Change the world


Nelson Mandela University’s George Campus’ COVID-19 compliance efforts and commitment to ensuring that all students are able to complete the academic year were applauded during a ministerial oversight on 27 October 2020.

This follows a visit by the Higher Education and Training, Science and Innovation Deputy Minister, Mr Buti Manamela, and his delegation to the campus as part of a wider oversight visit to Western Cape institutions of higher learning this week.

His experience of the full COVID-19 screening upon entry, tour of the Southern Cape campus’s health facilities, contact learning and teaching venues and some residences was assurance enough that health and safety protocols are firmly in place.

Mr Manamela expressed his appreciation of the various measures in place to ensure COVID-19 compliance, the safe return of students and staff, and how institutions have tapped into their expertise to introduce alternative measures and platforms, while ensuring that no student is left behind.

Addressing members of the Campus management, student leaders, union representatives and campus stakeholders at the lecture theatre, the Deputy Minister gave an overview of the importance of the national oversight visit to inspect, ensure institutional compliance in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, in line with regulations as set by the National Command Council.

“Our interest is to ensure that we save lives and save the academic year. Equally important, we want to be assured that all students, despite the outbreak of the pandemic, have sufficient opportunity to interact and be exposed to all the learning and teaching material before they write the final examinations,” he said.

“All interventions since the outbreak of the virus in March have been intended to save the academic year and to give support to students, staff and universities, so that no one is left behind.”

Core to the oversight visit of the Minster, was the walkabout of the campus, led by the Campus Principal, Dr Kaluke Mawila.  The Deputy Minister had the opportunity to appreciate life on campus as experienced by staff and students.

The visit started off with COVID-19 screening for Mr Manamela and his delegation at the gates. This was followed by a brief tour of our screening facility where all the administration is done. From there, the delegation visited the Campus’s learning and teaching facilities, with a focus on our ICT Student Labs and the Campus Library, which have responded to the pandemic by ensuring all bookings are made electronically.

Dr Mawila shared the Campus’s implementation plan, in line with the University’s overall COVID-19 preparedness strategy. The presentation detailed the return of students as per the various national level directives.

George Campus, under the national Alert Level 1, has invited a further 59 students of its 1 601 enrolled students. This brings the number of students invited to return to campus to 935.

While pleased with the health and safety protocols, as well as the coordinated and collaborative manner in which the University has implemented its COVID-19 strategy, Mr Manamela expressed that the sector was not without challenges, and that these should not hinder the work that has been done by various departments within the sector.

He was particularly impressed with all the support that students were receiving from the University, including the mobilisation of resources, re-allocation of budgets and the focused innovative ways that the institution has responded to the pandemic.

“What we have seen is that the response of the post school sector to the COVID-19 pandemic has been very agile, focused and has been following all the prescripts that have been agreed to by [the] National Health [Department], Higher Health and the Command Council,” he said.

“Even in provinces where the outbreak of the pandemic has been higher, institutions of higher learning have not really followed the provincial trends. Most of our institutions have, as [per] our observation, continued to educate our students to follow the precautions. And because of that, at this campus, there are zero incidents on students.

“I must really applaud the University and the campus for the work that has been done in pulling out all the stops to contain the further spread of the virus”.

The Deputy Minister took the opportunity to call on students and the younger generations at large, to go out and carry the precautionary messages into communities to discourage them from exceeding the numbers of gatherings of social events. 

He chirped at the current social media trend #JohnVuliGate and expressed that this social media buzz should be used positively by the youth to tell “John” to wear a mask while he is opens the proverbial social gate and those entering the gate to wear masks, sanitize and continue to ensure physical distancing.

The Deputy Minister further told how impressed he was by the participation of students on the e-learning platforms; the innovative ways that the University’s lecturers have come up with to assess students, given the non-physical contact and distance; and how all these measures are implemented to ensure that the 2020 academic year is completed. 

“The department and all the agencies of the departments that support us in our work will fulfil the commitments made by government on several occasions. With or without these commitments, students still have the responsibility to work hard,” he said, encouraging students to focus on their academic work.

“We are at a point of privilege as students in the post school environment, as not many South Africans have access to the resources at our disposal. It is therefore important to focus on the main goal, which is to ensure that we do well and motivate each other to succeed.”

Since the emergence of the pandemic, a collaborative team at the George Campus, working in tandem with the University’s Coronavirus Task Team (CTT), has been actively monitoring developments around the pandemic, and implementing safety measures for the safe continuation of the academic programme and operations on campus.  

The George Campus Coronavirus Task Team (GCTT) is a campus-specific committee of institutional CTT, and chaired by Campus Principal, Dr Kaluke Mawila. This committee has worked to ensure seamless and consistent implementation of the institution’s plans and processes through the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that guides the return to campuses.

This includes the management of entry and exit points of the campus, controlled screening, including at on-campus and accredited off-campus student residences for the return of students to the George Campus. The George Campus CTT comprises various representatives from across the University’s learning and teaching and operational support divisions, including union and student leaders.

The Deputy Minister chats to a residence student in her room on campus.

Contact information
Ms Milisa Piko
Communications Manager: George Campus
Tel: 044 801 5098