The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has noted information circulating on social media that seeks to portray its Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, as uncaring and indifferent to the needs of our poor and rural students. This is with regards to the provision of access to devices and data, as the University shifts from contact face-to-face learning and teaching to a remote online mode of delivery of the academic programme.
The national lockdown is an unprecedented response to COVID-19, but one that has necessitated that we shift to online teaching and learning. We are navigating this shift as effectively as possible. We are aware of the challenges, the inequities of access as well as the anxiety and uncertainty caused by this mode of teaching and learning. As a university, we are committed to closing these gaps to the best of our ability.
The University wishes to set the record straight that as it shifts to an online mode of teaching and learning from Monday, 20 April 2020, it is committed to ensuring that all its students have access to the necessary devices and data. We are pleased to announce that the University has invested significant financial resources to secure 30GB of data per student per month. Further details about this will be communicated on the relevant platforms.
It is worth noting that this year alone, we have distributed 1 750 laptops to qualifying first-year NSFAS students, and that we have a further 4000 available to distribute. It is also worth noting that the university has issued 21000 devices to qualifying students. We continue to work closely with telecommunications providers with the view to provide more data solutions to our students, so that they may perform their studies efficiently. This demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that none of our students is left behind, as we move to online modes of teaching and learning.
We realise that some of our students operate in environmental conditions that are not conducive to learning. For the next two weeks, there will be no formal assessments or assignments. Students will have the opportunity to catch up on assessments. The university will continue to engage with students as we roll out the online teaching and learning.
Our success as an institution depends on how we respond to this as a community and as management. We are committed to addressing as far as it is reasonably possible the matters that our students have raised, and others as they emerge.