Sihlalo namalungu aloniphekileyo, ...
English: ... fellow South Africans, molweni (good day). The Education Portfolio Committee has a massive responsibility through the Public Financial Management Act that requires the monitoring of the financial and nonfinancial targets relating to the post school education sector, which enforces the accounting officer to regularly report to Parliament about the usage of taxpayers money, by ensuring impact on the lives of young South Africans the department ought to serve to try to tangibly change their lives for the better based on the target set.
The DA wants to register its grave concerns about the poor performance of the Department of Higher Education Science and Technology in its first quarter which is reflective of entities such as National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, TVET colleges, Sector Education Training Authority, Setas, and some universities as students continue to protest. It is unacceptable that the department has:
Under spent by over half a billion mainly on infrastructure for TVET colleges yet buildings are falling apart, some are run down, unsafe with no on campus wi-fi and outdated workshops for students to be able to acquire skills. Furthermore, contributing to the factor is the slow audit report from the universities regarding the infrastructure spending of R480 million. The department only achieved six of 12 targets, essentially half which is reflective of the lack of implementation and questionable capacity only 42& of the budget being spent.
The low rate of producing artisans is very concerning especially in the context of the required skills development targets, the high youth unemployment and the fourth industrial revolution as loosely tossed around in this House. Of the 5 000 required, less than half has been produced. The certification backlog of the TVET graduates has increased to over 134 000 young people if not more to date, meaning more young people has joined the unemployment statistics.
What is more painful is that the day zero of the certification backlog has been postponed again beyond the misleading statements made by the Deputy Minister in response to my oral question on 20 November 2019. The day zero would be February 2020, yet we have 134 000 graduates sitting at home, can't find work. No targets were set for programmes one and three for this quarter however 72% of the budget has been spent on them. There is no strategic planning and development of the TVET curriculum review instituted in 2018 already to ensure that the courses offer developed skills to solve local problems relevant for industry, the job market, entrepreneurship and innovation.
We as the DA recommend the following to the Minister as the political principle of the department in line with our higher education policy. If you continue to listen and do not act, we are going to have more challenges.
Seta, CSIR, the Department of Higher Education and Umalusi should formulate a task team which will report quarterly about developing a seamless information and communications technology, ICT, process for the timeless production of certificates instead of talking about Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, but we can't even do our own ICT as government.
Request National treasury for the direct project management of infrastructure maintenance on TVET campuses to avoid under spending and political interference on money meant to be addressing dilapidated buildings, unsafe lecture venues, wi-fi and enhance practical workshop equipment to produce the skills that are relevant for industry entrepreneurship and innovation.
As part of alleviating the pressure and ensuring spending on infrastructure grants has significant impact on the lack of student accommodation and the shortage of lecture halls to meet demand, the department must work with Department o Public Works and Infrastructure and the Department of Human Settlements ahead of annual performance plans to identify unused government buildings for the purpose of student accommodation and more education spaces for TVET colleges and Community Education and Training Colleges, CETs,.
Setas are not adequately supporting the development of the needed technical skills by developing artisans through trade test centres which some are white elephants as is the case in my constituency in Bizana where Ingwe TVET College has a building that is standing without being accredited or developing any skills. Conclude the 2018 curriculum review to avoid spending R35 billion of taxpayers' money on outdated skills with nothing to show for it.
Lastly, poor policy and strategic planning is planning to fail as we have seen in this report. Therefore, this culture of setting annual performance targets by the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology based on box ticking than measuring impact on the ground must be stopped immediately.
The DA supports the report on condition that the above recommendations will be accepted to compel the Minister to get the department to perform at optimal level. Less talk more action, take the solutions siyaninika (we are giving you). Thank you so much [Applause.]