Minister Nzimande updates on COVID-19 vaccine production & PSET

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    Minister Nzimande delivered a comprehensive update today on both sides of his Ministerial responsibilities – as Minister of Higher Education Science and Innovation. These are some of the points in respect of the two departments. I have copied the full report – attached but also available on the Facebook page.

    On science, he updated on how South Africa is engaged in using this COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to develop and strengthen South Africa’s (SA)s production of vaccines – for SA and the African continent.

    He disabused people of the false criticisms of vaccines – he explained all children are already vaccinated, against a range of illnesses, including amongst others, whooping cough, and polio. Vaccines are not new, and in addition there is the expectation that more vaccines will evolve.

    The Minister updated on the research that SA is involved in, developing plant-based solutions.

    There will be an information session by scientists to explain to the public the truth about vaccines.

    On PSET the Minister gave statistics on the impact of COVID-19 – the statistics are to be updated during January. Higher Health have continued to provide student services on issues such as gender based violence, and HIV as well as counselling on the pandemic.

    NSFAS is severely constrained, but will continue, and be co-ordinated with the changes to the commencement of the new student year. A number of institutions are still finishing the 2020 academic year.

    On enrolment 2021 all will be aligned with Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the National Senior Certificate (NSC), so matric results will be available, and those students will be able to be admitted, from early March through to April. Further updates will be made available.

    Enrolment planning co-ordinating with the NSFAS funding has become critical, and UNISA has unfortunately not achieved this. The Minister will provide further updates on this, and emphasised that this does not indicate that he does not care about the UNISA students, but capacity and funding needs to be co-ordinated.

    TVET the approved calendar will continue in a staggered manner: 25 Jan, 1, 8, & 15 February.

    College and Education & Training (CET) colleges have completed academic year, and currently, they are marking for all provinces.
    In line with the DBE revised academic programme, they will change their calendar accordingly.
    Changing CET college timetable to:
    1 February – staff return
    15 February commence teaching and learning.
    45.7m for CET earmarked allocation for cleaning services.

    Skills development – SETAs were affected by pandemic, but now there has been an increase in the intake learnership, apprenticeship, and interns.
    Limited scope & Trade Testing 16 July 2020.

    From September 2020 – individuals, including those seeking Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) can register at TTCs – to achieve artisan status.

    Please see attached the full account of the speech.

    On the questions: the Minister explained why it is important that wealthy nations not restrict vaccine to themselves; leaving the less wealthy out is like saying we will give this side of a swimming pool for those who want to pee. (Excellent explanation Minister – caused me to chuckle out loud.)

    The Minister indicated a multi-modal approach to teaching and learning has been adopted, including zero-rating websites and providing laptops, using TV and radio, and delivering hard-copy materials. So it is not just online – or laptops which are the source for learning.

    The NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo gave update on the laptop provision, aiming for provision of the first batch by March start, but not all will be provided by then. In the next few weeks full guidelines will be provided.

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