SA unveils higher education plan

13 January 2012

South Africa’s Department of Higher Education has launched the Green Paper for Post-School Education and Training, which will see the country move towards producing more graduates with the in-demand skills necessary to grow the economy.

Unveiling the ambitious green paper in Pretoria on Thursday, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said it aimed to align the post-school education and training system with South Africa’s overall development agenda.

As such, the paper outlines targets linked to various government expansion strategies, including the New Growth Path; Industrial Policy Action Plan 2; Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa 2010-2030; and South Africa’s Ten-Year Innovation Plan by the Department of Science and Technology.

Contributing to growth and development

“This will allow the department to contribute more effectively to the goal of inclusive economic growth and development and to contribute fundamentally to reducing unemployment and poverty,” Nzimande said.

The paper also sets out a broad policy for expanding and improving access to post-school education and training opportunities to all sectors of the population; strengthening institutions to improve education quality; and building a post-school education and training system that is equitable, accessible and affordable, including free education and training for the poor.

It also sketches out a vision for a progressive post-school education and training system, which will contribute to overcoming the challenges facing society. The department proposes to do this by nurturing a culture of education that inspires high levels of excellence and innovation.

“A major problem in the system as a whole is that provision of post-school education and training is inadequate in quality, diversity and in many, but not in all instances, quality,” said Nzimande.

SETAs to get involved

The green paper further proposes the increased involvement of Sector Education and Training Authority (SETAs) in higher education and training institutions instead of private sector service providers, and to clarify their role as facilitators of training and development of the skills of the workforce.

To this end, the department will in February sign a service level agreement with SETAs aimed at changing attitudes towards Further Education and Training (FET) colleges by getting students in these centres learnerships and ensuring that they are accommodated in the labour market.

Nzimande further expects all major government infrastructure programmes to take on trainees in order to develop the country’s skills base.

Public comment

The department will, from January until the end of April 2012, engage in a series of consultations with stakeholders. Copies of the green paper can be accessed via www.dhet.gov.za.

The public is invited to comment, and written submissions on the Green Paper for Post-School Education and Training can be e-mailed to Mr Zakhele Hlongwane at hlongwane.z@dhet.gov.za.

Those with no access to e-mail may send hard copies to: Mr Zakhele Hlongwane Director: Office of the Director General, The Department of Higher Education and Training, Private Bag X174, PRETORIA, 0001.

The closing date for submissions is 30 April 2012.

Source: BuaNews