Agony and Ecstasy all Part of the PhD Study Story

Agony and Ecstasy all Part of the PhD Study Story
Doctoral graduates in Media and Cultural Studies, Drs Phiwe Nota (left) and Yonela Vukapi.

Students from the Centre of Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), Dr Yonela Vukapi and Dr Phiwe Nota can attest to the joy and agony involved in earning a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies. 

Professor Eliza Govender, who also supervised them for their honours degrees, supervised them both at UKZN. 

Their “never-ending story” began in 2013 when they both did honours degrees within the School of Applied Human Science. One of the key challenges they had to overcome was the realisation that the level of work ethic for honours was very high. Writing academically also proved to be challenging as it demanded critical and independent thinking. 

The two best buddies rose to the challenge, committing themselves to more reading to help strengthen their writing skills. 

Being part of CCMS not only taught them the value of hard work but also the importance of collegiality. Working with this understanding has led to them achieving within the College of Humanities and at international conferences. 

‘Among the proudest moments in my seven years at CCMS was receiving all of my postgraduate degrees - honours, masters and now PhD - under my supervisor Professor Eliza Govender. 

The international conferences at which I presented my research are among my proudest experiences,’ said Nota. 

Nota’s research explores the integration of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) into sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services as HIV prevention technologies. This study demonstrated that a context-specific and culturally relevant model for oral PrEP integration in SRH services will be necessary in local clinics. 

‘There are several localised cultural and social factors that will affect oral PrEP acceptance, uptake and adherence in communities, and these factors will vary from setting to setting,’ explained Nota, who continues to pursue research interests in Public Health and Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare for young women. 

For Vukapi, the ‘CCMS is an academic space, yet it was “a home-away-from-home” for most of us. I treasure being given the opportunity to grow through practical experience and being nurtured by senior lecturers and professors.’ 

Her research explores the impact of Youth Friendly Services (YFS) in primary health-care clinics as a tool for effective Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) care among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in rural KwaZulu-Natal. 

Acknowledging the high prevalence rates of HIV among AGYW is crucial; however, the crux of her research is the inclusion of AGYW’s voices in the design of YFS within primary healthcare clinics. Investigating YFS from the perspective of AGYW is imperative. As a key vulnerable population to HIV and other SRH challenges, exploring the role of YFS in primary health care clinics and its role in influencing AGYW for HIV prevention and SRH care services is essential. 

The two scholars were thankful for the support they got at CCMS. Through sharing knowledge and learning from astute academics Nota and Vukapi have become custodians of their study journey and walking this road with their favourite supervisor has and will continue to be a journey of growth and inspiration for them. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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“Birthday Present” Degree for PhD Graduate

“Birthday Present” Degree for PhD Graduate
A PhD in Education for DUT academic, Dr Prinavin Govender.

It was a double celebration for a lecturer at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Dr Prinavin Govender who graduated with a PhD in Education from UKZN… and celebrated his birthday the next day!

‘I couldn’t have got a better present,’ said Govender. Being in the Information Technology (IT) field for more than 30 years and fired up with a passion for both teaching and research, Govender examined the basic pedagogy of teaching and learning computer programming, interpreting how IT academics perceive their vocation. His research also investigated practitioner research (his self-study) and IT academics who taught computer programming to first-year students at a university of technology in Kwa-Zulu Natal. 

‘This research will assist first-year IT programming academics, and even IT school teachers to understand their pedagogical impact at an Institution of Higher Learning. My study will further potentially serve as a path for future research and aid in understanding the pedagogical impact of the teaching and learning of IT on first-year IT students,’ explained Govender. 

Reflecting on his experience of juggling a full-time job, parenting and studying, Govender said: ‘I had to challenge myself not to give up. There were times I questioned pursuing a PhD. I even typed a chapter of my thesis in the car park of my daughter’s school. It feels like a distant memory but I managed to complete it under duress and with personal sacrifice.’ 

He advised other students to never quit and ‘change your cell phone background screen to display PhD, and every time you look at your cell phone that must serve as a reminder to continue and persevere.’ 

One of the highlights during Govender’s PhD was enrolling for and studying the CS50 online computer programming course, though Harvard extension school in the United States. He also received a scholarship from Microsoft Corporation.

Govender plans to do post-doctoral studies, to supervise postgraduate students and to write journal articles. ‘I would love to convert my findings into a handbook, with a title along the lines of: A Handbook for IT Programming Academics and a Resource for Fellow Educators.

He thanked his family, friends and supervisor Professor Vimolan Mudaly ‘for giving me the space and sometimes the distance to complete a mammoth task.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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First Cohort of Psychological Counselling Graduates

First Cohort of Psychological Counselling Graduates
Pictured are some of UKZN’s first cohort of graduates for the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychological Counselling.

The first cohort of students who enrolled for the Postgraduate Diploma in Psychological Counselling (PGDIP) in 2019 has graduated from the School of Applied Human Sciences

The programme, which leads to registration as a professional psychological counsellor with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), is offered on the Pietermaritzburg campus. The 2019 cohort was the first group to study the course, which makes this Graduation special for the School.  

The newly appointed Dean and Head of the School, Professor Matshepo Matoane, is proud of the contribution to the development of skills in South Africa. ‘As a country that is plagued by societal ills that include gender-based violence, violent crime, unemployment, poverty and many other conditions that impact on the psychological wellbeing of individuals, the University is making a huge contribution by producing mid-level healthcare workers,’ said Matoane. ‘These healthcare professionals will not only decrease the dire shortage of human resources in this field but will most importantly also reach a large segment of our community unable to afford the services of psychologists.’ 

She thanked all stakeholders and staff members involved in the PGDIP, during its inception (programme development), approval by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) and HPCSA, and in the implementation phase. ‘To our 2019 PGDIP cohort - being the first at anything worthy is never easy. We thank you for your dedication, hard work and sacrifice.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Master’s Research on African Traditional Beliefs on Albinism

Master’s Research on African Traditional Beliefs on Albinism
Master of Arts in Ethics graduate, Ms Zandile Ngubane.

Graduate Ms Zandile Ngubane’s Master of Arts in Ethics thesis offered a critical ethical analysis of African traditional beliefs about people living with albinism. 

Ngubane argued that people living with albinism were socially excluded in some African traditional communities because they were not considered human beings. 

‘Albinism seems to be a two-edge sword: on the one hand, it is believed that people with albinism are born with special powers that can bring wealth,’ said Ngubane. ‘On the other hand, people living with albinism are believed to bring bad luck and that having relations with them will cause ill-fortune,’ explained Ngubane. 

Her study highlights beliefs and perceptions, which view people with albinism as ghosts; that having sexual intercourse with a person living with albinism can cure HIV and AIDS, and that body parts of people living with albinism can make muthi (a traditional medicine prescribed by traditional doctors and herbalists). 

‘Because of these beliefs, people living with albinism often live in fear of being killed, raped, discriminated against, alienated and abducted,’ she said. 

‘It is against this backdrop that my research argues that albinism is a disorder which results in pigmentation therefore there is a need to ensure proper education in communities regarding albinism. People living with albinism are humans with rights and they are not ghosts, therefore they should be respected for their humanity,’ said Ngubane. 

She thanked her family, friends and supervisor for their support. Ngubane plans to pursue a PhD in the future. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Perceptions of Sexual Pleasure and Preferences Focus of Master’s Thesis

Perceptions of Sexual Pleasure and Preferences Focus of Master’s Thesis
Ms Thandeka Yasmeen Ndaba graduated with a Master’s in Gender Studies cum laude.

Understanding the Sexual Pleasure Perceptions and Preferences of Black African University-Going Women in the Context of Male Circumcision was the title of research conducted by Ms Thandeka Yasmeen Ndaba, who received a cum laude Master’s degree in Gender Studies. 

Supervised by Professor Maheshvari Naidu, the study critically explored the experiences of the women in terms of sexual pleasure, which, in this regard, facilitated a better understanding of Black African women as sexual beings. 

‘There is limited knowledge reinforcing notions of a positive and pleasurable Black African female sexuality,’ said Ndaba. ‘This emanates from the fact that studies in the African context have been predominantly preoccupied with the understanding and reinforcement of Black African female sexuality characterised by pain, unequal relations, violence and power disparities. 

‘Furthermore, women are more often than not portrayed as powerless and submissive and, therefore, with little or no sexual agency in relationships. Even though the latter is to some extent true, it is not representative of the larger narrative of Black African female sexuality, as it often presents instances of sexual empowerment, liberation and pleasure.’ 

Findings revealed that circumcised men were revered (sic) for their ability to offer women sexual pleasure.

‘Ndaba chose a topic that is relatively under-researched; that of female sexuality and it has been a massively challenging process for her, in the context of soliciting data but more in the context of her personal challenges,’ said Naidu. ‘I still recall her shy and petite figure in my office as I agreed to take her on as student. She has persevered and it has not been an easy passage, but I am thrilled at the final results.’ 

Ndaba says she began her master’s journey to escape her reality, saying: ‘I had just completed my degree and was faced with the reality of going back to a home which had become an emotionally unsafe and political space. However, from the very beginning, the same things I had hoped to escape followed me. With an already weakened mind, I felt defeated before I even began embarking on my journey.’ 

‘I struggled to see myself worthy of a master’s degree and incapable of completing it. There were times I was ready to give up as I constantly viewed the challenge ahead as mammoth and myself as minute in comparison. Needless to say the combination of self-limiting beliefs, self-doubt and fear of the unknown led to a lot of procrastination and self-doubt because no matter what, I felt my work was just not good enough. 

‘The helplessness I felt at times was overwhelming,’ said Ndaba. ‘This is where my supervisor Professor Maheshvari Naidu helped me time and time again; she is the true hero of my story, being relentless in her encouragement - for all the times I gave up on myself, she refused to give up on me, constantly handing me a lifeline and renewing my hopes. My supervisor was more than just a supervisor; she was also my biggest supporter and greatest source of strength. Her belief in me made me eventually believe in myself.’

This experience has taught Ndaba to pace herself and her emotions, ‘I have learned to trust more in my potential. I have learned the value of communication, especially when struggling and feeling despondent.’ 

‘Deep down, I am grateful for all the highs and lows and truly believe that the Almighty was preparing me for future challenges. Now that I have faced the demon of self-doubt and gained sufficient self-knowledge and resilience, I feel empowered to embark on a new journey and take on new challenges,’ she added. 

She dedicated her thesis to her parents Ms Thobile Rose Ntombela and Mr Nhlanhla Johannes Ndaba, who she says were pillars of strength throughout her journey. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied

 


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Research into Social Support and Determinants of Health in Old Age

Research into Social Support and Determinants of Health in Old Age
Population Studies doctoral graduate, Dr Alpha Kosse.

Dr Alpha Kosse graduated with a PhD in Population Studies for research that examined understanding social support and determinants of health in old age in South Africa. 

‘Policymakers and researchers in Africa often overlook aging with their focus rather being on challenges inherent in the youth,’ said Kosse. 

He noted that traditionally, the elderly were dependent on extended family for support in old age but the demise of the extended family because of urbanisation and migration of young adults in the search of better opportunities had strained this old age support net. This support was needed when the elderly were no longer active and faced health challenges, especially non-communicable diseases which many healthcare workers lacked basic knowledge about. 

‘Life expectancies have increased and the long-held concept of being old at 60 is out dated and needs to be re-thought,’ said Kosse. ‘The elderly should not be regarded as second class citizens or discriminated against just because of their age; they still play an important role in society.’ 

