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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 12, No. 26, 18 July 2013

In this Issue:

   

Red Alert

SACP wishes Madiba a Happy 95th Birthday

The SACP takes this opportunity to join millions of South Africans and the international community in wishing Madiba a happy 95th birthday. The SACP, the entire country and indeed the whole world is saddened that Madiba is marking his day whilst in hospital. We are however all encouraged by the news of a steady improvement in his health.

Happy 95th Birthday Tata!

In celebrating the life of Madiba the revolutionary, our hero and icon, the SACP calls on all the opportunists to stop using Madiba’s name and legacy in vain. Yes Madiba remains a hero of all but his heroism is owed to his participation and loyalty to the revolutionary programme and movement under the leadership of the ANC.

 

Keynote Address by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr BE Nzimande, at the Mandela Day event

18 July 2013, Maluti Further Education and Training College, Qwa-Qwa

Programme Director
Members of the Executive Committee
Honourable Mayor
Councillors
Provincial Representatives
Sector Education and Training Authorities Chairpersons, Board Members and Chief Executive Officers
Further Education and Training Principals, Lecturers and Learners
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
And most importantly our learners

Dumelang

Education at all levels remains an apex priority of the South African government. Over the past 19 years considerable progress has been made in expanding access and success in post school education and training.

When I took office in 2009 we set ourselves clear goals of steadily building a single, coherent, differentiated and highly articulated post-school education and training system. Our primary objective is to tackle the structural challenges facing our society by expanding access to education and training opportunities and increasing equity, as well as achieving high levels of excellence and innovation. One of the highest priorities of my Department is to ensure that the large numbers of the youth are given post-school education and training opportunities that will improve their employability and sustainable livelihoods.

Some of the key achievements worth noting are:

  • Further Education and Training student headcount enrolments increased by 90% from 345 566 in 2010 to 657 690 in 2012.
  • Student headcount enrolments at universities increased by 12% from 837 779 in in 2010 to 938 200 in 2011.
  • The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) which is our primary tool to ensure access for poor students to post-school education has assisted 1.4 million students since 1991 with many NSFAS alumni now playing an important role in our economy and society.
  • NSFAS student bursary funding at FET Colleges has increased from R318 million in 2010 benefitting 61 703 students to R1.988 billion in 2013 targeting 222 817 students.
  • NSFAS student bursary funding at Universities has increased from R2.2 billion in 2010 benefitting 148 387 students to R3.693 billion in 2013 targeting 210 000 students
  • The expansion and strengthening of teacher education for all education sub-sectors, including pre-schooling, schooling and post-schooling has resulted in an increase from just under 6 000 new teacher graduates in 2008 to 10 361 in 2011.

The current administration, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, made a very pertinent decision when the Department of Higher Education and Training was set up to place technical and vocational training at the heart of the country’s skills and economic development programme. 

It is in light of this decision that my Department has been hosting the annual Nelson Mandela Day Career Festival at FET colleges such as this one, as a way of profiling this important sector, while providing much-needed career guidance to students. To date, we have held career festivals in Giyani in Limpopo, Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape as well as Taung in the North West province. This is one of my flagship projects because it targets rural and disadvantaged areas with the aim of actively directing young people towards becoming skilled and capable participants in the country’s economy.

It is during the Nelson Mandela Career Festival, now an annual event, that I spend my 67 minutes of work in honour of our founding President, together with individuals from our various institutions. Lack of appropriate career guidance is one of the major contributory factors to the high failure rate in our colleges and universities. Let us also use this opportunity to call upon all those who wish to attend college or university next year to ensure that they APPLY NOW!

This year, the Nelson Mandela Day is accorded an even deeper meaning by the ill-health of our elderly statesman uTata Nelson Mandela, in whose honour this day is celebrated worldwide. As the Department of Higher Education and Training, we honour this great icon by creating opportunities for all learners to access institutions of higher education and training.

There are currently fifty (50) FET Colleges in South Africa, four of which are in this province, with a total of 23 campuses and satellites. Maluti FET College is probably the best-known of these colleges because of its sporting achievements, but it is also important to acknowledge Flavius Mareka in Sasolburg, Goldfields in Welkom and Motheo in Bloemfontein. These four colleges have a total enrolment of 28 545 students.

As the Department of Higher Education and Training, we are of the view that education, training and skills development are central to addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment in South Africa. Through the FET College Bursary Scheme, we open the doors of learning for poor and marginalised young people, thereby increasing their chances of effective participation in the economy.

