Education infrastructure build ‘on the go’


12 April 2013

Work has started on the higher education infrastructure projects within the government’s infrastructure build programme, says Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande.

Speaking at a New Age breakfast briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday, Nzimande said these projects accounted for R12.6-billion out of the government’s planned infrastructure spend, and were expected to produce 65 742 jobs over the next three years.

The government’s infrastructure programme includes 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), one of which, SIP 14, deals with the backlog in higher education infrastructure.

This includes the building of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces, for which preparatory work has started, as well as new Further Education and Training (FET) colleges and student accommodation and the refurbishment of existing universities.

“SIP 14, on its own, is a R12.6-billion initiative – R2.5-billion for FET infrastructure, R8-billion for various university infrastructure projects, which includes R2-billion co-funding from the universities themselves, and R2.1-billion for the two new universities,” Nzimande said.

Other SIPs under way include a project to unlock the country’s northern mineral belt, construction on a Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor, a range of energy and water projects, as well as projects to improve basic service infrastructure in the 23 poorest districts in the country.

Nzimande said the programme would create jobs in construction and related areas, as well as opportunities for skills development through learnerships, apprenticeships and internships.

“The main contribution of the Department of Higher Education and Training towards the creation of jobs is primarily through the supply of the skills required to build the various sectors of the economy,” Nzimande said. “However, in executing this core function, it also contributes directly to the creation of jobs through the employment of academic and support staff.

“The second opportunity presents itself in the creation of jobs through its post-school infrastructure expansion programme,” he said.

“The third opportunity is providing a mechanism for skilling and training individuals within the built environment, artisan development and placement of students for work integrated learning across all 18 SIPs.”