Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande says by 22 September, the higher education community had lost 89 members to COVID-19. The minister says of the 89, 53 are from universities while 36 are from TVET Colleges.
69 of those who lost their lives to the virus were staff members while 20 were students.
“We mourn these losses of staff and students in our institutions and send our condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those who have succumbed to the illness,” Nzimande said during a press briefing in Pretoria.
Minister Nzimande says national entity Higher Health has, through training, capacitated over 13 000 frontline staff across campuses to assist with COVID-19 response on a daily basis.
He says 3 200 student and staff volunteers have been trained and capacitated for the implementation of COVID-19 daily screening, prevention and education initiatives.
“To date, over 12 000 individuals have been trained through scientific knowledge to recognise and appropriately manage the COVID-19 pandemic within our post-school education and training sector,” Nzimande said.
Nzimande says Higher Health has also been monitoring the COVID-19 vulnerabilities for the Post School Education and Training (PSET). This has been done through data received from the digital screening mechanism HealthCheck health tools.
“We do this through the tracking and tracing system with the Department of Health and NICD, on the positivity rate, incidence rate, infectivity rate, across all our campuses, in the PSET system,” the Minister said.
The Higher Health, through daily HealthCheck, issues out “health passport” to every student, staff and stakeholder entering campuses. This has assisted the Higher Education Department with the identification of moderate to high-risk individuals and their referral for appropriate follow-up care.
This has resulted in the following:
- The administration of over 5 million HealthCheck screening.
- Over 1.6 million students and staff use HealthCheck before entering campus.
- The introduction of a 24-hour dedicated toll-free, higher health student mental health support service, run through a team psychologists, social workers, counsellors in support from SA Depression and Anxiety Group.
- Assistance of over 500 individuals with finding solutions and averting serious, often tragic consequences of mental ill health.
Minister Nzimande briefs the media on Higher Education under Level 1: