Cape Town - Projected enrolments at further education and training colleges (FETs) have exceeded expectations, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande
said on Tuesday.
"Over the past two years, enrolments in FET colleges have been rising dramatically," he told the National Assembly during debate on his budget vote.
"In 2011 we had projected a headcount enrolment of 359 000 in all programmes, but the actual headcount enrolment reached 437 060, exceeding our projections by 24%."
This year, a further increase to 550 000 enrolments was expected.
Over the three-year medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) period starting in 2012/13, R15bn had been set aside to ensure increasing enrolments in FET colleges, as they were built to become the institutions of choice.
The department aims to have 4 million enrolments in FET colleges and other non-university post-school institutions by 2030.
A number of factors had contributed to a growing demand for a college education among the youth.
One of the principal reasons was the bursary amounting to 100% of fees for all those with a family income of under R122 000 a year. In 2011, 165 273 students were awarded bursaries.
Another reason was that the career advice campaign was starting to have an effect.
Nzimande said a review of the funding norms for FET colleges to ensure adequate resourcing of the sector would soon be undertaken.
"We need a national funding model that is effective and responsive to our national goals, as well as (to) the individual needs of colleges."
In this financial year the department would implement a performance agreement system for FET college principals to ensure greater accountability and delivery of high quality college programmes in line with economic development priorities.
"We will also ensure that all vacant management staff posts are filled with greater urgency."
One area identified as the weakest link in FET colleges is their financial management and human resource management capacity.
"As part of building this capacity, we are to ensure that every college has a chief financial officer, as well as ensuring that colleges have qualified human resource practitioners."
The SA Institute of Chartered Accountants has agreed to provide accountants for a period of two years to assist in setting up effective accounting and financial management systems in all colleges.
Of central importance to the improvement of the colleges is the revision of their programmes.
A review of the national certificate (vocational) has just been completed.
"As I mentioned last year, the national technical education Nated curriculum is outdated and requires updating.
I am happy to report that Umalusi and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) have started a revision of the N3 curriculum and the QCTO has undertaken to revise the N4-N6 curriculum," Nzimande said.