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Malesela Matjaola (EFFSC secretary) voices his dissatisfaction.

EFF picket over UL return approach

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The Student Command of the EFF at the University of Limpopo (UL) picketed last Friday in demand that the university return all its students and academic staff under lockdown level three.
The university’s management adopted a plan, that will among other things, deviate from the return of 33% of its student complement as recommended by government, by only allowing 8% of students to return for now, the EFFSC claimed.
The university, according to EFFSC Secretary Malesela Matjaola, would make this possible by excluding final year students, despite the group being identified by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), as a priority.
According to the university in a recent newsletter, final-year students and other identified groups of students who require laboratories and essential resources for their studies will return to campus in a coordinated phased approach from 29 June.
According to Matjaola, the remaining 67% of the student population will continue with remote (e-learning) in the meantime, but the EFFSC is picketing specifically for final-year students and postgraduate students who need technical and laboratory support, he said.
“If they can accommodate those two groups and they still have space, they can decide who else can come but those groups must be given priority,” said Matjaola. In the university newsletter, however, it is specifically stated that the groups are catered for.
UL Registrar, Kwena Masha, told Polokwane Observer that their campus is the biggest sustained area of congregation in the province, with roughly 22 000 students and close to 3 000 staff members, and it is for this reason that the re-opening of campus should be done responsibly.
“Any haphazard re-population of the campus might lead to a heightened risk of infection and premature closure, defeating the very aim of opening in the first place. The executive management is aware of the risk of a possibility of the campus becoming the epicentre of the pandemic in the province and therefore all is done to mitigate against that,” said Masha.
He said the university’s approach to repatriating students is done to avoid inviting the 33% of students to arrive all at once.
The university appeals for calm and for students to constructively participate in ongoing multi-modal teaching and learning activities.
“We need to act in a responsible way so that we can remain safe, to pursue our 2020 academic activities,” he said.

Story: Maseo Nethanani
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