Children’s Perceptions of Corporal Punishment Revealed in PhD Research

Children’s Perceptions of Corporal Punishment Revealed in PhD Research
Dr Londeka Ngubane received a PhD in Criminology.

Perceptions of corporal punishment by children - giving recognition to their voices as potential victims of such punishment despite it being banned in South African schools in 1996 - were evaluated by Dr Londeka Ngubane in her thesis for a PhD in Criminology.

‘Corporal punishment does not achieve what it intends to, and its use has become obsolete in democratic societies. Schools are meant to be safe places where learners can fulfil their educational needs,’ said Ngubane.

‘However, the problems that emanate from the persistent use of corporal punishment not only perpetuate the cycle of child abuse, they impact negatively on academic performance and perpetuate a culture of violence in our vulnerable societies.’

Ngubane was awarded a scholarship from the National Research Foundation (NRF) for her research. Such funding is awarded to full-time masters and doctoral candidates to pursue research studies in all areas of Science, Engineering, Technology, Social Sciences and Humanities, including Priority Research Areas at South African public universities.

‘The scholarship was a great help as I was able to use it when travelling to present at local conferences,’ she said.

Ngubane’s study found that some educators in South Africa still used corporal punishment despite knowing it was banned.

‘Corporal punishment ranged in severity and for diverse reasons and it had adverse physical and emotional effects on learners. A minority of the learners supported this form of punishment, seeing it as effective in curbing misbehaviour in schools,’ said Ngubane.

Her findings also suggest that some learners have become so insensitive to the pain inflicted by corporal punishment that their undesirable behaviour is exacerbated rather than curbed. ‘One of the highlights of my research was a sit-down with children I was interviewing. I learned that most of them were not even aware that they were being victimised. I was glad to add to the existing body of knowledge and even happier that they now know their rights.’

Ngubane thanked her family, friends and supervisor for their support.

Offering advice to other researchers, she said: ‘Writing a dissertation is challenging and there are times when you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel! Keep challenging yourself and get your priorities right and you will be done before you know it!’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Young Fathers Want to do Better, Says Study

Young Fathers Want to do Better, Says Study
Ms Nokwanele Mhlongo graduated with a Master’s in Population Studies degree.

An interest in family dynamics led to Ms Nokwanele Mhlongo doing research on the effect of absent fathers on families and childcare responsibilities.

Mhlongo specifically focused on the perspectives and experiences of fathers aged between 18 and 24.

This work was rewarded when Mhlongo graduated from UKZN with a Master’s in Population Studies degree.

Mhlongo says there is a remarkably high number of absent but living fathers in South Africa. ‘Considering the socio-economic conditions of this country, there are certain factors that hinder paternal involvement. The youth unemployment rate is sitting at 55.2% resulting in the challenging environments South African men find themselves as fathers in. They try but sometimes fail to fill the perceived role of a father as a financial provider,’ she explains.

Her research findings reveal that young fathers had negative experiences of fatherhood whilst growing up as many of them had absent fathers. Despite this, the findings underscore that young fathers want to be more involved, and better than their biological fathers.

Young fathers cited unemployment and poverty as the major contributing factors for disengagement - they felt emasculated, as they were not able to assume the role of a provider but continued to maintain contact with their children, which was often not the case among the older generation of fathers. The study also found that father involvement was dependent on the fulfilment of certain cultural practices such as the damage payment and ilobolo.

Mhlongo believes her study will benefit society as it highlights that fatherhood extends beyond biological criteria. ‘Promoting paternal involvement should focus on biological fathers as well as social fathers as they play an important role in the upbringing of children.’ She noted the importance of cultural norms in maintaining family and society values but also suggests that given the current socio-economic conditions, ‘these beliefs should be accommodative of young, unmarried, non-resident and unemployed fathers.’

She was grateful for the support system of her family, friends and supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj.

Mhlongo plans to do her PhD and advises students to work hard and believe in themselves.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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PhD Dream Realised by UKZN Employee

PhD Dream Realised by UKZN Employee
UKZN Corporate Relations staff member, Dr Tasmeera Singh received her Doctorate in Education.

When she completed her matric at age 18, UKZN employee Dr Tasmeera Singh committed herself then to getting a PhD. Now she has realised her dream, graduating with a Doctorate in Education.

‘It has always been my goal to achieve this because of my positive school experiences. I still cannot believe it. It’s magical,’ said Singh.

Her research, supervised by Professor Deevia Bhana, examined how students at UKZN give meaning to race, class, gender and sexuality. The study is set in the context of the 2008 Soudien Report, which for the first time provided a descriptive account of the social problems in South African Higher Education Institutions.

‘I chose this topic because I am passionate about understanding the issues of transformation and how students are central to this agenda in Higher Education, particularly within UKZN which is the most transformed institution in the country,’ said Singh.

While access to Higher Education in post-apartheid South Africa has increased dramatically for students of all races, asymmetrical relations of power continue to play out on campuses.

Students entering the Higher Education system are inadvertently products of their social, historical, cultural and material upbringing, says Singh. She argues that students shape meanings of race, class, gender and sexuality and these have effects for understanding transformation and social cohesion in this particular university setting.

