Honourable Chairperson

Honourable Minister and Deputy Minister

Honourable Members

And the People of South Africa

 

The 2021/2022 budget vote is tabled in the context of a global coronavirus pandemic which has changed life as we know it. This virus continues to threaten our health, social and economic life.

 

Many of our universities and TVET colleges had to extend their schedules to complete the 2020 academic year. The pandemic has changed academic calendar periods as we know them.

 

The Post School Education and Training Sector has also been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The closures of institutions and the migration from contact classes to schooling virtually is the new normal imposed by the pandemic.

 

This required a quick transition particularly for historically Disadvantage Institutions despite them addressing the challenges effectively in other institutions whiles others faced challenges. For the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges, this were negatively impacted as they do not have the capacity and systems for distance learning.

 

Despite this limitation our TVET Colleges have been adapting and using different multi-modal approaches to ensure continued teaching and learning.

 

Higher Education and Training is critical in building the Human Capability to develop and sustain our nation. The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of knowledge and research in solving socio-economic challenges. We are not having hum capacity challenges in our health system in defeating the pandemic though challenges can arise in other areas.

 

Our investment in the human capability development through education and training will improve our efforts of creating an inclusive economy and to create the much needed economic opportunities.

 

The student protests in the beginning of the academic calendar did not significantly distract teaching and learning. We should commend the department for responding to the call of students in various campuses and institutions.

 

It is important that the department is responsive as it exists to serve all the people of South Africa.

 

Through strengthened relations amongst stakeholder in the sector, the stability of the sector was prioritised by all social partners.

 

We can characterise the critical challenges of students been that of access and how they succeed in the Post Schooling Education and Training sector. Access challenges can be due to not qualifying for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme who are mainly the missing midd who have debts with the universities or colleges.

 

This hinders them from registering. Issues of success is the availability of food, student accommodation, psychosocial support, transport, safety and all other factor which create a conducive environment for the success of the student.

 

This budget vote respond to both areas. Financial resources are never abundant as capitalism is an economic system of scarcity. The department has a responsibility to prioritise funds according to the mandate and priorities of the department.

 

Honourable members, the government priority of building an ethical and capable developmental state is a crucial, as incapability will result in government resources not been deployed efficiently to ensure services are provided.

 

Management in TVET colleges have different capability limitations particularly financial and technical skills. The inability of TVET Colleges to plan and implement infrastructure projects is a major area of concern. The budget allocation for infrastructure development has been reduced in this Vote due to the incapacity within TVET Colleges.

 

Honourable Minister, our success of expanding higher education can also be a source of crisis if we do not expand the capacity of Higher Education and the development of appropriate infrastructure to provide quality education. Technical support should be provided in order to ensure much needed infrastructure is delivered.

 

Infrastructure development is also a challenge for some universities, particularly Historically Disadvantaged Institution. This is also due to multiple interest that exists on university procurement. Procurement processes and policies in universities should be monitored to ensure compliance with established supply chain practices.

 

Universities with this challenges have seen an increase in project costs and in other instances poor workmanship. From a policy point of view Honourable Minister, we need to begin to talk about the financial management standards of our universities. It is important for the government to ensure that universities follow Public Financial Management Act because the PFMA is the policy which should guide spending of public finances. The rising incidents of corruption and abuse of university resources requires urgent attention.

 

Consequence management is one critical element of ensuring an ethical government, failure to ensure consequences exposes the financial systems to be continually abused.

 

Honourable members skills development is a backbone in ensuring that goods and services are developed. Globalisation subjects out domestic economy to a global competition. In order for South Africa a to industrialise and grow its manufacturing base, we need to ensure that training and education are linked through in service training and learnerships which expose students to various industries as part of their education qualifications.

 

Our skills revolution requires optimum support by the private sectors, the responsibility of skilling the people of South Africa requires all social partners. Every workplace should create space for young people who are unemployed to get exposure and work experience in order to find work opportunities.

 

If we don not ensure that our youth are in workplaces and education institutions, we will be contributing in reproducing poverty and inequality in our country.

 

The recent report by Statistics South Africa points to the rising unemployment in our country particularly among the youth. The increase in social ills and petty crimes in our country is due to idling young people. The youth are inherently full of ideas and energy and all social partners, from government, labour and business should contribute in creating a conducive environment to harness the potential in our youth.

 

We are pleased that there is a significant support provided by the department through the Sector Education and Training Authorities which support thousands of students across various economic sectors.

 

Entities which support the delivery of the mandate of the department should continuously be strengthened in order to ensure they bring about the change we seek to create.

 

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is one of the success stories of the ANC government. This entity contributes in providing financial assistance for the poor. It is designed to alleviate poverty and close the inequality gap in our country.

 

Honourable Minister this entity has I past been riddled with challenges of financial mismanagement and poor governance systems which necessitated the entity to be placed under administration. We welcome the appointment of the new NSFAS board and new Chief Executive Officer, we wish them well in strengthening the entity to deliver its mandate.

 

The entity should adapt to the changing. World of digital technologies and adopt digital technologies which address challenges such as non payment of recipients with their allowances to provide much needed financial assistance. Many students suffer during periods of non payment of allowances.

 

We should commend NSFAS for their continued role in expanding access to higher education.

 

The management of bad debt at university is what spurred this years student protest as this hinders students from registering in subsequent years. The development of models to support the missing middle should be expedited as this will drastically address the challenges of access.

 

The department was also affected by a budget reductions due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It is important to note that the department has tables its Annual Performance Plan which reflects the impact of the reduction as this has led to an overall decrease on particular targets by the department.

 

The revised Strategic Plan outlines the changes on some of the Medium Term Strategic Framework targets. R3 billion was reprioritised from the skills fund and infrastructure for universities which is not ideal. In this regard it is critical to encourage an increase in private financial bursaries and financial support to increase the number of student doing postgraduate studies. It is also important to improve investment in research in universities.

 

Private companies should be encourage to ensure that they have skill development opportunities for the youth. It is only through a combination of stakeholder contribution that we will be able to support the majority of students.

 

Our Post schooling system should contribute in combatting social ills such as Gender Based Violence and Femicide and other acts of abuse and bigotry.

The fight against social ill cannot be addressed by strengthening law enforcement agencies because there are various socio-economic factors which contributes to the social ills we have and prevalence of violence.

 

In order to change this social behaviour we need to inculcate the values of dignity, respect, dispute resolution and protecting the rights of others as contained in the Bill of Rights.

 

We welcome the allocation of R60 million over the Medium Term Economic Framework for GBV and Femicide. Mental Health has become a major issue in our society with many youth committing suicide. The work of Higher health should be strengthened to ensure easy access to psychosocial support in our higher education institutions.

 

Honourable members we should not despair due to the challenges which continue to affect the PSET Sector but we should continue to support the department in its endeavours to improve the conditions of the poor and underprivileged.

 

As the African National Congress we support this Budget Vote of Higher Education and Training.