MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND INNOVATION, DR BLADE NZIMANDE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE NATIONAL CONCIL OF PROVINCE (NCOP) 2022 POLICY DEBATE VOTE 17, 02 June 2022

Honourable Chairperson;

Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Honourable Bhuti Manamela

Chairperson of the Select Committee on Education, Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, Mr Elleck Nchabeleng;

Honourable MECs;

Directors-General Dr Nkosinathi Shishi and Dr Phil Mjwara;

Leadership of the PSET and NSI fraternity;

Honourable Members

 

It is indeed my pleasure to address the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) today.

 

Much as we are a national function, in our work as the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation we have ensured that is grounded and aims to address concrete challenges in very concrete ways in our various provinces and localities.

 

Our skills training and our science and innovation interventions also seek to support and strengthen the District Development Model (DDM) which aims to improve provision of services and socio-economic development in each of our 44 Districts and 8 Metros.

 

Our goals and objectives are implemented through our new landscape of higher education, science and innovation (HESI), facilitiated by President Cyril Ramaphosa decision to place the Departments of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) under one Ministry.

 

This new landscape opens up the opportunities for both these sectors to contribute towards and inclusive economic growth path in our country that addresses the structural challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. 

 

This new landscape has now brought under one umbrella very crucial Post School and Training institutions and the Science and Innovation entities in driving the new HESI landscape and our economic growth and development agenda.

 

In the Post School Education and Training landscape, our DHET has played a hugely important role in providing access especially to the children of the working class and the poor to university, college and community education, and to other skilling opportunities.

 

Through NSFAS, students from poor and working-class background have managed to access college and university education. This year NSFAS will be spending a record R49bn to achieve this objective! Through the DHET, from 2010 we extended NSFAS to support TVET colleges for the very first time in our country. In addition, from last year we have set aside from the National Skills Fund, dedicated financial support to students in Agricultural Colleges who require financial assistance.

 

I am however concerned about the growth trajectory of our Post School Education and Training (PSET) system which is university centric, and with a rather smaller college sector.

 

At the heart of the challenge for PSET in our country is that of addressing the 4 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years who are not in employment, education nor training (NEETs). These millions of young people should ideally be catered for by a larger college system, with vocational education and training at the centre.

 

We are however determined to grow the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector faster and to enable subsidy and infrastructure funding that can support its rapid student enrolment growth.

 

We now have taken a decision to fund skills programmes offered by our Community Education Training (CET) colleges to the tune of R200 million. We are also reviewing our five-year enrolment plan for CET colleges and develop a sustainable funding model for this sector.

 

Honourable Members

 

Government has committed and is working upon a comprehensive student funding model for our universities and colleges. As part of the development of our Comprehensive Student Funding model, through the Ministerial Task team on student funding, we are engaging both the public and private components of the financial sector to come up with a funding model to support students in the ‘Missing middle’ income bracket and Post Graduate students who cannot secure funding from the National Research Foundation.

 

Our proposal for a comprehensive student funding model will be presented by July this year to Cabinet.

 

The public sector trade unions are, in addition, calling for a financial assistance model for dependents of public service to access university and college education. I believe this proposal by the unions must be closely looked into.

 

On the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) we are ensuring greater whole-of-government and whole-of-society innovation. We have already begun with a new institutional architecture to build better coordination, cohesion and direction in how STI resources are used.

 

Cabinet has already established an Inter-Ministerial Committee on guiding and driving the mainstreaming of STI committee, involving key ministries, and have been assigned by the President to chair This committee. The President of the Republic will host an annual STI Plenary which will include business, government, academia and civil society. This will greatly help to place the STI issues at the centre of our national developmental agenda.

 

Honourable Members

 

We have begun a process of crafting one country one skills plan – the Master Skills Plan. This process will promote a more efficient and effective mechanism for country-wide skills planning.

 

The master skills plan will draw on the information available in existing plans, such as the National Skills Development Plan, Human Resource Development Strategy, Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, ERRP Skills Strategy, National Plan for Post School Education and Training, SETA Skills Sector Skills Plan, Master Economic Sector Plans, and National, Provincial and Local Government Skills Plans.

 

Through the National Skills Fund (NSF) we supported 304 skills development projects across South Africa in 2020/21. 

 

Furthermore, 34 994 South Africans benefited directly from the NSF support during the 2020/21 financial year.

