The Economic Freedom Fighters’ Student Command (EFFSC) plans to take up the plight of thousands of students at technical and vocations education training (TVET) institutions, who have not received certificates from the department of higher education and training for the past 10 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 have no means to prove their qualifications.
The EFF said they would embark on a shutdown campaign targeting the Department of Higher Education. EFFSC national spokesperson Mangaliso Sambo said the campaign would be launched on September 20.
“We want to shut down the department because the TVET sector is failing to fulfil its purpose,” Sambo said. Sambo condemned the department, saying the lack of action 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.
This is despite the fact that for the last several years, the department had been encouraging young people to opt for TVET college studies, in order to increase their chances of being employed.
The backlog that went back to 2007 is yet to be cleared.
“We believe 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 at a disadvantage,” Sambo said.
This week, Cope urged Parliament to act to ensure the certificates, some delayed since 2010, were issued and distributed to their owners. 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 students were subjected to exploitation in the workplaces because employers refused to acknowledge their qualifications.
Carter said the problem had caused anguish and hardship among the former TVET students, some who claimed to have been waiting since 2007 for certificates.
“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 asked.
Carter, who is also Cope’s deputy secretary-general, said the non-issuing of the certificates was contrary to the requirements of Chapter 10 of the Constitution, that espouses values and principles safe guarding standards of professionalism, efficiency and a development-orientated and accountable public administration.
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 about the backlog.
Sambo said the plight of TVET colleges was also exacerbated by the demand by many employers for potential employees to first acquire 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.