The South African Students Congress (SASCO) embarked on nationwide protests today to have their concerns about TVET Colleges and it’s poor state heard and is now calling for a national shutdown of Higher Education institutions. The student organisation believes that improving the state of TVETs is the only way in which we will address the skills shortage and graduate unemployment.
In their efforts to make TVET Colleges the institution of choice, SASCO submitted 15 demands which they want the South African Government to urgently address. Some of their demands are for the TVET system are:
issue certificates immediately
build student accommodation
equal funding model for TVET colleges and universities
inclusion of more disciplines
The student organisation said in a statement that at Gauteng protests, the Presidency and Union Buildings unleashed SAPS on unarmed students and arrested 10 students as well. This they say is “The same government which has failed to defend the state property and itself at Senekal in Free State has today the audacity to fire at unarmed students but run away from racists who undermine the rule of law.”
Their response to this action is the following:
It is as a result of the arrogance displayed today by some Premiers and the Presidency that we have decided to render this country ungovernable and shutdown all institutions of Higher Education in this country until the President and his cabinet respond to our demands.
They are now calling on all SASCO activists to shut down all Higher Education institutions “until the President takes the voice of Students and Youth serious and give them the necessary attention”.
SASCO is also demanding that the 10 students be released immediately and for any charges against them to be dropped.
We shall not retreat until TVETs have risen and are institutions of choice.
This day of protests was what SASCO labelled the ‘National Day of Action’ and is supported by The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), The Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) and the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) was in the form of marches directed to the Presidency at the Union Buildings, National Parliament and the nine offices of the Premiers in provinces.
SASCO is encouraging students across the country to join in and march as well.
“The Day of Action is about ensuring that the level of investment at TVET Colleges is equivalent to the level of investment in University and making sure that TVETs become an institution of choice … We can’t have any TVET College in the country without it having a library, WiFi, up to date technology. They must ensure that when students study, they study with what is up to par with the market,” said a member of SASCO when speaking to eNCA.
He further explained that in places like Germany, successful individuals are TVET graduates who have sufficient skill sets to carry out those functions and wants South African TVETs to have a similar model.
TVET students also receive less from NSFAS than University students do. SASCO is therefore calling for NSFAS to fund TVET students as they do University students.
NEHAWU said in a statement, “We believe that an urgent transformation of the TVET sector is needed if these colleges are to play a serious role in providing education and skills to young people. Some colleges do not even have working Wi-Fi connections which is essential in this digital age.”
An issue the union sees is that Universities have received much more funding and attention from the Department than TVET Colleges have and this they say has “resulted in underdeveloped colleges that are not well equipped to fulfill their mandates”.
The national union calls for the revamping of the curriculum of TVET Colleges as it is outdated and does not prepare students for future employment. Infrastructure development must be prioritised as most of these colleges have minimal lecture spaces without laboratories and no accommodation for students. During the State of the Nation address President Cyril Ramaphosa made a commitment to build 9 new colleges, however, no work has been done in this regard up to so far.
The YCLSA believes, “Transformation in the TVET sector is a necessary struggle to honour the democratic principle for equality” and that funding for accommodation and meal allowances cannot be directly linked to the curriculum.
In a statement, the YCLSA stated that:
The view of the YCLSA is that creating an equal higher education society should be a simultaneous process to addressing the issue of accommodation in the higher education sector.
SASCO believes that the Department is not taking these TVET issues raised seriously and that the Ministry’s main focus seemed to be on Universities when the pandemic started. “There was no plan to salvage the academic year so this is what lead to most of the problems,” said SASCO.
“Eventually, at some point, they will have to come out and answer our calls because they’re genuine calls and need to be answered to. South African students need to be taken quite seriously.”
Gauteng province SASCO National Day. #DayofAction #SASCO29
Posted by SASCO National on Wednesday, 14 October 2020
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé