UKZN LLB Programme Fully Accredited by the Council on Higher Education

UKZN LLB Programme Fully Accredited by the Council on Higher Education
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The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is pleased to announce that the Council on Higher Education (CHE) has fully accredited its Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Programme offered by the School of Law.

UKZN is one of only three out of 17 South African universities offering the LLB Programme to receive the confirmation of full accreditation. This comes after a rigorous national review of the LLB Programme in 2016.

The national review driven by the CHE in consultation with the South African Law Deans Association (SALDA), the General Bar Council and the Law Society of South Africa was undertaken to strengthen the quality of legal education provision across South African universities.

The CHE had requested the submission of improvement plans with respect to progress made towards improving the quality of the LLB programmes from all participating institutions in South Africa.

Subsequently, the CHE was satisfied with the progress made by the School to enhance the diversity of its staff profile. The Council also noted how adequately the School addressed the issue of providing capacity to develop students’ research and writing skills and commended the School for re-curriculating the LLB Programme through the decolonisation and Africanisation project.

In response to the news, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said: ‘We are grateful to receive such good news about the full accreditation of our LLB programme.  This is a positive outcome and demonstrates that we are providing recognised and excellent training programmes that impact on the legal fraternity in our country. In this manner, UKZN is inspiring greatness in our future legal graduates.’ 

The School of Law’s Acting Dean and Head Professor Warren Freedman said the School is dedicated to maintaining the standard of quality of its LLB Programme. ‘The School is proud of this achievement and wishes to congratulate its staff and students and thank all those involved in the accreditation process.’

Words: Hazel Lange: langah@ukzn.ac.za


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UKZN Academics Launch Book on Interpretive Possibilities for Educational Research

UKZN Academics Launch Book on Interpretive Possibilities for Educational Research
With their new book, from left is Dr Inbanathan Naicker, Professors Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Daisy Pillay.

UKZN academics Professor Daisy Pillay, Prrofessor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Dr Inbanathan Naicker from the School of Education recently launched their new book titled Object Medleys: Interpretive Possibilities for Educational Research. The launch was held at the Edgewood campus.

The three academics not only edited the book but also co-authored with new scholars in the spirit of peer mentoring and reciprocal learning

They explained that a medley can be understood as a musical combination consisting of diverse parts. ‘By combining wide-ranging object pieces and perspectives from 37 authors, Object Medleys continues and extends the creative process of dialogue and exchange that was set in motion at the Not Just an Objectsymposium held in 2016,’ said Pillay. 

The book is organised into two parts. “Part One: Object Memoirs,” offers retrospective insights from established scholars, Claudia Mitchell, Kate Pahl, and Devarakshanam Govinden, bringing together their distinct yet complementary theoretical and empirical vantage points and practices of working with objects.

“Part Two: Object Beginnings,” communicates new voices, new insights, and new possibilities for working with objects in educational research.

‘Each chapter in Part Two includes several pieces written by emerging scholars in the field of object inquiry in South Africa, Canada, and the United Kingdom. These researchers, many of whom are early career academics or postgraduate students, have engaged in object inquiry from a variety of perspectives and using diverse approaches,’ said Naicker.

Their individual object pieces were woven together through dialogue with the book editors, Pillay, Pithouse-Morgan and Naicker. Each chapter offers a distinctive, multifaceted, and polyvocal exploration of interrelationships between objects, lived educational experiences, and wider social and cultural concerns.

Pithouse-Morgan added, ‘Object Medleys illuminates the promise of objects in generating socio-cultural and autobiographical interpretative portrayals of lived educational experience. Moreover, the original research depicted in each chapter expands scholarly conversations about what counts as data and analysis in educational research to highlight the interpretive possibilities of objects, situated within pressing societal questions.’

Pillay added that, while the study of objects is well established in fields such as archaeology, art history, communications, fine arts, museum studies, and sociology - it is still developing in education. The educational research focus showcased in Object Medleys was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa, specifically a UK-South Africa Newton Fund Researcher Grant (Grant Number 98067).

The book can be purchased at all major book retailers.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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115 Years of Malaria in Africa

115 Years of Malaria in Africa
Professor Benn Sartorius.

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences Research Professor, Benn Sartorius was the second author, lead analyst and key member of the team that published an article in Nature documenting spatial-temporal trends for malaria in sub-Saharan Africa over a 115-year period.

The article, titled: The Prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum in sub Saharan Africa since 1900, was led by Professor Robert Snow (KEMRI-Wellcome Trust), a leading international malaria researcher.  KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Researchers unveiled the largest repository of malaria survey data in Africa, covering over 50 000 surveys dating back to 1900, each documented by date, geolocation, number of people, and the proportion positive for Plasmodium falciparum infection.

