THERE are plans to establish a Further Education and Training (FET) college, the first ever higher learning institution in the formerly war torn Richmond area.
Spearheading the project are former students of the Indaleni Teachers’ Training College, which closed down in 1980, together with the Richmond Municipality and the Methodist Church.
Their aim to establish a FET college was born out of their desire to educate the residents of Richmond who had to abandon their schooling when political violence gripped the area during the early 1990s. They also want to cater to the educational needs of more recent school leavers.
The college, estimated to cost more than R20 million to establish, will be built on 2 000 hectares of land belonging to the church.
The old college buildings are still standing, but have remained unused and have been vandalised over the decades. Making up the steering committee are chairperson Dr Khoza Mgojo, who graduated from the college in 1952; his deputy, Sibusiso Sithole, municipal manager for Richmond Municipality (not his counterpart at eThekwini, who has the same name); secretary A.D. Dlamini who graduated in 1959; two deputy secretaries, May Dlungwane, who graduated in 1952, and Richmond council speaker Thulani Shabalala.
The treasurer for the committee is former Ukhozi FM head Bhodloza Nzimande and former Congress of the People (Cope) president, the Reverend Mvume Dandala will act as the co-ordinator. Dandala has quit politics and, is now leading the Manning Road Methodist Church in Durban.
Speaking to The Witness, Mgojo said the college aims to empower residents with education and skills.
He said the political violence hindered most people’s dreams of furthering their education, so when the matter of what to do with the vast tract of land was discussed with the Indaleni community, they suggested the establishment of a higher institute of learning.
Shabalala said the college would help curb drug and alcohol abuse which most unemployed and uneducated youth find solace in.
“Also there are a lot of people who come to the municipality looking for odd jobs because they do not have qualifications to seek better paying jobs that have benefits,” said Shabalala. He added their plans to build the college was communicated to the Higher Education Department, and the steering committee was tasked with submitting a business plan.
Attempts to get comment from the department were unsuccessful at the time of going to print after numerous messages were left with the minister, Blade Nzimande, and his personal assistant over the course of several days. Dandala said the Methodist Church was still in discussions on how they can assist the committee to rebuild the college.
He said because the land available is so big they want to ensure that, while skills are transferred to students, they also establish a farm to help students become competent entrepreneurs and produce food for Richmond.