TVET: Contributing to Sustainable Development in SA

Written by Staff Writer



By Charndré Emma Kippie

With 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges across South Africa, offering accredited and independently monitored courses which meet the standards of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the country’s TVET Sector is well positioned to grow into a major contributor to the sustainability of our tertiary education system and economy. However, there is still a long journey ahead of us.

This year the TVET Sector faced major challenges as the Covid-19 pandemic shook its foundation to the core. With many uncertainties, and disruption to the 2020/2021 academic year, leaders in the sector carried much burden as they attempted to salvage proposed curriculums for vocational education and training strategies.

Towards Innovation
As we know, formal TVET is closely linked to industrialisation and economic development. This is why it is imperative that we continue to invest in this sector and upgrade as we go along. Unfortunately, 2020 was a difficult year with many setbacks relating to access and infrastructure. However, despite a crippling pandemic, South Africa saw some major breakthroughs:

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, announced that National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students battling with access to online learning systems and materials would receive laptops as a form of relief. These laptops are to be received in March 2021, at the beginning of the new academic year.

Digitalisation has become top priority as no student can be left behind. Mass open online courses (MOOCs) and ‘digital campuses’ are now under consideration. Despite this being in efforts of combating the pandemic’s effects on completing the academic year, these new tools could be useful for reworking course content – making it more interactive for learners and educators.

The South African College Principals Organisation (Sacpo) signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei, in efforts to produce information and communication technology (ICT) academies within all of the country’s 50 TVET colleges, by 2021. Speaking on the news in December 2020, Nzimande commented:

“Today I remain honoured that the Huawei ICT Academy, which is a nonprofit partnership programme that authorises our universities and TVET colleges to deliver Huawei certification courses to their students, continues to record significant successes.”

The staggered academic year, with its many challenges, also brought existing issues to the forefront, regarding unemployment, access to tertiary education and delayed certifications. As it stands, South Africa still needs to mend a few gaps in the TVET Sector. Once these issues can be rectified, the country could reach its true potential where sustainable development is concerned, and this will no doubt bolster the economy as a whole.


Current Concerns:

  • The TVET sector curriculums and in desperate need of upgrading to suit the needs of the economy.
  • We need to bridge the gap. The first-year class of 2020 are facing academic backlog, prohibiting entry into tertiary institutions.
  • The longstanding issue of certificate backlogs, for previous students to enter the job market, needs to be properly dealt with.


The Year Ahead
Between the period of 15 December 2020 to 11 January 2021, the TVET sector experienced 146 Covid-19 related cases, with 23 staff deaths and 123 staff recoveries. These numbers created a slight panic as students and educators braced themselves for another hard lockdown. As announced by Minister Blade Nzimande, however, the approved 2021 Academic Calendar remains applicable and will be adhered to in the coming months. “Students will return in a staggered manner, on 25 January, the 1st, 8th and 15th February 2021”, he explained.

Minister Nzimande also explained that support mechanisms would be put in place for students who return to TVET colleges in February 2021, and will then have to make use of remote learning structures. Emphasis will also be placed on ‘trimester students’ due to the fact that they face shortened study time, and N5 and N6 students have to return before N4 students.

“This will allow for walk-ins to be better managed. Presently colleges with the systems in place are continuing with online registrations. For the remainder, colleges have put systems in place to observe all Covid-19 protocols to avert the spread of infections’, says Minister Nzimande.

He also went on to outline expectations for TVET management:

“Given that colleges and campuses differ quite significantly in the extent to which they are affected by the current rate of infections and fatalities, agreement was reached with the relevant stakeholders on our consultations that colleges will be afforded some flexibility to manage both the return of staff and students, based on the principles and parameters provided by the Department. This will be especially important for college management to be able to effectively and responsibly manage campuses located in hotspots.”

This is truly a time of reflection and reinvention. TVET has proven to be an amazing tool, globally, in accelerating development across multiple sectors. This is the type of innovation that African countries need. Unfortunately, this innovation may only provide optimum results if more work is put into enhancing investment and growth of the sector, in upcoming years. Government should also consider directly investing in TVET education, from the national budget, in order to fund students in need. Now is also a great time for TVET colleges to teach and encourage entrepreneurship amongst students. This may increase employability in the country, which would provide the economy with a much-needed boost.



Subscribe to

Please fill out your details and we will ensure to keep you updated with a weekly bulletin on the latest blog articles we have to share!

Follow us on

You May Also Like…