- Universities across the country need R1.85 billion as part of their Covid-19 campus readiness plans.
- Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande has said funding for universities varied from as little as R2.1 million to R 402.8 million.
- Community Education and Training (CET) colleges need R27 million to prepare for the reopening of their facilities.
South Africa's universities need R1.85 billion as part of their Covid-19 campus readiness plans, but Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande assessed it as unrealistic as many items indicated "were unnecessary".
Nzimande revealed this in response to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Belinda Bozzoli who asked for details on the total cost to be incurred by his department and institutions of higher learning to prepare for the reopening of their facilities after the easing of the hard lockdown.
Bozzoli also wanted details on whether his department and institutions of higher education and training will be employing additional staff to ensure that social distancing and other essential health protections have been put in place.
Nzimande said letters were sent to universities in May requesting them to submit costed teaching, learning and assessment plans, as well as campus readiness plans to the department by 19 May.
"Universities submitted costed Campus Readiness Plans, which varied considerably with respect to what institutions wanted to implement and with regards to the funding required and the equipment requested. Funding required varied from as little as R2.1 million to R 402.8 million. Some suggested items were large infrastructure changes that would not be possible. The total cost of the submitted plans was R1.85 billion. This was assessed as unrealistic as many items indicated were unnecessary," Nzimande said.
Nzimande said the department, in consultation with Higher Health, an entity of the department, which assessed these plans, decided that there were certain legitimate expenses institutions would incur that they could not have been budgeted for prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and should consider providing a second Covid-19 responsiveness grant to assist institutions with these costs.
He has been requested to approve the re-prioritisation of R526.3 million from the 2020/21 earmarked grants not yet transferred to assist universities to pay for un-budgeted items for campus readiness and health and safety measures over the next period.
"TVET colleges have been able to reprioritise approximately R780 million from their current 2020 operational budgets to assist with Covid-19 related expenditure. Total cost to be incurred by Community Education and Training (CET) colleges is R27 million to prepare for the reopening of their facilities after the easing of the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19," he said.
The department has also planned to acquire nurses within the employee health and welfare unit.
Nzimande said the department has since entered into a partnership with the Health and Welfare SETA for the provision of nursing services to do screening and contact tracing.
"The department will be increasing its cleaning capacity by employing more cleaners at head office and in colleges, and in particular community learning centre colleges that do not have dedicated cleaners as they are using the department of Basic Education's facilities," he said.
Nzimande said the CET colleges are not employing additional staff, however only colleges that have satisfied the social distancing requirements have allowed staff and students to return effective from 23 June.
Additional funding would be used for, among others, personal protective gear and internal isolation and quarantine facilities.