South Africa

Lockdown Level 3: Blade Nzimande to give update on plans for tertiary institutions

Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande will hold a briefing on Saturday on further measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, ahead of the country’s expected shift to Level 3 of the national lockdown on 1 June.

Nzimande is expected to speak on plans for higher education, as well as concerns raised by the public on funding, and the return of medical students to campus. He will also speak about research being carried out in the science and innovation sector around traditional medicine.

The Department of Higher Education and Training decided not to resume campus-based activity during Level 4, including at all universities and TVET (technical vocational education and training) colleges, both public and private, News24 previously reported. The only exception has been for final-year clinical students, who have had a controlled return under strict conditions.

Last week, the Department of Higher Education and Training presented a “risk-based plan” to both houses of Parliament’s committees overseeing higher education, detailing how the department plans to save the 2020 academic year.

The department presented plans for the opening of universities, (TVET) colleges and community education and training (CET) colleges.

At universities – under Levels 3 and 2 – groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students would be phased in. Under Level 1, all students would return to campuses, with physical distancing and health protocols still in place.

At TVET colleges, students would return to campus once the National Coronavirus Command Council has taken into account all necessary health and other considerations.

Normal size classes would only resume under Level 2. CET college students would only return from early June under Level 3, and the academic calendar would be amended to align it with the declaration of Level 3.

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