 

Eastern Cape accounted for the majority of beneficiaries (7 127 or 20.4%), followed by Gauteng (6 881 or 19.7%) and KwaZulu-Natal 6 374 or 18.2%).

 

In the same period, the number of beneficiaries who reported to have a disability was 704 (2.0% of the overall number of beneficiaries).

 

During the 2020/21 financial year, the NSF funds were mainly disbursed for TVET colleges (29.2% or R493.1 million) and Rural Development projects (29.0% or R490.5 million), while 22.6% (R381.3 million) was allocated for the bursaries and 18.6% (R313.4 million) for “other national priorities”.

 

I am delighted to report that the learners who benefitted through NSF projects were mainly youth aged 25 – 34 years old (16 536 or 47.3%), followed by those younger than 25 years (12 932 or 37.0%) and the lowest proportion were for adults aged 35 years and older (5 526 or 15.8%). However, our PSET sector caters for all South Africans, irrespective of age, to acquire further education or skill.

 

For this current financial year, the National Skills Fund (NSF) in partnership with the Presidency has allocated R100million towards the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative which will benefit 4500 learners in the digital learning space to get training in digital technologies.

 

The NSF has committed R200million to employment creation initiative between the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Employment and Labour through the UIF. This project will benefit more than 5000 unemployed youth to acquire skills in a variety of fields.

 

In my response to the SONA, through our SETAs, we have increased our targets for Workplace-Based Learning for the financial year commencing on 1 April 2022, with our annual target to 107 000.

 

We have also committed to have 15 000 TVET college graduates to be placed for   Workplace-Based Learning. This is 5000 more than SONA commitments.

 

We are also targeting 20 500 opportunities for apprentices, 22 500 for artisanal trades; 31 300 for those completing learnerships and 148 000 for learners entering into various other skills development programmes, such as digital skills, crop production and plant production.

 

Our artisanal learning programme includes an apprenticeship, learnership, skills programme undertaken at the workplace conclude with a trade test which is undertaken for an occupation that is part of the official list of artisan occupations as per Schedule 2 Gazette 35625, 31 August 2012.

 

Let me share with you the number of learners entering artisanal learning programmes by province:

 

Western Cape – 860

Eastern Cape- 359

Northern Cape - 216

Free State – 418

KwaZulu Natal – 1 316

North West – 782

GAUTENG – 3 859

Mpumalanga – 1 172

Limpopo – 967

Not specified - 353

Total: 10 302

 

About 12 613 of our learners who completed our artisanal learning programmes participated in the government Special Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) scarce skills programme in the 2020/21 financial years. They include artisanal skills in automotive mechanics, electrician, plumber, diesel machenic, boilermaker, millwright and welder.

 

Government has already spent vast amounts of money to support our youth through the TVET system, and therefore it is important that we assist them to transition to workplace through appropriate placements.

 

To this extent, we have established partnerships with:

 

  • Japan/Toyota on automotive industry training.
  • Germans on the dual system.
  • UK to address youth unemployment.
  • Huawei on ICT skills academies in 22 TVET colleges.
  • SAMDRA on repair and maintenance of mobile devices.

 

These agreements includes the provision of training for both TVET college students as well as to give workplace exposure to TVET college lecturers, so that they teach and train in what is currently needed by industry.

 

I intend to take forward building of partnerships with industry for work placement, and I will be holding a stakeholder Summit, including the NEDLAC social partners, to discuss and agree on further concrete actions to strengthen work placement of our students and learners.

 

Almost wherever I go across the country, our communities are yearning for expanded access to post school opportunities.

 

We are also reviewing and seeking strengthen our infrastructure development strategy for the PSET sector, with a special focus on student accommodation.

 

The total amount currently available for investment in infrastructure projects across the 26 universities during the 2022/23 to 2023/24 MTEF period is R7.584 billion with R2.953 billion going towards student housing for the delivery of 16 858 beds across 11 universities (15 898 new beds and 960 refurbished beds). Much as this signifies further progress, but it is clearly not enough, and will therefore seek partnerships with the private sector. We intend to secure some pilot agreements this year!

 

We have started with feasibility studies of the two new universities of Science and Innovation and a new Crime Detection University through the Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant (IEG) to the value of R6 million.

 

Through the Imbali Education and Innovation Precinct project, we are exploring and testing an alternative modality of education delivery, based on closer multi- educational institutional co-operation, closer articulation, with science and innovation linkages.

 

For this project we have allocated R90 million during the fourth Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant (IEG) cycles (2015/16-2017/18).

