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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Nzimande on post school education and training institutions plans on the Covid-19 adjusted level 4 lockdown

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Wednesday said 170 000 devices were ordered by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) from an appointed service provider.

He said of these, 90 060 had already arrived in the country and were ready for distribution. 

Nzimande was addressing the media on the department’s plans for post-school education and training (PSET) institutions on Wednesday following the country’s move to Adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Nzimande said the remaining number of devices was expected to arrive in mid-July and September.

Nzimande asked universities to promptly confirm the student’s details with the service provider in order to deliver the laptop.

He said universities should contact NSFAS to ensure they verify their student information so that NSFAS-funded students can receive laptops.

“To date, university student information as per the NSFAS portal has been slow due to universities not timeously verifying student details on the NSFAS portal. 

“A total of 1 846 students’ information has been shared with the provider, of which 1 123 has been delivered to four universities, namely the University of Pretoria, University of Free State, Durban University of Technology and the University of Mpumalanga,” Nzimande said.

“I call upon our universities to contact NSFAS through the NSFAS portal to ensure that they verify their students’ information. It is important that universities prioritise this task urgently,” Nzimande said.

READ: Nzimande on student debt, financial exclusions and infrastructure backlogs

The minister said Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students do not need to order via the NSFAS portal. He said that Nsfas will, however, prioritise the TVET students for delivery.

“A total TVET listing of 46 846 has recently been shared with the provider for delivery. The provider will contact these students to arrange for delivery as campuses are currently closed. Of the 46 846, a total of 183 has been delivered to South Cape TVET College and 86 for Central Johannesburg TVET,” Nzimande said.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country has been moved to Adjusted Alert Level 4 following the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus spreading quickly across the country, particularly in Gauteng.

In his speech, Ramaphosa indicated that new curfews are in place (9pm to 4am), that there are further restrictions on movement, both within and beyond the province, and that there are implications for students and employees, amongst other matters.

This has implications for the teaching and learning programme, and assessments in particular. 

Nzimande said that in terms of the Adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown, the universities do not officially close but all face-to-face teaching and examinations must halt for the next two-week period.

He said during this 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 retain access to campus and residence-based Wi-Fi.

“However, universities need to continue to manage residences according to the necessary health and safety protocols, as outlined in the directions and in line with protocols developed by higher health,” Nzimande said.

READ: Nzimande clarifies NSFAS funding criteria

The minister urged that as many staff as possible who can do so, should work from home.

He said the sector will continue to be guided by the 29 March 2021 directions and the 27 June Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs regulations.

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