College of Law and Management Studies holds Parents Days

College of Law and Management Studies holds Parents Days
College of Law and Management Studies staff engaging with parents.

The College of Law and Management Studies recently held meetings with parents of first year students on its Howard College, Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses.

These meetings were used by the College to welcome the parents and to reassure them that they have made the right decision for choosing UKZN. These gatherings created a platform for the College staff to engage with the parents and to share useful information pertaining to the support that will be given to their children during their stay at UKZN. Parents were also informed about the various scholarship packages and funding options at their disposal.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College Professor John Mubangizi addressed the parents and urged them to support their children. He said: ‘Your children will be competing with some of the smartest young people locally, nationally and internationally. As such, they need to apply themselves diligently. Encourage your children to start studying immediately.’

College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Kriben Pillay, emphasised that teaching and learning were the College’s priorities. He informed them about the systems that have been put in place to ensure that each student succeeds academically including tutorials, the services offered by the Writing Place, academic counselling to name but a few.

The College Deans and Heads of Schools unpacked the various undergraduate programmes offered in the College.

A parent of a first year Law student, Ms Sibongile Mtolo, said she was glad the University had given parents an opportunity to engage with the staff.

‘I was impressed by the presentations and to be assured my child will be taught by experts who have presented their work all over the world. This is the first time my daughter will not be living with me so it is good to know she will have all of the support she needs which makes me less anxious and more excited to see her succeed,’ she said.

Thandiwe Jumo and Hazel Langa

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UKZN VC at Rugby

UKZN VC at Rugby

Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld with UKZN Impi team, before they took to the field in the Varsity Shield home fixture. The Impi triumphed over the TUT Vikings with a score of 68 – 5. The game was held at the Peter Booysen Sports Field on the Pietermaritzburg Campus on Monday, 9 February 2015.

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Contributing to K-RITH’s Cutting Edge TB Research

Contributing to K-RITH’s Cutting Edge TB Research
Dr Dirk Lamprecht.

K-RITH’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Dirk Lamprecht, has developed a novel method for screening anti-mycobacterial drugs that target Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bioenergetics.

Lamprecht presented this at the 2014 College of Health Sciences (CHS) Research Symposium as a poster presentation titled: “Real Time Mycobacterial Bioenergetic Profiling as a Novel Anti-Mycobacterial Drug Screen”. 

Through using this method the study discovered that two of the new anti-mycobacterial drugs induced an unexpected and surprising increase in Mtb oxygen consumption.  This finding contradicted current understanding of the mode of action of these drugs and is of major significance for future tuberculosis drug discovery and development efforts.

As a result, Lamprecht has spent the past few months determining the mechanism of action of this increase.

He was invited to present some of these results at the 2nd H3-D Symposium on Innovative Approaches to Tuberculosis Drug Discovery in Zambia last year, and this has led to the Steyn Lab at K-RITH collaborating with medicinal chemists at the University of Cape Town, with Lamprecht characterising their new anti-mycobacterial drug compounds.       

Lamprecht received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Stellenbosch in 2012 after which he joined the laboratory of Dr Adrie Steyn – also a University of Stellenbosch alumnus – at K-RITH as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. 

‘My decision to join Dr Steyn’s K-RITH laboratory was twofold,’ said Lamprecht. ‘Dr Steyn has a long and outstanding publishing record as a TB research scientist, and KwaZulu-Natal is also the epicentre of the TB/HIV co-infection and the MDR-and XDR-TB epidemics, which makes UKZN and K-RITH unique institutions to study Mtb, the causative bacteria of TB.

‘Being confronted with the devastation being caused by TB on a nearly day basis, makes you think differently about basic science research and forces you to find clinical applications for everything you do,’ he said.

Lamprecht is currently involved with several projects centred on Mtb bioenergetics; the role it plays in latency and persistence of Mtb inside the human host and how the findings can be translated into clinical uses.

‘Using the methods for studying Mtb bioenergetics I have developed by adapting existing mammalian cell technology, we have made tremendous strides in understanding the effect anti-mycobacterial drugs, carbon sources and specific virulence genes have on Mtb bioenergetics.’

‘Being a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at K-RITH and funded by the UKZN CHS Postdoctoral Scholarship has opened my eyes to what world class tuberculosis research should look like.  During my time here I’ve had numerous opportunities to learn from and interact with the international scientific community, both at scientific meetings and from visiting scientists, on a more intimate level.’

Lamprecht said it was very important for the development of young African scientists to learn from the international scientific community and to apply what we have learned to create a robust African anti-mycobacterial drug development network through which they will be able to confront the TB epidemic with their own novel ideas and insights. 

‘Being able to do world class research at K-RITH and UKZN will help me to achieve my aspirations of being part of and helping to build a strong African anti-mycobacterial drug development network, something I feel really passionate about.’

Lamprecht hopes to present his research at two international scientific meetings in the USA (March) and Spain (July), and he intends to publish at least two more research articles that directly flow from the manuscript currently in preparation. 

One of Lamprecht’s long-term goals is to start up his own laboratory.

Lunga Memela

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Investigating Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease for Early Diagnosis

Investigating Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease for Early Diagnosis
Mr Ernest Dalle.

Because Alzheimer’s is a non-curable neurodegenerative disease, a constant search for novel therapies is imperative, says School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences’ (LMMS) young eminent researcher, Mr Ernest Dalle.

The Masters candidate has successfully completed a pilot study – conducted jointly at UKZN’s School of LMMS and the Department of Electronic Engineering – which found that normal blood plasma changed its electric properties as compared to the blood plasma of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Co-supervised by the Dean and Head of LMMS, Profesor William Daniels, together with the Schools’ Academic Leader for Research, Dr Musa Mabandla, Dalle conducted his pre-clinical laboratory experiments on animal models using behavioural tests, stereotaxic surgery and autopsy.

The aim of the study was to use an animal model to search for a novel biomarker that reflected the cognitive impairment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dalle said: ‘The lack of reliable biomarkers has made the evaluation of new treatments difficult.’

He explained that cognitive impairment is not a stand-alone disease. ‘Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related disease that leads to cognitive impairment or dementia. The disease is characterised by loss neurons and cells within the brain (Hippocampus). Alzheimer’s disease is therefore a neurodegenerative disease.’

Dalle says because neurodegeneration is irreversible, the study set out to investigate biological markers (biomarkers) of Alzheimer’s disease for an early diagnosis of the disease. ‘In so doing, we knew that it could give us a chance to discover how to predict the disease or even to specify the population at risk of developing the disease later on in their life.’

Dalle won R15 000 towards attending a conference of his choice when he presented the study at the College of Health Sciences Research Symposium in 2014.

‘It’s always a good feeling when you win a prize at such big event. This prize belongs to my supervisors, the neuroscience team of UKZN, and the staff of the BRU-UKZN. It’s a collective achievement,’ he said.

‘The brain is one of the most complicated organs of the body. Brain diseases are multiple but few can be totally cured. When you start a project research on one of these brain diseases, you don’t know if it is going to be a success because it demands focus, precision, experience, hard work, patience and time.’

Dalle said he liked challenging himself to solve problems. ‘That’s what makes me passionate about this area of research.’

Dalle holds a Bachelors degree in Animal Physiology, Honours in Medical Sciences (Human Physiology) and intends to convert his Masters to a PhD. UKZN was his institution of choice because of its ‘infrastructure and equipment that provides a perfect environment for researchers to produce good results at international level’.

Dalle said he was grateful to God and his research supervisors for their unyielding support. ‘My family and the neuroscience team have also been a great support in my studies until now.’

Lunga Memela

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College of Health Sciences Welcomes New HOD

College of Health Sciences Welcomes New HOD
Professor Refiloe Masekela.

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences welcomed Professor Refiloe Masekela as the new HoD for the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health.

‘It is an exciting opportunity for me to join the UKZN community and there is a lot of room for growth and progress,’ Masekela said. ‘I couldn’t help but see how everyone is so welcoming and happy to have a leader after a long time. I hope to foster great leadership and growth in the Department.’

Masekela has a threefold vision to increase research outputs in the Department. She plans to focus on the throughput of the Department for both undergraduates and postgraduates, make the Department the best in the country and improve its footprint in the continent.

Her research interests include bronchiectasis in children; cystic fibrosis in non-Caucasians in Africa; lung physiological testing, particularly lung function testing in children, and the determination of normative lung reference equations in African children and adults.

Masekela has published 18 peer-reviewed publications and ISBN accredited journals and has written two book chapters on respiratory diseases in children in the tropics in an international Tropical diseases textbook and the European Respiratory Society Monograph.

She has presented her research and given invited lectures at national and international pulmonology congresses, winning the prize for the best abstract for the MECOR, the Fellow-in-training award for the best presentation at the American Thoracic Society Meeting in New Orleans 2010 and the best poster presentation award from the International Paediatric Pulmonology Congress in Portugal in 2013.

Masekela is currently working on the Paediatric and adult Spirometry project, which has collated data from over 4 000 individuals to determine normal reference equations for Spirometer.

She is a passionate teacher and has been involved in both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and has supervised four successful Master in Medicine in Paediatric students and is currently supervising two PhD students.

She has been involved in the training of seven successful Paediatric Pulmonology Fellows and also initiated a Paediatric Pulmonology Outreach Project to Polokwane Hospital, which resulted in the successful training of a Paediatric Pulmonologist who is currently working in the province. She has acted as a reviewer for local paediatric and pulmonology journals and the European Journal of Paediatrics.

She is an executive member of the South African Thoracic Society and is at present the past chairperson of the National Asthma Education Programme. She is the Secretary of the Pan African Thoracic Society and is on the scientific advisory committee of the South African Cystic Fibrosis Association.

Masekela said: ‘I am very passionate about my work, especially research because it may assist in developing locally relevant therapeutic interventions that are applicable in a developing world context.

Born in Polokwane, Limpopo, Masekela loves adventure sports and hiking. ‘I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in 2013 and I am a keen but slow runner.’

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UKZN PhD Student Attends UNESCO International Year of Light Official Opening Ceremony

UKZN PhD Student Attends UNESCO International Year of Light Official Opening Ceremony
From left: Dr Ndumiso Cingo and Professor Andrew Forbes, National Laser Centre; Dr Gurthwin Bosman, Laser Research Institute; Ms Yaseera Ismail; Mrs Naledi Pandor; Multilateral Counsellor with the SA Embassy in Paris, Mr T Makatu; Sudan’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mrs Dimakatso Radebe and assistant PA to Minister Pandor, Ms Ann Maraba.

A doctoral student based at UKZN’s Centre for Quantum Technology, Ms Yaseera Ismail, was a member of the official South African delegation at the celebration of the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies in France.

The official opening ceremony, held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, was celebrated by 1 500 scientists, industrialists and dignitaries from various parts of Europe, America, Asia and Africa.

Among those attending were the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon; South African Minister of Science and Technology, Minister Naledi Pandor, and Nobel Laureates Mr Steven Chu, Mr Serge Heroche, Mr Zhores Alferoz, Mr Ahmed Zewail and Mr William Phillips.

The South African delegation comprised a diverse group of four scientists at different phases in their career.

‘It was a tremendous tribute to be chosen to represent South Africa at this prestigious official opening ceremony,’ said Ismail. ‘As a young scientist it was an enlightening and inspiring experience to be able to interact with pioneers within the scientific community.  It was overwhelming to be part of the global initiative undertaken to promote light, the driving force of our daily lives.’

UNESCO has proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light based Technologies as a way to commemorate the milestone of various breakthroughs in science,  namely, 1 000 years of the Islamic Golden Age dedicated to the father of scientific methods, Ibn Al-Haytham, 200 years since Fresnel’s theory of Diffraction, 150 years since Maxwell’s theory of Electromagnetism, 100 years since Einstein’s theory of General Relativity and 50 years of Cosmic Microwave Background and Optical Fibre Technology.

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies is a global initiative to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.

One of the key themes on the second day of the event was the notion that light-based technologies can provide solutions to challenges in the developing world in the form of ending light poverty. Seventy percent of the African continent is plummeted into darkness once the sun sets. An outcome of this realisation is a pledge to end light poverty by the year 2030 by providing off the grid electricity by the means of utilising solar energy.

An equivalent topic of importance that was addressed during this two day event was the realisation and mitigation of the imminent threat of climate change.

Apart from discussing prominent challenges faced globally, the year of light was also celebrated culturally as it marked the inauguration of the 1001 inventions of the world of Ibn Al-Haytham and showcased the release of Einstein’s Light a film production developed for the International Year of Light.

The opening ceremony was brought to an end by a discussion of global science policies with the emphasis of international collaborations. During this session Pandor, said: ‘If we want to start an international collaboration, we need to start to teach the rest of the world.’

South Africa has a prominent photonics community with a strong culture of scientific excellence working in various avenues of science branching into fundamental light and matter interactions as well as light based technologies. As light becomes a significant discipline of science and engineering in the 21st century, it is important to build a worldwide educational network through activities targeted towards science for young people and to focus on promoting education.

The International Year of Light is an ongoing celebration and 2015 will see many events of this nature unfold across the globe.

