Below is the summary of the meeting of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, of the 08 March 2017. For a full record, members can click on the below heading “Higher Education and Training” or visit https://pmg.org.za/committee/64/
New SETA landscape
The Department of Higher Education and Training presented the National Skills Development Plan and Sector Education and Training Authority Landscape to the Committee and shared their developments upon opening the proposal up for public comment and the Department’s plans for transformation and integration of the post-school education and training system.
The Department had embarked on a journey to propose changes to the Skills Education and Training Authority landscape; these proposed changes included making Skills Education and Training Authority permanent,and standardisation of some processes, which the Department believed would lead to better efficiency. The proposed plan was aligned with the National Development Plan and these adjustments were inspired by the fact that the National Skills Development Strategy III and Skills Education and Training Authority landscape were due to lapse on 31 March 2016.The presentation highlighted the respondents to the proposal, the highest being business associations and businesses; the considerations that the respondents brought forward; and the justification for a revised National Skills Development Plan.
The Committee was not impressed with the proposal as it felt it had been changed and was completely different from the proposal presented on 15 September 2015, and encouraged the delegation to revise the proposal. The proposal was vague and seemed to do little to transform the post-school system, and also needed to provide a clearer accountability plan.
Members remarked that the previous presentation by the Department had a clear plan. The Department probably became scared after the 121 comments. It seemed that the Department had lost heart in its ambition to revamp Skills Education and Training Authorities. There were several problems within the Skills Education and Training authority, particularly that corruption was rife, patronage was a way of doing business, levy payers are sceptical about the use of funds and the fact that they are often raided by the Department to pay, the Skills Education and Training Authority underspend, and long periods of time were spent going into skills identification which has proven to be ineffective.
Members asked what plans would be put in place to ensure that Skills Education and Training Authorities such as AgriSETA are subsidised to help them to execute their mandate; about the status of the relationship between the Department and Skills Education and Training Authority that had taken it to court in the past. What was the stalemate? 21 Skills Education and Training Authorities are responsible for management and creation of skills development; however, they are ineffective because of poor governance and lack of planning and capacity. Members asked what processes could be put in place to ensure that those Skills Education and Training Authorities continue to function.
A Member said the Committee had not been presented with a solution to the severe skills development problems and backlogs in the country. The country is in trouble regarding the skills development system, and the Department has been quiet about real issues. He raised concern over the increase in corruption and was worried that an increase in the learners’ skills being developed would not be seen. Members asked for confirmation that the Department had everything in order with National Treasury regulations, specifically with whether the funding for students is in order.