TVET colleges have ‘failed to promote gender equality’

The parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education, science and innovation has raised concern about the inadequate implementation of the human resources policies required to stimulate gender equality and transformation in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

This after the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) revealed a high level of non-compliance with the legislation that seeks to promote gender equality in its gender transformation investigation report dated June 15.

The commission, which embarked on hearings during the 2019/2020 financial year, sampled four colleges in its investigations.

The Nkangala TVET college, Northern Cape Urban TVET college, South West Gauteng TVET college, and Waterberg TVET college, were subpoenaed to appear at the hearings on November 25 and 26.

During the hearings, the commission took into consideration factors such as gender representation in occupational categories including race, disability, safety and reasonable accommodation for students.

The commission found that women [as both students and employees] are generally not well represented in terms of vulnerabilities and risks in the sector.

Noting the underlying issues of representation, the portfolio committee said it was concerned about the “capacity and accessibility of the CGE in dealing with sexual harassment and gender-based violence cases”.

In its recommendations, the commission suggested that the Department of Higher Education must include – in its 2022/23 annual performance plan – the performance indicators and targets that will help monitor the implementation of gender transformation and GBV policies in post-school education and training (PSET) system.

“The department [must] set up a dedicated unit that will monitor the implementation of gender transformation and the national policy framework on GBVF in the PSET system,” it said.

Among other issues, the commission found that there was a poor representation of people with disabilities in academic and administrative positions and that student accommodation also did not accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.

“Even more, the student accommodation offered by TVETs was inadequate, and students with disabilities have to daily commute to access education and training at the colleges.”

In its recommendations, CGE said to manage these issues, TVET colleges must develop a policy that ensures continuity, accountability, and transparency in the implementation of equality and non-discrimination.

According to the committee, the issues the CGE highlighted are not “new to the sector”.

Accounting for the incompetence, the committee said the sector is generally underfunded.

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