Digital Pocket Magnifier for Visually Impaired Students

Digital Pocket Magnifier for Visually Impaired Students
UKZN students received pocket magnifiers to assist with daily tasks.

In an effort to promote a more inclusive learning experience for visually impaired students at UKZN, the Disability Support Unit (DSU) has procured Humanware’s Explore 5 pocket-sized video magnifier.

A pocket-sized digital magnifier possessing superior image quality, the hardware will assist students with their spot reading needs, the navigating of daily tasks, and enhance their academic experience when engaging with print material.

The Explore 5 is one of the smallest and lightest five-inch video magnifiers of its kind on the market. It is ideal for spot reading and features high-definition imaging with precise autofocus for up to 22X magnification, plus over 18 enhancement modes to meet individuals’ specific needs. Equipped with a high-performance lithium-ion built-in battery, similar to those utilised in modern mobile phones, the device is versatile and ideal for students requiring a device ready to use on the go. Offering seamless variable magnification and customisable reading contrast, it is ideal for use in a wide range of daily activities. For reading documents, whether standing, reclining in a chair, or sitting at a desk, the device delivers sharp and clear images at the users’ fingertips. With large, bright buttons, the device is perfect for magnifying small print, such as when a student needs to read product and prescription labels. Its portability and ergonomic design makes it an ideal portable companion even beyond the classroom setting.

Through the generous funding of Health Care International, secured by fundraising efforts of the UKZN Foundation, the DSU was able to procure 10 of these premium devices, which normally retail for about R8 000.

DSU Independence trainers, Mrs Margie Naidoo (Durban campuses) and Mr Derrick Munyai (Pietermaritzburg campus) distributed the devices to three students on the Howard College campus, two students on the Edgewood campus, two students on the Westville campus, and three students on the Pietermaritzburg campus. They also provided initial orientation and guidance on the operation of the device.

Ms Nosipho Ntuli, a first-year Bachelor of Social Science student based on the Howard College campus, said: ‘The magnifier I received has really helped me a lot. It is easy for me to read, especially while working on my laptop and computer because I am able to connect it to my computer and enlarge documents, change it to a colour scheme that is less harsh for my eyes and while text can appear pixelated at times, the device allows one to smooth the edges and make it easier to read. The fact that I can even save photos of my readings on the device and apply a custom colour scheme whenever necessary is incredibly brilliant.’

Mr Philani Sithole, a second-year Bachelor of Social Science student based on the Pietermaritzburg campus added: ‘I am really thankful for receiving this device. It is helping me to read many things I was unable to such as textbooks with small print, price tags, receipts from stores and airtime vouchers.’

Certainly, the device will benefit students significantly and holistically by enhancing their independence and equitable access to information.

Words: Ashley Subbiah

Photographs: Supplied


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Southern African Association of Health Educationalists Award for Medical Science Master’s Researcher

Southern African Association of Health Educationalists Award for Medical Science Master’s Researcher
Dr Leanthea Enoch.Click here for isiZulu version

Clinical skills tutor at the UKZN Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, Dr Leanthea Enoch is the prestigious winner of the Southern African Association of Health Educationalists (SAHHE) Award 2022.

SAHHE is an association of health sciences educators from South African universities, NGOs and government and private sectors. It aims on improving the quality of teaching and learning in health sciences education so as to enhance the delivery of high-quality, affordable and sustainable healthcare to South Africans in both the public and private sectors.

Enoch won the oral presentation category for her Masters of Medical Science research presentation titled: Accessing Medical Students’ Ability to Bridge the Theory Practice Gap in Clinical Skills Following Online Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Her supervisor, UKZN Clinical Skills Co-ordinator and Lecturer, Dr Reina Abraham congratulated Enoch saying: ‘Dr Enoch has conducted her study with a lot of enthusiasm and dedication as she is committed to enhancing the clinical training of our students. The study explored innovative changes provided to an online clinical skills curriculum during the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Enoch’s study highlights the value and importance of a blended learning strategy in the undergraduate medical education programme with the need to incorporate a digital curriculum that uses varied instructional designs and assessments to support traditional teaching methods. 

Her experience in the health sciences field started with a Bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy at the former University of Durban-Westville (now UKZN). She holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Anaesthesia from the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa and is currently completing her Master’s in Medical Science through UKZN whilst working as an Anaesthetist at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital.

Words: Mandisa Shozi

Photograph: Supplied


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Mob Justice: An Injustice or a Solution for the Helpless?

Mob Justice: An Injustice or a Solution for the Helpless?
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Mob justice occurs when people or groups feel more endangered as crime levels rise. It is exacerbated by growing assumptions that the authorities are unwilling or unable to suppress crime. Civilians’ faith in the police is low, laying the foundation for the growth of mob justice. In 2021, 471 people were hospitalised due to mob violence, with 23 dying - a 5% mortality rate over a period of 10 months (Heywood, 2022). The frequency of mob attacks on suspects in South Africa is of great concern to justice stakeholders and South African communities.

Mob aggression is more destructive and aggressive than individual action. According to Bello (2020), a group of people with identical goals, whether harmful or not, will commit heinous deeds without regard for the implications for their personal safety and security. Justice has become a more personal battle for South Africans, leaving plenty of room for error, as due processes are not considered.

Gillespie (2013) notes that township communities feel that the police do not address issues and that reporting crimes may result in the criminal walking free. However, mob justice results in the impoverishment of innocent victims’ families. In an ideal world, serving time in prison would be the preferable way to provide justice to innocent individuals and their families. However, this could exert pressure on an already overburdened criminal justice system.

The killing of Bolt driver Mr Abongile Mafalala carries undertones of racism as it occurred within a Coloured community. However, it needs to be examined from a broader perspective as vigilantism is motivated by an array of factors. In many communities, mob justice has become the trusted “language” to communicate a rejection of crime. It is fuelled by anger, hatred, or dislike of a certain group of people and in some instances rumours which identify “suspects” who are in fact innocent.

Mob justice can be organised or pre-planned, or spontaneously erupt among a group of passers-by who witness a crime and resolve to punish the suspected culprit. While people should be capable of rational thought rather than willfully joining the mob, they do not always stop to think of the consequences of their participation. This raises the question of morality which dictates that one does not harm others. According to Mpuru (2020), bystanders are afraid to intervene as they themselves might be attacked. Once a mob starts attacking, they do not listen to anyone who is trying to reason with them. Thus, someone who tries to stop the mob could become a victim as he/she is seen as condoning the suspected criminal’s behaviour.

Social media has perpetuated the discourse of mob vengeance by creating “viral content”. It enables public identification of suspects and provides graphic evidence of the punishments meted out. Such punishment aims to harm the “suspect” and to guarantee that the wider public witnesses the punishment and does not repeat the crime. However, the family of the suspect is left in anguish with a lifetime reminder of online social media streams.

While Community Policing Forums (CPFs) have a vital role to play in addressing mob justice this depends on their visibility and effectiveness. In the case of Mafalala, CPF members could have prevented the attack and called the police that are part of the CPF. A call from CPF members should be regarded as urgent by the police. Although communities have lost faith in the police, a better way to handle this case would have been to take Mafalala to the police. No one is allowed to take matters of the law into their own hands.

Bello, T.Y., 2020. Beyond the failing justice system: The emerging confluence of mob justice and the social media in Nigeria. In African Indigenous Knowledges in a Postcolonial World (pp. 183-195). Routledge.

Gillespie, K., 2013. The Context and Meaning of ‘Mob Justice’ in Khayelitsha - Report Prepared for the Khayelitsha Commission: Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Police Inefficiency in Khayelitsha and a Breakdown in Relations between the Community and the Police in Khayelitsha.

Heywood, M., 2022. Death penalty returns to SA through mob murder - with spike in deaths due to blunt force injury, say doctors. 29 May 2022. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-05-29-death-penalty-returns-to-sa-mob-murder-with-spike-deaths-blunt-force-injury-doctors/ (Accessed: 04/07/2022).

Mpuru, L.P., 2020. Narrative accounts of the involvement of victims and perpetrators in mob-justice related incidents: A Limpopo case study (Doctoral dissertation).

Dr Sazelo Mkhize is a senior lecturer in the Discipline of Criminology and Forensic Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His research specialisation is in police culture, victimisation, crime prevention, community violence, as well as school violence.

Ms Khanyisile Berlinda Majola is an emerging researcher who is currently enrolled for a PhD in the Discipline of Criminology and Forensic Studies. She is interested in exploring African culture and its diversification within today’s society, as well as human rights and gender activism.

Photographs: Supplied

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


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Talkative Silence: UKZN’s Sign Language Interpreters and Their Customers

Talkative Silence: UKZN’s Sign Language Interpreters and Their Customers
Deaf graduate Dr Nancy Barker focuses on Sign Language Interpreter Ms Tsholofelo Segatswi while her citation was read at her Graduation ceremony.

It’s Graduation silly season and the sports hall at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is abuzz with glitz and glamour. A sea of gowned graduands face the stage, loved ones grouped in a solid phalanx of pride alongside. As each student takes their turn to kneel before the Chancellor and be capped, the hall erupts in joyous ululation. No sombre ceremony here - the noise is deafening…

Except for one quiet corner onstage. Facing the congregation, Sign Language Interpreter Ms Tsholofelo Segatswi stands neat and petite in a black academic gown, pencil skirt and court shoes. Her colleague Ms Sinethemba Khumalo is in the front row, turned towards her and the academic procession seated onstage. The ladies work in tandem, taking turns to interpret. Eloquently and elegantly their hands speak as the Dean reads out the names and citations. Deaf zoologist Nancy Barker is receiving a PhD, and Segatswi and Khumalo weave their magic.

UKZN’s six fulltime South African Sign Language Interpreters (SASLIs) form a tight-knit, motherly team who lean on one another for support. The hours are long, the engagement intense and the service they offer to their customers - UKZN’s Deaf students - indispensable. Sign Language interpreting is not a job, it’s a calling, says Segatswi. With South African Sign Language (SASL) set to become the country’s 12th official language, they are an increasingly integral cog in the communication wheel.

‘We have become known as a destination university for Deaf students and since 2016 our numbers have literally doubled year on year,’ says Mr Amith Ramballie, Head of UKZN’s Disability Support Unit. The Institution currently has 16 Deaf students using its SASLI services, with no student being turned away. But Ramballie worries about sustainability. Ideally interpreters should function in pairs, working for 20 minutes before swapping as the job is mentally and physically taxing. You have to listen to the message, interpret it and physically use your hands, he says. But on a starting salary of R200 000 a year for an interpreter it boils down to funding. ‘Sadly, we can’t have the number of interpreters that we need to offer the programme that we want.’

Statistics indicate that 4.5% of South Africans are Deaf or hard of hearing. Used by almost one million citizens, SASL is the primary language of South Africa’s Deaf community, although historically this community does not form a single group and many dialects exist. Whilst some - usually those who are hard of hearing - might not label themselves as Deaf, others regard deafness as part of their cultural identity rather than a disability, referring to themselves as big D “Deaf”. It is this group who are more likely to use a visual language like SASL.

Built on linguistic rules just like any other spoken language, study options are available to learn SASL if not one’s mother tongue. The Universities of the Free State, North West, Witwatersrand and the Durban University of Technology (DUT) all offer courses. Content is similar across the institutions and covers the history and development of sign language and Deaf culture, as well as the principles, methods and techniques of communicating with the Deaf in SASL, and practical training. ‘Learning Sign Language is difficult,’ says SASLI Ms Nokuthula Khumalo. ‘When I chose it as a two-year module at DUT it was my first real exposure to Deaf people. It was not easy physically or mentally. You have to learn to use movement. Mentally, it is a second language for your brain. The grammar is unique with subject and verb back to front. So, “What is your name?” is signed as “Your name what?”’ Khumalo learnt the alphabet first, then spelling, then sentences and signs, improving through practice and research.

None of UKZN’s SASLI team have close family contacts who are Deaf - rather, it was an early fascination with the talkative silence of Deaf communication that lured them into their chosen career. ‘My little brother had a Deaf friend who he played soccer with,’ remembers Ms Sinethemba Khumalo. ‘I was intrigued by how he used his hands to talk to people.’ For Ms Londeka Ntshangase, it was watching Deaf people in her community signing to each other that sparked her interest.

SASL interpreters can apply for accreditation through the South African Translators’ Institute (SATI) without having completed any formal training in SASL. The process involves a fee and exam in simultaneous interpretation, but is not a prerequisite for employment as the pool of high-level sign language interpreters in South Africa is small. Job opportunities include working in social services, health care, religious institutions, the courts, Parliament, television corporations and Deaf schools. Freelancing is also popular.

