The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, is giving out free data to its students as it prepares to commence online teaching and learning.
South Africa, with 3,034 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, has been on lockdown to halt the spread.
The public university said, in a statement posted on its website, the “emergency remote online teaching and learning” will begin this Monday, April 20, in order to get the students back to ‘classes’.
The online learning is for both undergraduate and post-graduate students and covers all the faculties.
Wits said it has 5,000 new laptops for students who would need them.
It said it has also entered into contracts with MTN and Vodacom which would enable the students to receive free 30 gigabytes of data (10GB anytime and 20GB night express) for one month.
“Whilst many students are looking forward to starting the second teaching block, we understand that many of you may feel uncertain and anxious about learning online,” the school said. “We would like to reassure you that we are on hand to support you as we embark on this different learning journey together.
“The academic programme will be introduced in phases over the next few weeks, so that you have time to adjust to the new learning environment.
“All lectures will be available on our learning management systems and can be downloaded at any time. If you are still waiting for your mobile computing device to be delivered or your data to be connected, do not despair – you can access your lectures and other resources from Sakai or Moodle as soon as you are connected.
“Whilst we will be resolute in our efforts to recover the lost elements of the 2020 academic year, we remain committed to you, our students who are an integral part of the Wits community.
“Wits has negotiated with telecommunications service providers to have learning and library sites zero-rated so that you can access them at no cost to users.”
The students would not be given assignments or tests until May 4, the school said. “These measures will ensure that students are not academically disadvantaged in any way.”
In Nigeria, where universities are also shut due to the coronavirus outbreak, no public university conducts online classes for students or has immediate plans to do. Officials mentioned various reasons for this including lack of essential facilities and inadequate technical training for personnel. Moreover, Nigerian university lecturers, ASUU, are also on strike.
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