Importance of Impactful Research Promoted at Annual Research Day

Importance of Impactful Research Promoted at Annual Research Day
Participants at the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Research Day.

UKZN’s School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (SAEF) hosted its annual Research Day in partnership with the Research Office at the College of Law and Management Studies.

The event is a strategic initiative aimed at contributing towards increasing research output within the School.

Academic Leader: Higher Degrees and Research, Professor Josue Mbonigaba, in his welcome address stressed that research was a strategic objective for the University and by holding an annual research day, academics in SAEF contribute to this objective.

College Dean of Research, Professor Harold Ngalawa spoke on how the University had always taken pride in being a research-led institution, emphasising that research and teaching had to go hand-in-hand, which is why the College of Law and Management Studies had “cross-cutting” Deans of Research and Teaching and Learning.

A plenary session began with a case study presentation on Academic Perspectives on Accounting Curriculum Reform conducted by Accounting lecturers to review the UKZN BCom Accounting degree and make recommendations about appropriate improvements.

The rest of the day was broken up into parallel sessions which included presentations across the Disciplines of Accounting, Economics and Finance with about 35 presentations made.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, Professor Brian McArthur, applauded the School for holding the Research Day, especially at the start of the year, saying it set a positive tone for research for the year.

McArthur said he was struck by the variety of papers on the programme - many of them highlighting the University’s emphasis on impactful and applied research - stressing that while quantity remained important, the College was looking into how to measure and reward quality and impactful research.

The day ended with recognition awards presented by the Higher Degrees Committee for the best performing academics in the 2018 academic year. Awards for top supervisors were presented to Professor Mabutho Sibanda who graduated six students, Professor Trevor Jones who graduated five students and Dr Farai Kwenda who also graduated five students.

Awards for top researchers in the College went to Professor Harold Ngalawa, Dr Gerry Bokana, Professor Mabutho Sibanda and Dr Paul Muzundutsi.

Dean and Head of School Professor Mabutho Sibanda closed proceedings by commending the level of dedication, hard work and commitment that went into all the presentations.

‘The main goal now is to turn all the presentations into publications and, as a School, work towards meeting the University’s publication target,’ said Sibanda.

‘I am proud to be a member of the School. Let us promote quality and publish as much as we can,’ he added.

Words and photograph: Lungile Ngubelanga 

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Orientation for First Year Students

Orientation for First Year Students
Highlights from the 2019 UKZN Orientation Week.

UKZN held its 2019 Orientation event on all five of its campuses attracting large numbers of excited students eager to learn about what the University has to offer and to take part in all the happenings.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize congratulated the students for choosing UKZN to further their studies and encouraged them to work hard, pursue their goals and continue to excel. ‘In spite of your background, make sure you give back to the communities you come from. As the future generation, you can make a difference and change the cycle of poverty,’ he said.

Social work student, Ms Sibongile Novuka, is excited about what the academic year holds for her. ‘I am happy to be a student at UKZN. I will work hard and make my parents proud. They have sacrificed so much for me to be here and I can’t thank them enough. As a future social worker, I know I can make a difference in society. I can help those who can’t help themselves,’ said Novuka.

Student Support Services Manager in the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Dr Saloschini Pillay, said students frequently experienced anxiety and stress due to academic, social, emotional or financial pressures.

‘While most students cope adequately with these pressures and demands, some become overwhelmed and without constructive help, their sense of wellbeing and academic performance may be threatened.

‘Student Support Services therefore assist students to regain the emotional balance necessary to cope with the demands of university life. UKZN offers self-care counselling and academic mentoring,’ said Pillay.

Other issues discussed at length with CHS students were policies and procedures by Academic Services, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), professional conduct, the importance of managing a personal digital footprint, living UKZN REACHt values and decentralised clinical training.

Senior students also shared their university experience with newcomers.

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science included some heart-warming interactive sessions as part of their 2019 Student Orientation sessions. The Pietermaritzburg programme kicked off with a mini Zumbathon routine presented by the Sports Union. Dr ‘T’ was also on hand to inspire them with her scientific experiments. 

Students were certainly inspired. ‘I chose UKZN because of its high rankings,’ said Mr Ayanda Mabaso who has registered for a BSc Civil Engineering degree. ‘I am so proud and excited to be here,’ he said.

The College of Law and Management Studies held a series of orientation programmes for its first-year students on the Westville, Howard College and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

The students received a warm welcome from the College staff and were introduced to academic programmes and support services available to help the transition to university life. Programmes included presentations from Student Funding, Student Accommodation, Student Wellbeing, and Risk Management Services.

In between the jam-packed programme, students were introduced to organisations within UKZN such as Enactus, InQubate, and Abasa who all gave interactive presentations on what they do and how students can join.

Students were then divided into small groups according to their Disciplines and taken into breakaway venues for curriculum presentations where academic co-ordinators unpacked the degree structure, academic expectations, online learning systems and other important information.

The day ended with a walk-about for students to familiarise themselves with the campus before lectures start.

Words: Ndabaonline 

Photographs: Melissa Mungroo, Lihle Sosibo, Andile Ndlovu and Albert Hirasen

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UKZN Alumnus Up for Farmer of the Year Award

UKZN Alumnus Up for Farmer of the Year Award
From left: Director and Trustee of the Baynesfield Estate, Mr Rob Stapylton-Smith; Trustee and UKZN DVC of CAES Professor Albert Modi; Consultant, Mr Richard Lawrence; Mr Myles van Deventer; and Trustees, Mr John Kennedy and Mr Paul Tait.

Managing Director of the Joseph Baynesfield Estate (Pty) Ltd between Pietermaritzburg and Richmond, Mr Myles van Deventer, was one of four finalists for the Farmer of the Year award announced at the annual Agricultural Writers of South Africa gala event in Stellenbosch towards the end of last year.

The Agricultural Writers of South Africa association recognises outstanding achievements in the categories of Farmer of the Year, a new entrant into commercial agriculture; and Agriculturist of the Year, which gives prominence to the role farmers and agriculturists play in the agricultural sector and in the broader economy of the country and southern African region.

‘The ultimate measure of a person is not what they do in moments of comfort and convenience, but rather what they do during times of challenge and crisis,’ said Agricultural Writers of South Africa Chairperson, Ms Magda du Toit. ‘That shows resilience and that is the match that ignites hope, excellence, innovation and forward thinking. And that is what all our regional winners managed to do.’

Van Deventer, who said he was proud of the position the Estate was in to assist South Africa in accordance with the Will of Joseph Baynes, was pleased with the recognition the Baynesfield team received through the awards event.

Van Deventer has been Managing Director at the Baynesfield Estate since 2005 and has led the team responsible for the renewal and return to profitability of the enterprise.

He attended Maritzburg College and his passion for animal breeding led him to study for a BScAgric degree majoring in Animal Science at the then University of Natal, progressing to an MSc Agric in Animal Science cum laude before completing his MBA with distinction at the Heriot Watt University in Dubai.

He began his career as a sales representative for Taurus Co-op and then joined National Chicks as a trainee hatchery manager, working his way to managing director before joining Baynesfield Estate.

The Baynesfield Estate, situated on a 9300ha farm, is a diversified agricultural business, including a 2000-sow unit and a 900-cow beef herd together with a feedlot. The 1350ha of arable land is used to grow maize for a company mill producing 1 200 tons of feed a month for the piggery and cattle feedlot. There are also 200ha of avocado orchards.

