Visual Learning Project Enhances Health Sciences Teaching and Learning

Visual Learning Project Enhances Health Sciences Teaching and Learning
Dr Margaret Matthews who reflected on the benefits of visual learning technologies in the School of Clinical Medicine’s undergraduate programme.

The College of Health Sciences’ (CHS) Teaching and Learning Office recently held a Visual Learning Colloquium which highlighted the success and opportunities its staff and students have experienced in pioneering UKZN’s visual learning technology.

This cutting-edge technology aims to achieve a number of goals in the University’s teaching and learning space, in particular, by providing a mechanism to stream lectures live and record lectures for later on-demand viewing by students.

An ongoing challenge in the College is the increase in class sizes, and lecturing of students doing experiential training in hospitals in both urban and rural areas. The visual learning project means that an interactive classroom can be set up anywhere with live lecture streaming. Students can ask the lecturer questions on this platform and, in addition, respond to questions, surveys and polls from their seats in the lecture room.

The colloquium was an opportunity to reflect on the pilot project from the perspective of both staff and students. It is expected that feedback from the various disciplines in the College will assist the Teaching and Learning Office in maximising visual learning opportunities.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of CHS Professor Rob Slotow welcomed the project for its innovate approach to teaching and learning, observing that because it tailors the technological experience to the individual student, it caters for students with different competencies and abilities simultaneously.

Students can engage in topics they were most intrigued with, and because students are in different placements with different patients, the project enables them to learn from each other’s experiences in the form of peer-to-peer learning.

Slotow said: ‘The College is excited by this technological advancement and its potential for teaching and learning. It is a work in progress, and a way to address some of the current challenges in the College.’

Participants heard from on and off campus-based staff and students who shared their experiences of teaching and learning since the inception of the project. While visual learning is a key performance area for teaching staff, the students also reported on their positive uptake of eLearning at UKZN.

UKZN’s Chief Information Officer, Mr Richard Jansen, said it was difficult to predict the future but eLearning has a definite impact on university teaching and learning globally. He said: ‘It’s no longer about the content you produce but how you deliver it. How do students ingest it?’ Jansen said the College can be proud to be at the forefront of global technological advancements in teaching and learning.


Jansen’s office has been trialling a number of different features specific to the University’s needs. These include phasing in new features to the students’ Proline tablets and kitting lecture venues with state-of-the-art technology.


Among the academics who presented was Dr Margaret Matthews who reflected on the benefits of visual learning technologies in the School of Clinical Medicine’s Clinical Skills Laboratory when teaching undergraduate Medical students.  Matthews said it was one way for students to learn to co-construct their education.


The College has employed UKZN’s visual learning expert, Ms Lyn Whiteley, to support and assist lecturers in adopting the use of technology when teaching. The User Adoption and Training Specialist can be reached on 031 260 4103 and via email on

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Celebrates Africa Engineering Week

UKZN Celebrates Africa Engineering Week
From left: Mr Gideon Vundla (eThekwini Municipality), Professor Thomas Afullo, Mr Yashin Brijmohan (Eskom), Professor Antony Britten, Ms Rovani Sigamoney, Dr Innocent Davidson (UKZN), Mr Adrian Peters and Mr Logan Pillay (Eskom).

UKZN recently joined the rest of the continent in celebrating Africa Engineering Week.

This week-long focus on engineering, which ran from 1-5 September, is a UNESCO initiative which was rolled out in conjunction with various strategic partners.

The initiative aims to educate the youth and general public about the engineering profession through strategic outreach activities in each country in Africa. Activities included educational workshops, public awareness events, mentoring activities and university events.

‘The aim of these events was to show how engineers are key players in the solutions to important continental challenges, such as the provision of clean drinking water, sustainable housing, and issues around climate change,’ said UNESCO representative and UKZN keynote speaker Ms Rovani Sigamoney. 

As part of the University’s contribution, the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science organised two main activities. Firstly, a schools’ outreach programme aimed at Grade 9 learners from low quintile schools was run in conjunction with eThekwini Municipality. This initiative saw UKZN postgraduate students deliver career talks and science shows, while the municipality provided science kits for the schools and screened a DVD showcasing the “Life of an Engineer”. The programme proved very successful, thanks to support received from the Department of Education, and sponsorship provided by the Willowton Group and Sun International. 

‘The UKZN teams were excellent and the kids loved their experiments and were keen for more,’ said Ms Veena Naidoo, Coordinator of Support Services in the office of the Deputy City Mayor. 

UKZN’s other contribution to Africa Engineering Week was the hosting of a public lecture and awards evening at its state-of-the-art School of Engineering building on the Howard College campus. Guest speakers were Mr Adrian Peters and Sigamoney.

Peters, a registered professional Civil Engineer, currently holds the position of Chief Strategy Officer of eThekwini Municipality. In addition, he is Vice-President of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). Peters provided an interesting outline of the history and mandate of the engineering profession and ECSA in South Africa. He also spoke about the Council’s education function and the accreditation of engineering programmes, as well as ECSA’s role in regulating professional conduct and setting standards. ‘The competence of engineering practitioners is essential in protecting the public interest,’ said Peters.

Sigamoney, a Chemical and Environmental Engineer who is passionate about encouraging more women and youth to pursue careers in engineering, represented UNESCO as the organisation’s programme specialist. Sigamoney spoke about UNESCO’s role in stimulating future African Engineers. ‘Currently South Africa has one engineer per 3 166 of the population. This is behind countries like Brazil (227), the United Kingdom (311), Australia (455) and Chile (681). There is a need for greater awareness by the public and policymakers of the need for and importance of engineering,’ she said.

The evening culminated in the presentation of a certificate of excellence to electrical engineering doyen, Professor Antony Britten (Pr Eng, FSAIEE). Presenting the award, Academic Leader for Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering at UKZN, Professor Thomas Afullo, said the award from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Engineering, and the Eskom Centre of Excellence in HVDC Engineering recognised Britten’s “career of excellent service” as Technical Director, Adjunct Professor and Specialist Engineer to UKZN. 

