Overhaul our education system that is contributing heavily to youth unemployment and poverty, to save the future of our nation


Malungu Abekekileyo

Bantu Base Mzantsi Afrika

Ndiyanibulisa ngale Ntshona langa


Mr President, I stand here today having travelled across the country and interacted with the realities of our students and management in at, at least, 16 TVET and University campuses.

I did so in order to grasp the real issues on the ground rather than listening to glossy presentations in air-conditioned boardrooms.

Growing up in rural Tsolo, I managed to acquire a better education and escape poverty ONLY through the charity of scholarships, which allowed me to access some of the best educational institutes. I, however, remain an outlier of success to the many I completed grade 1 with, enxu JSS emahlubini kuTsolo.

That’s the only reason why I am able to stand on this very podium today.

We know all too well from history that a government controls and keeps its people in the shackles of poverty by giving them a POOR QUALITY education which entrenches dependency.

This is why over 10,4 million South Africans are unemployed of which 58% are young people and many qualified graduates remain unemployable due to being subjected to poor quality education.

I stand here today on behalf of the millions of young South Africans who were not as lucky as I was and have been left behind by your government Mr President, who watched with the hope of finding answers to many of their challenges through your SONA speech, but there were none.

I stand here on behalf of;

– Mr Shedzi an engineering lecturer from eNkangala TVET college in Mpumalnga forced to accept learners produced by our broken basic education system, into an NCV course with no prospects of succeeding.

– Ms Hendricks at False Bay college transferring skills to students through an outdated Nated Curriculum of the 1970s and enrol some in over-saturated courses that are not relevant for industry, the job market nor entrepreneurship.

– The thousands of TVET college students who receive below-average allowances compared to university students yet they reside at the same accommodation, they commute on the same transport and purchase food at the same retailers.

– The 192 000 students who are unable to register due to historic debts that could permanently put their future on a halt.

– Contributing to this whole mess is a corrupt NSFAS that has completely failed at managing the funds of poor students, As we speak 126 Northern Cape Rural TVET students that still await 2018 allowances.

– Bonele a blind student at Nelson Mandela University – and other students living with disabilities – who have to wait for over a year to get their allowances or assistive devices from the corrupt NSFAS.

– Walter Sisulu University students and similar institutions with unmaintained residences that get flooded, campus buildings falling apart, highly unhygienic facilities and no access to reliable WIFI. Yet we want to loosely talk about 4IR!

– Precious Ramabulane, a former Capricorn TVET college student in Limpopo who was raped and stabbed 52 times at an unsafe off-campus accommodation and many other victims of violence on and off our campuses. I still can’t explain the feeling after having visited the house Precious was staying Before she was brutally murdered.

– I stand here on behalf of the 134 000 unemployed graduates sitting at home because the department of higher education and SETAs have failed to produce their certificates to go try look for work since 2008.

Madam Speaker, Mr President these are some of the key issues putting the future of our brothers and sisters on hold.

If you don’t act now Sir, we will continue to produce graduates with outdated skills, through over-saturated courses,  with poor quality skills, unable to compete in the job market nor can solve our problems and become entrepreneurs. You will continue to leave thousands in debt, with no skills to show for it, let alone a certificate or academic record in hand.

I, however, stand here bearing solutions not just to tell you all the problems; Here are some of the immediate action steps you should have announced; in line with DA’s higher education policy that can help strengthen our education system.

1. The Ministry must review the outdated curriculum and ensure that there is engagement with industry, business and academics ensuring that our curriculum is relevant for the 21st Century and future world of work.

2. Completely overhaul NSFAS, reimagine how it operates, and procure qualified IT technician to build a seamless ICT infrastructure to merge data from institutions and NSFAS for timeous distribution of allowances to avoid fraud and corruption that has taken place.

3. Mr President, make an honest commitment towards freeing students from historical debt for both universities and TVETs incl the Missing Middle

4. While we welcome the announcement of the R64 billion in student accommodation (tell us your plan on the how and when) your government plans to take away R750 million from the current infrastructure grant to maintain existing buildings for TVETs and HDIs. Trim the fat from corruption and allocate more money to maintain the already existing infrastructure. Furthermore, engage the departments of public works and human settlements for unused buildings for the purposes of student accommodation and lecture rooms.

5. Working together with the South African Police Services as well as the departments of social development and higher education must put together a safety plan to end student deaths and the scourge of gender-based violence.

6. The State Information Technology agency must urgently work with CSIR, DHET and Umalusi to develop a seamless ICT process in producing certificates in real-time.

7. Ensure that local governments are capable and well run to help give the necessary support to students through services like the DA-led City of Cape integrated transport system, the Nelson Mandela Bay turning problem buildings into student accommodation and the Tshwane metro police patrolling at campuses during peak times.

In conclusion, we as leaders simply cannot keep on coming here to debate with people who have no idea on what’s happening on the ground. Young people are impatient with slogans that keep changing with no proper plan of action nor timelines.

Kudala uthunyiwe Mongameli, susibalisela’ngo khawuleza, khawude wenze ngoku!

I urge you, Mr President, to stop the dreaming, and act on these now and not in 2030!

I thank you!

Forensic investigation into R14m incorrect student payment must be wide ranging as NSFAS drags feet in roll-out of “Student Centred” funding

In today’s Portfolio Committee meeting on Higher Education it was revealed that the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student who was incorrectly credited with R14.1 million, instead of R 1 400, must have colluded with vendors, bureaucratic officials and others to enable her to receive the funds and then go on an R880 000 spending spree in places as far ranging as East London, George, Queenstown and Centurion.
The Vice-Chancellor of WSU, Professor James Midgley, made clear in his presentation to the Committee, that the expenditure could not have taken place through normal means. Furthermore, the Head of Intellimali, Mr Michael Ansell, made it clear that his company is given the names of approved merchants and even specific items, with whom and on which their funds may be spent. Their cards do not normally work if they attempt to use them to spend in other places or for other items.
It is vital that the planned Intellimali forensic investigation into the matter be far-ranging, and that it include an examination of the role of both the University and Intellimali officials, in order to discover two things:

  1. How the initial transfer occurred, particularly given that Intellimali’s own computer records at the time showed a transfer of only R 1400; and
  2. How the student was able to spend money on items, not on the approved list.

Any person found to have been collaborators in the irregular acquisition and spending of the R880 000 by the student concerned, including vendors, should be exposed and punished. Blacklisting of vendors who in this and other cases may be assisting students to abuse their bursary funds is an essential step.
It also became clear during the presentations that the National Student Financial Aid (NSFAS) scheme has largely failed to implement the student-centered SBux scheme, which has long been touted as the means through which students will receive funding directly without the need for middlemen. Only 6 of 21 Universities are using SBux, and they are plagued with problems of
Only 6 of 21 Universities are using SBux, and they are plagued with problems of noncompliance by students, communication issues and many others. The remaining Universities use private providers such as Intellimali to distribute their NSFAS funds. That so many Universities should be dependent on contractors for the disbursement of bursary funds is not acceptable. But Intellimali has developed a reasonably good disbursement system and it is by no means clear that the roll-out of SBux will provide a solution as effective as that developed by Intellimali.
We call upon Minister Blade Nzimande to evaluate the various systems for the disbursal of funding to students, whether they be that devised by Intellimali or SBux, and to see what can be learnt from this debacle and to assess what the best system might be for the future.

DASO condemns the second recent killing at Walter Sisulu University

The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) condemns the recent killing of yet another Walter Sisulu University student who has been allegedly stabbed and killed by his roommate after a “fun” weekend of heavy drinking.
DASO will write to the Higher Education Portfolio Committee, requesting them to conduct oversight at this institution and address the safety concerns of the students.
We will also visit the university in the next few days to discuss the issues of violence on campus and student safety with the management and the student leadership.
Aphelele Ntobongwana, an electrical engineering student from Libode was stabbed on Sunday afternoon at the male residence Destiny Two. This comes only three months after Lwando Mantshontsho was assaulted and killed on the Mthatha Campus.
We strongly condemn these criminal acts and call on the University and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to prosecute the student responsible for this.
In recent years, over six students have been killed on Walter Sisulu University campuses with alcohol reportedly playing a major role in the violence.
We believe that our campuses should remain safe spaces of living and learning with all students feeling secured.
Violence on our campuses is not only an issue at WSU, but across institutions all over the country.
We continue to call on the management of all institutions together with the Department of Higher Education to prioritise and address safety issues on our campuses by:

  • deploying well-trained and qualified security personnel;
  • installing monitored CCTV cameras; and most importantly; and
  • strictly regulating the use of alcohol on our campuses and promoting responsible use.

We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends  of the student whose life has been cut short. We further call for calm and peace amongst students on campus in this difficult time.