Honourable Chairperson;

Honourable Members;

Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Honourable Buti Manamela;

The Director-General of Department of Science and Innovation, Dr Phil Mjwara and senior management;

Senior Management of the Department of Higher Education and Training;

Chairpersons and CEOs of the entities;

Heads of our post-school organisations and institutions, and science councils;

Student and trade union leadership;

Invited guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Comrades:

Our National Council of Province Budget Vote Address comes at a time as we mark 45 years since the June 16 student uprising of 1976. We commemorate Youth Month through a theme linked to Charlotte Maxeke's 150th birthday anniversary, "The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society".

Malibongwe Igama lamakhosikazi! Roar young lions, roar!

Honourable Chairperson

Our Department of Higher Education and Training seeks to provide education and training opportunities to all South Africans and those who are out of school to acquire further education and skills they require.

Through our programmes we offer in our universities, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, sector education and training authorities (SETAs) and community education and training (CET) colleges, to cater for youth and adults in our system.

We acknowledge that the need for education, skilling and reskilling of our society is a joint and collaborative effort that requires all our spheres of government, as well as all key stakeholders to always work together in a commitment to build a better life for all.

In response to the negative socio-economic impact of COVID -19, Cabinet approved the strategy of the Department of Science and Innovation to drive a multipronged national vaccine production and development strategy to secure our nation's long-term pandemic preparedness.

Through the Department of Science and Innovation, we are working closely with Biovac, in which the state has 47% of shares, to increase the scope of public participation, and leveraging capital investment by domestic private and international vaccine players, to build South Africa's vaccine production capacity.

To manage the effects of COVID-19 in all our institutions, the Department of Higher Education and Training has since established a COVID-19 team comprising Universities South Africa, the South African Public Colleges Organisation, Higher Health and health experts to coordinate our sector response and collate institutional case management reports on this pandemic.

Working together with these stakeholders we managed to conclude the 2020 academic year and commence with the 2021 academic as per our COVID-19 risk adjusted strategy.

This team has also been replicated in all our institutions and includes students and labour representation.

Honourable members

As you might be aware, our department is a national department that does not have a fully established provincial or local footprint.

However, we are working to fully capacitate what was previously our regional offices responsible for TVET colleges and make them fully functional representatives of our Department of Higher Education and Training in provinces.

We are also exploring workable solutions for the coordination of all our science, technology and innovation interventions in all our provinces.

We participate through the District Development Model, through the Ministerial District Development Model initiative.

Through this model, we have officially launched a fleet of 10 roving District Campus Health and Wellness fleet mobile clinics at Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal.

These mobile clinics are managed by Higher Health, which is our agency responsible for health and safety of all our post-school education and training institutions.

The District Campus Health and Wellness fleet provides primary health care to underserved TVET and community education and training colleges, as well as rural and disadvantaged university campuses in all our provinces.

In order to align our skills development and innovation strategies much closer together and to facilitate an innovation-led, skills based, economic growth and development strategy, I am revitalising and expanding the Imbali Education and Innovation Precinct project as a pilot to explore and test an alternative modality of education delivery, based on closer multi-educational institutional co-operation, closer articulation, with science and innovation linkages.

Effectively, this means that we intend to integrate our universities, TVET colleges, SETAs and our national system of innovation in order to produce a well-rounded student who is ready to take up their positions within our economy and society.

The project is intended to be the first of three such precincts to be established as part of the new National Plan for Post-School Education and Training, with the next one in Giyani in Limpopo, where will be setting up a university campus as well.

One of our exciting projects is to expand and relocate the University of Zululand teacher training faculty to the former Zululand Parliamentary Precinct at Ulundi. We are also exploring offering culture and tourism studies at this campus as well.

The ANC government, working together with the University of Zululand, is currently in the process of conducting the feasibility study of this project, so that we can in earnest begin with the renovations of the current building and the construction of the new infrastructure to realise this project.

Through the Regional Innovation Support Programme, we are engaged in a concerted effort to increase our spatial footprint of innovation support so that innovation can enable localised socio-economic development.

We will be studying provincial growth and development and local economic development strategies to enable our department to better align its post-school and innovation-support interventions with the District Development Model.

To this end, we will be piloting technologies that facilitate service delivery to ensure appropriate technology deployment for waste management, water and wastewater management, housing, sanitation and energy provision, among others.

We will also use our Technology Stations Programme to deepen our provincial spatial footprint of innovation.

These stations will have stronger links to technical and vocational education and training colleges.

We are also expanding the rural living labs concept in each province in this current and the 2022 financial year. 

These labs will expand programmes aimed at equipping young people with 21st century digital skills for employment, supporting grassroots innovators to develop solutions that will help resolve some of the community challenges.

Honourable Chairperson

One of our critical interventions in our DHESI landscape is the Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Institutional Landscape (HESTIIL) Review, which has just been finalised and ably led by Prof. Ihron Rensburg. I will soon be releasing this review for public comment as part of strengthening the institutions and agencies supporting higher education, science and innovation.

I must mention that I regard post-school education and training (PSET) system infrastructure as critical for both teaching and learning for students, as well as for student accommodation.

Further, there is an opportunity for our built environment students to have the opportunities to participate in in the PSET infrastructure development process as artisans, interns and for their registrations with occupational bodies to be seamless.

