Matric students must be encouraged to go to college instead of university

Today South Africa is waiting anxiously for the release National Senior Certificate results for the class of 2016, students who were in public schools. Learners from private schools received their results last week.


The South African public would be less confused if Matric or National Senior Certificate passes were simply expressed as First, Second and Third class passes: NSC 1, 2 and 3. This would remove the myth of Bachelors’ pass and the wrong interpretation of this as meaning that everyone must go to university.

Technical diplomas are not inferior to university degrees. The two are complementary and necessary for the economy to grow fast.

Countries with better economic growth such as Germany encourage most of its youth to enter colleges and not universities. This makes it possible for the youth to acquire skills through technical and vocational education and training. The good practice results in higher employability and more productivity, especially if that is accompanied by student placement in relevant industries during college years.

South African needs skills supply in the average ratio of 1 university graduate is to 4 technicians and 16-64 artisans. These technicians and artisans are supported by appropriate tradesmen and tradeswomen needed by various industries, not skilled tradesmen and specialist technicians imported from China as seen at Kusile and Medupi.

Until such time that the ratio of 1:4:16-64 in skill development is attained; and until such time that the myth of the supremacy of university education over college education and training is reversed, South Africa will remain a basket case. The country will forever suffer from perpetually low economic growth. Politicians, big business and union leaders will continue feeding the nation the partial lie that our economy is dead because of negative effects of adverse global economic conditions.

Other countries’ economies are growing fast under the same global economic conditions. Africa has 10 countries growing the fastest relying mainly on agriculture which contributes at least 6% to that economic growth.

South African needs to wake up and grow its college sector. The college sector comprises community colleges, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges; and agricultural, nursing and teacher training colleges.

We must do away with the misconception that a college means ” a TVET” as that misconception is a shame on our willed ignorance!

Officials of national departments such as Higher Education and Training and Health must stop preventing their Ministers from implementing policy directives first issued by President Thabo Mbeki in his 2006 State of the Nation Address that nursing and teacher training colleges must be opened. Political leaders must also not allow themselves to be sabotaged by bureaucrats. They must ensure that appropriate policies and laws are in place to allow for implementation to succeed.

Statutory Bodies such as the South African Nursing Council (SANC) and sections of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) must likewise not ignore these policy imperatives and continue pushing all college qualifications into universities to the detriment of our country and economy, all in the name of higher education and false professionalism.

We need more technical schools and colleges, as South Africa needs more technically savvy workforce to drive development and less of fancy university degrees. We also need the private sector and government to avail workplaces for students and diplomates to make every working space a training place.

These technical schools must be part of existing schools, especially in villages and townships which Verwoerd made sure that they didn’t have that access to technical education plus training in mathematics, science and technology. Schools in villages and townships must be better resourced and be owned plus protected by communities. Technical schools which have been left to disintegrate in formerly white areas must be revived urgently.

We must not forget the importance of humanities, especially history, philosophy and social sciences, in skills development; because any nation that has lost its consciousness or which does not know and take pride in its history does not prosper.

Engineers can design an aeroplane; but it is technicians and artisans that make it fly!

 Source: Dr  Moloko
Dr Moloko is a an activist, medical Practitioner
and Chairperson of the Board of Health &
Welfare SETA. He writes in his personal

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