We have invested significantly in FET Colleges. The total allocation for FET colleges has increased from R3.8 billion in 2010 to R5.4 billion in the current financial year. In the Free State alone, the allocation was R257 million in 2010 and now stands at R365 million.

A significant investment has been made in the allocation of financial assistance to students via the DHET FET Colleges Bursary Scheme. When the scheme was first introduced in 2007, its allocation was R100 million. This year, an amount of      R1.988 billion has been set aside to assist poor and academically-deserving students to access programmes of study in FET colleges across the country targeting 222 817 FET students. This is no mean feat by any measure. In this province alone, an amount of R140.524 million has been allocated for bursaries. Through this support and strengthening of FET Colleges we are also wanting to turn these into colleges of choice and underline the fact that university education is not the only post school educational path to acquire skills and further education. In fact most of the mid-level skills we are short of (eg. Artisans), can only be acquired through FET colleges.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is without a doubt one of the most successful schemes established by government. For this financial year alone, I approved a budget of R5.7 billion for loans and bursaries to support the studies of at least 432 817 students. Many beneficiaries of this scheme have gone on to become well-respected professionals. The Director-General at National Treasury and Chief Executive Officer of NSFAS are fine examples of how far a poor but academically-deserving student can go with the help of NSFAS.

Regrettably, the financial aid investment in the future of our youth has not gone without its challenges. There have been cases of maladministration characterised by, inter alia, college officials using details of students to lodge false bursary claims with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, students providing false information in order to qualify for bursaries, college officials redirecting bursary funds meant for students into their own accounts as well as students falsifying their applications for travel and accommodation allowances. I urge you to act with integrity and honesty when applying for funding so that we can ensure that the limited resources that we have to support the gradual introduction of free education for the poor really do reach the most deserving students.

I would also like to urge capable young South Africans to consider entering the teaching profession at all levels from pre-school to university level so that they can contribute meaningfully to the education system in particular and society in general. Funding is available for teacher training through the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme managed by the Department of Basic Education. Full bursaries are offered to capable young people who are interested in serving the country in rural and poor schools.

The European Union Foundation Phase Teacher Education Programme has also allocated R141 million to strengthen Foundation Phase Teacher Education at our universities. This programme has yielded some tangible results. For instance, the number of universities involved in Foundation Phase teacher education has grown from 13 to 20. The headcount of enrolments for teacher education in the foundation phase has grown from 10 073 students in 2009 to 12 468 in 2011. The programme further supports the South African Journal of Childhood Education as well the South African Association for Research in Early Childhood Education.

We are currently investing in the construction of twelve new FET college campuses to accommodate the projected 1 million students within the FET sector. Last year, we announced an allocation of R2.5 billion rand into the upgrading of FET college infrastructure through funding received from the National Skills Fund. All of this has been done to aid you in your quest for a better life.

Sector Education and Training Authorities have a crucial role to play in building a successful and effective post-school system. Although they are constituted mainly by workplace-based role-players, SETAs must develop close working relationships with the major education and training providers, namely FET colleges and universities, particularly the public institutions. I am pleased that such relationships and partnerships are now starting to take place.

SETAs have developed excellent projects that address some of the key challenges faced by young people in accessing education and training opportunities in this province. Working together with government, FET Colleges and private sector partners, they have made, and continue to make, a significant difference in the national and provincial economy by providing funding, career guidance, workplace-based experience, apprenticeships, artisanship training, learnerships, and other forms of sector-focused interventions.

SETAs have also started the opening of offices in townships and some rural areas and I must commend the initiatives that SETAs have shown thus far, particularly with the number of other obligations that they are meant to drive and allocate resources. At the end, every citizen must benefit from training which is brought closer to where people are. Indeed, my Ministry will ensure that each and every Further Education and Training college has a SETA office by the end of 2014.

SETAs have a fundamental role to play in ensuring that Work Integrated Learning (WIL) forms part of their programmes and partnerships with FET colleges and Universities of Technology.

Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is a key priority of our department and public colleges are poised to deliver industry-relevant education and training through Workplace Based Experience (WBE) and exposure to learnerships, internships and apprenticeships. In partnership with the Swiss-South Africa Cooperation Initiative, we have drafted a workplace-based exposure framework, which will provide greater policy clarity on the implementation of WBE. I am informed that all four FET Colleges in the Free State have, through the support of the provincial government, established Student Placement Desks within their colleges. In the Free State alone, the number of students that have been placed in 2012/13 stands at 1 010. My office has also been informed about the commitment by the province to place some FET college graduates in provincial and local government offices.

