20 October 2009
The United States has partnered with South Africa to strengthen academic programmes, skills development and student support at 12 selected further education and training (FET) colleges in the country.
The US-South Africa Partnership for Skills Development, which brings together South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training and the United States Agency for International Development, was launched in Waterberg in Limpopo province this week.
The US$6.7-million (about R49.1-million) programme, which will operate over a three years at FET colleges in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, will be implemented by the American Council on Education and American Association of Community Colleges.
The programme will work to strengthen the FET college sector’s institutional capacity in student support services programmes. It will offer a wide range of professional development programmes for college lecturers, while providing consultative support through partnerships with the private sector and exchange opportunities with US colleges and universities.
The programme will build on past US and South African government cooperative efforts to strengthen the role of FET colleges to help train and provide employment opportunities for South Africa’s underemployed, particularly those under the age of 25.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to help build new bridges between the US and South African higher education communities, and in doing so, help South Africa tap into lessons learned from US community colleges to expand the learning opportunities for disadvantaged youth,” the American Council of Education’s Madeleine Green said in a statement.
Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education in the US, enrolling close to half (46%) of all undergraduates.
“We hope that this collaboration will help the South African FET colleges transform the way education and services are delivered to students and establish new relationships with their communities,” added the American Association of Community Colleges’ James McKenney.
In his State of the Nation Address earlier this year, President Jacob Zuma identified FET colleges as primary sites for skills development over the next five years.
In addition, FET colleges have been identified as key to broadening post-school education and training opportunities.
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