Dr. Higher Education, Education and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande announced on Thursday that universities and colleges’ campuses will remain closed for the duration of the Level 4 lockdown.
No contact teaching will therefore take place in the higher education sector until isolation is scaled down to a lower level. “The risk of spreading the virus is just too great to allow the more than 2.5 million students studying at higher education institutions to return to their respective campuses. We want to finish the 2020 academic year, but we can’t do it at the expense of lives, ”Nzimande said.
An exception is made for final-year students who must receive clinical training and are mainly applicable to medical students.
“When students return to the campuses we will make provision for protective clothing and hand sanitizers. Students and staff will also be constantly monitored for COVID-19. “
However, Nzimande says learning and teaching will not stop at this time. “In this time distance learning will take place through digital platforms and online learning. We realize that not everyone has access to digital equipment and data. Therefore, the department is purchasing and distributing laptops to every student who is a beneficiary of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The department is also in talks with cellphone service providers to reach an agreement to provide access to data to needy students. “
According to Nzimande, it may happen that the 2020 academic year runs over to the beginning of 2021 to give students a chance to finish the year. “However, this will be done in consultation with the Department of Basic Education and the release of the 2020 matric results.”
As far as TVET and community colleges are concerned, their academic year will also be restructured and holidays and exam times can be adjusted. “Radio and TV broadcasts of key subjects for TVET students have also begun and will continue for six months. The department also made additional resources available to students on its website. “
Nzimande has reassured NSFAS students that they will continue to be funded for the entire year, even though contact tuition does not resume immediately. “We are working with NSFAS to generate additional funding, should students need more time to complete their studies.”
Nzimande says campuses will also be disinfected.