Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria (UP) Professor Tawana Kupe has encouraged students to stay in touch with their faculties in the event that they need additional support, as classes go online this week.
Prof Kupe expressed this sentiment during an interview on the Spirit of the Law show on LoveWorldSAT, a Christian television station. He was speaking about how COVID-19 has impacted tertiary institutions.
“COVID-19 affects everybody around the world,” Prof Kupe told host Ada Ama-Njoku. “Whether you are at Harvard or the University of Pretoria, do not take hasty decisions at this stage. Rather assess, and do what you can, because the institution is going to walk with you this year. If necessary, approach your faculty for support.”
Like other institutions, he said, the impact of COVID-19 has been felt at UP, adding that UP’s hybrid learning initiative had stood the institution in good stead as online learning takes centre stage.
“We have a history at UP of using a system called Hybrid Teaching and Learning, which combines online and contact teaching,” he explained. “Contact is out because of the physical distancing requirements in order to curb the spread of the virus. On 4 May, UP begins teaching and learning online. What we have been doing in the interim is getting laptops to students who indicated that they need them. We also made arrangements where data is concerned.”
Students who would not receive laptops due to issues with connectivity and those who live in environments that are not conducive would have study materials delivered to them, he added.
Where research is concerned, Prof Kupe said the university is continuing with creative ways to ensure that it achieves its goals. He explained that UP’s research collaborators and the institutions that fund its research assured the institution that its grants would not be affected. “We had already coined the term research continuity, so we were preparing ourselves to continue with aspects of our research under the circumstances.”
Prof Kupe added that while UP has seen a reduction in the amount of research that it produces, there were other methods in place to protect existing research.
To watch the full interview, visit LoveWorldSAT on Facebook and YouTube.