Yaseera Ismail

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UKZN Professor Receives Poland’s Silver Cross of Merit

UKZN Professor Receives Poland’s Silver Cross of Merit
UKZN’s Professor Jacek Banasiak being awarded Poland’s Silver cross of Merit for his “significant contribution to science”.

Professor Jacek Banasiak of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science has been awarded Poland’s Silver Cross of Merit for his “significant contribution to science”.

Banasiak was invited by the President of Poland, Mr Bronislaw Komorowski, to receive the decoration at a ceremony in Lódz.

The Cross of Merit is a Polish civil state award established on June 23, 1923, to recognise services to the State. It is one of the highest civilian awards in Poland and ‘is given to citizens who go beyond the call of duty in their work for the country and society as a whole’. The Order has three grades: Gold Cross of Merit, Silver Cross of Merit, and Bronze Cross of Merit.

Professor Kesh Govinder, Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, said the award came as no surprise. ‘Jacek is an outstanding Mathematician, among the best on the African continent and has a stellar international reputation,’ said Govinder. ‘Professor Banasiak continues to bring honour to the School and UKZN through his research and many professional commitments. He is largely responsible for the excellent reputation we continue to enjoy internationally.’

Banasiak obtained his MSc (Engineering) from the Technical University of Lódz in 1981, followed in 1989 by his PhD - based on elliptic and parabolic problems in irregular domains - from Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

Banasiak has a long career of service to Mathematics in South Africa having joined the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the former University of Natal (UN) in 1992.

In 1999, he received a Doctorate of Science (DSc) from the University of Warsaw and in 2004 was a visiting Professor at the University of Franche-Comte in France. Banasiak held the position of Head of UKZN’s School of Mathematical Sciences from 2005 to 2007.

He was Vice-President of the South African Mathematical Society from 2001 to 2005 and Chairman of the South African Committee for the International Mathematical Union from 2005 to 2008.

Banasiak, who holds an NRF B1 rating and is a UKZN Fellow, was promoted to Senior Professor in 2008 and Research Professor in 2011.

He has co-authored six research monographs, authored and co-authored more than 100 refereed research papers, has a Google Scholar list of close to 1 200 citations (giving an h-index of 180) and has presented at international or national conferences, workshops and schools. He has successfully supervised and co-supervised nine doctoral and more than 20 masters students at various universities.

Some of his other major awards include The South African Mathematical Society Award for Research Distinction (2012), First Prize for the Best Paper in Applied Mathematics from the Centre for Applications of Mathematics (Gdansk) (2014), 1997 UN Book Prize in Health, Science and Engineering and the 2009 UKZN Book Prize in Health, Science and Engineering.

From 2014, he has been the Leader of the UKZN node of the Department of Science and Technology/NRF Centre of Excellence in Mathematical Sciences.

Banasiak is also an Editor-in-Chief of the journal Afrika Matematika (Springer) and an Advisory Editor of Mathematical Methods for the Applied Sciences (Wiley), and the AIMS Library Series of the Cambridge University Press.

Leena Rajpal

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UKZN SARChI Engages with the Clairwood Community

UKZN SARChI Engages with the Clairwood Community
The SARChI team at the Clairwood Tamil Institute.

The South African Research Chair on Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment (SARChI) team from UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) recently visited the Clairwood Tamil Institute to present the preliminary research findings from the 2013 Clairwood community value survey.

In partnership with the Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), the UKZN team conducted research aimed at highlighting alternative socio-economic elements which may have been missed from previously written reports on the economic value of the port expansion as well as providing input on how residents perceived value within their community. 

The meeting was an opportunity for the community to comment on the research findings and the process to date.

In attendance were the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance’s Mr Desmond D’sa and UKZN’s Professor Sarah Bracking, who both helped to facilitate the workshop.

The SARChI team gave presentations on the varying aspects of the report. Development Studies PhD candidate Mr Danford Chibvongodze assisted by masters student Ms Ayanda Tshabalala presented on the theme, “Business and Economic Activities in Clairwood”. The presentation highlighted business enterprises in the area, with emphasis on informal activities there.

Chibvongodze highlighted how the mix of formal industry and informal trade boosted the economy of the area providing various employment opportunities for residents. 

Development Studies Masters students Ms Mandy Lombo and Ms Nduta Mbarathi presented on the current living conditions of Clairwood inhabitants.

‘Findings from our study show the area suffers from severe neglect, particularly in terms of basic municipal services such as waste collection as well as the general maintenance of the area. While many Clairwood residents receive municipal services at their homes, others experience poor sanitation due to lack of water and toilets facilities,’ said Lombo.

Research Manager Ms Kathleen Diga and masters student Ms Mbali Mthembu presented on community social cohesion, sense of belonging and the immaterial values which have been established in the area since the community started building 150 years ago.

‘Many of the schools and places of worship were built by the community. These historical places bring about social cohesion and there is a perception of racial harmony and a rich diverse culture in the area,’ said Diga.

The presentation also revealed Clairwood was a close-knit community with people helping each other in times of hardship.

Masters student Mr Tawonga Rushambwa and SARChI Chair Professor Sarah Bracking gave a brief presentation on how large infrastructural development affects communities such as Clairwood. The presenters emphasised that the area should remain as it is because of its historic heritage and diversity.

 It was suggested by the community that development should rather take place in the eastern industrial zone in order for the expansion to not encroach into residential areas, but still create economic development.

‘The residents were very vocal against uninformed development, with many saying the government was biased towards the needs of business and this preference was to the detriment of local residents. They felt they were not properly consulted about the proposed expansion,’ said Lombo.

Residents were also worried they would lose their homes, businesses and jobs, and would not be able to secure  opportunities anywhere else. ‘The residents were concerned around safety as they have seen an increase in illegal businesses on residential properties while trucks on the roads were causing many accidents.

‘Residents hope the government will provide them with much needed housing, water and electricity rather than move them away as this would disrupt a currently strong cohesive community with important historical ties to Clairwood,’ added Lombo.

Melissa Mungroo and Mandy Lombo

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Warm Welcome for Aspirant Engineers

Warm Welcome for Aspirant Engineers
Families enjoying Parents Day at UZKN’s School of Engineering.

Dean and Head of the School of Engineering at UKZN, Professor Cristina Trois, warmly welcomed UKZN’s freshest crop of Engineering students and their parents at a special event in UNITE Building, the state-of-the-art home of Engineering on UKZN’s Howard College campus.

The aim of Parents Day was to share information about UKZN and Engineering with parents of newly registered first year students.

Besides receiving an overview of Engineering courses and options, parents were also provided with general information on UKZN’s vision and mission, support services for students and financial aid options.

