SPEECH BY PROF. KADER ASMAL, MP, MINISTER OF EDUCATION, AT THE OFFICIAL HANDING OVER CEREMONY OF THE ATLANTIC DIESEL ENGINES (ADE), Training Centre, Western Province Technical College, Thursday, 02 March 2000
Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to express my gratitude for the honour of being invited to this official handing-over ceremony and to share with you some of the strategies of my Ministry to develop our human resources. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) places the development of our human resources at the centre of our growth and development as a country. The challenge we face to equip individuals, employers and the country to meet the demands of the 21st century is immense and immediate.
Our education and training system, whilst displaying pockets of excellence, in the main will not assist our economy to can make a successful transition from the industries and services of the past, to the modern, knowledge and information economy of the future. Nor is it able to contribute towards sustaining a democratic and cohesive society, in which the people develop as active citizens and which generational disadvantage can be overcome.
The skills needs of the future will be different from those of today and its is clear that we will not keep pace with the modern economies of our competitors, if we are unable to match today's skills with the challenges of the developing information and communication age of tomorrow. As work organisation and labour markets change, we must develop a new approach to skills, and to enabling people, and businesses to succeed.
It is for this reason that we have paid particular attention to the reorganisation and modernisation of our Technical Colleges become 21st century institutions to meet the challenges of
* Increasing our skills levels to match those of our competitors;
* Tackling social inclusion at its roots within the education system both before and after the ten years of compulsory education; and
* Improving the quality and range of learning opportunities available to local communities.
A comprehensive and complementary policy and legislative framework that has emerged both from the Ministry of Education and Labour, gives us the opportunity to re-build our Technical Colleges into modern, high quality education and training institutions.
Central to the building of modern FET institutions is the transformation of existing Technical Colleges into mega multi-campus and multi- purpose centres of excellence. The legislation provides us with the authority to merge two or more institutions into a single, dynamic and vibrant learning site.
I believe that large institutions will have added advantages and will add value to our education and training agenda in a number of ways:
* a capacity to effectively engage the business sector on its education and training needs, thus being able to develop relevant and appropriate programmes
* to provide a wide range of programmes to cater for the diverse needs of learners, local communities and industry;
* the potential to attract good leadership that is able to position the institutions in relation to local businesses; and
* Most importantly the elimination of duplication and wastage.
The Business Trust is investing more than R150 million on its major study of technical colleges, to build up resources to sure that technical institutions meet the needs of our people, especially in such a depressed area as Atlantis.
There are 152 Technical Colleges throughout the country. My department is currently developing criteria that the MECs for Education will use to declare Technical Colleges as new public FET institutions and merge or close those that are not viable and promoting duplication. I will soon announce my final decision on this matter.
Since today we are celebrating the hand-over of the Atlantis Diesel Engines, let me emphasise that the FET sector is the engine of our education system. It is this sector that is expected to provide the country with the skills that will enable us to compete with the best in the world. Again like the engine, the FET sector will therefore move our country into new heights, as it changes the nature and essence of our education forever.
But the sector cannot do this if it remains as it is at the moment. We need to restructure the sector so that we can get the benefits of its contribution in a cost effective way. Therefore I regard the hand-over today as a very significant symbolism, because like the diesel engine, which is meant to give the owner some cost benefits, we should turn all our FET institutions into "Diesel engines", that provide mobility for the nation through their skills production, in a cost effective and efficient manner.
The decision by Atlantis Diesel Engines to donate its Technical Training Centre to the Western Cape Technical College is laudable and is most welcomed. The facilities and the expertise that will become part of the technical college will undoubtedly strengthen its capacity to provide high quality training.
I want to identify, in particular, the role played by Mr Khaya Ngqula, Chief Executive Officer of the Industrial Development Corporation and chairperson of ADE in the development of our forgotten areas of South Africa. No part of our country shall remain as the dumping ground of Apartheid. He has shown visionary leadership in support of the development of Atlantis. This shows confidence in Atlantis. Cherish this carefully.
This merger is going to open new education and training opportunities for the communities of the West Coast region. Whilst the original focus of the centre was training in technical skills, I am confident that the leadership of the college will develop other programmes that will begin to address the development needs of the communities.
For example, in my "Call to Action", and in "Tirisano", our programme for the next five years, I have identified illiteracy as one of the major challenges in our country. I hope that the centre will play its role in our effort to eradicate this scourge. The institution has to respond positively to the challenge of developing programme to address basic numeracy and literacy skills
Chairperson, let me also take this opportunity to congratulate the management of ADE for its foresight in agreeing to donate this facility to a public institution. In the past we would see how well equipped facilities lay abandoned and left to rot because companies had decided to re-locate or close. As part of your strategy for corporate restructuring you chose a different route, a route that will continue to benefit those who have been part of your interpose in the last 20 years. I hope that those who have been associated with ADE will continue to have a keen interest in how the centre is functioning.
I want to assure you that we will look well after this facility and use it to its maximum in addressing the educational needs of the community.
I have consistently advocated for new arrangements that will encourage shared responsibility between government, employers, individual providers, and communities to achieve a culture of lifelong learning. Each must accept the challenge of promoting and participating in learning and working towards common goals. These partnerships are more crucial in the development of technical skills in our country.
The introduction of the Skills Levy on the 1st April is going to require an active interaction between the Technical Colleges and industry. Gone are the days when colleges will continue to offer traditional programme regardless of the training needs of local industries in which they are located, or the regions they serve.
Management of colleges will be expected to interface with local industries to establish their skills plans and develop programmes that are relevant and are delivered in a flexible manner that is convenient to the clients rather than the colleges.
Our colleges must cease to operate only between eight in the morning and three in the afternoon. We want institutions that will operate at least twelve-hours a day, six days per week. Our facilities stay empty over weekend and holidays. This is a gross under-utilisation of limited resources. I am confident that the leadership of the Western Province Technical College will rise to the challenge.
Director of ceremonies, may I conclude by wishing the management of the WP Technical College, lecturers and students success in their educational endeavours. To the communities of the West Coast region, I wish to urge you to use this facility to its optimum. Not many communities have such facilities close by. To the management of ADE I also want to encourage you wherever you are being deployed, to promote and facilitate co-operation between training institutions and industry.
I thank you
Salani kahle, khotso ebe lelona. Kiyaleboha.
Issued by Ministry of Education, 2 March 2000