UKZN a Trailblazer in the Fight Against the Spread of COVID-19

UKZN a Trailblazer in the Fight Against the Spread of COVID-19
UKZN staff members who were vaccinated at the Howard College vaccination site.

The University is the first academic institution in KwaZulu-Natal to be officially approved as a COVID-19 vaccination site. Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College of Health Sciences, Professor Busi Ncama has been instrumental in leading the vaccination rollout at UKZN in partnership with the KZN Department of Health.

The vaccination site, located at the Old Mutual Sports Hall on the Howard College campus, opened on 5 August with staff from the Department of Health giving vaccinations to University personnel and students over the age of 35.

Explaining what she termed a ‘pleasant experience’, Ms Thandi Ngcobo of the John Langalibalele Dube Institute said she was impressed by the medical personnel’s professionalism and support.

Ngcobo, who was the first person in line for the jab, said: ‘I felt great! There’s this sense of relief and pride, not only for being the first to be vaccinated, but also being able to protect my loved ones - who have since followed my example.’

Mr Saziso Ndlovu of the School of Nursing and Public Health said he was happy to finally get his jab and for his life to return to some degree of normality. He encouraged others to get vaccinated, saying ‘it’s the right thing to do!’

Another vaccination site is expected to open on the Westville campus next month.

From September 1, vaccinations will be given to staff, students and members of the public over the age of 18. Operating hours are from 8am to 4pm and those wanting the jab need to produce identification. Individuals will be asked to fill in a mandatory questionnaire and to wait for 15 minutes after the vaccination to be monitored by medical staff.

The Department of Health recommends that people wait for 35 days after a positive COVID-19 result or 30 days after their last symptoms before getting vaccinated.

To register to be vaccinated, please click on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EDVS) here.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Sethu Dlamini

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UKZN Structural Engineer Wins Young Concrete Researcher Award

UKZN Structural Engineer Wins Young Concrete Researcher Award
Dr Benedict Olalusi.Click here for isiZulu version

Cement & Concrete SA (CCSA), a consolidated body which is a leader in all matters relating to cement and concrete in South Africa, has named lecturer at UKZN’s School of Engineering Dr Benedict Olalusi as South Africa’s top Young Concrete Researcher for 2021.

The award was made at CCSA’s Young Concrete Researchers, Engineers and Technologists’ YCRETS 2021 online symposium which recognised young researchers making a significant contribution to advancing concrete technology through research excellence at an early stage in their careers.

Olalusi - a structural engineer who holds a PhD Degree in Civil Engineering from Stellenbosch University and a M.Eng degree in Structural Engineering and B.Eng degree in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria - also spent time as an international scholar at the Technical University (TU) of Dortmund in Germany on the institution’s 2019 Gambrinus Fellowship for global co-operation in teaching and research.

Olalusi’s research work is focused on structural reliability and risk analysis, shear in concrete beams, probabilistic safety evaluation of existing design standards, and innovative construction materials and application of machine learning and data mining in structural engineering. He has already won several awards for his research projects from various institutions and has received several research grants from the National Research Foundation (NRF) and international bodies.

Olalusi has years of industry experience in a variety of sectors including civil/structural engineering, risk consulting and structural software development. He has also authored and co-authored articles in peer-reviewed conference proceedings and reputable journals and has been a supervisor for many postgraduate students.

In accepting the CCSA award, Olalusi said he was highly honoured to win such an important accolade which would inspire him to greater heights in his research work. ‘I have received inspiration from my seniors and my colleagues, for whom I have the most profound respect, and from whom I have derived the strength to challenge myself to perform better at each stage,’ he said.

‘The CCSA introduced this award to be scheduled as part of the future YCRETS symposia which recognises and appreciates the contributions of young researchers for the advancement of knowledge in the field of concrete; their engagement in activities of industry bodies; and their promotion of a “culture of excellence” among young researchers,’ said Professor Mike Otieno of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand, who is also chair of the CCSA Young Concrete Researcher adjudication panel.

Words: Swastika Maney

Photograph: Supplied

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National Women’s Day - You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock!