‘Thank you for entrusting us with your children,’ said Trois.  ‘We guarantee they will receive a top-class education whilst they are here with us at UKZN.  All our courses are fully accredited, both nationally and internationally.’

Among those at the day were Mr and Mrs Kevin and Wendy Charles, with new Chemical Engineering recruit, Miss Michaela De Sousa, who is in their care.  De Sousa, who attended Savannah Park Secondary School in Shallcross, Durban, said she had always wanted to study Chemical Engineering and was excited about embarking upon her new university career.

Also at the event were Mrs Kristy Moodliar with her son, Dareshan, who was head boy at Star College where he scored four A’s in his matric exams.  Determined to follow in his father’s footsteps Dareshan will study Civil Engineering and ultimately work for and improve the family’s trucking and transport business.  He chose UKZN over offers from Wits and the University of Pretoria, ‘because home is best’.

Mr and Mrs Michael and Jemisayi Banda travelled all the way from Zimbabwe to see their son, Tinashe, settle into UKZN.  Tinashe, who has been accepted to study Mechanical Engineering and will stay in residence at Howard College, said he was grateful he would have the family support of his uncle, Abraham, who lives in Durban.

The Gcabashe family arrived in traditional attire.  Young Philani Gcabashe, who attended Okumhlphe High School in Umlazi, will study Land Surveying at UKZN. Ready to tackle this new challenge, he will be the first child in the family to attend university and is determined to set a good example for his younger siblings.

Sally Frost

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Enactus UKZN Impresses Hibiscus Coast Municipality at Youth Business Gala Dinner

Enactus UKZN Impresses Hibiscus Coast Municipality at Youth Business Gala Dinner
Enactus UKZN students from left: Mr Thabiso Zungu, Mr Lindokuhle Duma, Ms Nandisa Ngubelanga, Ms Bongeka Dlamini, Ms Mbalenhle Ngidi, Mr Phumlani Mzobe, Mr Nkanyiso Nyawose and Mr Sizwesihle Gumede.

A group of Enactus UKZN students represented the organisation at the annual Hibiscus Coast Municipality Youth Business Gala Dinner, hosted by the Youth Development Unit of the Hibiscus Coast Municipality.

Popular radio presenter, Alex Mthiyane of Gagasi FM was the Programme Director for the event while the Mayor of Hibiscus Coast Municipality, Ms Nomusa Mqwebu, officially opened the event.

Hibiscus Coast Municipality Councillor, Ms Nomusa Mqwebu, welcomed guests, who included local government councillors, senior managers, and Hibiscus Youth Council members.

Mqwebu told the audience the Hibiscus Coast Municipality was committed to helping the youth get employment and stressed the importance of matriculants planning ahead by applying as early as October or November to get space into their institutions of choice.

Gospel Radio presenter, Nomfundo Mzolo of Igagasi FM, gave a motivational speech to the youth on ‘Rising up to the challenge’. She expressed her love for young people, saying that as long as there is the youth, there is hope’.

She further encouraged young people to have an entrepreneurial spirit saying: ‘as an entrepreneur, you will be part of a generation that will eradicate poverty’.

Other speakers included Hibiscus Coast Municipal Manager, Mr Max Mbili, and the event’s keynote speaker, Mr Frikkie Brooks of the Office of the KwaZulu-Natal Premier.

After the speeches, a discussion forum was opened with guests encouraged to ask questions on what they heard during the event as well as on issues related to how Hibiscus Coast was solving problems faced by the youth.

Enactus UKZN President, Mr Sizwesihle Gumede, asked whether the Hibiscus Coast provided programmes which educated communities about funding opportunities available for small businesses. This question was sparked by Brooks saying in his address that Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) not only trained and registered small businesses, but offered funding opportunities as well.

Mbili admitted that as a municipality they were not doing enough but were working on a plan of action to address those issues.

Enactus UKZN Deputy President and Town Planning Masters student, Ms Mbalenhle Ngidi, was concerned that postgraduates were not given enough funding opportunities while Enactus UKZN’s Head of Research and Development, Mr Nkanyiso Nyawose, asked about what the government was doing to assist initiatives and projects of development in communities.

Hibiscus Coast Youth Development Manager and the organiser of the Youth Business Gala, Mr Phumlani Mzobe, said he was pleased to see Enactus UKZN members actively participating in the discussion forum. ‘Through that interaction you have managed to popularise our organisation and you have acted as great brand ambassadors. Keep up the good work,’ Mzobe exclaimed.

Enactus UKZN continues to live up to their theme of: “Leaving their Enactus Footprint” where ever they go. The team’s vision for 2015 is to “Restore, Rebuild, and Reclaim”, and with the Enactus World Cup being hosted in South Africa for the very first time, the team is determined to work even harder to make sure that their beneficiaries will become empowered, self- sufficient entrepreneurs.

Bongeka Dlamini 

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Abafundi bezeziMali baziswe ngendlela abasazoyihamba

Abafundi bezeziMali baziswe ngendlela abasazoyihamba
Abafundisi bezeziMali nesikhulumi sosuku uMnu Geoff Noble kanye nabafundi.

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Abafundi bezifundo ze-Honours batshelwe abangabaqashi bakusasa ukuthi kulindelekeni emsebenzini nokuthi amakhona abafundi abawathole e-UKZN ayisiqalo esihle emsebenzini abawukhethile.

Enkulumweni yakhe ebibhekiswe kubafundi abangama-60 ngesikhathi kwamukelwa abafundi esikoleni sezokuHlelwa KwamaBhuku Ezimali, EzoMnotho NezeziMali uMnu Geoff Noble  ongumphathi kwa-Grinrod ulandise abafundi ngaseke wahlangabezana nakho njengoMphathisikhwama nezinto ayefisa ukuba wayezazi esengumfundi.

‘Namuhla ngizokhuluma nani mayelana nengikwenzayo emsebenzini wami, nengakwenza futhi nengakufundela ukuze ngizithole ngisebenza ngokuphatha izimali ngiphinde ngikhulume ngengifisa engabe ngangikwazi phambilini,’ kusho u-Noble.

‘Kumele ufundeleni ukuze ube uMphathizimali? Iziqu ze-honours kwezeziMali isiqalo esihle, okulandelayo ukwenza uhlelo lwezifundo i-CFA, ukufunda imibhalo enhlobonhlobo, ukuthola ulwazi nokuqeqesheka emsebenzini ngoba ngeke ukwazi ukuqeda enyuvesi bese ungena emsebenzini uqale uphathe izimali,’ kusho u-Noble.

Ubaluleke ngokuthi abafunde ukwakha uhlaka lwezezimali olufanele nokuthi bakwazi ukusebenzisa i-Microsoft Excel ngendlela eyiyona ngoba iyithuluzi abazolisebenzisa nsukuzonke. Ubagqugquzele ukuthi balindele izinto eziyikho ngomsebenzi futhi bazimisele ngokuqala ukusebenza ezingeni eliphansi.

Ofundisa ezeziMali nongumxhumanisi walolu hlelo uMnu Farai Kwenda, uthe abafundi bakuthokozele ukuzwa kumuntu osesebenza mayelana nokujabulisayo futhi nokuyizinselelo  kulemboni.

‘Ngithemba ukuthi lokhu kuzobasiza ekwakheni ikusasa labo uma sebekhetha imisebenzi, abazokulindela emsebenzini futhi nokuthi babe nesithombe sokuthi ukuphatha izimali kuyini. Inkulumo yalolu hlobo yakha isisekelo esiqinile sonyaka wezifundo zabo ze-Honours,’ usho kanje.

uThandiwe Jumo

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First Year Students Welcomed at Orientation Day

First Year Students Welcomed at Orientation Day
First year Law students taking a tour of Howard College at Orientation Day.

College of Law and Management Studies first year students received a warm welcome from staff during Orientation Day on its three campuses.

First year students received academic and social guidance on the day while academic leaders unpacked the many programmes offered in the College.  These include the services offered by Student Funding, Sport Administration and Disability Support.

Staff from the Professional Services sector provided invaluable information to first year students on how to adapt to the University culture which is vital as they make the transition from high school to tertiary education.

College Teaching and Learning Unit Head, Dr Annah Bengesai had this to say about the success of the event:

‘Orientation Day is the best way to find out about the University. Students are introduced to the academic programmes, and the services that are available to help them transition to university life. This year’s orientation programme also included tours to the different facilities to ensure students are acquainted with the University and the different facilities.’

First year Law students, Ms Thobeka Mabuza and Ms Phumelele Mthembu said they found the programme very insightful as they were very apprehensive about what to expect.

‘I was very frightened about the work involved in university and if I will be able to handle it and what should I do if I am struggling. However, after listening to the presenters I am more at ease and better informed as well as inspired that I will succeed,’ said Mabuza.

For Mthembu the addresses were encouraging and reaffirmed that she made the right career choice in pursuing Law.

‘The speakers have cleared a lot of things up for me which is a great relief. Although I know that I am passionate about law but I had no idea what to expect hence it was great to hear from our lecturers. I am looking forward to being taught by experts and being exposed to various facets of the law,’ she said.

UKZN alumni Ms Nomcebo Sibisi,- the co-founding Director and Chairperson in a 100% Black female owned Non-Profit Company called Youth Chamber of Shipping in Africa, Mr Phakama Nhassengo an entrepreneur and PEACE Foundation representative and Mr Amin Matola, a LLB graduate and School of Law Graduate Assistant who is currently pursuing a Masters of Law degree with a specific focus on mining laws delivered an inspirational address to students on the Howard campus highlighting the importance of planning, networking and participating in various University clubs and societies.

‘As a student it is very important to have a mentor and to surround yourself with likeminded people because law is an intensive programme so you need to use all of the tools at your disposal to get ahead. I consider myself an all rounded student because I was part of the debating team which opened me up to travelling, I just returned from Sweden after completing my Masters in Maritime through a scholarship I secured from the South African Maritime Safety Authority. There will be hurdles you will need to overcome but you will need to work hard to overcome them and succeed,’ said Sibisi.

After the programme the students were taken on a tour of the campus to familiarise them with their new surroundings.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Dreams Come True for Cecil Renaud Overseas Scholarship Recipient

Dreams Come True for Cecil Renaud Overseas Scholarship Recipient
Ms Kalina Naidoo.

It’s an exciting year ahead for Ms Kalina Naidoo, recipient of the prestigious Cecil Renaud Overseas Scholarship, who will study towards her Masters degree in Neuroscience at a university of her choice in England.

The 23-year-old from Chatsworth has proven herself as a high-achiever at UKZN where she completed both her undergraduate and Honours Medical Science degrees cum laude.

‘Neuroscience has always been an area of complete fascination for me as the workings of the mind are still veiled in the unknown. I am very eager to be a part of the generation of researchers which pulls back that veil a little further,’ said Naidoo.

‘In my opinion, neurological pathologies represent the most debilitating disorders, where one’s memory, cognition and identity are stolen - it is my life’s ambition to help fight against these cruel diseases.’

Naidoo said her anxiety quickly turned to excitement and gratitude towards the Cecil Renaud Trust when she heard her dreams of studying abroad would suddenly become a reality.

‘It’s one thing to have dreams I suppose but it’s quite another thing when they become reality!

‘I have never been abroad to study or for personal vacation, hence this opportunity is all the more fruitful as it will be an adventure.’

Naidoo has received funding to study for a year in the UK. She has applied to a few universities and is awaiting feedback. ‘I have applied to Oxford University, and will also be applying to Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh,’ she said.

Naidoo said everyone around her had been incredibly supportive - ‘and by everyone I mean everyone, from neighbors to distant relatives to my immediate family.

‘My grandmother used to relay this one quote to me: matha pitha guru deivam, which is a popular adage in Sanskrit meaning Mother Father Teacher God. This is the order that reverence should be offered in one’s life, and I have always remembered this. This would have been entirely impossible without my parents, who instilled the confidence to dream big.’

Naidoo also said she was grateful to her supervisor, the Dean and Head of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Professor William Daniels, as well as Dr Duran Ramsuran. ‘Both have spent such time and energy in ensuring my junior years in research had a great foundation.’

Naidoo is passionate about academia and said UKZN was her institution of choice. After completing her studies aboard she intends to return to South Africa and spread the knowledge she will have garnered in practical research as well as in the lecture room.

Naidoo is the Events Co-ordinator for the College of Health Science initiative, Women in Leadership and Leverage, and she was on the winning team for the College’s general knowledge quiz of 2014.

Lunga Memela

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New Appointment at School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences

New Appointment at School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences
Ms Ntokozo Mngadi.

The School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS) has appointed Ms Ntokozo Mngadi as its new Principal Programme Officer (PPO).

Mngadi joined the School at the beginning of January this year after launching her administrative career at the University of the Witwatersrand where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Industrial Psychology and Media.

She worked at Wits starting as Systems Administrator and then moving up the ranks before resigning from a senior administration post to join UKZN.

Mngadi said she loved working with students and when she saw the Principal Programme Officer vacancy advertised at UKZN, she knew it was time to return to her home province and serve the community that shaped her.