Findings from her research highlight the extreme complexity, multi-dimensionality and fluidity of student realities, which are shaped by their own specific contexts, in terms of the socio-cultural and material realities they draw upon to give meaning to their subjectivities.

Singh’s study illuminates how race, class, gender and sexuality coalesce and are constructed within matrices of power that have been made or unmade within specific discourses and context. ‘Race, class, gender and sexuality, as elucidated by the participants in my study, are not ahistorical or apolitical, but are rather engendered within a cultural and historical capsule. It is within this context-specific body of knowledge where students’ understandings of race, class, gender and sexuality contribute to understanding transformation and social cohesion at UKZN,’ she said.

One of Singh’s greatest challenges was balancing a full time job with her studies – a situation which required discipline, focus and good time management. ‘As a PhD student, time is everything you need but never have enough of.’

She thanked her family, friends and supervisor for being her support system. ‘Words will never be able to express the immense love and gratitude I feel right now. My family’s support is ultimately what got me through and because of them, I AM.’

Her advice to other students? ‘Hard work, determination and the will to succeed will get you through this journey. Always remain focused on your goal and let nothing move you. Be strong and forge ahead no matter how challenging things become at times. Ultimately, you will emerge stronger and better.’

Singh plans to contribute towards research that advances transformation within UKZN and within the country.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Passion for Biblical Studies Earns Staffer Theology Degree

Passion for Biblical Studies Earns Staffer Theology Degree
Ms Belinda Crawford received a degree in Theology.

Staff member at UKZN’s Ujaama Centre, Ms Belinda Crawford has graduated with a degree in Theology.

Crawford’s passion for biblical studies spurred her to choose Theology and she sees the degree as an approach to upgrade and prepare herself to be increasingly viable in her social work.

‘Social work is not just a career – it involves the most rewarding and fulfilling work,’ said Crawford. ‘It’s equally fulfilling to see families reunited and individuals restored for the ultimate goal is to work towards a co-existing society that not only combats social ills but abolishes them completely.’

The holder of a scholarship from the Lutheran World Federation, Crawford excelled academically at UKZN, receiving merit certificates for her work.

‘Being a single mother, my children were my biggest supporters and loudest cheerleaders. My friends also supported me through my academic challenges and stuck with me,’ said Crawford. ‘Fortunately, I had very understanding people around me, even though at times I knew I was lacking and dropping the ball.’

Her son Joshua said: ‘Halala mama! Your hard work has finally paid off and I am so proud to have been through that long journey with you. Congratulations.’

One of Crawford’s students, Ms Zakithi Thandeka Mndweni added: ‘We now celebrate the hard work that has led to this joyful occasion. It was never easy but Belinda never gave up. She is a shining star in my eyes.’

‘I am still speechless, and in awe at all the love, support and encouragement I received from friends, family and loved ones,’ said Crawford.

She believes UKZN is not just an institution but a place that truly inspires greatness and offers an opportunity to grow and maximise potential.

She has this advice for other students: ‘Please don’t buckle or give up. You may bend but never break! In some instances, transitioning maybe stressful, demotivating and discouraging, but press on - it’s all worth it in the end.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Master’s for UKZN Counselling Psychologists

Master’s for UKZN Counselling Psychologists
Masters in Social Sciences graduates, Ms Sarah Jane O’Connell and Ms Claire Mondlana.

Intern counselling psychologists at UKZN, Ms Claire Mondlana and Ms Sarah Jane O’Connell graduated with Master’s degrees in Social Sciences.

Mondlana focused on the concept, practice and understanding of child adoption within indigenous communities, specifically that of the Zulu community. She explored how such a Western concept is practiced within a cultural community in both its formal and informal practice of adopting a child while trying to understand some of the barriers and challenges associated with the formal (legal) process of adoption.

Her key findings indicate that the word adoption itself does not exist in the Zulu community. It is seen as a foreign concept imposed on indigenous communities, and that the general understanding of what child adoption is for participants is an act of humanity and compassion and that formal/legal adoption tends to detract from cultural and traditional practices and beliefs for both the adopted child and the adoptive parents.

Mondlana hopes her research helps bring about an understanding of not just the communities conceptions but their ways of life, family structures and cultural perspectives. ‘The study opens up a world of different perspectives and ideas for those outside such communities but the most benefit is derived by those who participate because they get to tell their own stories and viewpoints about their lives, from their understanding and experiences rather than from someone else’s perspective,’ she said.

Mondlana has also just written her board exam with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), is now a registered counselling psychologist, and is thrilled to be able to practice. ‘I would like to extend my knowledge on learning disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder within the African community with the aim of opening a Centre to help support affected children and their parents,’ she said. 

In her research, O’Connell explored experiences and perceptions of cyberbullying among high school students from an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) perspective.

Her findings suggest that although there are similarities between traditional bullying and cyberbullying, the latter appears to have a greater psychological impact on victims. Several factors associated with online activity appear to appeal to cyberbullies and they are subsequently motivated to participate in bullying online. Also, the cyber bystanders seem to play a passive role in the phenomenon, failing to intervene.