This is the largest repository of any parasitic disease in the world. ‘Previous efforts to model the changing patterns of P. falciparum transmission intensity in Africa have been limited to more recent data points or have used maps drawn from historical expert opinions,’ explained the team.

The researchers analysed this data to estimate malaria infection prevalence for each of 520 administrative units of sub-Saharan African Countries and Madagascar for 16 time periods since 1900 through to 2010-2015.

The findings suggests that the African continent has witnessed a long-term decline in the prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum from 40% in the period 1900–1929 to 24% in the period 2010–2015, a trend that has been interrupted by periods of rapidly increasing or decreasing transmission. The findings would suggest that global initiatives have had minor impacts on malaria transmission, and a historically unprecedented decline has been observed since 2000.

Snow says ‘People often focus on recent history in tracking malaria in Africa, to inform donors and control programmes on recent actions. The longer history of malaria in Africa allows us to put into context the recent decline.’

‘The cycles and trend over the past 115 years are inconsistent with explanations in terms of climate or deliberate intervention alone,’ suggested Dr Noor.

‘The size and breadth of the data compiled by the team at KEMRI is invaluable’, explained Sartorius, ‘and allows unique insights into the spatial-temporal dynamics of malaria on the continent since the turn of the last century as well as assess short and long term trends in relation to historical and current climate conditions alongside control activities.’ 

Caution is required in projecting a future for malaria in Africa.Inferring from these data to future trends, we would expect continued reductions in malaria transmission, punctuated with resurgences. The current prevalence of infection, 24%, is at its lowest in 115 years but gains have stalled since 2010 and 240 million infected individuals remains a substantial burden.  Little has changed in the high transmission belt across west and central Africa.  We are threatened by emerging insecticide and drug resistance and growing international ambivalence to funding control,’ said the team.

‘The history of malaria risk in Africa is complex, there have been perfect lulls when drugs worked and droughts prevented mosquito’s transmission infection; there have been perfect storms when drugs stopped working and flooding affected large parts of Africa. It has been a history of long term cycles and predicting the future of malaria in Africa based on climate or intervention coverage alone is difficult,’ says Snow.

‘We need new tools for the poor and high malaria burden areas of Africa. Focus on eliminating malaria in the low burden margins of southern Africa, or small islands across the world, runs the risk that high burden countries in Africa get ignored and left behind.  The 115-year history shows that malaria in Africa is complex and predicting the future malaria based on climate or economic development alone would be foolhardy,’ continues Snow.

The team comprised of researchers from: Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme, Nairobi, Kenya and Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK and Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini


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Umfundi Owenza Unyaka Wokugcina Umele i-KZN Emncintiswaneni Wezobulungiswa

Umfundi Owenza Unyaka Wokugcina Umele i-KZN Emncintiswaneni Wezobulungiswa
UNkz Tshegofatso Molefe.

Click here for the English version

Ukuhlolwa akukhona kuphela okubangela umfundi owenza izifundo zonyaka wokugcina uNkz Tshegofatso Molefe ukuthi abe nexhala phela ubambe iqhaza emncintiswaneni i-Justice Pageant SA ezobanjelwa eGoli ngasekupheleni kwenyanga.

Lo mfundi oneminyaka engama-22 ohlala eMgungundlovu uyena kuphela kwabakowamanqamu ongowaKwaZulu-Natal.  

Lo mncintiswano uhlose ukuthuthukisa ubuqotho ezikoleni nasemiphakathini yaseNingizimu Afrika ngokukhetha izikole eziyisibonelo esihle ngokobuqotho ukuze zigqugquzele ezinye ukuba zilandele ezinyathelweni zazo.

‘Ngingenele lo mncintiswano ngoba ugxile ezintweni eziyizimisompilo engikholelwa kuzo futhi engizisebenzisayo empilweni yami. Sengifunde nokuthi uma ungumholi akusho ukuthi ungumholi oqotho okungumuntu ongasabi ukulwela iqiniso. Ngisakhula nganginesifiso sokwenza okufanele futhi ngikhunjulwe njengomuntu olusizo ebantwini, yilapho ke iphupho lokufunda ezoMthetho laqala khona. Okunye okungihlaba umxhwele yindlela uhlelo lwezobulungiswa olusebenza ngayo,’ kusho uMolefe.

Umncintiswano udinga ukuthi abakowamanqamu benze imisebenzi ehlukene ezikoleni zaseNingizimu Afrika lapho bevakashela khona isikole esisodwa ngesonto kusukela ekuqaleni konyaka befundisa ngokugqugquzelwa yi-No Crime Culture Project. Lo msebenzi ufundisa abantu ngesidingo sobuqotho, inqubonhle nendlela yokuziphatha.

‘Sengisungule umsebenzi obizwa nge-Rising Generations onakekela izingane emakhaya aphethwe yizingane lapho sibonelela ngokokwenhlanzeko nezingubo zokugqoka. Inhloso yami ukulekelela la mantombazane ukuthi athole ithuba lokuphumelela esikoleni ngenxa yokuhlala ekhaya elisekela ukufunda kwawo. Usuku lokumemezelwa kwabanqobile lungomhla zingama-29 kuLwezi. Ngike ngaba matasa ngokuhlolwa ezifundweni zami ngakho ngisazoqala ngiqokelele ngilungise ibuyambiko kubaholi bami abaqotho kanye nabasakhula mayelana nomthelela wezifundo zami kubona,’ kusho uMolefe.

Yize noma ukunqoba umncintiswano kungaba kuhle kakhulu kodwa uMolefe ukholelwa ekutheni ukusebenzisa lelithuba ukuze enze umehluko ezimpilweni zamantombazane asakhula kubaluleke ukudlula noma yisiphi isicoco.

‘Ukunqoba kunga kuhle kakhulu kodwa sengenze umehluko ezimpilweni zabantu noma ngabe ngiyaphumelela noma cha. Kade nganginentshisekelo yokusiza abantu nokusebenza nabo futhi uma konke kuhamba kahle ngezifundo zami, ngizokwethweswa iziqu ngonyaka ozayo futhi ngifuna nokuqhubeka nezifundo zami ngenze iziqu ze-LLM ezifundweni zezabasebenzi. Ngiyafisa futhi nokusebenza njengevolontiya ejele ngisebenza ngaphansi kwezinhlelo ezibhekelele omama ababelethela ejele nokungenela umncintiswano wokukhethwa kuka-Miss South Africa ngonyaka wezi-2019,’ usho kanje.

UMolefe waqokwa njengoMgcinimafa wokuqala wesifazane wenhlangano yabafundi i-Black Lawyers Association Student Chapter ngonyaka wezi-2017.

Amagama: nguThandiwe Jumo


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KZN Premier’s Award goes to UKZN Masters Candidate at Conservation Symposium

KZN Premier’s Award goes to UKZN Masters Candidate at Conservation Symposium
Ms Nikara Mahadeo presenting the awards to winner Ms Nantale Nsibirwa and runner-up Ms Samantha Hofmeyr.

Ms Nantale Nsibirwa, a masters candidate in UKZN’s Discipline of Hydrology, was awarded the prestigious KwaZulu-Natal Premier’s Award at the 6th annual Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice (SCCP) held on 9 November.

The purpose of this years’ Symposium was to explore the practice, science and value of nature conservation and to chart a renewed path towards addressing conservation challenges of the current era.

The Symposium is an initiative of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) in partnership with WILDLANDS, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the Environmental Law Association, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Zululand. The SCCP aims to develop synergies between conservation implementation and research. This year’s edition saw the launch of a new marine programme, WILDOCEANS, in addition to its focus on the terrestrial environment.

The WILDLANDS-sponsored KZN Premier’s Award is conferred on a student from the province based on their oral presentation at the Symposium as well as a presentation made to a panel of judges before the event. The award involves financial assistance to attend any relevant international (winner) and national (runner up) conference in the next 12 months.

‘Winning the award came as a surprise to me and I am truly honoured, said Nsibirwa.

Nsibirwa’s research concerns identifying the source areas and transport pathways of diffuse pollution (pollution originating from the catchment land surface transported into rivers via runoff rather than a point source) in the uMngeni Catchment. She explained that this involves developing maps that aid efforts to conserve ecological infrastructure by identifying areas in the catchment with a high risk of contributing to the diffuse pollution problem.

Ms Samantha Hofmeyr, an Honours student from the School of Life Sciences, received the runner up prize for her work on the impacts of Scuba diver activity on the coral reefs of Sodwana Bay.

‘The standard of presentations this year were commended by the adjudication panel, but Nsibirwa’s  presentation was exceptional and therefore made her a well-deserving recipient,’ said Ms Nikara Mahadeo, WILDLANDS Deputy Director.

‘She delivered her presentation with confidence and a great understanding of her work,’ added Mahadeo. ‘Her research is also of significance to the practice of catchment management, particularly in the light of the pressures and constraints that our critical water resources are under.’