‘I had been applying for jobs at UKZN and when I saw the PPO post I thought this was me. I was excited and nervous at the same time when I was told I had been shortlisted.’

Mngadi said she received a warm welcome from fellow PPO Ms Nonhlahla Mqadi of the School of Clinical Medicine as well as her inspirational Manager, Mr Mark Tufts, who was named one of UKZN’s Distinguished Teachers in 2011.

Mngadi, who enjoys reading and jogging in her spare time, said she looked forward to working at the School.

Lunga Memela

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New Principal Programme Officer at School of Clinical Medicine

New Principal Programme Officer at School of Clinical Medicine
Ms Nonhlanhla Precious Mqadi.

Ms Nonhlanhla Precious Mqadi has been appointed as the new Principal Programme Officer (PPO) for the School of Clinical Medicine.

The former Academic Development Officer (ADO) said she was enthusiastic about her new position as it promised new experiences and interesting challenges for her.

‘I look forward to waking up and going to work as each day presents a new challenge. The undergrad and postgrad teams have thus far made my experience a pleasant one – they are very dedicated and professional people who would go the extra mile to ensure our clients are happy.’

Mqadi plans to ensure efficient processing of student academic administration and the correct dissemination of information to students, parents and the public.  Furthermore, she aims to align the University’s academic policies and procedures with that of the School. 

‘We are a University which takes great pride in ensuring our training standards are world class and I feel it is my responsibility to uphold these standards and encourage and challenge young scholars to work to their full potential.’

She hopes to streamline processes to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.  ‘I plan to contribute to making UKZN’s Clinical Medicine School the institution of choice for those who want to pursue undergrad or postgrad studies.  Having gained insight through lecturing, co-ordinating a programme and being involved in student administration, l believe l will make a positive contribution to the School.’

Working as an ADO at UKZN and at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in the Department of Dental Technology as a Lecturer, she gained valuable experience in engaging with undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff members.  ‘It is through this engagement and participation that I have realised the impact that academic institutions have on young scholars.’

She obtained her first qualification in the field of Dental Technology in 2004. This motivated her to pursue her studies further in the field and she completed her Masters degree.

In order to bring a new dimension to her career and to align herself with her future aspirations, she obtained a Management degree through DUT in 2011.

Her newly found interest in management and business administration led her to pursue a MBA degree at UKZN.

Mqadi described herself as an enthusiastic and self-driven individual who enjoys challenging new frontiers.

‘Facing new challenges inspires me to excel in everything I set my mind on doing.’

 Nombuso Dlamini

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Blue-Eyed Lemur May Become Extinct Soon, UKZN Research Finds

Blue-Eyed Lemur May Become Extinct Soon, UKZN Research Finds
Two male blue-eyed black lemurs.

The blue-eyed lemur may have just 13 years left before it is driven to extinction.

The sobering revelation comes from a new UKZN modelling study examining the survival of the blue-eyed black lemur, an animal only rediscovered in 1985 and elevated to species status in 2008.

As its name suggests, the animal has impressive blue eyes, a feature shared by perhaps no other primate, apart from humans. Males are black with blue eyes, and females red-brown with blue eyes.

Critically endangered, placing it among the rarest primates on the planet, the lemur (Eulemur flavifrons) lives within a restricted range in a north-western, dry deciduous forest in Madagascar. Logging and fires are destroying its habitat.

Recent surveys have counted a few hundred, but it remains unclear how many more survive in areas yet to be surveyed.

Ms Maria Volampeno, a Life Sciences student under the supervision of UKZN’s Professor Colleen Downs, and colleagues in Madagascar,  decided to model the impact of habitat loss on the lemur’s future, taking into account how often the lemurs reproduce, die and the varying the levels of human impact.

They found, under every scenario they modelled, that the lemur will become extinct within a century.

‘If trees are destroyed at a relatively low rate, the lemur will be extinct within 44 years,’ said Volampeno.  ‘However, if the rate of habitat loss climbs, and the lemurs struggle to reproduce as they find themselves living in isolated pockets of forest, then the species could die out in just 13 years.’

The scientists say their models, published in the African Journal of Ecology, need to be tested and refined further.

But the techniques they used are generally well regarded, with scientists often using similar models to predict how wildlife populations might change in the future, including the risk of extinction.

Volampeno recommended urgent conservation strategies, in particular measures to reduce habitat destruction, to ensure the survival of this critically endangered animal.

 Matt Walker (author), BBC Earth

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Siyanqoba UKZN Maths Training Programme off to a Good Start

Siyanqoba UKZN Maths Training Programme off to a Good Start
Top high school Maths pupils enrolled for the Siyanqoba UKZN Maths training programme.

The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), in partnership with UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, is hard at work training bright young mathematical brains.

Since 2011, the Foundation has assisted high school students in achieving success in the South African Mathematics Olympiads (SAMO). ‘Hundreds of learners have benefited from the programme,’ said Professor Poobhalan Pillay, Regional Co-ordinator for the Siyanqoba Training Programme. ‘Past students have been placed in the top 10 in the country, following their performance in the final round of SAMO.’

In 2012, the UKZN team won the Senior Interprovincial Olympiad, and in 2014, Ms Fiona Watt, who has been in the programme for three years, was placed first in the IEB Grade 12 examinations.

This year, invitations were sent to 67 schools to send their top learners in Grade 7 to Grade 12, to write a selection test for placement in the programme - 148 students competed for 60 places, 30 junior and 30 senior.

Professor Michael de Villiers, an executive member of both SAMO and SAMF, spoke on Geometry, while UKZN Mathematicians Professor Dharms Baboolal, Dr Paran Pillay and Mr Shan Pillay marked the papers.

Snacks and awards were kindly sponsored by the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

The students spent a very enjoyable morning at UKZN. As one student remarked, ‘It was a day to remember.’

 Poobhalan Pillay

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Parents Day at the College of Health Sciences

Parents Day at the College of Health Sciences
Parents meet the College of Health Sciences leadership at Parents Day.

The families of first-year students in UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) programmes gathered in two auditoriums on two campuses to attend Parents Day events where they heard about University procedures, their children’s wellbeing and academic opportunities.

Executive Management members and Deans and Heads of Schools addressed parents about the University and academics, while representatives from Student Support Services and Student Funding gave details on what the Institution offered first-years.

In his opening address on the Westville campus, Director for CHS Professional Services, Professor Fanie Botha, said the College was committed to producing world-class graduates through excellence in teaching and learning. 

‘Our motto: Every Student Matters, transcends the social, cultural and academic discourse across the disciplines,’ said Botha.

