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Community colleges a second chance for school leavers

Written by Samona Murugan
South Africans who did not finish school but want to gain skills and attend college will soon be able to do so.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has announced the creation of community colleges - new institutions that will address the education and skills gap for South Africans who never attended or completed school.

“Our post-education system will now cater for those who obtained seven As in matric and for those who never went to school but who also want to acquire a skill,” the Minister said.

The introduction of community colleges will make a significant difference to people who never attended schools and give them a second chance, he added.

The community colleges are just one of the means through which South Africa’s higher education and training system is set to be revamped in terms of the White Paper on Post-School Education and Training.

The White Paper sets out strategies to improve the quality of and access to post-school education, as well as provide training opportunities for the youth.

Improvements to the system set out in the paper include upgrading the quality of programmes offered Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, which will soon be renamed Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, and providing more support for students.

“We want to revamp our current education system to not only provide access to education at institutions, but to also ensure that all institutions provide high quality education,” said the Minister.

Partnership between universities, TVET colleges and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas) would also be improved.

The new system would not be a dead end for students who completed their qualifications but would allow students to improve on their qualifications without repetition, he stressed.

The department also plans to do away with short courses that were costly but did not lead to any meaningful qualification and work placement. More emphasis will also be placed on practical training.