‘The real value of the award does not lie only in the opportunity for the winning student to attend an international conference, but in getting input from an extremely knowledgeable and respected panel,’ said Dr Roelie Kloppers, WILDLANDS Executive Director.

Kloppers thanked WILDLANDS patron Dr George Hughes, UKZN’s Dr Michelle Tedder and Mr Roger Porter for their assistance in judging the student presentations for the award.

Once she has completed her masters, Nsibirwa hopes to become involved in work that closely relates to water development issues. She acknowledged her supervisor, Professor Graham Jewitt, and her family and friends for their invaluable support.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs: Kirsten Oliver, WILDLANDS


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UKZN’s Specialist Physician Scoops a Global Excellence Award

UKZN’s Specialist Physician Scoops a Global Excellence Award
Dr Somasundran Pillay walked away with the International Hospital Federation Global Excellence Award in Leadership and Healthcare.

UKZN’s Specialist Physician and PhD graduate, Dr Somasundran Pillay, has recently been  awarded the International Hospital Federation Global Excellence Award in Leadership and  Healthcare at the 41st World Hospital Congress held in Taipei, Taiwan.  This was in recognition of his PhD research work which resulted in a paper titled: Improving Diabetes Care In Resource-Limited Settings.

Pillay is not new to scooping awards.  He has also won the first Prize Gold Award in the category of Outstanding Achievement for innovation at the MASEA (Minister of Health Service Excellence Awards) this year. This particular accolade was for his PhD work on Improved Regional Diabetes Care.

A previous study conducted by Pillay demonstrated that the majority of patients with diabetes throughout the province of KwaZulu-Natal are diagnosed and have their therapy initiated at clinic level. This emphasised that much more effort needs to be placed on improving diabetes care from the clinic, district and regional level in order to decrease the burden of diabetes-related complications on the patient and economy of the country as a whole.

Under the supervision of Dr Colleen Aldous who is a Research Academic Leader in the School of Clinical Medicine at UKZN, Pillay designed a clinic system for diabetes care that gives the patient a complete service for all their diabetic care requirements.

Dr Pillay is a Specialist Physician and Head of Firm in Internal Medicine at Edendale Hospital and has successfully developed a blueprint for improving overall diabetes. The plan will be rolled out in all diabetes clinics both in KwaZulu-Natal and nationally.

‘This is the first paper to show how holistic treatment of a diabetic patients has been addressed at the clinic level and we hope that the system is applied across the country so that all South African diabetes patients will get better and more holistic care and treatment, seeing that diabetes is a growing problem across all socio-economic levels,’ said Aldous.

Published in the South African Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Diseases, this paper describes the development and implementation of the six steps as a holistic patient care package at a clinic.

Pillay conducted his study at the Edendale Hospital diabetes clinic, which is a busy regional clinic situated in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. In order to improve diabetes care, the following integrated package of changes was made to this resource-limited clinic: (1) introduction of a fully operational multidisciplinary treatment team; (2) intensive nurse and clinician education on diabetes and its management according to local South African diabetes guidelines; (3) intensive patient education from all members of the team; (4) introduction of essential basic equipment into the clinic; (5) introduction of a patient clerking datasheet to ensure standardisation and comprehensive diabetes care for all patients visiting the clinic; and (6) development of a customised computer programme to audit and analyse data over time in order to identify areas of poor performance within the care of the patient, and to monitor patient progress.

Pillay’s research work concluded that diabetes care in this resource-limited clinic was inadequate, with large numbers of patients consulted by only a few rotating doctors. This scenario has now improved to include a multidisciplinary team (including increased numbers of doctors) coupled with a comprehensive and standardised approach to all patients consulted at this clinic. Based on the promising clinical outcomes shown by Pillay et al. in this clinic post implementation of the multifaceted approach, this model could serve as a possible blueprint and could easily be adapted to other clinics, and district and regional hospitals in South Africa and other developing countries. Data sheets could be completed in other regional or district hospital diabetes clinics in the province and sent to the central regional hospital for capturing into this specialised computer program. This process will provide extensive information on diabetic patients and their control within the province. Control of this “diabetes puzzle” need not be an insurmountable task if a multifaceted approach is attempted.

Words: Lihle Sosibo


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Power Line Inspection Robot Innovators Showcase Technology in Japan

Power Line Inspection Robot Innovators Showcase Technology in Japan
Mr Trevor Lorimer and Mr Tadashi Mano with two prototypes of the cable line inspection robot.

UKZN’s Mr Trevor Lorimer from the Electrical Engineering Department and former UKZN Professor, Edward Boje, were recently invited to Japan by the Tokyo Electric Power Services Company (TEPSCO), a subsidiary of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), to showcase their cable line inspection robot technology.

The technology was developed in collaboration with Eskom and serves to improve current inspection methods of power lines. The technology has been patented in the USA and South Africa (and pending in other regions) by UKZN’s technology transfer office, InQubate, which is working with Lorimer to commercialise the technology and leverage developmental funding. The technology has attracted seed funding of approximately R1.8 million from the Technology Innovation Agency for automation development and building a prototype, as well as from the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs’ Technology Transfer Fund for live-testing of the robot on energized lines.

The interest from TEPCO piqued last year when TEPCO’s Mr Tadashi Mano met Lorimer at a conference in the USA. Following a visit to UKZN’s Engineering Labs, Mano invited Boje and Lorimer for an all-expenses paid trip to demonstrate their robot in Japan in October 2017, indicating a great vote of confidence in the technology by an international power utility.

The demonstration was successful and left a “great and lasting impression” on TEPCO - an enthusiastic potential customer. It was a step toward building a working relationship with the company, and suggests that Lorimer and team can start contributing to utilities’ businesses by improving the quality and cost of certain types of power line inspection. Given the positive outcome of the visit to Japan, Lorimer is excited at the prospect of future work, where both TEPCO and UKZN can benefit.

Lorimer and his team have worked very hard to improve the technology, indicating that they are close to the point where the robots may be used commercially on live power lines. Mano seconded that sentiment and described the robot as “the edge of technology”. Lorimer was particularly grateful to his co-inventor, Professor Edward Boje for his ongoing support.

*Seed Funding was obtained through assistance from UKZN InQubate, which also played an integral role in getting the team to Japan. For further information on this technology or advice on taking your own technologies to the market, contact Dr Umeshree Govender (govenderu@ukzn.ac.za).

Words: Umeshree Govender


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First Laser Larynx Workshop Held at UKZN

First Laser Larynx Workshop Held at UKZN
First Laser Larynx workshop at UKZN.

The Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery successfully hosted the first laser larynx workshop at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine on 13 November. The use of laser for ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgery is a highly specialised procedure which requires skill and expertise.

Visiting Professor N Young, who is a fellowship trained Laryngologist from Yale University (USA) conducted the workshop and elaborated on the principles and advantages of laser surgery.

Taking part in the workshop were 28 participants from across KwaZulu-Natal. They included medical officers, registrars and ENT specialists from both the private and public sectors. These participants had the opportunity to practice using the various types of lasers namely carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers, diode lasers and pulsed dye lasers. Young demonstrated laser vocal cord surgery using the porcine larynx model and porcine tongue specimens.

The aim of the workshop was to transfer specialised skills using modern medical technology to junior and senior doctors practising in both the public and private sectors. It is hoped that this workshop will be an annual event which will appeal to ENT doctors in the entire country. The workshop was facilitated and organized by Dr Tesuven Naidu (ENT Consultant – UKZN), Dr Julia Toman (Yale University) and Dr Nthabeleng Rankhethoa (Acting HOD ENT).

The ENT UKZN–YALE collaboration commenced in 2015 with both universities sharing ideas, research, education and the exchange of trainees. This collaboration has already culminated into three symposia, one workshop and numerous research projects.

‘We are grateful to Dr Zach Porterfield (Yale University) and Dr Julia Toman for their continued support and ensuring this collaboration is a success,’ said Naidu who formed part of the workshop organising team.

Words: Lihle Sosibo


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UKZN hosts 2nd SARAECE KZN Regional Conference

UKZN hosts 2nd SARAECE KZN Regional Conference
Highlights from the 2nd SARAECE KZN Regional Conference.

UKZN’s Discipline of Early Childhood Education within the School of Education recently hosted the 2nd South African Research Association for Early Childhood Education (SARAECE) KZN Regional Conference.

The purpose of this conference, held at the Edgewood campus, was to share insights on how Early Childhood Education practices can be transformed to improve quality. Conference Chair, Professor Nontokozo Mashiya said the conference was meant to engage on issues that are critical to Early Childhood Education and to explore possibilities of collaboration. The theme of the conference was Transforming Early Childhood Education Practices for a Better Future.

The conference covered diverse issues that contribute to the holistic development of a child. These include curriculum to policy issues, pedagogies, inclusion, management issues, mathematics, languages and the integration of indigenous knowledge in early childhood education and even inclusion in early childhood education.

Opening the conference proceedings was the School’s Academic Leader: Research and Higher Degrees Dr Bheki Khoza who said, ‘To improve our practices in ECE, we have to consider three important education space concepts Personal/Individual Space, Community/Social Space and Professional Space that focuses on our engagement with students and knowing our own identity.’ He noted that the conference topics covered these spaces.