The Estate, governed by a Board of Trustees which includes four UKZN alumni, strives to embrace new technologies to improve its biological productivity and mitigates risk by ensuring the business has scale, is integrated and diversified. It prioritises conservation of threatened grassland species and is a custodian of the Blue Swallow and Oribi.

The Estate maintains an important working relationship with the University with research taking place there in a variety of disciplines. In 2017, the Board initiated sponsorship of an annual award to recognise Agricultural and Environmental Science Innovation in the work of senior students at UKZN.

Sharing his approach to management, van Deventer said, ‘It’s impossible for a person to do everything and know everything so always try to surround yourself with great managers and good consultants and insist on good performance.’

Looking ahead, van Deventer believes that important areas for development in agriculture include water, animal welfare, environmental issues, traceability, land reform and challenges that farmers will have in uplifting their local community.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied by Myles van Deventer

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UKZN Professor Inducted as Fellow of African Academy of Sciences

UKZN Professor Inducted as Fellow of African Academy of Sciences
Professor Paramu Mafongoya who was recently inducted as an elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences.

The South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Agronomy and Rural Development at UKZN, Professor Paramu Mafongoya, has been inducted as an elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences.

The induction took place at the AAS General Assembly during the Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) in December last year.

According to the AAS, fellows are elected from active African scientists in Africa or elsewhere and have attained the highest international standards and/or made significant contributions to the development and application of science, technology and innovation in Africa.

Mafongoya described this honour as a landmark in his life and career, saying it marked continental recognition for his contributions to science in Africa. During the General Assembly, Mafongoya and others delivered presentations, with Mafongoya speaking on the topic: Science Alone Cannot Manage Climate Crisis - Managing Climate Risks in Africa.

Nomination for a fellowship takes into consideration contributions to policy and development of science in Africa, significant innovations and research, leadership roles and publication record. As a Fellow, Mafongoya will work with AAS affiliates, review the proposals of young researchers, contribute to courses and training, assist in the development of AAS programmes and advocate for the role of science and technology in solving problems in Africa.

Mafongoya’s research interests cover a broad range of areas including integrated soil fertility management, natural resource management, agronomy, agroforestry, integrated soils management, biofuels and renewable energy, sustainable livelihoods and food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, indigenous knowledge systems and agricultural development.

He was awarded his PhD in Agroforestry from the University of Florida in the United States in 1995 after completing two Master of Science degrees at the University of London’s Wye College in 1988 and 1990. He completed his BSc Honours Agriculture degree in Crop Science at the University of Zimbabwe.

Mafongoya has published two books, more than 260 papers, book chapters, proceeding publications and other articles.

Before taking up the SARChI position in 2014, Mafongoya worked as Senior Proctor at the University of Zimbabwe, where he had become a Professor in the Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering. He also worked as a part-time lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Africa University in Zimbabwe.

Prior to working at these universities, Mafongoya served as Senior Soil Scientist and Country Representative for the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) in Zambia, which involved collaboration with universities in the north and south to build capacity in Africa. Prior to this, he was a researcher for the Zimbabwean Tobacco Research Board and then the Department of Research and Specialist Services Agronomy Institute in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe where he was Principal Research Agronomist.

In 2013, he was elected a Fellow with the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences (ZAS). He is a member of the American Trio Societies of Agronomy, Crop and Soil Science, Crop Science Society of Zimbabwe; African Crop Science Society; the Soil Science Society of Zimbabwe and was President of the University of Zimbabwe Crop Science Alumni from 2009 to 2012.

His work has involved work on policy issues, particularly to make agroforestry more appealing to farmers in Africa.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod 


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UKZN Carpentries Club Takes Off!

UKZN Carpentries Club Takes Off!
Participants at the Research Data and Computer Literacy workshops.

The Big Data and Informatics Research Flagship and the UKZN Carpentries Club hosted two workshops on Research Data and Computer Literacy towards the end of last year (2018) on the Westville campus.

Funded through UKZN’s capacity development programme, the Data Carpentry workshop focused on data organisation using spreadsheets, data cleaning with OpenRefine and data analysis and visualisation with R (for details see

The Software Carpentry workshop taught an introduction to repetitive tasks with the Unix shell, programming with Python, and version control and collaboration with Git and GitHub (for details see

The workshops attracted a total of 82 participants (with more people on the waitlist) from 11 Schools on all five UKZN campuses.

Participants installed all required software on their own laptops and left the workshop ready to work on their own problems. The feedback was very positive. Comments included: ‘Inspiring input to consider new ways of data analysis’; ‘I have had R class before but this is where I think I am learning R for real’; ‘The instructors were patient and accommodating. Thank You!’ and ‘Great presentation, I learned a lot about Github’.

The UKZN Carpentries Club was launched in November last year to promote data science literacy among researchers at the University. The two workshops were the first activity of the club with more workshops planned for this year.

The aim is to establish study groups at the different campuses to support staff and students in making use of programs such as Python and R for their research.

Students and staff wanting to get involved in the activities of the Club, perhaps by helping to run a study group, becoming an instructor for future workshops or hosting a workshop in your school/department must sign up here:

Find out more about the Carpentries and its way of teaching data and research computing skills at

Words: Katrin Tirok 

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Alumnus Publishes Book on his Father – Legendary “Mad Mike”

Alumnus Publishes Book on his Father – Legendary “Mad Mike”
Author Chris Hoare (left) shows his father, the famous “Mad Mike” Hoare, a copy of his biography.

A biography on mercenary legend “Mad Mike” Hoare – written by his son, University of Natal alumnus Chris Hoare – is now available in bookstores in South Africa and in Britain.

Titled: Mad Mike Hoare: The Legend, the book’s author had unique access to his father’s life story and was thus able to separate the man from the myth and present the tale to the public in a highly entertaining style.

In 1964-1965, Colonel Mike Hoare led 300 “Wild Geese” mercenaries across the Congo to crush a communist rebellion, rescue 2 000 nuns and priests from barbarity, beat Marxist revolutionary leader and freedom fighter Che Guevara and become a hero and household name in the Western world.

Of Irish stock, Hoare was schooled in England and, during World War 2, was the “best soldier in the British Army”. He demobbed as major and qualified in London as a chartered accountant before emigrating to Durban.

Going rogue, he started living dangerously to get more out of life, including trans-Africa motorbike trips, bluewater sailing, exploring remote areas and leading safaris in the Kalahari Desert.

He met a CIA agent who was to change his life and later, Nelson Mandela. thereafter, Hoare was technical advisor to the film The Wild Geese, which starred Richard Burton playing Mike Hoare.

In 1981, he led 50 soldiers of fortune in a bid to overthrow the socialist government of the Seychelles. Things went wrong and Mike spent three years in jail in South Africa for hijacking a Boeing 707 which had flown him and his men to safety, landing in Durban.

Said Chris Hoare: ‘My father, who turns 100 on 17 March this year and lives in Durban, was essentially a gentleman adventurer, probably the last of that breed. I like to think he was an officer and a gentleman with a bit of pirate thrown in.’

Published by Partners in Publishing, the 348-page book is fully referenced, has 89 photographs and is indexed.

· Chris, Hoare’s eldest son, attended Michaelhouse, going on to earn a B Econ degree from the then University of Natal in 1971. He has spent most of his working life in journalism of different kinds. It took him about 12 years to complete the book.

