Parliament was recently made aware of the reality of thousands of students who were not given their certificates or that they are missing. On this, Minister of the department, Blade Nzimande said that he is ashamed that this problem was not solved during his term as Minister with backlogs going as far back as 1992.
In 2018, there was a backlog of between 250 000 and 300 000 certificates and this number has now been pushed closed to 0, says Manamela.
Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister of Higher Education has addressed the issue of students not having their certificates which prove that they have completed their studies. This certificate is essential when these graduates are job seeking and going to interviews.
An estimate of the total of graduates who lost employment opportunities due to not having their certificates could not exactly be given a number as Manamela says that they have no way of finding the number of graduates who applied and couldn’t get it.
He then continues to say that, “I think we need to dissect what the actual problem is. What we try and do is that there are students who try and write their examination and complete their qualification on time. Most of those students haven’t had the challenge of getting their certificates within ninety days upon completion”.
Manamela then points to those students who write exams during different periods and that all records need to be consolidated to have a proper application in place. According to the Deputy Minister, these students are some of those who have been having challenges as “you have to track records of four or five years, consolidate those into a qualification”. During this consolidation, he says the Department sometimes finds missing qualifications.
The Deputy Minister acknowledged that there are students who are frustrated because they have no access to their certificates but in order for the Department to help them, they need to submit requisite documents.
Students are therefore encouraged to go to the College where they wrote their exams and to present all their information from the day their qualification started to their latest educational history and then apply for a National Certificate from there. Should students meet the requirements to join the programme, the Department will then be able to submit the certificate within ninety days.
When asked why they are not able to keep record, Manamela responded:
The examination process in TVET Colleges are completely different than those of Universities or schools. Grade 12 learners write only one examination nationally. TVETs write close to 12 examinations on a yearly basis so firstly that means that we have a lot of data we have to deal with and consolidate. Secondly, the process starts from the College, gets to the Department and also involves the state information technology agency which is the service provider for the Department in terms of disbursing the certificate. It also involves the qualifications authority … it becomes kind of difficult to track the kind of work some students have done.
The Deputy Minister also said there were previous incidents where students misrepresented facts and find a way of writing all of their examinations without having completed the lower levels and these students then will not have the requirements to receive a certificate.
The South African Students Congress recently embarked on nationwide protests and declared a ‘National Day of Action’ to have TVET College issues taken more seriously. One of the issues the students marched for was for the Department to release students’ certificates.
Mail & Guardian released an editorial which would sum up the crises seen in the TVET sector and it boldly stated:
Before Nzimande or anyone in government thinks of telling young people to “choose” TVET colleges again, they need to fix this sector and make it attractive enough for prospective students to actually consider it.
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé