Third Cohort of Masters Students to Graduate from Exciting Interdisciplinary Programme

Third Cohort of Masters Students to Graduate from Exciting Interdisciplinary Programme
Gender Studies Graduates.

Seven master’s students from the Gender, Religion and Health Programme (an exciting interdisciplinary programme launched in 2013) recently graduated with their Masters in Theology (Gender and Religion) or Master of Arts (Gender and Religion) degree in a programme managed by Professor Sarojini Nadar and Dr Fatima Seedat at the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics.

The newly introduced Masters of Theology and Masters of Arts degrees in the GRH Programme emphasise the links between gender religion, and sexual and reproductive health rights. Students examine faith-based gender ideals, customary practices and traditional gender norms while reflecting on the gendered nature and practice of religious traditions. Students also gain the opportunity to explore how religion shapes everyday beliefs about gender difference.

Rev Forbes Maupa, amongst the students to graduate from the programme said, indicated that his work as a priest and his ideas as a feminist influenced the area in which he chose to study.

Maupa’s research was titled “Discursive representations of gender based violence in a synod resolution of the Anglican Diocese of Natal October 2013”. He explored the Anglican synod as a religious and legal space related to but independent of state law while investigating how the resolution made by the Anglican synod in Natal in October 2013 was formulated, what could have influenced it from church and society and how it might have been implemented.

His research further shows that the Anglican Church through synod 2013 responded to the Anene Booysen gang rape and murder but also failed to address other forms of gender based violence many of which are systemic to the church itself. He believes that such violence may also be located aspects of theology, liturgy and iconography of the church.

Another student Dr Mariam Khan, a Natural Medicine Doctor in the field of Unani-Tibb, looked at “Negotiating between health-based contraceptive concerns and piety: The experiences of Muslim wives”. Khan explained that the purpose was to understand the lived experiences of South African Muslim women negotiating between their health-based contraceptive concerns and their pietistic concerns to observe God’s will through the course of being good wives.

Khan said, ‘My study emerged from a gendered reading of a case study in a book authored by a Durban-based scholar. I was interested in understanding how the discursive construct of gender and agency present in the legal text and other literature with similar popular appeal, impacts the contraceptive decisions of Muslim wives.’

The findings of her study indicate that a sample group representative of South African Muslim wives did not perceive themselves to be negotiating between health-based contraceptive concerns and piety.

‘Contraception is viewed in terms of the practical considerations of health and is unrelated to their pietistic concerns to observe God’s will. Instead, these South African Muslim women respond to moral conflicts by prioritising domestic responsibility and sexual availability to their spouses irrespective of personal desire. These considerations more than contraceptive concerns are determined by the need to acquire God’s favour through the observance of divine commands,’ she explained.

The other students who graduated from the programme, together with their dissertation titles are listed below:

Farhana Ismail: “An analysis of the discursive representations women’s sexual agency in online fatwa sites: A case study of” Supervisor: Dr F. Seedat.

Francoise Sahabo: “An Analysis of the perceptions of African Christian men regarding family planning choices at “Paran Pentecostal Church” in Durban”. Supervisor: Dr J. Muthuki.

Martha Mapasure: “The Roman Catholic Church and contraception: Exploring married African Catholic women’s engagement with Humane Vitae”. Supervisor: Professor S. Rakoczy.

Maryam Bodhanya: “Women’s health-seeking behaviour in the context of sexual violence, sexual health rights, and the Muslim community. A case Study of Hope Careline Counselling*”. Supervisor: Dr S. Reddy.

Tania Owino: Mediating human rights and religio-cultural beliefs: An African feminist examination of conceptualisations of female genital cutting (FGC) in the United Nations Children Fund—UNICEF Documents (2004–2014) Supervisor: Professor S. Nadar.

Sibongile H. Moyo

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Student Funding Office Staff Members Graduate

Student Funding Office Staff Members Graduate
Ms Fikisiwe Mngadi and Mr Sizwe Hadebe.

Dedication, hard work and patience paid off for two staff members from the College of Humanities Student Funding office, Ms Fikisiwe Mngadi and Mr Sizwe Hadebe, who graduated with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and a Bachelor of Social Science degree respectively.

Hadebe, the first of his family to graduate, is from a single-parent household with many family members. His mother is a pensioner.

He chose to complete his degree in Social Sciences to understand the difficulties of human society and the importance of responsible citizenship. ‘My undergraduate academic years were both good and bad. I managed to do my degree even when it got hectic, I enjoyed the pressure,’ said Hadebe.

He also faced many obstacles, suffering a broken leg during a soccer game in 2013.

Hadebe managed to secure funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to complete his degree and the support he received from family and friends further enabled him to finish his degree on time. ‘I would like to thank everyone who supported me especially my mother for her love and support.’

He believes that education is important and is the key to success.

Mngadi also had to deal with financial difficulties before receiving the R35 000 Emma Smith bursary.

Despite having a BSc Geography and Environment Management degree, Mngadi felt this was not enough, choosing to do her PGCE.

She said her family and friends supported her emotionally with her mom also offering financial support, encouragement and constant motivation. ‘I would like to thank my family, especially my mother for the ongoing support. Their support enables me to achieve more. I love them so much for all that they do for me,’ said Mngadi.

She plans to do an honours degree in BSc: Geography Environment Management.

Nomcebo Mncube

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Graduates Urged to Value the Informal Sector

Graduates Urged to Value the Informal Sector
Honorary Doctoral graduate Dr Patricia Horn.

‘When you are that civil servant working in a local or national government department, don’t be the arrogant one who looks down on informal workers because you think they are uneducated – be the one who sees in front of you human beings with dignity, family and community responsibilities.  Put yourself in the shoes of those you are employed to serve, in order to understand better and serve people more effectively.’

These are the words of Dr Patricia Horn, after she received an Honorary Doctor of Social Sciences degree during a UKZN Graduation ceremony.

Horn said she felt honoured to have been considered by UKZN for an honorary degree, after failing to complete her Bachelor of Science degree at Wits University in the 1970s because of her involvement in student politics.

Prior to the Doctorate degree, Horn acquired a BA degree in Economics and History.

In her address she spoke about how times had evolved since the days when she was a student during the apartheid struggle. She said many Black nationals including her compatriots were unable or were not allowed to study on university premises due to being in prison, house arrest or serving banning orders under the Suppression of Communism Act. Instead they worked through Unisa correspondence courses.

Horn said she did not stop when she acquired her degree as she learned a lot in the trade union movement.

Horn urged graduates to be aware of the important roles of the millions of workers, formal and informal, in the construction of a democratic South Africa.  She mentioned that despite the informal sector’s enormous contribution to the country, government policies ignored their economic needs and basic human and labour rights. Laws were used against them, not for committing crimes, but simply for failing to meet impossible regulatory requirements. 

She urged the graduates to be the ones who initiate consultations and negotiations in good faith with the affected groups and communities in search of mutually satisfactory solutions.

Horn said: ‘You may be very surprised to hear the creative solutions that informal traders can come up with when people are ready to listen to them.  Don’t be the one who hides behind bureaucratic procedures.  Be the one who looks for a way to make the regulations work in the best interests of everybody, including the most marginalised.’

Horn reflected on the invaluable lessons she learned from the South African trade union movement.

She said: ‘The apartheid government did not appreciate the growth and development of the independent trade union movement. They were trying to avoid extending recognition to the emerging trade unions by a system of parallel unionism where White, Indian and Coloured trade unions represented Black workers in negotiations about their wages and working conditions.  After the 1973 strikes, however, where Black workers had started to equalise the wage gap by winning unprecedented wage increases through their own struggles, there was no way that the patronising system of parallel unionism could be accepted by the majority.’

‘Those of us who had the privilege of working – under strict worker control – in those emerging independent trade unions, were part of a unique experience of organisation-building.  From this we learned key lessons, and I later found these lessons to be an inspiration in organising marginalised workers in the informal economy.’

She concluded her speech by urging the graduates to take calculated risks from time to time in order to achieve objectives in life and to always do what their consciences told them was right.  ‘Sometimes this can be painful, especially in the short term – but in the long term, getting to your old age with a clear conscience and having earned many people’s trust is still more valuable than having made a lot of money during your life.’

* Patricia Horn has spent the last three decades organising women in the informal economy and helping them to build a collective voice to demand their rights.  She has ensured that informal workers have a place in South African society and thereby contributing to social justice and poverty reduction.  She established the Self-Employed Women’s Union (SEWU), the first of its kind in South Africa, which represents the interests of self-employed women engaged in the informal economy.  She has also organised informal workers for better rights and protections at an international level through the establishment of StreetNet International which has 52 affiliates from 46 countries.  Her work in organising, advocacy and collective bargaining has influenced policy discussion debates across the world.

Sibongile. H Moyo

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Four English Studies Students achieve MA Degrees

Four English Studies Students achieve MA Degrees
Master of Arts graduates with their supervisor Professor Cheryl Stobie.

Students Ms Michelle Naudé, Ms Tracy Webb, Ms Paige Frankson and Ms Robyn Wilkinson were elated to graduate with their Masters in Arts from UKZN.

‘I am proud of myself for achieving something that at times felt beyond my reach,’ said Naudé, while Webb added: ‘It is very uplifting to see such gratifying results from a period of such hard and intensive work.’ Both students were supervised by Professor Cheryl Stobie.

Naudé, a Lecturer at Varsity College in Durban North, explored the role of gender in the depiction of Utopia in a selection of novels. Her study includes a look at the traditional Western gender binary and associated notion of male superiority, and the ways in which representations of Utopia frequently subvert and/or exaggerate these ideas to provide a social commentary and potentially social change.

‘I think any critical analysis of gender issues is beneficial, as even in 2016 many people rely upon gender stereotypes to produce meaning. This is frequently accompanied by notions of heteronormativity, which can be harmful in a myriad of ways.’

‘For example, many young men growing up in what is still a strongly patriarchal and homophobic South Africa feel rejected and so repressed as a result of these archaic and rigid notions of what is socially acceptable. Thus my discussion of gender contributes to a vast body of academia, supporting notions of gender and sexual fluidity in a predominantly prejudiced world,’ explained Naudé.

Durban Girls’ College intern, Ms Tracy Webb, studied the narrative of the development of female protagonists in novels, considering separate contexts: the female re-appropriation of traditionally male quest myth, a spiritual quest and a psychological quest. Her dissertation examines the treatment of the female protagonist in three Margaret Atwood novels.

Webb believes her study highlights the journey of women in different societal contexts and has value for empowering a female narrative.

‘What I especially appreciate about masters is that it was a very difficult time, trying to consolidate all the information and to draw out meaning. It was a process that I really wrestled with and one that I did not relish. I am glad that now, looking back I can glean so much from that time and it is something I appreciate very much,’ she said.

Frankson’s research was titled: “People Out of Place: Emotional Geography, Postmodern Identity and Gender in Three Contemporary Japanese Texts.” She has been accepted for the JET programme, and will spend a year in Japan. She is currently registered for a PhD under Stobie’s supervision, continuing her investigation of Japanese cultural artefacts.

Wilkinson also made a worthwhile contribution to scholarship on well-known South African novelist Lauren Beukes. Her dissertation’s title was: “Representations of Gender and Sexuality in the Key Characters of Lauren Beukes’s Interstitial Fiction.”

The students all thanked their family, friends and supervisor.

Naudé plans to complete a PhD within the next five years, and to publish part of her dissertation. ‘I hope to become an academic one day, and this is a step in the right direction.’ Webb is currently studying towards a Postgraduate Certificate in Education and also plans to pursue a PhD in the future.

English Studies students (from left) Ms Michelle Naudé, Ms Tracy Webb, Ms Paige Frankson and Ms Robyn Wilkinson with their supervisor, Professor Cheryl Stobie.

Melissa Mungroo

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Social Sciences Student has Sights Set on Getting into Film Making

Social Sciences Student has Sights Set on Getting into Film Making
Ms Kimberley Allenspach.

Ms Kimberley Allenspach graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree but is now keen to pursue a career in the TV and movie industry.

‘I am proud of my accomplishment and excited about what the future holds and how much more I can achieve,’ she said.

But it has been no easy journey for Allenspach.

Her difficulties began when she lost her father in 2004. ‘He was the breadwinner. His loss was emotionally and financially devastating with the result being that my mother could no longer afford to look after me.’

Allenspach was sent to live with her grandmother who supported her through a meagre pension but it eventually become too difficult and she was taken in by another family.

‘I was unofficially adopted by them and they have since been my providers and a strong system of support. They are now pensioners and it is harder for them to provide but they do their best with what little they have.

‘I hope I succeed in life one day so I can show them how grateful I am for all they do for me, as if I were their own,’ she explained.

Through help from the College of Humanities professional staff, Allenspach managed to get into residence on campus and then received funding from NSFAS, before winning UKZN bursaries for academic excellence.

Allenspach decided to do her Bachelor in Social Sciences degree believing it would help her develop analytical thinking and communication skills which are essential especially in the field of Media and Cultural Studies.

She has since discovered a love for film and the film-making process and wants to eventually work in the industry. She is currently completing an Honours Degree in Media and Cultural Studies, specialising in Film. ‘I would like to work in television programming and broadcasting as well as in production and editing in the film industry.’

Her advice to other undergraduate students is to balance their studies and their fun times. ‘Some people become so taken with the freedom we enjoy on campus that they forget what the purpose of being here is. Students should not lose track of the importance of dedication to their work and completion of their degrees. This can open doors for them.’

Melissa Mungroo

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School of Arts Academics Celebrate PhD Achievement

School of Arts Academics Celebrate PhD Achievement
PhD graduates (from left), Dr Phindile Dlamini, Dr Subeshini Moodley, Dr Sandra Pitcher and Dr Anusharani Sewchurran.

Four academics within the School of Arts - Dr Subeshini Moodley, Dr Phindile Dlamini, Dr Sandra Pitcher and Dr Anusha Sewchurran - graduated with PhDs from UKZN.

Moodley’s PhD dissertation titled: “Narrative Possibilities in a Postcolonial Context: Exploring Self-Reflexive Film as a Critical Articulation of the Stories of South African Hindu Women”, was sparked by her passion for film and her interest in feminist theory, combined with an eagerness to contribute to the upliftment of women. 

‘I have a personal interest in feminist issues and how Indian women are represented through mainstream media. I felt that if women had the means to represent themselves, they would offer a challenge to current dominant representations of themselves,’ she said.

Moodley says it was challenging studying for her PhD as it meant juggling the roles of wife, mother, lecturer and student, so she had to constantly remind herself that she needed to complete this project because she owed it to many people, including the generations of women in her family.

Dlamini, an author of 40 isiZulu children’s books and translator of a significant number of children’s books from English into isiZulu, is passionate about publishing, linguistics and children’s books. Hence, her PhD research is multidisciplinary (an interface of literature, publishing, translation and applied linguistics). 

‘It focuses on the translated graded readers (from English into isiZulu) that are currently prescribed by the National Department of Education for use in schools. It starts from selection of graded readers for translation, delves deep into the quality of the translated product and moves on to investigate the voices of the users (teachers) of the translated graded readers,’ she said.

Her findings indicate that in addition to ideological, cultural and linguistic factors, numerous dynamics (e.g. government policies, socio-political issues, stakeholders’ attitudes towards indigenous languages, and perceptions of users) also govern translations from English into South African indigenous languages (isiZulu in particular) and contribute to the quality of the translated product, positively or adversely. Most translation inaccuracies were prevalent in non-fiction graded readers, indicating a need for the fast-tracking of coining and standardisation of technical terms.

Sewchurran, on the other hand, took a political economy approach to analyse the telecommunications industry in South Africa. ‘I think my research unearths some important questions about technology and how we use it. It shines a light on the quandaries of our unconditional acceptance of communication technology and highlights that we need to be more than a little circumspect when dealing with technology. I think the benefits will emerge as the writing emerges, depending on the level of activism generated from here on.’

Sewchurran will work extensively in this field trying to develop a consumer activist group. ‘Regulatory frameworks, be they local, regional or international, don’t seem to address provision and protection in equal and fair terms. This means that in our modern networked society, we cannot be over-reliant on the regulator. Consumer activism (outside the auspices of parastatal entities) is a more direct and real way to manage provision and protection within the context of telecommunication consumption.’

Pitcher’s PhD was inspired by the widely publicised legal battles between President Jacob Zuma and South African cartoonist Zapiro, and various debates which were raised in the press regarding limitations on free speech, after Zapiro published his Rape of Lady Justice cartoon in 2008.

The debates which ensued led her to consider the role of political cartoonists in a socially responsible press system, focusing particularly on Zapiro’s work.  Consequently, her thesis tracks the historical development of political cartoons in South Africa, and focuses on how social responsibility has been interpreted in the South African context, with particular attention on the African concept of ubuntu

‘My research found that Zapiro, while being offensive at times, is socially responsible.  Completing my PhD was actually a lot of fun because the subject matter was so controversial. My studies have given me new insight into post-apartheid South Africa because the work of Zapiro offers interesting depth to the more widely publicised histories of the country,’ she said.

All four academics expressed gratitude to their family, friends and supervisors for continual support. Their future plans include building on more research in their respective fields.

Melissa Mungroo

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Learners need to be Involved in School Governance, According to Researcher

Learners need to be Involved in School Governance, According to Researcher
Mr Vikani Msimanga.

School governance and the understanding of it by learner governors were at the core of research by Mr Vikani Msimanga, Head of Department at Ephangweni Primary school in Estcourt.

Msimanga recently graduated with his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership Management and Policy (summa cum laude).

His research investigated learner governors’ understanding of their roles in school governance. ‘I wanted to know whether they understand what is expected of them as members of a School Governing Body (SGB),’ said Msimanga.

The key findings of his research reveal that learners do not understand their roles in SGBs which he feels is clearly stipulated in the South African Schools Act of 1996. ‘I discovered that learners are just included in SGBs for window dressing to appease departmental officials. I also realised that learners are not capacitated to perform their roles in the manner in which parents and other counterparts are.

‘I hope this research will benefit society with schools rolling out programmes to include learners in governance thus leading to a reduction in the ill-discipline of learners. With learners on board, schools can excel and there will be less anarchy there,’ said Msimanga.

One of his biggest obstacles during his master’s studies was a lack of finance. ‘I support my family financially and at one point I had to take a loan to cover my registration fees.’

Msimanga is a husband, father, priest, school HOD, and branch secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU). In the face of all his responsibilities, he managed to strike a balance between studies, work and family. ‘I had a plan. Through self-discipline, I adhered to my timetable and cut back on social events.’

He praised his family and his supervisor, Professor Vitallis Chikoko, for their support.

Msimanga advised other researchers to remain focused, take positives from their supervisors, dedicate time to research and love what they do.

 He hopes to pursue a PhD in the future.

Melissa Mungroo

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Doctoral Goal Set 20 Years Ago Realised

Doctoral Goal Set 20 Years Ago Realised
Dr Pranitha Bharath.

Primary school teacher for the past 26 years, Dr Pranitha Bharath, graduated with a PhD in Education from UKZN, saying: ‘I am happy, relieved and amazed!’

Twenty years ago Bharath set herself the goal of getting a doctorate and now it has been realised.

Her research examined school history textbooks from Grade 3 to Grade 9 in order to understand how these books introduced historical thinking in children.

‘The findings of my research are significant in that they point to the important role of textbooks as support material to both teachers and learners. The term “historical thinking” is a highly nuanced and structured way of thinking and my study evaluates how textbooks can be tools of progression,’ said Bharath.

The study also found that the multi-perspective approach was not well developed in the textbook sample. ‘It was only in Grade 9 that this approach was appropriately developed. This is unfortunate given that only 20% of learners go on to select history in Grade 10.’

Highlights of her PhD research include attending international conferences and meeting people of diverse origin. One such unforgettable experience was organised for her by her supervisor Dr Carol Bertram, Professor Johan Wasserman and the Georg Eckert Institute in Germany. ‘In 2014, I had the opportunity to attend an international conference in Braunschweig in Germany where I presented my study and did research in the extensive library.

‘Precisely 100 years after World War 2, I captured some of Berlin’s rich history on camera. I also visited the Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin as well as the Holocaust Memorial just south of the Brandenburg Gate.’

Bharath received the Killie Campbell Memorial Bursary administered by the South African National Society.

She thanked her supervisor, as well as her family and friends. ‘When I say ‘thank you’, they know I mean it.’

After receiving her PhD, her son, Akshar, said, ‘Great going Mum. You are my idol!’, while her mother, Mrs Lalithadevi Bharath, added: ‘I have always wished the best for you. There it is!’

Melissa Mungroo

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PhD Graduate’s Research Focuses on Anorexia Nervosa

PhD Graduate’s Research Focuses on Anorexia Nervosa
Dr Sia Rees.

Understanding anorexia nervosa had been a challenge for Psychologist Dr Sia Rees so she decided to set the eating disorder as the focus of her doctoral research which culminated in her being awarded a PhD.

‘Despite my training and extra reading about eating disorders, I always felt unprepared when working with individuals afflicted by anorexia nervosa,’ said Rees. ‘The eating disorder work was especially difficult but I was drawn to it.

‘I felt it was my responsibility to better manage it. I took it as a sign that this was the work I needed to do. I decided then that I should learn every possible thing I could about anorexia to better prepare myself. At that point, I thought what better way to learn about a disorder than to do a PhD on it,’ she explained. 

Her research involved nine women - all diagnosed with anorexia - writing their story anonymously. A book was compiled with each participant receiving a copy.

‘My research may benefit future treatment-based studies on anorexia nervosa that could explore the effectiveness of using narrative approaches to treat it. The research encouraged a more integrative way in which to conceptualise and understand anorexia nervosa, which may add useful insight for researchers interested in this field.’

Rees feels that challenges and obstacles are part of the reward of completing a PhD. ‘If it were easy, you wouldn’t feel such a sense of achievement!’

Rees was also awarded a scholarship from the National Research Foundation (NRF) who funded her through a freestanding scholarship.

Expressing deep gratitude to her support system, she said: ‘To my supervisor, Professor Doug Wassenaar – you’re a legend. My husband, David - you’re just a light. Thank you.

‘To my friends and family who have been through this whole process with me, you’re all awesome. I see you. I appreciate you and I value you.

Asked about her future plans, Rees said: ‘The PhD was about growing my knowledge base in this field. My plan is to continue working in private practice with individuals who have eating disorders. I would like to use what I have learned to better understand them and help them in their journey of recovery. I’m also excited at the prospect of continuing to learn and hope to work towards a post-doctorate.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Nigerian Pastor and Army Veteran Graduates with PhD

Nigerian Pastor and Army Veteran Graduates with PhD
Pastor Kester Onor.

Pastor Kester Onor of Nigeria received his PhD in Social Sciences for research he did on the United States African Command and Human Security in Africa.

Onor’s work explored the promise, prospects and challenges of USAFRICOM for human security in Africa from a critical and empirical perspective.

 The study critically assesses the military-driven and state-centric security approach of USAFRICOM in addressing the human insecurity challenges facing the African continent.

Onor’s research work will help the understanding of central issues that drive not only important aspects of global security dynamics but also the peculiarities of its African subsets, especially with regard to regional human security.

He decided to major in Peace, Security and Development on the basis of his experiences in Liberia and Sierra Leone when he served with the ECOMOG Peacekeeping Force. He also served in the Nigerian Army in various capacities for 17 years.

‘Being exposed to international conflict, I discovered that the crises of human security in Africa can be ameliorated by good governance and development and I resolved to go back to university to complete my studies to pioneer a revolution in human security and development scholarship in Africa.’

Selecting UKZN to do his PhD after receiving a scholarship, he believes that a degree from the University will give his education an international perspective and a better academic standing.

He is grateful to his supervisors Dr Alison Jones and Dr Sadiki Maeresera and his mentor and father-figure, Professor Ufo Okeke Uzodike.

‘As a security scholar, I plan on peace advocacy and creating awareness through scholarly writings.  I may gravitate away from the classroom and into politics in Nigeria and to one day open an NGO that advocates for peace and operates as a charitable organisation.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Suicidal Behaviour in SA Police Services Subject of Master’s Degree Research

Suicidal Behaviour in SA Police Services Subject of Master’s Degree Research
Ms Manoko Mogoroga.

Suicidal behaviour in the South African Police Services (SAPS) was the subject of research for a master’s degree by Ms Manoko Mogorogaa Lecturer at the Tshwane University of Technology.

Mororoga was awarded her degree in Counselling Psychology during a UKZN Graduation ceremony.

Mogoroga says she had been concerned about the reported increased rate of suicide in the SAPS so chose to focus her master’s thesis on this in the hope of the results generating a better understanding of suicidal behaviour among police officers in South Africa and to possibly open new ways of designing intervention programmes to improve working conditions and coping strategies for police officers.

According to Mogoroga, a wide body of research shows the stress police work under and how it affects them on multiple personal levels. ‘Faced with stressful experiences, police officers learn to adapt by incorporating various coping strategies. The study examined the relationship between suicidal ideation and coping strategies in a sample of 125 police officers in KwaZulu-Natal.’

The findings indicated that alcohol use correlated positively with suicide ideation. ‘Previous studies show that high alcohol consumption among police members is a major problem. This shows that there is a need for future studies to examine whether high amounts of alcohol consumption lead to thoughts about suicide or whether suicide ideation leads to high alcohol consumption.

‘This finding also proposes that prevention efforts aimed at reducing rates of suicide ideation should target these coping strategies. Also, the percentage of female police officers was low (31%) compared to the male percentage (68%). Despite this stated discrepancy, results showed that female police officers obtained a higher mean score on suicidal ideation than male officers,’ said Mogoroga.

‘The strength I got from God and the support I received from my family, friends, supervisor and colleagues made a huge difference in my studies, especially when my brother died.’

To her support system of family, friends, supervisor and colleagues, she said: ‘Thank you so much. I love you all. May the Almighty God continue to bless you. To my late brother, it’s unfortunate that you can’t celebrate with me. Nonetheless, this thesis is dedicated to you.’

Mogoroga plans to enrol for her PhD and conduct further research in the area of suicide within the South African context.

Melissa Mungroo

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Graduate Focuses on Medical Record Research

Graduate Focuses on Medical Record Research
Ms Samantha Chareka.

Ms Samantha Chareka of Zimbabwe graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Sciences in Health Research Ethics but is now worried about getting employment.

‘I am happy that I have a master’s degree but now the thought of being unemployed haunts me. One would think getting a job is easier once you get a master’s degree but it is not.’

Finance was a problem for her during her studies. ‘My father struggled to get money for my studies. This really motivated me because he used to say that I am doing something bigger than myself and he had to help me achieve it.

‘Almost every week he would remind me how proud he was of me. Being the first born child, a female and excelling in school, and the first Chareka to get a master’s degree was enough motivation for me,’ she said.

Chareka worked as a waitress. ‘This slowed down my progress because I never had enough time to work on my project.  Working as a waitress also made me doubt my studies and that is when depression and anxiety kicked in. I wanted to give up studying because I felt it wasn’t worth it and thought that going back to Zimbabwe was better than trying to finish my thesis.

‘My supervisor, Professor Douglas Wassenaar, reassured me and supported me during those difficult times.’

Chareka’s thesis focuses on Black UKZN students’ perceptions about the use of their medical records for research purposes.

‘I wanted to find out under what circumstances they were willing to let researchers access their medical records. That is, whether they wanted researchers to get consent every time they wished to use the records, how they thought confidentiality would be obtained and why they allowed or denied researchers access to their records,’ she said.

Her research highlights important ethical issues that researchers have to take into account when they are accessing an individual’s personal records.

‘Most people are supportive of such research when they are assured that there would be no breach of confidentiality and that it would help the community at large,’ she said.

Reflecting on her family support system, Chareka said: ‘My studies actually made our relationship stronger. I couldn’t have done it alone. When I felt trapped and depressed they kept encouraging me. As the first person to get a master’s degree in my whole family, my extended family members also supported me.’

She thanked her family, friends and supervisor for their support and also the Columbia University-Southern African Forgarty AID International Training and Research Program (AITRP) through the Fogarty International Center, National Institute of Health, for providing funding for her research.

She plans to pursue a PhD in the future and advises other students to remain steadfast in their studies.

Melissa Mungroo

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Former SRC Member Graduates with PhD in Political Science

Former SRC Member Graduates with PhD in Political Science
Dr Siphetfo Dlamini.

Former UKZN SRC member Dr Siphetfo Dlamini, who now works in the Office of the KwaZulu-Natal Premier, graduated with a PhD in Political Science.

Dlamini’s thesis examined the application and relevance of consociationalism (cooperation/ consensus) both as a system of governance and as a conflict resolution mechanism in bringing about development in South Africa.

His studies were not without setbacks! During his research, both his laptop and back up USB containing much of his work were stolen. The laptop was later recovered with everything deleted and new software installed.

‘Miraculously a colleague was able to recover deleted information; content was disorganised but fortunately it was all there. That was a stressful and arduous experience,’ said Dlamini.

His research critiques the premise that liberal democracy is the antidote for development. Showing that the elements integral to liberal democracy contradict core African values, it exposes the counterintuitive ambitions of this system of governance in an African context.

Dlamini’s research suggests that, instead of overextending liberal democracy as a prerequisite of all forms of development everywhere, Africa needs a system of government that does not only resonate with core values (accommodation and collectivism) but also aligns with the ethno-linguistic complexes of most African countries.

He hopes that his research will provide constructive input in areas such as co-operation, integration, social cohesion, and intergovernmental relations while assisting government in understanding the major segments of our plural society and thus being able to provide a strategic intervention in curbing social ills such as racism, xenophobia, crime and drugs.

During the course of his PhD, Dlamini was nominated to undertake diplomatic training with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation under the Diplomatic Training, Research and Development unit co-ordinated by Mr Francois Hentschel. He was the only candidate from South Africa to be considered for this intense training which he successfully completed.

‘I’m honoured to have represented KwaZulu-Natal and grateful to the office of the Premier and my supervisor who was patient and encouraging during these challenging times.’

He is also grateful for the support from family, colleagues and friends. ‘Through financial and spiritual support my family and friends gave me hope and strength to obtain this degree.

‘I’m grateful to be currently serving in the Office of the Premier, it’s such a professional working environment with great management and staff.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Master’s in Education Graduates Salute their Supervisor

Master’s in Education Graduates Salute their Supervisor
Mr Thandokuhle Masina, Mr Sibongiseni Cebekhulu, Mrs Nokukhanya Satimburwa, Dr Phumlani Myende and Ms Sthembile Gabuza.

Four students, who graduated with Masters in Education degrees, paid tribute to their supervisor, Dr Phumlani Myende.

The students - Ms Nokukhanya Satimburwa, Ms Sithembile Gabuza, Mr David Masina and Mr Sibongiseni Cebekhulu - say a great deal of the success they enjoyed is thanks to the efforts of Myende.

Cebekhulu, whose research explored approaches of managing school finances in a rural context, found that principals in rural schools faced serious challenges when managing school finances, including poor training in school financial management and administrative problems.

He hopes that the Department of Basic Education (DoBE) will provide proper support to address these challenges. From his field experiences, he devised a flexible model of managing school financial resources that could help school governors in the process of school financial management.

Gabuza’s research on approaches by  School Management Teams (SMTs) regarding the approach to teacher absenteeism in rural schools found that the schools use common approaches in this regard, including formulating school attendance policy or following the DoBE teacher attendance policies, arranging leave in advance, reporting absence timeously, keeping a record of absence, encouraging punctuality, monitoring of work and motivating teachers.

‘SMTs are faced with challenges of teachers who lack passion for teaching, different personalities amongst teachers, teachers who are sick, the increase of the workload for teachers and teachers who travel daily between home and school.

‘In addressing the challenges faced by SMTs in managing teacher absenteeism, they make sure that gaps are filled, they tighten managerial control by ensuring that educators comply with the rules, ensure that the work schedule is covered and work together with all stakeholders,’ she said.

Satimburwa examined perspectives of school stakeholders about policy borrowing practice at the micro level. In her study she acknowledges that while schools are required to formulate their own policies, most schools outsource these policies. Using the views from the field she then proposes some guidelines that can be used to ensure that borrowed policies are user friendly in the foreign context.

Masina’s research explored the importance of ethical leadership in two Swaziland schools.

The graduates expressed deep gratitude to their supervisor Dr Myende for ensuring they completed their theses on time. Gabuza said: ‘He gave me support and hope to finish this research project. I learned that nothing is impossible, especially when instructions are clear.’

Cebekhulu added, ‘He led and showed me the light throughout my journey with his full commitment and respect. Without Dr Myende I wouldn’t have achieved this degree in such a short space of time.’

Speaking about his supervisory skills, Myende said: ‘Being an early career academic at UKZN comes with demands that one has to fulfil, but my principle is that if we want our University to be the first choice of students we have to provide outstanding supervision for them.

‘Most postgraduate students I have worked with are adults with other commitments and they come to the University with a baggage of issues that affect their work ethic. I think my strength is in understanding who my postgraduate students are.

‘As an emerging researcher I also learn a lot from “corridor dialogues” with seasoned colleagues from my Discipline. I believe that the knowledge and experience I share with my students is also shaped by these dialogues. However, I cannot ignore the fact that the students made it easier for me to support them as they dedicated their time and energy towards the completion of their studies,’ he said.

