Challenges faced by a rural FET college : a case study of a FET college in northen KwaZulu-Natal.
In this study the challenges faced by a rural Further Education and Training (FET) college to deliver education are investigated. The FET sector uses the same curricula for colleges in both rural and urban settings but conditions in rural areas are very different. For example, few industries are situated in these areas, resulting in unemployment and/or the migration of youth to the urban areas. Long distances between campuses and a lack of employment opportunities in the rural areas suggest that it is difficult to manage rural colleges in the same manner as urban colleges. The education and training sector in South Africa has experienced significant changes during the last 11 years. Since 1998, the FET sector has faced mergers, the introduction of new governance structures, curriculum changes, relationship changes with both communities and the business sector and the introduction of new funding formulae. The FET College studied is situated in the Northern Region of KwaZulu-Natal and covers a vast area served by 11 municipalities. The campuses of this College are spread over a wide geographical area. This particular FET College is historically a state-funded merged institution of former Technical Colleges and Skills Centres. The merger was intended to deliver a better service by avoiding duplication of programmes at the colleges. Data gained from interviews with relevant role players identified challenges such as lack of infrastructure, poverty, poorly resourced campuses, high turnover of staff, limited course offerings, lack of policies and lack of financial assistance for disadvantaged students as key challenges faced in the rural areas. Most of the challenges faced by staff at campuses are related to the centralisation of services. Poor management is blamed for most of the challenges experienced by central office staff. Challenges faced by students are poverty, lack of infrastructure, unemployment and transport. Based on the findings of this study, recommendations are made relating to the challenges faced by the various role players.