Wednesday 22 May 2013

Minister of Higher Education Budget Speech - Summary & Highlights

The Minister gave his annual Budget Speech on 8 May 2013. You can read the speech in full here. Below is a summary and some selected highlights.


The speech shows the momentum that DHET is gaining in its chosen focus of building the FET and Higher Education systems to give greater access to the poor and to move towards more effective relationship with the country's economic needs. This is a massive task and will probably only bear fruit in 10 - 20 years time at the earliest. Perhaps this is why the Minister mentions 2013 as the 60th anniversary of the Bantu Education Act, and points out that the democratic government has had only 19 years opportunity at reversing the damage of these and other apartheid laws. Given that the majority of this country still live in unacceptable poverty with little hope of improving their lives, and nothing to lose through crime, revolution or anarchy, it is a focus that everyone should support. Employers and industry should still stand up for the importance of workplace training as the DHET is not focusing on what are comparatively well-resourced constituencies at this point.

Upcoming changes

Look out for the upcoming changes mentioned in the budget speech:
  • The change in name of the public FET colleges to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges
  • A new funding framework for the TVET colleges and public adult learning centres that will draw from the Skills Development Levy income
  • A "Policy on the Professional Qualifications for Lecturers in Technical and Vocational Education and Training" will be gazetted next month
  • The establishment of new Community Education and Training (CET) Colleges, absorbing the present Public Adult Learning Centres and providing new offerings to adult learners
  • A new comprehensive university of health and allied sciences in Limpopo
  • A new funding model for the public universities
  • Expansion of the free education approach from the public TVET colleges to the public universities


To simplify reading I have rounded off some figures below. View the full report at the link above if you want the precise numbers

General highlights
  • 2013 marks the 60th Anniversary of the Bantu Education Act which systematically broke down human capital of black South Africans
  • The DHET's budget this year is R34,3 bn, an increase of 8,6% on last year's budget
    • This excludes Skills Development Levy income which was was R11,4 bn last year and is expected to be R12,4 bn this year
  • A million youth leave school every year, looking for entry to the workforce or further study 

Workplace training
  • The DHET has now established a dedicated Unit on Work Integrated Learning Partnerships and Innovation
    • This is headed up by Chief Director Zukile Mvalo who can be contacted on 012 312-5208 or
    • "The unit engages with employers in both the private and public sector as well as with SETAs in order to promote and institutionalise work integrated learning"
  • The new SETA Grant Regulations came into operation on 1 April 2013  - we will be covering the impact of these regulations in a later post on this bog
  • The National Skills Fund is now annually spending what it is receiving in funding (for the first time ever). All of the historic reserves of the Fund (R7 bn) have now been earmarked for spending
    • This expenditure is "for improving infrastructure and programmes for expanding capacity and improving quality in the production of skills in engineering, medical and veterinary sciences, renewable energy, various trades and rural development"

The public FET sector
  • The public FET Colleges are soon to be renamed "Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges"
    • 657,000 youth enrolled in TVET colleges in 2012
    • R17,4 bn set aside this year for the TVET colleges
    • 187,000 of these students financially supported by DHET via NSFAS
    • R2,5 bn set aside for infrastructure expansion and refurbishment of TVET colleges, broken down as follows - 
      • R2 bn for expansion of student enrolments
      • R365,5 mn for building institutional capacity
        • This is directed by the FET College Turnaround Strategy of 2012 which focused on building college capacity in management, governance and leadership, financial management, human resource management, teaching and learning, as well as student support services.
        • It includes a South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) project to appoint 48 Chartered Accountants as Chief Financial Officers at FET Colleges 
        • Another SAICA partnership is the appointment of 20 Human Resources Specialists to support clusters of colleges to set up Human Resource systems, procedures and policies
      • R192 mn for upgrading equipment
    • A ministerial committee will be established to look at the funding of the TVET colleges and public adult learning centres, from sources including the fiscus and the Skills Development Levy
    • FET College staff are now under the authority of DHET (not their provincial governments) since 1 April 2013
      • A Policy on the Professional Qualifications for Lecturers in Technical and Vocational Education and Training will be gazetted next month
    • Community Education and Training (CET) Colleges will be established and will absorb the present Public Adult Learning Centres
      • CET Colleges will have additional facilities and staff and expanded offerings to provide vocational or community oriented programmes to adult learners
      • For more info on the CET Colleges click here to view the report of a task team which made recommendations for the community colleges 

