The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation is satisfied with preparations for the 2023 academic year at Capricorn Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College and the University of Limpopo. The committee is on a two-day visit to Limpopo province to engage with stakeholders within the university, TVET, and community education and training college sector.

The committee began its oversight with a tour of the facilities at Capricorn TVET College’s Polokwane Campus. The committee inspected the examination centre; the registration area where students who have completed their registration online can print their proof of registration; computer laboratories, hospitality workshops; and the electrical engineering and mechatronics computer laboratories.

The committee noted that the campus was built many years ago to serve as a technical college for white people. Despite their age, the buildings are in good condition and few of them require maintenance. The committee applauded the college for ensuring that administrative buildings have generators to deal with load shedding and is also busy expanding internet connectivity to cover buildings and lecture rooms that have no coverage.

The campus also has a clinic with counselling services to care for students’ mental wellness. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Ms Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, said: “We are pleased that the college has a clinic that caters for students’ physical and psycho-social needs.”

The committee further commended the University of Limpopo for the cleanliness of its campuses. However, much maintenance work still needs to be done to upgrade student residences. The committee welcomed both institutions’ plans to implement maintenance projects and new infrastructure developments and urged that they be completed on budget and on time.

Access to residences for disabled students remains a concern. However, the committee is aware of the challenges across the country in this regard and would like to see this trend addressed. Other institutions can learn best practice relating to access and care for the disabled from the University of Limpopo. The university’s Disability Unit is well equipped with staff and resources to support the learning of students with disabilities. The committee noted that students with severe disabilities are allowed to bring a family member to act as their carers to assist with bathing and cooking. There are also residences that are dedicated to students with disabilities.

The committee further called for the utilisation and repurposing of unused public buildings for education and training. The committee further called on the Department of Higher Education and Training, educational institutions and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to find available spaces or buildings that can benefit the college further.

The committee further called upon the Department of Higher Education and Training to assist colleges to ensure that institutions use their budgets effectively and efficiently. Whilst the institutions have established partnerships with industry, the committee is of the view that more should be done, especially by the TVET colleges, to ensure placement and absorption of its graduate for workplace learning and employment. 

All the stakeholders spoke with one voice confirming the work done to ensure that all systems are good to go in 2023. We wish the two institutions well and also implore them to ensure a capable workforce is created to equip South Africa’s economy with the skills it needs to address the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, said Ms Mkhatshwa. “We implore the institutions to continue to engage and resolve any outstanding issues that may be a threat to the successful commencement of the 2023 academic year.”

Jabulani Majozi
1 February 2023