National Women’s Day - You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock!
.Click here for isiZulu version

National Women’s Day is celebrated in South Africa every year during August - a significant time as back on 9 August in 1956 about 20 000 women of all races marched to Pretoria’s Union Buildings as a protest against Black women having to carry passes. The pass system had been created by the apartheid government to oppress Black women and turn them into passive objects.

The protest, one of the largest in South African history, was organised by the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) which challenged women’s roles by stating that a women’s place should be anywhere she wishes, not just in the kitchen.

During the protest, the women sang a freedom song that popularised the phrase ‘wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo’ (you strike a woman, you strike a rock), which to this day inspires and represents strength to women from all walks of life. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated during the launch of democracy in South Africa in 1995, when it was declared a national holiday.

Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future, is this year’s Women’s Month theme. Creating platforms for women and young girls to have an equal say in decisions that affect their lives, bodies, policies, and environment, regardless of their background, is essential. The concept of generation equality is a global campaign established by the United Nations and links South Africa to its global efforts to achieve gender equality by 2030.

National Women’s Day is currently celebrated by drawing attention to many of the important issues women in South Africa still face, such as gender-based violence, discrimination, unequal pay, harassment in the workplace, equal access to education, and even access to basic amenities such as sanitary pads.

Here are some meaningful ways you can celebrate and honour Women’s Month:

•    Donate or volunteer at women empowerment organisations, shelters and schools. A few examples include 18twenty8The Jes Foord FoundationProject Dignity and POWA

•    Start a collection of sanitary products and other toiletries to donate to local women’s shelters and schools

•    Donate old clothes, bedding, toys, and household items to women, mothers and girls in need

•    Advocate for gender equality in your workplace

•    Support local, women-owned businesses

•    Include men in your conversations about issues women are currently facing

‘I stand for simple justice, equal opportunity and human rights. The indispensable elements in a democratic society - and well worth fighting for.’

- Helen Suzman

Ms Nkosingiphile Ntshangase is the Marketing Assistant at UKZN Extended Learning, focusing on social media management, marketing, communications and blogging.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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Alumni Talk Series Launches With Conversation About Resilience

Alumni Talk Series Launches With Conversation About Resilience
Ms Tracy Vongai Mapfumo.

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) began its Alumni Talk series with a presentation by and conversation with alumnus Ms Tracy Vongai Mapfumo, the founder of healthy snack company Eny’s Treats, and cum laude Agricultural Plant Science graduate who expounded on what led her to start her company, named after her late mother, Eniya Dengu.

Mapfumo completed her Bachelor of Science and Honours degrees in Agricultural Plant Sciences at UKZN in 2015, achieving a cum laude result despite the death of her mother during her studies. She hoped to progress to master’s, however she was unable to get a study permit so devised an innovative plan for her future career using knowledge she had gained during her studies.

‘The [Agricultural Plant Sciences] programme at UKZN was quite robust and exposed me to vast opportunities in terms of research and field visits,’ she said.

‘I consider my story to be one of resilience, adaptation and innovation,’ said Mapfumo, as she related how she volunteered at a research organisation that promoted indigenous plants when she could not find suitable employment in Zimbabwe.

Progressing to a research assistant position with the organisation, where she is now a consultant, Mapfumo used the opportunity to extend her knowledge, and to engage with farmers in areas where major commercial crops do not thrive, requiring them to adapt and be resilient.

Hosting the event, Public Relations Officer in the CAES Ms Ntokozo Dladla highlighted the importance of developing skills not necessarily taught in the classroom.

Mapfumo drew attention to global phenomenas such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, increasing urbanisation and overconsumption of natural resources as examples of changes in the world essential to adapt to.

‘Establishing Eny’s Treats reminded me that when life throws curve balls, it’s resilience that determines whether we sink or swim,’ said Mapfumo.

The seed-based snack company, founded in October 2018, employs five young people, targets niche consumer groups, works with small-scale farmers to source ingredients, and makes use of natural sweeteners. It also co-operates with organisations to train rural women and youth on adding value to their natural food resources and building a viable business.

