A Closer Look at Home-Schooling in SA

A Closer Look at Home-Schooling in SA
Ms Nonkululeko Dlamini whose Master’s study zoomed in on home-schooling.

Ms Nonkululeko Dlamini - who graduated with a Master’s degree in Population Studies - examined the history of home-schooling in South Africa, its advantages and disadvantages, the reasons why parents choose to home-school their children, the impact of home-schooling as well as curriculum options. 

Her dissertation also discussed the regulation of home-schooling and the home-schooling population’s response to such regulation. 

‘Although, home-schooling has received significant coverage in South African media, there is relatively little academic research on this subject,’ said Dlamini. This motivated her to investigate how this form of education could contribute to fulfilling the country’s needs. 

The study found that home-schooling is a life changing decision which requires discipline and commitment from parents, educators and their children. ‘There are various benefits associated with home-schooling, but the most common advantage is that it presents families with the opportunity to grow and develop together, creating a rare bond,’ she said.

According to Dlamini, parents seek a holistic approach to education that is of high quality and believe that they are best placed to provide such, as they know their children best. ‘Parents believe that home-schooling provides the opportunity to customise education to suit the needs and interests of each child. Each child can progress at his or her own pace according to their strengths and weaknesses,’ she added. 

The study adds to the body of knowledge on home-schooling in South Africa and highlights parents’ good and bad experiences as home educators. 

Dlamini thanked her family, friends and supervisor, Professor Pranitha Maharaj, for their support. She plans to continue her postgraduate studies, gain work experience and one day travel the world as a Population Scientist. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Sculptor Extraordinaire Recognised for Life’s Work

Sculptor Extraordinaire Recognised for Life’s Work
Pictured left is Dr Willie Bester, recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in Literature. Seen on the right is Bester (second from left) with Siphelele Mkhwanazi; College of Humanities Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize; Ms Pamela Adams and Mr Cebo Mbatha.

One of South Africa’s most important resistance artists, Dr Willie Bester, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in recognition of his ground-breaking work and the active role he played in the anti-apartheid movement. 

Speaking during the Graduation ceremony held today (Monday, 1 April 2019) at the Westville campus, Bester looked back on the role his parents played in fighting apartheid and how his work over the years has confronted issues of injustice and exclusion both during the apartheid era and in post-apartheid South Africa. 

Bester’s past and present work also looks at the experiences of ordinary people showing the many ways in which they have been dispossessed, while at the same time celebrating their lives and achievements. Furthermore, it focuses on women and children who have struggled to survive poverty in rural areas and in South African’s under-resourced townships. 

‘My fascination with being creative began when I was very young; making wire cars for myself and my friends and painting murals for people in the impoverished community in Montagu in the Little Karoo where I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. 

‘I visited local artists like Francois Krige and Adriaan Braaf, taught myself how to work in oil paints and while still employed as a dental mechanic, was inspired by the example of the politically challenging subject matters I encountered in the work of my peers at the Community Art Centre in Cape Town.’ 

Over the years, Bester has also produced important studies commemorating some of the heroes of the struggle against apartheid such as Chris Hani, Jack Simons and Nelson Mandela. 

‘I have produced this body of work despite the fact that I did not have the privilege of a tertiary education or the opportunity to study art in the formal way.’ 

As the first-born child of a Coloured mother and a migrant Xhosa-speaking father, Bester’s early life was shaped by the indignities his parents suffered under the apartheid system which discriminated against people who dared to cross social and cultural divides. 

‘I have often wondered what my parents would say if they saw me now: a successful artist who has just been awarded an Honorary Doctorate,’ Bester said with pride.

He added: ‘When I was young, I was not always able to appreciate the example they set for me. But I thank them today for who they were and what they taught me about life, for helping me to understand the importance of standing up for and believing in myself.’ 

Bester also thanked the artists that he has collaborated with over the years for the many productive interactions, and hopes that they will continue to learn from one another. 

‘I thank the University of KwaZulu-Natal for its vote of confidence in me and my life’s work as an artist committed to celebrating the dignity of others, regardless of whether they were exploited by colonial masters, victimised under apartheid, or brutalised by other forms of injustice,’ he said. 

