PRETORIA: Government says significant progress has been made in turning around South Africa's adult education system with enrolment figures reaching 233 000 last year.
The Mid Term Review report, released by minister in the presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, also notes that the Department of Higher Education and Training had increased access to higher education programmes by expanding spaces and options available at FET colleges and universities.
The report, released in Pretoria on Friday, 1 June 2012, provides progress on the implementation of the commitments government has made. November 2011 marked the mid-point of the 2009-2014 electoral term of the current administration and in line with that, the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation carried out a Mid Term Review of government.
"This is an important milestone for increasing the employability of those without matric," reads part of the report.
It comes as Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande recently released a green paper on higher education which envisages more than 4.5 million students a year enrolling at universities, colleges and other post-school institutions across the country by 2030.
The move is part of the department's aim to shift learner focus from only traditional institutions such as universities and universities of technology to Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, according to the paper.
The Mid Term Review report details productive efforts of the past year to build a high-quality FET system to provide adult learners with the necessary skills that would enable them to play a part in the country's economic growth.
It reveals that a total of 30 117 unemployed learners entered into learnerships against a target of 17 531 for 2011. Similarly, the target for workers entering learnerships was exceeded, with 19 192 workers entering learnerships against the target of 13 243. More than 11 000 learners entered the artisan training system with 8 102 passing their trade tests and obtaining their trade certificates. The trade test pass rate increased from 41% in 2010 to 57% in 2011.
The report believes the introduction of the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) system in 2011 also marked a significant milestone in developing alternative avenues for skills development.
It resulted in the creation of opportunities for 164 713 additional learners at FET colleges. This was accompanied by various activities to improve the quality of service provided by FET colleges, including a review of curricula, distribution of learner and teaching support materials and training of lecturers.
"During the remainder of the term, there is a need for the department to evaluate whether these activities have been effective and whether the FET pass rate meets the 2011 target of 43% for level 4, as opposed to the 39% achieved in 2010.
"It is also important for DHET to evaluate the quality of the FET qualification and its demand in the workplace. To reduce the non-completion of qualifications and to increase the pass rate, concerted efforts are needed to support underprepared learners in language, mathematics and science," reads the report.
However, it was not yet clear whether the industry will be able to absorb the increased numbers of students graduating from FET colleges.
Authorities are pinning their hopes on the recent National Skills Accord between government, business and labour which includes a commitment by business to absorb FET graduates.
During the remainder of its five-year term, government would need to intensify its efforts to improve the quality of service provided by the FET colleges in order to ensure that graduates have the skills required by business, the report notes.
This should include improving the technical and pedagogical qualifications of lecturers, increasing requirements for practical experience for lecturers, and improving the governance and management of FET colleges.
Without these, suggests the report, the expansion plans of the FET sector will continue to be hampered by the quality of its product.
SAnews.gov.za SAnews.gov.za is a South African government news service, published by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). SAnews.gov.za (formerly BuaNews) was established to provide quick and easy access to articles and feature stories aimed at keeping the public informed about the implementation of government mandates. Go to: http://www.sanews.gov.za
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