Minister Urges Universities and Colleges to end contact classes


Speaking at a Ministerial press conference this morning, the Minister responsible for Higher Education and Training called on all universities and colleges to suspend contact classes.

Speaking at a Ministerial press conference this morning, the Minister responsible for Higher Education and Training called on all universities and colleges to suspend contact classes.

Minister Blade Nzimande recognised that things were moving very quickly on the ground and individual institutions were making their own decisions based on their own circumstances.

To date only UCT has closed the university by moving the vacation one week early. "There are pros and cons to shutting down the institutions, for example where do we take the students who are in residences. Most have agreed they will suspend lectures and use online more." 


Nzimande informed the public that his department had established a Covid-19 response team comprising of Vice-Chancellors and College Princpals, as well as health experts.

"We have agreed we will meet with the sector tomorrow morning to look at a comprehensive way forward."

He also confirmed that the guidelines state that all major gatherings must be postponed in line with the directions from the President and that all international travel is postponed. Alternative means, like using technology should be used.

Nzimande said every institution must develop a communication strategy and a health policy.

He confirmed that two universities have had people testing positive.  Wits university has a student who tested positive and UCT has a lecturer found to be positive for Covid-19. Both are in isolation.  

The Basic Education Department held a teleconference with education MECs from all provinces this morning. It was estimated that 10 days will be lost as schools will be closing on Tuesday and reopening on the 14th of April.

It was agreed that the school calendar will be amended to reduce the June holidays by one week and the December holiday by 3 days.  

"If we go beyond 10 days we might extend the year even longer," said Minister Motshekga.

"During this long break the schools will be intensifying campaigns that don't require physical contact and schools should be giving families worksheets so children can do work at home," she added.




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