Taking into account concepts of spaces, one of the keynote speakers Dr Thabisa Dumisa, Chief Education Specialist in the KZN Department of Basic Education questioned whether the education system was falling, the quality of teaching in classrooms, qualified teachers and public schooling.

‘ECE is the strongest foundation on which learners build their lives,’ he said. Dumisa emphasised the importance of solid ECE in order for matric results to improve. He encouraged ECE teachers to bring quality to the classrooms to improve the standard of education.

‘Both practice and academic theory is needed. Use the classroom space effectively while integrating indigenous languages. Interact with learners, make them critical thinkers and help transfer knowledge from one space to another,’ said Dumisa.

Dr Audrey Msimanga, a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, also delivered a keynote address at the conference. She said many international and local studies have shown that there is a persistent lack of meaningful student engagement with science concepts during discussion in science classrooms.

‘This is of particular concern in South Africa as primary school pupils and high school learners continue to perform at lower than expected levels. This has ripple effects at undergraduate levels resulting in high dropout rates for science students especially in the first year of tertiary education,’ said Msimanga.

She suggested that both teachers and learners take up strategies that allow for deep engagement in science if there is sustained school based support.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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Successful eMIG Conference jointly held by UKZN and OU in Mauritius

Successful eMIG Conference jointly held by UKZN and OU in Mauritius
From left: Mr Govin Appavoo; Dr Albert van Jaarsveld; Mr Yogida Sawmynadan; Dr Upasana Singh; Dr Duva Pentiah, Chairman (OU) and Dr Kaviraj Sharma Sukon.

The journey to the first joint multidisciplinary eMIG Conference, recently held in Mauritius began in 2015, with a casual meeting of Dr Upasana G Singh of UKZN and Mr Govin Appavoo of the Open University of Mauritius (OU). This collaboration was formalised with an MoU being signed by UKZN and OU in May 2016.

The Vice-Chancellor of UKZN, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, and the Director General of the OU Dr Kaviraj Sharma Sukon have been the cornerstones of this conference. They both took time off their busy schedules to participate actively in both days of this conference.

‘At eMIG 2017, 146 papers were submitted from eight countries which include the host countries of South Africa and Mauritius, as well as Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Nigeria and India. After a rigorous double blind review process 123 papers were accepted for presentation, on a range of topics within the Disciplines of Information Technology, Law, Management and Governance,’ said Singh.

The Mauritian Minister of IT, Communications and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynadan, who was the chief guest at the opening ceremony, highlighted the journey that Mauritius has embarked on to leverage technology for teaching and learning in the past decade.

Like with all events of this nature, it has been both a challenging yet rewarding experience. As Appavoo stated in his welcome speech: ‘while the two institutions differ in many ways - one has a long history with over 50 000 students mostly on campus and the other one - relatively young with around 5 000 learners studying by the Open and Distance Learning mode, this has not prevented us from bringing our resources together to organise this inaugural event and thus foster collaboration’.

Beyond the traditional keynote addresses, paper presentations and plenary sessions, site visits to Ceridian, Oracle and the Board of Investment Mauritius were included in the programme to showcase some of the best practices in highly successful institutions in Mauritius. Thus the conference promoted academic excellence through research as well as the public-private partnership. The highlight of the conference was the magnificent Gala Dinner held under the open skies in the perfect beach setting.

Informal feedback received from delegates highlighted the success of this event. ‘It was truly well organised and very relevant topics were discussed,’ said Dr Sue Petratos from NMMU. Dr Amitava Basu, Centre for Environmental Management and Participatory Development, India said he ‘gathered new ideas and thoughts from the conference and enjoyed participating in the conference’. The keynote speaker, Professor C Thornhill, stated that ‘It was one of the best organised conferences I have attended. The timing was excellent and the presenters were well prepared’.  Committee members Mrs Bellengere and Professor Phiri added that ‘it was exceptional in its diversity, expertise of speakers and arrangement of logistics. The sessions were engaging, thought-provoking and insightful… so welcoming in a real African style…We learnt a lot and so many want to collaborate with us. The PhD students were thrilled and were grateful that they could be given such an opportunity to co-present at an international conference.’

The eMIG conference is indebted to the OU and UKZN staff and organising committee members led by Appavoo and Singh for their professionalism and commitment to the project.

‘The take-home message of e-MIG 2017 is that more than talents, it is attitude that determines altitude,’ said Appavoo.

