Deputy Minister expresses satisfaction with UFH's Covid-19 response plan

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Mr Buti Manamela - Higher Education Deputy Minister (DM),  has commended efforts by the University of Fort Hare to save the 2020 academic year whilst ensuring Covid-19  health and safety measures are in place.

“It’s pleasing that your Covid-19 response teams comprise  all stakeholders on campus – including students. Our emphasis as the Ministerial Team has always been that we can only succeed to curb the spread of Covid-19 when  every stakeholder on campus is involved”, said the Deputy Minister.

The DM was speaking during an oversight visit to the university’s East London campus on Monday, 03 August,  to monitor the implementation of Covid-19 health and safety measures. He was accompanied by officials from the Department, the  Ministry and Higher Health.

The oversight visit started with a formal engagement with the university’s executive team and leaders of the interim Student Representative Council. Delegates were welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu.

In his opening remarks, the VC gave a summary of measures that have been put place.

 “The first thing we did was to set up a Task Team that is led by Mrs Ntombana Rala from the Nursing Department who also serves on the Eastern Cape  Premier’s Covid-19 Advisory Team. Secondly, we appointed a Compliance Officer, Mr Philisa Mvulana who is the Director of Property and Services. We also have a Covid-19 Management Response Committee which takes issues and recommends action.”

In addition, the university has also increased the number of Nursing Staff and has also employed two doctors, one for Alice and one for the East London campus.  

The VC also announced that the first batch student laptops have arrived in the country and would be distributed soon.

The VC’s address was followed by detailed presentations by Mr Mvulana who spoke about matters of compliance and Dr Rose Masha, the Deputy Registrar for Academic Affairs who presented the revised academic calendar.

According to Dr Masha, the 1st semester commenced on 1 August and will run until  30 November. The 2nd semester will start on 1 December to 17 April 2021.

 “In terms of assessments, we aim to have 98% of exams conducted online. For our first exams, we have targeted mid-October and our second exams  will be run in February.”

Dr Masha said the calendar presented on the day was the university’s worst-case scenario. “Our best-case scenario is when we get all the modules online and squeeze the exams into one week, as most assessments will take place online.”

The DM said he was pleased with the reports and thanked the presenters for such informative presentations.

”We hope to see activity on campus. I trust all returned students will adhere to the safety measures, in order to save the academic year and save lives.”

The visit concluded with a walkabout in the Nursing Science Building.