Stakeholders warned against misleading Parliament committees

Monday, February 6, 2023

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation has warned stakeholders in the higher education sector about the seriousness of deliberately misleading parliamentary committees on the real state of affairs on the ground.

The committee sent the warning during its oversight visit in Ehlanzeni District Municipality in Mpumalanga on Friday.

The committee visited Ehlanzeni Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College and Mpumalanga Community Education and Training (CET) Centre, as part of its oversight on the higher education sector's readiness for the 2023 academic year.

During the visit in Ehlanzeni TVET College, the committee was informed that the college is ready for the 2023 academic year, with preparations started in 2022 for classes commencing on 18 January 2023.

The college noted that at one of its campuses, classes were hampered by the delay in results for students writing National Certificate Vocational exams. However, the matter has since been resolved.

The college said applications to study at Ehlanzeni College are fully online. However, if students struggle with the online application process, provision is made to accommodate in-person and on-campus registrations.

According to Ehlanzeni College, 91% of students are funded through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), while 9% are funded through the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).

Portfolio Committee chairperson, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, said the committee was concerned after hearing differing views on the state of affairs at Ehlanzeni College from the student representative council (SRC) and organised labour.

“The committee was also concerned about the filing of vacant funded posts and called for the college to speedily address this as a matter of urgency. The committee proposed the immediate creation of a stakeholder engagement structure that would include all role players,” Mkhatshwa said.

The committee was joined by Members of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature education committee members during the visit. The province committed itself to assist Ehlanzeni to deal with some of its problems so that it can function more efficiently.

The committee also held a meeting with Mpumalanga CET Centre’s regional office on its readiness for the academic year ahead.

The centre has 108 learning centres within the Ehlanzeni District Municipality. Some of the challenges it faces include insufficient funding to cover all its needs for effective service delivery and funded programmes.

The committee reiterated that a discussion is needed on the proposal to move CETs from Basic Education, and that the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) needs to be engaged to release unused buildings to CETs.

Some of the successes highlighted by the CET include the training of students in upholstery skills. However, the centre does not have its own facilities to train students.

The committee commended the work of the Mpumalanga CET and called for it to share its good practices with other struggling neighbouring centres. –