Thursday, 11 June 2015
In today’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training it was revealed that that massive backlog of certificates owed to Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates would not be cleared in the next year.
More than 103 000 certificates have still not been issued to TVET graduates, some going back as far as 2007.
Government's role should be to empower young people with opportunities to lead successful lives. By with-holding qualifications, thousands of graduates are deprived of the dignity and independence that comes with finding work after graduation.
Dr Setumo Mohapi, the CEO of the SITA which provides IT services to all government departments, and who is tasked with producing the certificates, committed to clearing the backlog in the next 12 months.
Astonishingly, the certificate backlog has not been handled by the agency as a stand-alone priority project. This massive backlog has, to date, been managed as a maintenance matter. This shows a distinct lack of will to provide graduates with the means to improve their lives through better job opportunities.
This effectively means that, since DHET first raised the issue four years ago, nobody has been specifically tasked with addressing the backlog in issuing certificates.
Dr Mohapi also revealed that the agency was in fact unaware of the scale and nature of its own overall burden. The agency appears to have limited project management capacity and will have to employ a service provider to assist in this case.
Government compels departments to use the SITA for their IT needs. Dr Mohapi might have good intentions, but it remains to be seen whether he will be able to deliver on them, given what appears to be a moribund, dated organisation with limited skills and poor organisational structure. The SITA is also under investigation for tender irregularities.
The Portfolio Committee has requested the SITA to return within a month to present a clear project plan on how they will fulfill Dr Mohapi’s promise to clear the certificate backlog within 12 months.
The DA will critically scrutinise the plan when it is available and monitor the SITA against the plan over the relevant period.
While the Department of Higher Education and Training has previously claimed that graduates may request a letter of proof of their qualification, employers or other tertiary institutions are unlikely to accept such letters repeatedly. Moreover, many students are probably entirely unaware that such a letter can be requested.
The fact of the matter is that the government’s inability to issue these certificates has blocked many young, qualified South Africans from entering the job market and is unacceptable.
The DA will continue to fight for the speedy delivery of these certificates so that these young people are given the opportunity to improve their lives.