Nzimande warns those trying to 'capture' tertiary institutions ahead of 2020 academic year
As government funding to universities and colleges has increased there have been efforts to “capture” institutions by external groups, sometimes in cahoots with insiders.
“Many of these acts are driven by personal financial interests which stand in opposition to our focus of providing high quality education and training and building excellent institutions for the good of our country,” higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande said in Pretoria on Thursday.
“I want to make it clear here today that we will not stand back and allow our institutions to be captured by narrow selfish interests,” he warned.
Nzimande was speaking at a briefing on the state of readiness for the 2020 academic year.
He said that despite many advances in post-school education and training, “one of the most serious challenges we face is corruption ... in the system.”
He said since allegations surfaced in 2016, five internal forensic investigations were initiated, four criminal cases were opened and were being probed by police, and a further 510 instances of alleged fraud were handed over to the commercial crimes unit.
“Due our commitment to fight against fraud and corruption, we unravelled a total irregular expenditure in the system which amounted to R4.3bn,” he said.
Nzimande also announced that his department would train youth in artisan skills.
“In the year 2020, we will be implementing a new SETA landscape to further respond to the skill demands of our economy. We will ensure that we strengthen, realign and repurpose SETAs so that they respond to the skills needs of our economy,” he said.
He said the department would train 780 young people in artisan skills through the centres of specialisation programmes.
“These centres will further assist 26 TVET college campuses to improve their capacity to develop artisans with industry partners in 13 priority trades comprising skill sets in bricklaying, electrician, millwright, boilermaker and automotive mechanics, amongst others.
“We have made strides by commencing the building of nine new TVET college campus sites scheduled for completion in 2020. They include Sterkspruit, Aliwal North, Graaff Reneit, Ngungqushe, Umzimkhulu, Greytown, Msinga, Nongoma and Kwagqikazi. Construction will commence with a new campus site for Mitchells Plain in 2020,” Nzimande said.
“Contracts for a further four new campus sites in 2019/20, will be awarded. The sites include Balfour, Giyani, Nkandla B and Vryheid,” the minster said.
He said the department was determined to work harder to address challenges in the post-school system to meet its goals of addressing social justice in and through education, “building a single, co-ordinated, and articulated post-school education and training system”.