Nz­i­mande spells out re­cess plans


THE coun­try’s in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion would not be shut­ting down com­pletely, but sim­ply go on early re­cess.

Univer­sity prin­ci­pals, labour unions, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of TVET col­leges, heads of SRCs as well as other stake­hold­ers within the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor have all agreed to close early, Min­is­ter of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Dr Blade Nz­i­mande said.

He was speak­ing at the Unisa of­fices in Hat­field yes­ter­day.

Nz­i­mande said the de­ci­sion fol­lowed ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tions with the sec­tor in light of the ever-grow­ing con­cerns sur­round­ing the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

He said with the post-school­ing sys­tem con­sist­ing of close to 2.5 mil­lion stu­dents, it was im­per­a­tive to make prompt de­ci­sions for their well-be­ing.

Nz­i­mande said the de­ci­sions taken by stake­hold­ers would also have im­pli­ca­tions for com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing col­leges, pri­vate higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions as well as other train­ing col­leges, in­clud­ing nurs­ing, agri­cul­tural and po­lice col­leges, to name a few.

He said clo­sures in­cluded the nor­mal in­sti­tu­tional re­cess breaks which had al­ready been planned for some time this week or next week, with the re­open­ing due just after the Easter pe­riod.

How­ever, in light of the Covid-19 threat, Nz­i­mande said the ex­act dates of re­open­ing would be de­cided fol­low­ing a proper as­sess­ment of the cause of the virus. “We also agreed there will be in­sti­tu­tional en­gage­ments and ar­range­ments that will also in­clude ac­com­mo­da­tion for stu­dents as well as leave ar­range­ments for work­ers dur­ing this pe­riod.

“How­ever, some univer­sity ac­tiv­i­ties will con­tinue this pe­riod such as post-grad­u­ate and re­search work. But some things such as lec­tures and classes in TVET col­leges and lessons for un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents will be af­fected.”

Nz­i­mande added that dur­ing this time the uni­ver­si­ties agreed to use the ex­tended re­cess pe­riod to iden­tify and ex­plore dig­i­tal method­olo­gies for teach­ing and learn­ing that might need to be put in place to sup­port the aca­demic pro­gramme at a later stage.

Nz­i­mande said an in­clu­sive na­tional task team to guide in­sti­tu­tions and the sec­tor on how to deal with the sit­u­a­tion dur­ing this time would be es­tab­lished.

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