Bester has received numerous awards during the course of his career including an Honorary medal for the promotion of Fine Arts awarded by Suid Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns and the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver by the Government of the Republic of South Africa. 

Words: Xoliswa Zulu 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Honours Investigates Umakhweyane Zulu Bow

Honours Investigates <em>Umakhweyane</em> Zulu Bow
Applied Ethnomusicology Honours graduate, Mr Siphamandla Ngcobo.

Mr Siphamandla Ngcobo, who graduated with an Honours degree in Applied Ethnomusicology, is making his mark as an ethnographic film maker. The title of the film he produced as part of his Honours research is Passing on the Baton: Investigating the contributions of Brother Clement Sithole in the development of the Zulu Umakhweyane Bow. 

The film offers an in-depth history of this indigenous instrument and profiles the legends who played Umakhweyane

Sithole teaches African Music and Dance students at UKZN to play the bow. He learned to play the instrument from Princess Magogo (mother of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi). As part of the film, Sithole visited his place of birth, Engoje, which is now part of the Ithala Game Reserve for the first time in 65 years. Going back to where it all started, he witnessed first-hand the manufacture of the instrument. Ngcobo was gifted with his own Umakhweyane bow and described it as ‘one of the best gifts I have ever gotten.’ 

‘The results of my research study were shocking such as the fact that Umakhweyane does not have a platform on radio. The majority of radio presenters and compilers have not played or interviewed any Umakhweyane artists on radio. Brother Clement with all his composition, live performance and vast experience has never got a chance to release an album under his name or benefited from any form of royalties,’ he said. 

He believes his research will popularise the Umakhweyane bow by disseminating information on its manufacture and create job opportunities for those who produce it for the export market. 

Ngcobo’s supervisor, Dr Patricia Opondo, said: ‘His study is significant in the Applied Ethnomusicology discipline as it documents the revitalisation and sustenance of an otherwise fading tradition. His film will be used as part of the course material in the Zulu Bow modules in the African Music and Dance Programme.’ 

Ngcobo plans to pursue his Masters in Applied Ethnomusicology and is grateful for the support received from family and friends. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Cum Laude for Honours Graduate

<em>Cum Laude</em> for Honours Graduate
Ms Nomfundo Zuma graduated cum laude with an Honour’s degree.

Ms Nomfundo Zuma was ecstatic to receive her Honours in Applied Ethnomusicology cum laude. Her dissertation topic was: The role of music in traditional Sangoma ceremonies and Zionist church services as a medium that connects humans to spirits.

‘In my experience there is a lack of tolerance between those who are aligned with the Christian churches and those who follow traditional religious ideals. Each feels the other is spiritually dysfunctional,’ explained Zuma. 

‘My study built a bridge between them to portray clear understanding of the two religious practices (the Sangoma tradition and Christian Zion religion), using music as a tool to show what they do alike and what makes them differ.’ 

She believes her study will promote understanding of the reasons for spiritual songs. ‘People should realise the purpose of music and what it does to them so they will know when to sing certain songs. Most authors discuss music and spirituality topics but do not touch on the gaps that have been created by people who want their religion to dominate with the mindset that theirs is better than other religions,’ said Zuma. 

She hopes that people will recognise that difference should be celebrated rather than condemned. ‘People should look at music as more than an entertainment form but start to consider the sentiments that goes with it. Each emotion is attached to a certain music genre depending on your music superior. Music touches people at a personal level. My work will provide spiritual understanding between people from different religions. It should change one’s perspective about another person’s religion.’ 

Zuma is currently enrolled for her Master’s degree in Applied Ethnomusicology and aims to once again graduate cum laude

She expressed her appreciation to her family and friends. 

Her supervisor, Dr Patricia Opondo, said: ‘Nomfundo’s research is self-reflexive and breaking new ground as well as teaching students how to document indigenous dance choreographies as they change over time.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Honours Research Focuses on "Black Tax"

Honours Research Focuses on
Ms Nokubonga Komako whose Honours dissertation examined “Black Tax”.

Ms Nokubonga Komako’s Honours dissertation examined the phenomenon of “Black Tax” and whether it is a responsibility or a burden. 

