Speech and Language Pathology Department hosts Linguistic Diversity Programme

Speech and Language Pathology Department hosts Linguistic Diversity Programme
At the symposium are (from left) Dr Caroline Bowen, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, Dr Thandeka Mdlalo, Ms Octavia Tembe, Dr Penelope Flack and Professor Mershen Pillay

The Discipline of Speech-Language Pathology at UKZN’s Westville Campus held a Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Practice Symposium recently.

Addressing the gathering, Academic Leader, Dr Penelope Flack, explained how standardised testing by speech language pathologists (SLPs) in South Africa was both linguistically and culturally biased. ‘As SLPs we are ethically obliged to provide testing that is culturally sensitive and which is carefully planned to take into account cultural diversity and avoid stigmatisation. Diversity research typically refers to minority groups but in South Africa the opposite applies which poses an enormous challenge.’

Dr Caroline Bowen of Macquarie University in Australia, who is also an Honorary Research Fellow in SLP at UKZN, discussed multilingualism and how the requirements of children with speech sound disorders needed to be addressed. Condensing a November 2013 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) short course she presented with colleagues in Chicago in the United States, Bowen outlined the best international practice guidelines for working with children with speech and sound disorders as well as ways of identifying practical pathways to improve international practices.

‘Children with speech sound disorders have a combination of difficulties and we need to address these. In terms of cultural competence, there is a linguistic barrier between clients and patients. Clinical assessment has a very narrow focus and very little is documented of good clinical practices,’ she said.

‘Working with children in a clinical environment is difficult and children need to be engaged with familiar cultural contexts. Speech language pathologists have the power to continually change approaches to practice by adopting recommended strategies that will ultimately produce better results.’

Bowen ran a workshop titled Sound Reasoning, in which she discussed data-driven, theoretically sound techniques and approaches SLPs could implement when working with children with speech sound disorders.

Dr Julie Marshall of the Manchester Metropolitan University, who is also an Honorary Senior Lecturer at UKZN, delivered her presentation via Skype. It was titled: Service Users’ Explanatory Models about Language – Why do They Matter and What do They Tell Us?

‘Explanatory models can be described as the process by which illness is patterned, interpreted and treated. Speech language pathologists around the world try to find models that are competent, make a good service and take into account the vital context of a patient with communication disabilities. One needs to take into account the society the patient lives in and the dominant religion, culture, demographics and personality of the individual.’

Marshall also spoke about a study conducted in north-west England where play and language development were seen to be delayed in certain children while parents expected nursery schools to take on the responsibility for the child’s speech and language development. ‘The role of language in the early years is very important as there is a risk of negative outcomes because children with primary speech and language impairment form a significant group in which there is a high prevalence of individuals with special educational needs.’

A recent graduate of the Speech-Language Pathology Discipline’s PhD programme, Dr Thandeka Mdlalo, spoke about the assessment of South African English Additional Language (EAL) speakers from an indigenous language and cultural background. ‘South Africa is a multilingual society where language is influenced by culture. Children’s responses are influenced by their world views and cultural backgrounds as well.’

With English being the dominant language in South Africa, children - who came from homes where their mother tongue was not English - often experienced problems learning English when entering a learning environment such as an English medium school. ‘There are many linguistic and cultural barriers and one of the most commonly used tools by Speech Language Pathologists is the Renfrew Action Picture Test (RAPT). These images are used to screen children’s language based on a specific set of questions about the picture stimuli,’ said Mdlalo.

‘In the South African context, children interpret what they see in the images differently to the western interpretation. Picture stimuli such as those used in the RAPT are created based on American or United Kingdom contexts so they should be Africanised/localised.’

Professor Nonhlanhla Mkhize from the UKZN School of Applied Human Sciences spoke about Ethics: An African/Indigenous Centred Perspective.

Mkhize discussed the practice of ethics and how in ethics literature there was not one universal ethical rule. ‘Ethics influence a person through their concept of the world. In the western concept, humans are autonomous and contained within themselves. In relational boundaries, ethics is a separation between the private and professional. Privacy and confidentiality strengthens the boundaries and enhances agency.’

However, said Mkhize, from an African perspective, ethics were viewed in terms of balance. ‘If there is no equilibrium, it needs to be restored. Children need to be assessed appropriately so that they are not disadvantaged. As SLPs, we must respect the values and world views of the locals, because ethics is about meaning making. It is a process of understanding and reflecting on what somebody has to study.’

An Associate Professor in the Discipline of Speech-Language Pathology at UKZN, Professor Mershen Pillay, spoke on Concepts of Culture and also chaired a lively panel discussion at the end of the day which attracted a high level of audience participation.

‘The way we address culture is linked to the Post-Colonial world we live in,’ said Pillay. ‘There are many underlying issues in relation  to culture, race and language that we need to think about to refine our position as practitioners. We often develop ourselves in the context of other countries’ guidelines and contexts. How can our competency be judged and rated globally and locally?

‘Due to 80% South African SLPs being in private practice, a large part of our community  can only be changed by a small percentage of people. There are “black holes” in society with those left outside of health care.’

-        Zakia Jeewa

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Rural Health under the Spotlight at Clinical Conference

Rural Health under the Spotlight at Clinical Conference
Participants at the Students Clinical Conference in Durban.

“Rethinking Rural Health Towards a Health Care Revolution” was the theme of the 2014 Students Clinical Conference held at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine. 

With major staff problems outside cities and specialised hospitals with no specialist doctors, UKZN is focusing on assisting by creating teaching centres of excellence in rural areas. 

‘By refreshing our curriculum, students shall be trained to work outside Durban and Pietermaritzburg with staff helping to train students in these areas,’ said Professor Richard Hift, Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, who welcomed students and guests to the Conference. 

‘We will massively increase the time students spend outside modern hospitals and they will be graded on how they can function as young doctors,’ said Hift. 

Dr Pranitha Pillay of the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) Rural Health Advocacy Programme, an international medical humanitarian organisation which works in about 70 countries providing medical care, spoke on Social Justice and Student Roles as Future Doctors.  

Pillay explained that ‘there is a superficial understanding to helping make a difference. As students, you belong to a proud tradition of doctors in South Africa and you want to provide a service that has quality and you want to draw patients to healthcare, not push them away. As a doctor, you should put yourself in the shoes of the people you serve. You have to help instead of turning them away. One doesn’t become a doctor to serve oneself.’  

Pillay, who has worked in areas such as Cape Town, Lesotho, India, South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Libya, left a very strong message with the students. ‘Your actions are defined by your inaction. As health care workers, you have to speak out. Our solutions need to revolutionise the issues for the patient and not the doctor. The system needs to be altered to take patients into account. You need to account to those patients who need the assistance more.’ 

Director of the Centre of Rural Health, Dr Bernard Gaede, addressed students on how the rural health agenda was now becoming a site for innovation. ‘Rural areas are often looked at as places that are backward, but with certain sites having reached their 2011 targets in terms of ARV rollout in 2007, this proves that they are not as far behind as people think. 

‘Those in rural areas experience real problems and they are able to function and make things better. Doctors in rural areas are able to improve care and bend certain rules to get positive and quick results.’ 

Dr Mosa Moshabela of the Department of Rural Health at UKZN, said medical research needed to translate what was happening in the real world. ‘Universities used to be places of philosophy and thinking, however that has changed. Coming from a community but not wanting to return there as a doctor to assist is usually the attitude of young medical students. Medical education shouldn’t disconnect students from the needs of people and their responsibilities. You have to experience the shocking realities of the world as a doctor otherwise it will be difficult to relate to reality.’ 

Moshabela also explained to the students how medical education needed to respect the relationship between society and health care.  

Mr Dumisani Gumede from Umthombo for the Support and Recruitment in Rural Health spoke about integration into the rural community and how by working closely with a group of people it was possible to get to know patients personally and be able to work closely with them. ‘A person working in a rural area can access and better the quality of life for the people living there and as students you need to remember that when entering a rural area, you should want to leave the community in a better state than the one you found them in. In rural areas, you get the chance to learn and experience more, as compared to a standard hospital in an urban area.’ 

Mr Mfowethu Zungu, Senior General Manager and Project Manager for the National Health Insurance Policy (NHIP) at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, spoke about the National Health Insurance Policy and its accommodation in rural facilities. ‘As part of our social accountability, the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) defines that people must have access to health services. Most health outcomes will need to be achieved by 2015. The next wave of targets will depend on how countries succeed in universal coverage, as discussed by the WHO,’ said Zungu.  

The Clinical Conference was also a platform for students to present research. 

“Inequitable Access to Health Care in Rural and Urban Settings” was the title of the winning presentation by first year Medical student, Ms Joseline Norman, who won the Student floating trophy and a R 1000 voucher. 

Mr Bahle Tshoba was placed second with his presentation on “Isoniazid Preventive Therapy Implementation” and third was Mr Ndumiso Belunga with a presentation titled: “Implementation of the Principles of Primary Health Care in South Africa”. 

Zakia Jeewa

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UKZN at the Cutting Edge of Education

UKZN at the Cutting Edge of Education
Guests from schools and UKZN staff at an information event at UKZN.

School principals and educators from Durban and surrounding areas attended an event titled: “UKZN at the Cutting Edge of Education” held at the UNITE Building on the Howard College campus. 

The Director of Postgraduate and Research Capacity Development, Dr Nthabiseng Motsemme, welcomed everyone saying ‘we stand out as a University that attracts students and postgraduates from all over the African continent as well as globally as we continue to strive for excellence’. 

The Executive Director of the Corporate Relations Division, Mr Lesiba Seshoka, said: ‘As a university, UKZN is a brand that not only provides guidance to students about their career choices but also encourages them to study hard at school so they are able to achieve the standards the Institution is well known for.’ 

UKZN is among the top five universities in South Africa and is in the top two percent on the World University Ranking list. 

Seshoka said standards at UKZN would be maintained and improved and students needed to work hard to reach those standards. ‘As a university of quality education, we want to be taken seriously.’

Ms Susan Wilson, a PhD Astronomy and Cosmology student, spoke to the audience about the exciting projects UKZN was currently involved in and how a degree in Astrophysics or Cosmology could equip a student for a wide array of job opportunities in academia, teaching, industry, education and theorist/observations work. 

Wilson also spoke about a variety of exciting new projects the Astrophysics, Cosmology Research Unit (ACKRU)  was currently involved in including MeerKAT, the South Pole Experiment and the Square Kilometre Array.

‘With UKZN having produced the first two Black Oncologists, the fastest solar energy-run car, a special pectin dermal patch for providing insulin into the body and a Marine Centre for the Howard College campus, UKZN is truly at the cutting edge of education,’ said Professor Kriben Pillay, Dean of Teaching and Learning at the College of Law and Management Studies. 

Pillay gave a compelling and radical demonstration of how the brain works, using flash cards and playing cards to demonstrate the strange and fascinating things the human brain does in everyday life.  

‘Students need to have a sense of adventure and curiosity when entering university and not just be solely focused on high grades,’ said Pillay. ‘Their interests need to be sparked because in a rapidly changing world, the university promotes critical thinking. Studying is an exploration and flexibility of the mind. We rarely get our children to think and wonder and become curious. 

‘A quality education that leads to a productive livelihood is the ultimate opportunity for students to interact and grow in an environment that stimulates their minds and helps go on to do great things in the real world.’


Zakia Jeewa

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Educators benefit from UKZN’s Winter School

Educators benefit from UKZN’s Winter School
Participants at the Teachers’ Winter School.

The Teaching and Learning Unit at the College of Law and Management Studies recently hosted a three-day Teachers’ Winter School aimed at enhancing educational methodologies in the education fraternity.

The Winter School is part of the College’s ongoing development initiatives aimed at strengthening the relationship between the University and the education sector through the sharing of knowledge and skills development to ensure that pupils are well prepared for the transition from high school to tertiary level.

Generous sponsorship from the Citi Foundation ensured the workshop was provided at no cost to the educators.

UKZN academic and Winter School co-ordinator, Dr Angela James, said the initiative aimed to cultivate quality educators who in turn would deliver quality education to pupils thus improving their opportunity for access to Higher Education and the province’s pass rate.

‘It is incumbent on teacher professional development institutions to initiate and engage teachers from quintile 1 and 2 schools. Feedback received from the teachers really indicates the depth of this need,’ said James.

‘I have learnt so much from this workshop which has led me to realise that it is because of us educators that learners fail. We need more workshops of this nature and more often, perhaps twice a year, because there is so much that we can learn from one another as educators.’

The workshop covered professional development issues and subject specialisation development, including literacy aspects across the curriculum.

The workshop allowed the educators to:

*           Reflect on pedagogical approaches and practices to inform the quality of teaching and learning

*           Extend their subject specialisation knowledge, skills and attitudes to teaching English, Mathematics and Accounting

*           Develop knowledge about and inform on the impact of the EMS Winter School that the Grades 11 and 12 learners attended and provide constructive feedback

*           Explore and develop their professional identities and skills in the use of a computer, leadership and learning strategies 

*           Inspire teachers to study further at UKZN.

Another Teachers Workshop is being planned for the September school holidays.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Computer Science Lecturer Receives Outstanding Reviewer Award

Computer Science Lecturer Receives Outstanding Reviewer Award
UKZN’s Dr Aderemi Adewumi.

Dr Aderemi Oluyinka Adewumi of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (SMSCS) has been acknowledged as an Outstanding Reviewer in the annual Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence.  

Adewumi is being recognised for his contributions last year to the Institute for Scientific Information Institution-ranked Kybernetes journal - a publication of the Emerald Publishing Group. 

He is among a select few from Africa to have received the award over the years. 

The award for Outstanding Reviewer is given to peer reviewers in recognition of their dedication to ensuring that the journal’s papers contribute to its reputation as a scholarly, respectable publication and for providing a valuable service to the authors and researchers who submit work to the journal. The advice and effort from these reviewers is vital to the development of researchers.

