Is There a Debate On the Future of FET NATED Courses 7

Bureaucracy with its redtape can leave people misinformed thereby taking decisions that are in sharp contrast to national aspirations in matters of national importance. I was informed by authorities at one FET college that the DoHE&T is in the process of fazing out FET Nated courses which will be completely non-existent come year 2015. The said authorities were pretending to be talking from a well informed platform and they have already started doing away with N4, enrolling only their students who need to repeat the level in order to advance to N5 next semester and those that are sponsored by companies for their education. From my on understanding, this issue is still under discussion and there is no decision yet to do away with these courses.

The argument by these said authorities of thois college was that the government was no longer subsidising N4 courses and next year they will drop N5 from susisisation untilyear 2014 when the government will halt susisdies for these courses completely. The college has therefore started downsizing its enrolment for N4 courses this semester. I was baffled by the decision as I had not heard or seen a document with a final decision on this matter which will undoubtedly condemn a lot of young citizens to a life of no hope.

Then it happened that on July 19 2010 on SAFM morning talk show, the guest was the Hon Nzimande the Minister of Higher Education and Training. I sent an SMS inquiring on why the department has seen fit to faze out these courses when there many students who are qualifyong for university entrance, can not get learnerships and jobs.

The Minister said the department has never taken any decision to do away with FET Nated courses but was looking forward to expanding this area to absorb all students who are currently facing a gloomy future in the streets. The Minister emphasised that the department is looking at making available more funds to FET colleges to enrol more students as well as aligning the whole school system, so as a learner can progress from high school to FET to University of Technology to University within a system with a synergy. A learner who has not qualified to enter university and university of technology will be accepted by an FET college which will act as a bridging instituion. If the student does well then the student will gain entrance to a university of technology, then the traditional university.

I wonder whether the department can be alerted that the confusion that the debate about the future of FET NATED courses is resulting in some colleges taking uninformed unilateral decisions that are retrogressive as far as the need for country to educate and skill tomorrows’ workers is concerned.

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7 thoughts on “Is There a Debate On the Future of FET NATED Courses

  • Catherine Anne Robertson

    Fikile, I can assure you that the FET college you are referring to was not taking unilateral or uninformed decisions. They were fighting for survival. The decision to start the phasing out process of N4 programmes was gazetted and signed by Dr Nzimande himself. In fact, the threat of the phasing out has been going on a long time, since the late 1990s. The timeline just kept changing. The bursaries to assist new N4 learners were stopped at the end of 2009 and we were told that the 80% of the programme fee that the government was contributing towards NATED N4 – N6 was going to fall away as from 2011. This would make the programmes unaffordable. Until very recently, we all believed that NATED would be gone by 2016 (the diplomas). The gazette clearly stated that three of the NATED programmes would phase out from the beginning of 2010 (Tourism, Secretarial and Agriculture) and the rest would follow in 2011. The college that I am at sent a desperate plea to the minister, begging him to stop the phasing out process while there was nothing in the place of NATED as it is wasteful to insist on a matriculant starting at Level 2 again with the NCV programmes. The decision to phase out the programmes was not rescinded to my knowledge, but the timeframes postponed the phasing out. And yes, I have also heard the minister on many platforms insisting that NATED must stay (but I think he was referring to N1 – N3). Many colleges took the decision not to have a new N4 intake for 2011 as a matter of fiduciary necessity as colleges would only be funded according to the number of NCV students in the system. The staff would therefore have to be deployed to teach NCV students and NATED would have to become self-funded and the staff paid out of student fees. However, a clear message was received from DHET that we were not allowed to drop our N4 numbers as this would not “look good”. N1 – N3 had been phased out some time ago, but certain colleges, with special permission, were allowed to continue offering them on the insistence of some Setas, in preparation of apprenticeships. What I understand is that the N1 – 3 has not been brought back per se, but that any college may offer them on condition the students are indentured in an apprenticeship. In other words, the student would have to be employed and the employer would send the student to the college as part of a trimester block release as part of the theoretical preparation for the apprenticeship and the employer would pay the college fees. There is no other way in which a student can do an N1 – N3. While everyone will agree that the NATED N4 – N6 are terribly outdated (they were last revised in about 1995), there is nowhere else that a matriculant who does not want to or who cannot go to a university or UOT can go if NATED is phased out. What I believe is going to happen (but all we hear are statements made by the minister but we are seeing no action to support this), is that the NATED programmes will be revised and will continue (which we would welocme) but only until the next election when the next minister will have yet another new focus. OBE with Min. Bengu, merging with Min. Asmal, NCV with Min. Pandor and now FET with Min. Nzimande. Please tell me if any other FET college has been a happy recipient of the promised funding that is going to be pumped into the FET sector to make it vibrant, responsive and all the other things we are supposed to be on the smell of an oilrag, as this has been promised for the last 9 months, but that is all it has been – promises, promises, promises, all from the political platform. I also heard that SABC interview and actually believed the minister and allowed myself to become excited (and grateful)! Well, Xmas is still coming.


    It is sad to experience what is happening on the ground level, when it is expected that people in the system are better informed when giving information to ordinary people down there. Research and follow up to be maximised, thanks Fikile.

  • Johan van der Merwe

    Hi Johnny,
    The NQF & NCV courses are very simular, NQF is the occupational route and NCV the academic route. For a person to qualify in a trade they still need to do their practical training if they follow the NCV route. The NQF qualification is done in 3 years where as the NCV will take approximately 5 years to finish including practical. They have phased out the NATED courses because it is not as thorough as the new courses. For a Grade 12 student without technical subjects this means he/she must redo Grade 10,11 & 12 on NCV level. They can of course ask for a RPL on subjects, but the fact remain that it will take them 3 years to complete the NCV EXCLUDING practical. My personal feeling is that it is fine putting students with a Grade 7 into the NCV course, but NATED or simular program should have remained for Grade 12 students to get a technical Grade 12 or NCV 4. This will be very simular to the old technical schools that supplied so many of our tradesmen. But, what do I know?

  • Dorothy Vieira

    Seems to be much confusion around this and other issues. A pity when one considers the work that needs to be done and the people who should benefit from such work. It sometimes feels to me that we lose the glorious intentions in bureaucratic red tape. More’s the pity. Thank you to all who work hard to bring clarity and direction to those of us who sometimes feel we are drowning! I appreciate your efforts and extend my gratitude to you.

  • Mervin Thomson

    My understanding is also that the National Diplomas will phase out in 2014. My latest reference is the Department of Education’s Examination Instruction no 6 of 2009: Repeal and Transitional arrangements for Phasing out report 191 Part1:N1-N3 (2001/08) and Report 191 Part 2: N4-N6 (2001/08). This document contains the phasing out dates for the various levels and referes to Examination Instruction 01 of 2007 and Government Gazette 31711 of 12 December 2008.