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Community colleges for quality education

Written by Albert Pule and Gabi Khumalo
Young people and adults who did not finish their schooling will have a chance to do so at one of the newly established community colleges across the country.

The new colleges will be established to cater mainly for youth and adults who do not qualify to study at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and universities because they did not finish school. Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said the community colleges would be modelled by grouping together clusters of adult learning centres, with government strengthening their infrastructure, staffing and programmes.

“They will be provided with adequate infrastructure and a critical mass of full-time staff, and will be expanded by adding new campuses where this is necessitated by increasing enrolments and programmes,” says the White Paper for Post School Education and Training.

According to the Minister, the community colleges will cater for a population that is not included in the post-schooling environment.

Currently, South Africa’s Public Adult Learning Centres cater for about 300 000 individuals which, according to Minister Nzimande, is not enough.

Speaking at the welcoming ceremony for about 38 000 new staff members that will work at the colleges across the country, Minister Nzimande said technical and vocational education and training would primarily target youth and adults who had not completed school or never attended school.

The new institutions will not operate in isolation.

“Although they will be public colleges, they will be able to enter into partnerships with community-owned or private institutions such as church-run or other education and training centres,” said Minister Nzimande.

They will build on the current offerings of the Public Adult Learning Centres in order to grow vocational and skills-development programmes and non-formal programmes.

Formal programmes will include the General Education and Training Certificate and Senior Certificate programmes currently offered, as well as the proposed new National Senior Certificate for Adults and occupational programmes funded by Sector Education and Training Authorities or the National Skills Fund.

“The community colleges should draw on the strengths of the non-formal sector – particularly its community responsiveness and its focus on citizen and social education – in order to strengthen and expand popular citizen and community education,” according to the White Paper.

For more information visit: www.dhet.gov.za