The Media and Cultural Studies graduate said that her interest in this topic stemmed from personal experience: ‘I realised that I enjoyed taking care of my family even though sometimes it was frustrating financially. I chose this topic because I needed to understand what I was going through and what my brother went through when he started his first job. I wanted to understand if taking care of family was a responsibility or a burden and why it is dominant amongst Black families and to possibly find a solution to end the cycle of Black Tax.’

Her research findings suggest that Black people are born into “Black Tax”. ‘We don’t have a choice. We were not just disadvantaged by apartheid, but our problem stems back to colonisation when our land was taken away from us,’ she said. 

Reflecting on the research process, Komako said: ‘Interviewing different people from different backgrounds and hearing their opinions made me appreciate my brother Ayanda even more. He sacrificed a lot to get me through my undergraduate degree. I couldn’t even imagine how hard it must have been not to enjoy your first salary and having to put your sibling through school on an internship salary.’ 

She dedicated her degree to her brother and is also thankful for her family and friends’ support. 

Komako plans to register for a master’s degree and is excited about what the future holds.

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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MA Study Compares Ellipsis Constructions in English and isiZulu

MA Study Compares Ellipsis Constructions in English and isiZulu
Mr Andrew Bevis, MA in Linguistics graduate.

Mr Andrew Bevis graduated with his Master’s degree in Linguistics. His research falls within the field of theoretical linguistics, specifically syntax, which deals with the structure of language. 

Bevis examined a specific set of sentence constructions known as ellipsis constructions. ‘Ellipsis constructions are well studied in English and several other languages, but they remain seriously under researched in other languages. My work involved comparing which of the various ellipsis constructions which are found in English and other languages are also found in isiZulu,’ he explained. 

His findings highlight both how similar isiZulu is to other languages around the world and how unique it is. He hopes that his research will stimulate interest in further theoretical study of isiZulu which could yield a number of new insights into language. 

‘As linguists, we view language as a unique human trait and therefore a part of what makes us human. As my work sheds light on isiZulu and language in general, in a small way it helps us to understand a key part of what makes us human,’ he added. 

During his studies, Bevis was able to present at two conferences. ‘My findings are interesting because they are the first for isiZulu in this area of syntax and show that isiZulu differs from other African languages in unexpected ways and that it has unexpected similarities to English in some ellipsis constructions.’ 

He thanked his mother Aileen (former UKZN staff member); his family; friends; and supervisor, Professor Jochen Zeller for their support and guidance. 

Bevis plans to pursue a PhD in the field of Linguistics.

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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The Role of Print Media in Marketing

The Role of Print Media in Marketing
Ms Germaine Cecil, Bachelor of Arts Honours graduate.

Bachelor of Arts Honours graduate, Ms Germaine Cecil conducted a study on print media’s effect on in-store Point of Sale Materials. As someone who works in print media, she is of the view that ‘there will always be a space for print media even though a lot of the world is moving digital (in advertising).’ 

‘It was interesting for me to delve into the field in which I’ve been working for almost six years. It helped me to understand the industry a bit better and the information sourced was beneficial to where I am career-wise. Part of my Honours was coursework and I had the privilege of being lectured on video production by my dad, Jasper, who works for UKZN,’ said Cecil. 

Her findings revealed that while there has been a spike in electronic advertising in digital media which has taken the marketing world by storm, print media remains relevant. 

‘It is still as important as it was when it first emerged in marketing stores. Print media created the foundation for digital media. Though many may question its relevance, retail solutions always call for print media as a primary source of marketing,’ said Cecil. ‘It draws, captivates and holds the attention of its consumers within and without the retail space. Its reach is worldwide and goes beyond language, race, age and culture; it has evolved over the ages to keep current with the trends but does not lose its authenticity along the way.’ 

Cecil anticipates that her research findings will be useful to Point of Sale advertising, marketing and the print media industry. 

She is grateful for the support she received from family and friends. Her advice to other researchers is: ‘The topic chosen should be a passion of yours as it will help when you need to find the motivation to immerse yourself in your research. It sometimes seems like a daunting task when you initially look at it; however, there is a great reward in knowing that you’ve managed to contribute to your field.’ 

Cecil plans on pursuing her masters and growing in her current role in a print procurement company. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Bachelor of Arts for Daily Maverick Writer

Bachelor of Arts for Daily Maverick Writer
Mr Yanga Sibembe who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.

