FET colleges provide more options for matrics

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As thousands of students are being denied access to overcrowded
universities, FET colleges are coming to the forefront and offering matriculants
an alternative to the university degree.

Minister Blade Nzimande, recently announced that FET colleges provided 23
000 Engineering and Business Studies opportunities, 44 000 National Certificate
Vocational programme opportunities, 10 000 Artisanal opportunities and 93 000
Occupationally-directed (apprenticeship or learnership) opportunities in
collaboration with SETAs and employers.

"Those who have completed Grade 12 with a minimum of a Higher Certificate
achievement can consider studying further at an FET College for a National
Diploma.'

An article in the Times Live revealed that 171755 matrics earned university
passes in 2013 while only 127827 places were made available for first-year
students at the 22 full-time universities.

This means that over 400 00 matrics who are qualified to study further
cannot do so at a university in South Africa.

To accommodate this surplus the Minister has focused on creating space in
FET colleges.

"As part of government?s commitment to expanding the post-school
education and training opportunities, the Department is building 12 new FET
campuses, which in 2014 will be able to further accommodate an additional 6
500 new students.

"FET Colleges also offer occupationally-directed programmes that are
accredited by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) under the
auspices of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations. Among these are
programmes that are offered through apprenticeship or learnership agreements
between the student, FET College and employers.'

But as the Times Live report points out, an analysis of Adcorp recruitment
data showed matriculants without an FET qualification were more likely to get a
job than those with an FET college qualification.

While some educational specialists believe that FET colleges are not up to
scratch others say these institutions have the potential to meet the needs of
the country.

"Unisa education psychologist Ramodungoane Tabane said FET colleges
were under-utilised.'

"More attention needs to be given to FETs. They are being short- changed.
Given a chance they can help to pull up South Africa in terms of artisans, which is
what we need."

The Minister has previously admitted that the reputation of FET?s and the
quality of education have been a deterrent to prospective students.

He has also made it plain that the Department of Higher Education and
Training is committed to improving FET colleges in order to make them "
institutions of choice'.

"Allow me an opportunity to reassure the Class of 2013 and public that the
Department is addressing the actions of a handful of individuals who are
undermining the integrity of the FET examinations process through the leaking of
examination papers and resultant negative perception of FET Colleges being
portrayed in the media.'

"The Department is constantly reviewing and improving security and distribution
measures in relation to the FET examinations process. These incidences appear
to have been stemmed, although a single incidence of leakage is still one too
many.'

If universities continue their current practice of turning students away it
seems that FET colleges will become institutions of choice by default.

Learners looking for spaces in the higher education system can contact
the CACH call centre on
0860 356 635 or send an SMS with their name and ID number to 49200 and be
telephoned back free of charge."

They can also access the system via the website:

Click here to go to the website

What do you think?
Are FET Colleges a viable solution to the overcrowding problem, or should the
Minister focus his efforts elsewhere?

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