What changes can South Africans expect within the higher education sector with President Ramaphosa at the helm?
In his response to the State of the Nation Address Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande, underpinned the new path set out by the President.
So what will the Department focus on in the coming years? Here are three key priorities:
More Academic Institutions on the Cards
Broader access to post school education options remains a leading concern for the Presidency.
Within the next 10 years every district municipality will have access to a post school training institution according to Nzimande.
"Our plan is to significantly expand infrastructure for TVET colleges, including new institutions and campuses, as well as upgrading of ICT so that our TVET colleges become part of the modern digital era in all the 44 districts."
Focus on Student Financing
"In line with the President’s focus, over the next 10-year period our department will focus on the effectiveness and expansion of the new bursary scheme in both the university and TVET college sectors."
Nzimande highlighted the need for better coordination between government and its funding entities, particularly the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
"Students from families earning less than R350 000 per annum receive comprehensive support in the form of a bursary for the duration of their studies. Over the 2019 MTEF period, the investment amounts to R82 billion for university students and R20.4 billion for TVET college students."
Engineers and Artisans still needed
Nzimande highlighted the increase in black students studying engineering. Despite the progress made within the sector artisan development continues to be a top priority for government.
Better partnerships, new training centres and relevant development programmes are expected to improve the production of work ready engineers and artisans.
Workplace-based learning, learnerships, work integrated learning and internships are some of the ways government is addressing this skills shortage in SA, explained Nzimande.
"The recently launched Centres of Specialisation (CoS) pilot is being prioritized for the training of 780 youth in artisan skills and will assist 26 TVET college campuses to improve their capacity to develop artisans with industry partners in 13 priority trades/occupations."
Some of the key players in this endeavour include Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA), Retail Motor Industry (RMI), Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) and Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW).
"Higher Education, Science and Technology will improve on aligning its programmes to support the priorities as outlined by the President," said Nzimande.
Image source: FTW Online