For more information contact Chris at

Words: Ndabaonline

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Umdlali we-saxophone waseMelika, u-Ernest Dawkins.Click here for English version

I-Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (i-CJPM) yase-School of Arts yethula iSOWETO EXCHANGE, okuyiqembu lomculo eliholwa wumdlali we-saxophone, u-Ernest Dawkins waseMelika, mhla ziyisithupha kuNhlolanja.

Lesi sihlabani sase-Chicago esishaya into ecokeme sizobe sidlala nezinye izihlabani zaseNingizimu Afrika.

U-Dawkins nabalingani badlala izingoma eziqanjwe yibo ezingahambelana nezijwayelekile emkhakheni kodwa eziyi-jazz.

Ibhendi yakhiwe odlala upiyano u-Alexis Lombre nodlala izigubhu u-Jeremiah Collier, base-Chicago, noshaya icilongo uThabo Sikhakhane waKwaZulu-Natali.

U-Dawkins uwugalagala lukathisha/lomfundisi nomsunguli wenhlangano engenzi nzuzo i-Live the Spirit. Ungenye yezingwazi zabashayi be-saxophone nabaqambi bezingoma emhlabeni. Uwusomabhizinisi onamava emkhakheni wokukhiqiza umculo ngobuchwepheshe obusha aphinde awudayise kwi-internet.

Unabangani abadala be-jazz eNingizimu Afrika, okubalwa kubo izingwazi uZim Ngqawana noFeya Fakun okungozakwabo abazisa kakhulu.

U-Lombre wumshayi-piyano we-jazz osemncane oya kude emkhakheni we-jazz. Ufunda e-University of Michigan, ngaphansi kweso elibukhali lika-Robert Hurst, oseke wazuza indondo i-Grammy Award. Njengoba akhulela eningizimu ye-Chicago, washeshe wabona ukuthi ‘umongo womculo awukho kulokho okuzwayo kodwa futhi usendleleni okuthinta ngayo umculo’. Ukholwa wukuthi ubizo lwakhe emculweni wukwenza umculo ‘uphile’.

U-Collier ungumshayi-zigubhu ocophelelayo, onekhono elisobala nocijwe wu-Dawkins. Ikhono lakhe esemncane lenza waqokelwa ukuyofunda e-Thelonious Monk Institute njengomunye wabafundi bezikhungo zamabanga aphezulu ezifundisa ngobuciko owayebuswa yi-jazz, behambe bejikeleza beyidlala kwamanye amadolobha.

USekhukhune wumholi webhendi yabaculi abayisithupha iThabo Sekhukhune, umdlali wezinsimbi nomfundi omdala wase-Durban Music School kanti kukude lapho ebheke khona njengomshayi-cilongo ovelele eNingizimu Afrika.

Amagama: ngu-Melissa Mungroo ;noThulile Zama

Isithombe: Sithunyelwe

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Maths Programme for Bright Young Sparks Enters 8th Year

Maths Programme for Bright Young Sparks Enters 8th Year
Emeritus Professor Poobhalan Pillay addresses the 2019 cohort of young mathematicians enrolled for the Siyanqoba Mathematics Olympiad training programme.

The UKZN chapter of the Siyanqoba Maths Training Programme for mathematically gifted high school pupils got off to a great start when 81 learners from 17 schools competed for selection into the programme by writing a test.

The programme forms part of the Department of Science and Technology (DST)-funded initiative in collaboration with the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF).

The Olympiad Training Programme is an outreach project for high school students throughout the country who show particular ability and interest in mathematics. It covers enrichment material which is not found in the school curriculum and aims to improve South Africa’s international competitiveness in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Professor Poobhalan Pillay, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at UKZN and local co-ordinator of the programme, as well as national academic co-ordinator, addressed learners and encouraged them to take advantage of every opportunity that came their way during the course of their studies.

Pillay said that along with returning students from previous years, about 105 learners would be trained for the first round of the South African Mathematics Olympiad (SAMO) in March.

Since 2011, UKZN had been one of eight South African tertiary institutions which is part of this national initiative. During this period, five learners who trained at UKZN have reached the top 10 in the country - a laudable achievement as more than 80 000 learners participate each year in the SAMO Round 1, with 106 000 participants in 2018.

Words: Sally Frost 

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UKZN Celebrates World Town Planning Day

UKZN Celebrates World Town Planning Day
UKZN staff and delegates at the Town Planning conference.

A World Town Planning day commemoration conference was presented by UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) in partnership with eThekwini Municipality, the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) and the South African Planning Institute (SAPI KZN).

Every year on 8 November, Town Planners around the world celebrate the day presenting an opportunity to look at planning from a local and global perspective and celebrate the profession’s achievements as well as showcase planning evolution.

The conference was aimed at reshaping the role of planners in driving spatial transformation and giving information and support to BEDS students.

The conference – themed: The Making of Modern African Cities – Quest for Radical Spatial Transformation - also attracted a number of senior planning officials from both the private and public sectors.

Dean and Head of the School Professor Ernest Khalema noted that ‘planners must make contributions to the land debate,’ further highlighting the role of planners in South Africa’s projected new land policy.

UKZN lecturer Dr Koyi Mchunu argued that ‘planners need to focus on space co-production where the formal and informal can co-exist in a co-ordinated manner.’

Mr Musa Mbele of eThekwini Municipality noted that ‘informality is part of our struggle but it cannot be accepted as a norm.’

UKZN Academic Leader of Housing and Planning and one of the conference organisers Dr Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu said planners needed to design tailor made cities. ‘Planners must respond to people’s needs. In responding to their needs, we cannot remain ignorant of apartheid town planning which continues to haunt us. Apartheid planning was purposely designed to exclude people and it continues to do so despite our efforts to intervene.’

Words and photograph: Nkululeko Mbatha 

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Jazz Student Performs Songs Based on Her Life

Jazz Student Performs Songs Based on Her Life
Ms Josie Matabola who- together with her band- recently performed songs based on her life.

UKZN Jazz student, Ms Josie Matabola, performed on stage with her band in Hammarsdale at a concert held in association with Concerts SA, Seaman’s Corner and iSupport Music Business.

Matabola sang a collection of original and inspirational songs in Setswana and IsiZulu and did covers of some of her favourite artists in a fusion of South African and American jazz.

Her performance blended voice with a rhythm section to create an evocative sound. Most of her songs are about her life and people around her.

‘My composition Mme Lentate is dedicated to my parents and I also performed a song titled Lerato which I composed after the occurrence of xenophobic attacks,’ said Matabola.

Matabola headed up her own band featuring seasoned players Sanele Phakathi on keyboard, Dalisu Ndlazi on bass guitar and Sbu Zondi on drums.

Matabola is a deep-rooted rising jazz vocalist with an alternatively defined sound. She honed her musical talent at MC Art at The South African State Theatre and later moved to the Vusi Mahlasela Music Academy.

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph supplied

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UKZN Academics Contribute to New Book

UKZN Academics Contribute to New Book
From left: Dr Lovemore Chipungu, Dr Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu and Professor Ernest Khalema; the UKZN academics who contributed to a new book.

Three UKZN academics contributed chapters to and edited a book titled Crisis, Identity and Migration in Post-Colonial Southern Africa.

They are Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies Professor Ernest KhalemaDr Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu; and Dr Lovemore Chipungu.

This book offers a socio-historical analysis of migration and the possibilities of regional integration in Southern Africa. It examines both the historical roots of and contemporary challenges regarding the social, economic, and geo-political causes of migration and its consequences (ie xenophobia) to illustrate how “diaspora” migrations have shaped a sense of identity, citizenry, and belonging in the region. 

‘The current crisis facing migrants globally has shed new light on the plight of what African migrants have experienced for decades where millions of desperate people flee poverty, oppression and unprecedented violence, giving up their livelihoods, abandoning indigenous lands and searching for peace, security and international protection,’ said Khalema.

‘For the region of Southern Africa, migration remains a historical and contemporary rule rather than the exception of human behaviour,’ added Chipungu.

‘What is clear is that an overwhelming number of people have historically migrated and continue to migrate across borders in search of better economic opportunities, social security and safety,’ said Magidimisa-Chipungu.

By discussing immigration policies and processes and highlighting how the struggle for belonging is mediated by new pressures concerning economic security, social inequality and globalist challenges, the book develops policy responses to the challenge of social and economic exclusion as well as xenophobic violence in southern Africa. 

This timely and highly informative book should appeal to all scholars, activists, and policy-makers looking to revisit migration policies and realign them with current globalisation and regional integration trends.

Words: Melissa Mungroo  

Photograph: Lindiwe Nhlapho

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School of Life Sciences Hosts BRICS Collaborative Project Workshop

School of Life Sciences Hosts BRICS Collaborative Project Workshop
BRICS collaborators on the GLOWSENS study during a visit to Midmar Dam.

The School of Life Sciences (SLS) at UKZN recently hosted a three-day initial inception workshop for a study awarded by the Joint Application Form (JAF) BRICS Multilateral Joint Science and Technology Research Collaboration, in which the Aquatic Ecosystem Research programme (AER) is the South African representative.

The three-year collaborative study, running from January 2019 to December 2021, comprises global and local water quality monitoring by multimodal sensor systems (GLOWSENS).

The main representatives undertaking the study are the AER in South Africa; the Department of Physics and Material Science at the University of São Paulo in Brazil; the laboratory of artificial sensory systems at ITMO University in St Petersburg, Russia; the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in Kolkata, India; and the Institute of Medical Engineering at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China.

Participants in the study aim to develop a multimodal sensor-based water chemical analysis methodology for application in global environmental water quality monitoring. These methods as well as their associated tools and equipment will allow for integral water quality assessments with the potential for deployment on local and regional spatial scales.

The initial inception workshop took place at Fountainhill Estate in Wartburg and was attended by more than 22 participants, including 13 representatives from the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The programme featured an introduction to the project and its terms of reference, and enabled teams from each country to present their work and developments, followed by engagement between representatives towards the project planning during workshop sessions.

The programme included field visits to UKZN facilities, the Darvill Waste Water Treatment Works, Midmar Dam and the uMngeni River Mouth in Durban. Participants also reviewed case studies from each partner country and planned the way forward for their contributions.

In the study, participants will develop and test water quality constituent monitoring sensors and gather data processed and accessed via an online data management system. They will develop methodology required for the project using detailed research on technologically advanced sensing materials and methods, test new sensors and sensor arrays of various types, and apply advanced methods of data processing and integration, including those applied on regional spatial scales for a range of aquatic ecosystems and associated management objectives.

The AER group will contribute to the development of the multimodal water quality sensor systems by sharing recent water quality and quantity monitoring developments achieved through the South African FISHTRAC study which monitors both the ecological response (ecological indicators) and changes in flow and water quality using radio telemetry systems.

Ultimately, it is anticipated that the study will promote the generation and use of large datasets, cloud-based databases and web based distributed networks for real-time or near real-time environmental water quality management.

Dr Daniel Correa of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation noted the importance of this first workshop for the participating teams to meet and begin discussions regarding research strategies. He thanked the South African hosts for their hospitality and expressed confidence that the project would be beneficial to each partner country.

Professor Andrey Legin of Russia commended the organising team for their hospitality and efficiency. Professor Chunsheng Wu of the Chinese team thanked everyone for their kindness during the trip, saying the team was eager to begin what promised to be a fruitful collaboration.

Dr Nabarun Bhattacharyya and Mr Alokesh Ghosh of C-DAC said they enjoyed participating in the project and were eager to begin contributing in the domains of the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics and Bio-Sensor developments.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied by Linda Hulley 

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International UNESCO Training Course Examines Satellite Remote Sensing for Water Resources Management

International UNESCO Training Course Examines Satellite Remote Sensing for Water Resources Management
The attendees at the UNESCO workshop on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

An eight-day international training course on the application of satellite remote sensing and earth observation to support water resources management was hosted in Pietermaritzburg by UKZN’s Centre for Water Resources Research (CWRR), the Institute of Natural Resources (INR) and the University of West England (UWE).

The course was developed by UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) through its Enhancing Climate Services for Improved Water Management (CliMWaR) programme for Africa and Latin America launched in 2018.

Around 35 participants from a variety of institutions and African countries attended, with 20 participants receiving sponsorship to be at the gathering. Delegates included professionals, water resource managers and staff from government agencies and other organisation.

Programme topics included an introduction to remote sensing, instruction on Digital Elevation Models (DEM) and hydrological analysis, land cover change analysis, multispectral indices, satellite precipitation estimation and introduction to networks and systems for integrated system for global real-time satellite precipitation observation.

Representatives from the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) introduced an Agriculture Stress Index System while the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) floated the Water Productivity Open-access portal (WaPOR).

Other topics covered included soil moisture remote sensing, the African Flood and Drought Monitor, water balance applications and drought and flood analyses. Participants had the opportunity to work together on presentations based on the material taught, with a day in the programme involving a field trip around a site of hydrological importance in KwaZulu-Natal.

Training was delivered by Dr Koen Verbist of UNESCO-IHP; Dr Nevil Quinn, Mr Harry West and Mr Michael Horswell of UWE; Dr Phu Nguyen of the University of California Irvine, Professor Justin Sheffield of the University of Southampton and Mr Vojislav Mitrovic of Princeton Climate Analytics.

Mr Roel van Hoolst and Dr Laurent Tits of VITO conducted training on WaPOR. Tits explained that the recently launched portal measuring water productivity over Africa would assist in the monitoring of water resources to meet development goals, and said it would make water accounting and reporting simpler for those using it.

Verbist said the course aligned with the UNESCO-IHP mandate to support its members in increasing capacity in water resources management; particularly in addressing flood and drought management proactively through strengthening monitoring systems and implementing early warning systems in Africa.

The need for this kind of training in the African region was evident by the demand for the course, with 600 applications received for the limited space available. The practical content, which is designed for application, was recorded and disseminated online, with organisers exploring new ways to deliver the training.

Verbist added that the enhanced climate services were based on information from and interaction with stakeholders to ensure relevance, with the hope that trainees would connect beyond the course and build on case studies to deliver on impacts.

Other collaborators on the course included the FAO, WaterNet, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the state of Flanders in Belgium.

UNESCO-IHP has maintained a long-standing relationship with UKZN where the establishment of a Category 2 water-related centre is in progress.

Ms Tinisha Chetty, the academic co-ordinator of the Hydrology Programme at UKZN, who is pursuing her PhD studies in the use of satellite remote sensing for water resources management with a specific focus on rainfall, ET and soil moisture, was the UKZN-CWRR organiser of the course.

