The EFF Student Command is to take up the plight of thousands of students at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges who have not received their certificates from the Department of Higher Education and Training for the past ten years.
The EFFSC has joined the Congress of the People (Cope) in a renewed call for the government to issue and investigate the backlog in the release of certificates for TVET students who are struggling to get jobs because they had no qualifications to prove it.
The EFF said they would embark on a shutdown campaign targeting the Department of Higher Education to highlight the problem of students and the entire TVET colleges sector.
Yesterday EFFSC national spokesperson Mangaliso Sambo said the campaign would be launched on 20 September. “We want to shut down the department because the TVET sector is failing to fulfil its purpose,” Sambo said.
Sambo condemned the department which it said throught its lack of action on the matter stifled the development of students who could not contribute to economic development due to their inability to get jobs.
Out of a total of 236 000 outstanding National Vocational certificates, some 233 000 were released by the department in April last year covering all the 50 TVET colleges. Despite the fact that for the last several years, the department had been encouraging young people to opt for TVET college studies so as to increase their chances of being employed, the backlog that went back as 2007 is yet to be cleared.
“We believe that this is being perpetuated at the top. It goes in line with the delay to pay the funding due to students at the colleges. This could result in the privatisation of TVET colleges by the same government and that would put the poor students in a disadvantaged position,” Sambo said.
“The department is failing to uplift the TVET education sector and that makes it impossible for these students to get the employment they deserve,” he said.
This week, Cope urged parliament to act to ensure that the certificates, some delayed since 2010, were issued and distributed to their owners. A large number of TVET college students had been waiting for their certificates and many were unable to get employment due to lack of certificates as proof of their qualifications.
Cope chief whip, Deidre Carter, speaking in parliament this week, described the situation as a “crisis”. She said the delays were hampering the ability of many youth to find gainful employment and in many cases some students were subjected to exploitation in the workplaces because employers refused to acknowledge their qualifications because there was no requisite certificate to prove it.
Carter said the problem had caused anguish and hardship among the former TVET students, some whom claimed to have been waiting since 2007.
“And despite reassurances that the decade-long backlog had been attended to, we continue to receive multiple reports from frustrated, anxious and angst-ridden students and families alike. Is this what one should expect from a caring and people-centred government?” Carter said.
Carter, who is also Cope deputy secretary-general, also said the non-issuing of certificates was contrary to the requirements of Chapter 10 of the Constitution that espoused values and principles regarding a high standard of professionalism, efficiency and a development-orientated and accountable public administration in the country.
The matter was recently raised in parliament by principals affiliated to the South African College Principals’ Organisation (SACPO). The organisation approached parliament’s portfolio committee on education raising concern about the state of affairs regarding the certificates backlog.
EFFSC’s Sambo said the plight of TVET colleges was also exacerbated by the demand by many employers for job seekers to first get artisan training and qualifications before they were hired.
“Many students are unable to get the artisan status because many of these artisan training centres are privately owned in places like Eskom, Sasol, Transnet and so on,” Sambo said.