The in-depth research project, Year of the Student, was produced by the 2021 career-entry honours in journalism class at Wits University.
The class of 22 student journalists was split into four groups and allocated a mentor to oversee their research and production within a specific sub-theme. The feature articles listed below are the result of six weeks of independent work carried out before November 22, 2021.
TEAM HEALTH (with mentor Aisha Abdool Karim)
- Baptism of fire for medicine students, by Zanolwazi Kunene, (with audio):
The covid-19 pandemic, and corresponding health restrictions placed on hospitals and funerals in South Africa, have completely changed the way we grieve and say goodbye to our loved ones.
- The lockdown of tobacco and the costs of lighting up, by Razeen Gutta, (with audio):
In March 2020, South Africa imposed a tobacco ban as part of the country’s response to curb the spread of covid-19. This resulted in various behavioural changes among young people, some evident even in the aftermath of the ban.
- Covid-19 lockdown: A silver lining for homeless youth?, by Amanda Khumalo, (with video):
A moment of rude awakening, perhaps the covid-19 restrictions can reshape policies and the response to homelessness in South Africa.
- Two years online: a higher education review, by Sumaya Mamdoo, (with audio):
Students have been participating in a hybrid model of teaching by spending more time at home than at university, and this has a deteriorating effect on their mental health and support they have access to.
- Children’s health takes backseat during pandemic, by Natasha Joos, (with video):
There has been a significant decline in children visiting hospitals and clinics during the covid-19 pandemic: Could children’s health be neglected in trying to manage the number of infections among adults?
TEAM EDUCATION (with mentor Bongekile Macupe)
- Girls have nothing to show for decades of sex education, by Nondumiso Lehutso, (with audio):
Statistics from the past year point to wide gaps in translation between what is being taught in schools about sex and what is really happening to many young girls in South Africa.
- Student dropouts overwhelmed by remote learning, by Tshiamo Moloko, (with video):
Although universities say their dropout rates have not increased during the covid-19 pandemic, students are still struggling with learning.
- Covid-19 intensifies digital divide in schools, by Mandisa Ntuli, (with video):
The demand for distance learning is growing rapidly due to the covid-19 pandemic and it is further exacerbating the education inequalities in the country.
- Rotation at schools a vicious circle, by Ntando Ximba, (with infographic):
The impact of rotational learning on South Africa’s widening inequality and the educational outcomes of disadvantaged students.
- Recovery halted for SA’s early childhood development sector, by Keamogetswe Mosepele, (with infographic):
Sluggish government relief efforts are a further blow to the hard-hit early childhood development sector.
TEAM SOCIETY, FAMILY AND CULTURE (with mentor Lizeka Mda)
- Covid-19 skews what it means to be a student, by Matthew Nijland, (with audio):
The covid-19 pandemic has completely flipped the once-vibrant student culture of universities on its head, impacting students’ social lives and identities in various ways.
- Christian students overcome covid culture shock, by Rebecca Kgabo, (with video):
The instability of the past year prompted Christian students to challenge their personal routines and evaluate their relationships with God and their churches.
- Pandemic triggers lifestyle changes for students, by Ofentse Magudulela, (with video):
Students are finding that their historical way of living and their future outlook have drastically changed, due to the impact of covid-19 in affecting household incomes.
- Covid-19 infecting queer students lives, by Tshepiso Ntombela, (with video):
Covid-19’s lockdown regulations have deprived students of spaces that provide them with a sense of community.
- Will re-elected ANC improve the lot of Emfuleni pupils?, by Alfonso Nqunjana, (with video):
The ANC maintained its seats in the Emfuleni municipality during the November 2021 local government elections even though in the past, the party’s administration has hindered the efforts of young people to get an education.
- Textbooks, toddlers and tantrums, by Karabo Mashaba, (with audio):
Systems of higher education appear to be designed for childless students who enter university with minimal responsibilities but for parents seeking a qualification, the obstacles are endless.
TEAM ECONOMY (with mentor Mfuneko Toyana)
- Social media ‘sbwling’ is sucking your savings dry, by Kemiso Wessie, (with infographic):
Tables of silver ice buckets filled with the finest top-shelf liquor: Bottles of Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades, Louis Roederer Cristal and Veuve Clicquot are standard features at the best clubs and trendiest hang-out spots, but they are for snaps only – then they’re all getting sent back.
- If it’s not data, it’s network: the costs of being an online student, by Dumisani Mnisi (with video):
The cost of data in South Africa and the quality of network coverage in remote areas proves why online learning is not for all students.
- Students emerge as brand ambassadors: The new dream job?, by Jessica Bunyard, (with video):
At a time when youth unemployment is at a record high in South Africa, brand ambassadorship has the ability to provide a new, expanding job niche for students.
- Covid-19 accelerates digital uptake in public schools, by Semakaleng Motsoere, (with video):
Although covid–19 led to disruption of the education sector in many countries, in South Africa it created an opportunity to address the digital divide at some public schools.
FOR THE 2020 PROJECT, CLICK HERE