Known by many for his way with words as well as his creative clothes and hairstyles, Mr Yanga Sibembe graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. He was headhunted by the Daily Maverick to join their team as an intern and says that this has been an exciting experience. 

He has covered stories from labour disputes to politics and plans to continue to report the truth. Sibembe adds that his degree has equipped him with the skills required to make a name for himself in the media industry. ‘I am now doing something which resulted from my degree. I couldn’t be any happier,’ he said. 

A beneficiary of the Indimezulu Trust Fund, Sibembe thanked his family and friends for their support. ‘They were supportive because they believed in me and my dream of becoming a journalist/writer. They encouraged me to push on days when I felt like giving up.’ 

He described his time at UKZN as some of the best years of his life: ‘Because I lived at a residence on campus, I was able to take in so many things. In my first year, I was a closed book, keeping to myself. However, the vibrancy and openness of my fellow students made me more extroverted and that’s now helping me in my career.’ He evolved as a person and forged life-long friendships. 

His advice to other students is, ‘Enjoy yourselves. Make the most of this chapter of your book. Fill it up with as many memories as possible.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Master’s Research Explores Early Childbearing

Master’s Research Explores Early Childbearing
Mr Seluleko Ngcobo whose Master’s research investigated early childbearing.

Mr Seluleko Ngcobo was awarded his Master’s degree in Population Studies cum laude. His research investigated early childbearing from the perspectives of young mothers and fathers in Durban, many of whom are still studying. 

‘Early childbearing continues to be a matter of concern around the world, especially in developing nations. Life goals and the future of young people is threatened by early parenting. The negative outcomes of early parenting impact young parents’ ability to further their studies,’ explained Ngcobo. ‘Excluding fathers defeats the purpose as they are an integral part of early childbearing.’ 

The study found that a lack of proper sex education in homes and schools is a significant cause of early childbearing. 

‘Although lack of access to contraception was an issue, I found that NSFAS funding was also used to support young parents and their children. This means that NSFAS played a vital role in supporting young parents to further their studies despite the problems they experience,’ said Ngcobo. 

He chose this topic as he sees himself as a social worker at heart and aims to address the problems he has witnessed in communities that require interventions from different perspectives. ‘I believe that with further research, functional interventions can be devised to curb unwanted early childbearing.’ Ngcobo added that youth friendly and youth driven awareness and education could assist in this regard. 

He thanked his support system of family, friends and supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj and advises other students to, ‘Choose a research topic that you love, do something that makes you smile whenever you pick it up. Remember you may be up and working around the clock but no one wants to be sad 24/7.’

Ngcobo plans to become part of the academic fraternity in the future and is pursuing his PhD. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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A Fresh Insight into Contraceptive Use

A Fresh Insight into Contraceptive Use
Ms Bongimpilo Zulu who received a Masters in Population Studies.

Ms Bongimpilo Zulu received a Master's in Population Studies for her dissertation on the factors facilitating and inhibiting contraceptive use among White students. 

‘This topic is close to my heart. As a person who grew up in a rural area, seeing young women falling pregnant and dropping out of school at a very young age, I thought about the causes and facilitating factors of such a problem especially because contraceptives are provided for free in South Africa. Statistics had shown the White population to have low teenage pregnancies and high contraceptive rates. I saw them as the right group to gain insights from and try to implement similar ways among other population groups,’ explained Zulu. 

One of the key findings of her study was that contraceptives are not only used to prevent pregnancy, but have health benefits, such as regulating periods and being used in tandem with skin medication for women with acne.

She hopes her study will encourage further research: ‘The insights gained can be a starting point for implementing programmes that will help all population groups experiencing high levels of teenage and unwanted pregnancies as well as low contraceptive rates.’ 

Obtaining her Master’s degree was no easy task. ‘I struggled with registration fees for two years and had to sell my laptop. In my third-year, I battled with depression. I wanted to quit, however, by God’s grace I never went to bed on an empty stomach and resolved to complete my degree,’ Zulu said. 

She advises other students to have a support system and to be resilient. She thanked her family, friends and supervisor, Professor Pranitha Maharaj, for their encouragement. 

Zulu plans to launch a non-profit organisation to disseminate information on contraceptives to young people and to help them overcome their difficulties in order to reach their full potential. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Supplied


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