Manamela lauded UWC’s response to Covid-19, saying he was impressed all stakeholders were involved in how the institution responded and the involvement of task teams.
He said that had been one of the biggest challenges, but with time they had seen most institutions had realised any strategy that did not include workers and students would not succeed because thy were some of the major stakeholders on campus.
UWC’s deputy vice-chancellor: Academic, professor Vivienne Lawack, said there were immediate challenges with data and devices when the academic year resumed during lockdown on April 20.
She said the university started a #NoStudentWillBeLeftBehind campaign that raised R26 million for undergraduate students and R6m for postgraduate students for devices and data for flexible online learning.
“The university recorded a 94% participation rate by students in flexible learning during the various levels of lockdown,” she said.
South African Union of Students (Saus) president Misheck Mugabe said UWC had tried very well, and said he noted some important things within the institution.
“I have seen that stakeholders are working together in this university, and also I have seen a report from labour representatives, the student representative council (SRC) and senior managers, all ensuring that there is progress and stability in the university,” Mugabe said.
He said the second issue was that the university was careful about the spread of the virus, and the more important issue was the academic enterprise and how they dealt with it.
SRC president Sasha-Lee Douglas said they noted a rapid increase in the number of students requiring assistance securing basic needs.
Douglas said the category of students most affected by this were those who formed a part of the “missing middle”, having access to little to no financial resources.
“A number of students suffered due to loss of income at a family level and on a personal level, as they were unable to continue with their part-time jobs, which they relied on to sustain themselves.”
Douglas said in order to prevent any student from hunger or from lacking any of their basic needs, the SRC had through collaborating with student development and support been able to ensure the nutrition programme not only remained operational during lockdown, but was expanded to include students, who under normal circumstances would not qualify.