A series of glowing citations had Professor Britten quipping: ‘I hardly recognise myself!’ He went on to say he hoped to be able to continue contributing to the research being done by the Eskom Centre of Excellence in HVDC Engineering on UKZN’s Westville campus.

Sally Frost

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Pharmacy Professor Appointed to Provincial, National Committees

Pharmacy Professor Appointed to Provincial, National Committees
Professor Fatima Suleman, who is representing her profession at both provincial and national levels.

UKZN Professor Fatima Suleman, Associate Professor in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences at the Westville campus, has been appointed by the MEC for Health to serve on the KwaZulu-Natal Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee (KZN PTC) for the next three years.

The KZN PTC is responsible for advising the Head of Department and providing governance with regard to the evidence-based and cost-effective selection of medicine and related pharmaceutical products to be used in KwaZulu-Natal.

Suleman has also been appointed to two other national positions. The first is as Chairperson of the Pricing Committee, which is responsible for ensuring a transparent pricing system for medicines in the private sector. She has served as a member of this committee since 2010.

The second appointment is as a member of the Adult Expert Review Committee for the Hospital Level Essential Medicine List (EML), a committee which is responsible for the evidence-based and cost-effective selection of medicines to be used in the public sector. The review of the EML is a continuous process which is guided by evolving evidence and conditions. Suleman is to provide technical, clinical and professional contributions.

Suleman has published research in several journals and has presented at a number of national and international conferences. She will be attending the 74th International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Bangkok, Thailand.

On her appointments, Suleman said: ‘It is an honour and a privilege to be part of these committees and I look forward to a successful appointment term.’

-           Zakia Jeewa

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Visiting Scholar Outlines Role of Mega Sports Events in Developing Economies

Visiting Scholar Outlines Role of Mega Sports Events in Developing Economies
Political Scientist and Visiting Scholar Mr Einar Braathen, who presented a paper outlining the role of mega sports events in BRICS countries.

Visiting Scholar to the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) and Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR) Mr Einar Braathen recently presented a paper titled “Cities of Exception: the role of mega sports events in the BRICS countries, with a particular focus on Brazil before the FIFA 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics” at the School’s seminar series.

According to Braathen, over the last decade, all the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have invested enormous financial resources and political prestige in hosting mega sports events.

‘There is a trend whereby mega sports events and so-called “emerging economies” grow closer. These countries combine three crucial elements: availability of resources; an ambition to strengthen their image as an emerging power worldwide; and relative weakness of institutions which protect the environment and human rights.’

‘The combination of these elements enables host cities to abide by the “package” of interventions that international organising committees such as the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) require.’

He described the way in which cities compete on the global stage for investments. Thereafter, he explained how mega sports events have become a central strategy for cities in the South to brand themselves as ‘global cities’.

‘The inherent characteristics of hosting such events, which demand flexible planning to respond to the demands of private investors, challenges existing institutional frameworks and democratic governance,’ he said.

Braathen argued that mega sports events are increasingly aligned with large private interests, strengthening neo-liberal city management practices in terms of ‘urban entrepreneurship’, and suppressing the demands and rights of ordinary citizens.

‘The right to the city has become a slogan for movements worldwide which fight against the manifestations of many modern cities in which public processes and utilities have been privatised and where development is driven primarily if not solely by corporations and markets. In protesting these tendencies, practices of insurgent citizenship have become the means through which the urban margins negotiate and contest their right to universal inclusion.’

In his closing remarks, Braathen said: ‘Civil society has gained some small victories with protests, but there have been no profound changes in the urban regime. The “Olympic project” [in Rio de Janeiro] continues to dominate the city governance.’

‘The history of Vila Autôdromo Favela [in Rio], which has gone through numerous threats of removal and guarantees of permanence, shows that a promise today might very well be challenged in the future. Civil society will have to keep up the pressure to guarantee that the politicians stick to their promises.’

Melissa Mungroo

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First Student Public Seminar Explores Commodification of HE

First Student Public Seminar Explores Commodification of HE
From left: DVC and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter; Mr Lukhona Mnguni; Dean of the School of Education Professor Gregory Kamwendo and Director of the Maurice Webb Race Relations Research Unit Professor Paulus Zulu.

The College of Humanities and the Maurice Webb Race Relations Research Unit recently hosted the first Postgraduate Student Public Seminar in its Transformation Lecture Series in a packed Howard College Theatre.

Speaking about the Transformation series being presented by students DVC and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter stated that the series will allow for the engagement of transformation issues in society.

The lecture was delivered by Master's in Social Sciences student, Mr Lukhona Mnguni, on the subject of "Commodification of Higher Education: Challenges and Consequences for a Transformation Agenda."

Mnguni presented his paper, days before leaving for the University of Edinburgh as part of his Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue an MSc in Africa and International Development.

In light of his topic, Mnguni said: "A university has been commodified if those who enter it are there merely to obtain a certificate and get into the workplace. This means, gone are those days when universities were bastions of knowledge production to inform society's development trajectory.

"Universities that have become certification agencies or factories should be ashamed of themselves because they motivate students to go and be a commodified, dispensable good in the gyre of capitalism. All students, whether in Engineering, Accounting or the Humanities, must be infused with some consciousness that forces them to challenge the same labour market they are being produced for," he said.

Mnguni said universities should produce students who defy the notion that professionals operate in a different stratum to the general labour force in a company, describing it as "the highest divide-and-rule tactic to divide the very same ‘organic solidarity' that is necessary amongst humanity and black people in particular."

Mnguni stressed the need for higher education to find a way to dislodge itself from the dominant push and dictates of the market if it is to maintain its role as a leading force in the shaping of society's consciousness and transformation.

"Once higher education becomes intermingled with the market (an oppressive force) it too becomes oppressive. It becomes oppressive to students due to rising fees that are exorbitant each year, with no complementary rise in the quality being offered.

