As we commence the second semester on Monday 3 August, we are forced to look back with gratitude at what we have achieved during the first semester albeit under very difficult and stressful national lockdown conditions. Most importantly, we should be grateful for life preserved. Unfortunately, we have been warned by Scientists and the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the Covid-19 pandemic will be with us for an unspecified period of time, compelling us to adopt new ways of life. We therefore need to negotiate a safe and meaningful co-existence with this virus, at least until a vaccine is found.
For over four months, we all had to do our work and study under new conditions which are very foreign to us. We were compelled to be innovative, adaptable, flexible and agile to ensure continuity, not only of work, but most importantly of our lives. Even so, we understand that most of our new strategies including online/remote teaching and learning may not be able to provide experiences equivalent to face-to-face. However, in many instances your lecturers have created learning opportunities which they could never have imagined under normal circumstances. Many of you confirmed this by sending messages of appreciation and gratitude to your lecturers, thanking them for the innovative, but also caring manner in which they engaged you in learning throughout this difficult time.
You are pursuing your university studies in a uniquely challenging moment in history. This requires significant levels of resilience, tenacity and resolve. Many of you have exercised admirable independence and have embraced this new way of learning, making it work in the best way possible. I wish to assure you that we are here to work with you and support you to ensure your academic progress and success. You are not alone!
You completed your summative assessments for the first semester on 24 July 2020. The period leading to the final submission dates must have been particularly stressful for you. Although assessment is a critical component of teaching and learning, assessment period is always a challenging time in a student’s life. We applaud you for successfully completing your summative assessments, for which you will soon receive feedback. There is no need for any student to despair if the results are not as good as you had hoped. Do not shy away from seeking help. Please approach your Dean who will advise you accordingly and recommend appropriate academic support. I would like to reassure you that the University is prepared to do whatever it takes, within acceptable means, to support you and give you opportunities for success. However, we expect you to apply yourselves constantly, and to exercise your agency by using these opportunities and support structures effectively.
According to our adjusted Academic Calendar, you will have supplementary assessments from 14-18 September. This is an opportunity for you to improve marks for your summative assessments. Please use this opportunity wisely. Prepare yourself adequately and seek help from your lecturers long before the assessment time. Our Counselling Centre continues to provide psychosocial support for all students. Please contact them should you be feeling overwhelmed by this new normal.
Taking care of yourself and others
As indicated above this pandemic will be with us for some time to come. This implies that we should continue to embrace new ways of doing things. I urge all of you to play your part in controlling the rapid spread of this pandemic. Take responsibility and initiative to learn more about it. Follow authentic news about its development regularly to enrich yourself on how to save your life and those of others.
My sincere thanks and appreciation to you, your lecturers, course coordinators, HoDs, Deans and all support staff for ensuring that we complete the first semester safely. I wish you all a fruitful second semester. The University is not the same without you, we miss you!
Dr ‘Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic and Student Affairs