The Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture today questioned the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on the larger impact of its revised 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan (APP), especially as it relates to the targets set out in the 2030 National Development Plan (NDP).
The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Elleck Nchabeleng, said the NDP envisages, among other things, increasing the number of students eligible to study maths and science at university; and increasing the number of doctoral graduates per year. Mr Nchabeleng questioned whether these targets are still obtainable or whether it will remain a dream that will not be achieved.
Zooming in on the department’s plan to reduce the enrolment of students at TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) colleges from 780 000 to 680 000, a member of the committee, Ms Delmaine Christians, questioned the impact of this, not only on the NDP, but its immediate impact on the large number of Grade 12 learners who will subsequently not be able to enrol.
According to the department’s Director-General (DG), Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, achieving these targets might prove more difficult. He told the committee that the NDP forecasts economic growth of up to 6% and the targets set out therein are thus based on this and other projected growths. Unfortunately, he said, the economy has been growing at an extremely slow pace, notwithstanding the impact of Covid-19. While no department wishes upon itself any budget cuts, these are institutionalised by the National Treasury.
In terms of the enrolment of students at TVET colleges, Mr Qonde told the committee that TVETcolleges and universities are currently undertaking the development of enrolment plans, which will be informed by the resources available. He said the department is yet to be briefed on these plans.
Mr Nchabeleng said there are targets which could not be met due to the National State of Disaster, and most of the programmes could not be implemented. He nevertheless encouraged the department not to lose focus of the NDP, despite the setback caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Felicia Lombard
06 October 2020.