‘Following the success of this conference we are hoping to make eMIG a biennial event, and we hope that more of UKZN academics will participate as delegates in the future,’ said Singh.

The full programme, photos, selected speeches and presentations, testimonials and some video clips of the conference are available at http://e-mig2017.ukzn.ac.za/

 Words: Upasana Singh


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Students Develop English Study Guides

Students Develop English Study Guides
Mr Mpondo Mkhuseli and Mr Lindokuhle Maphanga have penned workbooks to assist learners.

Buoyed by the need to see an improvement in the matric pass rate, two UKZN students have developed an English study guide to help high school pupils in rural areas. The guide is a great resource to those pupils looking to tackle English as a second language.

Fundamental Study Guides are targeted at matriculants and Grade 11 pupils who study Maths, Physics, and English. The UKZN student are also currently developing the Physics and Maths guides.

Twenty-two-year old Mechanical Engineering students Mr Mpondo Mkhuseli and Mr Lindokuhle Maphanga started the project earlier this year. Having grown up in Bizana in the Eastern Cape and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, they were inspired to help pupils cope with subjects they were battling to pass. ‘Students from both provinces are suffering when it comes to education resources and that has led to a high failure rate,’ said Mkhuseli.

Mkhuseli said only 12 students out of 54 in his class passed matric. ‘Both provinces are always last when it comes matric results and students from rural areas are more disadvantaged. We are talking from experience, we are the product of that educational system.’

Maphanga asked anyone who could assist with the project, especially with publishing and distributing the study guides, to email them at fundamentalstudyguides@gmail.com.

The guides can be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/Fundamental-study-guides-project-1975289602687289/ or by emailing fundamentalstudyguides@gmail.com

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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African Music and Dance Students Present Tihosi Tavakhali Concert

African Music and Dance Students Present Tihosi Tavakhali Concert
Highlights from the Tihosi Tavakhali Concert.

UKZN’s African Music and Dance (AMD) students in the School of Arts recently hosted their highly anticipated year-end lunch hour concert at the Howard College Theatre. The two-part concert featured original isicathamiya compositions by the first-year AMD 1B class.

The second part was the work of AMD Ensembles 1, 2 and 3 under the theme: Tihosi Tavakhali. This is a Tsonga statement describing the contributions made by the olden day kings and queens towards the liberation of Africa.

The three ensembles presented a diverse repertoire drawn from pipes, dances and percussion rhythms taking the audience through a memorable celebration of the Tihosi Tavakhali ensuring that the legacy of the kings and queens lives on.

The concert kicked off with exciting compositions performed by the first-year class, with highlights being the performances by outstanding soloists Siniko Majozi and Thabsile Nkosi. Majozi led in his composition Zangena Izinsizwa – “Men have entered”, which has now become a favourite piece in the ensemble.  

The energy peaked with the performance of Nu Luthuli’s well-choreographed composition Abafana Bodumo – “The famous boys”. The first set was brought to a close by the powerful soprano Thabsile Nkosi leading one of Luthuli’s compositions Sebehlasela Umoyo Wam – “They are provoking my soul”.

Other highlights of the concert included the Ngalanga dance which is one of the Chopi traditional dances; the Nondje, a traditional dance of the Makonde people of the North of Mozambique and a scintillating percussion piece inspired by West African rhythms.

AMD Module Co-ordinator Dr Patricia Opondo said, ‘The 2017 AMD1B class of 31 students is the largest to date, an indication of the growing interest in the AMD programme. During the students first year of studying AMD, we encourage and develop their interest in composition and choreography. Seeing the great talent exhibited, we featured four of those compositions in the year-end Lunch Hour Concert as a way to showcase this talent and also grow students’ confidence performing on stage and in front of the public.’

Continuing, she said, ‘The isicathamiya teacher is Nu Luthuli, an award winning performer and composer. I congratulate him on his outstanding work with the first-year students and we look forward to their continued growth over the next years. I also congratulate Albert Chemane who directs AMD Ensembles 2 and 3, especially with the work showcased by Ensemble 2.

‘Chemane is one of our most valued ensemble teachers in the programme because of his diverse talents as a respected percussionist and how well he works with dancers, beautifully marrying the AMD experience.  The choreography in his pieces performed, directed the students to explore new rhythms and aesthetics in Tsonga repertoire from Mozambique, quite different from the Zulu material they’re most familiar with.’

Words and photographs: Melissa Mungroo


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SHEFS International Project Launched at Partner Workshop

SHEFS International Project Launched at Partner Workshop
Participants at the SHEFS programme launch workshop in Kloof.

