Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges are seen erroneously by some as inferior to university tertiary institutions.
Yet the recently released fees commission report recommended that TVET colleges become "institutions of first choice", and that they should be fee-free for all.
But the numerous challenges facing TVET colleges such as leadership, funding and infrastructure are well documented.
Most TVETs are a disgrace - they are so important to future of SA yet treated like 2nd rate institutions with poor facilities & teachers.— Don Fraser (@donscot23) November 13, 2017
"One of the biggest challenges for this fifth parliament is the need... to build a vibrant TVET college sector capable of absorbing millions of unemployed youth and providing much needed skills to the economy," said the then-Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, during the budget speech vote in the National Assembly earlier this year.
The National Development Plan (NDP) identifies TVET colleges as an important part of addressing skills shortages in the country. The NDP expresses the goal of training more 30,000 artisans per annum by 2020 to improve the country's economy.
A vibrant TVET college sector could do the following for the country:
1. Cover the critical skills gap in South Africa
TVET colleges could help address the skills shortage in South Africa. The country needs skilled mechanics, electricians, carpenters, welders and boilermakers.
The colleges could also help prepare students for careers in industries like tourism and hospitality, primary agriculture, health, information technology and computer science.
My baby brother studies at a TVET college. He isn't looking for a job. Jobs are looking for him. Stop sleeping on TVET colleges. They equip their students with what industries need - skills.— Amy (@Amanda_Aphane) November 13, 2017
2. Be a good fit for students who are more practically inclined
TVET colleges specialise in imparting specific professional, vocational or artisanship skills, although courses have both theoretical and practical components. So if one is looking for a hands-on approach to learning, TVET could the better option. Arguably, this enhances employability.
When i was doing matric in 2013, I was looking down on TVET Colleges, told myself that i will never attend college, but changed my mind in 2014, did mechanical engineering there, now am also doing electrical engineering there, don't be fooled colleges are not that bad.— HumbleZakes 🐯 (@Oscar_Rabs) November 13, 2017
3. Offer a second chance to students who want to finish school
You do not necessarily need matric to study at a TVET college –– you need to have successfully completed Grade 9, or be at least 16 years old.
This could bridge the gap for students who dropped out of school for various reasons, and now want to complete their studies. It could also open the door to a university education.
For example, some universities accept students from TVET colleges with a National Vocational Certificate (level 4), which is equivalent to a matric certificate.
Tvet Colleges are not for slow or less smart people. Indaba yokuma ekhoneni ayiphele— Dumezweni Ndweni (@NdweniJourno29) November 13, 2017
Skills available there are scarce in SA#FeesCommission
However, it's clear that for the above to happen, a lot of work still needs to be done to get TVET colleges to the point where they will be a viable option for all, regardless of socio-economic status:
We need a re-evaluation of tertiary education in SA & skills colleges need to be given respect they deserve. Colleges need to work more closely with industry & corporates to provide essential skills.— Don Fraser (@donscot23) November 14, 2017
The (public) TVET colleges have low quality sadly. It's like government's plan to keep "township kids" busy in a crèche of higher education.— Sbu Mpungose (@SbuMpungose) November 13, 2017
Where do these artisans from TVET work? Every mega project in SA is done by foreigners: Moloto rail, Nuclear, Medupi,Stadia. @SakinaKamwendo— Free King Dalindyebo (@Spiwo) November 14, 2017
We want free, QUALITY education. You know very well that most TVET do not provide quality education. In other words you are saying all those who do not afford uni must go to TVET. Such limitations paused on you black child! We are very far from free.— IG: Siviwe_Boyce (@chumisasiviwe) November 13, 2017
But we never get our certificates and Diplomas and never get to graduate in TVET's..I've been waiting for my diploma for 3years now— Faithless Insomiac (@DefacedPicasso) November 13, 2017