Chetty explained the importance of this type of research and its impacts on the future of water resources management in South Africa, where water resources researchers and practitioners were still lagging behind in embracing the potential of satellite derived datasets for forcing variables of the water cycle.

CWRR post-doctoral student Dr Shaeden Gokool, and PhD candidate Ms Maqsooda Mahomed rounded off the course with presentations of local case studies.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod 

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Landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Lead Author Meeting held in Durban

Landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Lead Author Meeting held in Durban
Delegates enjoy a field trip to Buffelsdraai and UKZN student volunteers assist during the IPCC Lead Author Meeting.

More than 250 authors and Bureau members of the Working Group II (WGII) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from more than 60 countries attended the organisation’s first Lead Author Meeting (LAM) at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban. The meeting marked the beginning of the WGII’s main contribution to the Sixth Assessment Cycle of the IPCC.

Durban is the site of an office of the IPCC WGII Technical Support Unit (TSU) which assists South Africa’s first IPCC Co-Chair, UKZN’s Professor Debra Roberts, who, together with Professor Hans-Otto Pörtner of Germany, oversees the WGII contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). The WGII’s main assessment report will be finalised by 2021 and will focus on the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change. ‘It is an honour to host the first meeting for this major report in Durban,’ said Roberts, who is Head of the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit in the eThekwini Municipality. ‘This highlights the important leadership role of cities in the global fight against climate change. At the same time, it emphasises the contributions that the African continent makes to the IPCC assessments.’

The Durban Office of the WGII TSU is the first such office in Africa and is supported by the Government of South Africa - represented by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)) - with financial support from the governments of Norway, Germany and New Zealand.

UKZN, as host, provides infrastructure and financial support for related postdoctoral research.

At the opening plenary, IPCC Chair, Hoesung Lee, and Roberts addressed authors and delegates.

Deputy Director-General of the DEA’s Climate Change, Air Quality and Sustainable Development Office, Ms Tsakani Ngomane; Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in KwaZulu-Natal, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, and UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, Mr Sandile Songca, also presented.

‘It is particularly important that this meeting is taking place in Africa,’ said Lee. ‘Climate change affects us all, but is a particular threat to those in developing regions. This meeting serves as a symbol of the IPCC’s engagement with Africa and African scientists and policy-makers - we would like to see greater involvement from this continent.’

Ngomane encouraged co-operation and collaboration between Working Groups to produce meaningful results for policy-makers.

‘For us living in the developing world, where climate change vulnerability is relatively high and adaptive capacity is relatively low, the findings from Working Group II will be of the utmost importance,’ she said

‘It is important for us as a country to have this chance to listen to the inputs that are going to be presented here,’ said Dube-Ncube. ‘I’m confident that cooperatively, we can accelerate the implementation of the agreements as well as the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.’

Songca described UKZN’s research priorities, and said the University was proud to support the Durban office of the WGII TSU. He expressed his hope that the LAM outreach to the University community would be fruitful in terms of increasing the number of young people responding to climate change needs.

Roberts underscored the need for science to have an enabling environment in political, administrative, governmental and tertiary educational spaces, and highlighted the power of female leadership.

‘Climate change is a real and present danger to the aspirations of people on the ground and the sustainable development pathway for our continent, our country and our city. It is something that we need to tackle with urgency, and that is why the partnership with science is so vital,’ she said.

The week’s programme included an outreach event on UKZN’s Howard College campus where IPCC authors met with more than 40 university scientists, students and emerging academics. This interaction was an important opportunity for aspiring scientists and academics to interact with lead authors from around the globe.

Authors also visited eThekwini’s Buffelsdraai Community Reforestation Project as well as several other projects where local sustainability and environmental work is ongoing and where the authors could engage with local people and issues.

During the week, about 14 postgraduate students from the University also volunteered their time in providing logistical support at the ICC.

Words: Christine Cuénod 

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Decolonising Knowledge and Power

Decolonising Knowledge and Power
UKZN staff and presenters at the recent Summer School hosted by the School of Education.

The Decoloniality Summer School, as part of the UKZN Flagship Capacity Building and Training programme, was offered in collaboration with the Centre of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues (CSIDD), El Mirador de Colón, Barcelona, Spain.

Organised by Dr Saajidha Sader in collaboration with Professor Ramon Grosfoguel, the week-long interdisciplinary course aimed at enhancing the dialogue on Decoloniality and decolonisation in the sphere of Higher Education.

The Summer School attracted academics, scholar activist and students locally and internationally. It aimed to dialogically engage participants on conceptions of Decoloniality and decolonisation in relation to Higher Education. It was partially funded by UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize.

Welcoming participants, Ramjugernath said UKZN prided itself for being the most transformed university in South Africa as well as being the first institution of Higher Learning to have a language policy.

Ramjugernath said the transformation framework in place strived to transform the work environment and student experience, hence discussions about transforming the curriculum were important. He said the Summer School would help academics get a solid and unified understanding about decolonisation, what it meant for each person, ‘the production of knowledge and ways to solve the problem’. 

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Social Cohesion Research Flagship, Professor Relebohile Moletsane, thanked presenters and participants for registering for the Summer School and promised a stellar week. Moletsane said she hoped the summer school would grow to be a regular feature on the UKZN calendar. She encouraged participants to get involved in research that mainly focused on social inequality, inequity and injustice in education. She expressed her delight at the presence of student activists at the summer school and the interest they demonstrated.

Introducing participants to Decolonial Thinking, the Director at the Centre of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues (CSIDD) and Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California in Berkeley in the United States, Grosfoguel, gave a detailed historical background on colonisation and coloniality.

Grosfoguel said decoloniality was a politically important project to ensure countries such as South Africa did not repeat the mistakes of the past. He said universities should be at the centre of these conversations as they have a critical role to play in the country. Grosfoguel explained that having different bodies in the same space was not enough and urged universities to involve other stakeholders who have investigated the problem, and take seriously their critical thought. ‘Decoloniality is a necessity and if we don’t take it seriously, our days are numbered,’ added Grosfoguel.

Other presenters included Professor Nelson Maldonaldo-Torres from the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies and Program in Comparative Literature, Rutgers University, in the United States who presented on theorising the Decolonial Turn; Professor Elelwani Ramugondo of the Division of Occupational Therapy and Deputy Dean in Postgraduate Education in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, who discussed Genocide and the Colonial Encounter; Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni of the African Political Economy and Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute at the University of South Africa who gave an address on Africa in Global Coloniality and the African Decolonial Reconstitution of the Political; Associate Professor and Deputy Dean Shose  Kessi of the Department of Psychology at the University  of  Cape Town who presented on Decolonising Psychology; Ms Zandisiwe Radebe, a lecturer in Political Science, University of South Africa and Ms Nompumelelo Zodwa Radebe, a lecturer at the Department of Anthropology, University of South Africa, who presented workshops with Torres on Decoloniality, Activism and Decolonial Healing.

Author, academic, and feminist scholar Professor Betty Govinden of UKZN’s, former staff member in the School of Education, spoke on the Decoloniality and Feminist Thinking from the South.  Govinden also presented a poem titled: Amandla is still Awethu.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photograph: Itumeleng Masa

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Abasubathi Base-UKZN Bavivele i-Comrades Marathon

Abasubathi Base-UKZN Bavivele i-Comrades Marathon
Amazwibela omjaho waseKZN wokulungiselela i-Comrades Marathon ezogijinywa kuNhlangulana.Click here for English version

Isisho esithi ‘unyawo alunampumulo’ lugcwalisekile kwi-UKZN Athletics Club eqale kahle ngomjaho wokuzicijela i-Comrades Marathon, egijinywe ngabasubathi abevile kuma-200.

