At the last sitting for 2017 on 18 October, the Board of USAf welcomed the appointment of the new higher education and training minister, Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, and her Deputy, Deputy Minister Buti Manamela. The Board looks forward to building a relationship with Minister Mkhize.
The Board also thanked former Minister Blade Nzimande for great leadership. Members of the Board felt that he left a lasting legacy in the higher education and post-school sectors. Minister Nzimande is credited for the fundamental changes in higher education in the past 10 years, such as the introduction of the post school education and training system. It was under Dr Nzimande’s watch that the number of public universities grew from 23 to 26 institutions with the introduction of the Sefako Makgatho University of Health Sciences in Pretoria; Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga. He was instrumental to the significant expansion of the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and galvanised in the past two years, the introduction of the Ikusasa Students Financial Aid (ISFAP) programme now being piloted at six universities and one technical, vocational education and training (TVET) college. Minister Nzimande is also applauded for the exponential expansion of the TVET sector.
Chairperson, Professor Adam Habib, sent a congratulatory message to Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize. The Board has since held a meet-and-greet with the new Minister, where their smaller representative group tabled priority matters of concern to the sector, while hearing out the Minister’s outlook in the immediate to medium term. At this meeting, Minister Mkhize, at the request of the USAf Executive Committee, expressed a willingness to meet in the near future with all members of the USAf Board of Directors.
Professor Habib says USAf also looks forward to working with Minister Mkhize’s Deputy Buti Manamela, as it did with his predecessor, former Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana, who raised the profile of the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS programme to new heights.