"It oppresses the staff through long hours of lecturing bloated classrooms beyond prescribed hours, as well as added pressure to produce research, supervise an increased number of students and attend conferences with no indicated plan on how to make all these expectations sanely possible."

He pointed out that academia becomes a narcissistic exercise whereby there is a rush to produce too much, even in small, inaccessible journals that have no impact on the circulation, development and nurturing of knowledge. 

"In all this, the need to restore quality is superseded by the push for quantity in both intake and throughput. Students suffer and leave under-prepared. The sober conclusion is that, if we allow higher education to be commodified, we intentionally continue the commodification of humanity as a whole.

"Once this happens, the space for genuine transformation - that is substantive transformation beyond the numbers and percentages games of human capital - becomes stifled because transformation is an antithesis of the dominant current establishment."

He went on to say that transformation in higher education and society at large must "infuse the black community with a newly-found pride" in their effort, value systems, cultures, religion and outlook of life. "Transformation is about changing the psyche of black people, making them feel represented in the literature and culture of higher education," he said.

In his closing remarks, Mnguni emphasised that university management joins students alongside unions in demanding more funding for higher education with the need to restore the sector as a function of public good.

"May we all continue to fight for justice in all spaces of our functioning, question the systems we work within and consistently challenge authority to remind those in power that they are servants of the people and should remain humble and committed at all times. We must all keep probing in order to develop a higher education system infused with a progressive transformation agenda."

Mnguni's family attended his lecture and stated they were exceptionally proud of him. Academics, at the lecture, were impressed with his choice of topic and his presentation stating it was akin to a good inaugural lecture.

* Lukhona Mnguni holds a Bachelor of Community and Development Studies (cum laude) and an Honours Degree in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (cum laude), both from UKZN. He's the recipient of the 2012 UKZN Distinguished Students Award - received by two most outstanding students for that year. He is an alumnus of the Brightest Young Minds in South Africa. He is a lifetime member of the Golden Key International Honours Society and is a newspaper columnist, a News24 Voices blogger and radio commentator on socio-political and socioeconomic issues.

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Education Academic Discusses LGBTI Issues at Mandela Tribute Conference

Education Academic Discusses LGBTI Issues at Mandela Tribute Conference
Senior Lecturer in Education, Dr Thabo Msibi.

Senior Lecturer and cluster leader in UKZN’s School of Education, Dr Thabo Msibi, recently presented his research on same-sex and gender diversity issues in Africa as an invited plenary speaker at the Third Biennial Kwame Nkrumah International Conference hosted by the Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada.

The Conference paid tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela with topics geared towards the heroic icon but also focused on research under the theme: “Re-engaging the African Diasporas: Pan-Africanism in the Age of Globalisation”. Struggle icon and friend to Nelson Mandela, Mr Jay Naidoo, was the keynote speaker.

Msibi presented two talks during the event: a plenary presentation exploring whether social activism should be an “insider job” and another titled Is Teaching about Homophobia and Sexual Diversity in South Africa Part of Social Activism? Both talks were focused on debunking the growing myth that same-sex desire is a Western imposition on the African continent. 

Msibi spoke about government responses to same-sex desire in countries such as Uganda and Nigeria where stringent, draconian laws to curb this “Western disease” have already been passed. 

‘The intense homophobia evident in many African countries is not unchallenged; South Africa is the first country to have embodied constitutional recognition and protection in relation to sexual orientation.  Despite this, the discourses espoused in other parts of Africa are not uncommon within South Africa, and are increasingly being articulated,’ he said.

Msibi explored the criteria that inform a strategy that aims to address homophobia and whether this strategy counts as social activism.

He discussed, in two parts, a project that seeks to address homophobia within township schools in KwaZulu-Natal by drawing on young people and teachers representing varied sexual and gendered subjectivities to talk about experiences of homophobia. The second part of the project involves an intervention geared towards supporting pre-service teachers in actually teaching sexual diversity matters. 

Drawing on both these projects, Msibi showed that in contexts like South Africa, any intervention seeking to challenge homophobia must take into account the role played by culture and religion in shaping people’s perceptions of same-sex desire.

He emphasised that activism that seeks to challenge homophobia on the continent needs to be informed by local needs and experiences, with contextual issues being prioritised.  This would require what he termed a ‘people first’ approach and the utilisation of local resources and knowledge. Top-down interventions, he argued, merely serve to reinforce the idea that same-sex desire is unAfrican.   

‘Additionally, such interventions require an understanding of homophobia as a shared concern, not just affecting same-sex desiring individuals, but affecting everybody regardless of sexual orientation.’

‘Hence, interventions should be understood as part of social activism given the complexities surrounding same-sex desire in African contexts. We need to pay careful consideration to contextual realities prior to the designing and implementation of any interventions directed towards addressing homophobia.’

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Screens Acclaimed Documentary, Rumi Returning

UKZN Screens Acclaimed Documentary, <em>Rumi Returning</em>
Rumi Returning Producer Ms Cynthia Lukas at the South African premiere at UKZN.

The School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) recently screened the acclaimed documentary Rumi Returning which tells the life story of the great 13th century Persian poet and Sufi sage. The film has inspired audiences around the world. 

Producer-director Kell Kearns and producer Ms Cynthia Lukas of Heaven on Earth Creations filmed the biopic on location in Turkey amidst the places in Rumi’s everyday life. The film features the whirling dervishes that Rumi created. 

Onscreen commentators include Dr Coleman Barks, whose books of Rumi’s poetry are responsible in part for the current Rumi mania in the West; Dr Akbar Ahmed, Professor of Islamic Studies at American University; and Rumi expert and mystical scholar Andrew Harvey.

Attending the South African premiere at UKZN to discuss the film, Lukas said: ‘Our film has become a phenomenon because Rumi speaks to a deep hunger in humankind to realise its oneness and live in peace. We hope that Rumi’s sublime message will reach not only every home but every classroom, library and heart.’

Jon Bowman, then Executive Director of the Santa Fe Film Festival, described the movie as ‘not only a work of extreme visual beauty, but also a feature exhibiting immense passion and conveying a profound, spiritual message certain to resonate deeply with viewers.’

