GSB&L Maintains Second Highest Ranking for SA Business Schools

GSB&L Maintains Second Highest Ranking for SA Business Schools
Second overall ranking for UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership in the Professional Market Research Africa (PMR).africa annual national survey.

UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) has maintained its second overall ranking in the Professional Market Research Africa (PMR).africa annual national survey of Accredited Business Schools offering MBA degrees in South Africa.

From the pool of 20 business schools rated in 2022, the GSB&L continues to be ranked in second place with a mean score of 7.93 out of a possible 10.

The survey respondents - who are employers - rated MBA graduates and students in the workplace representing accredited Business Schools according to 20 attributes/criteria including academic knowledge, application of knowledge in the workplace and entrepreneurial skills, capacity and abilities.

This achievement earned the GSB&L a Golden Arrow Award at the PMR.africa Excellence Awards ceremony attended by South Africa’s top business leaders.

Speaking on this achievement, GSB&L’s Interim Dean and Head, Professor Ana Martins said: ‘Whilst we are proud of this achievement, the team is cognisant of the need to enhance the programme with unique qualities.’

GSB&L has been on an upward trajectory in the PMR rankings over the last five years, moving from sixth place in 2015 to second place in 2021 as well as 2022. Looking to the future, Martins said the School plans to continue making strides to provide its MBA students with the distinctive skillset that will enhance their know-how and promote this adeptness in the workplace.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Shutterstock


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Inspiring Top Medical Student Attends WHO’s High-Level Meeting in Geneva

Inspiring Top Medical Student Attends WHO’s High-Level Meeting in Geneva
Mr Mohamed Hoosen Suleman at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva.Click here for isiZulu version

Mr Mohamed Hoosen Suleman, a fourth-year Medical student at UKZN, was selected as one of only three Medical students globally for the Changemaker Scholarship to attend both the Youth Pre-World Health Assembly (Pre-WHA) and World Health Assembly (WHA) held at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Suleman’s selection is not only a proud moment for South Africa but for the Medical youth voice worldwide. He formed part of the official youth delegation to the WHO.

The WHA is the WHO’s highest decision-making body that is attended by world leaders and delegations of its 194-member states. A detailed agenda on global health is discussed with a plan of action on priority health areas that countries should action.

Suleman, who is widely described as a passionate and dedicated youth healthcare leader, holds multiple awards and accolades in the Medical field. The decorated Medical student was awarded UKZN’s Best Student Researcher and Best Student Innovator last year (2021).

Suleman was selected by the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association in collaboration with the WHO which enabled him to spend two weeks in Geneva and attend high-level meetings with heads of state of various countries. He personally met and interacted with the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.

Suleman also met and engaged with Ministers of Health of different countries and gained insight into the health challenges in different parts of the world.

He said, ‘The experience was overwhelming especially given that I would’ve been the youngest person in the room. It was a dream come true to be invited to the WHO and to attend the World Health Assembly.

‘The involvement of young people in important high-level meetings is a clear illustration of youth empowerment and WHO’s commitment to nurturing young talent to truly step up and be active in health matters.’

The rising star is well-known for his advocacy efforts and leadership skills and has been actively involved in combating COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


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College of Humanities Lends Helping Hand to KZN Flood Victims

College of Humanities Lends Helping Hand to KZN Flood Victims
Community Engagement sectors in the College of Humanities help communities affected by the recent KZN floods.

UKZN staff and students, through Community Engagement sectors in the College of Humanities, recently assisted communities that were affected by the recent KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) floods which left hundreds of people dead, and thousands displaced.

Different initiatives throughout the College were undertaken. Cluster leader in the School of Social Sciences, Dr Maserole Kgari-Masondo, collected food and clothing donations for local schools with help from Dr Siyanda Kheswa from the School’s Community Engagement task team and six student volunteers Mr Ntokozo Vundla, Ms Dintle Masondo, Ms Xolani Masuku, Ms Xolile Ndimande, Ms Nazra Tinambo, and Ms Hloniphile Ndlovu, while Professor Lauren Dyll in the School of Applied Human Sciences donated food and clothing to local communities.

School of Education staff members Professor Vaughn John, Dr Zamo Hlela and Mr Pete Jugmohan also collected donations from five Pietermaritzburg school communities, Allandale Primary, Deccan Road Primary, Springhaven Primary School, St Christopher’s School and Northern Park Primary.

Academic Leader for Community Engagement in the School of Education, Dr Angela James, together with staff volunteers Mr Wandile Zulu, Ms Rossly Malema, and student volunteers Ms Asanda Mbasha, Ms Luyanda Khawula, Ms Sxolile Mtshali, Ms Nontando Sibisi, Ms Miloka Maharaj, Ms Nondzolo Mfino Ms Zoe Thomas, Ms Nomali Mchunu, and Ms Qokomisa Nolonwabo collected donations from students and community members and helped offload, sort and deliver the donations.

The donations included children’s and adult’s clothes, shoes (including school shoes), school uniforms, bags, toiletries, non-perishable goods, water, goodies/children’s toys, as well as baby food and nappies.

