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Higher Education Minister in process of developing Sign Language program at tertiary level

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By Kouthar Sambo

The College of Cape Town officially launched the opening of the TVET (CCT) Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Skills Center on Friday.

Speaking to the VOC News at the event, Minister for Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Dr. Blade Nzimande (MP) said that he does not want those who failed Matric to feel deprived from success, which is the main objective of TVET colleges.

“We want our youngsters to do well, but failing Matric cannot be a death sentence. You must come to the Department of High Education and Training and say I have failed my Matric but would like to acquire a skill, whether it is through a TVET college or a community college, or a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) to meet those needs,” reiterated the Minster.

He further elaborated and said learners are being “slaughtered” by Matric, largely because they are forced through an academic program.

When inquiring about the progress on the implementation of Sign Language used in the various institutions, the Minister said he is in the process of developing a program that will be offered in community colleges in the 12 official languages of South Africa, including Sign Language.

“Our plan for post-school education and training does incorporate the use of Sign Language, and all our programs must move towards using Sign Language. That in itself, is a very important start in my department to implement Sign Language in our educational system,” described Nzimande.

“Ideally, we need to move into a situation where all our programs are utilizing Sign Language, and my department must lead by example, together with the Department of Basic Education.”

According to Nzimande, allocation of funding is a huge challenge as money from the fiscals have been rather slow, in terms of financial support for TVET colleges.

Over the last few years, the department has focused on an expansion of what they call “skills centers” that are affiliated to existing TVET colleges, particularly in rural communities where post-school education and training is non-existent.

“We have been using skills fund, for instance, from the National Skills Fund (NSF) and the SETAs to build the skills centers. Over the past eight years, we’ve built about 12 new campuses in rural areas of TVET colleges to respond to the needs of TVET college education,” said Nzimande.

Moving forward, the aim is to expand this initiative within the constraints, but a main strategy being executed seeks to expand TVET colleges through partnerships.

“In government, we do not have money on our own, so we need to creatively engage the private sector to obtain funds, and today’s program is the best example of that with Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Skills Center,” added Nzimande.

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