 

For the current MTEF, an allocation of R182.11 million has been recommended.

 

The next precinct to be established will be in Giyani in Limpopo, where will be setting up a university campus as well.

 

We are also expanding and planning to relocate the University of Zululand teacher training faculty to the former KwaZulu bantustan Parliamentary Precinct at Ulundi. We have set aside R10 million to cover planning costs and project initiation financial requirements.

 

We have invested about R146,9-million, through our Wholesale and Retail SETA (W&R SETA), in collaboration with the Sekhukhune TVET college to construct the Sekhukhune Skills Development Centre.

 

R131 million is for the building of the Skills Development Centre; R9 million is for capacitation of informal traders and construction of trading stalls for 45 informal traders operating in the surrounding areas and R6,9 million is to construct an access road into the Centre.

 

The W&R SETA is also establishing a skills centre at Reitz in Bethlehem in the Free State povince, in collaboration with the Municipality and Local Business.

 

The FP&M SETA has established a Skills Centre at Endaleni in Richmond in KZN in collaboration with uMngungundlovu TVET College to offer the following occupational qualifications: garment construction, furniture making, IT with free wifi for students, the shoe making centre of excellence and a newly established innovation hub.

 

The Health and Welfare SETA has a partnership with the UKZN to train lay counsellors for psychosocial services in support of those negatively impacted upon by the Covid 19 pandemic.

 

Our SETAs will also be playing a central role in supporting our CET sector in the massification of skills development in our country especially aligned with the skills strategy.

 

We are also in the process of establishing fifty-four (54) ICT laboratories for web design, end user computing in the designated 54 pilot community learning centres nationally, with funding support from the W&R SETA.

 

There is also important work we are doing upgrading of qualifications for CET lecturers, by offering an Advanced Diploma in Adult and Community Education and Training-Teaching. This project is part of capacity building supported by the ETDP SETA and offered through the Durban University of Technology.

 

In partnership with the South African Local Government Association, through the DSI, we have expanded the number of municipalities participating in the Municipal Innovation Maturity Index (MIMI), which is a digitalised tool that provides critical information on the innovation capabilities and readiness of local government to adopt new technologies. 

 

The first national report on the state of innovation and innovation practices in municipalities was launched last year. 

 

The target is to assess the innovation capacity of 60% of municipalities across the country by the end of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework period. 

 

The initiative has attracted the interest of private sector partners working on smart city initiatives and looking for bankable smart city initiatives in municipalities.

 

As part of the first phase of the Platinum Valley initiative, a feasibility study on the Hydrogen Valley was launched in partnership with Anglo American Platinum, Bambili Energy and ENGIE in October, 2021. 

 

The Hydrogen Valley Corridor covers three hubs with a high concentration of hydrogen demand and access to green hydrogen, one in Johannesburg Hub, one in Mogalakwena/Limpopo and one in Durban/Richards Bay. 

 

The study identified nine catalytic projects across the mobility, industrial and buildings sectors to kick-start the hydrogen economy. 

 

These projects will cost approximately $1,2 billion to implement.  In terms of socio-economic benefits for South Africans.

 

The implementation of the South African Hydrogen Valley corridor could create 14 000 to 30 000 direct and indirect jobs per year by 2030, and by 2050, potentially contribute $3,9-$8,8 billion to GDP (direct and indirect contributions).  In terms of platinum contribution, the study has projected a contribution of up to $70 million to the platinum industry in South Africa by 2030.

 

Our work to empower the youth and women also continues through the Grassroots Innovation Programme and Living Labs, which support local innovation across various provinces. 

 

Honourable Members

 

During the KZN Floods, the Department of Science and Innovation, responded to the disaster and provided critical input on water sources, satellite imaging for planning and to also inform transport infrastructure systems going forward.

 

The work spans from road and bridge infrastructure assessments to the Coastal vulnerability Tool and Index – which is an Interactive Decision Support Tool and Integrated Geospatial Flooding index for coastal cities and town development. 

 

I must indicate honourable members that all these capabilities remain readily available for all provinces to use in case necessity.

 

In conclusion, I call upon the members of the NCOP to support both the Department of Higher Education and Training and Science and Innovation initiatives aimed at ensuring that we fight against poverty, unemployment, inequalities and climate change. I also invite you to visit all the projects I have outlined above in various provinces!

 

We commit to work with all the provinces and municipalities in ensuring the we use our both our sector to response to the skills revolution and innovation capability of our people.

 

Thank you all

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