Parents were congratulated for supporting their children right up until they reached the milestone of tertiary education.

Applauding parents, Botha said: ‘Remember that at University your child will be competing with some of the smartest young people locally, nationally and internationally. As such, they need to apply themselves diligently. Encourage your children to start studying immediately.

Botha pleaded with parents to continue supporting their children because some of them would possibly experience failure for the first time. ‘Encourage them to recover quickly and learn from failure. If it so happens that they do fail a module, it becomes part of their permanent academic record and potential employers often examine these. Students’ social media footprint is another area noted by various employers.’

Speaking at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, the Dean and Head of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Professor William Daniels, said they would train the future health professionals to be well rounded human beings.  He said the curriculum was strongly linked to the needs of the community.

The first-year MBChB students will be with Daniels for the first three years with the School of Nursing and Public Health.

‘At UKZN, students are taught by people who are at the top in their field,’ Professor Richard Hift, Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, told parents, giving them an assurance they had  sent their children to the right institution, which is motivated and moving with the times.

Hift said the Department of Health made hospitals and staff available for training UKZN Medical students. ‘The onus is on them to want to learn.’

On both campuses, the School Dean of Nursing and Public Health, Professor Busisiwe Ncama, and College Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Sabiha Essack, said having being accepted into CHS programmes, the youngsters were the cream of the crop.

Together with the new Dean of Health Sciences, Professor Mahmoud Soliman, the School Deans spoke about the different departments, disciplines and exciting community engagement projects that existed within the College.

They stressed the College had a strong research component and students would be introduced to research at an early stage.

Nombuso Dlamini and Lunga Memela

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Health Professionals REACHing for Excellence at Orientation

Health Professionals REACHing for Excellence at Orientation
First year College of Health Science students.

First year students at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences were welcomed with an action-packed Orientation Day, being treated to several informative sessions in an infotainment style.

Director of Professional Services, Professor Fanie Botha, welcomed students assuring them they had made the right decision by joining the leading institution in the country for health sciences education and research. He also shared the College’s Motto: “Every Student Matters”.

Botha advised students to: ‘start studying immediately and use your time wisely. If you happen to experience failure recover quickly and learn from it; exercise good judgement at all times, be open-minded and make new friends who are different and enjoy the diverse experiences.’

College Manager for Academic Student Services, Mrs Ranitha Ramdeyal, advised students about what was expected of them, encouraging them to constantly check the University emails, keep the College handbook close and the rules book even closer.

Ramdeyal said they should be proud to be part of the College.  Of the 215 000 applications received for first-year places at UKZN, 60 790 were specifically for places in College of Health Sciences. The College received 7 643 applications for 250 places in the first-year MBChB programme, 16 140 applicants competed for 70 first-year places in Nursing, and 37 000 applications were received for 470 places in the various Health Sciences programmes offered.

Students were reminded of available resources and services where they could get assistance if they were struggling to cope.

College Manager for Student Support Services, Dr Saloschini Pillay, gave an overview of the support services. She said students frequently experienced anxiety and stress around academic, social, emotional or financial issues.

‘While most students cope adequately with these pressures and demands, some become overwhelmed, and without constructive help their sense of wellbeing and academic performance may be threatened,’ said Pillay.

Student Support Services helps students regain the emotional balance necessary to cope with the demands of university life. ‘The University offers self-care counselling and academic mentoring,’ said Pillay.

Finance and Projects Officer for the Medical Students Representative Council, Ms Heena Vallab, encouraged students to assess self-performance. ‘What did I do wrong? How can I improve myself? – were questions that needed to be posed. Knowing your weaknesses makes you strong,’ said Vallab. ‘Choose your friends wisely, set your standards and mix with people that fit your personal model and be professional at all times,’ she added.

Deepa Singh of the Occupational Therapy Department shared the University’s R.E.A.C.H. principles - Respect, Excellence, Accountability, Client Orientation and Honesty. Several activities were performed to instil these principles into the minds of students.

UKZN Health Promoter from the HIV/AIDS Programme, Ms Eleanor Langley, shared information about student life and their rights. She made them aware of all the available health facilities and also all the sexually transmitted diseases that can hinder their progress.

Nombuso Dlamini

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New Engineers Get Geared Up!

New Engineers Get Geared Up!
First year Engineering students at Orientation Week.

UKZN’s aspirant crop of new engineers were put through their paces during the School of Engineering’s annual Orientation Week.

Buzzing with enthusiasm, the new students were confident they had what it takes to tackle the challenge of this notoriously difficult degree.

After being warmly welcomed by the Dean and Head of the School of Engineering, Professor Cristina Trois, outgoing academic leader of teaching and learning, Dr Jon Pocock, told the recruits about the job satisfaction awaiting a competent and creative engineer, emphasising that a mountain of work lay ahead of them.

School of Engineering graduate, Mr Roger Tshibangu, hammered home the message of the rewards of hard work and perseverance when he spoke about his experiences as  a student at UKZN.

The new students were also briefed on relevant topics such as campus safety, student support services, how to use the library, student housing, student funding and student governance.

Options available to students of UKZN’s School of Engineering include civil, mechanical, chemical, electronic, electrical, computer and agricultural engineering, as well as the related degrees of land surveying and property development.

After formal procedures, the class of 2015 were split into groups and dispersed to the respective disciplines for which they had registered so that they could see their new academic homes and be introduced to the staff.

Competition for places in Engineering at UKZN is stiff with demand far outweighing availability,  The new first year students had the satisfaction of knowing that they had been offered a place based on their excellent matric results. 

Now it is up to them to prove that they can maintain their upward trajectory!

Sally Frost

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Teaching Communication Skills “a Priority” in Health Sciences Education

Teaching Communication Skills “a Priority” in Health Sciences Education
Professor Johnathan Silverman engages with Health Sciences academics about teaching communication skills.

Health Science graduates need to be well trained in effective communication skills to meet society’s many healthcare needs.

This was highlighted at a recent lecture organised by the College of Health Sciences (CHS) Teaching and Learning Office under the new Deanship of Professor Sabiha Essack.

The interactive lecture was delivered by Professor Johnathan Silverman, the President of the European Association for Communication in Healthcare and recently retired from the University of Cambridge’s School of Clinical Medicine where he was an Associate Clinical Dean.

Silverman’s lecture titled: “Rationale for Communication Skills Teaching in Health Sciences or Clinical Communication Teaching - Why Bother?”, was attended by CHS academics from several disciplines across the College.

The lecture highlighted whether students were adequately trained to become effective communicators when they entered the healthcare workforce.

Silverman’s lecture provided an answer for questions such as:

Was it possible to identify problems in communication between health professionals and patients?  Was there evidence that teaching effective communication skills to students could overcome these problems and make a difference to patients, professionals and outcomes of care?

