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.