In the overall statistics of the country, the Free State province ranks as one of the poorest of the nine provinces. The province also has the highest number of unemployed people having consistently recorded numbers above 30% when the national average is 25%. I call on young people in this province to work with us in turning things around by obtaining good grades that will enable them to gain entry into higher education institutions. Post-school education and training will pave the way for you to participate meaningfully in the economy. We will assist you, through all the programmes I have already mentioned, to obtain funding for your studies and arm yourselves with kind of skills that the economy requires. Scarce and critical skills have been identified in a wide range of sectors so I encourage you to speak to representatives of the institutions represented here and collect material that will help you choose the best careers. Scarce and critical skills are outlined in the National Skills Development Strategy III, New Growth Path and Human Resources Development Strategy programmes.

As I conclude, as part of Mandela Day the Department of Higher Education and Training will be offering 67 bursaries to the best performing students from the 2013 matric class in the Free State Province. In monetary terms, this will equate to approximately R14 million over three years of study. We also pledge an additional R9 million to support 200 learners who wish to enrol for learnerships. This is over and above the amount of R30 million already allocated to the expansion of Maluti FET College from the National Skills Fund.

Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed and continues to contribute to the success of this career guidance and counselling festival. Let us continue to work together for the benefit our people in honour of Tata uMadiba and the sacrifices that he and his comrades made so that our country could be free.

I thank you.

 

The working class across the whole world celebrates the 58th anniversary of the formation of the July 26 movement

By Phatse Justice Piitso

Next week friday the 26 of July 2013 the Cuban revolution and the world will be celebrating the 58th anniversary of the formation of the July 26 movement. We are proud to take the opportunity of this rare historic moment to convey our profound appreciations to the heroic people and the collective leadership of the Communist party of Cuba, under the leadership of the Commander in Chief Cde Fidel Castro and President Raul for the achievements of the revolution.

 The working class movement across the world celebrates a momentous event that has changed the coarse of events in the struggles of the people of the world against imperialism and colonialism. We celebrate the achievements of the Cuban people against the forces of oppression and exploitation.

We celebrate the birth of a revolutionary movement that has ushered in the triumph of the first socialist revolution ever in the history of the western hemisphere. The formation of the July 26 movement was indeed an epic event in the calendar of the history of the struggles of the working class movement.

The progressive movement of the world celebrates the achievements of a revolutionary movement that has over the years advanced the first socialist revolution at the backyard of the world biggest imperialist power, the USA. Without fear of any favour or any contradictions, the Cuban revolution remains to be a living testimony that socialism is the only future for humanity.

The celebration of the 58th anniversary of the formation of the July 26 movement is also a living testimony that the working class has the capacity to become the architects of their own future. That the working class has the capacity to lead any revolution to its eventual conclusion.

The Cuban revolution remains to be the most advanced school which is still consistent with the traditions and principles of the international proletariat movement. Therefore the 58th anniversary celebrations of the formation of the July 26 movement represents a hallmark achievement of the struggles of our people against imperialism and colonialism.

On the 26 July 1953 a group of young Cuban revolutionaries under the leadership of Cde Fidel Castro attacked the Moncada and Carlos Manuel des Cespedes garrisons in the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Bayamo respectively. The attack became the birthplace of the July 26 movement.

An hour before the attack on the 26 of July 1953, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro had to express the following words of courage to his fellow combatants"

Comrades, within a few hours, we will either succeed or be defeated. But regardless of the outcome, listen well, comrades, this movement will triumph.

If we win tomorrow, we will achieve that much faster what Jose Marti aspired to.

If the opposite were to occur, the action will serve as an example to the people of Cuba, to raise the flag and continue forward. The people will support us in Oriente and in the whole island.

As in 1868 and 1895, here in Oriente we raise the first shout of "Freedom or Death".

These historic and courageous words propelled the end and  the beginning of a new forms of armed struggles that saw the collapse of the Batista dictatorship and therefore the birth of the first socialist revolution at the doorstep of the American imperialist power. We congratulate the Commander in Chief for having led a revolution that has shaken the  foundations of imperialism and colonialism throughout the whole world.

We indeed take pride to be representing a generation of mankind during this historic period of the 58th anniversary celebrations of the birth of the Cuban revolution. The declaration of the socialist character of the Cuban revolution in 1959 was a source of inspiration to the struggles of the working class across the world.

