Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says transformation in institutions of higher learning will be his main focus in the current financial year.
The Minister said this as part of his department’s Budget Vote Speech in Parliament on Wednesday.
His statement also came at a time that transformation became a topical issue in various universities, with students leading campaigns at various Western Cape and Gauteng institutions for the removal of colonial symbols, as well as calls for black professors in senior positions.
“Despite the significance of symbols such as names and statues, we must not conflate these with more fundamental matters of transformation.
“There remains an urgent need to radically change the demographics of our professoriate transform the curriculum and research agendas cultivate greater awareness of Africa eliminate racism sexism and all other forms of unjust discrimination improve academic success rates and expand student support,” he said.
The Minster said while some institutions have made substantial progress in transforming themselves, others have lagged behind and some focussed attention will be required.
He said he would consult with universities and other affected parties to oversee a process that will lead to practical transformation targets.
“This year I will pay close attention to accelerated transformation in our universities, including setting concrete targets and transformation indicators.
“I urge the Portfolio Committee to do the same. Later this year, I am convening the second higher education summit as part of this focus. I am also resourcing the Transformation Oversight Committee to assist us in this regard,” he said.
Forensic audit to probe NSFAS corruption
The Minister said since its inception as the Tertiary Education Fund of South Africa (TEFSA), the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has awarded R50 billion in loans and bursaries to about 1.5 million students – which is significant.
He said for the 201516 financial year, the NSFAS budget from the department comprises R4.094 billion for university study loans, R2.205 billion for technical and vocational training college bursaries and R149.878 million for administration.
He said this year’s budget for NSFAS was R9.5 billion.
“Sadly, we have found evidence of corruption in the application to NSFAS loans and bursaries within the system.
“By the end of May a forensic investigation will have commenced to determine the depth of corrupt practices in the administration of NSFAS,” he said.
A preliminary report into the investigation is expected by the end of October.
Source : SAnews.gov.za