Politics

Academic year promises to be less disrupted: Nzimande



Johannesburg – Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Minister, Blade Nzimande, says 2022 is promising to be an academic year less disrupted by Covid-19 lockdown periods and restricted access to classes if no new waves or variants surge again.

Nzimande noted that the last two years have been extremely tough for the Post School, Education, and Training (PSET) sector, however, the system has remained resilient, despite the numerous challenges of funding constraints, Covid-19 restrictions, and new forms of teaching and learning.

“The PSET system has been immensely creative and adaptive in the management of our response to the pandemic through our ‘Save Lives, Save the Academic Year, and Science and Innovation and campaigns,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande was addressing the media on the state of readiness for the Post School Education and Training sector for the 2022 academic year on Tuesday.

A special Cabinet meeting held on Monday approved changes to the Adjusted Alert Level 1 Covid- 19 regulations. This follows the meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) which received updates on the management of the pandemic in the country.

Nzimande said with the Covid-19 restrictions eased, more and more contact learning and teaching is possible [and] as levels of vaccination increase, more students will have access to on-campus services.

In line with the approach of the NCCC and Cabinet, Nzimande has encouraged everyone in Higher Education and Training community to get vaccinated.

“As we move towards full contact learning and teaching and on-campus activities, and full return to residences, it is necessary to ensure that staff and students have access to safe campus environments, which is greatly assisted by a high level of the population being vaccinated,” the Minister said.

Guidelines on vaccination and academic year management

Meanwhile, Nzimande said the HIGHER HEALTH, which is an implementing agency of the department that is guiding institutions on the management of the pandemic, is currently consulting scientific experts in drawing up guidelines that institutions can follow in determining various matters around vaccination,” the Minister said.

While awaiting the finalisation of the guidelines in relation to the management of the academic year, Nzimade urged all institutions to ensure that the policies and procedures they put in place have been widely consulted upon.

“We must [however] point out that the Deputy President is leading a process of consultations on the issue of vaccine mandates. However, it is important that in navigating this situation we must know that in terms of our Constitution there is no right that is absolute.

“Those who assert their right not to vaccinate must also know that those who choose to vaccinate also have their rights to be protected against possible infection. In addition, the guidelines that I will release will take into account the latest national regulations and how they will impact PSET institutions,” Nzimande said.

– SAnews.gov.za

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