Joint Statement by the Minister and DG of Higher Education & Training 30

The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr B E Nzimande, and the Director-General Prof Mary Metcalfe have agreed that the DG of DHET will leave the Department before the end of April 2011.

The DG was asked to establish the DHET and a solid foundation in this regard has been laid.

The Minister wishes to thank the DG for the sterling work done.

The Minister is confident that the work of the Department will proceed with vigour and urgency as the Department takes forward the urgent tasks of addressing the major challenges the country faces in establishing an effective and responsive post-school education and training system of quality.

The Minister and the DG wish to dismiss the media speculation of the 17th of October 2010 of allegations of impropriety on either party.

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30 thoughts on “Joint Statement by the Minister and DG of Higher Education & Training

  • herbert Mawodyo


    Thank you Andreas Velthuizen  and Glenda Wendy Shuttleworth you drove my point home

    If everyone thinks the same the world becomes developmental and concept of Full Employment of Reources can be achieved leading to a mature audit of the UN Millenium Goals 

  • Andreas Velthuizen

    Everybody, all stakeholders and role players, should be focussed on praxis and facilitating critical reflexion as part of the required integrated competence. It should be ebmedded in all institutions and practices. The SETAS should be servant-leaders in their sectors. Universities should be creating new critical theories to serve sustainable development, using industry and the people as the living laboratory to move theories to practice and the creation of new realities. Off course they should cooperate. However, they need to break out of the entrapment of sectoral interests and hidden agendas to achieve mutual understanding. Maybe too much to ask, knowing our people.

  • herbert Mawodyo

    Setas are sectorial or industrial classrooms
    Universities are classrooms of theoretical development
    They should collaborate but not mix
    Two different goals altogether – Practice versus theory

  • Andreas Velthuizen

    Unfortunately, Catherine, to keep politicians out of education is impossible (unless you refer to educators with political motives) and not the case in any educational system in the world. Why should we be different? The elected politicians (good or bad) were given a mandate by the people in this young democracy to lead to the benefit of those who elected them. What we hope for is that the political and other leaders in education support each other and lead in the interest of our children and not according to a personal ideological agenda or the corporate interests of educators who cling to their outdated world views.

  • Andreas Velthuizen

    Thank you Wessel, you provide some valuable insights. Obviously we had different experiences from the history of eduction in our country, but a fact that remains is that most people were excluded from quality education and opportunities. Unfortunately efforts to redress these disfunction failed, mostly because not everybody bought into the changes for ideological reasons and not practical reasons. A good example is outcomes based education, which I experienced as a very positive way to ensure opportunities for all and not just the elite. Unfortunately most of the teachers from the previous regime did not want to abandon their position of power and elite status to accommadate those who according to their warped perception do not have the “intellectual capacity” to become somebody. In some cases these psuedu “educators” even sabotaged change efforts when they found that the facilitation of learning requires hard work and skills and that their own training and attitudes fell short.

    If the factor of educactors not buying into the system is combined with the fcators of a lack of management and leadership skills on all levels and the continuous effort to insert failed ideologies such as racism and communism into the system there is no hope. The only hope is an education system based on internationally accepted principles of good education, allowing for the unique conditions in South Africa, driven by visionary leaders, able middle-level managers and experts towards a complete innovation of a system that serves all South Africans, and especially the generation of tommorrow.

