22 February 2017

South Africa: Certificates Backlog Angers Committee

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Parliament, Wednesday 22 February 2017 - The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has called for disciplinary measures against officials responsible for delays in issuing certificates to students who have graduated.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Connie September, said the Committee noted the efforts of Minister Mr Blade Nzimande in trying to resolve the matter. However, delays were unacceptable.

"The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Umalusi, and the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) do not seem to have a sense of accountability on this matter and seem to blame each other," Ms September said.

"The fact that students do not have certificates negates government's objectives to have skilled young graduates in order to alleviate the poverty challenge. The policy that certificates should be produced in three months [after graduating] is simply not being adhered to," she said.

The department, Umalusi and Sita were in Parliament to brief the Committee on Wednesday on challenges in issuing certificates. Members expressed frustration and dissatisfaction about the backlog in issuing certificates, which has not being cleared since 2007.

The Committee called on students to adhere to 80% attendance in order to allow them to write exams. It also called for Sita capacity to be reconsidered and a determination made on whether additional support is required.

"This is a travesty of justice. Action must be taken against lecturers who do not submit marks resulting in students having to rewrite models," Ms September said.

The Committee will engage the departments of Telecommunications and Basic Education on what steps can be taken to address the situation. DHET, Umalusi, colleges and Sita will also be called before the Committee again to provide an update report on how they are adhering to policy.

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