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THE 50 Further Education and Training colleges are set to receive their piece of a R2.5 billion allocation as part of the FET expansion and capacity development programme.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande met FET college principals at the Ekurhuleni West College in Germiston yester-day to hand over allocation certificates.

The department’s director-general, Gwebinkundla “Gwebs” Qonde, said the money would go towards expanding training programmes offered at the colleges; buying teaching and learning equipment; developing the colleges’ management capacities; and skills development for staff, among other things.

“We want colleges to be responsive to the skill needs of their areas, provinces and the country,” he said.

Qonde said that before colleges received their share of the funding, which comes from the National Skills Fund (NSF), they must open a separate bank account in the college’s name within the next two weeks.

This is so that the money, which would be allocated over the next three years, was accounted for and not spent on anything other than what it was meant for.

Qonde said the NSF would also send officials to each college to oversee and monitor how the funding was spent.

In addition to this, the Department of Higher Education and Training would continue with the appointment of a chief financial officer (CFO) to each college.

Research by the Human Sciences Research Council in 2010 found that of the country’s 50 central colleges – there are 264 FET campuses in total, including satellite sites – only 14 had CFOs. Colleges in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape already had CFOs.

“We’re busy with Limpopo and we should be finished by the end of this week,” Qonde said, adding that by the end of the month all 50 colleges would have CFOs.

Nzimande warned principals not use the funds to outsource services they themselves should be providing.

He said the department had found that when some colleges received funding to offer programmes they didn’t have, instead of developing the programmes themselves, the colleges hired private service providers to offer the courses and share the money.

“They can work with private providers but they must capacitate themselves in the process,” he said.

He said the department would set up a national call centre at the Ekurhuleni East College that would have details of all graduates, which would be available to industries and employers by year-end.