The IFP Youth Brigade welcomes the recent pronouncement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the gradual reopening of institutions of Higher Learning and Training and we await the details of the roll out of this plan by the Minister for Higher Education, Training and Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande.We support the gradual integration of online learning for students, however we remain extremely concerned that students who reside in rural communities will be left behind and face severe disadvantages in completing their studies. The swift move to online learning comes with various challenges and shows the inequities within the higher education and training sector as students who are ill-equipped with the tools of trade to complete their assignments and who face academic hurdles are of grave concern to the IFP Youth Brigade. The IFP Youth Brigade calls on mobile service providers to allow zero rated university and TVET college websites to be accessed for free and to drop the cost of data during the lockdown as we face the Covid-19 pandemic. We welcome the interventions and procurements of laptops and other technological devices to assist students who qualify for assistance by various universities and we hope that further measures will be taken to save the academic year in a manner which leaves no student behind. Following a meeting with student leaders by Minister Nzimande, the IFP’s student wing, SADESMO was represented in Pretoria to discuss further details on the gradual reopening and online strategy of the higher education and training sector. We welcome the action and swift interventions which will be made to ease the burden on the poorest students first and to focus on the final year students who will graduate at the end of this academic year. The gradual reopening for contact learning by some university and TVET colleges is welcomed with strict health regulations and maintaining social distancing on campuses. Students who are in the care of university or TVET residences must be regularly screened and the utmost care must be taken to avoid a possible outbreak and further spread of the coronavirus on our campuses. In saving this academic year, it our hope that students who do not have the economic means to flourish online and who are situated in rural nodes in our country will not be left out in the roll out of the gradual reopening and move to online learning of universities and TVET colleges.
-Contact: Mthokozisi Nxumalo MP IFP Youth Brigade National Chairperson 072 819 5153