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600 lunch packs a day to sustain hungry students at UCT

Hungry students are being fed 600 lunches a day in a feeding scheme that is growing in leaps and bounds at the University of Cape Town (UCT)

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Feeding scheme at the University of Cape Town supplies 600 lunch packs daily to sustain the hungry students.

The scheme was started in April 2018 after UCT’s department of social development realised that a lot students carried on with insufficient or no food at all. It has been concerning how this has been growing.

UCT said in a statement that the lunches were made up, packed and distributed by volunteers. Lunch Packs are distributed on UCT’s upper campus, the College of Music, Hiddingh campus and the Child Guidance Clinic.

Matheko Moshoeshoe-Madi, from the department of social development’s strategic fuel fund, said: “We advocate for education, but we are going through issues of poverty. Yet students are willing to come to varsity to learn, not knowing where their next plate of food is coming from. We wanted to help.”

The National Research Foundation’s Stephen Devereux made headlines in 2018 when he reported that more than 30% of the country’s students were food insecure, compared with 26% of the population. These numbers pose a huge challenge as they show that students are going to lectures hungry.

The situation is aggravated by the inability of students to receive National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

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Universities

Minister Blade Nzimande on NSFAS Covid-19 contingency plan and disbursements

National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Covid-19 contingency plan and disbursements

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Full statement : https://bit.ly/2wIJWNz

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Preliminary work on coronavirus vaccine underway in SA

The University of Cape Town together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as well as the Biological and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa started work on the development of a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus

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With the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus which has had a global impact, disrupting not only economies but proving to be one of the grave challenges the health sector has been faced with.

Taking that there is still no cure or vaccine for the Covid-19 virus, scientists as well as researchers from various parts of the world have started preliminary work on a coronavirus vaccine.

South Africa has started work on the development of a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has said.

This project is being taken on by the University of Cape Town together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as well as the Biological and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa.

In a response following President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s announcement of a 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, Nzimande said a number of existing drugs was currently being re-purposed and tested for efficacy, adding current international trials under the co-ordination of the World Health Organisation were being monitored.

Nzimande further added that “Progress is expected in about 18 months” 

“The South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis has been engaging with other data and modelling groups to refine its assumptions to produce an updated model of the spread of the virus.

This is expected to be completed by friday, Nzimande said.

In terms of diagnostic tools, he added it had become urgent to locally manufacture reagents for testing kits.

“These are currently being imported and the lockdown may threaten access to supplies.”

“The Department of Science and Innovation has negotiated the re-purposing of various facilities and labs to respond to the outbreak. The entities in line to assist include Biovac, Centres of Excellence in TB Research, Centre of Proteomic and Genomic Research and Afrigen Bio.”

“Discussions are underway to facilitate accreditation for some of the facilities to produce reagents. The team will be discussing budget requirements this afternoon.”

“For the above projects, the Department of Science and Innovation has already availed R12-million and will redirect an additional R30-million.”

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Moving academic programmes online following rise in Covid-19 cases

Tertiary institutions looking to continue with academic programmes online to ensure students keep up with learning programmes

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IMAGE: By@yomzansi

To ensure that academic activities continue, schools have come up with an initiative to continue with academic activities online to ensure that teaching and learning continue remotely.

Tertiary institutions are looking to follow in the steps of the University of South Africa in terms of offering learning programmes online to ensure that students are not left behind.

We saw the University of Johannesburg, Wits University as well as the University of Cape Town be the first to shutdown academic activities following the president’s announcement to shutdown schools until further notice.

Elijah Moholola, the University of Cape Town (UCT) spokesperson, said they looking to develop a different approach to teaching and learning to keep up with the academic year.

Taking that there are those students who may not afford or have access to data, this also aims to take that into account. Online teaching would have low-tech options so that students with low bandwidth connections could participate fully.

“Arrangements are being made by UCT, Universities SA and service providers for zero-rated mobile data to specific UCT online resources, so that students do not have to carry the costs of remote learning,” Moholola said.

Other universities looking to implement these measures have said:

University of Western Cape spokesperson Gasant Abarder said the university had a well-established institutional learning management system, which enabled students to continue studying remotely.

  • University of Western Cape spokesperson Gasant Abarder said “the university had a well-established institutional learning management system, which enabled students to continue studying remotely.”
  • University of Pretoria (UP) vice-chancellor and principal Professor Tawana Kupe said UP had activated its learning continuity plan through the online teaching and learning channels.

Other: Third case confirmed at UCT

The University of Cape Town has reported its third case of the coronavirus.

“In all three instances, the provincial Department of Health confirmed the cases through the prescribed protocol. The three colleagues involved are in quarantine.

“The Department of Health has also immediately begun contact tracing in the respective cases and those identified as close contacts have been informed and asked to quarantine themselves for two weeks,” Phakeng added.

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