Naledi Thapeli 02 Oct 2020
VUT students that received laptops
It is an undeniable fact that the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has caused major disruption to teaching and learning in higher education. e-learning was a life-saver for most higher education institutions as they were able to continue with their academic activities, however, due to the socio-economic status of many students who come from unfavorable backgrounds not having ready access to WIFI and computers means the reality is not the same.
Like many peer institutions in South Africa, the Vaal University of Technology has been compelled to creatively explore and implement alternative strategies for teaching and learning activities. These have included the e-learning strategy and a rollout plan which has been designed to address the challenges presented by the pandemic. Such a plan has required a great financial outlay from the University to furnish the Non-NSFAS funded students with the devices and the data, given its severely constrained financial base and the shrinking government subsidies, the VUT was compelled to seek external interventions to assist.
Dr. Narissa Ramdhani explains that the Department of Resource Mobilization, through its networks and through the submission of its proposals, approached many loyal university donors for assistance with financing of the e-learning programme. One such Donor who responded positively to the proposal request was ABSA which has also been a great player in eliminating student debt at VUT. Funding was provided by ABSA through Universities South Africa (USAF) to fund 200 laptops for Non-NSFAS funded students. Further assistance had been furnished by new funders to the University such as the Feenix Foundation through the #CapTheGap Covid-19 Relief Fund and Dunlop South Africa.
Excited by the effort, the students proclaimed how this has brought a sense of relief in knowing that they can keep up with their academics. Eleanor, who is a first-year student in Analytical Chemistry, shared that she is elated to receive this laptop as she was making use of her smartphone to keep track of her schoolwork. She was, however, struggling because her smartphone did not have Microsoft office this prohibited her from completing her assignments. Another student confessed his gratitude to receiving a laptop because he was dependant on making use of the campus computers, Tshegi Mapaya says “receiving this laptop means that I will not have to stand long queues waiting to use the computers in the study area or bother anyone to borrow me their laptop, I can now work from home.”
The University and its students are extremely grateful to these donors for their generous support.