For biographical information and information about other Heaven on Earth documentaries, visit their website,

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Music Student Wins 2014 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships

UKZN Music Student Wins 2014 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships
UKZN Master of Music student Mr Prince Bulo, winner of the 2014 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition.

UKZN Master of Music student Mr Prince Bulo recently won the prestigious 2014 Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) Overseas Scholarships Competition in the Jazz Music category. He received the R170 000 scholarship to further his music studies abroad where he plans to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston in the United States, followed by a series of master classes in music production.

Bulo also snagged the inaugural Surendran Reddy clazz Award for young composers worth R10 000. Reddy was a boundary-crossing South African composer, pianist and teacher who passed away in 2010. He termed his signature style “clazz” – a fusion of classical, jazz, traditional African music, mbaqanga and other types of world music.

Speaking about winning the two awards, Bulo said it was a ‘fantastic opportunity’.

But it was an opportunity he very nearly missed. ‘My Apple Mac had crashed three days before the cut-off date for the competition. All that I had been working on for months was gone. I called the SAMRO foundation and was told not to give up and I was encouraged to create a whole new portfolio in three days.’

Sleepless nights and hours of hard work led to Bulo’s work Bass’d in Africa being submitted. The composition impressed the judges on the night of the competition and landed him the coveted scholarship.

The SAMRO competition took place at the Wits Great Hall in Braamfontein where four scholarship finalists battled it out with their original compositions during a special concert evening.

Professor Jürgen Bräuninger of the Music Discipline said: ‘Prince Bulo is indeed a great role model and follows in the footsteps of numerous other highly successful past UKZN music students.’

Bulo advised other up-and-coming musicians to realise that one’s work doesn’t go unnoticed and never to give up or give in to pressure.

Bulo plans on working with his role models in the industry in the future and will be playing bass on the Clash of the Choirs SA album.

Melissa Mungroo

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Academic Shares Lessons From Transformative Educational Studies Project

Academic Shares Lessons From Transformative Educational Studies Project
Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan (centre) with former doctoral student Dr Lungile Masinga (left) and current doctoral student Anita Hiralaal at the 10th International Conference on Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices.

Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Senior Lecturer in Teacher Development Studies in the School of Education, recently gave a presentation for the College of Law and Management Studies on the Transformative Educational Studies Project (TES). The presentation was hosted by the College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Kriben Pillay.

In the TES project, all participants engaged in self-study of their educational practice in Higher Education and formed an inter-institutional, trans-disciplinary learning community, which aimed to enhance and study the development of self-reflexive pedagogic, research and supervision capacity among these participants.

Pithouse-Morgan said that the conceptual underpinning of TES was that of reflexive Ubuntu, which demands a consciousness of our developing “selves” as researchers and educators and of our interrelationships with other people. The presentation made public the learning from TES about supporting a postgraduate educational research learning community involving academic staff working and studying in three very different university contexts.

‘In the talk I considered how collaborative, social and innovative approaches to scholarship of teaching and learning can enhance generativity in Higher Education research and pedagogy,’ said Pithouse-Morgan.

Questions raised about the validity of self-study as legitimate research was also addressed, and questioners were informed that self-study was over 20 years old and had a body of research to back up its methodological approach.

Pithouse-Morgan is lead editor of a recent, themed issue of the journal Perspectives in Education, titled ‘Self-study of educational practice: Re-imagining our pedagogies’ (

Kriben Pillay

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UKZN Celebrates Arbor Day

UKZN Celebrates Arbor Day
UKZN staff and students from Humanities, Commerce and Life Sciences took part in a tree-planting ceremony to mark Arbor Day on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

‘The first week in September is Arbor Week when anyone and everyone the world over is encouraged to plant trees.’  So says Alison Young, Chief Horticulturist at UKZN’s Botanical Gardens.

‘In South Africa the Department of Forestry has, in an effort to increase public awareness of indigenous trees, recommended two specific trees to be planted each year,’ she explained. ‘They call these the Trees of the Year. We do plant these if they are available.’

In commemoration of Arbor Day, UKZN staff and students drawn from the Humanities, Commerce and Life Sciences participated in a special tree-planting ceremony at two venues on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

‘Some Commerce students asked for shade trees at the swimming pool so four trees were planted there,’ said Young.  ‘Then the grounds staff asked that trees also be planted at the new Medical residence next to Dennison.’

Small trees and colourful shrubs were planted in groups of three in an effort to break the concrete atmosphere.

‘All the trees are indigenous and grown in the Botanical Gardens and Arboretum of the School of Life Sciences,’ said Young. ‘The trees are left over from Ecology projects in Biology degrees.’

Young thanked Mr Andreas Chonco and his Grounds staff and as well as the Sports Grounds staff for helping to dig and prepare holes at short notice. She also thanked Mr Dave Evans for organising the staff and refreshments. As Chief Horticulturist, Young was responsible for organising the trees.

‘The event went really well and was lots of fun,’ said Life Sciences PhD student Lindy Thompson.

Contact:  Alison Young, 033 260 5154, 082 406 5638,

Sally Frost

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New Research Partnership for Smallholder Farmer Development

New Research Partnership for Smallholder Farmer Development
Representatives from the Agricultural Research Council and the Universities of Fort Hare, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal met to plan the launch of the new ARC Collaboration Centre for Smallholder Farmer Development.

A new initiative is underway whereby universities are being encouraged to work with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) to address national priorities.

UKZN, under the project leadership of Professor John Derera of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), has joined with the ARC and the Universities of Limpopo and Fort Hare to establish the ARC Collaboration Centre for Smallholder Farmer Development.

‘The establishment of this Centre is part of a national drive to get more MScs and PhDs,’ explained Dr Mohammed Jeenah, the ARC Group Executive responsible for Crop Science.  ‘The ARC sits with most of the PhDs in agriculture in the country. We have the infrastructure and resources to assist universities in developing smallholder farmers.’

