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Johannesburg - Education is recognised as a route out of poverty and a way of promoting equal opportunities, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said Thursday.
“The achievement of greater social justice is closely dependent on equitable access by all sections of the population to quality education,”
He was speaking in Pretoria at the launch of the white paper on post school education and training.
“Just as importantly, widespread and good quality education and training could allow more rapid economic, social and cultural development for society as a whole. Without education, economic growth is not possible.”
He said the results of inadequate education often included unemployment, social upheaval, instability and above all poverty.
“This is why education and, in the case of South Africa, educational transformation remains a top priority for the ANC.”
Nzimande said South Africa needed a single, coherent, differentiated, highly articulated and yet diverse and non-racial post-school education and training system, with all sectors playing their role 1/8as part of a coherent but differentiated whole. 3/8
“This is what the department of higher education and training, and indeed government as a whole, proposes in this white paper for post-school education and training that we are launching today, building on the advances of the past 20 years.”
The development of integrated, fully articulated and seamless post school education had been made easier by the establishment of the department of higher education and training (DHET) in 2009.
“Through the white paper for post-school education, we are firmly set on creating a diverse, integrated post school system that would absorb into education and training many of our youth and adults who could not access them in the past...”
He said the aim of the white paper was to create a framework that defined the focus of the department of higher education and training, and priorities that enabled it to shape its strategies and plans for the future.
“It is a definitive statement of the government’s vision for the post-school system, outlining our main priorities and our strategies for achieving them.”
“This white paper is a motor with which to drive and deepen transformation of the entire post-schooling sector, improving the capacity of the post-school education and training system to meet the needs of the country.”
It aimed to set out policies to guide the DHET and the institutions for which it was responsible in order to contribute to building a developmental state with a vibrant democracy and a flourishing economy.
“This white paper will empower us as we strive to build a post-school education and training system that is able to contribute to eradicating the legacy of apartheid.
“It will assist us to build a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa characterised by progressive narrowing of the gap between the rich and the poor.”
Nzimande said access to quality post-school education was a major driver in fighting poverty and inequality.
“This post-school system will be responsive to the needs of individual citizens and employers in the public and private sectors, as well as serving broader developmental objectives.”
He said the paper was in line with the country’s key national policy documents including the National Development Plan, the New Growth Path, the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa.
The paper emphasised the crucial role of technical and vocational education and set out strategies for transforming it further, defining its place in the post-school system and ensuring that it became a path to a brighter future for its students and for the country.
“Through the white paper we seek to improve alignment between universities, Technical and Vocational Colleges and Sector Education and Training Authorities 1/8SETAs 3/8 in an effort to improve student and learner mobility across these sectors.”
The white paper would ensure that South Africa became a country with a deeply rooted research culture.
“We want outstanding researchers capable of producing ground-breaking work. This is where universities, regarded as centres of knowledge production, are crucial.
Nzimande said the white paper would ensure that citizens had full access to the country’s educational institutions, including the envisaged Community Colleges.
It emphasised workplace learning, and prepared workers for the labour market and economic self-sufficiency.