Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Student drops out as tech access issues hinder his learning

Senzo Mkhize was in the middle of writing a test when he lost network coverage. He attempted to log back on to the online platform to finish his test, but it would not allow him to.

He got 15 out 100 for that test.

“The network coverage here is so poor that sometimes I have to go up the mountain just to have a better signal,” he told the Mail & Guardian.

But this is not Mkhize’s only struggle. He did not have money for data for online learning. His mother, the only breadwinner in the household, did not make money during the lockdown because she is self-employed.

On days when Mkhize did have data he would log on to the online learning system only to establish that there was a test that was going to be written the next day or that an assignment was due.

All of this left the fourth-year B.Ed student at the University of Zululand discouraged, and it  forced him to take a difficult decision.

Mkhize deregistered from his course last month. “It was not an easy decision to make but conditions were dictating otherwise,” he says.

Mkhize was not writing tests or submitting assignments and he figured that it would be better to continue with his studies next year. “To tell you the truth, I was really struggling,” says Mkhize, from Empangeni. He says although his family was not happy with this decision, they supported it because they saw what he was going through.

In April, UniZulu announced that it had negotiated zero-rated data with MTN, Telkom and Cell C in so its students could access teaching and learning on its online platform without incurring data costs.

But Mkhize uses Vodacom, so he missed out. In any case, this would not have addressed his problem with the network coverage. He says it took him time to arrive at his decision because he had hoped for an announcement to allow students who were battling to study at home to return to campus.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande made that announcement last month; on Monday he published directions for the phased-in return of students to campuses.

As of June 1, under level three, higher education institutions are allowed to have 33% of their students return to campus. These students comprise mainly final-year students, those who need laboratories, and all students needing clinical training.

The return to campus came a little too late for students like Mkhize. Although he was a final-year student, he says he was so far behind with his studies that he did not see the possibility of passing.

None of the universities have yet said when the level-three category of students will be back on campus.

However, in the gazette, Nzimande said the institutions need to consider a number of factors, because they allow for the phased-in return of staff and students to campus and residences.

Only staff and students who have received communication from their institution that can return to campus and residences. They will be issued with permits by the institutions.

The directions say that all first-year students in undergraduate programmes will return to campus in level two while the rest of the student population will be back in level one.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Life Esidimeni inquest postponed until August 30

The lawyer for the bereaved families argued that Dr Makgabo Manamela’s requests for postponements have a negative impact on the families of the deceased who seek closure

RECAP: Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

More top stories

Phoenix killings: 22 suspects held

A total of 36 murder charges are being probed in the wake of vigilante attacks in the area during last month’s riots

ANC Integrity Committee recommends Zweli Mkhize step aside

ANC sources say the report by the committee will be tabled at the next national executive committee meeting

Police union condemns robbery of Northern Cape police station, blames...

Three men made off with shotguns, R5 rifles, pistols and ammunition after pouncing on the Tsineng police station

Rivals agree on new measures to end Cape Town taxi...

But key route remains closed and affected areas halt issuing of operating licences
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×