4 February 2022
Dear UJ Community,
I am delighted with the news this week that learners at all schools will soon return to daily attendance of classes – after almost two years of rotational classes. This follows Cabinet’s decision on Monday to approve changes to the Adjusted Alert Level 1 COVID-19 regulations – citing the fact that South Africa has now exited the fourth wave. Under the new regulations, schooling will return to full-time teaching and learning in all primary, secondary and special schools.
This is indeed good news, because a considerable amount of time of learning has been lost. As the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, said while commenting on the revised COVID-19 regulations, “This development means that 2022 is promising to be an academic year less disrupted by lockdowns and restricted access to classes, of course, if no new wave of variants surges again and by the way, we mustn’t also drop the ball; we must continue to uphold the health protocols.”
Against this context, it was rewarding to read an opinion article by our University’s Chair of Council, Mr Mike Teke, in which he reflects on how the leap from high school to university can be stressful for many students. Not only does Mr Teke remind us how intimidating a university environment can be for new students, but he also emphasises the importance of educating learners about career choices before they enter tertiary education.
To build on this, one of the wicked problems that still affects the university sector and our society, in general, is gender-based violence and discrimination. We all have to become gender activists, and it is encouraging that our incoming Chancellor is a global gender activist. We will draw on her experience to create a non-sexist university and society. In this regard, I penned an opinion article on gender equality.
At UJ, we have done well to make the entry to university as welcoming and comfortable as possible. This starts with the registration processthat has been progressing smoothly. As indicated last week, we are on course to meet our enrolment targets for the 2022 Academic Year. I wish to thank all our administrative/support staff and student assistants who continue to work tirelessly to ensure that registration is as smooth as possible. A special thanks to our University Registrar, Professor Kinta Burger and her team, who are leading this process.
I am thrilled that we will soon resume with contact face-to-face and hybrid teaching and learning when classes commence on 14 February 2022. In this regard, I have the pleasure of inviting you to join me and the UJ leadership team for the 2022 Academic Opening on Friday, 11 February 2022, from 11h00 – 12h00. Staff, students and parents/guardians are encouraged to join this joyous occasion using the following link: https://youtu.be/2MM4IRX06_0. Let’s get 2022 off to a great start!
I am encouraged by the news that South Africa has now reached the target of 30 million vaccines administered in the country. As of Wednesday night, 30,031,000 shots were administered, according to the Department of Health. This week, I also received my booster vaccine at Campus Square, and I encourage you to vaccinate. It is particularly encouraging to see that many of our staff, postdoctoral research fellows and students have uploaded their vaccination certificates via the link https://ulink.uj.ac.za/ujvac.
We anticipate more students will do so before classes commence (those who have at least partially vaccinated or fully vaccinated) or by 31 March 2022 (date to be fully vaccinated). This will ensure that the university community have optimal access to learning, research, laboratory and clinical workspaces within a safe environment. I again wish to remind our employees and students who have not been vaccinated that the Logistics Department will provide transport to the Netcare Milpark and Liberty Life COVID-19 vaccination sites on Mondays and Thursdays between 14h00 and 16h00.
Requests from employees must be submitted via their line manager to the campus health clinic a day in advance so that proper arrangements can be made. Once vaccinated, you can get your vaccination certificate from the South African COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate System Portal (https://vaccine.certificate.health.gov.za/) If you downloaded a certificate when the system was initially introduced, please ensure that you download a recent certificate (version 2).
For information on the measures that the University has put in place to assist students, contractors and other stakeholders who might find it difficult in uploading their vaccination certificates and application for exemption, visit our website www.uj.ac.za.
This year also begins with an exciting new appointment to the University! I had the honour of meeting our University’s incoming Chancellor, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka this past week. As Mr Teke succinctly put it when announcing Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka’s appointment, “The position of Chancellor at UJ demands a person of stature, exemplary moral and ethical values, someone who will not shy away from addressing some of our greatest challenges and someone who will speak for those who often have no voice in society… She is a distinguished person with a demonstrable record of excellence, leadership for the betterment of society, and service to her community.” Click here to read more about this.
On the topic of ethical leadership, please join me in congratulating Dr Stella Bvuma, Head of Department of Applied Information Systems within the College of Business and Economics, who has been appointed as Deputy Chairperson of State IT Agency (SITA). This was announced during last week’s Cabinet Lekgotla and Special Cabinet meeting. The appointment is in alignment with her research focus “ICT4development” and the SITA mandate, which is: “To improve service delivery to the public through the provision of information technology, information systems and related services in a maintained information system security environment to the departments and public bodies; and to promote the efficiency of departments and public bodies through the use of information technology.” Well done, Dr Bvuma, I wish you the best in the latest of your many roles!
This week, together with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa, the NanjingTech-University of Johannesburg Confucius Institute, we celebrated the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) – the Year of the Tiger. To those who celebrated this occasion on 1 Feb. 2022, Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!
The University leadership will continue to monitor the national and provincial COVID-19 outlook, and an update will be provided accordingly. This information may be verified by visiting: www.uj.ac.za/coronavirus. Should any of you experience symptoms of the coronavirus, please use the National Hotline of 0800 029 999 or WhatsApp line 0600 123456 or go to the following link for more information: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/.
We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times.
Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa!
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg
Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.