Seed funding of R2.5 million per year to cover operational and capital expenditure as well as bursaries has been provided by the ARC for a three-year period. It is envisaged that this will be supplemented through fundraising efforts by the partner universities.

The ARC Collaboration Centre for Smallholder Farmer Development is one of five such initiatives being rolled out by the ARC. Others focus on broadening the food base, climate change, genomics, and agricultural economics, respectively. It is envisaged that research and training undertaken in each of the centres will interact with and inform the others. ‘This is a national initiative which will see different departments link into one another and into national efforts,’ said Jeenah.

The fledgling ARC Collaboration Centre for Smallholder Farmer Development is set to be launched at the end of September and will see a physical presence at all three collaborating universities and at the ARC. 

Identified outputs for the project are several-fold: to train smallholder farmers; to develop research capacity by training MSc and PhD graduates; and to ensure new knowledge is being generated through publications.

‘As an established university UKZN is the lead institution in this collaboration,’ said Derera. ‘The idea is to bring universities on board with the ARC to form a consortium that will help small farmers.’

Derera said the project would involve 37 researchers over the three universities.  The goal was to train 51 MSc and 15 PhD students in total. Students in the programme would be trained through the identified research focus areas, namely, food security, institutional issues, and technology transfer.  

‘UKZN will take its first 10 MSc students now, to synchronise with the agricultural seasons,’ he said.

UKZN’s Dean and Head of SAEES, Professor Albert Modi, described the initiative as ‘historic’. ‘We have an opportunity to work with other universities to address a problem that is both national and global. It should be welcomed with both hands.’

‘SAEES has a troika research strategy, whereby different disciplines are encouraged to work together. This Centre is bigger than that, as it is inter-institutional.’

Modi said the Centre would produce research outcomes relevant to community development. ‘Research projects will affect the lives of people in rural areas. It is exciting on that basis. It will showcase the relevance of research-led community outreach in the School.’

Modi said the fact that two DST-NRF SARChI Research Chairs (Land Use Planning and Management; and Rural Agronomy and Development) that resided in the School would be able to contribute to the project, lent it high-level research status.

Professor Ajuruchukwa Obi from the University of Fort Hare was positive about the contribution his institution could make to the collaboration. ‘Fort Hare is the foremost rural development university in the country,’ he said.  ‘Being situated in a former homeland, it is surrounded by real subjects that need attention. We are ideally placed to engage at the grassroots level, as we bring both the science and the soft skills. This collaboration with the ARC, Limpopo and UKZN is timely as it has the potential to yield excellent results.’

Professor William Mashela from the University of Limpopo was equally enthusiastic about the establishment of the Centre. ‘Our university services smallholder farmers,’ he explained.  ‘This is an appropriate project to lever what we are already involved in. The project brings together an established university (UKZN), the ARC with its established research facilities and highly qualified professionals, and two universities situated in rural areas with experience in smallholder community involvement and farmer development. It is a recipe for success.’

Sally Frost

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USolwazi wezifundo zamakhambi uyosebenza njengongoti womhlaba eNyuvesi yase-US

USolwazi wezifundo zamakhambi uyosebenza njengongoti womhlaba eNyuvesi yase-US
uSolwazi Fatima Suleman (ophakathi nendawo) nozakwabo engqungqutheleni ye-LifeLong Learning in Pharmacy ebibanjelwe eFlorida.

Click here for English version

USolwazi Fatima Suleman onguSolwazi osanda kukhushulwa emkhakheni weSayensi yezamakhambi kwisikole seSayensi Yezempilo ekhempasini yase-Westville e-UKZN umenywe ukuyosebenza njengongoti womhlaba ngokubambisana neKolishi Lezifundo zamakhambi nezeMpilo  lase-Drake noSolwazi Oyisivakashi eNyuvesi yase-Drake, e-Iowa eMelika kusukela ngoMasingana kuya kuNhlaba wezi-2015.

USuleman wazi ngalesimemo ngenkathi evakashele iNyuvesi yase-Drake ngo-Nhlaba kulo nyaka eyovuselela ukubambisana phakathi kwe-UKZN neNyuvesi yase-Drake.Uhambo beluthinta nokuvakashela izingxenye zesikhungo, izingxoxo nabafundisi abathintekayo nabanye abasebenzi benyuvesi abakhulu. USuleman ubuye wathula inkulumo ebinesihloko esithi”Multicultural Approaches to Medicine Use-sholud we be concerned?”ebihlelwe yasingathwa yi-Principal Financial Group Center Global Citizenship(PFGCGC).

USuleman ubenguSolwazi eKolishi LezeSayensi Yamakhambi nezeMpilo emnyangweni Sayensi Yokwelapha eNyuvesi yase-Drake kusukela  ngonyaka wezi-2009 kuya kowezi 2012. Isicelo sokuba aqokwe njengongoti womhlaba safakwa uSolwazi John Rovers waseKolishi leSayensi Yezamakhambi nezeMpilo.

USuleman uthe:’ lokhu kuyithuba elihle kakhulu futhi ebelingalindelekile. Ngithintekile yisenzo sokungethemba kozakwethu futhi ngizimisele nokuphakamisa isithunzi se-UKZN ngesikhathi engizosichitha lapha.’

Ngokubambisana neNyuvesi yase-Drake uSuleman usesebenze ngezinhlelo zokushintshisana ngabafundi. Ukubambisana kwabasebenzi ezinhlelweni zocwaningo nezokufunda bekwenzeka phakathi kweNyuvesi yase-Drake ne-UKZN.

Ngenkathi esohambweni lwakhe lwamuva nje eMelika, uSuleman uhambele ingqungquthela ebise-Orlando e-Florida ye-Lifelong Learning in Pharmacy (LLLP) lapho athula khona izinkulumo zezithombe ezinezihloko ezithi: ‘Ukwazi ngomthelela wokwethembela ekusebenziseni imithini yiziguli uma kuqeqeshwa osomakhambi’ nesithi ‘Ingabe osomakhambi bayalusebenzisa ulwazi lokulondoloza nokulahlwa kwemithi. Ucwaningo kubantu abahlala emalokishini KwaZulu-Natali.’