Melissa Mungroo

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People Skills Pointed the Way for Malawian Student

People Skills Pointed the Way for Malawian Student
Ms Vimbayinashe Chibambo.

Inherent good people skills pointed the way for Malawian Ms Vimbayinashe Chibambo’s tertiary education studies which resulted in her graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology and Ethics) degree from UKZN.

During 2012, Chibambo enrolled in a gap year programme in the Eastern Cape. ‘This proved to be one of the defining seasons of my life as I became compelled to pursue a career that would make the best use of my people skills, and hence my decision to study Psychology was born. With each passing year of my undergraduate degree, my passion for the field has grown.

Chibambo found her first year to be the most challenging since she had been out of school for just over two years. ‘I often felt out of my depth and would panic every time we were given any form of assessment. I am eternally grateful to my friend Thando who helped me throughout that year by being a base of encouragement, reassurance and strength. She taught me how crucial it is for me to believe in myself.’

With time, Chibambo began to find her feet and her academic performance progressively improved and flourished over the course of her studies.

Some of her undergraduate highlights included joining the Golden Key Society, serving on the Societies Executive Committee (2014-2015) and receiving the Dean’s Commendation at the end of her second year. She was also awarded an undergraduate scholarship.

Referring to the need to strike a balance between studies and family, she said, ‘There is no perfect formula for acquiring the right balance between family life and studies. Each semester was different and presented its own challenges, but it is important to quickly establish an understanding that while studying is a seasonal activity that demands vast amounts of time and investment, family relationships transcend this season. So learning how to prioritise one’s time accordingly is important.

‘I have a tremendous support system consisting of my family and friends who have been unwavering pillars of strength, without whom I would not be where I am today.’

Chibambo is currently pursuing an Honours degree in Psychology at the University of Cape Town. ‘I am particularly passionate about children so I plan to invest in the children of Malawi after my studies.’

Melissa Mungroo

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BA Student Aimed Really High … and Got There!

BA Student Aimed Really High … and Got There!
Ms Monique Schoeman.

Ms Monique Schoeman set herself the challenge of getting her BA degree summa cum laude and did just that.

Recalling her goals from first year, Schoeman said: ‘To complete my BA degree in Drama and Psychology summa cum laude was one of my goals. It was a challenge I set for myself.

‘At times I thought I might not achieve it but now I can say that it feels wonderful and surreal. I think what really matters is that I’ve grown. I am positively different compared to the person I was when I first started studying towards my BA here at UKZN.’

Highlights of her undergraduate years at UKZN included participating in a volunteer programme open to third year Psychology students at Fort Napier Hospital. ‘Under the supervision of a psychologist, we had to work as a team to facilitate various diversional therapy group activities. Not only did this experience open my eyes to a different form of therapy, it was humbling, and made me realise the immense joy that communication, performing a task and sharing can bring to people.’

Another highlight for Schoeman was being cast to perform in two productions at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. ‘We were honoured to represent UKZN in the student festival. Apart from performing, we got to see various genres of theatre and what kind of topics/issues were being addressed in our country (and how this was done) through the medium of art.’

Schoeman was also awarded an entrant scholarship based on her matric results. The scholarship contributed a large amount towards her tuition fees. ‘UKZN continued to renew the scholarship every year, provided that I maintained my academic standard. The institution has really given me the opportunity to pursue my dreams.

‘One of the biggest challenges I faced was learning how to be productive even in stressful, highly-pressured situations. I sometimes felt overwhelmed and just didn’t know where to begin with the work. But somehow, life goes on and it has a way of forcing you to start somewhere and to try your best to keep up,’ she said.

Expressing gratitude to her support team, Schoeman said: ‘My mom and dad are my strength - my constant pillars of support. They were there for me in every way imaginable. My grandmother is also a constant source of love and support, which enabled me to aspire to do my best in my undergraduate studies. 

‘My close friends were understanding of the sacrifices I had to make for my academic career, and were always there for me to lean on.  They have been loyal to me through the hard and the good times, and they always know how to make me smile.’

Presently busy with a BA Honours degree in Psychology, she hopes to continue to complete a master’s degree.

Melissa Mungroo

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Political Science Student Graduates Summa Cum Laude!

Political Science Student Graduates <em>Summa Cum Laude</em>!
Ms Luntu Hlatshwayo.

A long, hard road came to a highly successful end for Ms Luntu Hlatshwayo when she graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree summa cum laude from UKZN. 

Hlatshwayo faced financial difficulties during her studies but this did not stop her achieving at the highest level.

‘It was quite surreal, I couldn’t believe it when I saw summa cum laude in my graduation particulars at student central. It was an amazing feeling, I was elated,' she said.

‘Like most people, I’m my own worst critic. Self-doubt has its way of killing your confidence sometimes so the final result instilled a deep sense of self-affirmation.’

Hlatshwayo added that during her time at UKZN, she met the ‘most amazing’ people from fellow students who inspired her to pursue academic excellence to academic staff who enlightened her and encouraged her to think critically.

‘I was lucky to meet people who stimulated both my intellectual and personal growth.’

This year she plans to pursue her master’s degree and hopes to complete it by the end of the year.

‘I would love to do my PhD overseas. It’s a dream I am actively working towards,’ said Hlatshwayo. ‘As a humanities scholar, it’s only right that I come back to South Africa after my PhD and use the knowledge I would have gained to further develop my country.’

Nomcebo Mncube

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A House Full of Graduates

A House Full of Graduates
Professor Vitallis Chikoko (Father), Dr Rita Chikoko (Mother) and their daughters Vimbai and Nyaradzo.

