Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Auditor-General issues warning about college’s viability: Future prospects for Northern Cape rural areas seem increasingly bleak

In a submission made to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education today, the Auditor-General (AG) warned that the Northern Cape Rural FET College is not viable. According to the submission, the institution not only suffered an operating loss during the 2019/20 financial year, but its assets to liabilities ratio is also not sustainable.

The College has campuses in Kathu, Kuruman, Upington, De Aar and Springbok. It offers business and engineering courses. In a province with extensive unemployment and limited natural resources, an expertly trained workforce is the key to reaching higher levels of prosperity. The AG's warning, however, raises the concern that quite the opposite may occur.

The response to a question by the FF Plus of whether the College should be permanently closed indicated that it must remain open in the interest of the relevant communities, but that a more sustainable business model should be followed. No further details were provided.

The AG's finding follows close on the news that the Vaal University of Technology wants to close its campus in Upington. And at the same time, the radio telescope (SKA) project in the Northern Cape is appointing technicians from outside the province because they cannot find people with the required skills locally. This problem may very well hold a golden opportunity. To unlock this opportunity, the government and private sector must be willing to partner while the unique nature of the Northern Cape must be taken into account as well. Acknowledging the dominant role of Afrikaans as mother tongue is particularly important.

Sol-Tech, the initiative launched by the Solidarity Movement to provide technical education in Afrikaans, is going from strength to strength. It is possible to establish something similar in the rural areas of the Northern Cape if the Department of Higher Education will cooperate with the private sector. And the ideologically driven rejection of Afrikaans as medium of instruction in the post-school sector must be forsaken.

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