Nzimande assures SA that 'no student or institution will be left behind'

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said that for now, classes would be done online because the risk of COVID-19 was simply too great.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande gives an update on plans around the saving the 2020 academic year. Picture: YouTube screengrab.

JOHANNESBURG - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said that the 2020 academic year could roll into next year but he could not say exactly when.

Campuses will remain closed during the Level 4 lockdown, with the exception of medical students.

The minister said that for now, classes would be done online because the risk of COVID-19 was simply too great.

Minister Nzimande said that they wanted to save the 2020 academic year but not at the risk of human lives.

Nzimande said that his department was working on a system to continue classes without going onto campuses.

"This is really an unprecedented emergency. We have to use all available tools to reach our students fully cognisant that it will not substitute the need for contact learning when conditions permit."

He said that the 2020 academic calender would be reworked.

"The 2020 academic year will be reorganised to enable all our institutions and their students to complete academic requirements with the prospects of extending into early 2021."

The minister said that these were tough times and tough decisions must be made.

He added that funding for all students would continue for the 2020 academic year.

The minister said that this was to ensure that students weren't left behind.

The likelihood that the academic year will be extended is high and government said that additional funding will be needed to maintain student allowances from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

Minister Nzimande said that they had to find the money.

"We are doing this to make assurances to South Africa today that no single student or institution will be left behind in our strategy."

Nzimande said that institutions which were in financial trouble would also be assisted.

"Reprioritising our own budget but also we expect the universities themselves to reprioritise - everyone must reprioritise."

The department said that it needed students and universities to work with them to make this possible.

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