Majority of SA students feel hard lockdown jeopardised their academic pursuits: Report

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More than half of students at institutions of higher learning in South Africa feel that hard lockdown has jeopardised their academic pursuits. This is according to the results of a study done on the impact of COVID-19 on students in the Post School Education and Training Sector.

Higher Education, Training, Science, and Innovation Minister, Blade Nzimande, launched the report at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the Western Cape.

The HSRC survey explored young people’s experiences and perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on education and learning in the country.

He says 53% of students believe they are at a low risk of contracting COVID-19, while 15% perceived themselves as high risk.

Nzimande says young people should play an integral part in the fight against the pandemic.

“This is important information because it means we need to intensify education. We need to intensify campaign. But I would like to say… it is not a bad picture at all that is emerging. And if the study tells us that more than 75% of our students do not engage in alcohol drinking and smoking as a way of coping. This is a very strong foundation in building a sober nation,” he adds.

Nzimande says COVID-19 has a severe impact on the higher education sector.

He says since mid-October last year, COVID-19 cluster outbreaks have been experienced at institutions of higher learning in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, North West, and Gauteng.

Nzimande says his department responded swiftly in addressing the outbreaks.

“To address these outbreaks Higher Health along with our leadership from these institutions have assembled multidisciplinary investigations teams which have included people from the World Health Organisation, our department of Health, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases as well as other relevant institutions like the National Health Laboratories Services to manage and contain these outbreaks through early identification of infected students and staff, identifying their contacts and appropriately assisting them.”

South Africa currently has 1 747 082 COVID-19 cases and 57 765 fatalities.