Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality to get its first university

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced that government will establish a new University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality east of Johannesburg.

Delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA 2020) to the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in parliament, President Ramaphosa said: “The most significant contribution we can make to inclusive economic growth is in the development of appropriate skills and capabilities.”

The President added that the investments that government is making now in early childhood development and early school learning will yield great economic benefits in the next two decades – and beyond.

“That is why we have decided to establish a new University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni,” he outlined. “Ekurhuleni is the only metro in our country that does not have a university.”

He explained that the establishment of a new University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni will enable young people in that metro to be trained in high-impact and cutting-edge technological innovation for current and future industries.

“We are making progress with the introduction of the three-stream curriculum model, heralding a fundamental shift in focus towards more vocational and technical education,” Ramaphosa told the joint sitting of the two houses. “Various technical vocational specialisations have already been introduced in 550 schools and 67 schools are now piloting the occupational stream.”

The Head of State also announced that government is building nine new TVET college campuses this year, in Sterkspruit, Aliwal North, Graaff Reinet and Ngungqushe in the Eastern Cape, and in Umzimkhulu, Greytown, Msinga, Nongoma and Kwagqikazi in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Last year I spoke about our plan to issue tablet computers to school students. The process of distributing these tablets is underway,” he said, noting that early reading programmes introduced last year are gathering momentum. “This year, we will be introducing coding and robotics in grades R to 3 in 200 schools, with a plan to implement it fully by 2022,” Ramaphosa added.

Aside from the vocational, technical education and early childhood development and early school learning, the President said that through bilateral student scholarship agreements the South African government has signed with other countries, it is steadily building a substantial cohort of young people who go overseas each year for training in critical skills.

“We have seen the impact this can have with the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro Medical Training Programme in Cuba, which has produced over 1,200 medical doctors and a further 640 students are expected to graduate in December 2020,” he said. “This programme is a living monument to these two great revolutionaries.”

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