Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, says community education and training colleges were not able to reopen on time because of the failure to comply with coronavirus restrictions.
Briefing the media on Tuesday, on COVID-19 measures in the sector, Minister Nzimande says the reopening dates will be adjusted accordingly.
“While management did return to central offices on 25 May, the centre managers and lecturers did not return to their work stations on the dates as we indicated. The principals had communicated to the centre managers and lecturers that the learning centres were not yet compliant with the COVID-19 regulations, in other words, it has not happened as we had planned because many of the centres were not ready.”
TUT state of readiness
The Minister, earlier on Tuesday, visited the Tshwane University of Technology to monitor the state of readiness for the phased return of students.
“My impressions about TUT’s readiness is the fact that they have reprioritised funding to cover COVID-19 related measures, and they repurposed one of their chemical engineering laboratories to produce sanitisers and disinfectants for the whole university and also supply surrounding communities. TUT also has a well-developed plan for multi-modal remote learning, which will ensure that it reaches the remotest of their students anywhere in our country for academic support and delivery of learning materials. I am happy with the progress I saw there.”
Department pleased with HealthCheck launch
The department has congratulated its wellness and development centre for launching the HealthCheck, a purpose-built daily screening and monitoring tool using one’s cell phone. HealthCheck is to be used in all our Post School Education and Training Institutions.
“HealthCheck is secured to use by students and staff entering our campuses daily to self-check their body temperature, and will link such data to the tracking system of the Department of Health.”
NSFAS historical debt
Nzimande has rejected as absurd an allegation by the Democratic Alliance that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is going to write-off historic debt. He explained that the amount of R1.96 billion as referred to by the Democratic Alliance (DA), amounted to irregular expenditure and was not counted as a loss to the fiscus.
“The R1.96 billion referred to by the DA spokesperson on higher education and training is actually irregular expenditure that arose when the previous board of NSFAS applied unspent historic debt from 2016 and 2017 to fund NSFAS qualifying students in 2018. This was a legitimate diversion of funds, there was nothing corrupt about it. However, due processes were not followed.”
Below are Minister Blade Nzimande’s remarks: