Honourable Minister and Deputy Minister
Honourable members, and the people of South Africa, we must vehemently reject the notion which seeks to depict the ANC government as a government which does not provide for the poor. We must also reject the notion which depicts universities as institutions which should operate as ivory towers. The developmental state theory should not only be limited to the capacity of the state to direct economic activity but also its capability to shape social institutions, such as our education system to contribute to the process of socio-economic transformation.
The ANC in its 54th National Conference in Nasrec resolved on the plight of young people and agreed that a skills revolution is an absolute necessity if we are to fully exploit their energies for the greater good of society. It is for this reason that the ANC remains committed to the implementation of free higher education for children of the poor and working class at all public universities and TVET colleges starting from the 2018 academic year.
This is a clear commitment by the governing party and the leader of society to ensure that the democratic dividend of creating a better life for all is realised. As the African National Congress we are cognisant of the fact the change we seek to create does not happen in isolation of other factors beyond our control, but under circumstance given and transmitted from the past. It is this reason we support this vote. We support it because through it we seek to change the condition of the black majority whoo continue to be excluded in the mainstream economy of our country, who constitute the lowest percentage of income and assets despite been the majority.
When we engage about the Post Schooling Education Sector we should also focus on the critical role of Community Education Training Colleges. These colleges are an important component of post schooling because our education articulation should create pathways for South Africans in different socio-economic contexts. Community Education Training Colleges are vital as they create opportunities for those who may be older that the school going age, who want to obtain various skills and to progress with their education.
CET Colleges require support in order to improve the quality of education. It is important to expand and popularise this opportunities as we still have a high population without metric or any post schooling. Our youth and older persons should not idle without work or learning.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will require new skills as it becomes important that we begin to train and skill South Africans with skills of the changing world through our basic education and higher education. We are pleased that our higher education curriculum is entrenching digital skills as a critical component of our education.
Honourable members it is important to note that the suspension of the skills levy as an economic relief programme by government has directly impacted the scale of the Skills Education and Training Authorities as the budget of the skills fund has been negatively affected.
The current retrenchment of workers at the South African Qualifications Authority is a sad situation which we sympathise with. The loss of employment under the current socio-economic conditions will only compounds the challenges facing our people. We also wish the new leadership of the entity well in ensuring the entity plays its role of ensuring quality education.
Honourable Minister the improvement of governance of Sector Education Training Authority requires strengthening. The fight against corruption and poor governance should be advanced in all fronts, and this requires implementation of various forensic investigation commissioned in entities and auditor general ercommendation. Implementation of consequence management and recommendations by relevant bodies is what will entrench good governance and accountability across the public service.
The democratic government have realised the establishment of new universities namely the Sol Plaaitjie University in Kimberley Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga. We welcome the fact that the two universities continue to receive their specific allocations to support their growth and sustainability.
This approach honourable Minister should be considered for Historically Disadvantaged Institutions. What will be important of the identification of specific institutional needs and strengths in order to ensure such support improves the outcomes of our higher education.
Honourable members there has been various concerns particularly from industries and sectors on the quality of graduates our system produces. The question is if the majority of the students who graduate in universities for example have the analytical and critical thinking skills?
Is our higher education system producing graduates who will address unemployment by been creators of jobs?
This is the critical task of our current objective reality. The fact that our country remains one of the most unequal society in the world.
We welcome the feasibility studies on the establishment of the University of Science and Innovation to be established at Ekhuruleni in Gauteng. This university will positively contribute in focusing on innovation and the changing world. Ekhuruleni as an Industrial hub will be enhanced by this university and focus on supporting the domestic economy and efforts of increase Research and Development.
The decision to amalgamate Higher Education and Training and Science and Innovation has demonstrated to be strategic, as it enables institutions of higher education to have a strategic alignment with the department of science and innovation.
It is important to note that the pass rate amongst NSFAS supported students is higher than the general rate, this is tremendous progress in ensuring good performance for the disadvantage. This is the impact NSFAS plays and we should continue to support it. The socio-economic conditions of students has a direct impact on the performance of students.
Honourable Members we need to encourage the youth to swell the higher education sector to improve their opportunities to alleviate poverty.
Our society more than before, during this phase of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan requires skills in order to ensure the task of reconstruction is supported by relevant skills aligned to the governments economic priorities.
Reconstruction of the economy requires the development of skills of the changing world.
Honourable members, the implications of not developing skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the fact that as a nation we will continue to be users of technologies rather than developers of technologies. Our capability as a country should be evaluated on our ability to be involved in the productive side of the value chain. If we do not develop innovators as a nation we will always adopt foreign inventions and thus boost other economies.
When the digital economy constitutes a significant component of the GDP of our country, it will mean that the ownership of the digital economy will be foreign and for the privileged minority.
The ANC Support this Budget Vote 17 of Higher Education and Training. The department has demonstrated the primacy of education in transforming society due to the many graduates who live in better conditions.