Special Reports

South Africa's Education Department 'Dealing With' 100,000 College Certificates Backlog


South Africa's department of higher education and training has confirmed a backlog of more than 100,000 certificates. These documents should have been issued to college students already.

City Press reported that the department's acknowledgement comes after frustrated Ekurhuleni West College students protested at their campus in KwaThema, near Springs. The peaceful protests started because the college failed to release their certificates for the technical, vocational, education and training (TVET) levels three and four.

"There has been a backlog of more than 100 000 unissued certificates, which should be dealt with by the end of August," the department of higher education spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said.

Lucky Nhlapho, a mechanical student and the student representative council (SRC) chairperson, revealed that students planned to "continue with the protests until the department forced the college to release their certificates."

Nhlapho added that the delays were affecting their job or internship opportunities. The college has suspended him and was being removed from his position. He was required to hand over his SRC uniform without any explanation.

"The protest was truly peaceful and police were not called by the college to monitor our actions," he said. "The suspension letter came to me as a surprise because we haven't been forcing anyone to join the protest and we are protesting outside the college."

According to Nkwanyana, the department of higher education is currently dealing with the backlog. "The department is expecting a report back, next week, from the State Information and Technology Agency (Sita)," the spokesperson said.

The issue on college certificates is a problem affecting the whole country. Sita's report would be a reference to help address the students' concerns.

This problem, though, has already been around for a couple of years. Last year, the National Assembly raised their concern over this.

Sita and the department on higher education and training have committed to eliminate the backlog of TVET certificates, which was at 192,000 in June last year. The "Backlog Elimination Project" was created to clear the backlog by January this year.

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