Kybernetes, the official journal of the UNESCO-recognised World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics (WOSC) and the Cybernetics Society, provides an important medium for the exchange of knowledge and information in cybernetics and systems thinking and seeks to base cybernetics on solid scientific findings. The journal has an interdisciplinary focus, which allows for a view of how cybernetics and systems work in a broad way. 

Aside from being a constant reviewer for many local and International Institute for Scientific Information journals and conferences proceedings, Adewumi has been reviewing papers for the journal which fall into his area of expertise since February 2013.  

Speaking of his work for Kybernetes and its contribution to his own work, Adewumi said: ‘Acting as a peer reviewer helps to improve my trajectory of knowledge and ideas. It sometimes provides an idea of current trends and develops one’s thinking in a specific research area, which serves to directly or indirectly inform personal contribution in that area.’ 

Adewumi hopes to continue as a reviewer for the journal as well as for other journals as long as the articles for review fall within his area of interest and contribute to the body of knowledge of current research in artificial intelligence and its various applications. 

‘Receiving this award is a great inspiration and motivation to do more.  It is also an inspiration to look more closely into further collaboration with Emerald Literati Network and perhaps focus more on publishing in Emerald journals,’ said Adewumi.  

‘It was such a delight to be granted this award,’ said Adewumi. ‘It is good to see that hard work does not go unnoticed or unrewarded, especially in research.  Even when it seems unrecognised, diligence and dedication to research will always speak for the committed researcher sooner or later.’ 

Adewumi will receive his award certificate at a conference later this year.

Christine Cuénod

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PhD Student Achieves Third Place at International Conference in Canada

PhD Student Achieves Third Place at International Conference in Canada
Miss Yaseera Ismail.

PhD student at UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics, Miss Yaseera Ismail, was placed third in an oral competition at the 8th North American International Optical Society of America (OSA) Networking of Students Conference (IONS) in Montréal, Canada. 

The IONS Conference is arranged by students to facilitate networking and learning opportunities for students around the topic of optics and photonics. The Conference comprises presentations from renowned experts in the field, student poster sessions as well as social activities.

UKZN is part of a network of 300 universities around the world which are affiliated to OSA. 

Ismail presented a 15 minute talk on the topic: “The Effects a Simulated Turbulent Medium Imposes on the Quantumness of a Polarisation-based Entangled Photon Source”.  

In order to be considered for a presentation slot in the oral competition, Ismail had to submit her abstract to a panel who determined which abstracts deserved a space in the programme for either a 15 minute presentation or a poster/flash talk. 

Ismail’s presentation was met with a positive response from Conference delegates. 

‘The Conference allowed me the opportunity to interact with others in my field and share ideas,’ said Ismail. ‘As a young scientist who is trying to develop a career, networking and building collaborations are vital. Attending this Conference provided me the opportunity to visit a top research facility where researchers are working in the same line as I am, among various other branches of Physics.’ 

Ismail is currently completing her PhD under the supervision of Professor Fransceso Petruccione in the field of Quantum Information Processing and Communication. Her current research is focused within the branch of quantum communication. 

‘Today we know the manipulation of information is bound only by the laws of Physics and thus information can be characterised, quantified and processed as a physical entity using the basic properties of quantum mechanics,’ said Ismail. 

‘The principle variation between conventional and quantum encryption is the key distribution process. Quantum key distribution encodes the key information into a quantum data carrier that is then transported from one point to another. Practical quantum key distribution systems, although capable of producing provably secure keys, must in it-self be trusted. Quantum entanglement provides this additional layer of security to the systems. 

‘My study deals with constructing and characterising a single photon source and looking at ways to enhance such a system. I also look at the effects of single photons when passed a through simulated turbulent media as this will provide an understanding of the behaviour of the system when performed in the atmosphere. Recently, our research group shifted its focus to a free-space approach to distributing the key within a quantum cryptography system.’ 

Ismail said she was inspired to pursue this avenue of research because quantum key distribution provided a future-proof technology for secure communications, improving on the conventional key distribution used currently to encrypt information securely, a method which cannot guarantee the future resilience of encrypted information. 

‘Quantum key distribution encodes the key information into a quantum data carrier that is then transported from one point to another. This shifts the security basis away from Mathematical complexities and towards fundamental physical boundaries set by the laws of quantum mechanics. This therefore means that the retrieval of the key information by unauthorised parties requires one to defy the laws of quantum mechanics. 

‘Quantum key distribution is applicable to situations that require confidential information to remain secure for extended periods of time,’ explained Ismail. “This is what makes quantum cryptography such an interesting field of research for me. It is also a new field of research hence there is sufficient room for growth and progression as a researcher.’ 

Ismail attributed some of her success in her field to the guidance of her supervisors. ‘A student is only as good as his or her supervisors Having well connected, informed and successful supervisors has led to my progression in Physics. Honestly, I can accredit a portion of my success to the exceptional supervisors and colleagues whom I have had the opportunity to work with over the years.’ 

She hopes to continue her research as a post doc and thereby extend her knowledge in the field and grow as a scientist.


Christine Cuénod

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Hearing Impaired Humanities Student at AfricaGeo 2014 Summit

Hearing Impaired Humanities Student at AfricaGeo 2014 Summit
Humanities student Mr Emmanuel Khuzwayo who attended the AfricaGeo 2014 Summit in Cape Town.

Humanities student Mr Emmanuel Khuzwayo, who is hearing impaired, recently attended the AfricaGeo 2014 Summit in Cape Town.  

‘Being at the Summit was a pleasant, adventurous and informative moment for me,’ said Khuzwayo.

‘I was able to explore the future of Geomatics and the nexus that Geography has in developing people’s needs and decision making, especially in Africa as the theme of the Conference was “Developing Geomatics for Africa”.’ 

Khuzwayo gained practical knowledge on the use of Geographic Information Systems and the vast opportunities available for Geomatics students. The summit managed to introduce delegates to processes and development of Geomatics by giving them an opportunity to choose between sessions they found relevant for their career interests.  

‘The programme agenda was split into four different venue sessions and delegates were then given an opportunity to choose based on interest. This split gave me an advantage since this setting reminded me of my lecture attendance timetable.’ 

Khuzwayo also gained practical knowledge in Geographic Information Sciences, the development of the Rural Development Framework and the pressing Land Tenure debate in Southern Africa.  

‘With the development of Geomatics, I feel strongly that Geomatic graduates should be supported and provided the necessary skills for investment in a successful economy of Africa and social integration. The scope of the summit was aligned almost exactly to the module structure at UKZN. So for the first time I was clearly introduced to the issues I study,’ he said.  

Khuzwayo believes that summits are important, especially for science students who get an opportunity to learn practical work. ‘I advise fellow students to grab such opportunities because our future as the youth lies in our potential and also of how much we want to contribute to development of our governments. I hope that UKZN continues investing in their students for the development of the University and assurance of the Transformation Charter. All students with disabilities should believe in themselves and go for these opportunities.’ 

Melissa Mungroo

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TB in SA – where are we and where are we going?

TB in SA – where are we and where are we going?
Forum Attendees with Dr Elizabeth Spooner at the July MRC/info4africa KZN Community Forum.

