The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Students’ Learning at Universities in the Gauteng Province, South Africa

Mary Motolani Olowoyo*, Sam Ramaila, Lydia Mavuru, Liziwe Mugivhisa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Measures that were put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as lockdowns, movement restrictions, and social distancing, resulted in remarkable changes in the traditional educational systems. Online learning was implemented to replace face-to-face teaching and learning, albeit with several challenges and varying levels of unpreparedness. The present study examined the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on university students’ learning and emotional stability with the aim of understanding the impact of the changes on students. A questionnaire was administered online to 254 registered students at three universities in the Gauteng province of South Africa. Results showed that for the majority of participants (84.9%), their source of internet connectivity for learning was data provided by the universities, while 21% of participants made use of the Wi-Fi also provided by the universities. However, the data for 91.9% of participants depleted before new data could be provided in a new month resulting in 30.9%, 30%, and 29.2% of participants buying, borrowing, and stopping to learn, respectively. On average, 33.7% of participants were neutral about having adequate time for studies and their academic performance improving during COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 33.9% of participants were neutral about receiving adequate assistance from lecturers (34%) and family members (33.7%) during COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, 30% of participants indicated that they were neutral and disagreed that they were getting sufficient resources for studies during COVID-19 pandemic. Loneliness and boredom were the main problems faced by most participants since teaching was mostly done online. To make online teaching and learning more effective, it is recommended that more data and support are provided to the students by the university management so that teaching and learning as well as students’ academic performance can be enhanced during future similar situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-159
Number of pages17
JournalAfrica Education Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • impact
  • learning
  • lockdown
  • pandemic
  • teaching


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