South Africa: Minister Balde Mzimande - Activation of the 21 Acts of Goodness

press release

The Minister of Higher Education, Science And Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande address on the occasion of the Activation of the 21 acts of Goodness to enable the matric class of 2021 held at Joe Matsila Guess House - Matsila Village - Limpopo

Programme Director

MEC for Education in Limpopo, MS Polly Boshielo;

Founder and Director of the 21 Acts of goodness, Chief Livhuwani Matsila;

Vhembe District Municipality Executive Mayor, Cllr Dowelani Nenguda;

Collins Chabane Local Municipality Mayor, Cllr Moses Maluleke;

CEO of Imbumba Foundation, Mr Richard Mabaso;

Old Mutual Foundation Head, Ms Fikile Kuhalse;

Nelson Mandela Foundation and representatives of other participating organisations;

All invited guests;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Greetings

It is a great pleasure to be joining you this morning on the occasion of the activation of the 21st Acts of goodness to enable the matric class of 2021.

This Acts of Goodness campaign is anchored on the values of President Nelson Mandela - selfless service, active citizenship, and social activism - and implemented in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, loveLife and the Old Mutual Foundation.

Ladies and gentlemen

South Africa inherited a highly dysfunctional educational system from the Apartheid era.

The demise of apartheid in 1994 was heralded nationally and internationally as a victory for democracy and human rights.

It offered unique opportunities - and responsibilities - to reconstruct a fragmented and deeply discriminatory education system and established a unified national system underpinned by democracy, equity, redress, transparency and participation.

This social reconstruction had to be linked to economic development in the context of global economies and internationalisation.

These dual goals were captured in the mission statement of former Department of Education:

"Our vision is of a South Africa in which all people have equal access to lifelong education and training opportunities which will contribute towards improving the quality of life and build a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society." (DoE 1996)

Therefore, education is pivotal to economic prosperity, assisting South Africans - personally and collectively - to escape the "poverty trap" characterising many of our communities.

Education also has to reach beyond economic goals, enabling South Africans to improve the quality of their lives and contribute to a peaceful, caring and democratic society.

I must also indicate that education is now a basic human right, established in the Constitution (Section 29, 1996): which states that "everyone has the right to basic education, including adult basic education" without discrimination of any sort.

President Nelson Mandela in describing the importance of education, he says " Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world".

It is Nelson Mandela who asserted that "Young people must take it upon themselves to ensure that they receive the highest education possible so that they can represent us well in future as future leaders".

As the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation I fully ascribe to these assertions by our founding President Nelson Mandela and many of our liberation leaders and scholars, such as Professor Sibusiso Bhengu, Professor Kader Asmal and many more.

In order to facilitate access and success of our students, as a Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, we have various post school educational and training institutions such as universities, TVET colleges, CET colleges, SETAs and NSFAS support and career guidance.

Our goals and objectives are now even better implemented through our new landscape of higher education, science and innovation (HESI) which is brought about by the President's decision to place the Departments of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and that of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) under one Ministry.

This new landscape further opens up the opportunities for both these sectors to contribute towards skills development, science and innovation.

This new landscape has now brought under one umbrella five very crucial funding agencies in driving the new HESI landscape and our economic growth and development agenda:

The National Research Foundation;

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme;

The Sector Education and Training Authorities;

The Technology Innovation Agency; and

The National Skills Fund.

These provide us with huge opportunities to fund our objectives and the HESI system in a synergised manner, thus significantly boosting our role and place in the 4IR space.

Enrolment for the 2022 academic year

As the Post-School Education and Training sector, we are ready to receive a new cohort of first-time entrants in all our institutions of higher education and training for the academic year 2022.

I however must say that admissions' decisions are made by individual universities and colleges.

For those students who need strengthening of their learning foundations can be enrolled in the Foundational Learning Programme (FLP) for one year, and then proceed into a qualification offered in our colleges.

I also encourage applicants to check for placement opportunities at our universities and colleges closest to them, much as they are all entitled to apply to any university or college in the country.

A full list of colleges can be accessed on the homepage of the Department's website: www.dhet.gov.za.

Furthermore, I would like to urge all prospective applicants to ensure that they submit all the required documentation for the processing of their applications in order to avoid processing delays.

Due to the limited spaces in universities and colleges, meeting the minimum requirements does not mean a space for everyone who applies.

My department has therefore made available the Central Application Clearing House (CACH) for students who have applied for a space but were declined.

CACH is a referral system. In order for our prospective students to be assisted, they must sign up by sending an SMS with their name and ID number to 31629, visit cach.dhet.gov.za or e-mail CACH@dhet.gov.za. It is important to remember that CACH handles applications and not admissions as these are handled by individual institutions.

Support provided through KHETHA

My department also offers Career Development Services (CDS), the Khetha programme, in order to bring free quality career information, advice and counselling services to South Africans of all walks of life. Khetha officials are here with you today to ask any questions on careers and related information.

CDS was established in 2010 following a decision by the Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa which sought to ensure that South Africans of 'all ages have access to quality and differentiated career information, advice and counselling services throughout their lives'.

The preamble to the South Africa's Constitution notes the importance of 'freeing the potential of each person' while the National Development Plan talks about the need for every individual to 'embrace their full potential'.

This embracing and freeing up of potential is critical to this nation's development and transformation.

Our Career Development Services offers a range of career related services for all South Africans of all ages, with the motto that "career development is from the cradle to the grave". Therefore, our aim is to provide services to everyone irrespective of their age.

Our dedicated team of career development practitioners assists the public with career related information, advice and guidance. They can be contacted through a multi-channel system which includes:

Telephone: 086 999 0123

Please call me / sms: 072 204 5056

Fax: 012 323 1138

Email: careerhelp@dhet.gov.za

Facebook: www.facebook.com/careerhelp

Walk-in service: 123 Francis Baard, Pretoria, 0002

Support provided through NSFAS

In order to receive support provided by NSFAS, all the students need to have passed Grade 9 to 12 to receive NSFAS funding to study at a TVET, and a good pass at grade 12 for acceptance at university.

If you are approved for NSFAS funding, you will be required to meet the academic admission requirements of the university or TVET college before NSFAS allocates any funding to you.

All applicants are required to submit: Certified copy of your ID not older than 3 months, and a signed and completed consent form.

Let me also indicate that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding has increased more than fivefold just in 6 years, from R5,9 billion in 2014 to R34,7 billion in 2020.

In the current financial year, NSFAS funding is expected to reach over R43 billion - a further increase of nearly R10 billion in just two years.

Currently as government, we are also examining new mechanisms, backed by both public and private sectors, to support students in the so-called "missing middle" income bracket, and post graduate funding.

Cabinet will now be considering revised options for student funding, including on what can be done for the "missing middle" in our country.

On the other hand, in support of the expansion of access to the PSET system, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), through the National Research Foundation continues to award bursaries to post-graduate, including PhD students.

The DSI also continue to place graduates and students in DSI-funded work preparation programmes in science, engineering, technology and innovation institutions in support of the initiatives towards ensuring the responsiveness of the PSET system.

As government we will continue to welcome the necessary strategic relationships with the private sector to find innovative approaches to assist the poorer and the previously marginalized students in order to have a real chance at succeeding.

Whilst government current funding policy prioritises the children of the poor and the working class, it is important that the private sector assist by ensuring that there is no deserving child who is left out of the education system of our country.

Support provided on GBV and MENTAL HEALTH

Since 2014, my Department of Higher Education and Training, through Higher Health- an organisation responsible for fighting GBV and mental health within our PSET - has diversified its programme to take account of a range of health, wellness and developmental challenges that confront students and to promote wellness in a more holistic manner.

Sexual and gender-based violence (GBV), mental health, disability and unplanned pregnancies affect our institutions and warrant prevention, care and support interventions.

So, any prospective student to our PSET upon arrival at our institutions must familiarise themselves with Higher Health critical services.

Call to vaccinate

I want to join President Ramaphosa and my entire cabinet colleagues to call upon all South Africans to vaccinate. Let us also seize the moment and use the Vooma Vaccination Weekends to vaccinate especially for those who are working during the week.

Vooma Vaccination Weekends aim to mobilise citizens and people living in South Africa to get vaccinated as a means to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Vooma campaign we aim to help South Africa's to ensure that 70 percent of the population is vaccinated by the end of December this year. Let us all turn up in our large numbers at our vaccination centres, because it is through vaccination that we will defeat this pandemic and return to our normal lives.

As I conclude, I want to pay homage and give my personal thanks to the Nelson Mandela Foundation; Brand South Africa; LoveLife; Brooklyn Colleges; Centre for Mental Wellness and Leadership and all other Acts of Goodness Campaign Partners and Enablers; for stepping forward to make the dreams of all the learners here a reality.

I also want to thank Chief Matsila for inviting me on this occasion and for getting this project up and running.

It is hard to believe that you managed to get so far in such a short time.

It is simply remarkable what people can do when there is a great need and also have initiative.

The support of schools and learners, particularly those in rural areas, has long been a matter close to my heart.

I wish all of you a successful matric examination and look forward to welcoming many of you into our post school education and training institutions.

I thank you.

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