Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande today released the results of a study on the impact of Covid-19 on students in the post-school education and training sector.
WHILE much emphasis has been placed on how Covid-19 would affect the elderly and those with co-morbidities, not much attention was focused on how the pandemic has affected youth and students.
In an effort to draw attention to this, Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande on Monday released the results of a study on the impact of Covid-19 on students in the post-school education and training sector. The study was conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Higher Health and covered all universities, technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, and community education and training colleges.
Professor Sibusiso Sifunda of the HSRC said youth between 18 and 35 participated in the survey.
It was found that 40% of post-school education and training students moved back home during the lockdown; 53% thought they were at low risk of contracting Covid-19 and 15% perceived themselves at high risk; 41% were unable to purchase their own food during lockdown, of which 10% relied on food donations and 15% went hungry on some days.
Furthermore, 42% thought they would be able to cope with their workload after lockdown, with older students being more confident than younger ones; more than 80% of students at universities and universities of technology received institutional support in the form of data bundles, data-free access to websites, and accessing online learning platforms; 38% of TVET college students reported that their colleges offered virtual learning; and half the students reported difficulty communicating with their institutions during lockdown, with more difficulty reported among TVET students.
Nzimande said the effect the pandemic has had on mental health, particularly with the challenges facing students, was equally important.
“The other issue is the impact of Covid-19 on teaching learning. I’m concerned about the effects of the pandemic on first-year students who came straight out of matric. It’s important to focus on the youth and how the pandemic has affected them.
“Covid-19 has exposed the depth of socio-inequalities among our students,” said Nzimande.