PhD student from UKZN’s Department of Paediatrics, Dr Elizabeth Spooner, charted the journey of tuberculosis (TB) as a disease and later an epidemic, with a close focus on South Africa’s nationwide effort to eradicate it, during a well-attended MRC/info4africa KwaZulu-Natal Community Forum. 

Using the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report 2013 as a primary reference point, Spooner highlighted TB prevalence and incidence rates across the globe, remarking that in terms of population size and infection rates, Swaziland and South Africa carried the highest burden of the disease in the world. 

‘Whilst Tuberculosis globally infects HIV-negative individuals, it is still very much a syndemic in South Africa, whereby HIV-positive individuals are more likely to be infected by it. In South Africa, only 50% to 74% of HIV-positive TB patients are actively enrolled in a TB treatment programme – something that needs to be addressed and managed quite closely,’ said Spooner. 

‘In terms of diagnostic tools, South Africa has seen great success in implementing GeneExpert. Launched in South Africa in 2012, GeneExpert is a cartridge-based, sputum-testing device which is now available in 100 sites across the country. GeneExpert not only detects Tuberculosis but can also help detect MDR and XDR-TB, making it an important tool in the fight against TB. 

‘In terms of mortality rates, TB is still the number one killer in South Africa although its power is decreasing thanks to extra effort and resources being allocated to diagnosis, treatment and care of patients.’ 

Dissecting South Africa’s national action plan to provide adequate diagnostic and treatment services for TB patients and communities affected by TB, Spooner highlighted key elements of the National Tuberculosis Management Guidelines, as released by the Department of Health this year.

Paying particular attention to the role of health care workers, Spooner reminded the audience that health care workers were highly likely to contract TB and should, therefore, be regularly tested and encouraged to take action if they fell ill. She also underlined a key recommendation of the National Tuberculosis Management Guidelines, whereby ‘integration of care provided to co-infected patients preferably by one service provider will ensure comprehensive management of the patient, reduce morbidity and mortality and improve treatment outcomes’. 

Looking to the future, Spooner gave brief insight into new treatment regimens discussed at the recent SA TB Conference, including Bedaqualine, which is being specifically formulated for MDR and XDR-TB and PA828 with the aim being to reduce TB treatment time.


‘In terms of new diagnostic systems currently under review, TB LAM is a urine test that has been proposed as a point of care TB diagnostic test, whilst TB LAMP is a smaller, yet cheaper version of the Gene Expert machine.’ 

Spooner said she was optimistic in the light of increasing new research, diagnostics and treatment options becoming available in the fight against TB. ‘Whilst the Millennium Development Goal Number 6, which aims to have TB falling by 2015, may not be achieved in South Africa, we could be on the path to eradicating Tuberculosis as a public health concern by 2050.’ 


For more information regarding these community forums or info4africa, please visit www.info4africa.org.za



·        http://www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/en/

·        http://www.sahivsoc.org/upload/documents/NTCP_Adult_TB%20Guidelines%2027.5.2014.pdf

·        www.info4africa.org.za

·        www.facebook.com/info4africa

·        http://sahs.ukzn.ac.za/Homepage.aspx

·        http://coh.ukzn.ac.za/Homepage.aspx

·        www.ukzn.ac.za 

 Cath Jenkin

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Science Career Fair gives Students a Glimpse of the Working World

Science Career Fair gives Students a Glimpse of the Working World
UKZN students at the Mini-Science Career Fair.

A Mini-Science Career Fair gave Science students on the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses the invaluable opportunity to network with representatives from a variety of top companies and industry leaders on full-time job opportunities, vacation employment, training contracts, learnerships  and various bursary opportunities. 

Companies and organisations represented at the Fair included the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), Dube Trade Port, Cheita, 2Cana, Hyperion,  BSI Steel, ThoroughTec, InteractiveSA and the South African Department of Labour. 

‘Companies are pleased with the calibre of UKZN students.  That is why they come back each year,’ said Graduate Recruitment Officer for the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science and career fair organiser, Ms Karuna Mahadave. 

Mahadave explained that the mini-science career fair aimed to bridge the gap between tertiary education and the working world by providing a platform for students to gain insight into the career possibilities available to them after they graduate. 

UKZN also launched its Graduate Development Programme at the Fair.  The programme aims to recruit home-grown student talent into a career in academia.  ‘Every year, UKZN recruits graduates into various disciplines at various levels as UKZN employees,’ explained Ms Busi Ramabodu, Manager for Human Resources Development. ‘Some of these graduates, if eligible, are awarded bursaries to further their studies at UKZN, and in turn work for the University.’  

The Fair was a hive of activity with students getting the opportunity to ask numerous questions regarding career choices and the unique opportunities each company offers graduates. 

Student, Ms Hilda Tsanga, described the Fair as a useful tool in deciding the best career route for her to follow. 

 ‘The career Fair has been a definite eye opener and I’ve set my sights on one of the companies here already. Let’s hope all goes well,’ said Ms Leanda Mncube.  

Sally Frost 

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Making a Mathematical Difference where it Counts

Making a Mathematical Difference where it Counts
Teachers registered for UKZN’s Math130 course.

As part of its community engagement programme, UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science is offering Saturday lectures to high school Mathematics teachers to assist them upgrade their maths skills while completing the semester-long Math130 course - the same module taken by first year students at the University. 

The initiative is the brain-child of the Dean and Head of School, Professor Kesh Govinder; Mathematics education expert, Dr Aneshkumar Maharaj; and UKZN Distinguished Teacher, top-rated researcher and Academic Leader for Mathematics, Professor Simon Mukwembi. 

A team of dedicated fellow-lecturers and tutors including Dr Ojen Narain, Mr Eddy Kimba Phongi and Mr Komi Afassinou provide valuable assistance. 

Successfully piloted - with an 80% pass rate in 2013 - in conjunction with UKZN Extended Learning, the 2014 programme is being run thanks to sponsorship from Eskom and Buckman Africa. 

‘Every university has a social responsibility to the community,’ said Mukwembi.  ‘As a university, we do not want to be just an ivory tower.  We want to partner with communities to develop a cadre of professionals who are properly skilled to address contemporary socio-economic challenges for our country’s development.’ 

Mukwembi’s view was corroborated by guest speaker Mr Yasin Brijmohan of Eskom’s Tertiary Education Support Programme (TESP).  ‘Worldwide, people with an increased knowledge of mathematics are able to solve problems,’ said Brijmohan.

About 25 high school Mathematics Teachers from around the province registered for Math130 for non-degree purposes (NDP).  They will spend six months being put through their paces before they write their exams at the end of the year. 

A course participant, Mr Sandile Sikhosane of Mazwendoda Secondary School in Impendle, said his love of Maths and his desire to upgrade himself motivated him to sacrifice his Saturdays and make the long journey to Durban.  ‘I am the co-ordinator of Maths in my area,’ said Sikhosane.  ‘I want to teach teachers at poor performing schools so that they can improve their teaching.’  To assist him in this initiative, he has introduced a Facebook Maths tutoring programme. 