Results also revealed that there was a lack of parental monitoring (due to the perceived generation gap), and thus parent awareness talks and presentations were needed. ‘This will assist parents in becoming aware of technology and the different social media sites,’ said O’Çonnell. ‘Parents need to be educated on cyberbullying specifically, as this will allow them to teach their children the detrimental effects of bullying online and be aware of the different coping strategies and interventions available.’

She says schools need to become more active in intervening in traditional bullying and cyberbullying. ‘They need to take responsibility for bullying in schools and teachers should attend workshops to be more aware of the seriousness of the phenomenon. Increasing teachers’ awareness of bullying as well as placing emphasis on the significance of intervening may improve intervention. Schools should implement policies and frameworks to assist in creating a “safe” environment and minimising victimization.’

O’Connell, who has been offered a job as a psychologist/counsellor at St Johns Diocesan School for Girls in Pietermaritzburg next year, plans to pursue her PhD and do more research into cyberbullying.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Research Journey a Humbling Experience for Dr Mxenge

Research Journey a Humbling Experience for Dr Mxenge
PhD in Education graduate, Dr Ntombi Mxenge.

A desire to experience and gain a better understanding of how teachers learn when they are together in education department clusters motivated Dr Ntombi Mxenge, who graduated with a PhD in Education degree, for her research into teacher development.

‘I discovered that the clusters are the more common structures used by the Department of Education to improve pass percentages; that one needs to understand what the problem is (from the end user) before coming up with the answer for the problem, and that you don’t make claims without supporting evidence,’ said Mxenge.

‘Research humbles you, in the sense that you don’t make sweeping statements before questioning the credibility of what you are saying.’

She believes her research will provide some responses on why the quality of education seems to be compromised.

Significant findings include discovering that clusters are not necessarily an alternative professional development model; teachers are not taking charge of their development and that teacher development translates into improved pass rates.

Mxenge plans to use her study to assist in improving strategies for teacher development. ‘This will be possible if I work at a level where I decide on the content and approach of teacher development, encouraging teachers to take the lead. I can introduce this at a small scale and then spread to other areas.’

She thanked family and friends for their support saying: ‘They have a special place in my heart for always believing in me.’

Mxenge’s younger brother Vivi is both proud and inspired by her. ‘Ntombi is and always will be a huge inspiration to the entire Mxenge family. She has earned this and may she grow from strength to strength.’

Her sister Didi was equally thrilled at her success saying, ‘Congratulations to Ntombi for fulfilling her dreams of attaining a PhD. She did not give up even when faced with many challenges. I appreciate that she chose a topic that is close to her heart. Education is the cornerstone of the success of our nation.’

Mxenge is the niece of struggle stalwarts Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Use of Sexual Health Services by LGBT Students Subject of Master’s Research

Use of Sexual Health Services by LGBT Students Subject of Master’s Research
Master’s in Population Studies graduate Mr Sthembiso Pollen Mkhize.

Mr Sthembiso Pollen Mkhize graduated with a Master's in Population Studies degree for his research, which provided insight into the use of sexual health services by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in Durban.

Mkhize says the degree gives him the opportunity to examine the disproportionate burdens confronted by sexual minorities, such as the LGBT community, when accessing and using sexual and reproductive health services. ‘My study is close to my heart. Being a proud, young gay man, I was happy to contribute to the limited research, interventions and knowledge on the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of the LGBT community.’

The key findings of his study show that LGBT youth are victims of stigmatisation, prejudice and marginalisation within the South African health system, highlighting the importance of revising the SRH policies and interventions aimed at improving the overall wellbeing and quality of life for all young people whether heterosexual or homosexual.

‘I believe my research is beneficial to society because it contributes to the limited literature and research on young sexual minorities, and it adds value to the Department of Health and relevant national health organisations. It also contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals such as good health and well-being, and reduced inequalities,’ said Mkhize.

Being openly gay, Mkhize says he encounters a lack of emotional and financial support from his father. ‘I had to apply for loans to further my studies. I battled depression, anxiety and headaches, however with prayer, faith and by the grace of God, I was able to overcome everything that came my way.’

He thanked his support system of family, friends and supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj. His advice to other students is: ‘Never be intimidated by your friend’s academics or success. Know what you are aiming for and always believe that something wonderful is about to happen. In life, we all have unique purposes, and only you hold the key to your success.’

Mkhize’s future plans include pursuing an academic career and ‘registering a non-profit organisation that will give LGBT teenagers in high schools and Higher Education Institutions the knowledge and platform to challenge the social ills affecting them as they move into adulthood.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Study Explores Coping Strategies Against Boko Haram Activities

Study Explores Coping Strategies Against Boko Haram Activities
Dr Samuel Okunade received a PhD in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies.

Strategies used by the inhabitants of border communities in north-eastern Nigeria regarding their safety and well-being in the face of activities by Boko Haram Islamic insurgents was the focus of doctoral research by Dr Samuel Okunade who graduated with a PhD in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies.

‘Studies have shown that inhabitants along border communities have been at the receiving end of insurgent activities as they are the first victims of this inimical phenomenon and disturbingly do not receive adequate intervention and attention from either governments or international humanitarian organisations,’ said Okunade.

‘In spite of this, these communities continually strive to survive in the face of daily threats.’

Okunade said he had little funding for his research but still managed to visit communities in north-eastern Nigeria to get first-hand information on what these communities faced on a daily basis. ‘I want to be a voice for the inhabitants of border communities with histories of marginalisation and neglect by the state, especially in Africa.’

His study called for more international response in the region and a consolidation of strategies that he believes will help protect and sustain the communities against future internal crisis and violence. ‘The peace that has been negotiated successfully should be strongly guarded so that issues that degenerate into ethno-religious issues do not reoccur in the future,’ said Okunade.

Last month Okunade was invited as the only African-based scholar to work with colleagues in the United Kingdom on an ongoing project known as InfoMigrants, sponsored by the European Union and other supporting partners. The project aims to dissuade irregular migration from Africa and some parts of the Middle East into Europe.

Okunade, who is a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria, is part of a team of researchers investigating how the long existing disconnect between research outcomes and policy formulation can be closed.

‘In Africa, funding has been a great challenge for researchers mainly because governments and policy makers do not see the need to fund research,’ he said. ‘This is what this research is focused on and involves evidence-based research which will be presented at various forums for policy makers and state representatives to help inform them that no society can develop without engaging in innovative research outcomes.’

Okunade, who thanked his family and friends for being his support system, had this advice for students: ‘Challenges will surface and resurface. Your success is dependent on your ability to vigorously confront and overcome whatever challenges arise. There are opportunities - pursue and use them to your benefit.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Career Advancement of Female Academics in Higher Education Under the Microscope

Career Advancement of Female Academics in Higher Education Under the Microscope
Dr Aradhana Ramnund-Mansingh received a PhD in Social Sciences degree.

Exploring the link between institutional culture and the career advancement of female academics in Higher Education was the focus of research conducted by Dr Aradhana Ramnund-Mansingh for her PhD in Social Sciences degree.

Ramnund-Mansingh’s case study was based on the situation at UKZN.

During her studies, she faced two personal tragedies: her young son being critically hurt in an attack by a Rottweiler dog and her father suffering a stroke, resulting in his death. ‘My dad was my biggest supporter - the person who planted the seed of the “red gown” in my mind. For 18 months I was unable to function properly but the strength, support and inspiration of my supervisor Dr Mariam Seedat-Khan and my family, pulled me through,’ she said.

Ramnund-Mansingh’s graduation is bitter sweet as it comes three years too late for her father to attend. ‘I am comforted by the serendipitous date it is occurring – on 11 September when my dad would have turned 70, and this achievement would have been his greatest birthday gift.’ She dedicated her degree to her father.

In her research, she investigates challenges in the light of South Africa’s racial and cultural dynamics, the impact of corporatisation on Higher Education as an institutional culture and the dominant male structures, which continue to impact negatively on the development of female academics.

‘To be able to contribute to gender research in the face of the adversity women experience globally, brought me the greatest joy. South Africa may have come a long way from its political separateness, but the research proves that women, irrespective of the political climate, continue to suffer subjugation from men, women and institutional systems,’ she said.

Ramnund-Mansingh says professional challenges experienced by female academics are numerous with many being the result of the new institutional culture. Challenges include work overload, workplace stress, the erosion of academic freedom, and work-life balance.

There was also a strong connection between the themes evidenced in the old boys’ network, which included bullying in academia and the glass ceiling - which included the maternal and the glass wall.

‘The patriarchal tradition of the old boys’ network operates to impede the progress of female academics,’ she said. ‘These male dominant structures are supported by females in senior positions - referred to as Queen Bees - who contribute to severe academic bullying of female academics. While the challenges faced by female academics are well articulated, different dynamics play a role in this study. These include the background of an unequal historic education system, Higher Education transformation, and the corporatisation of universities which form a key component of the institutional culture.’

As a result of the corporatisation of universities, Ramnund-Mansingh says the expectation for research outputs and performance productivity increased, thereby affecting work-life balance and increased levels of stress among female academics.

Another significant finding in her study was the execution of the recruitment policy at UKZN, which sought only to employ African women in all vacant positions since 2010, without a structured plan or process of development or mentorship in place. ‘Although many generic research findings are consistent with literature on challenges faced by women in academia, the historical experiences and resultant institutional policies illustrate a South African specific experience for Black women within the academic sector,’ she said.

Ramnund-Mansingh, who has presented gender specific research at various national and international conferences, is contributing a chapter towards an international book, Intersectionality, edited by Professor Cynthia Deitch of the George Washington University in the United States.

Ramnund-Mansingh is passionate about gender-based research and the development of women in the workplace as well as the decolonisation of education and the impact of the historic political landscape on education in South Africa. She has spent over 20 years in a Human Resource (HR) capacity in Gauteng and managed her own consultancy providing a full range of HR services and strategic organisational support to municipalities in the Vaal Triangle.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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PhD Graduate in Town and Regional Planning Makes History!

PhD Graduate in Town and Regional Planning Makes History!
Dr Sanele Mbambo, the first South African to graduate with a PhD in Town and Regional Planning in KZN.

When Dr Sanele Mbambo was awarded his PhD in Town and Regional Planning from UKZN, he became the first South African graduate to achieve the degree in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mbambo’s research – which used multi-class Shaka’s Head in KwaDukuza as the case study area – assesses the potential for housing to attain social and spatial integration in post-apartheid urban communities.

In his thesis, he evaluates the extent of citizen participation in the development of integrated urban communities through residents’ involvement in the decision-making process for social and spatial development.

Mbambo found that housing development had achieved noticeable but limited socio-spatial integration in Shaka’s Head – which is the case with many post-apartheid urban communities. ‘Through housing location, it was possible to attain a multi-class urban neighbourhood strategically located closer to economic opportunities. However, social groups have been unable to create social relationships and share in the local economy,’ he said.

The study concluded that while housing development had the potential to achieve spatial integration, socially mixed neighbourhoods remained socially fragmented. To achieve socio-spatial integration, Mbambo said there needed to be enhanced integration of housing and planning through a human settlement framework, effective citizen participation, development of quality infrastructure and improved security in urban communities.

Mbambo, currently working as a postdoctoral Fellow at the Mangosuthu University of Technology, plans to continue with his research.

He said he was grateful for his support system of family, friends and supervisor, Dr Koyi Mchunu.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Graduate Overcomes Despite Adversity

Graduate Overcomes Despite Adversity
Dr Sphesihle Zuma graduated with a PhD in Education.

Tragedy and hardship dogged Dr Sphesihle Zuma during his studies but he persevered and was awarded a PhD in Education from UKZN following research he did on reimaging Moodle as an effective learning management system.

Zuma’s son died and his car was stolen but he soldiered on and became the first person in his family and community to be awarded a doctorate.

‘I have achieved my lifelong dream,’ said Zuma.

His research focused on reimaging Moodle as an effective learning management system through the experiences of geography lecturers at a South African university where Moodle met societal, discipline and personal needs.

Moodle was a platform for the lecturers to find and understand their discipline and societal identities in the teaching of geography. The platform helped them to position new Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) digital technologies within relevant theories.

Zuma believes Moodle can be used to cope with circumstances in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by government departments, particularly by the Department of Basic Education and Higher Education for solving curriculum challenges in South Africa. ‘Our curriculum is content and societal driven. We need to identify a curriculum whereby students are given wider opportunities to self-identify and explore using their uniqueness and individuality.’

Zuma thanked his family for being his support structure, especially his mother who was a huge source of inspiration. ‘She motivated me because she got her first diploma at the age of 50! Thank you to everyone who helped shape me into the person I am today.’

He had this advice for other students: ‘Have a vision and a plan. Understand yourself, your research and your community.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Distinguished Teacher Awards for Humanities Academics

Distinguished Teacher Awards for Humanities Academics
Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya received Distinguished Teachers’ Awards.

Academics from the College of Humanities, Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan (School of Education) and Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya (School of Built Environment and Development Studies) have been recognised by UKZN for excellence in teaching.

They both received the Distinguished Teachers’ Award (DTA) during the current UKZN Graduation Ceremonies.

Said Pithouse-Morgan: ‘Being a teacher is central to who I am. This award feels both personally and professionally significant. It is also encouraging that others are similarly appreciative of what I value and wish to cultivate in my teaching. The award serves as a critical institutional recognition of the educational and scholarly value of the study of university teaching and learning.’

Pithouse-Morgan’s scholarship is in the field of professional learning, with a specific focus on better understanding and supporting teachers as self-directed and self-developing learners.

Most of her students are also practising teachers with diverse educational backgrounds who teach and lecture on a variety of subjects in schools and Higher Education Institutions. Her educational approach has developed through continuous dialogue between her professional learning research and her practice as a teacher educator.

‘I facilitate inquiry-oriented learning through using arts-based and participatory modes, such as drawing, letter writing, mind mapping, poetry, smart phone text messaging, and performances of scripts for television commercials,’ said Pithouse-Morgan. ‘Course readings include an array of resources such as online talks, blog posts, and online magazine and newspaper articles. Using diverse methods and resources heightens engagement and deep thinking, dialogue and sharing, enjoyment, taking action, and emotional growth.’

Ngcoya is both humbled and honoured by the DTA recognition saying: ‘I personally know many amazing lecturers in my School and College. So, to be recognised by my peers is important. It means I have to seek further ways to improve my teaching, to be more reflective, to keep trying new methods.’

For Ngcoya, the most difficult thing is to be courageous and release the handbrake from students. ‘The nature of the world, and the problems students and teachers are supposed to solve require careful thought and experimentation that contravenes the parameters of conventional systems of assessment. Therefore, I encourage students to use all kinds of tools: videos, reports, essays, photo-essays, oral presentations, and poetry, whatever they feel comfortable with. In the classroom, I try to draw from their experiences as well, have them present, teach, etc. I think they feel empowered when that happens. This is not easy work but I’m privileged that I teach postgrad students and my classes are of a good size that allows me to experiment,’ he said.

