited four institutions of higher learning this week to assess their readiness for 2018 academic year.
The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education held a week-long tour of the Eastern Cape, which ended with a visit at the Buffalo City TVET College on Friday.
The morning session saw the committee visiting different student hostels around Southernwood – which is the city’s student village – to look at the conditions the students live under.
The seven-member committee led by the Portfolio Committee chairperson Connie September had earlier in the week visited Walter Sisulu University, University of Fort Hare and King Sabata Dalindyebo TVET College to inspect their state of readiness for the 2018 academic year.
In her address, Connie September said they want to bring TVET colleges to par with Universities.
“Generally we are satisfied with how all the institutions are doing in terms of the registration process. They have all adhered to the system that the Department of Higher Education has clarified,” she said.
“We however have noticed that there is a lot that needs to be done to make sure that TVET colleges are also considered a legitimate choice of study. Many students use TVET colleges as the last option, after they have been rejected by universities. We need to make students, parents and society understand that South Africa needs a lot of technical expertise in terms of artisans and engineers. There is a lot of money students can make there.”
Buffalo City TVET College principal, Rajkumar Singh said the discussion with the committee cleared a lot of things and he hoped solutions will be found to most of their problems. He expressed concern however, over the underfunding of the TVET sector.
“We hope everything discussed here will be implemented. Even the announcement of free education is a practical thing, we will be implementing it starting this year. It will be done in phases,” he said.
Workers and their trade unions at Buffalo City TVET College used the opportunity to highlight and bring attention to their working conditions.
Amongst the unions present were the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and Public Servants Association (PSA).
SADTU expressed grievances over the under payment of staff. “Our issues as lecturers are very old and are causing discomfort within the working staff. If you are demotivated as a lecturer because of payment, the results will also be affected,” said a lecturer and SADTU member, who prefers to remain anonymous.
“Things are not as innocent as they look. Some lectures are paid more than others. We have really demotivated lecturers. We love what we are doing, but we can’t perform to the best of our abilities if we’re demotivated,” she added.
Student Representative Council (SRC) president Catherine Mangope said, they are positive as a student body judging from the visit.
“One of the issues we are faced with is students not getting their allowances on time. This leads to strike and student unrest. We met with Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) last week and we are positive this will go differently this year, especially in terms of infrastructure and student accommodation,” she said.
Connie September promised the TVET council that they will recommend that TVET funding be prioritised in the national budget this year.