Mapfumo spoke about how seizing entrepreneurial opportunities for training young entrepreneurs helped her in launching her business and becoming an employer. She also highlighted that innovation was key to resilience.

‘From the entrepreneur’s point of view, innovation is when creativity meets the market. UKZN is top ranked for research, and if you’re a UKZN alumnus, it is something that you’re asked to think of - that your research, your innovation should end up on the market as a product or service, or make life better for communities.’

She encouraged other young scientists to use the scientific skills they have, and if they pursue entrepreneurship, to start small, and to keep learning.

Discussions covered how to include the less privileged in innovation, how to acquire business skills, how research could translate into business, how to apply one’s passion, what distinguishes an entrepreneur from someone who is self-employed, how to generate new ideas through research, how to build endurance, and how to seek out funding for business ideas.

Following her Alumni Talk appearance, Mapfumo also participated in The Root of the Science podcast with UKZN PhD candidate Ms Anne Chisa, and the Black Girl Scientist YouTube channel hosted by UKZN PhD candidate Ms Zakithi Mkhize.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied

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Durban International Film Festival Announces Award Winners

Durban International Film Festival Announces Award Winners
Durban International Film Festival award winners (from left) Downstream to Kinshasa; Ala Kachuu - Take and Run; and A Little Bird Reminds Me. Click here for isiZulu version

The 2021 Durban International Film Festival, organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities, has announced its award winners, ahead of the screening of the closing documentary film, Threshold by Brazilian director Coraci Ruiz.

CCA Director Dr Ismail Mahomed said: ‘I was delighted with the success of DIFF 2021, and it was very gratifying to view a large number of streams and also to see the huge enthusiasm from our South African audiences for the festival.’

In the spirit of being a champion for democracy, human rights, social justice, creative education and access to the arts for all, CCA introduced three new awards categories. ‘We wanted to recognise filmmakers, organisations, and institutions who share in our commitment to engage the cinematic arts to grow, mature and defend our democracy,’ added Mahomed.

The inaugural DIFF Promoting Access to Cinema Award was won by the mobile cinema project Sunshine Cinema for its outstanding work that takes sustainable and free screenings to a variety of communities. The inaugural DIFF Film in Education award was won by non-profit media company STEPS for producing over 100 documentaries for a diverse range of public education projects. The third inaugural award, the DIFF Human Rights Award, went to filmmaker Mr Enver Samuels for creating documentaries that played a vital role in documenting the lives of South African human rights legends and unearthing the need for a thorough investigation into the deaths of assassinated political leaders such as Dulcie September and Ahmed Timol.
At the awards ceremony, the festival’s highest accolade of Best Feature Film went to Chinese director Shin Xin’s masterful A Little Bird Reminds Me. Xin received a cash prize of R50 000 and was also honoured with the award for Best Director.

The Best South African Feature Film award, with prize money of R25 000 went to the Cape Town production Sons of the Sea, directed by Mr John Guttierez, while best documentary was awarded to the Congolese director Dieudo Hamadi for Downstream to Kinshasa, and the Best South African Documentary award was shared by I Am Here, directed by Jory Sank and Murder in Paris, directed by Enver Samuels.

This year’s festival had a powerful selection of 53 short films. The Best South African Short Film was the Manzini Zungu directed King Shaka-themed animation Shaka Inkosi Yamakhosi for its fresh, unique and decolonial take on history.
The Best African Short Film was the South African What Did You Dream? by Karabo Lediga and the Best Short Film was Ala Kachuu-Take and Run by director Maria Brendle from Kyrgyzstan.

The complete list of awards is as follows:

Best Actor: Seounggyun An - My Son
Best Actress: Tsholo Maseko - Pusha Pressa Phanda
Best Screenplay: My Son
Best Director: Shin Xin - A Little Bird Reminds Me
Best South African Feature Film: Sons of the Sea
Best Feature Film: A Little Bird Reminds Me
Artistic Bravery: Pusha Pressa Phanda
Best South African Documentary: I Am Here
Best South African Documentary: Murder in Paris
Best Documentary: Downstream to Kinshasa
Best South African Short Film: Shaka Inkosi Yamakhosi
Best African Short Film: What Did You Dream?
Best Short Film: Ala Kachuu - Take and Run
Amnesty Durban Human Rights Award: I, Mary
DIFF Human Rights Award: Enver Samuels
DIFF Film in Education Award: STEPS
DIFF Access to Cinema Award: Sunshine Cinema

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied

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Judgment Given in Landmark Court Case in which Law School Personnel Contributed

Judgment Given in Landmark Court Case in which Law School Personnel Contributed
From left: Ms Roasia Hazarilall, Professor Donrich Thaldar and Mr Bonginkosi Shozi.

Judgment has been given in a landmark case in the Pretoria High Court during which Professor Donrich Thaldar of UKZN’s School of Law served as an *amicus curiae, enlisting the assistance of postgraduate students Mr Bonginkosi Shozi and Ms Roasia Hazarilall for behind-the-scenes research.

The case QG v CS made South African legal history as it was the first of its kind to consider several key issues relating to artificial fertilisation and parenthood in South African law.

The matter involved a known sperm donor seeking access to his biological son he had helped a lesbian couple to conceive. 

After the initial meeting, the parties had concluded a known sperm donor agreement which purported to establish the lesbian couple as the legal parents of the donor-conceived child, while barring the known sperm donor from ever obtaining parental responsibilities and rights. However, after holding the new-born in his arms, the donor knew he had not truly appreciated the profound psychological effect his sperm donation would have on him.

While a gamete donor (except a spouse) cannot acquire any parental rights and responsibilities in respect of a donor-conceived child in law, gamete donors may, as with any other interested person, acquire certain rights and responsibilities in terms of Sections 23 and 24 of the Children’s Act.

This judgment provided much-needed legal certainty on questions relating to the scope of the provisions, their potential to extend to known sperm donors, and the enforceability of known sperm donor agreements.

Ultimately, in its assessment of the circumstances of the case, the court held that there was no evidence that contact with the known sperm donor would contribute to the child’s best interests. Rather, it could cause confusion and new conflicting centres of focus in the child’s life. The applicants only had limited interactions with the child and their relationship was thus subsidiary to the relationship the child enjoyed with his legal parents - a relationship deserving constitutional protection.

The application was therefore denied.

Having assisted with the comparative analysis aspects of the heads of argument, Hazarilall commented: ‘An analysis of the judgment itself shows that the court relied heavily on Professor Thaldar’s amicus submissions in coming to its final decision. Seeing all our work reflected in such a seminal judgment has definitely been the highlight of my legal studies.’

Shozi, who provided extensive research support on the regulatory scheme relating to assisted reproduction, said: ‘One rarely gets an opportunity to witness legal development first-hand, and it is even rarer to have an opportunity to be part of that development. It is deeply rewarding to know that our work helped shape this landmark judgment.’

* An amicus curiae is someone who is not a party to a case who assists a court by offering information, expertise or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case (Wikipedia).

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied

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Significant Achievement by Education Student

Significant Achievement by Education Student
Mr Luthando Molefe.Click here for isiZulu version

Master of Education candidate Mr Luthando Molefe was the only Black student in UKZN’s Bachelor of Education Honours Class of 2020 to achieve a summa cum laude pass!

Molefe, who received his honours degree at UKZN’s 2021 Autumn Graduation, passed all seven modules - including the independent research project - with marks of over 75% and was awarded four Certificates of Merit, putting him top of the class for those modules.

Said Molefe: ‘I am delighted. The achievement is the reward for many hours of hard work and dedication I invested in my books and research. It is also a result of the huge support I received from many people, mostly academics at UKZN’s School of Education.’

Molefe was named among UKZN’s Top 40 Most Inspiring Students in 2017, 2018 and 2019/2020 for academic excellence, community engagement/outreach and leadership skills in the various roles he performs.

He holds more than 67 Certificates of Excellence for his outstanding and exceptional work in the above categories and has also received national and international awards and accolades.

Molefe has represented UKZN and South Africa at the Young African Leaders Initiative-Regional Leadership Centre-Southern Africa (YALI-RCL-SA) and was part of the study tour for teachers in training exchange programme that took place in Berlin, Germany, in 2018.

Supervisor for his master’s degree and his former Bachelor of Education Honours lecturer, Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, congratulated him saying: ‘Mr Luthando Molefe has an outstanding academic and extracurricular record. He has won numerous awards for his academic achievements and his community leadership initiatives. Mr Molefe shows initiative, is consistently hard working and is a creative and critical thinker. He also goes out his way to support his fellow students. He is an asset to the Teacher Development Studies Masters in Education programme and has a bright future in educational research.’

Molefe was recently named as one of the Top 21 Outstanding Young Persons for 2021 by the Junior Chamber International South Africa.

Words: NdabaOnline

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Laughter Truly is the Best Medicine!

Laughter Truly is the Best Medicine!
Panellists from the webinar from left: Dr Gita Suraj-Narayan, Mrs Busisiwe Ramabodu, Ms Sheroma Surajnarayan and Mr Bhupendra Suraj-Narayan.

The Joker’s words: ‘Why so serious?’ are very relevant in today’s world as many adults struggle to keep moods light, minds clear and enjoy states of happiness. Many hanker after their childhood and teenage years when everything seemed simple and life was a laugh a minute.

Without a shadow of a doubt, a good belly laugh is not only for the young - everyone, no matter their age, can enjoy and benefit from laughter. Whether it’s with friends, family and colleagues or while watching a comedy, nothing beats a good giggle or funny joke that has a person holding their sides and having to catch their breath as they experience the overwhelming euphoria of happiness.

Studies have found that humour can be learned. Whether a person fakes laughter or really does laugh the human body cannot tell the difference. A person can cognitively restructure and train their body and mind to laugh even if traumatised and stressed. A person’s inner cellular pharmacy still releases serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins (happy hormones) that promote positive feelings of pleasure, mood stabilisation, wellbeing, happiness, bonding, love, trust, relief from pain and relaxation.

Laughter has great short-term effects with physical changes occurring such as stimulating organs and enhancing the intake of oxygen-rich air, activating and relieving stress response thereby decreasing heart rate and blood pressure, stimulating circulation and aiding muscle relaxation.

UKZN’s Human Resources Division (HRD) recently hosted Dr Gita Suraj-Narayan founder of The Laughter Institute to facilitate a Laughter Therapy programme. Suraj-Narayan has developed a model of laughter therapy combining laughter yoga (developed by cardiologist Dr Madan Kataria) with psychotherapeutic and social work interventions.

HRD’s Mrs Busisiwe Ramabodu, who facilitated the webinar, highlighted its importance. ‘Our world is suffering because of serious catastrophes such as the Coronavirus and the looting and violence in parts of Gauteng and KZN,’ said Ramabodu. ‘Some of us may have post-traumatic stress.

‘So, with that in mind, we felt it was very important to host the webinar to help relieve some of the stress. Now is the time to detach from this material plane of existence and realise that happiness comes from within. Laughter (therapy) is one such resource.’

Awarded the South African Heroes Award for impacting the lives of people positively, Suraj-Narayan’s programme is endorsed by the United Nations, with the African Institute having over 6 000 Laughter Centres in over 60 countries.

‘Laughter therapy is one of the best tools for mindfulness. Laughter actually engages the entire brain - similar to meditation. When you are participating in a laughter session, it’s almost impossible to think about anything else. This enhances spatial (space) and temporal (time) awareness allowing a participant to live in the moment and be grateful,’ said Suraj-Narayan.

The programme consists of a set of exercises - including clapping - which stimulates pressure points linking to meridians in the body for optimal health; simulated laughter which helps to cognitively restructure fears and anxieties to a more strength-based approach; and pranayama - during which participants learn proper breathing techniques to keep the lungs well oxygenated and boost the immune system, and laughter meditation and relaxation.

