KZN plans to convert non-viable schools into vocational skills centers

Thursday, February 2, 2023

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube has outlined the provincial government’s plans to convert non-viable schools, with dwindling enrolment numbers, into vocational skills centers.

Dube-Ncube was speaking during the school monitoring visits in Umbumbulu in Umlazi District to assess progress since the start of the 2023 academic year.

The Premier is leading the provincial back-to-school monitoring programme to assess progress since the start of the 2023 academic calendar. The visits started on Wednesday, 1 February and will conclude on Friday, 3 February.

During the visits on Wednesday, issues related to the viability of schools with dwindling enrolment numbers came under sharp focus.

Dube-Ncube, accompanied by Members of the Provincial Legislature and officials from the Education Department, visited Ekudeyeni Primary School and Madundube Primary School in Umbumbulu, where they were armed with a checklist to evaluate the schools’ enrolment capacity, attendance of learners and educators, school nutrition programme, delivery of learner support material, and the involvement of the school governing body.

The Premier heard that there are approximately three million learners who have enrolled in over 6 000 schools in the province for the 2023 academic year.

Dube-Ncube said the provincial government is in discussion with the Departments of Education and Higher Learning and Training to discuss the possibility of converting some of the schools with good infrastructure into vocational skills centres to address the shortage of technical skills.

“Our view is that some of the schools that have good infrastructure but are unused or have been closed because of dwindling enrolment numbers must be converted into vocational skills centers to address the shortage of technical skills, as we are experiencing a shortage of technically skilled personnel that we need as a country to develop.

“The skills training required, among others, includes artisans, plumbers, electricians, construction and carpentry, so that the youth in townships and rural areas can be equipped with skills to start their own businesses,” Dube-Ncube said.

The Premier also expressed concern over reports of theft and vandalism at schools, and called on the community to demonstrate active citizenry and partner with police to protect school assets and buildings from vandalism, theft and destruction.

“The safety and security of teachers, school children and property are also the responsibility of communities who must work with law enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators to book. We cannot afford to keep replacing vandalised infrastructure when we should be focusing on producing top quality learners by building libraries and laboratories, so that we equip learners with the requisite skills for the digital economy,” the Premier said.

The issue of multi-grades, where a teacher teaches multiple grades simultaneously, was also raised.

The Department of Education said teachers who fall under that category, are capacitated and trained to ensure that effective learning and teaching takes place. –