Njengoba ukunakekelwa kweziguli okuthe xaxa kuyinjongo ephezulu, ingqungquthela i-LLLP ibisophe ukudingida izinto ezibalulekile nokuthuthukiswa kokusebenza ngamakhambi ngokufundisa nokuqeqesha.

-        uZakia Jeewa

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UKZN Hosts Mandela-Rhodes Community Dialogues

UKZN Hosts Mandela-Rhodes Community Dialogues
Panellists Dr Rama Naidu, Ms Zama Ndlovu and Ms Kanyisa Booi look on as Mr Suntosh Pillay of the Mandela-Rhodes Community delivers a welcome address.

Why are we still struggling with social transformation? This question was unpacked at the annual Conversations for Change, a dialogue initiative of the Mandela-Rhodes Community that began in 2012. For the third year running, the event was held in partnership with UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division. Almost 100 students, staff and community members gathered at Howard College Theatre on 4 September to engage with the sought-after panel of speakers.

Ms Kanyisa Booi from Pinetown, who began Mocha Panda (Youth Forward) dialogues across South Africa to get youth involved in discussions about national policies, asked: ‘Is transformation feasible and do we have policies in place that are fertile grounds for transformation? Can we make the policies work?’ She lamented the barriers to entrepreneurship, asking whether young people are equipped to be business people. ‘Are we harvesting the energy of the youth in the manner in which we should be?’ Booi is a Connections Leader at ‘Activate! Change Drivers’, a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good. She is also on the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans list for 2014.

Ms Zama Ndlovu, author of A Bad Black’s Manifesto, is a strategist for the National Planning Commission chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and she is also the Managing Director of Youth Lab, a youth-policy think-tank based in Gauteng. She emphasised the importance of knowing when and how to be a good follower, reminding everyone that ‘even Nelson Mandela was a follower before a leader’.

Dr Rama Naidu, Founder and Executive Director of the Democracy Development Programme, challenged the audience to become active, listening citizens, who took time out to really understand the experiences of others. ‘Stop talking about the Whites that are racists and the Blacks that are entitled. Go over and listen to their story; don’t make it up. Stop having the same conversations about the same topics around the braai every month,’ he said, urging citizens to take charge of the types of conversations they engage in. ‘Start with the room you’re in,’ he advised.

In keeping with Naidu’s dictum that ‘the greatest wisdom can be found in the voice that is not heard’, the floor was opened for questions for an hour-and-a-half.

‘We always stick to an agenda where the speakers only make short, five-minute-long opening comments, provocative enough to inspire participation from the audience,’ said Mr Suntosh Pillay, Regional Coordinator of the Mandela-Rhodes Community. ‘This is a move away from events where there are long, drawn-out keynote speeches and almost no time for deep conversation to emerge.’

Audience questions ranged from the role of violent revolutions to whether freedom mattered when you were starving, the divisive nature of tribalism and collective group identities, the racialised nature of transformation, unemployed youth with university degrees, and whether dialogue in itself is a form of change.

Siya Khumalo, an audience member from Umgababa, said: ‘Personally, I took away that whenever faced with a political leader or public servant in an open forum, it is entirely appropriate to ask, “Why should I let you keep your job?” It’s my tax that’s paying their salary. Corporates are downsizing but government is upsizing. There’s something very wrong with that picture.’

The Mandela-Rhodes Community is an alumni body of recipients of the Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship and is a registered non-profit company aimed at furthering the goal of developing exceptional, ethical leadership capacity in Africa. According to Pillay, the Community has been most successful when it functions as a platform for debates, most notably at its annual conference, in online forums such as ThoughtLeader, and during the Conversations event. ‘We are happy to partner with similar organisations and host events jointly,’ he said.


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PhD Cohort Candidate Successfully Defends Proposal

PhD Cohort Candidate Successfully Defends Proposal
From left: Dr Federico Settler, Chairperson of the SRPC Oral Review (Proposal Defence) Committee; Minister Christopher Mushohwe and PhD candidate in Ethics; Dr Felix Murove, Mushohwe’s Doctoral supervisor for Ethics.

The School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) in the College of Humanities recently celebrated the first successful doctoral proposal defence by a member of its Zimbabwe PhD student cohort programme. 

In August, Christopher Chitondi Mushohwe, Provincial Affairs Minister for Manicaland Province and Director of the Presidential Scholarship Programme, successfully defended his PhD proposal titled, “Ethics, Governance and the Rise of African Nationalism” under the supervision of Dr Felix Murove.

In the first semester of 2014 the Schools of Education and SRPC successfully launched a PhD cohort programme in Zimbabwe, convening doctoral research workshops in the cities of Harare and Masvingo. The UKZN Zimbabwe Cohort supervision programme supports academics and civil servants in key positions towards attaining their doctoral qualifications.

In addition to ongoing cohort supervision, all doctoral students have to defend their proposal to an Oral Review Committee.  The SRPC has found this to be critical for maintaining quality in doctoral research, but has also experienced it as a rewarding process for both supervisors and students.

Federico Settler

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Food Security Graduate Presents Peer-Reviewed Interdisciplinary Research in Seattle

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UKZN Students Team up with SAIIA on Schools’ Environmental Sustainability Project

UKZN Students Team up with SAIIA on Schools’ Environmental  Sustainability Project
UKZN Students and representatives from SAIIA and SASOL at the Sustainability Project held at the Durban Botanic Gardens.

Members of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and UKZN students teamed up recently to promote environmental sustainability in South Africa by helping to organise the 2014 SAIIA Sasol Environmental Sustainability Project (ESP)’s provincial presentation.

The UKZN students participated under the auspices of the United Nations Association of South Africa, UKZN chapter (UNASA-UKZN).

