Investment in FET gives dropouts a shot at finding jobs
The Times Editorial: Amid all the doom and gloom about our education system, two developments - a major investment in further education and training colleges and moves to produce more adult matriculants - offer reasons for hope.
President Jacob Zuma announced last week that R2.5-billion would be channelled towards the refurbishment of FET colleges and the building of new ones over the next three years.
Emphasising that the colleges should be just as important as universities, Zuma pointed to Germany as a powerful industrial economy that has used vocational training based on a successful apprenticeship model.
The president said the colleges should partner with sectoral education and training authorities, which could play an important role in building partnerships with employers in sectors in which jobs could be created, such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.
The Department of Higher Education aims to raise enrolments in FET colleges and other post-school institutions to 4million students by 2030, apart from the expected 1.5million at universities.
For decades now South Africa has produced too many graduates of the arts and humanities and too few of the mechanics, electricians, engineers, welders and builders our economy so desperately needs. There is no doubt that, by switching its strategic focus to FET colleges, the government is on the right track.
Another initiative that has much promise is the proposed implementation of a new national senior certificate for adults.
According to the Sunday Times, the certificate could be completed full-time or part-time at any of the country's 50 FET colleges, or at an adult literary centre. Though candidates will be expected to pass only four subjects, requirements for a pass will be more stringent than for ordinary matriculants.
If they seize the opportunity, hundreds of thousands of school dropouts will be giving themselves a second shot at finding employment or securing a better job.