Guided by information from the eThekwini Municipality regarding community needs, the donations were delivered to seven community centres such as Dassenhoek, Mariannhill, Sithundu Hill, Ndunduma, Snethemba, Umhlabunzima, KwaShembe, Tshelimnyama, and KwaDabeka. Area-based Management Municipality assisted with transport.

The initiative aided people who lost their homes, did not have food, clothing, sanitary towels or toiletries, and learners who were unable to go to school because they did not have stationery and uniforms.

Mtshali said: ‘The living conditions of people in these centres is unpleasant. There were 92 people in one hall and the roads to access these centres were badly damaged. People did not have enough water - some centres had empty water tanks and there were toddlers and babies who did not have nappies and necessities.’

Reflecting on the initiative, James said: ‘The immense effort of our student volunteers is impressive and appreciated. Student engagement is purposeful and worthwhile. Actions are important. In the words of Ms Luyanda Khawula who is a student: “People are going through the most out there … we should all work together to assist where we can”.’ 

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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Going Bananas for Academia

Going Bananas for Academia
Dr Sinethemba Ximba who received a PhD in Plant Pathology.

‘UKZN has laid a great foundation for my academic career as I have been a student here since first year,’ says PhD graduate in Plant Pathology, Dr Sinethemba Ximba.

Ximba, who was based full-time at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in Nelspruit as part of the organisation’s postgraduate development programme when she registered for her PhD, chose UKZN despite the distance as she had been awarded postgraduate scholarships owing to her previous hard work and received excellent encouragement from her academic supervisor, Professor Gus Gubba.

‘It is this kind of support that one needs the most to find one’s way through academia. Professor Gubba was always just a call and text away,’ she said.

Ximba’s research - which involved multiple stakeholders such as UKZN, ARC, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRDD), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and GreenMatter - looked at Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV), a plant-virus that has caused destruction to the banana crop in several countries globally.

The aphid-borne virus was reported for the first time in South Africa in the South Coast region in 2016, prompting the need to determine the spread of the virus in major producing regions of South Africa.

Surveys were done on the North and South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Comparative genetic relationships of the South African isolates to global isolates were also studied. In addition, a transmission study to determine if other plant species harbour the insect responsible for BBTV spread were carried out.

‘To date, the virus is only localised within the South Coast region (of KZN),’ said Ximba. ‘There are ongoing efforts to minimise the spread of this virus through spraying programmes and raising awareness within the affected communities.

‘It is important to note that the virus is only damaging to the banana crop and poses no risk to human consumption,’ she added. ‘The challenge is that infected banana plants fail to produce marketable fruit, if they even manage to produce any at all!’

Ximba said whilst plant viruses are minute, they cause significant losses in the agricultural sector. ‘This piqued my interest. There is not much awareness on newly-emerging viruses in terms of how to control them especially in rural households. For example, some plant viruses spread through infected planting material, so when a person unknowingly shares an infected plant, that’s how the virus finds its way to another field.

‘This in turn has a negative impact on society as food security is threatened when crop yield is reduced due to plant-virus infections.’

Ximba explained that having looked at control strategies to minimise loss due to the virus, her multidisciplinary study addressed one of the United Nations’s 17 Sustainable Goals, which is Zero Hunger. ‘With implementation of control strategies such as eradication and limited movement of infected planting material, this would reduce the spread of the virus, thus preventing further infections of banana plants,’ she said.

Ximba said the PhD journey helped her develop her writing and presentation skills - reflected in the peer-reviewed articles that she has managed to publish. She has presented her research at both local and international conferences and won awards as best PhD speaker, the most meaningful being a week after she buried her beloved grandmother and was busy writing up her thesis. ‘Anyone will tell you how hectic writing up a PhD gets, so this felt like one of the biggest achievements of my career, coming as it did during one of the worst stages of my PhD.’

Ximba is currently an ad-hoc lecturer in Plant Pathology based at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus. In addition to publishing the rest of her PhD findings, she plans to continue her research in crop protection as a way to contribute to food security as a whole.

‘I am also an old Fellow of GreenMatter which looks at the impact of climate change, so I am hoping to do a multidisciplinary study on the effect of climate change and plant-vector distribution in South Africa,’ she said.

The wife and mother of two, who joked that “spare time” was a myth in her world, thanked Gubba as well as fellow academic, Dr Jacques Ibaba for their support and paid tribute to her family for the pivotal role they played in her success.

‘My message to everyone is that perseverance is key,’ she said. ‘The academic journey may feel long and hard but there are always structures to help within academic institutions. Just locate them.’

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Webinar Focuses on Efficient Administration and Good Governance

Webinar Focuses on Efficient Administration and Good Governance
Graduate School of Business and Leadership webinar series.

Is South Africa Succeeding in Promoting Efficient Administration and Good Governance?

This was the topic debated by Dr Maropeng Mpya, Advocate at the Johannesburg Society of Advocates, and Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for Finance in KwaZulu-Natal at a webinar hosted by UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L).

The event was part of GSB&L’s Webinar Series that aims to empower postgraduate students, alumni and business partners with information that will enable them to navigate the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mpya’s stance was that South Africa’s current governance problems are not new and highlighted that the situation will not improve should government not end “cadre deployment” and hire officials who care about the people.

‘We are in the 28th year of the so-called constitutional dispensation wherein we were promised that our lives will be better because we live in a democratic order. However, the following has become a fixture of an administration and governance in decline,’ he added.

Mpya elaborated his case by focusing on three themes: the State of the African State; a diagnosis of the inefficiencies and lack of governance; as well as solutions. He drew parallels between the governors and the governed and how unequal power relations between capital and its subject make it impossible for there to be an efficient administration and good governance. Mpya also spoke on the role of government in issues facing the country such as corruption, high unemployment and crime rates, ailing state-owned enterprises, poor service delivery and the lack of proper roads and dilapidated infrastructure.

‘Because of the lack of governance, the lie of good governance is perpetuated for the illusion of all of us and unfortunately, the authors of the lies are beginning to believe their own fairy tales. There are no miracles or special remedies for this and we all know the solutions for efficient administration and good governance and that is to have a government that practices Ubuntu.’

In her response, Dube-Ncube acknowledged that government is not delivering on the mandate of its people. ‘It is true that some of the issues we currently facing can be traced back to pre-1994. One of the hindrances to effecting administration and good governance is the high retention of officials and lack of ethical leadership as integrity, morals and ethics are the cornerstone of good governance,’ said Dube-Ncube.

Another burning issue that Dube-Ncube had to respond to was the issue of municipalities drowning in financial crisis.

‘There is a notion that if you work in government, you can’t be expelled. This is not true because you can be fired in government however, the issue is that managers are not managing and following protocols in place for this process to happen. There is room for improvement, that is why we are strengthening programmes that will deal with building ethical leadership as they will propel us towards good leadership.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Image: Supplied


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KZN Specialist Dermatologist Applauded for Passion in Patient Care and Training

KZN Specialist Dermatologist Applauded for Passion in Patient Care and Training
Dr Gill Lawrie applauded by the School of Clinical Medicine for her passion and contribution to dermatology.

The School of Clinical Medicine (SCM) would like to acknowledge and congratulate Dr Gill Lawrie for her boundless and unselfish contribution in setting up the dermatological surgery service which not only benefits patients, but also trains registrars in this component.

The School also applauds her unmatched passion for Preventative Medicine evidenced by her outreach programmes for skin cancer screening as well as involvement in albinism education.

Lawrie, a Specialist Dermatologist leads the dermatological service at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central (IALCH) and Addington hospitals. She has ensured continued partnerships with various albinism NGOs, including the KwaZulu-Natal Albinism Society, by offering support, education and cancer screening.

‘Dr Lawrie is a young, dedicated dermatologist. She is a team player and a brilliant clinician who goes the extra mile for patients, students and colleagues. She has a natural talent for surgery and has upskilled herself by undergoing a dermatological surgery fellowship training in USA,’ said Dr Nomthandazo Ngcobo, Acting Head of Department in the UKZN Dermatology Discipline.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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High-Achieving Accounting Students Recognised at UKZN-SAICA Students’ Awards Ceremony

High-Achieving Accounting Students Recognised at UKZN-SAICA Students’ Awards Ceremony
Some of the UKZN-SAICA Students’ Awards recipients.

Forty-nine top achieving first, second and third-year and postgraduate students in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance were recognised for their academic excellence at the annual virtual UKZN-South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Students’ Awards Ceremony.

In his welcome address, Dean and Head of School Professor Mabutho Sibanda highlighted that the School will continuously strive to achieve excellence in its programme delivery to ensure that graduates are technically competent and remain relevant in any environment.

‘As a School, we strongly believe that renewal is central to our programmes remaining relevant to the industry and profession,’ said Sibanda.

He added that the School has introduced a module Integrated Business Studies at second-year level that will expose students to the practical aspects of business as graduates often lack the all-round business acumen required in the ever-changing business environment. Furthermore, in line with institutional strategy, the School embarked on transformation of the undergraduate programme which was implemented in 2021.

‘Of the 49 awardees, I am pleased to announce that 57% are female. This is testament to the universal transformation initiatives that UKZN strives to achieve. I urge all of you to be of value in all that you set out to do and everywhere you go in order to inspire greatness for the betterment of humankind,’ said Sibanda.

SAICA Regional Executive Mr Naeem Asvat reminded students of their ethical responsibility as they embark on their career journey.

‘We are grateful to your parents and lecturers who have contributed to your success. This is the ticket to the dance, what you do thereafter is left up to you, the world is your oyster.’

Top honours went to Ms Nevana Rampershadh (overall top second-year student), Ms Santisha Rampersad (overall top third-year student), Mr Mikailen Naidoo (overall top third-year student) and Mr Talhah Ebrahim Ismail (overall top fourth-year/Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy student).

The awards in the overall Black student categories went to Ms Thandiwe Qwabe (first-year), Mr Samkelo Latha (second-year), Ms Sibulelo Ntshizana (third-year) and Ms Ziphezinhle Nhlabathi (fourth-year/Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy). The awardees are proof of the successful drive to produce more African Chartered Accountants.

In his closing remarks, Auditing lecturer Mr Rudolph Mbanjwa thanked SAICA for their continued support and event sponsors namely, Lexis Nexis, Ernst & Young Global Limited (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Sherwood Books and Van Schaik for making the event a success.

Watch the awards here.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photographs: Supplied


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Connections Between Unemployment and Drugs from the 19th Century to the Era of Whoonga

Connections Between Unemployment and Drugs from the 19th Century to the Era of Whoonga
Professor Mark Hunter.Click here for isiZulu version

The College of Humanities recently hosted a webinar on Drugs at Work - Connections Between Work/Unemployment and Drugs from the 19th Century to the Era of Whoonga presented by Professor Mark Hunter from the University of Toronto, Canada.

The session was facilitated by Professor Nirmala Gopal of the School of Applied Human Sciences at UKZN.

The webinar gave a historical context to drug use, particularly the labour-drug question in colonial worlds, from alcohol and cannabis to heroin and Xanax in South Africa. 'How does drug use change in a country once desperate for waged labour?,’ questioned Hunter, but now marked by youth unemployment rates of more than 50%.

‘Scholars of the “global South” have documented in detail how European settlers, dependent on the labour of others, used substances to recruit labourers and intensify work. Yet in recent decades, efforts to bring together drugs and work have somewhat stalled, including in South Africa, a country where capitalism was notoriously drug fuelled,’ explained Hunter.

Drawing on oral histories, ethnography, and archival sources in the port city of Durban, Hunter argued that ‘a gradual but significant change in drug use took place from drugs being used as forms of leisure and coping in relation to arduous waged work to drugs absorbing the stresses of an economy marked by massive youth unemployment and precarious work.’

Bracketing off supply issues to concentrate on drug use and meanings, Hunter showed how the explosion in the illicit use of Mandrax from the 1970s, and heroin and Xanax in the 2000s, took place on and shaped the terrain of these political economic transformations.

Gopal said: ‘The discussion theme is controversial but contemporary. The scourge of drugs in South Africa and in KZN specifically is the cause of much violence and crime.’ Gopal is also currently supervising two PhD students exploring different aspects of the impact of drugs.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Honours First Cohort of Ma’at Institute Interns

UKZN Honours First Cohort of Ma’at Institute Interns
Clockwise from left: Dr Sibonsile Zibane, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, Dr Nontobeko Buthelezi, Ms Nokukhanya Zondi, Ms Fundile Ndlanzi and Ms Elaine Brass.

Twenty-four (24) interns who were part of the first cohort of the COVID-19 Psychosocial Internship Programme (CPIP) were recently honoured at an award ceremony.

The multidisciplinary programme run by the Ma’at Institute, is based in the School of Applied Human Sciences (SAHS) within UKZN’s College of Humanities. CPIP is a culmination of a partnership between UKZN, Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and various partners in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Derived from the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality and justice, the Ma’at Institute seeks to provide psychosocial support and promote skills transfer through various interventions.

In his welcome address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, acknowledged the importance of the partner institutions.

Noting how the COVID-19 pandemic relies heavily on medical advances, he shared the importance of the human aspect and how the programme was designed to fill that gap. Mkhize explained the purpose of the Ma’at way, which is based on the principle of Ubuntu and how this philosophy was integrated into the internship training.

He said: ‘As an institution of higher learning, it’s important for us to connect with the community. We need to harness all the community centres, as centres of excellence, learning and engagement; and this particular project has allowed us to practice this philosophy where we learn from the community, and the community learns from us.’

DHET Deputy Director-General, Mr Zukile Mvalo, highlighted how the project seeks to change the conditions of South Africa in favour of the vulnerable. He also remarked on how the implementation of the CPIP was timely in addressing issues associated with the global pandemic, such as anxiety and depression.

HWSETA Chief Executive Officer, Ms Elaine Brass, discussed how the project went beyond addressing the psychosocial effects of COVID-19 but also addressed issues of gender-based violence and mental health.

She said: ‘Picture 24 young, brave people taking up an internship in an unknown world. A university that wanted to help communities in hotspot areas, a partner who agreed to execute the dream, and HWSETA who wanted to make a difference in its sector. As 10 professionals, we all got together, and we have certainly made a difference - and this is what we are celebrating today.’

Mrs Yolokazi Mjoli, a mentor in the programme, reflected on the difficult times at the Institute due to the increased numbers of deaths and sicknesses, the high number of unemployment, job losses and social ills caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remarking on how the interns worked tirelessly with a passion for providing the counselling and psychosocial support needed, she expressed how she learnt a lot and thanked the Institute for the experience and for opening doors career-wise.

Interns Ms Fundile Ndlanzi and Ms Nokukhanya Zondi highlighted how they provided counselling telephonically and made a difference by touching people’s lives affected by COVID-19. Extending their gratitude for being able to participate in the programme, they thanked the Institute for the experience.

KwaZulu-Natal Sports and Recreation Department Head Dr Thobile Sifunda highlighted why the need for psychosocial support is vital in South Africa. Noting the country’s ranking as the most unequal in the world, she added how the pandemic exposed its systematic differences.

She called for knowledge transfer to occur not just in the College of Humanities but in all other Colleges and Schools within the University for society to be transformed and sustainable. ‘We have the capacity, passion and ability to change society in this Institution because the seed that has been planted at UKZN’s Ma’at Institute is a seed that must be nurtured and seen everywhere.’

Sifunda encouraged individuals to own their identities and narratives, be in control, and manage their spaces and communities. She emphasised the need for Africans to view themselves with pride and affirmation; and further echoed the sentiments of her book titled: I Refuse to be Called Black - Unapologetically African, which seeks to highlight the multiple, dynamic and historically grounded educational practices that centre African lived-experiences and knowledge systems.

Dr Nontobeko Buthelezi, lecturer in the Discipline of Psychology and project manager of the Ma’at Institute, evaluated the risks of entering an unchartered terrain with the programme. Acknowledging all the partners, she said: ‘The biggest partner was the Institution that trusted us with this project: UKZN and Professor Mkhize, who was there with us from the beginning.’

She thanked Dr Sibonisile Zibane, Social Work academic leader, and her colleagues, including Dr Maud Mthembu who collaborated with the interns to write a children’s book turned movie on the pandemic titled: Uhambo Lwami Ngesikhathi Sekhovithi. Buthelezi recognised the interns for their drive and determination; and partners HWSETA and DHET for being able to think outside of the box in addressing COVID-19 related challenges and supporting them with this initiative.

She extended her thanks to the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), Sibakhulise, Fuze Institute, Durban Youth Radio (DYR), Izwi LoMzansi FM, Ace Foundation, eThekwini Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education for being receptive gatekeepers. She also acknowledged the many organisations that continue to provide support for the Institute’s initiatives and placements for their interns.

Interns were awarded certificates for completing the programme.

Senior lecturer in African Languages, Dr Gugu Mazibuko, was the programme director for the event, while Mr Victor Sithole and Ms Zinhle Madela provided the night’s entertainment.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini


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CLMS Mentorship Training Programme

CLMS Mentorship Training Programme
Student Support Services in the College of Law and Management Studies is here for students.

Student Support Services (SSS) in the College of Law and Management Studies (CLMS) rolled out a two-day intensive training programme with staff from the Academic Monitoring and Support unit on 11 and 14 April 2022.

The participants included Peer Wellness Mentors, Writing Place Tutors, Peer Academic Mentors and Academic Development Officers. The key purpose of the training was to equip staff with skills, knowledge and competencies to enable them to fulfil their roles and responsibilities effectively.

The training mapped out crucial factors in building successful relationships that allow students to feel supported and encouraged to optimise their academic and personal development. The entire SSS team, including all the Student Counsellors and the Career Development Officer, contributed to the training.

The Peer Helper and Wellness models formed the foundation for the training development. Research demonstrates that holistic wellness enhances student academic success; promotes happiness, well-being and health; and develops graduate attributes. The wellness approach is an evidence-based and strengths-based approach that aims to optimise the potential of all students.

The training commenced with a discussion on the roles and responsibilities of the different portfolios, challenges experienced, and lessons learnt. Participants showed their maturity and wisdom as senior students as they could draw from their rich background of knowledge and experience to find resolutions to support students effectively. They also reflected on the skills and knowledge to enhance their roles and responsibilities.

The Learning Styles session encouraged participants to reflect on students’ preferred ways of learning which sensitively encourages them (students) to take ownership and control over their learning. Learning Styles were a reminder that all students are different and that it is important to keep this in mind when responding to their needs.

The session on Basic Communication Skills covered the essential facets of good communication which is crucial in developing an authentic, supportive relationship. Effective communication assists students in understanding direction and feedback better, feeling respected and understood, and being motivated to learn.

The session on Boundaries and Confidentiality in Relationships highlighted the importance of these factors in helping both parties reinforce the relationship by understanding expectations. Young people need consistent boundaries and realistic expectations to feel safe physically and emotionally. Confidentiality involves the responsibility of ensuring that information discussed between two parties is treated with the utmost confidence. Confidentiality is essential for building a trusting relationship.

The session on Working with Distressed Students provided participants with skills and knowledge on how to manage challenges calmly and refer to the correct service providers.

The training also included topics on Mental Health Education, Growth Mindset, Work-related skills and Health and Wellness coaching to enable a mindset shift to a more focused, deliberate, positive, and holistic mentoring approach that encourages students to discover their strengths and potential contributions, have greater self-awareness, think and engage with others collaboratively, and generate their own approaches and solutions to challenges and dilemmas.

An abridged version of the training programme was held on 9 May 2022 for those unable to attend the first programme due to the KZN floods. The training demonstrated how to mentor and facilitate an interactive learning format online that can lead to transformative learning.

The training was evaluated positively, with participants commenting on the value of the information and skills in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities and the interactive engagements that gave them a sense of social presence.

During these times of online learning, a sense of community helps to reduce the sense of loneliness and stress created by the technological disconnect. The participants represent a group of remarkable individuals poised to support students to optimise their learning development and wellness during these challenging times.

The collaboration will continue with the Student Counsellors facilitating debriefing sessions for mentors negotiating their current formidable role in a context defined by ongoing crises and natural disasters.

Words: Ishara Maharaj

Image: Shutterstock


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UKZN Clinical Sociologist Delivers Keynote at KZN Blind and Deaf Society

UKZN Clinical Sociologist Delivers Keynote at KZN Blind and Deaf Society
Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan delivers the keynote address at the KZN Blind and Deaf Society.Click here for isiZulu version

Clinical Sociologist in the School of Social Sciences, Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan delivered the keynote address at the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society’s Mother’s Month Breakfast.

Seedat-Khan emphasised the significance of honouring Deaf mothers and the trajectories of mothering Deaf children. ‘I am here as a mother, clinician and steadfast advocate for all differently abled persons. In South Africa, September is Deaf History Month. Many of us may know someone who is hearing compromised, and or clinically Deaf. Yet, are we Deaf aware?’ she asked.

Seedat-Khan noted that Deaf mothering and mothering a Deaf child is complex. ‘Both promise to deliver socially constructed new amazing and challenging experiences. By loving differently abled and or Deaf friends, family, children and colleagues, we create lifelong social connections.’

She reflected on the success of Ms Voloshni Annamallay, UKZN’s first-ever Deaf graduate to acquire both an undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications using South African Sign Language (SASL) as a means of communication.

‘We can all agree that being a Deaf woman comes with its already fair share of challenges. Voloshni gives us all reason for pause, and reflective questioning. What are we doing for Deaf mothers, children and university students? Varied social contexts inform reasoning, language, and communication acquisition, all of which determine a Deaf person’s life trajectories,’ said Seedat-Khan.

She argued that systemic discriminatory practice imposes unrealistic demands on differently abled Deaf learners with a blatant disregard for a Deaf reality.

‘Mothering strategies mandate teaching skills and self-advocacy for Deaf children. Hearing children must be encouraged to acquire SASL skills to serve as change agents promoting social and professional inclusion. SASL must be prioritised through free access to promote relatable social bonds recognising sameness,’ said Seedat-Khan.

She recommended the adoption of clinical interventions to intensify inclusion of Deaf and hearing mothers and children with weekly support groups to increase Deaf awareness.

‘Deaf and hearing mothers have the same hopes and dreams for their children. Deaf prejudice inhibits inclusion of Deaf mothers and children, compromising their well-being. A modified inclusive mindset fosters Deaf awareness supporting successful outcomes,’ said Seedat-Khan.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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SHS Academics Table Medical Education Transformation on World Stage

SHS Academics Table Medical Education Transformation on World Stage
Top from left: Dr Stacy Maddocks, Dr Alvin Munsamy, and Dr Diane van Staden. Bottom from left: Professor Saul Cobbing and Ms Zandile Shezi.Click here for isiZulu version

Academics from UKZN’s School of Health Sciences recently presented a virtual workshop at the Canadian Conference on Medical Education.

The workshop was led by Dr Diane van Staden, Associate Professor in the Optometry Discipline, and jointly presented by Professor Saul Cobbing, Associate Professor in the Discipline of Physiotherapy; Dr Stacy Maddocks, senior lecturer (Physiotherapy); Ms Zandile Shezi, lecturer (Audiology); and Dr Alvin Munsamy, senior lecturer (Optometry).

The team of Health Sciences academics submitted an abstract to present their experiences from Transformation in South Africa’s Higher Education system: Academics in Health Professions Education panel discussion.

Their abstract: Transformation in Health Professions Education Programmes: Challenges, Needs and Opportunities was accepted under the category: Racial Equity in Healthcare and the Learning Environment.

The team presented their talk in a virtual workshop format, sharing their personal and collective experiences within the South African context with academics and academic institutions in Canada also seeking to advance equity, diversity and inclusion within Higher Education spaces.

According to van Staden, the workshop ‘was well received as it mirrors the experiences of Canadian academic institutions and academics of colour as they seek to advance a similar transformation agenda within Higher Education and health science education in the country.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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New Workplace Harassment Code: What You Need to Know

New Workplace Harassment Code: What You Need to Know
UKZN graduate, Ms Nozi Masondo.

On 18 March 2022, Mr Thulas Nxesi, the Minister of Employment and Labour, repealed the Amended Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases in the Workplace and replaced it with the new Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace in terms of section 54 of the Employment Equity Act (EEA).

Code Objective
This code came into effect on 18 March 2022 and aims to create safe workplaces free of harassment by providing guidelines to employers and employees on the elimination, prevention and management of all forms of harassment and in any activity linked to, or arising out of work. The code stipulates the necessary steps that the employer must take to eliminate harassment, including the development and implementation of policies and procedures that would contribute to the creation of harassment-free workplaces.

Who Does it Apply to?
This code applies to all employees and employers in the working environment. The potential perpetrators and victims of harassment include but are not limited to employers, employees, job applicants, volunteers, persons in training including interns, apprentices and persons in learnership, clients, suppliers, contractors and anyone having dealings with a business.

The harassment code applies in any situation in which the employee is working. This includes work-related trips such as training or events and work-related technologies and communications.

The code in particular deals with sexual harassment and racial, ethnic or social origin harassment. Harassment is defined as (a) unwanted conduct which impairs dignity, (b) which creates a hostile or intimidating work environment for one or more employees or has the effect of inducing submission by actual or threatened adverse consequences, (c) also which relates to one or more grounds in respect of which discrimination is prohibited in terms of section 61(1) of the EEA.

Types of Harassment
The harassment code records categories of behaviour that constitute harassment in the workplace including physical, verbal and psychological conduct. These conducts include but are not limited to the act of bullying including cyber bullying, intimidation, unwanted sexual conduct, discriminating and sabotaging.

Employer Duty
Employers have been entrusted with the duty to create a working environment that applies an attitude of zero tolerance towards harassment in the workplace. To achieve this, employers must adopt internal harassment policies and such policies must be communicated to the employees. Employers are also required to develop clear internal guidelines that plainly set out the procedures of dealing with harassment in the workplace. These guidelines should make clear provisions on the formal and informal procedures required when reporting harassment in the workplace.

Employers are required to create a safe space for employees that allows victims of harassment to raise their complaints freely and fearlessly. Employers are obligated to attend to employees’ harassment grievances in a manner that is effective whilst also ensuring that the identities of the persons involved are kept confidential.

Should the employer fail to comply with the abovementioned obligations, they run the risk of being liable, not only under employment law, but under the general principles of vicarious liability for any misconduct committed by the employee that causes harm to others.

Ms Nozi Masondo is a UKZN alumnus with an LLB and LLM in Business Law. She is an Admitted Attorney Practising at Austen Smith Attorneys, Pietermaritzburg.

Photograph: Supplied

*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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UKZN Takes Gold in Historic Win for the Province

UKZN Takes Gold in Historic Win for the Province
The jubilant team and their Coach celebrate taking the gold at the National VSA Club Championships.Click here for isiZulu version

The UKZN Ladies Volleyball Team won gold at the National Volleyball South Africa (VSA) Club Championships 2022 in a historic moment for the province of KwaZulu-Natal and the University.

Team Coach, Mr Marci Harold, was overjoyed at the win and commended the team members for making history. ‘They are all exceptional players who challenged each other to be the very best they can be… that’s why the gold was possible. They put in lots of hard work and the ladies were pushed physically and their skill levels enhanced.’

Harold said the secret of the team’s success was believing in themselves and trusting each other as teammates. ‘They know that each player was capable and able to handle any high-pressure situation.

‘I think this has been my greatest victory. Only after the well-wishes and reading the many messages from across the world did I fully understand the magnitude of the victory. I didn’t know we were the first female team from KZN to win the tournament. That it was our team who achieved this feat makes it even more special - it’s definitely an amazing experience,’ he said.

Relaying her message to her teammates comprising of UKZN students, alumni and members of the community, Team Captain and UKZN alumna, Ms Reyanka Kisten said: ‘To my teammates and coaching staff, you have all become my family. I have played for the UKZN Volleyball Club from 2017 and I can finally say that 2022 is just the start of great things. This is the year of “falling forward” as we will never back down from a challenge and will take on each and everything that is thrown at us together.

‘We are a team that lives with no regrets and always remember you are never alone on that court. I play for you and you play for me. You have not only won my heart, but you have won the hearts of many by inspiring and instilling greatness just as UKZN sets out to do. As Coach would say to each and every one, you are “damn brilliant”. I would like to thank every single one of you as without you, our dream would not have come true. Being your Captain has been an honour thus far and I hope that I can make you as proud as you make me and I will fight for you all always. Winning the Champions Cup has been an achievement of a lifetime for us as we have made history and now it is time to make some more so I say LET’S GO!’

Kisten, who holds a BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management from UKZN, acknowledged Coach Harold for being the ‘backbone of the team’ and helping them overcome one of their greatest hurdles. ‘The most challenging thing that we as players faced during training was the challenge of overcoming our doubts. We played with self-doubt and our coach, Marci Harold, had drilled confidence in us as players. By overcoming this, we were able to unlock more skills and the opportunities on court become unlimited - which allowed us to play at a level we have never played at before. This was the game changer for our team.’

Harold, who is also the Head Coach of the SAPS National Male Volleyball Team, had these words of advice for Team UKZN: ‘Keep striving, keep pushing, keep working hard. Everyone wants to beat the best, so our standards have to be maintained. Our work ethic can never slacken. Getting to the top is hard, but staying there is even harder.’