The event, which is part of SAIIA’s youth programme under the sponsorship of SASOL, is an integral part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The programme aims to expose high school learners to research on climate change and environmental issues and as well provide them with an opportunity to present their findings at provincial level. It is hoped that some of these findings will pave way for possible actions meant as responses to global challenges.

The event, which took place on the 26 of August 2014 at the Durban Botanic Gardens, was also designed as a platform to select the top six learners and two teachers who will represent KwaZulu-Natal at the upcoming 2014 SAIIA Young Leaders’ Conference.

Chiwueze Benedict Udeh

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UKZN Onomastic Scholar Elected to Serve on International Board

UKZN Onomastic Scholar Elected to Serve on International Board
Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa.

Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Humanities, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa, has been elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious International Congress of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS) from 2014 to 2017.

ICOS is an international scholarly body which deals with the study of names, naming and naming systems. The elections took place at the 25th ICOS that was held at the University of Glasgow in August.

Hlongwa is the only onomastic scholar outside North America and Europe who was elected to the board. She is an ambassador of the African continent on the board.

Hlongwa follows in the footsteps of Professor Adrian Koopman, who was the first African scholar elected to serve on the ICOS Board of Directors.

Hlongwa attended her first ICOS in 2008 in Toronto. This led to collaborative work with colleagues working with indigenous onomastics and she delivered a keynote address at the International Conference on Indigenous Place names in Norway in 2010.

She is currently involved in an onomastic study of the genealogy of African surnames funded by the KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Premier.

On her election, Hlongwa said: ‘This is a milestone and a privilege for me as an indigenous names scholar to be elected to such a prestigious international congress. I am saying this because most of my research in athroponomastics and toponomastics has been written in isiZulu, an indigenous African language. I am happy to raise the flag of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and that of the Names Society of Southern Africa internationally through names research.’

Professor Adrian Koopman congratulated Hlongwa on her election to the ICOS Board. ‘I think it is great that our Southern African scholarly community of onomasticians has a representative on the world body of onomastics scholars.’


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UKZN Academic Elected to Leadership of Global Pharmaceutical Body

UKZN Academic Elected to Leadership of Global Pharmaceutical Body
Mr Andy Gray.

School of Health Sciences Senior Lecturer Mr Andy Gray was elected a Vice-President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) at the 74th World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Founded in 1912, FIP represents three million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists worldwide and is in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO). The Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa is one of 132 member organisations of FIP. In addition, pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists can become individual members of FIP.

Gray is the first South African to win the election at this level of executive governance. ‘I am proud to serve FIP as one of the nine Vice-Presidents on the Bureau,’ he said.

He has been serving as Chairman of the Board of Pharmaceutical Practice of the FIP for the past four years. He has also been an individual member of FIP for 13 years and has served at various levels, including as President of the Hospital Pharmacy Section.

According to Gray, four of the nine Vice-President positions were filled in Bangkok. Two are elected by the Boards of Pharmaceutical Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences respectively, and five are elected by the Council.

Gray, who is a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, is also a Research Associate at CAPRISA (Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa). His research interests include analysis aimed at improving the effectiveness of national medicine policies.

Nombuso Dlamini

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Dentistry Lecturers Present at International Conference in Cape Town

Dentistry Lecturers Present at International Conference in Cape Town
Mrs Rajeshree Moodley and Mr Tufayl Muslim at the Conference.

Two academics from the Discipline of Dentistry, both of whom are PhD candidates, presented their research findings at the 92nd General Session and Exhibition of the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) International Conference which was held recently in Cape Town.

Mrs Rajeshree Moodley presented a poster that disseminated her findings on the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) amongst dentists in KwaZulu-Natal whilst Mr Tufayl Muslim presented a paper titled: “Comparative Analysis of Oral Health Workforce Forecasting Using Systems Dynamics”. 

Moodley said: ‘MSDs are health problems of the locomotor apparatus that include muscles, tendons, the skeleton, cartilage, ligaments and nerves. ‘They can either be minor disorders or irreversible disabling injuries and are often caused or exacerbated by work.’

There were two types of MSD injuries: one being acute and painful and the other chronic and lingering. Moodley added that information regarding the prevalence of MSD among South African dentists was scarce. Her study aimed to determine MSD prevalence in KwaZulu-Natal dentists and to identify risk factors associated with it.

In Moodley’s study population of 109 local dentists, 99.1 percent reported pain in one or more locations (either/or in the hands, neck, lower back and shoulder). Just under a quarter reported symptoms of the hand and nearly three quarters rotated their necks during clinical work, with a third tilting a shoulder towards their dominant hand. A strong association was found between the number of years in practice and pain in the neck during clinical work.

The study concluded that the prevalence of MSD in the present South African sample was significantly high when compared to studies from other countries. ‘Self-recognition plays an important role in the prevention of occupational injuries among dentists,’ said Moodley. ‘There is a need to include ergonomic work practice during dental training to create awareness of prevalence of MSDs and promote wellbeing.’

Mr Tufayl Muslim’s study sought to demonstrate the application of Systems Dynamic (SD) modelling as a forecasting tool in cross-national oral healthcare worker (OHCW) forecasting. Workforce forecasting provides organisations with a plan to address their strategic human capital requirements. Muslim recognised human resources for health workforce forecasting as a highly complex logistical task because accurate forecasts that reflect policy reforms are expensive to produce, and the variables that affect policy development, implementation, and reform need to be considered in this forecasting. 

In his study, a SD modelling tool (Vensim® PLE Version 6.2) was used to conduct retrospective (2001-2011) and prospective (2011-2021) cross-national comparative analysis of OHCW forecasting between a developed country (Australia) and a developing country (South Africa).

Simulation run results, constructed using the SD model, revealed gaps in the accuracy of OHCW planning when compared with actual workforce numbers. In 2011 Australia had a 21.7% oversupply of dentists whilst South Africa had a 17.4% undersupply.

The study concluded that using SD modelling could improve the accuracy of forecasts. ‘SD modelling has been shown to be a useful forecasting tool that could lead to providing optimal oral healthcare service delivery in developed and developing countries,’ said Muslim.

