New policy changes to address the 40% absenteeism at FET colleges

Gwebinkundla Qonde, the higher education and training director-general
Gwebinkundla Qonde, the higher education and training director-general.


In order to deal with lack of students punctuality and attendance at further education and training colleges (FET), the Department of Higher Education and Training is promulgating a new policy to improve the outcomes of colleges.

There is a current perception that FET colleges are merely dismal, glorified high school, and the department of education is now set new ground rules to improve upon the quality of training and education provided by FET colleges.

Over the past few hers, the department of education has implemented a number of programs to convert FET colleges into institutions of choice in order to combat the lack of scarce skills in the country. Interventions such the appointment of chartered accountants as financial directors and numerous short-term interventions to assist weak colleges. Also students who could not afford to pay for eduction have been provided with free eduction.

, stated that all policy changes will be coming into effect in 2014 in order to address the dismal attendance and functionality of students. Currently,  40% of all students either do not bother to attend class or are late for their classes.

The new policy change’s main objective is to further improve the FET sector and is a warning to those students who do not attend or are late for classes with the prospect of being denied the right to take their exams and any financial support.

“The department, therefore, expects public FET colleges to set and enforce this policy, and our students to comply with high levels of attendance and punctuality to improve their chances for success and prepare them for the professional culture of the workplace.,” Gwebinkundla Qonde stated in a media briefing.

Since 2010, student enrollment has risen over 90% from 345,566 to 657,690 last year. During the same period, government funding of FET colleges has risen from R3.9bn to R5.6bn this year.

The new policy changes announced by Gwebinkundla Qonde goes hand in hand with the turnaround strategy announced last by the Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande for FET colleges. The main emphasis of the turnaround strategy was for effective curriculum development, professional development of academic staff, partnerships and linkages as well as student support services.

The policy changes will permit students who have an attendance of at least 80% for each subject to write exams, and colleges will be required to verify and provide attendance information to the Department of Higher Education and Training. The verification and attendance registry will have to be provided prior to the handing out of examination entry permits to students at the start of an examination session. At the same time, students who receive bursaries for tuition, travel and accommodation will only be paid if they have a minimum of 80% attendance record.

In the case that a student is sick on a regular basis for a particular course, the lecturer will have the right to call in the student to review the status of the students, and if necessary stop all cash disbursements.

The new policy changes have been welcomes across the political spectrum with many politicians stating that these changes should have come in effect years ago and that it is a pity that the government has to resort to these types of actions. Once would expect students to take responsibility for their own education and self-discipline.


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