Failed: SA's R8bn education plan

By donleffler, 25 November, 2010

Failed: SA's R8bn education plan
Three-year training programmes were meant to give young adults a new future. Instead, most of them have dropped out
Nov 7, 2010 8:46 AM | By PREGA GOVENDER


Government has spent more than R8-billion on a new curriculum for school leavers - but only 1194 of 26540 completed the three-year vocational qualification last year.


This is an injustice to those learners as the standard of the NCV level 2 course is higher than that of grade 10 Related Articles
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Further, the first group to successfully complete the programme at the country's 50 public Further Education and Training Colleges are battling to get into university because they studied only one language.

Now, barely four years after introducing the curriculum, a task team has been established by the Department of Higher Education and Training and has recommended an urgent review of the curriculum.

The department has called on colleges to limit the number of new students next year until the pass rate improves.

The National Certificate Vocational (NCV) covers levels 2, 3 and 4 of the National Qualifications Framework - or the equivalent of grades 10-12.

It was implemented in 2007 by former education minister Naledi Pandor, but was criticised from the outset for the haste with which it was implemented and the lack of adequately trained lecturers.

Almost all the FET colleges recorded very low numbers of students successfully completing the qualification within the minimum three years.

•At Ekurhuleni West College only 103 of the 1108 students initially enrolled completed the qualification;
•At Sedibeng College only 27 of 1600 students were successful;
•In addition, only one student from Ekurhuleni West and five from Sedibeng College gained university admission this year.
In a situation that is mirrored at the majority of the colleges, a total of 2880 are enrolled in level 2 at Ekurhuleni West, while only 281 are registered for level 4, illustrating a high drop-out or failure rate.

A similar situation exists at Sedibeng College, where 2507 students are enrolled in level 2 while only 372 have managed to progress to level 4.

Louise Smit, head of the FET unit at teacher union Naptosa, said many pupils who failed to cope in schools were simply "dumped" at colleges.

"Unfortunately, this is an injustice to those learners, as the standard of the NCV level 2 course is higher than that of grade 10."

Smit said most colleges were finding it difficult to attract qualified and experienced lecturers, while students who did obtain the level 4 qualification had "nowhere to go" as they were not regarded as "work ready" by the private sector.

Mafu Rakometsi, the chief executive of Umalusi, the exam quality assurance body, said it was too soon to judge whether NCV was a challenging curriculum, as it would take at least five years to assess it accurately. He confirmed that Umalusi was reviewing some of the vocational subjects.

"It is also clear that the quality of teaching and learning on offer at the different colleges has an enormous impact on how successful, or otherwise, the learning of the NCV has been," he said.

Anthony Gewer, the executive manager for education development at Jet Education Services, a non-profit organisation, said it was "concerning" that so few students completed the course: "You don't want to keep students in a system if they are not coping and not passing."

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