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Education department gets EU funding to audit TVET colleges

The Higher Education Department has sourced funding from the EU to audit and verify infrastructure at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, Minister Blade Nzimande has said.

 

Nzimande revealed this in a parliamentary response when he was asked about the maintenance of the infrastructure of colleges his department had reported to Parliament.

He said the report on college infrastructure was not yet available, but donor funding had been secured from the EU to undertake a full audit and verification.

“Due to challenges experienced with regards to the appointment of a service provider to assist with the audit, it is envisaged that the process will recommence during the third quarter of 2017,” Nzimande said.

His comments came after he said last week his department did not have information on how many beds were available, and applications received for student accommodation at the colleges at the start of this year.

He had also said a survey was being conducted to determine the number of beds available at the colleges. This was happening as no renovations were taking place, or planned at the colleges, because there was no budget for additional beds.

The only construction for student accommodation of 248 beds was at Umfolozi TVET college, which was funded through the National Skills Fund.

In an apparent effort to find funds for colleges, the department and National Treasury were investigating public-private partnerships in order to provide student housing at the colleges.

This is despite a total of R1.794billion being allocated to 21 universities for the construction or refurbishment of student housing projects for the period between this year and 2020.

The DA has described the situation at TVET colleges as a “crisis” that needed to be addressed if equal education was to be realised.

“The lack of accommodation is a serious problem given the crucial role that colleges should play in ensuring that young people receive technical and vocational training,” the DA’s Andricus van der Westhuizen said, adding that lack of student accommodation fuelled protests at the colleges.

Subsidy allocation

Asked about funding allocated to colleges, Nzimande said colleges were required to set aside 10% of their subsidy allocation to cover costs towards maintenance.

“It should be noted that since 2009, no earmarked capital infrastructure allocations have been received from National Treasury,” he said.

“Colleges are therefore expected to prioritise for the maintenance of infrastructure from their subsidy allocation, which is insufficient to provide for the effective maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure.”

The department allocated R1.1bn in subsidy for infrastructure in 2015-16, R1.2bn in 2016-17 and R1.3bn in the current financial year.

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