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Richards Bay - New universities for Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape will be located in the capitals of the two provinces, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
“The seat and main campus for the university in Mpumalanga will be at the Lowveld Agricultural College, a site overlooking the city of Nelspruit and close to the new provincial parliament,” Zuma told a labour department jobs fair in Richards Bay.
“In the Northern Cape, it is our intention to establish the seat and main campus in the inner city of Kimberley, injecting new life and purpose into this historic mining city,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery.
These would be the first two new universities to be built since democracy in 1994.
“We are determined that these new universities should take their place among the network of higher education institutions serving and expanding our national needs,” Zuma said.
The location of these new universities had caused friction, with residents in Barberton holding protests and demanding the Mpumalanga one be based in their town.
In March, Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza announced the new tertiary institution for the province would be built in White River.
Zuma said the new universities would help ease youth unemployment through skills development.
“Collectively we must ensure that these institutions become an enduring source of pride, both nationally and provincially. They must be able to attract the best academics in South Africa, the continent, and the world. The hallmark of these new universities must be academic excellence underpinned by quality leadership.”
Other strategies to absorb the youth into the labour market included improving the overall competitiveness of the economy through boosting small and medium businesses, Zuma said.
The government was also expanding temporary public employment programmes and creating more apprenticeships and learnerships.
“We have committed ourselves to increase the number of learnerships to 20,000 per annum in government to assist the youth to gain on-the-job experience as they fail to obtain jobs in most cases as they are told they have no experience.”
About 42 percent of young people in South Africa under the age of 30 are unemployed, compared with less than 17 percent of adults over 30, according to a National Treasury paper on youth unemployment. - Sapa