Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology
The procurement of devices such as laptops for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students will get underway at the end of this week.
The higher education, science and innovation minister, Blade Nzimande, announced this in a statement on progress in the implementation of measures by the Post School Education Sector in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that the devices will be procured through an open tender system given the nature and the value of the procurement.
“We have agreed with National Treasury that given the huge amounts involved in the central acquisition of outstanding tablets, it is better to follow proper procedures than take short cuts, even if there is some delay, so as to properly account for spending of taxpayers money.”
The NSFAS will be the contracting party on behalf of the higher education and training department.
“They will be using the NSFAS funding policy to ensure that they remain compliant with government policy and prescripts.”
The minister indicated that further pronouncements will be made as soon as service provider/s are appointed and clear timelines for the commencement of the distribution of outstanding gadgets to all institutions as per the NSFAS guidelines will be provided.
Plans are also afoot to launch a locally produced communications satellite as a long term solution to supporting the digital transmission needs of the PSET system.
The satellite technology will “enable schools and students in remote or rural areas to obtain similar educational materials and content ensuring that entire country has a balanced approach to education, and commensurate opportunities”.
Reference was also made to the recently gazetted Directions regarding the national criteria for the phased-in return to campuses of public and private higher education institutions from 1 June 2020 onwards.
“It is critical that we adhere to these criteria to ensure that campuses are ready for students to safely return, and the effective health screening, cleaning protocols are in place to keep everyone safe.”
Community colleges have been given the next two weeks to finalize their preparation of the centres for the safe return of staff and students so that, with effect from 23 June 2020, teaching and learning can get underway.
The minister also called on all sector education and training authorities (SETA) to ensure that stipends continue to be paid to all SETA learnerships during the lockdown.
Criteria and Guidelines regarding the activities of Skills Development Providers are being finalised.