Pretoria - Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande says the time for rural communities to move to the “big cities” to get an education is over.
He was speaking at a ceremony marking the construction of the Sekhukhune Skills Development Centre in Groblersdal, Limpopo.
The R140 million project that has swallowed up 115 hectares of land in the rural province has broken ground and will be complete by 2023, according to Nzimande.
The higher education institution is meant to provide infrastructure support to TVET colleges as part of skills development initiatives within the various sectors, within which they operate.
Nzimande, flanked by Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha, said the institution was being built in a rural area and would serve as an inspiration to rural children that they don’t have to go to the big cities to acquire skills.
“To be constructed in a predominantly rural area, the centre will assist in advancing rural development while also creating sustainable livelihoods for the benefit of the youth of Sekhukhune, in particular, and Limpopo province at large.
“We are here to break ground for the construction of this massive skills development centre, which will be a trailblazer in this province, and one of a kind as you can see with the buildings that are already coming up,” Nzimande said.
The skills centre is believed to service an estimated 4 000 students that will be offered several practical courses.
Some of the national certificates on offer include animal production, poultry production, accommodation services, chain store operations, boiler-making and engineering studies.
Although there are mixed feelings among some villagers about the centre because of uncertainties with government’s promises, 19-year-old Mamogo Tsotetsi is looking forward to studying at the college.
She said: “It’s about time we have something near for us to get an education. I’m in Grade 10 and looking for somewhere to go for a higher education because Gauteng is far and my family won’t afford it.”
Nzimande promised: “For sustainability, the project will train SMMEs through the incubation programme by the Sekhukhune TVET college with collaborations established with retailers to sell products produced from the centre.”