‘The reason I pursued my PhD was because I wanted to inspire my children and encourage them to follow in my footsteps. It makes me feel fulfilled and so proud now knowing I have a house full of graduates!’

Those were the words of Dr Rita Chikoko, after she graduated from UKZN with a PhD in Education, while her two daughters also graduated - Vimbai, with a Bachelor of Law degree and Nyaradzo with a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health.

Her husband, UKZN academic. Professor Vitallis Chikoko, said cultivating a reading culture within the family helped them obtain the goal of having an educated household.

‘We have developed a culture at home that everyone must be studying. Investing in my children's education was my main goal as when I die I may not have a lot to leave behind but my desire is that I will have made sure that everybody in my family received a good education,’ he said.

Chikoko strongly believes in the importance of educating daughters to enable them to make good decisions that will have a positive impact on their future.

While the journey to graduation was not easy, he is proud of his wife and daughters.

Vimbai, who said she was proud of herself for attaining her degree, had some words of encouragement for students.

‘The Law field can be very demanding. It requires an individual to be very committed. I found myself sacrificing my social life and rather spending a lot of my time reading and working towards completing this degree.

‘I was greatly challenged by Admin-Law. I am glad I dedicated a lot of time to the subject because now I have succeeded in getting the degree.’

She thanked her parents for encouraging and providing for her during her studies. ‘I am doing my master’s now and my parents are still providing for me and for that I would like to thank them very much. I also want to thank my elder sister for paving the way for me. I learnt a great deal from her experiences and taking heed of her advice.’

Nyaradzo also thanked her parents for their encouragement and support.

'This is my third qualification from UKZN and I am so proud to have reached where I am today. Having completed a Bachelor’s degree in Community and Development Studies and an Honours degree in Community Development, I have now added a Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Health.'

‘I have always been interested in health issues and because I am passionate about helping people and seeing communities develop in every aspect of life including health, I plan to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health.

Sibongile Moyo 

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UKZN Psychologist’s Ground-Breaking PhD study on Student Counsellor Identity

UKZN Psychologist’s Ground-Breaking PhD study on Student Counsellor Identity
Dr Paulette Naidoo.

UKZN Student Support staff member at the College of Law and Management Studies, Dr Paulette Naidoo, broke new ground by uncovering the complexities that South African psychologists face as they try to negotiate tensions between the higher education context and the psychology profession. 

Her PhD dissertation, supervised by Professor Duncan Cartwright was titled: "On the Cusp of Context and Profession: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Identity Negotiation and Compromise Amongst South African Psychologists Employed in Student Counselling".

Naidoo’s study highlights powerful systemic influences unique to higher education and the South African social context, which compel psychologists, working as student counsellors in Higher Education, to re-evaluate and revise their work-place identities in particular ways.

The research findings further suggest that psychologists, employed as student counsellors in Higher Education, negotiate an amicable compromise by variously assuming "Preferred Self" and "Compliant Self" identity positions in the context of work activities, power dynamics and relationships with significant professional, community and institutional others.

Examiners described Naidoo’s thesis as an ‘exceptionally well-written’ piece of work that ‘consistently, thoroughly and abundantly demonstrated independent and critical thought’.

Naidoo’s study has important transformative implications for Higher Education and the profession of psychology in South Africa. These include the need to adopt a more contextually-relevant psychological model of training and practice, as well as for the HPCSA and its sub-division, the Professional Board for Psychology, to reconsider the feasibility of narrow psychological scopes of practice in the South African context.

The study furthermore calls for a review of institutional policies and practices in South African Higher Education, with specific reference to the classification, career development opportunities, remuneration and benefits afforded to professional staff in the support sector.

Naidoo described the PhD journey as a complex growth experience that tests the limits of one’s motivation and endurance. She urged current and prospective doctoral students to persevere and be consistent in their studies, as the doctorate is attainable.

Naidoo says her graduation was a surreal experience and the culmination of years of intense and consistent hard work. Being one of a few female coloured Psychologists with a PhD in Psychology in KwaZulu-Natal, Naidoo hopes her achievement will encourage under-represented groups to defy racial stereotypes and personal barriers by pursuing degrees in Higher Education and the psychology profession in particular.

She dedicated her achievement to her late parents, Phillip and Catherine Constance, and wished to acknowledge the generous financial support of a Competitive Research Grant from the Research Office, UKZN.

Dr Naidoo is looking forward to publishing several papers from her PhD research, as well as presenting her findings at both local and international conferences.


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Engagement Thrills for Humanities Graduate

Engagement Thrills for Humanities Graduate
Mr Sanele Mhlungu proposed to his girlfriend Ms Nosipho Nguse during her Graduation ceremony. A surprised Nguse accepted, shedding tears of joy.

Humanities graduates and their friends and families got a little something extra during a recent Graduation ceremony.

Ms Nosipho Nguse, who was graduating with a Postgraduate certificate in Education, was swept off her feet when her boyfriend Mr Sanele Mhlungu popped the question in front of hundreds of guests.  

Nguse, who accepted the proposal, gushed with excitement when UKZNdabaOnline spoke to her following her engagement.

‘I had no idea he was planning to propose. I was surprised and I didn’t know what to say for a few seconds because of the excitement,’ said Nguse.

Nosipho and Sanele met three years ago at UKZN’s Westville campus, where they quickly became friends. As time went by, their friendship blossomed into romance.

Along with planning a wedding, Sanele is still in the process of finalising lobola negotiations. ‘We will not get married this year, hopefully in a year or so,’ said Nguse.

‘My boyfriend has been supportive in so many ways. He motivated and encouraged me whenever I felt like I couldn’t cope, he was always there for me,’ she gushed.

Nomcebo Mncube

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