Rhodes University has turned to its alumni, business and members of the public for help to mobilise resources to ensure successful completion of the 2020 academic year. With the forced closure of the campus and cessation of all contact teaching and learning, a shortage of online learning facilities and connectivity has emerged as a serious threat for many of the university students and some of its teaching staff.
“One of our most serious short-term challenge is accessing laptops for students who do not have these and to respond to their other connectivity requirements. It is a huge challenge and one that we could not foresee,” Director for Communication and Advancement, Luzuko Jacobs said.
“We have to get our academic project going as best we can in the circumstances and keep our quality. We also know that given the experience of other countries, and the need to adhere to physical distancing, it might not be possible, in the short-term, to return to in person teaching.
In the midst of all the uncertainty we have a duty to adapt our teaching and learning arrangements to ensure that our students are able to continue with their studies. We are gearing up for a major and quick transition into digital/online delivery of teaching and learning” he said.
“We are fully cognisant of the challenges that any switch in strategy is likely to create given the deep levels of inequality and poverty in our society. Some of our students do not have access to the appropriate devices and/or connectivity to participate fully in an online teaching and learning platform,” Jacobs said.
“Our appeal to our alumni, corporate South Africa and members of the public is for help financially or in-kind, to mitigate the exclusionary impact of our country’s socio-economic situation,” he added.
The University has invited anyone who can pledge any form of assistance to make contact with them at firstname.lastname@example.org
“No gift is too large or too small in dealing with the kind of situation that we are faced with as humanity at this time,” Jacobs said.
An online Orientation Programme aimed at introducing students to remote/online learning is being finalised by Rhodes University’s Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL). The roll out is scheduled for 20 April 2020 when academic activities resume.