‘Laughter has taught me that nothing is permanent and that no matter what challenges we experience, we can overcome them with power and resilience,’ said breathing technique facilitator Ms Sheroma Surajnarayan. ‘We don’t laugh because we have no problems, we laugh because we choose to take back our happiness despite our problems.’

Sharing his personal experience, fellow facilitator Mr Bhupendra Suraj-Narayan said: ‘I find that laughter therapy reignites the three states of joy in me which are producing and playing music, dancing professionally, and childlike playfulness. In addition, the exercises in the sessions have a profound effect not just physically but also physiologically and psychologically which facilitates holistic healing within me. Laughter also helps me cognitively restructure the way I resolve problems. You cannot solve a problem with the mind that created it,’ said Suraj-Narayan.

‘When I lost my dad to COVID-19 I wanted to create public awareness of the seriousness of this virus and the importance of self-care. Creating a video reliving the events that led to my dad’s death was a very traumatic experience for me. However, laughter forced me to push my psychological boundaries and helped me overcome my grief and trauma while producing the video on the Impacts of COVID-19.’

Global Representative for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mr Ilija Todorovi shared a written message of goodwill to UKZN which read in part: ‘With the universal positive energy that comes about through laughter therapy, resilience and hope can be restored and take root again to bring about peace building, justice and inner and outer development. This therapy I try to use every day in my work with affected populations to bring about positive change and renewal in peace and prosperity. Sending the UKZN community my message of hope and personal belief in laughter and joy to build again a more-happy, peaceful, tolerant and resilient world.’

It is said that when we laugh we change; when we change the world changes; when the world changes there will be peace; health and happiness. It is a simplified adage, and sometimes not given much credit, but it really can be as simple as that.

So why not smirk, smile, grin, snicker, giggle, chuckle, chortle, laugh, cackle, guffaw, howl, shriek, roar, collapse in stitches?

Just laugh - you’ll feel amazing!

Words: Rakshika Sibran

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UKZN Centre Co-Hosts Discussions on Water Security

UKZN Centre Co-Hosts Discussions on Water Security
Clockwise from top left: Dialogue participants and speakers Dr Petra Schmitter, Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, Professor Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, Professor Sylvester Mpandeli, Professor Ragab Ragab, Mr Peter Townshend, Dr Vimbayi Chimonyo, Dr Aidan Senzanje and Dr Abebe Chukalla.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN’s Centre for Transformative Agricultural and Food Systems (CTAFS) partnered with South Africa’s Water Research Commission (WRC) to co-host a virtual dialogue on the topic of enhancing water security through improved agricultural water productivity.

Delving into new knowledge, innovations and applications around agricultural water productivity, the event included an address from WRC Chief Executive Officer Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, and a keynote presentation from World Bank senior irrigation specialist Dr Petra Schmitter.

A panel of experts joined the discussion including the President of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, Professor Ragab Ragab; lecturer in Water Productivity and Remote Sensing at the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education Dr Abebe Chukalla; Dr Aidan Senzanje of UKZN’s Discipline of Bioresources Engineering, UKZN alumnus Dr Vimbayi Chimonyo of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Zimbabwe, and WSP Africa civil engineer Mr Peter Townshend.

Welcoming participants, Co-Director of the CTAFS Professor Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi said the goal of the event was to prompt conversation to provide information for a book being compiled to synthesise knowledge on enhancing water security through improved agricultural water productivity in the global South.

Schmitter’s presentation highlighted emerging solutions with potential to contribute to water security, noting the importance of the scale of interventions and a nexus approach, honing in on enhancing storage and access to water, and incentivising smart water use.

‘If we are going to better manage our water use in agriculture, we need to think holistically about our approaches and interventions, but also across the water-energy-food (WEF) sector using a multi-risk framework,’ she said.

Mabhaudhi thanked Schmitter for the insightful presentation covering the breadth of agricultural water management, calling it a masterclass that included theory and placed significant emphasis on designing context-specific solutions while considering the heterogeneity of scale.

Naidoo’s presentation touched on key events occurring in the global community that would determine the trajectory of water and agricultural development in the future and paid special attention to movements towards the democratisation of agriculture as a model to achieve zero poverty and universal food and nutrition security.