The academics noted that awards such as these were vital in that they recognised the contributions individual academics made in overcoming challenges and improving the teaching and learning endeavour at the Institution while encouraging innovative, responsive teaching, and drawing attention to how teaching and research could complement each other.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Study Probes Link between Ukujola and HIV/AIDS

Study Probes Link between <em>Ukujola</em> and HIV/AIDS
Dr Themba Mgwaba graduated with a PhD in Development Studies.

The socially constructed meaning of ukujola casual relationships and how they fuel the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, were examined in research conducted by Dr Themba Mgwaba for his PhD in Development Studies from UKZN.

‘I have always held the view that the current academic debates and discussions do not involve cultural constructions of sexual relationships as they should,’ said Mgwaba.

One of his significant findings was the illegitimacy surrounding ukujola relationships emanating from the centrality of ilobolo in African culture and how this serves as a barrier to safe sex and mitigates against duration of partnerships.

‘The involvement of families in negotiating ilobolo (bride wealth) is a pre-requisite for legitimate relationships, particularly marriage,’ said Mgwaba. ‘Multiple concurrent sexual partnerships typically exist in ukujola relationships, and unprotected sex is common. There is a need for a national dialogue on ilobolo in the context of HIV/AIDS.’

Mgwaba believes that these unique sexual partnerships may help all concerned to better understand the high HIV prevalence rates in KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa. ‘HIV prevalence rates will remain high in South Africa, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, unless interventions emphasising all the elements of the ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful, and use Condoms) strategy are implemented.’

He argues that there is a need to promote augmented ukujola relationships, which exclude penetrative sexual intercourse. ‘It is most striking to find that young people believe that love is intricately linked with having sexual intercourse. The inseparability of sexual intercourse from these partnerships translates into high HIV susceptibility for those involved because of the high rate of partner change, and multiple and concurrent relationships associated with these relationships.’

Mgwaba plans to continue conducting and publishing more research into this subject.

His advice to students is to ‘hit the road running when you register for a PhD. Adhere to the time frames you’ve set for yourself.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Research Spotlight on the World of African Women Students doing Postgrad Studies

Research Spotlight on the World of African Women Students doing Postgrad Studies
Dr Sheeren Saloojee seen with College of Humanities Dean of Research, Professor Pholoho Morojele.

The plight of a student and mother-of-three who faced dropping out of university because of financial problems inspired Dr Sheeren Saloojee to research macro issues of this common phenomenon.

Saloojee graduated with her PhD in Education from UKZN for the investigation she did that explored situations of African women students doing postgraduate study.

Saloojee was motivated by a postgraduate student who spoke about giving up her studies because she could not afford to continue to care for her three children and pay for her room on campus.

This spurred Saloojee to investigate the struggles and challenges of African women involved in postgraduate studies.

‘I wanted to learn how they coped in relation to some traditional stereotypes where the priority is to stay at home and look after the husband and children instead of becoming educated,’ said Saloojee. ‘The problems faced by the postgrad student I spoke to is a painful reminder of what it means to be an African woman studying and, in some instances, far from the comfort of home and children.’

Her findings reveal that in postgraduate educational spaces, marginalised African women work differently in negotiated and complementary ways to their domestic keeper identity.

Saloojee recalled that her own PhD journey had taken a toll on her family for the past six years. ‘Dinners and long drives vanished, coffee dates with friends faded and I even lost touch with some people I knew well previously. Towards the latter part of my study, I had a more understanding family who realised the value and importance of this PhD.’

Saloojee is grateful to her family, friends and supervisor for supporting her during her studies. ‘As a mother, mother-in-law and grandmother, I felt an overwhelming commitment to explore women’s stories, from a woman’s point of view. In doing so, I know that I am leaving a bit of history for my daughters. I anticipate as they journey through life, they will continue to honour and respect stories of others as well as their own.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Attraction and Retention of Academic Research Staff Vital for UKZN’s Prosperity

Attraction and Retention of Academic Research Staff Vital for UKZN’s Prosperity
Mrs Nonhlanhla Kunene graduated with her Master of Commerce degree.

Getting the best researchers and keeping them are vital for UKZN’s standing in the academic world.

This is the gist of findings made by College of Humanities Human Resources Manager, Mrs Nonhlanhla Kunene who graduated with her Master of Commerce degree for research which investigated attraction and retention of academic research staff at UKZN.

‘In a competitive work environment it is important to understand these trends and what can be done to improve as all institutions compete for the same resources,’ said Kunene.

As a Human Resources practitioner, Kunene believes that an understanding of the phenomenon of attraction and retention is crucial and improvements in this area will be of great benefit, particularly the processes and practices to get the best people for the Institution.

Her recommendations include a re-look at recruitment strategies and improving the work environment for academics so they can thrive and contribute towards the strategy of the institution. ‘We need to improve the reputation of the institution. Further research in the area of managing talent in Higher Education Institutions is also needed,’ said Kunene.

Despite having to juggle work priorities and family commitments as well as deal with administrative challenges, Kunene persisted until she graduated. ‘It is truly liberating and one of my biggest achievements to date,’ she said.

