No Universities To Open During Lockdown Level 4
The Minister of Higher Education addressed the fate of Universities and what predictions are to be made about the future of Universities due to Covid-19.
Minister Nzimande from the Higher Education and Training Sector, addressed the department’s plans for the 2020 academic year for universities. Their aim is to do all they can to complete the 2020 academic year.
The decision to not resume campus based academic activity throughout post-school education and training sectors was ruled by the Department of Higher Education as well as the National Command Council. This would include Universities.
Only exception to this ruling will be that there will be a controlled return of final year Clinical Trialing students. This would involves mainly medical students and this return will happen under strict conditions. They will also be assisting with health management campaigns carried out by the Department of Health.
The risks of thousands of staff and students returning to campuses poses a major risk and won’t be successful in containing Covid-19. They have therefore decided to reorganise the academic calender so that students can complete the 2020 academic year, even if it extends into 2021.
The level 4 period of lockdown to start on 1 May will be used to put various interventions into place for students. A multi-modal remote learning system will be developed. This would involve digital and analogue systems, physical delivery of learning material to students as well as resuming learning and teaching support.
Minister Nzimande stated, “The fact that we are not opening campus-based does not mean that we’re going to sit back. We are going to be working throughout the month of May, flat out, with a view that as soon as possible we are able to resume multi-modal remote teaching and learning activities.”
He also stated, “Each University will have to put plans in place to ensure it’s specific programmes, resources and capacity are adequate to offer various forms of remote and flexible learning from beginning of June 2020 until a full return to contact learning and teaching.”
This pandemic has added significant financial pressure on Universities in the form of financial losses due to fee cuts and students not being in residences. Provisions, negotiations and planning are to take place to address these concerns.
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