South Africa’s higher education authorities “are working tirelessly to salvage what is left of the academic year” following the coronavirus pandemic disruption of the university calendar for the greater part of 2020, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Thursday.
Briefing the media in Pretoria, Nzimande said the pandemic and the national lockdown that followed it had caused serious disruptions to operations by universities, including teaching, learning, research, and engagement programmes.
“Universities, their staff and students have responded positively to the resumption of studies although at different paces -- depending on each institution’s circumstances,” he said.
According to the minister, the vast majority of the country’s 25 public universities were at “low risk” of not completing the academic year at all due the Covid-19 disruptions.
He, however, assured South Africans that all universities were fully committed to completing the 2020 academic calendar by mid-March 2021.
Only the University of Johannesburg had so far wrapped up its academic year, while the University of Pretoria was expected to finish by the end of November, Nzimande said.
Eight other universities in the country were expected to finish in December, three in January, nine in February and four in March, he said.
Meanwhile, all 25 universities are set to start the 2021 academic year at end of March, with one set for an April opening of its calendar, he added.
“This aligns well with the release of the Basic Education National Senior Certificate results which are expected to be released on the 23 February 2021,” he said.