A team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) recently hosted a launch workshop for the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) programme, a new interdisciplinary research partnership being driven by nine international partners.

The Wellcome Trust’s Our Planet, Our Health Programme is funding the four-year project.

Around 40 people took part in the workshop held on 30 October in Kloof, with a variety of institutions represented, including LSHTM, the Colleges of Health Sciences, Humanities and Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) at UKZN, Rhodes University and the University of the Witwatersrand. Representatives from the governmental departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), KZN Health, and KZN Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) were present, alongside representatives of the uMgungundlovu (UMDM), Msunduzi and eThekwini municipalities. Other organisations represented at the workshop included the Institute of Natural Resources (INR) and WILDLANDS.

Co-investigator Professor Rob Slotow of UKZN said the purpose of the day was to listen to different perspectives and learn from participants.

‘We hope this will be something that will help everyone with their own work as they implement agendas for improved livelihoods and welfare for our people,’ said Slotow.

Professor Alan Dangour, Principal Investigator from LSHTM gave an overview of SHEFS goals as well as a conceptual framework for the programme.

‘We’re talking about the intersection of agriculture, the environment, food systems, nutrition and health; a critical intersection which has rarely been studied and is never really discussed at policy levels,’ said Dangour.

The large, inter-institutional programme features work in South Africa, India and the United Kingdom. Researchers are investigating food systems under significant pressure from demographic changes, shifts in dietary patterns, land use changes and urbanisation. These result in undernourishment and a rise in non-communicable diseases, leading to substantial economic losses and environmental degradation.

‘The aim of SHEFS is to provide policymakers with novel, inter-disciplinary research evidence to define future food system policies that deliver nutritious and healthy foods in a sustainable and equitable manner,’ said Dangour.

This is achieved by engagement with relevant sectors and policy-makers to co-develop policies that provide access to healthy and sustainable diets. Researchers will conduct innovative research in new ways, and think about interventions on large and small scales to deliver healthy and sustainable food systems for all.

The workshop included presentations on the nexus points of agriculture, health and the environment. Presenters included Professor Anna Meyer-Weitz of UKZN’s School of Applied Human Sciences, UKZN’s Head of Psychiatry Professor Bongani Chiliza, Crop Science Research Associate Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, Dr Cathy Sutherland of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Dr Sean O’Donoghue of eThekwini’s Climate Protection Branch, and UKZN SHEFS Research Project Manager Dr Rashieda Davids.

Participants took part in a number of collaborative activities to give perspective on the nexus points and chart a way forward. Some key areas of concern that will become focuses of further research that could improve policy include: smallholder farmers increasing crop diversity, the living environment, especially of the poor, health literacy, and youth vulnerability in the context of food systems.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod


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UKZN hosts Town Planning Students from the University of Botswana

UKZN hosts Town Planning Students from the University of Botswana
Town planning students from the University of Botswana visit UKZN for an interactive learning, workshop session.

The School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) recently hosted eight Town Planning students from the University of Botswana for an interactive learning session and workshop.

The session, held at the Howard College campus, was attended by lecturers in Town Planning, the acting Dean Professor Ernest Khalema, UKZN Town and Regional Planning, masters and PhD students. It was facilitated by UKZN senior lecturer Dr Hope Magidimisha and Mr Colin Pillay from the eThekwini Municipality.

‘This workshop session is part of our plan for collaborative work efforts for internationalization at UKZN and dovetails into our strategic and transformation plan. This also allows for future collaborations between UKZN and the University of Botswana,’ said Magidimisha.

The visiting students interacted with UKZN academics and second year masters students, comparing notes and discussing in depth different planning practices. Dr Koyi Mchunu delivered a lecture encouraging students to rethink new ways of planning.  Mr David Duma gave concluding remarks in which he urged the visiting students to maintain contact with their UKZN counterparts.

‘The fourth year Town planning students engaged with planning related line department officials in the city. Both the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) and the University of Botswana have developed a relationship over the past six years and have benefited tremendously from the Durban experience. Peer-to-peer learning offers our local students a good opportunity to glean from the Botswana experience,’ Pillay said.

The students were in Durban for two weeks, spending their first week with the Municipality engaging on various planning issues, and the second week of their trip was spent on various community based projects in and around eThekwini that is aimed at improving informal areas.

Khalema said the initiative forms part of the linkages the School is working on as it aims to attract the best students from the continent as part of its internationalisation strategy. 

The students were introduced to historical and colonial influence on town planning in South Africa; urban transportation experiences; sustainable cities and environmental resources management; best practice initiatives at the eThekwini municipality and even infrastructure planning and management experiences.

Words: Melissa Mungroo


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