The university sector
  • In the university sector there was a 12% increase in undergrad enrollments, and 11% increase in graduates, a 26% increase in Masters graduates and a 15% increase in Doctoral graduates
    • The two new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape will be legal entities by June and enrol first learners in 2014
    • A new comprehensive university of health and allied sciences, including veterinarian science and dentistry will be established in Limpopo,with Medunsa campus providing the foundation
    • DHET is looking at a fee-free approach to the university sector following its successful application of this approach in the TVET sector
    •  Review of Funding of Universities
      • This is in process and a new model will be presented by the end of this year
      • Universities that fund the poor can expect more funding
    • R575 mn allocated to teaching development grants to boost the number of graduates
    • R205 mn allocated to foundational programmes to improve the success rate of students from disadvantaged educational backgrounds 
    • R177 mn for research development to develop research capabilities of staff
    • R8 bn total investment in university infrastructure during the period up to 2015

Teacher education
  • Teacher education in all sectors (the pre-school, primary, secondary, FET and Universities) is a priority with an increase in teacher graduation shown below:
    • 2008 - 6,000 graduates
    • 2011 - 10,361 graduates
    • 2015 (projected) - 14,000 graduates
  • New teacher education colleges and campuses are being established

The National Students Financial Aid Scheme
  • NSFAS gets R5.7 bn
    • R3.69 bn for loans and bursaries to universities 
    • R1.98 bn for bursaries for TVET Colleges

Below is an embedded version of the speech in PDF format. Click the arrow in the square at the top right of the frame below to open the speech in a bigger window.

Secrecy Bill will strangle information flow - please vote against it now

Update  23 May - the petition has received over 50,000 signatures in two days

The internet has brought a revolution and a renaissance in access to information across the planet, having a special benefit to poorer countries which now have access to information and communication technology to help them leap-frog their development.

However governments (and corporate media) are increasingly acting as if they feel threatened by the rapid transparency and social action that the internet has made possible, and in many countries we are seeing a crackdown on transparency, journalists and whistle-blowers. Even in traditionally strong democracies such as the United States, this trend is visible in the crackdown against Wikileaks, the Associated Press and more recently Fox News. Now in South Africa we are days away from having a Secrecy Bill signed into law by President Zuma. Despite extensive lobbying the Bill still does not include the vital "public interest" clause which would protect journalists and whistle-blowers from 25 years in prison for communicating information that is vital to the "public interest". There is the very real potential here for corruption and incompetency to be removed from public accountability if this Bill becomes law.

Note: - I do agree that the media is in need of greater accountability and transparency. In my view the way to do that is through:
  • professionalisation of journalists and editors (a trend we are seeing across all occupations and professions at the moment)
  • self-regulation through professional bodies (also a growing trend)
  • assistance to new and emerging media organisations
  • strengthening of anti-competitive legislation and oversight of the media
  • not through blanket media laws that limit the public's access to information
The  quality of the decisions we make individually and nationally are based on the quality of the information we have available to us. Please vote against this limitation on the information you will have access to in the future. Why should someone else choose what you can know or not know about? Find more information and vote here.

Here is the body of the text from the Avaaz media flyer:


Dear friends,

At any moment Zuma could sign the Secrecy Bill into law -- one of the worst attacks on democracy and free speech since Apartheid. But we can force him to give the courts a final say, saving our free speech rights from the worst parts of the law.

The President has the power to send controversial bills to the Constitutional Court before they are enacted to make sure they don't violate our most precious freedoms. But he's only going to delay the Secrecy Bill's corrupt protections for his own government if there's a massive nation-wide outcry. We only have days to make sure he hears it.

He's already feeling the heat, but the bill could be signed any day now. Click below to call on Zuma to protect our constitution and follow the law. Then forward this email to everyone:

The Secrecy Bill would be bad news for South Africa. Really bad. Under it, anyone who looks at leaked classified files (like journalists reporting on government graft or everyday citizens accessing them online -- anyone!) could get up to 25 years in jail, regardless of how important the story is to the public. The bill that passed included important revisions, but they fall far short of what's needed: far too many officials still have the power to unaccountably classify documents, and the exemption added for whistleblowers has a major loophole that could make it all but useless in practice. Altogether, the law would be a major roadblock in our ability to uncover and investigate government corruption.

Citizens can bring the Secrecy Bill to court after it's passed, but the process takes a long time and could cost millions. Even so, many legal experts say that the law pretty clearly violates our free speech rights. Zuma has the chance to give the constitution the respect it deserves and have the court review the bill before it becomes law and starts doing damage.

The clock is ticking and we don't have a moment to lose. Let's push Zuma to respect the law before it's too late. Click below to sign and forward to everyone:

When the Secrecy Bill was first tabled in 2010 and brought to vote in 2011, Avaaz members joined the national call for freedom over secrecy, along with the diverse organizations behind the Right to Know Campaign. Now we have a chance to step in again and keep the pressure up on Zuma's attack on our democracy.

With hope,

Iain, David, Emily, Sam, Ricken, Alice, and the Avaaz team


Will the Secrecy Bill go to the Constitutional Court (Mail and Guardian)

Fury as Secrecy Bill gets nod (Independent Online)

What's still wrong with the Secrecy Bill (Right to Know)