Chief Education specialists in the Department of Education, Mr Irshad Motala and Mr Moses Mogambery, have spread the good news about Math130 for teachers in a variety of KwaZulu-Natal high schools,  ‘I tell the teachers that to know more than your learners feels good,’ said Motala. 

Govinder explained the rationale behind the programme: ‘This initiative is an attempt to address the poor Mathematics competencies of matric graduates. Solving this national problem can only be achieved in a holistic manner.’ 

He said it was pleasing to see Industry and the Department of Education partner with UKZN in an attempt to solve this serious problem.  

‘It is also an enormous testament to the teachers that they are sacrificing their personal time (without financial reward) in order to better serve their learners,’ he said. ‘We can all learn from their sterling example.’

Sally Frost 

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Owayengumfundi wase-UKZN uvula uMnambithi amehlo!

Owayengumfundi wase-UKZN uvula uMnambithi amehlo!
UNkkz Ilene Somai Pillay esitolo sakhe esibizwa nge The Eye Shop.

Owayengumfundi wezifundo zamehlo eUKZN uNkk Ilene Somai Pillay, usiza umphakathi walapho akhulela futhi ahlala khona kuleli dolobha laseMnambithi elimaphakathi ne-Kwazulu-Natali ngokunakekelwa kwamehlo.

Ekhuluma ngesikhathi sakhe esase-UKZN, uthe: ‘ Iminyaka yami e-UKZN yaba impumelelo enkulu. Ngaphumelela ngamalengiso ezifundweni eziyi-12 kwathi kwezimbili ngathola umklomelo weDini nomunye umklomelo oyisipesheli ngenxa yomsebenzi engangiwenza emkhakheni wabantwana. Ngayithokozela kakhulu iminyaka yami ekhempasini futhi ngayisebenzisa kahle kakhulu.’

Umnikazi we-The Eye Shop, u-Pillay uqashe abasebenzi abathathu nodokotela wamehlo oyedwa. Wagqugquzeleka kulo mkhakha ngenxa yokuba nezinkinga ngamehlo akhe ngakho wayesefuna nokusiza abanye abaswele usizo. ‘ Ngiyakuthanda ukusebenza nabantu nokusiza abanye. Ngaqala ukuwuthokozela kakhulu lo mkhakha esikoleni ngesikhathi sesiqala ukubonana neziguli. Yilapho ngabona khona ukuthi ngizokuthanda ukuba udokotela wamehlo.’

Lo mshadikazi omusha wakwa-Pillay, ubonge  umndeni wakhe ngempumelelo yakhe. ‘Umyeni wami uPraven ungumuntu obalulekile kakhulu kubantu engike ngahlangana nabo futhi uma kwakungayi ngokwakhe, ngabe i-The Eye Shop iyiphupho nje. Ungumkhulumeli wami, umeluleki kwezezimali nomngani wami omkhulu.

U-Pillay uyazifela ngemfashini nokuthenga, kuyimanje wenza izifundo zokuzicwala. Unesifiso sokufundela iziqu ze-Master’s kwezamehlo kanye  neziqu zePhD.

Yini ahlale edolobhaneni elincane? ‘Ngihlala eMnambithi ngoba ngiyihlonipha kakhulu le ndawo kanti iyigugu kimi. Kodwa ke ayikho ke indawo efana nekhaya! Singangabi nacho konke kodwa ngiyayithanda le ndawo.’

U-Pillay uhlela ukuvula elinye igatsha le-The Eye Shop elizobhekana nalabo abangakwazi ukukhokhela izindleko zosizo ngamehlo abo. Yinto esisayihlela ezosiza labo abadinga izibuko kodwa abangenayo imali.’

Click here for English version

-        u-MaryAnn Francis

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Teaching and Learning Electronic Technologies Explored

Teaching and Learning Electronic Technologies Explored
Mr Joseph Jere.

In an effort to increase the College of Law and Management Studies’ digital footprint, the Teaching and Learning Unit recently appointed Mr Joseph Jere as their e-Technologist. 

An e-Technologist is an Information Technology professional who has experience in Higher Education teaching and research within one or more disciplines.

Jere’s main duties involve conceptualising e-technology, interventions, designing and implementing e-technology strategies for teaching and learning, and training and teaching staff and tutors how to use e-technology in teaching methods within the Teaching and Learning Unit and the College overall.  

Jere, who has been involved in the College’s Academic Support Programmes since 2008 with a specific focus on the information systems discipline, said exploring and adopting technological teaching and learning methods had many benefits. 

‘By acting as a change agent in the e-technology diffusion process amongst staff and students within the College, I am able to conceptualise e-technology tools and maximise the utility of the University’s ICT investment.  This enables me to achieve targets such as increasing the number of modules on Moodle and Video lectures,’ he said. 

Jere’s position is part of his overall portfolio as an Academic Development Co-ordinator. His accomplishments and vision in respect of e-technology for the College include Initiating the podcasting concept in the Bachelor of Commerce Foundation programme.  

Currently the podcasting initiative has been introduced to all the Bachelor of Commerce foundation students both on the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses providing podcasts (videos of lectures) in MATHS194, ECONOMICS1C0 and English language development for commerce students (ELDV).  It has also been introduced to all first year mainstream students in the College registered for Information Systems and Technology 101. 

Jere’s responsibilities also include the development of Moodle sites (on the University Learning Management System) for the entire foundation programme in the College as well as managing the sites on a day to day basis.  

Moodle sites are intended to introduce newly-enrolled Bachelor of Commerce foundation students to the University culture and norms in terms of e-learning activities thereby creating a seamless transition into the mainstream programme the following year. 

Looking ahead, Jere plans to extend the podcasting concept to the entire college via the use of the UKZNTUBE which is an online data (mainly video hosting) repository. 

Thandiwe Jumo

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UKZN Library Staff Donate Books to Children on Mandela Day

UKZN Library Staff Donate Books to Children on Mandela Day
Children excitedly reading books donated to them by UKZN.

In the spirit of uplifting and empowering others on Mandela Day, staff of the UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus Libraries embarked on an initiative to encourage literacy among the less fortunate by donating new or used books, in good condition, to the SOS Children’s Village at The Grange in Pietermaritzburg.  

About 125 children of varying ages received books and magazines to encourage them to read, learn and pursue an education.  

Staff went to the village to hand over the books and to meet the children and it proved to be a pleasant and enlightening visit for everyone involved. Children and staff at the home were welcoming and appreciated the additional reading material for their small library. 

Reading opens young minds to endless possibilities and is a priceless tool which encourages and empowers individuals to reach for their dreams. 

Together here are (from left) UKZN Library staff Fanele Mkhize; Shanitha Bhim; Jabu Mshengu; Themba Nkuna; Jillian Viljoen; Nonhlanhla Ngcobo; Dr Praversh Sukram; with thee Director of the SOS Children’s Village, Michelle King, and Goitsemang Ncongwane.  

Jillian Viljoen

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University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Students and Staff at UKZN

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg Students and Staff at UKZN
German academics and students at UKZN (from left) Professor Juergen Kaehler; Ms Veronika Sumser, Ms Anne-Marie Illés, Ms Kim Rastert and Mr Christoph Weber.