Lo mjaho, ebiwuhlanganyele nePhantane Athletics Club emabangeni angamakhilomitha angama-50 nangama-60, bekungowabo bonke abagijimi.

Amalungu e-UKZN Athletics Club abezicijela i-Comrades ngesikhathi sikaKhisimusi nangaphambi kwalokho.

Lo mjaho ulungele ukuzicijela i-Comrades ngokomzimba nangokomqondo kanti uqale esikhungweni sase-Howard College, wanqamula e-Mayville ngo-Jan Smuts Highway, walandela umzila womjaho i-Comrades ukusuka e-Sherwood, wabheka e-Cato Ridge wase uphelela Ethembeni School, isikole sezingane ezikhubazekile nezingaboni.

UMnu Sanele Mbambo, uSihlalo we-UKZN Athletics Club owenza iziqu zobudokotela kweze-Regional Planning nonguthisha oyitoho eNyuvesi, uthe: ‘Ukuze ulungele i-Comrades, kubalulekile ukugijima umjaho owodwa ongamakhilomitha angama-60. Inhloso yalo mjaho ukwenza abagijimi, ikakhulu abaqalayo, balungele i-Comrades ngokomzimba nangokomqondo ngenxa yokuthi ngisho ungakulungela kangakanani ukugijima ngokomzimba kodwa uma ungakulungele ngokomqondo, ngeke ulunge. Umzimba womuntu ukwazi ukugijima amakhilomitha awu-60 (ngokwebanga). Emva kwalokho, umuntu usuke esedinga ukuqhutshwa wumqondo wakhe ngoba umzimba usuke usunqaba. Kulo nyaka, umjaho ungamakhilomitha angama-87 kanti wumjaho onyukayo, ngakho abagijimi kufanele bazilungiselele.’

UMbambo, ochaze lo mjaho wokuzicija ‘njengempumelelo enkulu’, uthe bonke abagijimi base-UKZN bawaqedile amabanga abo, okuwuphawu lokuthi amalungiselelo abo okuzicija aqhubeka kahle. Uqhube wathi nakuba lokhu kuyizindaba ezimnandi, ithimba lizoqhubeka nokuzicija ngokuzikhandla ukuze liphucule imiphumela yangonyaka odlule.

‘Umphumela wabagijimi base-UKZN behlangene ube muhle kanti izinkomba zithi bazokwenza kangcono kwi-Comrades Marathon yangonyaka wezi-2019’ kusho yena. ‘Sithola izindaba ezinhle nxa zonke. Sizosiza abagijimi bethu ukuthi bathole imiphumela emihle yokulungiselela ukugijima i-Comrades ngaphambi komjaho omkhulu.

‘Sizogxila emijahweni yamabanga amade ukuqinisekisa ukuthi abagijimi bakwazi ukugijima amabanga amade okuzobasiza bagijime kahle ngelanga lomjaho’ kusho uMbambo, ozwakalise ukwesasa ukuthi ukusubatha e-UKZN kudlondlobele eminyakeni emithathu edlule.

Ubonge uMqeqeshi we-UKZN Athletics Club, uMnu Mduduzi Khumalo, ngeqhaza lakhe empumelelweni yalo mjaho wokulungiselela i-Comrades nangeqhaza lakhe lothuthukisa imijaho e-UKZN. ‘Sibonga siyanconcoza kwiPhantane Athletics Club nabaxhasi ngegalelo labo empumelelweni yomjaho. Cishe bonke (abaxhasi) bangabagijimi kanti siyakubonga lokhu.’

‘Ngifisa ukukhuthaza izisebenzi nabafundi baseNyuvesi ukuthi bajoyine i-Athletics Club njengoba ukugijima kwenza umuntu abe nempilo aphaphame. Sifisa ukukhulisa imijaho e-UKZN njengoba sesibhalise i-UKZN 10km Campus to Campus Challenge yokuqala ngqa, ezoba mhla wama-28 kuNtulikazi kanti lapho silindele izisebenzi nabafundi basenyuvesi ngothi lwabo,’ kusho uMbambo.

Abagijimi baphinde banikela ngezingubo kubafundi base-Ethembeni School.

Amagama: nguSinegugu Ndlovu

Izithombe: nguSibusiso Hlongwa

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I-UKZN Ibalwa Namanyuvesi Ayikhulu Avelele

I-UKZN Ibalwa Namanyuvesi Ayikhulu Avelele
Amakhempasi ase-UKZN Click here for English version

I-UKZN ibalwa namanyuvesi avelele ayikhulu amazwe asathuthuka ngokomnotho ngokohlu olusanda kukhishwa yi-Times Higher Education (i-THE).

INyuvesi ikleliswe yaba ngeyama-49 kwi-Emerging Economies Ranking 2019 ye-THE.

Amanye amanyuvesi aseNingizimu Afrika akulolu hlu yi-University of Cape Town (iyisishiyagalolunye), i-University of Witwatersrand (endaweni ye-11), i-University of Stellenbosch (endaweni yama-24), i-University of Pretoria (endaweni yama-78) ne-University of Johannesburg (endaweni yama-99).

I-Tsinghua University yase-China yiyo eseqhulwini, kulandele i-Peking University endaweni yesibili. Kulolu hlu i-China inamanyuvesi angama-72 ezikhungweni zemfundo ezingama-440 ezibaliwe, kuthi i-India ibe namanyuvesi angama-49.

I-Emerging Economies Rankings iqhathanisa amanyuvesi emazweni angama-43 athathwa njengamazwe asathuthuka, okubalwa kuwo i-Brazil, i-India, i-Mexico, i-Taiwan, i-Turkey ne-Czech Republic.

I-Emerging Economies Ranking isebenzisa uhlelo olufanayo nolwe-World University Rankings oluhlola ukufundisa, ukucwaninga, umphumela wocwaningo, inzuzo yomkhakha nokubheka ngeso lezomhlaba, kodwa kube sekushintsha kancane kubhekwa ukufana kwaleli qoqo lamanyuvesi.

Isiyonke indlela esetshenziswe kwi-THE Rankings 2019 itholakala lapha

Ukubheka ukuthi i-UKZN imise kanjani uma iqhathaniswa namanye amanyuvesi ngonyaka wama-2018, bheka ku:

Amagama: nguSinegugu Ndlovu 

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UKZN Hosts Successful 2019 Parents Day

UKZN Hosts Successful 2019 Parents Day
Highlights from the 2019 UKZN Parents Day.

UKZN’s annual Parents Day was held on the University’s Howard College, Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses.

This event provides a platform for University staff to engage with parents; sharing useful information about the support that will be given to their children. Parents are also informed about the various scholarship packages and funding options available.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, welcomed parents and spoke highly of the College’s achievements and all that it offers. Mkhize reassured parents that UKZN staff and management would be there every step of the way to help ensure students realised their full potential. ‘Encourage your children to fully engage in academically enriching experiences aimed at nurturing them in the classroom and beyond,’ he said.

