SPEECH BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING, MRS GNM PANDOR ON THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCH OF THE TJHESEHO COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTRE AS AN AGRICULTURAL SKILLS HUB, KGOTSO-UXOLO SECONDARY SCHOOL, 2910 PETSANA, REITZ, FREE STATE, 20 OCTOBER 2018
Programme Director: Ms Helen Ntlatleng
Free State Premier – Ms. Sisi Sefora Ntombela
Member of the Executive Committee for Education- Mr. PHI Makgoe
Thabo Mofutsanyana Mayor - Councillor Mme Malefu Vilakazi
Nketoane Mayor - Councillor Mme Maditswako Mamiki Mokoena
VKB Group Chief Executive Officer - Mr Koos Janse van Rensburg
Agriculture South Africa Chairperson - Mr Dan Kriek
Free State College Council Chairperson: Mr FL Sello
Chief Executive Officers of Sector Education and Training Authorities
Senior Management and Officials of the Department
Officials from the Department of Basic Education
Principals of CET Colleges and TVET Colleges
Members of the Student Representative Council of the Free State Community Education and Trainining College
Students of the Free State Community College
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am truly honoured and excited to be here today to launch an initiative that earnestly talks to the heart of the community in and around Reitz. I have always maintained that Community Education and Training is a sector that is unique and has potential to bring tangible transformation to the historically marginalised communities. Besides focusing on basic education as enshrined in Section 29 of our Constitution, the Department has taken a position that there is a need to reach out to the out-of-school youth and adults who find themselves trapped as a consequence of generational injustices.
I am particularly excited that the majority of attendees here today are students from the Free State CET college, by implication the potential beneficiaries of the opportunities we are launching today. Your presence gives me assurance that community education is necessary and relevant. The mere fact that you took a step to register with a Community College you are opening doors to fight poverty, inequality and exclusion that comes as a result of being illiterate and innumerate. Your registration at the College is a major step towards accessing the benefits and the opportunities of democracy. At the core of our mandate is community access and involvement, in this way we are not self-serving but we are in tune and in touch with the needs of communities. Our presence and programmes must make a positive impact in peoples’ lives.
I had tasked the my Department to work in collaboration with the municipality and stakeholders in particular Sector Education and Training Authorities to put in place a plan for the provision of education and skills development programmes in Reitz. Through my constituency work in the area, I had identified the need for massive skills intervention to improve the lives youth and adults in this area.
The launch of the Tjheseho Community Learning Centre as an agricultural skills hub takes place at an opportune moment after the hosting of a successful presidential job summit co-ordinated by the National Economic, Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). Arising out of the presidential job summit is a Jobs Summit Framework Agreement adopted by social partners which provides for priority interventions that will contribute to the creation of jobs in South Africa. One of the principles within the framework is the call for the upgrading of skills and education.
It gives me comfort that as a Department we are already being responsive to some of the Job Summit commitments. The launch today marks a historical moment in Reitz, gathered here is Government, stakeholders, partners, business and beneficiaries to witness the realisation of service delivery and responsiveness. As a Minsiter, I always ask my officials in the Department to be reflective of how the work we do is changing people’s lives for the better.
The vision to have an institutional type such as Community Education and Training College is a great initiative by government and an assurance that every life matters and deserves to be afforded opportunities. Looking at the profile of students in CET Colleges, I am convinced that this is a sector where social justice or social redress must find expression. The majority of the students are victims of generational injustice directly or indirectly. As the Department we are not oblivious to this fact, CET is about giving hope and restoring human dignity. The wrongs of past must not and cannot define our destination.
The CET programme is meant to offer second chance opportunities for those who have never been to school, those who could not finish basic schooling but also to improve the livelihood of communities by offering skills and community driven programmes.
I also acknowledge that the concept of CET is fairly new and our colleges are not yet adequately resourced to innovate and diversify programme offerings. I urge the principals of the CET Colleges to be activists in their approach and explore the space of partnerships with conviction. I cannot overemphasize the importance of partnerships and stakeholder relations, be it for programme diversification, innovation or infrastructure utilization; the possibilities are endless but it takes a principal with a vision and a supportive council to make it a reality for the college. In the same breath I call upon other institutional types with the PSET system and skills levy entities to support to the CET college sector.
On that note let me extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Sector Education and Training Authorities that heeded the call and came on board to support the Tjheseho Community Learning Centre project. I have been informed that you responded with enthusiasm and you needed no persuasion. I further appreciate that commitments made are medium to long term. I note with excitement that there are 915 skills opportunities being made available through the SETAs in the form of learnerships, short skills programmes, bursaries and apprenticeships.
The establishment of this skills hub is part of a national initiative to pilot the concept of Commuity Education and Training through programme diversification and partnerships in selected Community Learning Centres. Nationally, fifty-four community learning centres have been selected for piloting. Please note that this is the beginning we are still going to knock at your doors for support to roll out nationally.
May I also express mya appreciation of the Vrystaat Kooperasie Beperk (VKB) for heeding the call of social responsibility and taking it further by opening its doors and offering your training centre for use by the College. I have also learnt with excitement that you intend to reskill some of our lecturers in the Free State CET College. Your commitment to the cause of sustainable development is commendable. I urge you to be our ambassadors in business forums where you serve to encourage your peers to take this bold step too because collectively we can do more and contribute to development and sustenance of the humanity. I also wish urge the VKB to consider the extending this initiative to your other operations in Limpopo, once the project is being rolled out.
I also want to commend the Nketoane Municipality for making available land and infrastructure for the establishment of a skills hub in Petsana. This great initiative marks a historic moment for Community Colleges; we must therefore guard against white elephants, the land and infrastructure must be developed and be used as soon as possible. Our communities need rollout of projects more than announcements of visions and plans. As a Department we must not rest but perform our oversight role by facilitating some of the discussions to operationlise the commitments made in this project.
To the students in the college I urge you to do your part. Please commit and see it through. We have worked hard to bring opportunities to Reitz please be protective of this time and moment, history will judge you. As a collective gathered here today, all we are asking for is that you must take charge of your life, your moment has come, change starts with you. The commitments announced here today are meant for you, grab them and be the light and beacon of hope for your communities.
It is only through hard work, discipline and commitment that you will benefit from this skills development intervention. I have asked that in this skills intervention, information and communications technology (ICT) training and equipment be made available to ensure that you are prepared for innovation that requires such skills. This project is close to my heart I personally would like to leave a legacy in Reitz; I will be monitoring the project with keen interest, so do your part and finish the programmes.
Let me also appreciate our sister Department, the Department of Education in the Free State for the immense support of opening schools to be used for provision of community education and training programmes as well as the hosting of such a prestigious occasion. May you continue with this partnership and support while we are sorting out the infrastructure challenges confronting the CET college sector.
In conclusion, let me thank the Premier and the Free State government for the support and collaboration, in particular the local education district, the mayors of Thabo Mofutsanyana and Nketoane Municipalities for their continued participation and support, VKB Chief Executive Officer, and his team, the presence of Agri-SA Chairperson, and Free State CET College Council. The real work starts now let us restore hope and human dignity, every life matters.