The Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, held a briefing on Monday, January 18 and requested that mobile networks provide long-term data provisions for students.
During the pandemic, mobile networks supplied students with data but Nzimade stated that government should not have to beg for data during a crisis and that these should be consistently rolled out in future.
He wants to ensure no student falls behind as a result of the pandemic and the uncertainty it continues to bring. He also wants to establish a sustainable, long-term strategy that “ensures the PSET sector does not revert back to pre-COVID status in relation to access online resources by students and lecturers.”
The reopening of public and private schools has been delayed until mid-February. Only 10 South African universities have completed the 2020 academic year and are finishing up with special examinations, according to Nzimande.
“Unlike in 2020, we were dealing with one academic year, at this point in time we are dealing with the completion of the 2020 academic year and the opening of the 2021 academic year,” he said.
Consultations between MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom are being set up with the sole intention of making mobile data accessible to students.
He continued in saying that educational websites will remain zero-rated.