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Govt takes FET college investment further with big money

Written by Albert Pule
The Department of Higher Education and Training has set itself a target of registering one million students at Further Education and Training (FET) colleges this year and four million students at other non-university tertiary institutions by 2030.

Speaking at the launch of the FET Turnaround Strategy, Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said FET colleges should play a role in improving the levels of education, especially among young people, and also contribute to the country’s economy.

“FET colleges must claim their rightful place in contributing to driving the country’s economy, thereby reducing unemployment, especially among the youth. We are turning our FET Colleges into institutions of choice,” he said.

The department launched the turnaround strategy to deal with the challenges faced by FET colleges, which includes low graduate rates, the lacking qualifications of lecturers, poor financial management systems and the colleges’ ability to manage reliable examinations.

“The intention is to systematically address key challenges these institutions have been faced with over the years, to achieve sustain- able improvements in the quality of teaching and learning,” explained Minister Nzimande. Government has taken a keen interest in improving FET colleges, boosting its financial support for the colleges over the past few years.

The additional funding has resulted in increased enrolment at the 50 FET colleges across the country.

“Support to colleges has grown significantly over the last three years. State funding has increased from R3.8 billion in 2010 to R4.8 billion in 2012, representing a 26 per cent increase,” Minister Nzimande added.

Access to higher education and training for students who excel in their studies has also seen an increase.

Allocations for FET college bursaries grew from R318 million in 2010 to R1.75 billion in 2012, representing an increase of 440 per cent. Minister Nzimande said that while funding would remain a key priority for the department, it would also be closely tied to outputs.