- The Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande has briefed the media on the latest undertakings by the department
- Nzimande said the 2020 academic year will be saved and will be carried over to 2021
- The minister added that they are looking at restructuring now the student aid scheme works
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Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande briefed the media earlier on his department's readiness for students' phased-in learning.
The 2020 academic year will only end early next year due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic.
eNCA reported that tertiary institutions are adopting a phased-in approach that will allow students back to the classroom. The 2020 academic year will be saved, according to the Higher Education Department
The department unveiled plans to gradually phase in learning after the lockdown.
READ ALSO: Explainer: Minister Motshekga publishes new back-to-school dates
Nzimande said the most important message is that the country needs a multi-disciplinary scientific efforts to defeat the virus. He also says no single scientific discipline can defeat the pandemic.
Nzimande said in the beginning of the pandemic, the Higher Education Department embarked on a process to re-purpose some laboratories to assist in retesting.
Nzimande said the Science and Innovation Department is working with some of the universities to look into indigenous products like umhlonyane as part of indigenous knowledge research. The department is also looking into the effectiveness of cannabis.
Nzimande said 20 universities have welcomed back students to the campuses. He added that the department is closely monitoring the return of students to campuses.
Nzimande added that seven institutions, including the University of the Free State, University of Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu University, will reintegrate students between 17 July and 31 August.
READ ALSO: Mkhize: Schools can't close forever, Covid will still be around in 2021
The minister said the 2020 academic year will only be completed in the early part of 2021 and it is likely that the intake of first year university students in 2021 will commence later than usual.
Nzimande said a Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has been appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the business processes, systems and capacity of NSFAS.
The committee is set to make recommendations for a future model of administering student financial aid.
The minister said he plans to publish guidelines in the Government Gazette soon to guide institutions, private accommodation providers, NSFAS and fee-paying students on issues linked to tuition and accommodation fees for the 2020 academic year.
This will take into account the fact that everything has been extended and there have been substantial changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Briefly.co.za reported that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga amended the school plan for the return of students.
It was determined that only Grades 6, 11 and R would be allowed to return to school on Monday.
The Department said that it cannot ignore the rising Covid-19 infections and therefore the plan was adjusted accordingly.
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