Kunene is grateful for her strong support system. ‘Without my family and friends I would not have completed my studies. Their sacrifices, support and encouragement have been the driving force.’

She now plans to pursue her PhD.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Cum Laude for Study Exploring Attitudes and Perceptions of Black Queer Men Towards PrEP

<em>Cum Laude</em> for Study Exploring Attitudes and Perceptions of Black Queer Men Towards PrEP
Mr Melusi Mntungwa received a Master of Arts degree cum laude.

Mr Melusi Mntungwa was ecstatic to graduate cum laude with his Master of Arts (Media and Cultural Studies) degree from UKZN recently.

His dissertation explored the communicative practices, attitudes and perceptions of a sample of Black Men Who Have Sex with Men (BMSM) residing in the Msunduzi Local Municipality of KwaZulu-Natal in relation to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

The study examined if BMSM in the Msunduzi Local Municipality, knew about PrEP and established if they would be willing to take PrEP as a HIV preventative tool. This was done to ascertain if it would be feasible to implement PrEP amongst this group.

Mntungwa was motivated by the fact that although Medicines Council of South Africa approved Truvada as PrEP in 2015, very little had been done to implement this drug to underserved key populations such as BMSM. This was particularly true for BMSM that reside in non-metropolitan areas such as the Msunduzi Local Municipality. ‘It felt like these men’s voices were not being heard, and I wanted to in my small academic way lend a voice to this group of sidelined men, hence my choice of “voicing the voiceless” as my title,’ says Mntungwa.

The study revealed that there is significant potential for the implementation of PrEP amongst BMSM in Msunduzi Local Municipality, with most participants enthusiastic about taking PrEP when available. The findings suggest for effective implementation, such a programme would need to provide more education in order to address concerns such as PrEP’s impact on BMSM’s daily lives. Mntungwa further proposes that communication amongst friends and the use of BMSM’s social networks have the potential to encourage PrEP engagement and increase adherence self-efficacy.

During his study’s, Mntungwa presented his work at the South African AIDS conference, and the South African Communications conference. The Witness newspaper also published an article profiling his work.

Mntungwa thanked his supervisor, Ms Luthando Ngema, family and friends for their support. ‘I am especially grateful to all the men who participated in the study as well as Sphelele “Rooi” Ntsiba of the Pietermaritzburg Gay and Lesbian Network.’

He plans on pursuing a PhD in the future and advised students to work hard to achieve their goals.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Oldest Humanities Spring Graduate Examines Strike Behaviour at Transnet

Oldest Humanities Spring Graduate Examines Strike Behaviour at Transnet
Dr Bongani Mkhize graduated with a PhD in Social Sciences.

A 67-year-old UKZN lecturer and retired HR practitioner, Dr Bongani Mkhize, has graduated with a PhD in Social Sciences for research that analysed strike participation at Transnet port terminals in KwaZulu-Natal.

He is the oldest student to graduate in the College of Humanities' 2019 Spring graduation ceremonies.

As a former Human Resource Manager at Transnet for 10 years, Mkhize’s study was motivated by his own observations and experiences of strikes and their impact on worker-management-union relations at Transnet as well as across South Africa. ‘As an older student, I felt compelled to contribute meaningfully towards the discourse on strike behaviour at Transnet with the intention of addressing a gap in local studies on South African state enterprises,’ said Mkhize.

He says he is concerned about the lack of initiatives from Industrial Relations experts and researchers in finding innovative methodologies to resolve workplace conflicts as strikes alone have shown to lag behind in their ability to assist conflict resolution processes. ‘Too much emphasis is placed on strikes as a “right” without any new effort to establish their effectiveness in solving 21st Century conflict problems.’

Research results from Mkhize’s study show that participants were not satisfied with most of the actions associated with strikes in the workplace and those who did participate could not contribute on any alternatives to strikes to resolve conflicts.

‘Participants generally believe that striking is the best solution in the absence of any new initiatives. They stated reasons for involvement in strikes as loyalty to their union on the one hand, as well as fear, intimidation and threats of violence from co-workers on the other hand,’ said Mkhize.

He concludes that a strike by its nature is a historical demonstration of collective power. ‘The relationship between employer and employee with regard to work relations revolve around the strength of one against the other. Concessions on various issues tend to be gained based on the strength of each party in a particular interaction. Expressions of power relations carry with them elements of force, threats and fear of different kinds. Unless there is a change in the philosophy and the concept of work and work relations in general, industrial relations cannot escape issues and elements of force which are an expression of power relations which manifest into strikes,’ explains Mkhize.

He recommends that reforms in the workplace should include communication of company vision, mission and values; education and training of employees in human relations; proper application of negotiated agreements; enhancement of feedback systems; improvement of safety in the work environment, and a continuous review of work design.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Doctoral Research Tackles SA Criminal Justice Concerns

Doctoral Research Tackles SA Criminal Justice Concerns
PhD graduates, Dr Samuel Fikiri Cinini (left) and Dr Patrick Bashizi Bashige Murhula, with UKZN’s Professor Shanta Balgobind Singh.