He thanked his family, friends and supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj for their support during his studies. ‘It was not easy. I was working for either four or eight hours during the day and doing my research after hours - there were days that I would stay on campus until midnight. Sunday was my family day.’ 

Kosse, who is continuing his research on aging, plans to pursue a postdoctoral degree and become a lecturer. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Self-Study on Collaborative Learning Earns PhD for Graduate

Self-Study on Collaborative Learning Earns PhD for Graduate
UKZN Academic and PhD in Education graduate, Dr Mandisa Dhlula-Moruri.

UKZN academic involved in pre-service teacher education Dr Mandisa Dhlula-Moruri graduated with a PhD in Education for a thesis involving a self-study project that she conducted. 

The project explored her personal and professional history of collaborative learning and her understanding of how she could apply her new knowledge in a tertiary teacher education context. 

Dhlula-Moruri traced her choice of profession, training and her journey as a teacher/lecturer and lifelong learner to illuminate times of collaborative learning. 

These perspectives on learning assisted her recognise and acknowledge the power of the collective in raising children as well as for education in the classroom in the university/school context. ‘I also learned the importance of my culture, my upbringing, and my family history as drivers of my learning experiences,’ said Dhlula-Moruri. ‘I used the personal history approach in this self-study project to gain an understanding of my learning and, through reflection, to improve my teaching practice. I couched my study thesis in a visual arts-based format using an extended curated photo album.’ 

Photographs assisted Dhlula-Moruri on her journey back to her history and also helped her to paint mental pictures as she engaged in memory recall and reflective work during the study. ‘The self-study methodology is collaborative, and I needed my family and students for data generation and my critical friends to listen to my ideas and progress and give support by offering critique and help to broaden my point of view.’ 

She presented what she learned about collaborative learning in guides which emphasise indigenous socio-cultural understanding, values, uniqueness, teamwork, and the nurturing of self-confidence and self-esteem in collaborative learning. 

Dhlula-Moruri thanked her family, friends and supervisor Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan for their support. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Research Investigates Multilingual Literary Practices in Rwanda

Research Investigates Multilingual Literary Practices in Rwanda
Dr Amini Ngabonziza whose PhD study focused on multilingual literacy teaching practices in Rwanda.

Dr Amini Ngabonziza graduated with a PhD in Linguistics following his study focusing on multilingual literacy teaching practices in Rwanda where children in Grades 1-3 learn in their assumed mother tongue of Kinyarwanda, while in reality their mother tongue is Oluchiga.  

Ngabonziza’s study shows that local teachers adopt multilingual approaches to teaching in which learners write in Kinyarwanda (L2) and speak in Oluchiga (L1), regardless of the national policy of a monolingual teaching approach. 

His study provides a baseline for the promotion of multilingualism in education in Rwanda. ‘Linguistic human rights demand that schools should allow multilingual learners to use their home languages at school,’ said Ngabonziza. ‘My research provides a novel language teaching approach that bridges the transition between home language and school language in the context of African languages.’ 

During his research, Ngabonziza used a motorbike to collect data in remote areas where they speak Oluchiga. He noticed he was often viewed as a foreigner as he did not use their language. It thus took more time to get acquainted with them so he could get the information he needed. 

Ngabonziza became a father of twins during his studies so had to ensure a good balance between parenting, studying and working. 

He thanked his family, friends and supervisor Professor Heike Tappe for their support. 

He hopes to become a lecturer while continuing research into African languages ‘mostly on the preservation of minority languages whose speakers are excluded socioeconomically while their language identity is not accepted in their home countries.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Supplied


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Postgraduate Students’ Experiences of Academic Writing Examined

Postgraduate Students’ Experiences of Academic Writing Examined
PhD in Education graduate, Dr Emmanuel Seun Akinmolayan.

Postgraduate students’ experiences of academic writing as a form of academic literacy at a Nigerian university, was the subject of research by Dr Emmanuel Seun Akinmolayan who graduated from UKZN with a PhD in Education. 

