Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande on Monday said while many had completed the formal teaching programmes for the 2020 academic year, some were still finishing their academic programmes and providing catch-up opportunities to students.
Briefing the media in Pretoria on his department’s plans for the reopening of higher education institutions under level 3 of the country’s lockdown, Nzimande said all higher education institutions were following different academic plans.
He said at some institutions, assessments and practicals were still being completed in some programmes, while in other courses supplementary examinations were underway.
“Ten institutions have already completed all teaching and learning activities, including the examinations in 2020, and are just finalising special examinations, and in two cases some practical assessments to finalise all aspects,” Nzimande said.
He added: “The remaining 16 institutions are completing the academic year at different times and in different forms, depending on their own academic timetables, and utilising a variety of methods to support students to complete.”
The minister urged institutions to continue to communicate their detailed programmes with all their stakeholders, especially students, prospective students, parents, and employees.
He said he was confident that with the support of all stakeholders, the vast majority of institutions would successfully complete the academic year by the end of February, and in March all institutions should be all done.
As of 13 November 2020, Nzimande said the total number of Covid-19 positive cases reported across universities were 3,088 (1,499 staff and 1,588 students). The total number of deaths in the period stood at 58 (48 staff and 10 students).
He said in total, 48 staff members and 10 students died last year due to Covid-related causes.
The Department of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation is expected to receive an updated report on infections and fatalities at universities on Wednesday, according to the minister.
In the period between 15 December 2020 and 11 January 2021, TVET colleges recorded 146 staff infections, 123 staff recoveries, and 23 staff fatalities.
Meanwhile, at a media briefing last week on the start of the 2021 school year, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) announced a delay in the reopening of both public and private schools to 15 February.
Public schools were slated to reopen for the new academic year from 13 January to 27 January, but due to the pressure experienced by the health system amid the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, government decided to postpone the reopening for two weeks.
The sector has also been affected by the impact of the pandemic during the marking of the 2020 National Senior Certificate examination scripts. The DBE said some markers had passed away as a result of the virus while others had withdrawn from marking due to fear and anxiety.