The international working class movement celebrates the formation of the July 26 movement, twenty three years after the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The collapse was a tremendous event that signified a paradigm shift in the class balance of forces throughout the world.

We found ourselves having to take forward the tasks of our revolution under the most complex and hostile terrain dominated by a unipolar world. The balance of forces have changed significantly in favour of the dominant forces of imperialism and neo colonialism.

We celebrate the achievements of the Cuban revolution during the most fragile conjectural period when the world capitalist system is in a virtual stage of collapse. The present world socio economic contradictions is a confirmation that capitalism cannot resolve its own crisis.

The present world financial crisis collapsed the most powerful economies of the USA and the European Union. This has confirmed our long held view that capitalism cannot resolve the socio economic challenges facing humanity. The mismanagement of the world economic system by the imperial forces has plunged the world into the worse crisis ever in the history of civilization.

The world socio economic crisis has compelled most of the European governments to impose severe austerity measures that have a far much consequences on the living conditions of the working class. The working class is under severe economic pressure.

There are massive budget cuts on social spending, increasing tax rates, massive privatization of state assets, high unemployment rates and widening gap of inequalities between the rich and the poor.

The European Union is in a deep structural crisis. Over twenty six million europeans are unemployed. There is a widening gap of inequality within countries and between countries. The poor is at the brunt of stringent austerity measures in the name of fiscal consolidation and competitiveness.

The conditions are aggravated by the aggressive and hostile posture of the world military industrial complex. There is an increased spending on military budget whilst the levels poverty, disease and underdevelopment continue to inflict misery to the living conditions of the millions of the people of the world.

The catastrophic effects of climate change are exposing society into severe vulnerabilities whilst in contrast propelling the captains of industry to explore the possibilities of an alternative living space on the moon. Our biodiversity is under constant thread. We are loosing spices that are important to our ecosystem, making the future of humanity vulnerable.

In most parts of northern Europe the melting ice over the past ten thousands years has elevated the soil surface to a level of one meter above the sea level. This is posing serious consequences on the sustainability of their developmental infrastructure and therefore their economies.

Some of these questions will obviously provide a platform for a critical analysis of our environment and the extent to which this fragile world arena influences the cause of the struggles of the working class movement. The platform will assist us to understand the present hostile unipolar world and the extent to which it impacts on the terrain of our struggles in which we want to create the new world social order.

The most important question we need to ask ourselves is the extent of the influence of the unipolar world on the overall strategic posture and character of the struggles of the working class in the world and therefore our own respective countries. In other words we need to comprehend the influence of the hostile world circumstances on the pace and the direction of our own national democratic revolution.

We take the opportunity of the 58th anniversary celebrations of the formation of the July 26 movement to thank the generosity of the Cuban revolution. The people of the African continent will forever thank the Cuban revolution and its Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, for the immeasurable contribution during our struggles for independence.

We again thank you very much for the continuing efforts of the revolution to assist in the reconstruction and development of our continent. Your contribution towards the improvement of the living conditions of our people is what defines the internationalist character of your revolution.

Your contribution in the field of health, education, sports and culture and variety of economic bilaterals with our continent will go a long way in improving the living conditions of our people. Your contribution is a gesture of human solidarity.

We are making a clarion cal to the US administration to end the fifty years old economic blockade against the people of Cuba and the revolution. The unilateral imposition of the blockade is a crime against humanity.

We demand the immediate release of the Cuban heroes incarcerated in the American jails. The world knows very well that those leaders of our tomorrow languishing in your jails, were arrested for the mere reasons that they exposed covert terrorists activities against the innocent people of the world.

We convey our best wishes to our two most revered world revolutionaries of our century. On the occasion of the celebration of the 58th anniversary of the formation of the July 26 movement, we convey our best wishes and good health to President Nelson Mandela and our Commander in Chief Fidel Castro.

We also convey our profound appreciation and best wishes to our struggles icon President Nelson Mandela on his birthday. We wish him well from his hospital bed. We hope that he will be back home soon. Our people, our country and the whole world still need his outstanding leadership.

We again congratulate the Cuban people for the achievements of the revolution. We will forever be inspired by their determination to make the world a better place for humanity.

The world celebrates with you the birthday of the July 26 movement. Your revolution is our revolution.

Phatse Justice Piitso is the former Ambassador to the republic of Cuba and the former provincial secretary of the SACP writing this article on his personal capacity.

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