UKZN staff member Ms Mbalenhle Ngcobo was awarded an Honours degree in Education for research she did into how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Black students in South African higher education institutions.
Having worked with people in the School of Education who encountered difficulties during the pandemic, Ngcobo based her research on the group’s experiences during the pandemic.
‘Most students in the School are historically marginalised and lacking basic technical skills as well as battling to handle the many socioeconomic challenges. This sparked my interest and I decided to do research on them for my honour’s degree,’ she said
‘Student’s living in marginalised areas of South Africa are often affected by adversities under normal circumstances and lockdown regulations added to those.’
Ngcobo’s study found that South Africa needed to invest in digital capabilities. ‘Online learning can be challenging and very difficult for learners in remote areas where there are connectivity problems and other issues.’
Although well supported by her family, she said studying while working was hard and she had to make a lot of sacrifices.
She had this advice for other students. ‘The journey may be long and lonely, but success makes it all worthwhile.’
Ngcobo hopes to do a Master’s degree at UKZN.