Parliament of South Africa

08/02/2017 | News release | Distributed by Public on 08/02/2017 09:01

Sefako Makgatho University a Model for SA, Say Committee Members

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has expressed satisfaction with the management of the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University outside Pretoria in Garankuwa.

Committee Member Mr Andrikus van der Westhuizen said he had been to various universities in the past and it was rare to find a situation where all stakeholders worked together towards achieving a common goal.

'Often there are challenges and demands that could not be met and I had thought there would be a long list of complaints and distrust. This is pleasantly surprising, especially given the anticipation of the possibility of the disruptions we expected to have,' Mr Van der Westhuizen said.

He commended them all and said with the level of trust they have displayed and the buy-in from all stakeholders the University could go far. He said the Committee's report needed to reflect the sense of collective approach the university has demonstrated.

In congratulating the university on its achievements, the Acting Committee Chairperson, Mr Danny Kekana, said its challenges were not insurmountable. The Committee will support a budget that aimed to improve the University, he said.

'Students should understand the location of the institution is as a result of the South Africa's past separate development policies. The university needs to improve on electronic learning, and its collective approach and quality training should benefit patients in townships,' Mr Kekana said.

The Committee heard that the University has a challenge providing accommodation to meet requirements. Half of its students are housed in Pretoria central business district.

SMU Vice Chancellor, Professor Chris de Beer, said students spent about 45 minutes daily travelling to and from campus, thereby missing out on library services and experiencing student life on campus.

'The infrastructure is in a bad state and has not been maintained for too long. About 185 [accommodation] spaces have been lost due to residences that had to be demolished. We are losing space when we are in desperate need for space,' Professor De Beer said.

'For too long there had not been a maintenance plan for this campus. There is a challenge of the sewer plant that not only caters for the university, but also the nearby George Mukhari hospital. There is a challenge with the irrigation system, and a number of residences will have to be demolished, as their foundations were not done correctly.'

He said funding has been made available for the next five years to upgrade infrastructure.

The Committee was also informed that all services, except gardening services, have been insourced, and 80% wifi coverage realised.

'This (what the Committee witnessed) is powerful. If students were of no assistance to the people, that would be problematic,' Mr Kekana said.

The Committee is on a week-long oversight visit to Pretoria where it has met with the Department of Higher Education and Training, the State Information Technology Agency and the university. It will also meet with various Sector Education and Training Agencies, such as Food Beverages, Media and ICT.

Sibongile Maputi
2 August 2017