Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, message of support on the occasion of the SADTU National Congress
26 September 2019, Nasrec Expo Centre – Johannesburg
Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga;
SADTU Chairperson, cde Mogope Maphila;
SADTU Deputy Chairperson, cde Mabutho Cele;
SADTU General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke;
SADTU Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi
SADTU Treasurer, Lindiwe Motshwane
Officials of the Department of Higher Education and Training
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
First, let me express my profound gratitude for the invitation to take part at this, the 9th National Congress of SADTU.
Much has already been said about the significance of this Congress for SADTU, and indeed for the entire trade union movement of our country.
I however wish to say that, for me personally, this is one of the high watermarks of my engagements since I my deployment as the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology.
To take part in a gathering of this nature, is for me home-coming. So, I speak to you not simply as representatives of employees; nor merely as allies; less still as Government to the governed.
We stand before you fully conscious of the fact that, together, we spared neither life nor limb to ensure that South Africa is where it is today. We shared the trials and tribulations of struggle so that South Africa should be free.
The ideal of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa in which there is social equity is the mission and ANC and the Alliance. It is a mission that should continue to guide us, no matter how steep the road and how rugged the terrain in which we have to operate.
That the broad perspectives of the National Development Plan have become the property of the whole nation is thanks to the correctness of its content and the creative leadership collective that led to is drafting.
I am equally proud that organised workers have been and remain at the centre of efforts to define and realise national tasks. It is crucial that this should continue to be the case.
Otherwise, what is essentially a programme is to uplift the conditions of the poor, could easily be misappropriated to serve the interests of those who have all along benefited from the apartheid.
But today you also have to use, to maximum effect, the elements of political power that we have together achieved in struggle as we engage critically on issues affective the higher education sector.
In our endevous to provide access to Post School Education and Training opportunities, we want to develop a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path.
This we will successfully do when our Post School Education and Training sector has the capability to produce the necessary human capital with skills required by our economy.
We are therefore responsible for ensuring that the sufficient capacity exists in the post school education and training sector to produce sufficient numbers of high quality new teacher graduates for all education subsectors including Early Childhood Development (ECD) educators, school teachers, TVET and Community Education and Training college lecturers.
We will further align the SACE Continuing Professional Training and Development (CPTD) model in this regard to further capacitate our lecturers.
We are also currently in the process of institutionalizing lecturer capacity-building using funding from the skills levy system.
There are a number of pertinent issues that affect the lecturing staff within the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and the Community Education and Training (CET) college sector.
These relates to the (1) Professional and Regulatory body for lecturers and the SADTU Bargaining Councils.
Provisionally, whilst we finalise legislative framework, SACE will remain the professional and regulatory body for all educators including lecturers in the TVET and CET colleges. I will be workig with Minister of Basic Education to ensure that the relevant legislation is amended through parliamentary processes so that SACE provides its statutory functions to lecturers of the TVET and CET colleges.
The designation of a relevant Bagaining Chamber for PSET college lecturers has been a thorny issue in the various Bargaining Councils for some time now.
In an effort to resolve the above difficulties, the Department engaged with the General Secretary of the PSCBC for advice and to possibly speed up the resolution of the challenges relating to the appropriate bargaining structure until the parties agree to establish a new structure relevant to public colleges.
The above engagements with the General Secretary were informed by the fact that the PSCBC is empowered by the Labour Relations Act (LRA) to designate and vary the designation of bargaining councils in sectors in the public service.
Whilst we acknowledge that a lot has been done to transform the higher education system demography, there is a need and urgency to significantly accelerate transformation in the racial and gender profile of our academic and research communities.
I will shortly be receiving a report on what the obstacles are in the production of black and women South African academics in our institutions, and how to overcome such obstacles.
We also welcome the President’s decision to combine the Departments of Higher Education and Training together with Science and Innovation.
This strategic realignment will further open huge opportunities in the production of both knowledge and skills and significantly contribute innovation in our country.
In other words, the integration of DST and DHET under a single Ministry offers the country with a unique set of strategic opportunities to realign, reposition and project their joint capabilities in new ways.
The integration of DST and DHET under a single Ministry is not simply to ensure greater administrative efficiency or bureaucratic streamlining, but to drive the post-school knowledge and skills development imperative more decisively, more effectively and with greater transformational impact in society.
It offers the country with a unique opportunity to realign, reposition and project the joint capabilities of the entire post-school knowledge and production system at the core of the national development agenda.
My predecessor, Minister Naledi Pandor established the Ministerial Task Team on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which is aimed to provide critical policy advice on how our Post-School Education and Training (PSET) system should respond to opportunities and challenges presented by the 4IR, particularly on issues relating to curriculum development, science and innovation.
Its output will also be a crucial input into the work of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution presided over by the State President.
As this work is underway, the department is already developing a Skills Master Plan in response to the known skills demands associated with the 4IR. This plan will be complemented by a national list of Occupations in High Demand and the Critical Skills List.
To illustrate the fact that the 4IR is with us and its consequences are felt by both government, tomorrow there is a planned shutdown strike by organized labour in the banking sector protesting against looming retrenchments threatening the jobs of an estimated 40 000 employees, as an effect of what we can call “the penetration of the initial stages of the 4th Industrial revolution in the banking sector.
But how should we understand the 4IR – separating myth from reality, and self-fulfilling prophesy from political choices we can make about its applications to society? How can we best ensure that technological advances do not further widen and deepen existing social inequalities? What role can the State play in shaping trajectories of the 4IR to promote inclusive and sustainable development? What role can unions play in promoting skills and knowledge forms that facilitate transitions in our economy and society such that it benefits particularly, the poor and working classes?