For Mr Tiger Moodley, the College of Humanities was the College of choice for his daughter, Illeana, who will study towards a Bachelor of Arts degree. ‘I know UKZN will provide my daughter with a rewarding experience and that she will be able to enter the workforce with confidence. As a UKZN alumnus myself, I can’t think of a better university for her,’ he said.

The College of Law and Management Studies event highlighted the role the College plays in academic and student support and also tackled student funding as well as housing and accommodation matters.

In his address, the College’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian McArthur, assured parents that their children had made the right decision in choosing the University as UKZN’s Accounting programmes are rated level 1 - the highest rating awarded by the SA Institute of Charted Accountants (SAICA). The University’s LLB programme is fully accredited by the Council on Higher Education.

The College Deans and Heads of Schools spoke about undergraduate programmes, teaching and learning as well as student support services offered in the College, while representatives from Student Funding Services discussed systems in place that take care of the students funding needs. Parents were assured that UKZN had their children’s best interests at heart in the area of their housing and accommodation needs.

Said Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Health Sciences, Professor Sinegugu Duma: ‘We pride ourselves for having a dedicated academic and support team that goes the extra mile to provide our students with the best learning experience.’

Meanwhile, Director of Professional Services, Professor Fanie Botha, commented: ‘To produce clinicians fit for purpose, the College of Health Sciences has taken all necessary preparations to place our clinical students on a Decentralised Training Platform and have ensured that students are both comfortable and well catered for while on these training sites.’

Among parents and eager first-year students at Parents Day in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science on the Howard College campus were UKZN employee, Ms Nolleen Chidzawo, and her son, Chinembiri, who had travelled from Zimbabwe to register for a BSc in Mechanical Engineering.

Dean of the School of Engineering, Professor Glen Bright, assured the new cohort of parents that their children were in good hands and would receive the best education possible as UKZN’s School of Engineering is currently ranked number 1 in South Africa.

Science students on the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses received equally warm welcomes.

Words: Ndabaonline 

Photographs: Andile Ndlovu and Albert Hirasen

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Hard Work Pays Off for KZN Matriculant

Hard Work Pays Off for KZN Matriculant
Ms Nonduduzo Philile Mchunu, one of the top performing matric pupils in KZN.

‘Coming from an under-privileged school background where many young people are demotivated, working hard and doing well in my matric year was the only way I could ensure that my dream of being an agent for change and an inspiration to those around me would be realised.’

So says 17-year-old Ms Nonduduzo Philile Mchunu of Inanda who was named one of the top performing matric students in KwaZulu-Natal in the class of 2018.

Mchunu, who completed her matric at Dabeka Secondary School earning six distinctions, has chosen UKZN to study for a Bachelor of Business Science degree.

She says it was not an easy journey as she had to do most of her studying after her siblings went to bed because they were noisy. However, she is very happy she still met her goal despite the challenges.

When asked about her decision of choosing UKZN, Mchunu said she had read a lot about the University and its reputation of academic excellence. She considered it an honour to be admitted to study there.

‘Also, I am very close to my mom and have no desire to leave KwaZulu-Natal just yet,’ said Mchunu.

She says she is both excited and terrified because she doesn’t know what to expect but is ready to begin the journey, make new friends and work towards ensuring her dreams become reality.

Words by: Lungile Ngubelanga 

Photograph: Supplied

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Isiqengqe SikaMatikuletsheni Sangonyaka wezi-2018 Sikhethe i-UKZN

Isiqengqe SikaMatikuletsheni Sangonyaka wezi-2018 Sikhethe i-UKZN
UNksz Amanda Dube uthole indondo i-Top Accounting Learner Award eKZN nomfundaze iThuthuka.Click here for English version

UNksz Amanda Dube (oneminyaka eyi-17), ophase izifundo eziyisithupha ngamalengiso kumatikuletsheni nobefunda eSiyabonga Secondary School eMlazi eThekwini, usebhalise e-UKZN, ebhalisela iziqu i-Bachelor of Commerce eKolishi Lezifundo Zomthetho Nezokuphatha.

UNksz Dube uthi wuthando lwakhe lwezinombolo olumenze wakhetha lezi zifundo. ‘Ukuhlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali yisifundo engisithanda kakhulu kanti ngijabule kakhulu ngokuthola ithuba lokufundela iziqu ezihlonishwayo emhlabeni esikhungweni esihle njenge-UKZN edume ngokushaya into ecokeme kwezemfundo. Ngiyathemba ukuthi izofeza isifiso sami sokuba yi-CA.’ 

Imiphumela yakhe emihle kamatikuletsheni, okubalwa nokuthola u-100% Kwezokuhlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali, kwenze wahlomula ngendebe yomfundi ovelele kulesi sifundo KwaZulu-Natali, okuyi-Top Accounting Learner Award, wathola umfundaze iThuthuka wase-South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (e-SAICA).

UMnu Robert Zwane, isikhulu sase-SAICA esibhekele imiSebenzi kaZwelonke, uthe: ‘Esinye sezizathu i-SAICA inezinhlelo ezehlukene, njengokuvakashela izikole, amakhempu okucija, phecelezi ama-Development Camps esifundazwe kanye noMqhudelwano Wokuhlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali minyaka yonke wukutshala uthando lwezibalo noKuhlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali entsheni yaseNingizimu Afrika.’

‘Kolunye lwezinhlelo ezinjalo, u-Amanda waba nenhlanhla yokuhlangana mathupha ne-SAICA wazizwela ukuthi kuyini ukuba yi-CA, kanti siyajabula ukuzwa ukuthi uzokwenza intandokazi yesifundo sakhe, Ukuhlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali, esikhungweni semfundo ephakeme njengoba ezokwenza iziqu i-BCom (Ukuhlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali) e-UKZN kulo nyaka.’

UNksz Dube uthe: ‘Njengoba izinto ezinje zingavamile ukungehlela, angikholwa kanti ungathi kukhona osazongivusa athi ngiyaphupha. Kodwa-ke ngijabula kakhulu ukuthi sengivuna izithelo zokusebenza ngokuzikhandla nokuthi ngikwazile ukwenza umama aziqhenye ngami.’

Uzibheke ngamehlo abomvu izinselelo ezintsha, nokuthola abangani abasha nokusebenza ngokuzikhandla ukufeza isifiso sokuthola iziqu zakhe ngesikhathi esinqunyiwe.

Amagama: nguLungile Ngubelanga 

Isithombe: Sithunyelwe

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New Teaching and Learning Dean Aims to Enhance Academic Experience

New Teaching and Learning Dean Aims to Enhance Academic Experience
Professor Naven Chetty, the new Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

Professor Naven Chetty, recently appointed Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) after acting in the position since 2017, has a vision for enhancing teaching and learning in the College that he hopes will heighten the academic experience for lecturers and students.

Chetty began his career in the University’s Access Programme 13 years ago. In that smaller class setting with more emphasis on one-on-one interactions between student and teacher, he gained a sound understanding of student needs and the circumstances surrounding their academic performance that informed an approach to teaching focused not simply on pedagogy but on what is best for the individual.

Chetty, who studied in the School of Chemistry and Physics from undergraduate through to postgraduate level, entered the Institution as a disadvantaged student thus acquiring a personal appreciation of the practical and material challenges facing colleagues which affect their academic performance. He believes academic interventions need to be cognisant of student needs.

Acknowledging the exemplary CAES student support structure, Chetty emphasised the need to widen the reach of such programmes through better monitoring of students’ academic performance and personal wellbeing.

