Nzimande responds to Rampahosa’s SONA
Written by Kendrick Lebron on February 20, 2020
NEW UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, welcomes the announcement by the President Cyril Ramaphosa of the establishment of the new University of Science and Innovation.
This university will be closely linked to driving high impact and cutting edge technological innovation with current and future industries, sectors and firms to drive the frontiers of a future economy.
The new university will be located in the city of ekurhuleni, a major economic hub and seat of a growing Aerotropolis providing vital services to the economy of the entire continent.
Ekurhuleni is the only metro without a university, and we want to address this through this new institution that will have to develop a dynamic relationship with what is after all the industrial and SME heartland of our country.
“We believe that this location, together with fresh new challenges arising from the revolution in science and technology in the third decade of the 21st century, offers an opportunity for a new initiative to provide cutting-edge science and technology innovations across crucial areas such as Data Science, Machine-Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain, Robotics, Hydrogen-powered technologies including smart transportation and logistics systems,” said Minister Nzimande.
In leading this project, Minister Nzimande will work with relevant government and industry partners, the City of Ekurhuleni and the Gauteng Provincial Government, whilst drawing on South Africa’s extensive international network in the BRICS countries, Japan, Europe and elsewhere for innovative partnerships.
Minister Nzimande will provide details on the establishment of the University during the Departmental Budget vote 2020 later this year.
As a department, we recognise that the provision of suitable and affordable student housing is a necessary component in promoting access to, and success in, post-school education and training.
“Through the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP) we aim to develop large-scale student housing projects at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges,” said Minister Nzimande.
Minister Nzimande said that government goal is to provide 300 000 new beds at the 26 public universities and 50 public TVET colleges over 10 years.
However, the President’s announcement of a further R64 bn to be set aside for student accommodation, with the prospects of leveraging the same amount from the private sector over the next decade, will go a long way towards addressing the accommodation needs in the post school sector.
“We are currently developing large projects comprising of 7 273 new beds at various universities, where there is gross shortage of student accommodation,” emphasised Minister Nzimande.
The Minister said that from the 2019/20 Historically Disadvantaged Institutions Development Grant, R147.674 million for the Mangosuthu University of Technology, University of Venda and the Walter Sisulu University recommended allocations will be allocated.
“For the two new universities of Sol Plaatjie and Mpumalanga, 2 331 beds have been funded from the New Universities Infrastructure Grant to the amount of R772.950 million,” confirmed Minister Nzimande.
“We have made strides by commencing the building of nine (9) new TVET colleges campus sites scheduled for completion in 2020. They include Sterkspruit, Aliwal North, Graaff Reneit, Ngungqushe, Umzimkhulu, Greytown, Msinga, Nongoma and Kwagqikazi. Construction will commence with a new campus site for Mitchells Plain in 2020,” said Minister Nzimande.
Contracts will be awarded for a further four (4) new campus sites in 2019/20. The sites include Balfour, Giyani, Nkandla B and Vryheid.
PRIORITISING TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING
Our department aims to ensure that within the next 10 years there is no district municipality that does not have access to a post school training institution – something that will further strengthen and support the President’s drive for a district development model.
Since 2009 government introduced NSFAS in TVET colleges with an amount of R100 million and by 2018/19 this amount has increased to 5 billion.
“Against this backdrop there is now a stronger alignment between education and training institutions and work; with a significant focus on student success; growing and strengthening of the TVET college sector; new Community Education and Training colleges; and improving the capacity of the whole sector to provide quality education and training opportunities to more South Africans,” said Minister Nzimande.
Minister further said that our plan is to significantly expand infrastructure for TVET colleges, including new institutions and campuses, as well as upgrading of ICT so that our TVET colleges become part of the modern digital era in all the 44 districts.
Artisan development remains a priority while expanding workplace-based learning through learnerships, work integrated learning and internships.
The recently launched Centres of Specialisation (CoS) pilot is being prioritized for the training of 780 youth in artisan skills and will assist 26 TVET college campuses to improve their capacity to develop artisans with industry partners in 13 priority trades/occupations.
The National Skills Fund has made available R150 million to upgrade workshops at TVET colleges to meet industry requirements.
CONTRIBUTION TO CLEAN ENERGY SUPPLY
Our Department of Science and Innovation supports the President’s commitment on moving towards a low carbon growth trajectory.
The country’s energy challenges have provided us with an opportunity to look differently at, amongst other things, the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology (HFCT).
“We have also started rolling out demonstrations for the provision of electricity and mobility using platinum-based hydrogen fuel cells. These include the rolling out of fuel cells to a rural school in the North West, and the development of hydrogen-powered scooters in partnership with the South African Post Office to extend the range of some of their mail delivery scooters,” Minister said.
Minister Nzimande confirmed that through DSI’s National HFCT Research, Development and Innovation Strategy, we will continue to aim at stimulating innovation to further contribute towards the national electricity grid.
NSFAS AND IMPROVED ACCESS FOR THE WORKING CLASS AND POOR
In line with the President’s focus, over the next 10-year period my department will focus on the effectiveness and expansion of our new bursary scheme in both the university and TVET college sectors.
“This year, we are providing R34.5 billion through NSFAS to support students from poor and working-class backgrounds in their studies at public TVET colleges and universities,” said Minister Nzimande.
Minister Nzimande said that over five hundred and eighty thousand four hundred and thirteen (580, 413) NSFAS applications were received, with four hundred and eighty-four thousand and thirty-eight (484, 038) being new students and ninety-six thousand three hundred and seventy-five (96, 375) being returning students.
Two hundred and sixty-four six hundred and forty-two (264, 642) applications were from SASSA beneficiaries.
“Amongst other achievements we pride ourselves on the fact that in 2018 we undertook a due diligence exercise to quantify the historic debt of NSFAS qualifying senior students registered in the 2018/2019 academic year.
Through this exercise, all returning NSFAS qualifying students with university debt were allowed to register provided that they signed an Acknowledgement of Debt form. This exercise was meant to effectively ensure that students with NSFAS historic debt will be able to graduate,” said Minister Nzimande.
Minister Nzimande said that government has also worked with the university sector to keep fees at affordable levels, while substantially increasing the funding for poor and working-class students.
GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
In dealing with the spate of violent attacks, especially on women students on and off our campuses, we are currently finalizing the Policy Framework on Gender-Based Violence for the post-school sector. This policy will guide the whole sector in its management of and response to gender-based violence.
The leadership of Universities South Africa (USAf) is working with our Department to develop a joint plan of action towards a plan to address campus security, including preventing acts of violence, and gender-based violence.
This process will include a process to gather information on the status of safety and security plans and strategies on campuses across the country, and to identify urgent matters to be addressed at individual institutions.
This will include looking at infrastructure requirements for better security on campuses that could be funded through the Department’s infrastructure and efficiency fund.