The University of Pretoria has stated that academic activities will resume on 20 April. Rikus Delport, university spokesperson, told PDBY that the university is committed to ensuring that all its students complete their academic year successfully, he emphasised that in line with the nationally declared lockdown period, the university will resume all academic activities on 20 April 2020. “Should it not be possible to resume contact lectures when the university re-opens, we plan to continue the academic programme by teaching online until the university’s normal functioning can be resumed”, Delport added.
In explaining how the university intends on assisting students who doesn’t have access to adequate electronic devices, Delport said that “the University’s Executive is currently working on plans to support those students who currently do not have access to electronic devices and will send out a notice as soon as everything has been finalised.” The university has also stated that it is working with Telkom, MTN, Vodacom and Cell C to provide “zero-rate ClickUP data”, to assist students who need to access the internet from their homes. Delport added that “the discussions are already well advanced and will zero rate a number of websites that student use regularly for study purposes, including but not limited to ClickUP (Blackboard), the UP Library website as well as student and staff portals”.
In order to assess the preparedness for online learning, several entities, including some faculties and the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, are running a large scale pilot study in four faculties to test the new Online Student Feedback on Teaching Survey (SFTS), Delport explained that the purpose of this pilot study is to test the new system. He emphasised that normal ITS requirements before full implementation applies and that the study will not impact students without gadgets or data negatively.
In an email issued to students, UP’s Vice-Principal for Academics, Professor Duncan also emphasised the institution’s commitment to ensuring that all its students complete the academic year successfully, in the email Prof. Duncan encouraged students to use this time at home as an opportunity to improve their ability to learn independently and to prepare themselves for the future of work.
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