Chetty also recognised academics within CAES for being largely devoted to ensuring positive academic experiences for their students. He highlighted that with a teaching staff complement boasting a high proportion of PhD qualifications, educational offerings in the College have improved.

Part of his vision for his portfolio includes narrowing the gap between students in their final year at high school and their first-year of university by ensuring that they are equipped with important skills for success in Higher Education. He also believes that continued professional development of teaching staff is important, especially in areas such as providing training that sensitises lecturers to cultural, language and gender issues, sparks ideas about how to improve the teaching experience and encourages staff to work as a team.

In the context of a massification of education, Chetty believes it is important to build on what has already been achieved by staff at the University.

‘My biggest overall goal is to move towards a strategic vision to drive initiatives such as blended learning, technological learning and curriculum reform within the College space to improve throughput,’ he said.

‘We need to encourage students to seek help when needed, and to teach critical thinking that prepares them for the workload of university studies.’ He aims to develop streamlined curricula suited to meeting the needs of the job market, including emphasising core and analytical skills so that graduates contribute meaningfully to their sectors.

A popular lecturer and supervisor, Chetty was the recipient of a 2015 CAES Distinguished Teacher Award (DTA) as well as one of the University’s DTAs for 2017. He is supervising eight PhD candidates and seven Master’s students, and has helped establish a number of College programmes that encourage recruitment of top school achievers.

Chetty, together with Professor Bala Pillay, is a lead researcher and co-ordinator of the South African node of an Erasmus+ project involving professionalisation of undergraduate academic teaching in multiple disciplines to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aligns with much of his approach to teaching and learning. This project will see him working with researchers from Frederick University in Cyprus, the University of Crete in Greece, UNISA, the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) and the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

He travels to Greece in March to begin planning the roll-out of this project.

Words: Christine Cuénod 

Photograph: Albert Hirasen 

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School of Engineering Welcomes Top Matric Achievers

School of Engineering Welcomes Top Matric Achievers
From left: Ms Kriti Lalla, Ms Samishka Amichund, Professor Glen Bright and Mr Rylan Odayan.

The School of Engineering in UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science welcomed top KwaZulu-Natal matriculants into the class of 2022.

The bright-eyed acquisitions are:

‘This is one of my proudest achievements and a highly valued reward for all the hard work I put in and the results I obtained during my matric year,’ said Odayan.

UKZN was his first option due to its high rankings and excellent facilities in Engineering. He believes his fascination with Physics is the reason he aims to become a mechanical engineer.

Meanwhile, Amichund - who has been accepted to study for a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering - says her main hobby is painting on canvas but she is also an avid reader and enjoys working in the garden.

How does she feel about being ranked among KwaZulu-Natal’s top matriculates? ‘I am actually quite shocked by this news. My matric results were very pleasing but I didn’t expect to do so well. I am proud of myself and I glad to be studying what I really want to at UKZN.’

Lalla believes consistency is the key to matric success. She enjoys Kathak - a form of Indian Classical Dance - and while studying for her tests and exams, she was actively involved in both regular Kathak dance lessons and solo dance performances.

‘From my childhood, I enjoyed building and designing things,’ said Lalla. ‘With my abilities in analytical, critical and creative thinking, I was drawn towards the engineering sector. I chose mechanical engineering as a foundation and want to specialise in mechatronics due to my interest in robotics and computers,’ said Lalla.

Banoo attributed his choice to study Chemical Engineering to the movie iRobot which is based on a 2004 American science fiction action film. ‘The futuristic technology shown in the movie fascinated me and that, coupled with a brother who also loves science and technology, naturally led me to the School of Engineering,’ he said.

The youngsters all attribute their success to their parents and mentors who they say played an integral and supporting role throughout their matric year.

Welcoming first-year students, the Dean and Head of School of Engineering Professor Glen Bright said, ‘The School of Engineering at UKZN is positioning itself to be the academic centre of choice for incoming learners. Excellent and quality education is a priority, along with providing Engineering students with a teaching and learning experience to prepare them for their careers. Incoming students are indeed fortunate and we are privileged to welcome them to the School of Engineering this year.’

Words: Christian Ishimwe 

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Swiss Funding for UKZN Researchers to Improve Food System Resilience

Swiss Funding for UKZN Researchers to Improve Food System Resilience
The team of project partners on the RUNRES project, including UKZN’s representatives Professor Chris Buckley (front row, second from left) and Dr Alfred Odindo (back row, third from right).

Dr Alfred Odindo of UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Science (SAEES) and Professor Chris Buckley of the Pollution Research Group (PRG) were in Kenya recently to meet with project partners to plan the implementation of a new international research project: The Rural-Urban Nexus: Establishing a Nutrient Loop to Improve City Region Food System Resilience (RUNRES).

This project, housed in the Discipline of Crop Science where Odindo is the project’s Principal Investigator for South Africa, is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) Global Programme Food Security. It was selected from among 96 proposals to receive the eight-year project grant.

The SDC cited the project’s innovation of the circular use of nutrients and the large partnership team reaching across the African continent as impressive.

The project includes a number of rural-urban regions in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and South Africa, and is led by Professor Johan Sixfrom the Sustainable Agroecosystems Group at ETH Zürich, together with UKZN, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture(IITA) in Bukavu in the DRC and Kigali in Rwanda, and Arba MinchUniversity in Ethiopia.

The project will establish in each rural-urban region solutions-oriented and transdisciplinary innovation platforms with collaborators from academia, the private sector, government, and local communities to demonstrate that innovations for value chain development and waste recycling can serve as a catalyst to generate a flow of resources between the rural-urban nexus that will improve the resilience of regional food systems. In addition, the project will create a platform for specialist studies in a range of disciplines, inviting collaboration between academia, private sector, government, and local communities.

About R60 million has been set aside for funding partners to implement phase one of the project from 2019-2022.

Meetings in Kenya included discussions on the project background and objectives, the application of innovation platforms in agricultural research for development, and the establishment of a governance structure and Steering Committee comprising ETH Zürich, SDC representatives and Principal Investigators/Project Managers from the partner countries.

‘The wide geographic range of partners opens up possibilities for UKZN to be very active in Africa and work with local communities in seeking solutions to the challenges of sanitation and agriculture in areas where they reside,’ said Buckley.

Ideas for this project were sparked in part when in 2017, community members from the Blessed Agricultural Co-operative in Vulindlela peri-urban settlement near Howick within the Msunduzi Municipality approached Odindo for assistance in addressing challenges of waste disposal, since their 10-year-old Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrines were full and the municipality had no plans to empty them.

The communities were keen to investigate a machine that could enable emptying of the pits and processing of the contents into fertiliser for use or sale. Odindo suggested an alternative approach involving engagement with relevant stakeholders and established a partnership with the co-operative.

This project will apply Buckley’s work on the integration of innovative sanitation technologies that allow for the recovery of nutrients, linking this to agriculture, a focus of Odindo’s research, to attempt to achieve safe sanitation, improved nutrition for mostly poor city dwellers and rural smallholder farmers, as well as environmental protection.

This work meets many objectives of the UKZN African Cities of the Future Research Flagship by bringing together researchers across disciplines to collaborate with municipalities, provincial and national governments to find sustainable solutions and influence improvements in policy, planning, implementation, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Words: Christine Cuénod 

Photograph: Supplied by Alfred Odindo

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