‘It is not just about better science, better productivity and better water management, it is about plugging this into the right paradigm to deal with the inequality in the world and having genuine food access,’ said Naidoo.

‘Not only is water a fantastic building block around economic recovery and development, the agricultural enterprise is a pivotal player in determining whether or not we have a green future. If we have successful agriculture moving into the next 20 years, the realisation of the net zero by the 2050 target will be highly achievable.’

The discussions proceeded to a panel debate chaired by WRC Executive Manager Professor Sylvester Mpandeli.

‘We need to address water productivity and link it with new approaches including a circular economy, the WEF nexus and sustainable food systems,’ said Mpandeli as he highlighted key WRC projects working towards this goal.

During the panel debate, Ragab addressed current water issues requiring rational management of supply and demand, and Abebe discussed the need to improve productivity since freshwater and land per person available for agriculture is declining. Senzanje gave a general presentation on water productivity, highlighting the importance of being open-minded to different management systems to derive increased benefit from water resources.

Chimonyo discussed how crop diversity could improve water productivity by examining cereal and legume intercrop systems, while Townsend addressed the effective use of irrigation water using automatic water control equipment.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs: Supplied

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Architecture Academic Launches Book on Prior Learning in Post-Apartheid SA

Architecture Academic Launches Book on Prior Learning in Post-Apartheid SA
Dr Yashaen Luckan with his new book.

Architecture lecturer Dr Yashaen Luckan has launched a new book titled: The Recognition of Prior Learning in Post-Apartheid South Africa: An Alternative Pedagogy for Transformation of the Built Environment Professions.

The primary objective of the book is to define the rationale and conceptual development process of an innovative recognition of the prior learning (RPL) model as a transformative mechanism for the upskilling of historically disadvantaged people in post-apartheid South Africa.

‘Apartheid education left the masses of South Africa impoverished due to exclusive barriers of access and articulation in Higher and Professional Education,’ said Luckan. ‘Professional education in the post-apartheid era continues to grapple with the challenges of inherited systems of education and training that continue to exclude the historically disadvantaged population, severely compromising redress and transformation.’

This book responds to a critical problem - a lacuna wherein a critical mass of historically disadvantaged people continue to face exclusion by entrenched systems in professional education and training. RPL is seen as a transformative strategy to oppose the injustices of pedagogic exclusion and upskill a marginalised population. The book makes a strong case for an alternate system based on the potentiality of transformed legislation and frameworks in post-apartheid South Africa.

Focusing on literature and case studies from Higher Education and built environment studies, it defines the rationale and fundamental principles of an innovative model for the evaluation of RPL, developed by Luckan, which can be adapted and applied across disciplines and professions while promoting high quality standards.

The book will be of interest to researchers in alternative pedagogies, scholars engaged with epistemologies of the South and alternative knowledge systems, legislative bodies, policy-makers and facilitators of professional education.

Said Luckan: ‘The book appeals to academic institutions that seek to implement RPL in their academic programmes; professionals in need of upskilling or their staff who require upskilling; regulatory bodies that require a model for the evaluation of RPL for professional articulation; and students in need of stop-in stop-out learning due to economic and social challenges. The appeal of the book in the developing world is based on its focus on socio-economic reform of marginalised communities wherein the need for access to Higher Education, and articulation through mid-career upskilling, are major areas of concern.’

The book is on sale through Routledge (Taylor and Francis).

•    Luckan is an academic, researcher and practising architect. As a proponent of interdisciplinary praxis, his research includes alternate methodologies of thinking and practice for socio-economic redress and spatial transformation in the Global South. In this regard, he is actively engaged with knowledge and skills development of historically marginalised communities. Luckan’s research focuses on two distinct, yet interrelated fields: the transformation of architectural pedagogy, and humanistic urbanism. He is currently engaged in ground-breaking work in the recognition of prior learning and alternative learning pathways, while critiquing entrenched modes of thinking and practice, towards the socio-economic emancipation of marginalised communities.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

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