PhD graduates at UKZN have been fortunate to have one of their lecturers teach them from their first-year at undergraduate level through to the completion of their doctorates.

The lecturer is Professor Shanta Balgobind Singh and the graduates are Dr Patrick Bashizi Bashige Murhula and Dr Samuel Fikiri Cinini, who were awarded doctoral degrees from the Discipline of Criminology and Forensic Studies in the School of Applied Human Sciences.

Both studies focused on pertinent and contemporary issues facing the South African criminal justice system.

Murhula’s study was titled: A Criminological Investigation into the South African Correctional Services Approach Towards Offenders’ Rehabilitation: A Case Study of the Westville Correctional Centre (WCC) in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

The work examined the SA Department of Correctional Services (DCS) constitutional mandate to provide rehabilitation programmes, which address the criminal conduct of offenders.

‘The rehabilitation approach currently used to deliver this mandate is grounded on a needs-based model where dynamic factors associated with recidivism are systematically targeted in treatment of offenders’ criminal behaviours,’ said Murhula. The South African rehabilitation approach at the Westville Correctional Centre was used as the case study.

Murhula believes that the lack of requisite skills to implement rehabilitation programmes is a stumbling block to the efficacy of the programmes in place and implementation of the rehabilitation policy. The study also reveals that some Correctional Centre officials mandated to facilitate rehabilitation programmes did not understand the concept. Lack of programme integrity was considered as another major weakness for the implementation of the rehabilitation approach at the WCC.

‘Correctional Centre staff members are key players in offenders’ rehabilitation and reform in that they must correctly implement all the policy-defined interventions intended to assist offenders. There is a need to re-align the rehabilitation efforts at the WCC with the interests and unique needs of offenders for behavioural change,’ said Murhula. ‘As long as the DCS does not succeed in providing correctional officials with a working environment conducive to the rehabilitation of offenders, rehabilitation will remain a challenge.’

Cinini’s research was titled: A Criminological Analysis on the Safety and Security of African Foreign Nationals in Durban, South Africa. The research was undertaken to explore threatening factors and experiences faced by foreign nationals with regard to their safety and security in the city of Durban, South Africa.

‘The safety and security of African foreign nationals are threatened by constant fear owing to experiences of violence and discrimination, and social exclusion marked by anti-immigrant attitudes by some local citizens,’ said Cinini. ‘This calls for the re-definition of the concept “xenophobia” from a criminological perspective. Local authorities, community members and the government need to come together in association with foreign nationals’ representatives and re-think possibilities of social integration and cohesion.’

Words and photograph: Melissa Mungroo



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Deeper Insight into Intimacy Issues Facing Shack Dwellers

Deeper Insight into Intimacy Issues Facing Shack Dwellers
Ms Sandisiwe Macozoma graduated with a Master of Arts (Sociology).

A Sociological Exploration of Sexual Relationships and Intimacy among a Select Group of Participants in an Informal Settlement: A Case Study of Cato Manor, Durban, is the title of an MA thesis.

The study earned Ms Sandisiwe Macozoma a Master of Arts (Sociology) degree from UKZN.

Macozoma’s research explores strategies used by shack dwellers to overcome the challenges imposed by their living conditions. ‘Informal settlements by their very nature are densely populated with shacks in close proximity to each other with little or no privacy for inhabitants. Living in an informal settlement results in depersonalisation due to its communal characteristics and over crowdedness,’ said Macozoma.

She noted that under these living conditions, the expression of intimacy and sexuality became heavily constrained resulting in couples finding alternative ways to satisfy their desires.

‘Some of the coping strategies couples use are waiting for children and other members of the family to go to bed; waiting late hours in the night to be intimate; waiting for weekends and vacations when they could go to their rural homestead; rotate child care arrangements with friends and relatives over weekends, having holidays in other settlements and occasional absenteeism from work,’ said Macozoma.

Obstacles to intimacy in some instances led to infidelity, marital discord and various forms of social pathology.

Professor Sultan Khan supervised the dissertation.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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PhD Research Explores South African Heritage Collections of Indigenous Material Culture

PhD Research Explores South African Heritage Collections of Indigenous Material Culture
Dr Mathodi Motsamayi received a PhD in Art history.

Dr Mathodi Motsamayi was thrilled to graduate with his PhD in Art history from the Centre for Visual Arts (CVA) in the College of Humanities.

His research exposes the inadequate systematic records and lack of proper contextual methodological documentation in South African heritage collections of indigenous material culture.

His appraisal of Western museum methods of cataloging shows entrenched formal categorisations of cultural heritage and those cultural objects in South African museums face decontextualisation and misinterpretation. Motsamayi is concerned that local curators and researchers face huge challenges to update archival records.

He recommends practical ways to improve the interpretation of African cultural items, particularly regarding neglected Sotho-Tswana indigenous pottery and other vessels associated with past agricultural activities given scant and dated scholarly information made available. His PhD also covers aspects of agriculture. 

Motsamayi is currently working as a Post-Doctoral fellow in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. He is grateful for his family members and colleagues at UKZN and abroad for their support throughout his PhD tribulations and triumphs. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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