Akinmolayan’s study sought to identify the nature of academic writing support available to students, their experiences of this support as well as their supervisors’ perceptions on the topic. 

His study findings revealed five distinctive discursive features: (1) the invisibility of postgraduate academic writing; (2) discipline-specific research writing; (3) discourse as identity; (4) multiple ways of participating, and (5) the gap between prior learning experiences and postgraduate writing. Akinmolayan believes that these discursive features are not trivial; rather they reveal how students experience writing and have important implications for their full participation in a discourse community. 

Based on his findings, Akinmolayan developed a framework for research writing pedagogy at postgraduate level, which can be used in the Nigerian context. This framework acknowledges the position of academic literacy, and assumes that research writing is a complex genre and effective teaching must encompass the teaching of skills, and the academic socialisation or genre aspects. 

‘Within this model, supervision must be seen as a form of teaching,’ he said. ‘Student-supervisor interactions must move beyond the dominant traditional supervision approach to newer approaches. These include group supervision, and perhaps collaboration with language specialists, allowing students critical engagement and peer-intellectual reviews, and seeing thesis as a process and not as a product, and academic literacy pedagogy as not what can be achieved through a study skill approach or as disciplinary-entity alone, but what should be located within the framework of the academic literacies approach.’ 

Akinmolayan, who plans to pursue a postdoctoral degree in the future, thanked his family, friends and supervisor for their support. ‘I am so grateful for my father Joseph, who, despite coming from a poor background, and being deprived access to education, put me through school and university. He gave me what he never had.’ 

Akinmolayan offered this advice to students: ‘You have to be determined and work hard to complete your degree.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Indigenous Knowledge and Mechanics Entwine Produce PhD

Indigenous Knowledge and Mechanics Entwine Produce PhD
PhD graduate, Dr Edson Mudzamiri.

Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and Mechanics seem worlds apart but they combined to earn Dr Edson Mudzamiri a PhD in Science Education. Mudzamiri’s thesis was titled: Integrating IK Artefacts and IK Strategies in Teaching Mechanics: Insights from Community Elders, Physics Teachers, and Learners in the Masvingo district of Zimbabwe. 

Professor Nadaraj Govender supervised the study.  Mudzamiri’s study is an exploration of how Physics teachers can integrate indigenous knowledge systems using indigenous artefacts when teaching mechanics. It identified and explored a variety of indigenous artefacts that could be integrated into the teaching of physics, thereby proving cognitively valuable in providing culturally sensitive meditational tools that facilitate a deeper understanding of mechanics concepts. 

The thesis adds to the growing body of research on decolonising indigenous curricula. 

According to Mudzamiri, Science and Physics are being taught out of context in Zimbabwe as curricula exclude IK and associated IK artefacts and strategies thus making concepts difficult to understand and the subject abstract as well as irrelevant in the context of indigenous learners. 

‘Integrating IK artefacts and IK strategies into the teaching of Physics provides a culturally sensitive decolonised pedagogy in which cognitively valuable, culturally aligned meditational tools facilitate a deeper understanding of concepts by learners,’ he said. 

The results indicated that integrating IK artefacts and IK strategies into the teaching of Physics is possible and a model of integration was developed from the results of the study. 

‘The road, literally and figuratively, to attaining this degree was long, rugged, and difficult in many respects such as the lengthy and tedious journey to Durban for consultations - taking three or four buses in 36 hours to get to a foreign land was frightening. Had it not been for the encouragement I got from my family and my supervisor, I would have abandoned the project when I got ill in 2015 and part of 2016,’ said Mudzamiri. 

Social, political, and economic problems in Zimbabwe saw him suspending his studies during the first semester of 2019 after failing to raise the required fees. 

