Finishing Strong

© J. Francois Barnard – August 16, 2020

I have just completed Term 5 of 2020. And it went well in the exams, thank you for asking! In September 2020, the first term for the 2020/21 academic year will start, and that will be my last term at UoPeople. With the end in sight, I can now reflect on the previous three years and celebrate many more highlights than low points.

Studying during Lockdown

© J. Francois Barnard – April 13, 2020

In South Africa, the lockdown started midnight, Friday, March 27, 2020. I wrote two exams on Thursday and one on Friday. For me, that was the end of term 3, and I could take a little more than a week off from my studies.

But not from work. Not that we can do much. So, it has been a time of rest.

Thursday, April 9, 2020, Term 4 started. But with that came the announcement that the 21-day lockdown has now been extended for another two weeks until the end of April. This is good news for a student who takes three courses per term! I can be grateful in that respect.

But there is that other problem nagging in the back of my mind: Will we get full salaries at the end of the month? Will I be able to save enough to get $300 together for my exam fees? Will the South African Rand devalue further against the US Dollar? The lockdown came at the same time as Moody's downgrade of South Africa to junk status. All bad news.

study014But there is good news too.

Instead of spending R4700/month on fuel, so far, I have only bought R200 of fuel. Pollution is down. The murder rate is down. The Easter weekend's death toll on the road is near zero. Very little crime has been committed during this lockdown. So far, at least. But will it last?

South Africa's poor people are getting hungry. Even in the middle-class suburbs. When we buy food, we buy extra to give to hungry people. They tie a yellow ribbon on their gates, and people can leave food for them at the gate. We are in this together. We have to see to it that we get out of it together.

We live in uncertain times. We do not know how this will affect us from here onwards. But I have one thing to look forward to! When the lockdown is over, I can meet my grandson, who was born on March 25.

UoPeople and the ProctorU Exam

J. Francois Barnard – 31 October 2019

I have just completed my three exams for term 1 of the 2019/20 academic year, and one of them was a “proctored” exam. If you are new to this terminology, a proctored exam is basically an exam you write under the supervision of a neutral person (the proctor) who ensures the identity of the test taker and the integrity of the test-taking environment.

Environment Protection

J. Francois Barnard – 14 November 2019

(This is an essay submitted to the Discussion Forum for ENVS 1301, Introduction to Environmental Sciences, for Week 1 of term 2, 2019 – 2020.)

I live in Africa, and for thirty years, our family owned a private nature reserve in the Limpopo Valley on the border with Zimbabwe. Protecting the environment is a topic close to my heart, and I despair when I see how we as Africans, mostly in ignorance, damage our beautiful continent.

“Living off the land” is my description of how the millions of peasants live in Africa. But if the land cannot produce enough for them, they fall into poverty. Also, many people urbanize to find jobs but find none. Children born in cities lose the skills to “live off the land” and sink even further into poverty.

UoPeople – How does the grading work?

J. Francois Barnard – 31 October 2019

Well, I thought that is such an obvious topic that we should not have to cover it. But when I first saw how the grading was done at UoPeople, I was amazed.

I grew up in South Africa, and here the grading worked more or less as follows: