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What the government plans to do about underfunded TVET colleges

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How Government Plans To Solve The Issue Of Underfunded TVET Colleges

What the government plans to do about underfunded TVET colleges.As a result of students not enrolling in TVET colleges for tertiary education, TVET colleges are falling behind universities. TVET College sectors’ shortfalls are well known to the Department of Higher Education, and plans are in place to address them. As compared to universities, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges are underfunded.

What the government plans to do about underfunded TVET colleges

There are 26 public universities and 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in South Africa. As a result, TVET Colleges are not keeping up with enrolment targets in comparison to universities, since most students prefer universities over colleges.

  • TVET Colleges lack funding, which influences students to choose universities instead of colleges.
  • The lack of funding contributes to the myth that university education is better than TVET education.
  • A lack of standardisation also contributes to the poor performance of TVET colleges in general.

Graduates with university degrees are also believed to have a greater chance of finding employment than those with TVET degrees. Youth unemployment is further evidence of this notion.

It is the goal of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to encourage more students to consider TVET colleges as viable options for tertiary education.

How Much Total TVET colleges have a target enrolment

TVET colleges have a target enrolment of 556 415 students for the 2023 academic year.The figure includes 497 032 enrolments for Ministerial Approved Programmes, and 59 383 enrolments for programmes that are funded by other sources.

Total budget required for this enrolment plan is R14.591 billion, of which R14.428 billion is funded by the State with a funding deficit of R162 million (or 1.13%) to be absorbed by TVET Colleges. According to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, the state is currently able to fund only 480,686 TVET enrolments from its fiscus baseline, well below the 2.5 million TVET enrolments envisaged in the National Development Plan [NDP].

How Much TVET Enrollments Declined

According to the Minister, state-funded TVET enrollments have declined by approximately 5% over the past three years.TVET budget allocations have been cut by numerous budget cuts imposed by the National Treasury (NT) on the TVET budget allocation due to the impact of Covid-19 on the fiscus envelope. In the baseline since 2022/23, there has been almost no real-time growth. Consequently, the National Development Plan requires a significant increase in funding for the expansion of TVET colleges.

According to Nzimande, if the development target of 2.5 million TVET students must still be met, there will be a need for significant funding increases of up to 100% over the MTEF and up to 300% until 2030.

A task team is currently working on potential strategies to successfully expand the TVET College sector. These include

  • Assessment of the available excess infrastructure (classrooms, workshops etc.) to cater for additional enrolments,
  • Assessment of the capacity of colleges to offer multimodal/hybrid teaching and learning i.e. distance learning,
  • Acceleration of initiatives for digitizing assessments and online digital content development, and
  • Assessment of the human resource (i.e. lecturers) capacity to cater for the growth of the sector.

In addition, the Department recognizes the need for an integrated approach, both aimed at increasing enrolment numbers and improving the quality of education, on the issue of expansion. Among other things, this integrated approach should include:

  • Ensuring that there are costs and operational efficiencies regarding the utilization of current resources by colleges.
  • Improving governance processes at colleges to attract external funding.
  • Accelerating the curriculum transformation process.
  • Institutionalizing skills levy funding for skills programmes offered by colleges.
  • Strengthening relations with private colleges.
  • Exploring opportunities evident from the gap created by Universities of Technologies, as several are currently operating as traditional universities.
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