Following the adoption of the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training in 2016, we have now just completed the National Plan for Post-School Education and Training (NPPSET), which will soon be released to give practical planning effect to the policy goals and objectives of the post-school system.
NPPSET is a consolidated roadmap for a more integrated, transformed, articulated and effective post-school system.
It is therefore my argument that SADTU must play an active role-players in shaping this new educational trajectory and discourse.
As a Department we also welcome the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s focus, on a national spatial development strategy based on systematic and planning around the forty-four (44) District Municipalities and eight (8) Metros of our country.
We aim to ensure that within the next 10 years there is no district municipality that will not access to a post school training institution.
This, in my view, would be a major development in the struggle to overcome the spatial legacies of under-development inherited from the apartheid and colonial system.
We therefore cannot carry out this work without your direct involvement.
The Department has also developed a draft policy framework dealing with Gender Based Violence for the PSET system in 2017, through the Higher Education and Training HIV and AIDS (HEAIDS) Programme.
The UniZulu Council expressed its concern that often historically disadvantaged institutions located in rural areas are not taken seriously and are often ignored when incidences of gender based violence and crime occur, whereas those in urban areas are in the national limelight.
I met with the Council and management of UniZulu on Friday to emphasise my support for this university.
I expressed our commitment to work with it and all other universities across the country, to find ways of dealing with the issue of campus safety and security.
I informed the Council that I had held a meeting with the leadership of Universities South Africa (USAf) on 13 September 2019, at which we agreed that USAf would work with the Department to develop a joint plan of action towards changing the culture of general violence, and gender-based violence in particular, on university campuses.
We agreed that this would include a process to gather information on the status of safety and security on campuses across the country to identify urgent matters to address at individual institutions.
This will include looking at infrastructure requirements for better security on campuses that could be funded though the Department’s infrastructure and efficiency fund.
I must, however, emphasise that infrastructure alone will not solve our problems. The problems of violence are much deeper and require all members of the university community, students, staff, management, and surrounding communities and businesses to work together.
In all of the initiatives that I have spoken about, SADTU is considered by the Department to be an important partner in this regard.
In order for us to ensure that all the efforts mentioned above truly transform our sector, SADTU can add value by amongst others do the following:
Encouraging its members to contribute to the development of new teachers through providing mentorship for teacher education students whilst they undertake the teaching practice component of their initial teacher education programmes.
Contribute to the induction of new teachers during their first years of teaching to enable them to make a smooth transition from university studies to teaching positions.
Contribute to the development of policy for teacher education.
Encourage its members to engage in research, including through postgraduate studies, that will help to build new knowledge for teacher education.
The Department also wishes to acknowledge the contribution that SADTU is making to strengthening teacher education in the country through its robust participation in the nine Provincial Teacher Education and Development Committees that have been set up and through its participation on the national advisory committee for the Primary Teacher Education Project which is working to strengthen initial teacher education programmes for primary school teachers.
Government is committed to strengthening and developing the PSET sector as an integrated continuum such that if offers seamless transitions from schools, colleges and universities in all directions.
We are also committed to strengthening and developing the PSET sector by investing in infrastructure to provide quality teaching, learning and research and innovation spaces.
Equipment and teaching resources; including a conducive student living and learning environment will also be prioritised.
We will increase youth and adult participation opportunities in the Community Education and Training (CET) College system to one million students by 2030.
It is against this backdrop that the growth and expansion of institutions within the CET College system is a strategic priority for the Department.
We are hard at work to ensure that we diversify our programme offerings for skilling the unemployed youth and adults in all our CET Colleges in-line with the National Policy on Community Education and the WP-PSET and to align the programme with the dictates of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In 2018, a national bursary scheme was introduced to support students from families earning a gross annual income of up to R350 000 per annum at universities and TVET colleges, to cover their full tuition costs, books and learner support materials, and to provide subsidies to assist with accommodation, living expenses, and transport costs where appropriate.
The bursary was introduced in 2018 for qualifying first-time entry students into public universities and TVET Colleges and has been extended to the 2019 cohort of first-time entry university students and second year students.
It will be phased in at universities over five years, with the new first-time cohort added each year.
By 2022, the scheme will cover all cohorts of students across the university system.
The scheme will support approximately 50% of the undergraduate student population at public universities.
The bursary is being implemented through the NSFAS. The substantial investment in poor and working-class students over the 2019 MTEF, amounts to R82 billion for university students and R20.4 billion for TVET college students.
Lastly, I would like to restate what I said during my media briefing on Zululand that as a Department we have not received any application for a Solidarity University.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Section 29, “everyone has the right to establish and maintain, at their own expense, independent educational institutions that:
Do not discriminate on the basis of race;
Are registered with the State; and
Maintain standards that are not inferior to standards at comparable public educational institutions.
It in the future we will receive such an application, it will be viewed in light of the Constitution.
It is also critical that I mention that currently, our legal framework for registering private higher education institutions does not permit them to be referred to as universities.
The Department is in the process of establishing the legal framework for the registration of higher education institutions as Higher Education Colleges, University-Colleges or Universities.
Once the new framework is in place, private institutions that meet the requirements and are registered as either one of the latter institutional types, may use the word “University” in their legal name. Currently no private higher education institution may use the word ‘University’ in their name.
The challenges that we face are many and they are daunting. But this is the price we have to pay for our victories. As in the past, we do have the will and the creativity to carry out our mission.
I am confident that this Congress will meet the expectations of your members and broader society.
I am confident that SADTU will be at the forefront of the successful implementation of the National Development Plan. Only then shall we be able to say that power is truly in the hands of the people.
I wish you all the best in your deliberations.
Long live SADTU!
Long live the Alliance!
Let’s Grow SA Together!