‘I could not raise money for editors, printing and binding of hard copies of the thesis document - thankfully my supervisor kindly assisted. Studying while working involved staying up late, spending less time with family and friends, additional expenses and missing family and other social functions. Despite all these challenges, I developed into a knowledgeable academic in the field of IK and Physics pedagogy,’ said Mudzamiri. 

‘I thank my wife, my family and my supervisor for their sustained support throughout what was a long and demanding academic road.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Intersections of Gender and Food Insecurity Examined in PhD Thesis

Intersections of Gender and Food Insecurity Examined in PhD Thesis
Dr Terry Tafadzwa Kuzhanga graduated with a PhD in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies.

Intersections of Gender and Food Insecurity in a Political and Economic Crisis Environment: A Reflection from NGOs and Civil Society Organisations in Zimbabwe.

That is the title of a thesis submitted by Dr Terry Tafadzwa Kuzhanga who graduated from UKZN with a PhD in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies. 

In the study, Kuzhanga investigated the intersections between gender and food insecurity in Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis environment, critically interrogated the link between gender, food insecurity and conflict, and highlighted the role that NGOs and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play in addressing gender discrepancies with regards to food insecurity. 

The study was conducted after an observation that the struggle to safeguard the availability, accessibility, stability and utilisation of food had captured the world’s attention in recent decades. Thus, despite mobilisation efforts by numerous global institutions, including governments, food security concerns remained a significant challenge confronting many - mostly women and children. 

His says he struggled doing research because respondents were hesitant about commenting fearing retribution from Zimbabwe Government officials. However, he managed to overcome this hurdle by assuring participants that the discussions would be confidential. 

Balancing his studies with his job was another issue of concern and because of the situation his studies suffered and he sometimes missed deadlines set by his supervisor. 

‘A big thank you to my wife, family and friends for their support and to my supervisor Professor Maheshvari Naidu who was the ““brains” behind my research work and a pillar of strength who kept me going despite the immense pressure I was under.’ 

He hopes his PhD work helps to reinforce collaboration between the government of Zimbabwe and NGOs and CSOs ‘in the area of developmental and sustainability programmes that require strict measures or policies to ensure food security in times of political and economic crises situations.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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PhD Study Addresses the Treatment Gap for Perinatal Depression

PhD Study Addresses the Treatment Gap for Perinatal Depression
Dr Tasneem Kathree graduated with a PhD in Psychology during the UKZN Virtual Spring Graduation ceremony.

Addressing the treatment gap for perinatal depression within an integrated primary healthcare model was the focus of a doctoral thesis. 

The work earned a PhD in Psychology for Dr Tasneem Kathree, Project Manager for the Southern African Research Consortium for Mental Health INTegration (S-MhINT) at UKZN’s Centre for Rural Health. 

Perinatal depression (PND) is a common mental disorder (CMD) with onset either during pregnancy or in the postnatal period, with potentially harmful inter-generational impacts on families, and - by extension - on communities. In South Africa a combination of high prevalence rates for PND, an estimated treatment gap of 75 percent for CMDs, and a large medically uninsured population, pose a public health and social burden. 

‘A lack of awareness of and minimal attention paid to PND in scarce-resourced primary healthcare (PHC) settings in South Africa compound the issue. Consequently, screening, referral and treatment for PND is low to absent, as are targeted pharmacological and psychosocial therapies for PND,’ said Kathree.

Internationally, evidence supports the concepts of both collaborative care and task-sharing to address PND in low-and middle-income countries (LMIC). ‘In South Africa however, despite support for the integration of mental health services into general healthcare, promotion of perinatal mental healthcare - and endorsement of task-sharing in mental healthcare, promoted by a national mental health policy framework - there is an absence of clear strategies to address PND in the mandated maternity care guidelines in PHC,’ she said. 

In response to this service and evidence gap, the aim of her study was to co-develop and evaluate the feasibility of a culturally and contextually appropriate integrated model of care for PND with PHC service users and service providers. 