Visiting students from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany were officially welcomed by the School of Built Environment and Development (BEDS) recently.  

Professor Juergen Kaehler, Mr Christoph Weber and Ms Kim Rastert along with their students Ms Veronika Sumser and Ms Anne-Marie Illés joined the Development Studies Masters courses for this semester at UKZN, while the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg lecturers offered a special course to UKZN masters students over two weeks.

The School’s Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya said: 'This exchange programme has been running for three years and it’s one of the best I've seen. We don’t have a shortage of international scholars coming to Africa to gain expertise on all manner of issues. Where this programme is different is that we make every endeavour to ensure the exchange is equitable. 

‘In the last two iterations, the University of Erlangen has sent us three students and we have done the same. The programme also includes a staff exchange component - my colleague Mohammed Vawda has just returned from a short stint in Germany and two lecturers from Germany have been here for two weeks teaching a special module on International Finance and Money.’ 

Students Sumser and Illes said: ‘Former students told us about their positive experiences here which further encouraged us to choose UKZN. It is also important for us as students of an international masters course to explore another academic perspective in our field of studies. Apart from that, the multi-ethnic society of South Africa and especially of Durban attracted our attention. 

‘Academically, we hope to get to know other approaches or even theories on development studies. Of course we are also keen to explore the field of development against a South African background by learning about the country’s specific challenges. This in turn will help us later in our professional lives to understand the problems developing countries face and to help search for solutions for them.’ 

The students said they look forward to meeting students of different backgrounds here and indicated that ‘the exchange programme is widely known among our colleagues in our master programme. 

‘All of us appreciate this cooperation and the efforts that have been put into it. We especially enjoyed the time when three South African students came over to our German university and joined our classes. It always means talking about different experiences, opinions and sharing life.’ 

Melissa Mungroo


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Durban International Film Festival Award Winners

Durban International Film Festival Award Winners
Jenna Bass (right) receives her award for Best SA Feature Film at the 35th Durban International Film Festival. With her are (from left) Festival Manager Peter Machen and jury members Neil Coppen, Katrina Hedren and Darryl Els.

The Durban International Film Festival announced its award-winners at the closing ceremony of the Festival’s 35th edition at the Suncoast CineCentre Supernova, prior to the screening of the closing film, Million Dollar Arm

The festival had a highly successful run this year with a significant increase in attendance - many films were ‘Sold-Out!’  

Festival Manager Peter Machen said: ‘I was extremely happy with the success of DIFF 2014, and it was very gratifying to witness both the large amount of sold-out screenings and also the huge enthusiasm for the festival, both from local audiences and from the hundreds of guests attending from around the world.’

At the ceremony, the festival unveiled its new statuette, the Golden Giraffe, designed by Durban artist, Caryn Tilbury.  

‘We are extremely happy that the festival finally has an iconic award. Venice has the Golden Lion, Berlin has the Golden Bear and now Durban has the Golden Giraffe. Caryn Tilbury’s beautifully idiosyncratic design is perfectly representative of the slick but edgy nature of the festival,’ said Machen. 

The festival’s highest accolade of Best Feature Film and with it a R50 000 cash prize went to Malian auteur Abderrahmane Sissako’s masterful Timbuktu, chosen from a selection of competition films that the international jury described as having dealt with ‘individuals coping with ideological, social and political pressures whilst trying to find their own identity and humanity in a world increasingly under distress’.  

The jury commended Sissako’s work for being ‘an impressively well-made film that makes us aware, in an extraordinarily human and gentle way, of the fight for dignity and freedom of individuals against oppression and violence. Beautifully crafted and showing mature accomplishment on all levels, the film illustrates the absurdity of war and ideological dogmatism and offers humour, gentility and humaneness as a possible solution to the madness that seems to engulf so many regions in the world and on our continent. It embraces cinema as a weapon of love against violence and intolerance.’ 

The International Jury consisted of: Rémi Bonhomme, who heads Critics Week at Cannes Film Festival; Diarah N’Daw-Spech, the co-founder and co-director of the African Diaspora Film Festival in New York; Andrew Worsdale, writer, director and previous winner of Best South African Feature film at DIFF; and actress and activist Paulina Malefane, known for her role of Carmen in both the stage and film productions of U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, and co-founder of the Isango Ensemble.

The award for Best South African Feature Film, which carries a prize of R25 000, was won by Jenna Bass for her exciting first feature Love the One You Love. The local jury chose the film ‘for its stylistic and narrative freshness’, calling it ‘a playful, quirky and idiosyncratic debut made with curiosity, warmth, heart and sensitivity’.

Bass was also honoured with the prize for Best Direction in a South African Feature Film, with the jury describing the young director as ‘inquisitive, innovative and with a unique voice and luminous cinematic sensibility, who shows us a contemporary universe which is as imaginative as it is true’. 

The accolade for Best Documentary went to Mahdi Fleifel’s A World Not Ours.  According to the jury this intimate, affecting and often humorous debut feature is a portrait of three generations of exile in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, a Palestinian pocket of hemmed-in buildings and stifled hopes. ‘Fleifel may have set out to tell a small domestic story about the loved ones he has left behind but the result is a powerful tale of the human cost of a political nightmare, the end of which seems very far away.’ 

Best South African Documentary was awarded to Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down. The film was also awarded the Amnesty International (Durban) Human Rights Award, which carries a prize of R10 000 sponsored by the Artists for Human Rights Trust.  

The film was chosen ‘for its profoundly moving portrayal of the Marikana miners’ massacre. The human rights abuses so vividly portrayed include the right to life, the right to justice, the right to protection by the police, the right to know, the right to peaceful protest and the right to human dignity.’­ 

The full list of awards is:

BEST FEATURE FILM: Timbuktu by Abderrahmane Sissako

BEST FIRST FEATURE FILM: Salvation Army by Abdellah Taia

BEST DIRECTION: Noaz Deshe for White Shadow

BEST SCREENPLAY: Love is Strange written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Sofian el Fani - Timbuktu

BEST ACTOR: Ibrahim Ahmed - Timbuktu & Tony Kgoroge - Cold Harbour

BEST ACTRESS: Chi Mhende - Love the One You Love


BEST SA DOCUMENTARY: Miners Shot Down by Rehad Desai

Special Mention: Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me by Khalo Matabane


Special Mention: Fatherland by Tarryn Crossman

BEST DOCUMENTARY: A World Not Ours by Mahdi Fleifel

BEST SHORT FILM: Out of Place by Ozan Mermer

BEST SOUTH AFRICAN SHORT FILM: Keys, Money, Phone by Roger Young. 

Melissa Mungroo

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Million Dollar Arm closes 35th Durban International Film Festival

<em>Million Dollar</em> Arm closes 35th Durban International Film Festival
Film Festival closes with screening of Million Dollar Arm.

The 35th Durban International Film Festival ended on a high note with its closing night film Million Dollar Arm (USA, 2014) directed by Craig Gillespie and starring Jon Hamm. 

The screening took place on Saturday, 26 July at the Suncoast CineCentre Supernova. 

Million Dollar Arm is about a once-successful sports agent named JB Bernstein who finds himself edged out by younger, slicker competitors. While watching cricket being played in India on late night TV, he comes up with an idea so radical it just might work. Why not go to India and find the next baseball pitching sensation?  

Setting off for Mumbai, JB stages a televised, nationwide competition.  

Forty thousand hopefuls compete and two 18-year-old finalists, Rinku and Dinesh, emerge as winners. But JB’s job really begins when he returns to America to try to get the two young men signed to a major baseball league. 

Talking about the film, Festival Manager, Peter Machen, said: ‘Million Dollar Arm is a film that is both accessible and engaging as well as being beautifully crafted and filled with great performances. It was a strong festival title, providing an enjoyable note on which to close the festival after ten days of intense viewing.’ 

This year’s festival included more than 200 theatrical screenings and a full seminar and workshop programme as well as the Wavescape Film Festival, the Wild Talk Africa Film Festival, and various industry initiatives, including the 7th Talent Campus Durban (in cooperation with the Berlin Talent Campus) and  the 5th Durban FilmMart co-production market in partnership with the Durban Film Office.   

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Social Work academic gives Distinguished Lecture in Australia

UKZN Social Work academic gives Distinguished Lecture in Australia
Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul.

Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul of the School of Applied Human Sciences was recently elected by her peers on a global level to deliver a distinguished lecture as part of the 2014 Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

Sewpaul delivered the lecture in the name of Dame Eileen-Younghusband, a pioneer in social work education who was committed to social justice and human rights. 

Sewpaul’s lecture, titled: “Politics with Soul: Social Work and the Legacy of Nelson Mandela”, reflected on the importance of Mandela’s legacy for social work, and the potential of the social work profession to contribute to ethical politics. 

According to Sewpaul, social work and politics reflect shadow sides, with social work having a history of normalising state functions, including those that violate human rights. ‘South Africa is the embodiment of the best and worst of politics; the latter exemplified by the atrocities of apartheid and the former by the gifts of non-discrimination, peaceful transition to democracy, forgiveness and reconciliation engineered by Nelson Mandela. 

‘Contemporary politics is characterised by corrosive power, narrow party political electioneering and corruption being rooted in neoliberal and new managerial practices. We need to counter these with more humane approaches underscored by love, care, compassion, non-violence and truly “Being for the Other”,’ she said. 

A Twitter feed of the Australian Association of Social Work reads: ‘Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul of South Africa received a standing ovation for her inspiring speech at the World Congress today.’ The lecture was preceded by a tribute to Mandela, produced by Sewpaul. 

She was also invited to James Cook University in Townsville to present their annual Social Justice Lecture.  The lecture titled: “Emancipatory Practice: Education, Research and Community Engagement in the Pursuit of Social Justice and Human Rights”, was exceptionally well received.  

Sewpaul also engaged with a community-based group Family Inclusion Network (FIN) in an organised but informal discussion session with students.  

Melissa Mungroo

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Postgraduate Supervision workshop at UKZN

Postgraduate Supervision workshop at UKZN
Participants at a Postgraduate Supervision Workshop.

In a drive to increase postgraduate enrolments, the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance held a Postgraduate Supervision seminar aimed at equipping staff with the skills needed to efficiently supervise postgrad research students. 

The three-day seminar, facilitated by Brighton University’s Head of the Centre for Learning and Teaching, Professor Gina Wisker, was initiated by the School’s Dean and Head, Professor Anesh Singh, in response to the College of Law and Management Studies goal of improving postgraduate enrolments. 

‘The University’s drive towards postgraduate qualifications has shown that the School is not meeting its enrolment targets. Upon investigation I found out that the reason staff is not meeting its enrolment targets is because they are not equipped to take on large numbers of postgraduate students,’ said Singh.  The aim of the workshop is to capacitate supervisors to manage larger numbers of students individually or in cohorts. 

Singh explained that this observation led to consultation with academics in higher degrees and SANTRUST’S Chief Execute Officer, Dr Anshu Padayachee, and ultimately to the co-ordination of the training initiative. 

‘My aim in hosting this  seminar is that staff gain confidence and the skills to take on more postgrad students so that the School can make a valid contribution to UKZN’s goal of pre-imminence in research,’  said Padayachee. 

During the three days, the workshop unpacked various concepts and methodologies involved in postgraduate supervision, including:

·     Supervisory challenges in South Africa

·     University policy on the appointment of staff to supervise postgraduate research students

·     Factors enhancing or preventing effective supervision

·     Dealing with difference- in learning backgrounds, disciplines, culture, gender etc

·     Supervision styles and models for effective supervision.

·     Establishing sound research projects and processes. 


Padayachee said when she was approached by the Dean about this project, SANTRUST was keen to offer their services training academic staff. 

‘I am very impressed by the thirst for knowledge that the academics have as we are here to boost the existing capacity to ensure that staff study for their PhDs and produce more postgraduate students,’ she said. 

Economics lecturer, Mr Christian Tipoy said the workshop had helped him as a supervisor and a doctoral student.

‘I have learned a lot through this workshop in terms of how to deal with my masters students as well as how to manage my relationship with my supervisor. I have also learned of new research methods and concepts that I am looking forward to using for my thesis,’ he said. 

Following this strategic initiative, the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance looks forward to an improvement in postgraduate enrollments next year.  

Thandiwe Jumo

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Memorial for Professor John Daniel

Memorial for Professor John Daniel
Ms Lesley Connolly, at the memorial celebration at UKZN for her father, the late Professor John Daniel.

Family, friends and colleagues attended a College of Humanities memorial celebration at the Howard College Theatre to pay tribute to the life of the late Professor John Daniel. 

Daniel was a former Head of Department of Political Science at the University of Durban-Westville and an alumnus of the University of Natal where he received his undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1964.  

He also worked as a Senior Researcher responsible for documenting the South African state's gross human rights violations outside South Africa thereafter joining the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) as a researcher and then as an Academic Director for the School for International Training (SIT).  

Speaking at the event, UKZN’s Professor Donal McCracken described Daniel as having a profound sense of community and that he was dearly loved and would never be forgotten.  

Daniel’s friend and former colleague Mr Dan Swanson spoke fondly of his time with Daniel over the years in Swaziland where Daniel had managed to open a bookshop and had collected numerous prized books. Jokingly, Swanson added, ‘He might have had a dishevelled appearance most of the time but he was very organised and somehow ended up owning a bookshop.’ 

UKZN’s Professor Lindy Stiebel spoke highly of Daniel during his years as a beloved editor of the Transformation Journal. ‘He was always championing new writers and made a big contribution to the Transformation Journal. In Transformation 85, we will have a special feature on John Daniel to celebrate his life and all that he did.’ 

Ms Karen Bruns, who worked with Daniel at the HSRC, spoke highly of his time at the Council, stating that Daniel had embraced the task of publishing and was dedicated to growing a new cadre of academics. With a smile on her face, she said, ‘John loved to chair editorial board meetings and we were sad to see him go into retirement but we still kept in contact. He had such a wicked sense of humour and a booming voice - you could always expect to have a hefty jovial slap on the back.’ 

Daniel’s former colleague at the Department of Political Science at University of Durban-Westville, Mr Kiru Naidoo, described Daniel as someone who had an ‘enormous generosity of heart and spirit’ and was able to tell the story of South Africa’s freedom without embellishments. 

‘John was the consummate example of what we all strive for, but seldom attain,’ noted Daniel’s successor as SIT director, Mr Imraan Buccus – also a former student of Daniel’s at UDW. Buccus shared his fondest memories of Daniel during their trip to the US, before Daniel was diagnosed with cancer. ‘It is painful to pack away his stuff in his old office at the School for International Training. But looking back, he was a man that embodied an unwavering passion for teaching and his students.’ 

A former student of Daniel’s, Mr Christian De Vos, stated that it was a privilege to write his thesis under Daniel’s supervision. ‘It was a rare and unique opportunity for me to meet John and he was the first person who looked at my thesis and honestly said it was of publishable quality. He just knew how to encourage students. I was inspired by him. I knew John as a teacher and then as a mentor and finally as a good friend.’ 

Deputy Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter shared messages of condolences and heart-felt tributes from some of Daniel’s close colleagues including Professor Adam Habib, Professor Imraan Valodia, Professor Peter Vale and Professor Ronaldo Munck.  

Daniel’s daughter Ms Lesley Connolly thanked the University and the College of Humanities for hosting a touching and fitting memorial for her father stating: ‘I am humbled by the messages and tributes that have come through for my father and it’s wonderful to know that he was and still is cherished by all those who knew him.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Schools of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmacology) and Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (Biomedical Resource Unit) host Integrative and Organs Systems Pharmacology (IOSP) Workshop.

Schools of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmacology) and Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (Biomedical Resource Unit) host Integrative and Organs Systems Pharmacology (IOSP) Workshop.
Attendants at the last day of the IOSP Workshop.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal Schools of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Pharmacology) and Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (Biomedical Resource Unit, BRU) recently hosted a workshop at the Westville campus from 8-11 July 2014. The workshop was convened by Dr Johannes Bodenstein (Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology) and Dr Sanil Singh (Head of BRU) as a satellite meeting of the World Congress of Pharmacology (WCP 2014) held in Cape Town from 13-18 July 2014, and an initiative of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) to train the next generation of young integrative scientists. More than 30 delegates from mainly African countries attended the workshop. 

The four day interactive workshop, which was the first of its kind to be held at UKZN, presented an array of local and international speakers. It also included behind the scenes visits to the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board and uShaka Marine World to learn about the specialised research conducted at these facilities. Delegates were enthused with talks by international speakers Dr David Lewis (Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience and Bioethics, University of Leeds, UK) and Professor Hans-Peter Lipp (Professor Emeritus, Human Anatomy, University of Zürich, Switzerland; Fractionate Professorship at UKZN’s School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences). Local speakers comprised of Dr Sanil Singh (Manager, BRU), Dr Linda Bester (Senior Laboratory Animal Technologist of BRU), Dr Peter Owira (Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology), Dr Bert Mohr (Director of the Centre for Animal Research at the University of Cape Town and a Scientific Investigator in the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa), Dr Sean Cheevers (Specialist in Occupational Medicine; Guest Lecturer to UKZN’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health) and Ms Charon de Villiers (Research Manager at Delft Animal Centre of the Medical Research Council in Cape Town). 

Animal ethics and welfare were at the forefront of the workshop. ‘In pursuit of ethical animal research, there is a great need to develop a course that suits the South African context.  We hope that the information gathered at this workshop about animal models and handling, along with environmental enrichment, can help those involved in research. Just as many social aspects affect humans, they affect animals as well, and it is a very important yardstick for us to evaluate our ethical behaviour in animal research.’ said Dr Sanil Singh in his opening address.

Topics of discussion during the workshop pertained to humane experimental techniques, practical animal handling, ethical use of animals in research, and pain management in laboratory animal research. ‘Animals are living entities and we should respect their contribution.  In sharing good practices and making colleagues aware of what new techniques and practices are out there, any form of bettering animal welfare is a concern’ said Dr Singh. 

Delegates toured the Biomedical Resource Unit (BRU) on Westville campus. Dr Linda Bester, post-graduate students and volunteers explained basic experiments performed in laboratory animal sciences along with protocol planning, practical animal handling and restraint as well as the latest surgical techniques. 

Dr Bert Mohr explained that there is a moral philosophy and public sensitivity associated with animal research. ‘Animals are useful models of human biology and by law, pharmacology drugs have to be legally tested and examined on animals before being available to humans. There is a lot of concern in terms of animal use and testing.’ Mohr presented a talk entitled: The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques. ‘Safety testing occurs before-hand for drugs to get sold, and while there are failures, this is done so as to ensure little human side effects. The ARRIVE guidelines (Animal Research Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) have said that one of the greatest criticisms of animal research is the poorly published or reporting of the study. All 29 guidelines must be adhered within any study so as to justify the quality of the experiment.’   

Mohr spoke about the use of sentient beings in laboratory research. ‘Sentient beings are animals that are conscious and have subjective experiences where their feelings are important to the animal. They have sensations, emotions, social behaviour, empathy and altruism, as well as a memory, communication and culture.’ Animals are useful models for human biology and are entitled to five specific freedoms.  

These are freedom from hunger and thirst, pain, injury and disease, and fear, distress and discomfort. They also have freedom to express normal behaviour. The guiding principles of animal laboratory research, known as the 3 Rs, were core elements discussed at the workshop. Reduction of suffering in fewer animals is something that needs to be practiced. Refinement and fine tuning should be done in laboratory procedures so as to make experiments better and most effective. The aspect of replacement should always be questioned. Is there an alternative? Non animal models, invertebrates and immature animals can also be used. ‘Every animal is an individual in our care and respect is needed when treating these animals. Animals are used all over the world for many things, but in specific to the workshop, animals are also used for scientific purposes, for the testing of drugs and diseases, for research and for teaching and training. Only once non-animal models are found, shall animal usage in science begin to decrease.’ 

Dr Dave Lewis presented a talk called: “Animal models and alternatives - all the information required to make informed decisions in planning a protocol”. Lewis explained the use of animal alternatives in laboratory research and how to minimise animal distress as much as possible. ‘The question we should always ask ourselves is, should we be using animals for testing or should we be using non-animal alternatives?  We should use animals in instances where we can’t find alternatives to address our scientific questions. ‘There should be a minimum use of animals in the scientific experiment with a maximised high quality data set with unambiguous data.  

Objectives and endpoints need to be clear and measurable for the best practice.  Only the most appropriate techniques should be used, so that it is possible to do in future by other scientists, should the need arise. There needs to be humane endpoints as a result of good lab practice and guidance.’ Partial and total replacement of animals in research was also mentioned, with Lewis explaining that sometimes total replacement of an animal isn’t possible but that using cell tissues or animal cultures are sometimes needed.  Lewis also encouraged that researchers look at databases to see what they can use to replace animals.  

Zakia Jeewa and Dr Johannes Bodenstein

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