PhD Graduate Dedicates Achievement to his Late Father
Graduating with his PhD was a bittersweet moment for School of Management, IT and Governance academic Dr Bongani Qwabe, whose father passed away near the end of his doctoral journey.
While one thesis examiner required no revisions or corrections, two of them required minor corrections. Qwabe describes working on those corrections, which is the final stage before degree completion, as the worst experience of his life because of the stark realisation that he wouldn’t be able to share his success with his dad in the flesh.
‘This has been a daunting and challenging journey as my father’s health started deteriorating drastically towards the end of my doctoral journey, affecting my concentration levels and schedule times as I had to constantly visit him in the hospital,’ said Qwabe.
‘My father was not an educated man but his love and passion for education was amazing - he would constantly ask when I was finishing my studies so he could see his last born finally become a “doctor”. I submitted my thesis while he was still alive. Sadly, he did not live long enough to realise that dream of seeing me graduate. However, he joins in this success from the realm of ancestors, while my ever-supportive mother, wife, sons and siblings are here,’Qwabe pointed out.
Qwabe’s doctoral thesis is titled: Human Capital for Rural Infrastructure Development in South Africa: A Project-Based Pedagogical Analysis.
His South African investigations, completed in two provinces, two government departments and four universities, found that there is a disconnection between project management human capital development and rural infrastructure project delivery.
‘The study identifies the need for Higher Education Institutions to introduce novel rural project management teaching, grounded in indigeneity and driven by African philosophies and inclusive of community-centred concerns to guide South African rural infrastructure development,’ explained Qwabe.
His supervisor, Dr Fayth Ruffin, said when she introduced problem-based learning in the Discipline and learned Qwabe was developing a niche in public sector project management, she encouraged him to look into project-based learning.
‘Not only did he incorporate project-based learning into the modules he was teaching, he changed thesis supervisors and took on project-based learning as his thesis topic in the context of rural infrastructure development and the way in which project-based learning could lead to human capital formation to meet the needs of rural development in South Africa,’ said Ruffin. ‘Qwabe’s articulation to me of the character development that he experienced during and after his doctoral journey is a true mark of having acquired an essential attribute of doctoral graduateness,’ Ruffin added.
Qwabe hopes his research will have a lasting impact as he plans to not only use the thesis outcomes to decolonise project management education but will also publish widely and be actively engaged in local and international conferences.
He has been in academia for almost 15 years but feels that getting his PhD is the “real” start of his career. ‘I want to become a well-grounded and innovative academic with better understanding and appreciation that will enable me to help shape the ongoing and changing pedagogical trends in the Higher Education sector across the globe,’ Qwabe concluded.
Words by: Reatlehile Moeti
Photograph by: Abhi Indrarajan