Kathree suggests that key policy level changes are required including but not confined to the adoption and reporting of mental health data elements and indicators for PND, and adaptations to the maternity guidelines to include detection in the form of brief screening, assessment, diagnosis and referral for PND. 

‘With reference to task-shared mental healthcare, the inclusion of social workers in counselling treatment plans, and the identification of appropriate cadres, trainers, training, and supervision for non-specialist mental health counsellors, are critical factors requiring concerted political will and effort,’ she added. 

Kathree thanked her family, friends and supervisor for their support during her PhD journey. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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PhD in Education for Sexagenarian Student

PhD in Education for Sexagenarian Student
Dr Morgen Peter Mabuto graduated with a PhD in Education.

I was at the crossroads on whether or not to embark on a PhD at the age of 60, says Dr Morgen Mabuto. 

‘However, I then realised that doing the PhD would enable me not only to rediscover and energise myself, but inspire other aged learners to self-actualise too!’ 

Mabuto graduated with a PhD in Education from UKZN. 

Armed with three decades of extensive engagement in adult and continuing education, as a learner, lecturer and field practitioner, Mabuto chose to explore the forms of enactment educators’ use. He analysed how they deploy the enactments and why they enact teaching and learning in their particular ways in the Non-Formal Education Policy (NFEP) programmes at selected schools in the Masvingo District of Zimbabwe. 

In his exploratory study, Mabuto discovered that educators lacked clarity on the forms of enactments to be employed for driving Non-Formal Education’s (NFE) teaching and learning. ‘Educators were not well versed in the discipline’s technical, pedagogic and content knowledge, which should enlighten them about particular forms of enactments and how best to deliver NFE teaching and learning,’ he said. 

‘Two government ministries were simultaneously influencing teaching and learning in the NFEP school-model, leading to bouts of uncertainty among educators about the identity of the curriculum-in-use, thereby validating the engagement of a process of curriculum integration.’ 

Mabuto believes his research will provide accurate information to guide government in reforming the existing school model on the enactment of teaching and learning of NFE policy programmes. The alternate school model’s curriculum will empower the community and educators alike, to address the socio-economic development needs of communities, more efficiently and effectively. 

His research will also provide information for the development of educators, who champion teaching and learning, and whose fount is the NFE discipline’s technical, pedagogic and content knowledge (TPACK). By upscaling the relevance of NFE policy programmes, the government and donor funds may become available to sustain Zimbabwe’s NFEP’s school model programmes. 

At the time of his studies, Mabuto battled soaring inflation in Zimbabwe while trying to raise funds for his research. Travel to South Africa became almost impossible due to high exchange rates, and the shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe. The cost of electricity was exorbitant with an intermittent supply of a daily maximum of four hours. Mabuto resorted to paying neighbours who had generators for charging his second-hand laptop and for emailing documents. 

‘On one trip to seek supervision in South Africa, a body search by police of bus passengers uncovered an alleged armed robber. For some of the passengers, that was the journey’s end, as they were wary about continuing with the trip. For me, it was aluta continua  - I resolved to proceed with the trip on the premise that I had not yet found what I was looking for, namely the PhD,’ said Mabuto. 

He plans to continue to conduct research that develops the scholarship of teaching and learning, researching, and publishing articles, with the goal of becoming a professor. 

Mabuto is thankful for the support from his wife Irene, family, friends, and his supervisors, Professor Simon Bheki Khoza and Professor Philip Higgs. 

His son, Kudakwashe, added, ‘What an achievement and what an honour for me to look up to you as my father, the one who doesn’t just quit; the man who does not allow circumstances to hold him back. I know that it has been a tough journey with many lessons learned in and out of the classroom. At the end of the day, “the Fish eagle” (our totem), is flying high in the sky in celebration. To say I am proud is an understatement.’ 

A close friend and fellow academic, Professor Sambulo Ndlovu, remarked: ‘I congratulate you [Mabuto] and encourage you to continue applying your mind to the development of education at large and to non-formal education in particular, through research.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Supplied


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