Silverman said evidence suggested that most misdiagnoses could have been avoided if the health professional had effective two-way communication skills.

He said integrating communication skills to the teaching and learning of health sciences students was a way of ensuring that patients received not only the correct diagnosis but also a level of care which could only be enhanced by the good listening skills and engagement by healthcare professionals.

‘Clinical competence is the ability to integrate knowledge, physical examination or technical skills, problem-solving, and communication.

‘There is conclusive evidence that communication can be taught and the skills retained’.

Sharing his own experiences, Silverman said teaching communication made an incredible difference to the outcomes of care.

His lecture, presented using audio-visual cases of communication between patients and doctors as well as student doctors, made it clear that there was a need for health sciences curricular to include the teaching communication skills.

He said in the health sciences communication skills tied in well with professionalism, evidence-based practice, reflective practice, and ethical and legal practice.

Silverman’s lecture was part of a four-day workshop initiated by the CHS Teaching and Learning Office as part of its Graduate Competency Initiative led by Essack.

Lunga Memela

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College of Humanities Hosts Successful Parents Day and Orientation

College of Humanities Hosts Successful Parents Day and Orientation
From left: Professor Donal McCracken; Professor Cheryl Potgieter, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa.

The College of Humanities recently hosted its annual Parents Day with parents and guardians of first year Humanities students gathering on the Howard College, Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg campuses to hear about University procedures and the academic structure of the College.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, welcomed everyone to the event on the Howard College campus and announced that Dr Albert van Jaarsveld was the new Vice-Chancellor for the University.

 Potgieter told the audience that for the second year running, UKZN was the top University for research output and expressed the hope parents would encourage their sons and daughters to pursue postgraduate study.

She reminded parents that their sons or daughters should be regarded as ‘scholars’ when they started university as ‘they are responsible for the decisions and outcomes relating to their lives’.

Potgieter mentioned UKZN’s Charter on Transformation, launched in 2012 that ‘aims to address and manage diversity and support collegial human relations at all levels of the University.

‘At UKZN we are committed to excellence in teaching and learning.  Our motto: Every Student Matters, transcends the social, cultural and academic discourse across the disciplines. The University encourages and embraces diversity in all facets of the student experience and has a rich heritage of excellence.’

She advised parents and guardians to ‘encourage your son or daughter to excel and to embrace opportunities that are available at our University.

‘Remember that at university, your son or daughter will be competing with some of the smartest young people locally, nationally and internationally. As such, they need to apply themselves diligently. Encourage your sons or daughters to start studying immediately.’

Acting Dean of Research Professor Donal McCracken emphasised the importance of research, pointing out that undergraduate students were also introduced to the research component.

Representatives from student housing, student support services and student funding informed parents about what they offered first year students.

Ms Makhosazane Mweli of Shakaville Township in Kwadukuza said she was proud of her son, Siyathokoza, who had enrolled at UKZN for a Bachelor of Arts degree.

 ‘He is my first born and the first one in my family to attend university,’ said Mweli. He couldn’t have picked a better place to study. I am so happy. I know that he will make the family proud.’

Mrs Shamila Samlal of Merebank said she would heed advice from the DVC for the College and provide support and encouragement for her son, Shivan. ‘I know that the next four years are going to be challenging for him and I am going to be there for him emotionally and financially. Whatever he needs to succeed at UKZN, I will do my best to provide it.’

Shivan, who is studying for a Psychology degree, said UKZN had always been his first choice.

Prof Potgieter also thanked CHM Vuwani Computer Solutions and Mr Mike Bisseru of Premier Book Bazaar for generously donating bottled water for the event on all three of the campuses which the College is located.

The DVC also addressed first year students at Orientation Day at the Student Union Building on the Howard College campus.

Students heard about degree planning; choosing elective and core modules; exam processes such as DP requirements, supplementary exams, and progression rules, and registration.

‘UKZN has received 45 060 applications so you have competed against other applicants and have been selected. It is a privilege to be at university and you must make it a success,’ said Potgieter.

 ‘Draw on the resources offered here, make use of the organisations on campus and take advantage of opportunities, reach out to mentors and academics to succeed. Create and carve out a career trajectory, work smart and lead a balanced life.’

College Dean for Teaching and Learning, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa, expounded on the topic of bilingualism at UKZN where isiZulu language classes are a requirement for all students entering the University in order to promote ‘nation-building’ and bring ‘diverse language groups together’.

Bachelor of Arts student Mr Khayelihle Mbudu from Ntuzuma believes he made the right decision to study at UKZN. ‘It was always my first choice. The courses on offer within the politics department are great. It will help me understand politics better so I can succeed and become a politician.’

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English Professor Presents Paper at Princeton University in the US

English Professor Presents Paper at Princeton University in the US
Professor Cheryl Stobie (far right) with participants at the Figuring the Queer in African Literatures and Cultures Conference.

Lecturer in English Studies on the UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus, Professor Cheryl Stobie,  was recently invited to present a paper at the Figuring the Queer in African Literatures and Cultures conference at Princeton University in the United States.

The paper analysed representations of bisexuality, dance and social critique in a Senegalese film, Karmen GeÏ, hailed as the first African musical, and a striking adaptation of the Carmen story.

The paper examined ways in which the film depicts bisexuality as a complex, queer site that destabilises stereotyped gender roles and conceptualisations of sexual identity. Being invited to present work-in-progress at this conference was seen as a privilege, an inspiration, and an opportunity not to be missed.

The Conference provided a platform for face-to-face debate by authors focussing on Africa, queer theory and textual analysis. The papers were pre-circulated, and 45 minutes were spent discussing each paper, with advice given to the author on how to make the article, and thus this historic issue, as strong as possible.

Advice was also offered to the co-editors on how to frame the introduction, which was seen as a definitive moment for the emergent field. Some of the participants, including Stobie, have been working in queer studies within the African context for some time.

She has published widely in the area of fictional and autobiographical representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) sexuality in South African and other texts, both written and visual. She has published a book and numerous peer-reviewed articles, chapters in books, critical reviews of books, encyclopedia entries, and conference proceedings on various representations of queer.

‘Other participants in the Conference were new to the field,’ said Stobie. ‘The opportunity to sit down and wrestle through some of the issues and challenges facing the cross-disciplinary area was not just constructive, but often moving.

‘Given that many of the participants experience hostile or ignorant responses to their work, whether from those who oppose queer studies or those who have stereotypes about Africa; engaging with others who had done research on these matters was a valuable, intense and extraordinary experience.’

Melissa Mungroo

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