  • Wessel PIETERS

    On Andreas comments:
    Dysfunctionality lies in the system of processes that are either dysfunctional in themselves or not aligned with the legislation or the legislation is dogmatic and not pragmatic, and not in personalities.
    The fact that the government of the day whether NP or ANC or DA means that they are completely responsible and accountable for the allocation of resources and quality of resources, guidelines and eventually the system of processes. This happens all over the world like that and to “blame’ the NP with rot is just looking for somebody to blame. It is a fact that Bantu education did a far better job in terms of literacy and numeracy performance than the present system, and shows without much controvey that the present education sytem is the worst in the SADC region if not the world. Why? In my opinion because the education technocrats were sidelined in favour of politicians like Bengu and Asmal and their struggle friends (not education technocrats). For instance (Bengu with 35 children in a class teaching 6 -8 years old children in non-mother tongue languages) and (Asmal – Outcomes based disaster and how on earth can you merge a university and a techikon into one university when the objectives and culture of the seperate organizations are and must be different. This is crazy but the whole cabinet approved these policies and there was no debate on the change. Asmal just resigned overnight – pretty much like Mary.
    For the rest you make good points that the political tasks are oversight and general policy and guidelines. Unfortunately the implementers were sidelined so that the privileged few are from the ANC cadres who received struggle benefits. If you do not belong to the party then you are send to Siberia. Why are the communists so welcomed in the government if the world knows they promoted and supported a dysfunctional philosophy?
    On Bernadette favouring Labour as the custodian of skills development:
    Skills = knowledge (education) + applied knowledge in the workplace (experience).
    This means appropiate education and a period of pupilage in the workplace as was done with artisans prior to 1994.
    Today it means a professional body or trade body (not trade union) that influence the content of the education cirriculae and guidance in the workplace (company – not Labour or trade union) about the practical work that needs to be objectively assessed as a portfolio of evidence and / or a trade test. This is therefore an joint alignment of educational aspects and the requirements of a trade body. Educations lies with Dept of Education and not with Labour. The trade test does not lie with the education minister, but he could take the lead how to organize it and perhaps convince Dept of Labour to strengthen the professional/trade bodies to fullfil their tasks. Before 1994, this trade task was done by Telkom and the likes of the old SA Railways as a public service (social responsibility) task. This model is now acknowledged as a good model and will be mirrored in the future new like in the “occupational-competence” policy.

    In summary, skills development is a multi-departemental integration of systems that requires a super minister that have a systems understanding and political will to create the environment for these aspects and interested parties to play their respective roles and achieve a coherent outcome. The DG’s and there deputies must likewise be aligned to a common understanding of objectives and performance that such an environments can delivery. This is the task of Blade et al. Do they have the intelelctual capacity to achieve that? and where to obtain the intellectual capability to manage that? I will not be surprised that Mary somehow got an understanding of what to do and had such fright that she just packed in. It is one thing to oppose Apartheid and blame the NP. It is another thing to run a country with diverse cultures and values especially in eduacation matters.

  • Andreas Velthuizen

    The current disfunctions in education have very little to do with personalities. The rot was already there in 1963 when I started school. The rot gradually crept into the system until quality education was eventually only for the selected few, mostly the wealthy and “high IQ” champions. The rest of the people were neglected. It was also under the complete control of the National Party government, whose tentacles strangled the whole of society, including education. The only technocrats who had any say were party members. We are reaping the fruits of that today. It was long before Mzimande and Metcalfe arrived on the scene (they are both politicians, by the way). Today we have a similar situation, only now anybody can challenge them in public (let us enjoy it while it lasts) and at least make a verbal contribution with the knowledge that education is too important for our people to be left to technocrats alone (“War is too serious to be left for generals”). Political oversight is part of a democracy, so is public servants taking responsibility for outcomes. There is no political correctness in it. This is democracy in action. If “technocrats” implement policies with the same energy that they disrupt society, and getting properly paid for implementation initiatives, things may improve.

  • Bernadette Perumal

    I think the time has come for Blade to realise his mistake. Skills development belongs to labour. i also hope he has a plan of action. The DG was his best bet in getting his house in order. Lets look at our country , our future, and lets build our education together. The question is ” who is going to replace the DG. It’s not about black, white, coloured or Indian. Minister Blade it is about our future, our education, our right

  • Denver Beech

    Is’nt Metcalfe the one of the architects of the National Certificate Vocational and there are strong rumours that NCV studies is phasing out or there is a rethink on the current curriculum structure.

  • Nkosinathi Thango


  • Catherine Anne Robertson

    I’m also sad. I had just begun to think we were getting somewhere. Maybe if we could get the politicians to leave education to those of us who live and love it, things will improve. Education has become a political football and that’s the tragedy. It’s a pity that Mary has to be the scapegoat, I agree. I didn’t pick up anything during her address at TVET, Sylvia, but she was rushed and rushing. Her statement that streetsweepers can become engineers was also a bit optimistic and idealistic.