To address the fragmentation that always existed in the provision of our PSET infrastructure, I have tasked the Planning Branch of the Department with overall coordination of all PSET infrastructure.

Equally, to ensure that we have strategic and technical support, I have appointed a team of technical experts to form part of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, MACI ('builder' translated in IsiZulu).

The sector has improved its spending on the College Infrastructure Efficiency Grant which now has reported a commitment and spend, as of 31 March 2021, of R601.7m (24%) and with the commitment of R589m in supply chain management processes, this represents 48% expenditure on R2.5bn.

A process is underway to assess the total maintenance needs of our colleges. However, at present we have identified approximately 50% of the demand which, when extrapolated, comes to R11.2bn.

In addition to the roll out of the maintenance of TVET Colleges, priority construction of new infrastructure is continuing within a downscaled budget as a result of the impact of the COVID- 19.

I am pleased to report that of the 16 sites which we started to construct in 2014, Thabazimbi, Nkandla A, Umzimkhulu, Graaff Reinet, Nongoma, Aliwal North and Bhambanana (Phase 1) have been occupied by their recipient Colleges.

Msinga and Kwagqikazi sites are scheduled for completion within this quarter of 2021/22, with Balfour and Ngqungqushe in the 3rd quarter of this year, and Greytown in the 4th quarter of this financial year.

In this financial year, there are a further three TVET campus sites which are under construction, that is, the Vryheid Engineering Campus, the Giyani Campus and Nkandla-B.

In addition, there is a co-funded project with Tshwane North and Tshwane South TVET Colleges with the People's Republic of China, which is scheduled to commence in the 3rd quarter of this financial year.

We also have established with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), a Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP) to centrally facilitate the construction of student accommodation.

Our aim is to address the acute shortage of student housing and accelerate the development of at least 300 000 beds over a 10-year period in order to provide the much-needed student housing infrastructure in our 26 public universities and 50 TVET colleges. However much more than this will have to be done.

We have completed feasibility studies for about 14 000 student beds as part of our SHIP Phase 1 developments, spread over six public universities.

Fort Hare has recently been completed and is one of the first institutions supported through the Phase 1 SHIP programme in the construction of their state-of-the-art student housing and student centre. I officially inaugurated this project on 31 May 2021.

As part of its 2 000 student beds development, Nelson Mandela University also completed 200 beds for its George Campus and is currently constructing 1 800 student beds at its main campus in Port Elizabeth, which is expected to be completed in December 2022.

North-West University and the University of the Western Cape are currently under construction, with 2 700 and 1 700 student beds, respectively, expected to be completed by the end of the 2022 calendar year.

There are additional 5 500 student beds included in the SHIP Phase 1 developments targeted for the University of Limpopo and Sefako Makgatho University, which are at mature stages of funding and due to start construction shortly.

Phase 1 SHIP developments enabled an investment of about R3,5 billion, including the DBSA commitment of R1.6 billion debt funding for 12 000 student beds.

Phase 2 SHIP developments comprise about 24 000 student beds in 12 institutions (six universities and six TVET colleges) in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the Western Cape, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and the Free State.

Feasibility studies for these 12 institutions are under way and scheduled for completion by September 2021, with construction of these 24 000 beds planned to start in the year 2022.

We are also working with my other entity, the CSIR, to develop a tool aimed specifically at greenfield student housing projects, to determine the optimal cost per bed.

This will also include the use of innovative green solutions such as energy and water efficient technologies, proven commercialized alternative building materials/technologies that are climate or environmentally friendly and which can be locally sourced.

The tool will be used by any university or TVET college to cost their prospective student housing projects.

Honourable Members

Our sector education and training authorities (SETAs) are getting more agile and responsive to our skills demands of our economy currently and preparing for the post-COVID-19 situation.

We have re-licensed our SETAs to provide decent opportunities for youth and adults through education and skills development initiatives.

We produce 15 106 artisans annually, with Gauteng leading at 6 252, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 1 977, Mpumalanga at 1 686, the Western Cape at 908, Limpopo at 812, the Free State at 682, North West at 504, the Eastern Cape at 473, and the Northern Cape at 248, with 1 564 not specified in terms of their province.

Our top 10 trades, which are very much associated with the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Programme, by order of priority, are Electrician, Mechanical Fitter, Diesel Mechanic, Plumber, Millwright, Welder, Boiler Maker, Automotive Motor Mechanic, Fitter and Turner, and Rigger.

We will also continue to prioritise work-based learning opportunities through revised service level agreements between the Department and all our SETAs, especially by increasing the number of unemployed learners participating in learnerships.

To further promote skills development, we have also entered into a joint initiative on promoting skills development with the German government.

This partnership seeks to help South Africa to build a modern, high quality and agile skills development system aligned with our needs in the 21st century.

Underpinning such skills development will be an apprenticeship based TVET college system similar to the dual system in Germany.

This project will see more of our youth absorbed into workplaces, while getting the requisite technical skills, in a meaningful partnership between the PSET system and industry.

In conclusion, I remain grateful for the support and the exemplary leadership provided by President Ramaphosa and my colleagues in Cabinet.

Gratitude also goes to my wife, my staff in the Ministry and to the Executive Management of both the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Higher Education Executive Management Committee, as well as the staff of both the Departments, the boards and executives of our entities, and everybody who contributed toward the achievement of our mandate as the Department.