Deputy Minister Buti Manamela Visits EWC's Germiston Campus

Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela, delivering his address during his recent visit to EWC's Germiston Campus to inspect measures taken to ensure the college's COVID-19 readiness for the re-admission of students.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Hon. Buti Manamela, paid the college a special visit on Friday, 05 June 2020, to ensure the college was ready to welcome back students from June 10 onwards. The purpose of the visit was to monitor the state of readiness and progress towards the planned phased return of students to the college.

When the visitors arrived at the main gates of Ekurhuleni West TVET College’s (EWC) Germiston campus, they were met by security officials, who checked for any early signs and symptoms of Covid-19 before they were allowed to enter. That is just one of the new measures in place to ensure the safety of the students, lecturers, staff and visitors on campus.

During her opening address, Ms Hellen Ntlatleng, DHET Gauteng and Free State Regional Manager, shared that all 75 classrooms on the Germiston campus would be fitted with air-conditioners to ensure the classrooms were not cold in winter, as it has been found the Covid-19 virus thrives in cold conditions. She furthermore stated that there is a need for enough taps on each campus for students and staff to wash their hands regularly. She also stressed that sanitation in this era is key.

Ms Ntombizodwa Dangazele, Acting Principal of EWC, shared in greater detail what steps, protocols and processes the college had undertaken to ensure it was ready to re-open for teaching and learning purposes.

From left to right: Ms Seipati Zikhali, Acting Germiston Campus Manager; Ms Ntombizodwa Dangazele, Acting Principal EWC; Hon. Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and Ms Hellen Ntlatleng, DHET Gauteng and Free State Regional Manager, begin a guided walk through the Campus facilities.

"Covid-19 has presented us with a lot of challenges which will impact learning and teaching in a massive way. It will not be easy to continue teaching as we used to do before Covid-19, but we must learn to live with our new normal. We have introduced new ways of teaching and learning, all guided by Covid-19 rules and regulations, and we are happy to say we are ready to welcome back our students in a staggered manner," said Ms Dangazele.

She also explained that Nated engineering students would be the first to return. "There will be four periods with no breaks and at noon, they will be asked to leave the campus as quickly as possible so that we do not have groups of students hanging around and so that teams can clean and sanitise the classrooms before the next group of students arrives. The next group will come in from 1.00pm until 4.00pm." She also explained that all students, lecturers, staff and visitors will be expected to wear a mask when on campus.

Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, CEO of Higher Health (South Africa), complimented the college on the efforts it had made and gave further guidance. He also reminded college officials that he is only a phone call away in case they need assistance and advices. "Keep it simple, keep it basic, and remember, a simple sanitiser can kill the virus."

Deputy minister, Hon. Buti Manamela, shared a message from the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, as well as his thoughts on what the college had put in place. He said that people our age and younger will get the virus and may be asymptomatic and may not show the symptoms.

Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela, inspecting a screening booth.

"But imagine what happens when a student comes to a college like EWC, contracts the virus and then goes home to their parents and/or grandparents... that is where things begin to spiral out of control. This is what we are trying to avoid. In the same way that we are trying to save lives, we need to save the academic year as well," said Hon. Manamela.

He furthermore stated that the department’s hope was that measures would be put in place to ensure that students and lecturers have the support they need to make it through the academic year, even those who were not returning to college just yet.

With a smile, he said, "I am quite excited with what I have seen and heard here today, but we need to continually monitor. Remember, you have the support of the Department and Higher Health (SA)."

Acting Campus Manager, Seipati Zikhali, led a guided walk through the campus, where the Deputy Minister, his entourage and special guests were shown around the classrooms that have been newly set-up to conform to the Covid–19 pandemic protocols, as well as awareness posters and screening booths and marquees.



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