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Online learning must become a permanent feature, says Nzimande

He said while COVID-19 forced the sector to look at digital and online ways of teaching and learning - the medium will be used in the future.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: @HigherEduGovZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Thursday said COVID-19 has made it clear that online learning must become a permanent feature in the sector.

Nzimande gave an update on efforts by his department to save the 2020 academic year in spite of the problems brought by the global pandemic.

He said while COVID-19 forced the sector to look at digital and online ways of teaching and learning, the medium will be used in the future.

“This blended and multi-model learning, including digital and online learning, must become a standard part for the future higher education system – that’s the lesson we are learning.”

Nzimande acknowledged some students have had problems with accessing online learning due to delays in the delivery of laptops.

He said new contractors had now been appointed.

“The laptops will now only be distributed in the new academic year, which will now also assist us to deal with the severe financial challenges faced by Nsfas.”

Nzimande apologised for the delay in the delivery of the laptops, sighting procurement processes that were not followed.”

Meanwhile, he on Thursday also confirmed his department was investigating cluster outbreaks of the Coronavirus at institutions in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

He said over the past few weeks, 600 students had undergone testing.

“We've assembled multi-disciplinary investigations team which also includes members of the (World Health Organization), the Health Department, and the National Health Laboratory Service to manage and contain the outbreaks through early identification of infected students and staff.”

He also raised concerns about students not practicing COVID-19 protocols.

“I appeal to students and staff to stick to preventative measures, including wearing masks, proper hand washing and avoiding hand shaking.”

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