SACP General Secretary Blade Nzimande. File photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Pietermaritzburg - The government is to invest nearly R5 billion in Further Education and Training (FET) colleges over the next five years to ease the load on tertiary institutions and to encourage young people leaving school to enrol for job-focused training.

Speaking in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said that the 50 FET colleges around South Africa could accommodate 100 000 new applicants this year.

The department was working hard to try to change the mindset of matrics and parents who thought a university education was the best and only option.

FET Colleges enabled matriculants to enrol in courses and apprenticeships to expand their options.

Nzimande said those who failed matric could also enrol at FET colleges where they could redo their matrics or study a trade.

“We will be improving the infrastructure, equipment, quality of teaching and the variety of courses on offer.”

Nzimande urged students who wanted to apply for a place at higher learning institutions not to queue outside the buildings, saying he did not want a recurrence of the tragedy when, at the University of Johannesburg last year, thousands of students desperate for last-minute placements stampeded, leaving many injured and a mother dead.

“Going to stand in queues at our institutions puts your life and safety at risk,” Nzimande said.

Instead, he encouraged those with internet access to apply online.

Those without internet access were urged to contact the department’s Career Advice Clearing House to find out which institutions still had places available.

The minister congratulated those who passed the matric exams and urged those who failed “not to lose hope”.

“Learning does not begin and end with matric. Rather, it is a lifelong experience.”

There were options available for those who had failed, Nzimande said. Some of the courses offered at FET colleges involved scarce and critical skills not offered at other institutions.

* For more information, call the department’s Career Advice Clearing House, toll-free at 086 011 1673.

You may also send an SMS or a “please call me” to 072 204 5056. Alternatively, visit the website at

The Star