The issue of access to data and private accommodation has arisen again following Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement of all universities going to remote learning during the adjusted level 4 lockdown.
On Wednesday, Nzimande held a media briefing where he gave an update on his department’s Covid-19 plans following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the country would be going to level 4 as a result of the increase of the Covid-19 spread.
Ramaphosa ordered that the level 4 lockdown would continue for 14 days, from Sunday June 27.
Nzimande, in response to the lockdown adjustment, said: “Contact classes in tertiary institutions will be closed this week with access to buildings closed. Residences, however, will remain open. And many of our institutions will continue with teaching and learning through remote means.”
He said based on a meeting with all higher education stakeholders the following decisions were taken:
All universities will manage their own academic activities in line with the national directions and health protocols. Institutions should have functional Covid-19 task teams.
He said: “Our universities do not officially close but all face-to-face teaching and exams must halt to face the next two-week period. Learning will shift exclusively to online learning for all students.
“Residences will remain open as it is also not safe for students to travel back home at this time and it is necessary for students to gain access to campus and residence- based wi-fi.”
This decision did not satisfy many who took to social media to raise their concern,
One tweep wrote on Twitter: “Dr Blade you have black students! Period, no data, no private accommodation allowance.”
* sitting at home with no data, disturbances and all the other factors is honestly not good for our studies honourable Minister.
— Miss Lupus Warrior (@TheLupusWarrior) June 30, 2021
“Sitting at home with no data, disturbances and all the other factors is honestly not good for our studies honourable Minister,” added a different tweep.
Another tweep argued that libraries should at least remain open for use.
“I would kindly like to ask why must libraries be closed for us higher education students? It is known that 90% of the time we cannot study at home due to disturbances etc, and being allowed to go to the library helps, also in terms of free wi-fi. Sitting at home with no data.”
“Minister you are busy posting yourself here but you failed to give us laptops you promised us yourself!” said another tweep.
Nzimande said Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges are closed this week and will reopen after the lockdown period.
He added that the college exams calendar would be adjusted to ensure students were adequately prepared for exams and assessments and not disadvantaged in any way.