Lunga Memela

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Novel Honours Study Validates Reports of Muscular Imbalances in the Elderly

Novel Honours Study Validates Reports of Muscular Imbalances in the Elderly
Postgraduate Biokinetics student, Ms Casey de Koning, and her Research Supervisor, Dr Terry Ellapen.

A novel study conducted as an Honours project by Sport Sciences (Biokinetics) student, Casey de Koning, was recently published in the African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance and presented at the College of Health Sciences Research Symposium. The paper was published just two months after De Koning graduated at UKZN.

The study examined the impact of an anteriorly tilted pelvis (ATP) on elderly individuals’ ability to complete the sit-to-stand movement (STSM) after anecdotal reports suggested that those who had ATP experienced difficulty in completing the movement. 

Over 100 senior citizens residing at an Association for the Aged (TAFTA) facility participated in the study investigating the force-couple relationship of biceps femoris and rectus femoris involved in the STSM. Participants underwent a physical examination and reported on the incidence of chronic musculoskeletal injuries, the anatomical site of injury, and weekly physical activity.

The analysis included EMG (electromyography), which is a technique for evaluating and recording electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. The test is used to help detect neuromuscular abnormalities. Telectrode’s (electrodes that stick to the skin) are inserted onto the skin above the muscle belly. Electrical activity picked up by the electrodes is then displayed on an oscilloscope (a monitor that displays electrical activity in the form of waves).

De Koning’s study, co-authored by M Miller, C Tucker and her superviser Dr Terry Ellapen, is unique in that although it was known that elderly people often experience difficulty completing the STSM, never before had EMG activity been recorded during the transition from STS, and with a postural analysis.

Ellapen said the study was the first of its kind internationally to validate these muscular imbalances in the elderly. It confirmed that elderly people with ATP have an abnormal biceps femoris: rectus femoris force-couple relationship which impacts on their STSM capability. The rectus femoris muscle is part of the quadriceps muscle group and the only muscle of the group which crosses the hip joint. It is a powerful knee extensor when the hip is extended, but is weak when the hip is flexed.

‘It’s a coup for a young South African like De Koning to have her study recognised internationally,’ said Ellapen. He added that it was important for more young and talented students to be introduced to the field of research in Biokinetics. ‘The more skills we bring into field, the more we can improve the quality of life in our communities’.

De Koning said she had wanted to do Biokinetics from the first day she stepped into the Sport Science programme. Now aged 22, De Koning is the first in her family to have graduated with a postgraduate degree and she intends to pursue her masters in the discipline. She said, ‘It’s really great to have your work published internationally, especially with this topic because getting old applies to everybody’.

De Koning is a keen sportswoman, specialising in stillwater life-saving, softball and indoor hockey. An accomplished swimmer, she has competed 13 consecutive Midmar Mile races. On the academic front, she received a UKZN Scholarship, and a Gold Award for a research presentation in 2013.

Lunga Memela

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A New Approach to Patients with Acute Hand Burns

A New Approach to Patients with Acute Hand Burns
Mrs Tanuja Dunpath.

Research conducted among patients that have suffered acute burns of the hand has affirmed that the healing process is often more complex and multi-faceted than is commonly believed. While sympathy over the physical pain may be forthcoming, the support needed by burn patients extends beyond this, calling for emotional, psychological and social reintegration.

A study conducted by Mrs Tanuja Dunpath, a Senior Tutor of Physiotherapy at UKZN, explored the experiences of adult patients admitted to public hospitals for rehabilitation. It also aimed to explore the experiences of Physiotherapy staff in the management of patients and their hand burn injuries, thus employing a patient and practitioner perspective.

The findings, presented at the College of Health Sciences’ Research Symposium at the Medical School, revealed that some of the most significant components of the burn experience from the patient’s perspective include the trauma of the incident, fear of the pain during therapy, and the anticipation of stigmatisation as a result of scarring. Therapists identified several factors that determined a patients’ level of participation and motivation in therapy. These included the psychological and emotional impact of the traumatic event, procedural pain, and family support.

Importantly, the findings emphasise the inequity attached to burn incidents which tend to affect the most vulnerable people in society: those living in poor socio-economic conditions without basic services and the expectation of a safe environment.

Dunpath said: ‘If you take a closer look, burn injuries commonly affect those living in poor social settings … They are in vulnerable situations already using candles and kerosene stoves as an everyday means of light and for cooking … These individuals are now further burdened with coping with their burn injuries.’

She said some of the burn patients in her study were breadwinners who relied on their hands and appendages to stay employed. In these cases, the injuries impacted on all aspects of the individual’s life and that of his or her family.

‘The psychological impact of the burn event cannot be understated. While the physical aspects of the experience may be addressed, the emotional impact is just as significant to the individual’s sense of well-being. A lot of grief and anger has to be dealt with as a result of the burn experience, particularly in the case of intentional burn incidents,’ said Dunpath.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the study participants was dealing with burn associated stigma – patients with burn injuries felt that people in the community would isolate, ridicule or laugh at them. Dunpath said physiotherapists need to collaborate with psychologists and social workers in order to facilitate a more positive experience of therapy, recovery and future outlook for patients.

Dunpath re-joined UKZN after practising Physiotherapy in the public sector in order to expand her experience as a Physiotherapist in an academic setting. The burn study was completed as part of her master’s degree. ‘I loved what I did in my master’s. I loved its outcome and I know my PhD will also focus on patients with burn injuries,’ said the mother of two.

She said her experience would not have been possible without the unconditional support of, and motivation from, her husband and supervisors Mrs Verusia Chetty (Physiotherapy) and Mrs Dain van der Reyden (Occupational Therapy).

What attracted Dunpath to Physiotherapy was her passion for working with people and providing them with the care, support and means of achieving their goals. ‘It’s a really hands-on profession and it helps to make collaborative decisions about patients’ futures and their recovery process.’

Dunpath also wants to develop her teaching skills as an academic, working with students in a clinical setting where they are also exposed to burn patients. 

Lunga Memela

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