Education stakeholders in Limpopo’s Waterberg District have been urged to drive youth towards employment opportunities that are prevalent in the district.
Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela, on Monday addressed the Waterberg District Education Summit in Mokopane, Limpopo, where he called for targeted campaigns to open up opportunities for youth.
While acknowledging that government is making significant investments in basic education, as well as higher education and training, Manamela said more should be done to improve education outcomes.
“Education spending in general is the one of the biggest budget items in our national budget. We are spending considerable resources in education when compared to our middle income comparator countries. The question we must ask is whether we are getting the education outcomes for the investment that we are making.
“We know that too many of our young people are not getting the education needed to transition into the labour market. Even graduates struggle to access the labour market. This raises the question of whether the skills that they are getting enhance their employability,” Manamela said.
Through the summit, the Department of Higher Education and Training wants to facilitate dialogue on the education, training and development challenges facing young people in the district.
It’s also an opportunity to engage different stakeholders in discussions of interventions to address education, training and development challenges in the district, and facilitate dialogue on challenges facing unemployed graduates in the district.
The event also aims to clearly define the requirements for the employability of young people in the district and identify roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in the implementation of the intervention strategies.
One of the end goals of the summit is to establish a district forum that will continue to facilitate the dialogue, and monitor progress on the implementation of strategies and resolutions taken by participants.
Few students enrol for engineering and mining
According to data, Waterberg District has a number of schools at different levels as well as specialized schools including technical high school and agricultural high school.
Data also suggests that the number of schools available in the district are sufficient to provide for all children of school going age to go to school and study in specialized technical and agricultural subjects from secondary school.
However, many schools don’t offer mathematics as a subject up to Grade 12 and as a result, only a few students are able to enrol for engineering and mining related post-school qualifications.
“The quality of mathematics passes in Grade 12 is not good. The district has a lot of mines and a variety of economic sectors which provide job opportunities. However, due to lack of skills within the district, many of those jobs are taken by people from other districts and mainly from other provinces,” Manamela said.
Manamela stressed the need for Waterberg and Lephalale TVET Colleges to expand enrolment in engineering and mining related programmes, agriculture and forestry, environmental education, tourism and hospitality studies in order to provide scarce and critical skills for employability.
He, however, acknowledged that infrastructure for expansion of programmes and increasing access to vocational and occupational programmes is not readily available to TVET colleges.
“The TVET colleges also face the challenge of having limited employers who are willing to open doors of their business and industries for placement of college and university students and graduates to acquire work-based exposure and experiential learning, thus unwilling to make their workplaces learning spaces,” the Deputy Minister said.
He urged stakeholders at the summit to get communities to engage with education institutions so that education is seen as a shared responsibility between government and communities, and get parents to further support learners in their educational journeys.
“Find creative ways to further utilise education infrastructure that is underutilized. Perhaps consider community-run extra classes and educational camps. Target campaigns for local business to open up their workplaces as training spaces.”