UKZN Sports Manager, Mr Mark Bashe, congratulated the team on flying the University’s flag high: ‘This is a historic achievement for our UKZN Women’s Volleyball Team to be crowned the South African champions. We continuously encourage our female students to participate in sport at a recreational or a competitive level. It’s good to see that recipients of the UKZN Sports Scholarship have contributed tremendously in achieving this milestone. We will continue to support our team as they prepare for the Southern Africa Volleyball Championships to be held in Zambia in December 2022.’

Harold thanked UKZN Sport for giving him the opportunity to coach its Ladies Volleyball Team which he described as ‘amazing.’ ‘They have been good for my volleyball soul and I want to thank them for invigorating me. We also have an amazing technical team whose work does not go unnoticed… Mrs Roshnee Naicker from UKZN Sport, Mrs Shaheen Moodley and Mrs Joelene Moodley our dedicated team managers and all the others that contributed to this success, thank you. We also have very supportive parents who must be acknowledged.

‘I want to make special mention of our Captain Reyanka, she is an amazing player and leader on and off court. Special mention must also go to Ms Busisiwe Maposa, our most experienced player. She had a fantastic tournament! I’m just glad we were the first team to do it and to make so many people happy. I hope my young ladies know how intensely proud I am of them,’ he said.

Highlights from the Championship included these special awards:

•    Best Setter - Buhle Khuzwayo

•    Best Blocker - Carla Parsons

•    Best Defensive - Keshnee Moodley

The UKZN Male Team also performed very well, pushing through the quarters and proceeding to the semi-finals of the tournament which placed them amongst the top four teams in the country.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Supplied


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Symposium Focusing on DSI Africa Launch

Symposium Focusing on DSI Africa Launch
Data Science Initiative - Africa: Research Training on Harnessing Data Science for Global Health Priorities in Africa launch, Durban, May 2022.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan), USA, and Heidelberg University, Germany hosted a symposium focusing on research training and the harnessing of data science for global health priorities in Africa.

The Data Science Initiative for Africa (DSI-Africa) launch symposium aimed to build data science research capacity in Africa with UKZN as the hub, the four other partners in sub-Saharan Africa being Nigeria (University of Ibadan), Uganda (Makerere University), Tanzania (Muhimbili University), and Ghana (University of Ghana).

This is a National Institute of Health-funded DSI-Africa project whose focus is on Research Training on Harnessing Data Science for Global Health Priorities in Africa with Professor Wafaie Fawazi (Harvard), Professor Mosa Moshabela (UKZN), Professor Till Barginhaissen (Heidelberg) and Professor Henry Mwambi (UKZN) being Multi-Principal Investigators.

Moshabela, UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation (and one of the grant Multi-Principal Investigators), explained the important role the grant will play in building Data Science.

Keynote speaker, Professor Onisimo Mutanga, discussed the importance of Data Science in understanding climate change and predicting its impact on food security. He said in order to improve the sustainable management of resources against climate change impacts, the world must embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) whilst promoting multidisciplinary research and transdisciplinary research.

Professor of Population Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), Fawzi, proposed that Data Science led by African based scientists will be the key for the future as it will address health needs across the continent.

‘Driven by the pace of change in the economy and technology, data-evidence based policy decisions, we need to produce graduates who have a number of inter-related attributes, skills and competencies that help individuals both secure and perform well in employment,’ said UKZN Professor of Statistics, Temesegn Zewotir.

Professor Saloshni Naidoo, UKZN Training Director gave an overview of the training programme and its long-term goals, saying that the integration of short courses, a seminar series and workshops across the domains of health systems strengthening and climate change and nutrition will be used to develop Data Science capacity in Africa.

Barnighausen, Heidelberg Institute of Global Health Director, highlighted the Data Science skills needed to fulfil the promise of digital interventions for health systems: ‘The use of wearable health electronics (human sensors) can measure 750 health variables,’ he said.

‘Data science can help answer critical food system challenges. The use of weather data, satellite imagery and field observation could inform household food production and prevent child malnutrition,’ said Dr Isabel Madzorera from the HSPH.

Dr Candida Moshiro from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) observed the progress of the programme in Building Data science capacity in Tanzania. Students at MUHAS are equipped with skills in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Biomedical Engineering, Data Science and Health Information systems. It was interesting to learn from Moshiro that students at MUHAS are already producing Active Learning (AL) and Machine Learning (ML) end-user products that are being tested to solve real life health problems in Tanzania.

Professor Chris Guure from the University of Ghana said the Computer Science Department of the University of Ghana has developed a Master’s program in Data Science. The programme will run in collaboration with the Department of Physics, Mathematics, Statistics and Biostatics. He further suggested that collaborations with organisations and industries that produce and manage large data will be beneficial for the programme.

In closing the symposium, the Dean of Research in the College of Health Sciences at UKZN, Professor Anil Chuturgoon, assured delegates that the College Research Office will offer support and ensure the success of the programme.

For more information, click here.

Words: Mandisa Shozi and Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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