KATHERINE WEBER AND TSHEPANG MOJI
University of Cape Town (UCT)
On 18 April, a fire started at the base of Table Mountain and quickly spread to surrounding areas. The fire, which damaged the Rhodes Memorial Restaurant and surrounding areas, spread towards UCT, forcing students in campus residences to evacuate. All residence students were moved to off-campus locations and hostels and hotels in Cape Town have offered these students temporary housing and food. Damage to the UCT campus includes the Pearson, Smuts and Fuller halls, as well as the JW Jagger Library, which is known to house important and irreplaceable historical documents and texts.
Schemes like Millennium Fundraising and the United Feeding Scheme have offered support to displaced students by providing sanitary products, food and water. The UCT SRC has also been providing people with resources for donation and spreading information and banking details of companies and charities that have been willing to assist the university and displaced students.
University of Johannesburg (UJ)
UJ has received a donation of R110 million for the advancement of the fourth Industrial Revolution in underprivileged communities. The origin of the project and the donation came from the non-profit organisation, Growing Up Africa (GUA), which works a research-based development and design programme which is meant to build and equip strong education structures for less fortunate communities. The founder and Chief Executive of GUA, Deborah Terhune, started the project.
According to the university website, the donation has funded the construction of an Education Campus Project in Devland, Soweto, South of Johannesburg. This campus will be used to establish a centre to advance science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics for the benefit of youth of the community and ultimately for improvement of ecological, social and economic sustainability.
University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
South Africa’s Dr Sibongile Khumalo has been awarded an honorary doctorate in music from Wits University. The doctorate was conferred on 21 April and was accepted in a virtual graduation by her daughter, Ayanda Khumalo. The singer passed away on 21 January 2021, before she was able to receive the award, but not before she was informed that she was being honoured with the award.
North-West University (NWU)
With the COVID-19 pandemic having placed an immeasurable strain on South Africa’s health services and medical professionals, NWU has stated that these events have “dramatically strengthened” the institution’s case for a medical school in the North West. This comes months after Nelson Mandela University launched a medical school in the Eastern Cape.
Plans to establish a medical school at NWU were mooted in 2006, but the plan began taking serious shape in 2017. The NWU Council Chairperson, Dr Bismark Tyobeka, remarked that the NWU Medical School would address the needs of a demand in students, as well as for the greater public.
This saw the establishment of the NWU Medical School Task Team, led by Dr Tyobeka and including the dean of NWU’s Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof. Awie Kotzé, as well as the institution’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dan Kgwadi, which will investigate the case for a medical school. Once the project is greenlit by the relevant authorities, this will pave the way for the 11th university medical school in South Africa.