  • Des Squire

    It will be very interresting to see if a trip to Cuba does in fact take place and what the cost will be. It is time the money being wasted on “Enlightenment trips” be saved and used for the purpose for which it was intended. The denials and lies have stopped and some of the truth has come out – let’s wait for the rest to surface. This is a sad day for education as Mary Metcalf is a force to be reckoned with in education circles and was doing all in her power to bring education back to where it should be.
    Yes, a sad day – but then most days are now sad days where squandering of financial and other resources are concerned.

  • Andreas Velthuizen

    I wish more DGs will follow her example. When a department is in a mess the DG is accountable. Lets just hope that this will bring innovation of the system, not just change. I especially hope that the marginilized, especially the poor people in our rural areas will now be given the opportunity to become part of the South African talent pool. Unfortunately, this can only be achieved by fearless political oversight to ensure that the elitist nature of the teaching profession is replaced with a culture of quality education for all, not just the economic elite.

  • Emmanuel Thanyani Malada

    I think this is a good lesson for people who do not want to change. The education system needs to be transformed because there is still a huge gap between few elite and many who cannot afford best education.
    I suggest that academics with new ideas must come to the front.

  • Wessel PIETERS

    Chris Reay is 100% correct. Politicians spent wealth and create entropy – disorganised chaos.
    The rest of the workers must do the work of government and be thankful to be taxed to the hilt.
    Maybe the formation of the Federation of Professional Management Organizations (FPMO) will have the insight to encourage and position professional bodies with standards so that the membership can benefit. Those that shy away from the preofessional bodies can go with Mary on the road to Nowhere.

  • Chris Reay

    Perhaps it’s the sinking ship syndrome…………Mary has seen the hole in the boat.
    All the more reason to get professional NQF level 7 and 8 course QA away from CHE and placed with the voluntary associations and professional councils asap. Heaven help the country in its need for maths and science improvement. Our government specialises in what I call entropic decline to natural chaos. It even sinks below mediocrity.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Now I’m thinking about the opening address that Mary Metcalfe gave to the TVET FET Conference on Thursday last week. (Reported on the skillsportal) Is there any clue there? There were a number of slides that she glossed over – on funding I believe – Cathy did you pick up any clues?

  • Klaas Riemann

    This is probably good news, bearing in mind that for ages she has been closely linked to the official education effort – which has been an unbelievably grand, spectacular failure. I was impressed with Blade when he started by saying that he wants to change the situation where 8 Billion Rand spent on education have been almost totally misspent.

  • Ian Webster

    Yes, Catherine, you’re right. Someone’s smoking something and someone has been fired!
    But I like Dumisani’s positive approach. You go for it!

  • Zalia Frosler

    What a blow, Can the politicians stay out of education so that the people with the political will can start fixing what is not working.!!!! You are playing with the future of our youth and economy!!!!

  • Wessel PIETERS

    We have paid billions and waited ages
    The sun will starting to exhaust it fuel in another 2 billion years. I am really optimistic that there will be success before then.

  • Gill Connellan

    Regardless of the reasons for the breakdown in communication in the department, this is a real real blow for skills provision and education in this country. We have been waiting for months and months to get a final decision on the SETA landscape and NSDS3, and there has been an impression created that there is a great deal of work being done behind closed doors. This news leaves us with the feeling that the delays in announcements are due to factors other than the planning for delivery of a highly functioning results-oriented department.

    The DG has been a refreshing change from the bureacratic stumbling and fumbling that we experienced when skills development was under the jurisdiction of the department of labour. She has always been available to enagage with stakeholders and has provided us with sound inputs and feedback on the proposed strategies and deliverables of the department. I am not sure how the Minister is going to replace Mary Metcalfe given that there is a dire lack of experience and competence to deal with skills development and higher education challenges at a time when we are experiencing the highest levels of unemployment (especially amongst the youth), and the lowest scores in mathematics and sciences in all recorded countries around the world. Gill Connellan – Chairperson Association for Skills Development Facilitation in South Africa.

  • Arrie Venter

    I agree to the previuos comments…..three sides to the truth….but then it is the same with the SETA’s no organisation and a lot of imcompetent people working there!!!!! Welcome to our world!!!!!

  • Ian Webster

    So, the media was spot-on in its “speculation” that she was going to leave, but “obvioulsy” way off base when it suggested there was a souring of the relationship and she would be forced to quit.
    Amazing how the media gets part of a story right then just makes up the rest.