Higher Education interpretation is a specialised field. ‘Accredited interpreters would battle to hold a candle to ours,’ says Dr Ashley Subbiah, manager of UKZN’s SASLI services. ‘New interpreters take a year to get up to speed.’ At UKZN interpretation is primarily academic-related and the extensive number of subjects, fields and dynamics involved makes the level of engagement intense. The use of different words that share a similar sign in the same sentence can also be confusing (try sign social, socialising and sociology all at once!) ‘The challenge that we have is that SASL is entering a new era,’ Ms Nokuthula Khumalo explains. ‘The Deaf community is continually integrating new words. There are lots of signs and they grow all the time. At University, there is a sign language gap when it comes to course content. We use finger spelling for names and when we don’t know a word. And we sit with our students and create “code” signs for technical terms and to avoid spelling the word.’ Currently, UKZN’s SASLIs are involved in an ongoing project to build an online “sign-bank” whereby academic terminology developed and agreed to by students and interpreters can be stored, accessed and shared by all.

Ms Philile Shezi is one of three Deaf Bachelor of Education students at UKZN. Braided hair neatly wound up in a bun, a whimsical fringe tickling her forehead, she sits quietly on the couch, hands raised before her. They start dancing as she signs her name. ‘I was born Deaf,’ she says. ‘I started to be exposed to learning sign language at school because my family could not communicate with me using SASL. It was quite challenging to learn the language, but having supportive friends made things better.’ Shezi initially attended a mainstream school but found it hard because she could not read. Her family took her to KwaVulindlebe School for the Deaf and then to KwaTimba School for the Deaf. Her sister helped her with her university application.

Ms Nonkazimulo Lembede looks like any other student, dressed in ubiquitous blue jeans and t-shirt. Also, an undergraduate student, she is enrolled for a Bachelor of Social Science degree. Her face alights with expression as her hands start to speak: ‘I was born hearing and later became Deaf,’ she explains, a shy smile dimpling her cheeks. ‘I was enrolled at a mainstream school but I don’t recall much about my schooling until I moved to a Deaf school and learnt sign language. That is when I started learning about Deaf culture and other Deaf related matters.’ Lembede’s support structure includes an interpreter, note-taker and her sister who is also a student on the same campus. This has made blending into an academic environment easier.

Each SASL interpreter at UKZN is assigned two students. Their job is to interpret every class that their students attend - a challenge that makes the average day extend long past normal working hours and involve intense preparation of lecture content. ‘You cannot go to a lecture unprepared,’ says Segatswi. ‘You have to render the message faithfully.’ The relationship between interpreter and student is necessarily close. ‘Of course, a bond between you and your student is inevitable,’ says Khumalo. ‘You keep the same student throughout their degree so you need to build mutual understanding and respect. The student gets used to you and your style of interpreting.’ Does this close bond lead to a blurring of lines between professional and personal? ‘At first, you do get drawn in personally,’ she admits. ‘But you learn not to overextend yourself, you learn to draw a line. You have to.’

Shezi sits in the front row of a full lecture theatre. Her assigned interpreter, Sinethemba Khumalo, sits facing her a couple of metres away, next to the lecturer so that Shezi can watch her hands, the lecturer and the screen projector all at once. Next to her sits her “note-taker”, a paid assistant who takes notes on her behalf, which will then be used to debrief with afterwards. Deaf students on the government’s NSFAS student-funding scheme are given an allowance for a note-taker, who can be anyone from a postgraduate student needing extra income to a handy family member.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown affected mainstream students and the way universities operate, so too has it brought major changes to the relationship between SASL interpreters and their Deaf charges. Online lectures have proven both a blessing and a bane. Prior to virtual instruction interpreters had minimal access to materials before a lecture. Now they are added as teachers to UKZN’s online learning management system so that they can see all learning materials at any time. Recorded lectures such as PowerPoint presentations with audio are encoded with SASL using a screen recording software. For live online lectures, Deaf students can use the Zoom gallery view feature, which displays a split screen of content, lecturer and interpreter simultaneously.

Shezi prefers online lectures because of the flexibility they bring in terms of time management, while Lembede says she is happy as she is shy and doesn’t like crowded spaces. But SASLI Nokuthula Khumalo cautions that the online world has its drawbacks. ‘With Deaf students their needs evolve, but with online classes there is no face-to-face debriefing.’ And while Zoom makes it easy to accommodate students it is draining on the interpreters, who have to keep listening, interpreting and signing for up to two hours without a break (the industry norm is 20 minutes). Moreover, the universal tendency to keep one’s video off when listening to an online lecture means that SASLIs can’t tell if their student is staying focused. ‘If the student doesn’t take the initiative to use the chat facility, you are unable to interact with them. You just have to go on and on and on ….’

‘SASL interpreting is not a job; it is a commitment,’ says Subbiah. ‘Sign language is always a one-to-one service. The team will never tell you how stretched they are. They do the work in the background because they signed up for it and are passionate about it. These interpreters are the real unsung heroes.’

With President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet approving the Constitutional Eighteenth Amendment Bill for public comment on 25 May 2022, SASL is set to become South Africa’s 12th official language. ‘More and more Deaf students are going to enrol at universities,’ says Subbiah. ‘The need for SASLIs is only going to increase.’

So, what are the highs and the lows of this silent profession? Balanced against the long hours, preparation and intense concentration are rich rewards: the skilled magic of communication; interesting academic subject matter; exposure to new dialects from Deaf students who come from different schools; witnessing an overwhelmed newcomer blossom into an independent final year student; encouraging hearing classmates to interact with their Deaf peers. And absolutely best of all? Seeing your student graduate, UKZN’s SASLIs agree.

At UKZN’s Graduation ceremony, Deaf graduate Nancy Barker stands tall and erect, centre stage. She cuts a dashing figure in her billowing red gown, academic hood draped over her arm. This is the proudest day in Barker’s life, the culmination of years of focus and determination. Dr Barker receives her PhD for work done tracking the movement patterns of lions and spotted hyenas in Namibia and Botswana. As her citation is read out she focuses on Segatswi, whose hands weave through the air in constant mesmeric motion. Barker watches - and listens - intently.

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Supplied


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Humanities Academic Forges Partnership with Polish Universities

Humanities Academic Forges Partnership with Polish Universities
Professor Oliver Mtapuri. Click here for isiZulu version

In pursuit of UKZN’s internationalisation agenda, Professor Oliver Mtapuri of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies recently visited two Polish universities.

Also, on the trip were Durban University of Technology academics, Dr Erasmus Mnguni and Dr Andrea Giampiccoli.

The visit to the University of Marie Currie and Kazimierz Wieki University was organised by Professor Anna Dluzewska, who is part of the two universities.

Said Mtapuri: ‘We received a red-carpet welcome from Professor Dluzewska and her team, inclusive of media. We held productive meetings that explored opportunities for collaborative co-operation in areas such as joint research projects, co-supervision and staff and student mobility. We had the privilege to meet University of Marie Currie Rector/Vice-Chancellor, Professor Radoslaw Dobrowolski who offered support for these initiatives.’

At Kazimierz Wieki University, collaborative opportunities that are part of the Erasmus+ programme were explored. Head of International Relations, Ms Aniela Bekier-Jasinska said: ‘International exchanges is where we have our greatest strength for future collaborations between the three universities. Many of our students are involved in practical internship programmes in Poland and abroad under its international student exchange programme.’

Mtapuri together with the team also engaged with South African Ambassador to Poland, Ms Nomvula Mngomezulu who spoke about enhancing trade between South Africa and Poland that involves industry players such as South African tourism, business chambers and others to strengthen the arrangements. She also strongly supports initiatives between universities.

Dean and Head of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, Professor Ernest Khalema acknowledged the efforts led by Mtapuri in driving the School and the University’s internationalisation strategy with Polish universities.

‘We have so much to learn from each other and share with former eastern bloc nations on nation-building, having gone through transitions to democracies. For just societies to thrive for the benefit of underserved communities, we require such engagements and exchanges. I am glad that we were able to reconnect as a consortium of universities in Durban to cement some much-needed footprints in eastern Europe. We are looking forward to the proposed MoUs and further institutional engagements,’ he said.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Humanities Students Part of Exchange Programme to Amsterdam

Humanities Students Part of Exchange Programme to Amsterdam
Postgraduate students, Ms Pretty Abraham (left) and Mr Siwakhile Ngcobo.Click here for isiZulu version

Two postgraduate students, Ms Pretty Abraham and Mr Siwakhile Ngcobo from the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics are set to embark on an international exchange programme to the Free University in Amsterdam as part of Bridging Gaps, an initiative of the Centre for Contextual Biblical Interpretation.

The two will embark on the programme in September.

The Bridging Gaps programme enables students from Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East to work on their own research for a period of three months under the auspices of a supervisor of the Protestant Theological University (PThU) or Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). During the programme, students are exposed to Dutch society and church life together with other Theology students from all around the world.

Abraham is a master’s graduate in the History of Christianity programme. She did important master’s research work on the role of memory and religion in the context of gender-based violence (GBV) in conflict settings.

Ngcobo is a PhD candidate in the Gender and Religion programme and is currently developing his PhD work thinking about the process of masculinity construction and media in the Pentecostal Tradition.

‘I applied for the programme because it exposes students to the use of the bible in different cultural contexts. I get to be a student in an intercultural setting which is exciting and get to expand on my theological knowledge. It is a great opportunity to enhance my research project at the backdrop of contextual theology. Exchange programmes offer students an opportunity for networking and engagement with students from different contexts, and an opportunity to gain transferrable skills for career advancement,’ said Ngcobo.

Added Abraham: ‘This opportunity will give me access to research resources and a diversity of advisors and conversation partners that might enhance my research. To other students, grab every opportunity that you come across. One way or the other, it will enhance your academic prospects and connect you to a community of people who become valuable resources in the long run.’

Said Professor Charlene van der Walt, UKZN Gender and Religion programme Head and Ujamaa Centre Deputy Director: ‘The collaboration between the School and the Free University of Amsterdam through the Bridging Gaps programme has created a number of creative possibilities for exchange between the two institutions that have mutually benefited staff and students connected to both institutions. We stand in a long legacy of creative and dynamic partnership that has impacted students, staff and faith communities both in the Dutch and a variety of African contexts.’

This year, as part of the exchange, van der Walt and Rev Sithembiso Zwane of the Ujamaa Centre, will form part of the teaching team in the Bridging Gaps programme and will share learnings on Contextual Bible Reading developed from within the Centre.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Hosts Virtual Pan African City Symposium

UKZN Hosts Virtual Pan African City Symposium
The College of Humanities hosted a three-day symposium titled: The Pan African City: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.Click here for isiZulu version

The School of Built Environment and Development Studies in the College of Humanities recently hosted a three-day symposium titled: The Pan African City: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow which analysed the co-production of urban spaces that require recognition, acceptance, and guidance of conventional and unconventional (planned and unplanned settlements) space to create inclusive urban environments.

The plenary session was facilitated by Housing senior lecturer, Professor Lovemore Chipungu who also serves as SARChI Chair for Inclusive Cities. Other panellists were Professor Sijekula Mbanga (Nelson Mandela University), Professor Maria K D Marshall (University of Maryland, USA) and Professor Coleman A Jordan (Morgan State University, USA).

Chipungu noted that throughout his career as a practitioner, researcher and academic, the African city has been the mainstay of his focus. ‘The African city is at (a) cross-roads. It is abounding with resources, some of which are yet to be exploited and on the other hand, it is a distressed city arising out of multiple social economic and environmental challenges. This symposium affords us a platform to discuss these issues in building our cities and to come up with long-term and sustainable solutions,’ he said.

Marshal indicated that the University of Maryland’s mission is to advance excellence in education scholarship and professional practice towards just and resilient communities, promoting social justice, cultural diversity, resource conservation and economic opportunity through excellence in architectural design, urban planning, historic preservation and real estate development.

‘One of our four strategic commitments and principles is to engage communities across the region and internationally in crafting environments for all to create diverse and built environment discourse and action. This is in line with the University’s strategic plan,’ she said.

Mbanga discussed the current water shortage crisis faced by residents of Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape as well as the recent KwaZulu-Natal disastrous floods. He said that there are existing development programmes that have been put in place to ensure safe and secure cities. ‘We are committed to ensuring that Africa has a safe and resilient city. As a university, we will work with all the key players in this conference. We understand the current situation and are seeking new approaches,’ he said.

Jordan revealed that ‘Morgan State University is committed to move ahead with the Pan African Heritage World Museum.’ ‘We are currently working on this and partnering with the African University College of Communications (AUCC),’ he said.

Professor Pholoho Morojele, College of Humanities Dean of Research, said the symposium was an eye-opener to possibilities of creating the best African cities. ‘It will also serve as a basis for more collaborations between different organisations in creating a sustainable African city,’ he said.

Mrs Elisabeth Glenn, Baltimore, USA County Department of Planning former Deputy Director, noted that the Pan African City project can only be achieved through the power of relationships and the desire to build a better future for African diaspora communities. ‘Ultimately, the effort is about empowering people to make decisions about their own futures through deliberative and thoughtful approaches. I hope it will become a long-term institutional effort that builds on our strengths, leverages our incredible basic knowledge, and promotes transatlantic co-operation to build resilient, sustainable, and vital communities,’ she said.

You can watch the symposium at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjNmmM6mGVU.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Image: Shutterstock


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UKZN Academics Part of Teaching Advancements at Universities Programme

UKZN Academics Part of Teaching Advancements at Universities Programme
From left is Professor Sine Duma, Dr Angela James and Professor Ruth Hoskins.

College Deans of Teaching and Learning, Professors Sine Duma (College of Health Sciences) and Ruth Hoskins (College of Humanities) participated as fellows in the third cohort of the Teaching Advancements at Universities (TAU3) Fellowship Programme held at the Karridene Hotel in KwaZulu-Natal.

The TAU3 Fellowship Programme is a nation-wide intervention aimed at advancing teaching quality and the professionalisation of teaching and learning in the public Higher Education sphere.

One of the expectations in being awarded the title of TAU Fellow is the completion of a research project aimed at allowing TAU participants to develop their capabilities to engage in and insert themselves as change agents, individually and collectively, in building a socially just Higher Education system.

Previous UKZN TAU fellows, Professor Fatima Suleman, Dr Heidi Matisonn, and Dr Mulemwa Akombewa were also invited to reflect on and share their experience as TAU fellows during the final session of the TAU3 programme.

Other guest speakers from UKZN included Dr Angela James (School of Education) who presented a workshop on community engagement and Professor Rozena Maart (School of Social Sciences) who discussed knowledge production and creation in an era of transformation and decolonisation in South African Higher Education.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Academic Part of Metaethics and Artificial Intelligence Workshop in The Netherlands

UKZN Academic Part of Metaethics and Artificial Intelligence Workshop in The Netherlands
Professor David Spurrett speaks at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

Professor David Spurrett of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics was recently an invited participant at a workshop on Metaethics and Artificial Intelligence at the Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands.

The workshop focused on problems relating possibilities of building artificially intelligent agents that behave ethically, and how to verify whether attempts to do so have succeeded.

Participants came from across Europe, Australia and the United States, and from disciplines including Computer Science, Technology and Innovation and Philosophy as well as industry. Most of the workshop discussions focused on problems relating to currently existing or possible forms of artificially intelligent agents, but some of the conversations turned to the more speculative problems relating to ethical behaviour by “super-intelligent” agents in the future.

Spurrett was invited because workshop organisers regard his work on the evolution of agency as making a valuable contribution to the discussion of ethical artificial intelligence. His contribution focused on that work, and on how it might be extended to shed light on the evolution of ethical agency as well as the development of ethical agency in artificial systems built by humans.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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Construction Plans for UKZN Student Residential Facility Underway at Emmaus Hospital

Construction Plans for UKZN Student Residential Facility Underway at Emmaus Hospital
A delegation of SNPH and M Projects staff with leadership from Emmaus District Hospital toured the hospital to identify a site to construct a new residential facility for UKZN Medical students.Click here for isiZulu version

A delegation of Professional Services Staff at UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health (SNPH) accompanied by representatives from M Projects - a company that specialises in instant mobile space solutions - visited Emmaus District Hospital, Winterton, on Wednesday, 6 July.

The visit saw a meeting between the delegation and hospital management - led by hospital CEO, Ms Ndileka Mzizi - during which space for a new residential facility to accommodate UKZN students deployed for rural clinical training was identified during a tour (of the hospital). M Projects is tasked with installing the student park home.

All logistical arrangements associated with the installation of a four single bedroom residential were discussed and points of clarity were sought and explained.

Both Mzizi and Dr Mampho Mochaoa, acting Medical Manager at the hospital, expressed the hospital’s gratitude for the establishment of a “home away from home” for Medical students in training. There was also a suggestion that this residence be extended to nurses in training and other disciplines for the betterment and support of healthcare systems within rural communities.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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