Budget Vote 16 -
Higher Education and Training

 

By Hon A Mpontshane MP
 

National Assembly: 25 March 2010

 

Our support for the Higher Education budget is qualified by the following remarks;
 

1.             Entrance qualifications for University admission ;

In June 2009 the minister called for a revision of the university entrance requirements because according to him, the exemption rate of 18% was far too low. Does this imply that the Minister is asking for a lowering of our Universities' entrance requirements?  The IFP supports the notion that in order to have a world class tertiary education system there have to be certain minimum entry requirements, and we urge the Minister to work closely with his counterpart in the Department of Basic education in order to see to it that our high school learners are equipped with the skills necessary to succeed at a tertiary level.

 

If we look at Universities in general we note that they already have high drop-out rates between first and Second year degree courses, on this basis alone we cannot support the lowering of entrance requirements.

 

2.             Transformation

The Minister called for University curricula to become more "revolutionary" when he addressed the Nehawu meeting earlier this year. What exactly does the Minister mean by this statement?He also decried the fact that South Africa's universities were dominated by a neo-liberal approach. Is he advocating a socialist orientation for all universities to follow?

 

The IFP has always supported the notion of freedom of political thought and discourse within our educational institutions and society.  In South Africa we have an extremely vibrant higher education sector, with more than a million students enrolled in the country's 24 state-funded tertiary institutions: 11 universities, five universities of technology, and six comprehensive institutions. Many of our universities are world-class academic institutions, at the cutting edge of research in certain spheres.

In fact, according to the World Bank classification of Top Universities in Africa, South African Universities claim the top 7 positions with the University of Cape Town leading the pack. Both the Minister and the Department have a paramount duty to ensure that these high standards of tertiary education are maintained and even improved upon.  What is the Minister doing in order to address the challenge of ageing professors within our Universities as alluded to by the (CHE) Council for Higher Education?

 

3.             The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

The Department has done extremely well in this field but no success is final. It is in this vein that the IFP supports the Minister in his efforts to better the scheme through new initiatives eg The Review of the scheme of which there is currently a report which is now out for public comment thereupon.  The IFP is currently studying the proposals contained in the report and will make it's view's known in the correct forums .

 

4.             Graduates 

In the current period we are expecting 137000 graduates, the IFP would like to see this number increase closer to 200000 graduates per year and we hope that the Minister is setting similar objectives. Percentage pass rates for artisans trade tests have been between the 35 and 50% margins over the past few years. Wherein lies the problem with such a poor pass rate? And what is the Minister doing to address this?

 

Subject to the above reservations the IFP supports the budget.

 

 

Contact:
Hon A Mpontshane MP
083 441-6201