Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges - formerly known as FET institutions - are not an easy way out, and the Basic Education Department ought to stop framing them as such.
(Also read our article: Grade 9 school-leaving certificate in the pipeline)
This is according to Professor Volker Wedekind, an associate professor and research chair in Vocational Education and Pedagogy in the Centre for Research in Education and Labour (REAL) in the Wits School of Education.
Wedekind says the assumption that TVET colleges are less demanding than other institutions is problematic.
According to Wedekind, TVET colleges have the potential to become the desired option for school-leavers across the country, but need to improve their curriculum and the quality of their teachers.
He says the Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande's push to ease the pressure on universities and model the colleges as institutions of choice has perpetuated the generally ill-informed impression of TVET colleges.
Listen to the full conversation from The Redi Tlhabi Show:
Stigma of TVET colleges rooted from narrow conception
Wedekind advises that, unlike many South Africans, international communities understand that vocational education entails a wide spectrum of skills and programmes.
He says that colleges are only one aspect of vocational training, that fill a particular niche at a particular level.
One of the difficulties is that vocational training has been narrowly associated with the colleges and there is a recognition that we need to attract the right people to the colleges.— Professor Volker Wedekind, Research Chair at Wits' REAL
Labour market must reach out to TVET colleges
Affordability and access to TVET colleges has improved, but Wedekind says employers have not made enough effort to place trainees and graduates in their workplaces.
TVET colleges need to be much more connected to the world of work. Vocational education is any learning that encourages people to participate or improve within different fields of work.— Professor Volker Wedekind, Research Chair at Wits' REAL
Below are some of the listeners' views on TVET colleges:
@RediTlhabi Redi im a student in an FET nd vocatiional studies in Marketing Management. In Nov il b graduating bt im demoralised a bit— Young Flame (@SimphiweKahla) September 15, 2015
@RediTlhabi your last caller is correct. Other tertiary institutions do not recognise FET qualifications.— Yolande (@yolande_perry) September 15, 2015
@RediTlhabi every job is important for our societal collective & we should treat all training as valuable as we need mechanics & doctors!— CoachingPowerhouse (@Time2Coach) September 15, 2015
@RediTlhabi Education is not about earning a certificate its about using those ideas to change lives.— Lets create (@DanielSeremba) September 15, 2015