Ms Fikile Qwabe, who recently completed her Msc in Plant Breeding at UKZN, won the Congress President’s Award for the best poster presentation at the recent Combined Congress of the Crop Soil, Horticultural and Weed Science Societies held at the University.

The poster presentation titled: Attributes of an ideal green maize hybrid and production constraints in KZN, was largely based on data emanating from her MSc study which included field data collected from 65 farmers in the Mjindi and Ndumo irrigation schemes falling within the Umkhanyakude District Municipality.

The study titled: Breeding Investigations for Development of Specialty Green Maize Hybrids, was supervised by Professor John Derera and Professor Pangirayi Tongoona. 

‘It is amazing to have one’s work recognised,’ said a delighted Qwabe. ‘I am inspired to keep on working towards excellence and have decided to take up the challenge of a PhD at UKZN.’ 

Qwabe, who has already registered for a PhD in Plant Breeding, will continue with her plant breeding investigations in the field of green maize hybrids and bio-fortification of maize varieties.

The congress brought together one of the largest groups of applied agricultural scientists in Southern Africa.

author email :



A UKZN academic is at the helm of the search for a suitable candidate to chair the World Leisure Organisation’s (WLO) Board of Directors.

Mrs Maliga Naidoo, recently elected as an executive member of WLO’s Board of Directors, and a Lecturer of Leisure Sciences at UKZN, has been appointed as Chair of the Search Committee.

WLO is a non-profit, non-governmental association of individuals and organisations from throughout the world and is committed to the belief that well selected leisure experiences improve the quality of life for all . . . “from childhood to later life”.

WLO promotes leisure as integral to social, cultural and economic development, and the organisation is committed to enlarging choice, affirming and enriching cultural identities, as well as promoting sustainable and well-distributed economic growth through leisure. The organisation also bases its work on the contents and intentions contained in several international conventions and covenants and on its own Charter for Leisure.

Passionate about health promotion though recreation and leisure sciences, Naidoo considers herself an activist in this field and is the President of the Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa (LARASA) – the host organisation of the 2016 World Leisure Congress & Exposition to be held for the first time on African soil in Durban.

Naidoo said she was humbled by the appointments at WLO, and it was exciting that the upcoming WLO congress would be held in Durban under the banner of LARASA. She said it was alarming that South Africans did not treasure the significance of leisure. ‘When you talk about leisure sciences people think it is only about “fun... And who needs to study it?” Yet, it transcends fun and games towards improving the human condition through an active lifestyle and contributes to environmental stewardship.

Naidoo said leisure ‘was recognised as a key for transforming lives and transforming cities globally and there was a need for more research to be conducted in this field in South Africa.’ She said what inspired her was seeing students in the Discipline starting to think like activists and conducting research that would be of benefit to local communities.  ‘We are fortunate to have two Masters students who are now part of the Future Leaders programme at World Leisure who are being groomed for leadership in this field.’

Naidoo said being in these positions had its advantages because it continued to open up doors and opportunities for the students enrolled in this stream. Currently the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences is hosting Professor Bernd Stecker from the Hochshule Bremen in Germany who is involved in enhancing the Discipline’s research capacity and lecturing students on global perspectives and sustainable development in leisure.

She added that the discipline was in the process of confirming the appointment of three honorary professors this year through UKZN’s School of Health Sciences. ‘These initiatives address the scarce skills in the profession and will greatly enhance the teaching, learning and research output in Leisure Sciences while at the same time forging international collaborations.

‘Students really benefit from these connections… the benefits of leisure are endless.’

Members of WLO are from all over the world and from diverse areas of interest including tourism, parks and recreation services, arts and culture, sport, fitness and exercise, and theme and entertainment centres.

author email :



UKZN’s Siyanqoba extension programme started in 2011 by Emeritus Professor Poobhalan Pillay aims to sharpen the minds of young KwaZulu-Natal mathematicians.

The Siyanqoba Project is administered by the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) and UKZN is one of 10 centres around the country which provides training to young people who exhibit unusual talent in the subject.

The programme of mathematical enrichment identifies bright and promising young mathematicians in Grades 8-12 and trains them in problem solving.  This training serves as preparation for their participation in Mathematics Olympiads.

Participants are chosen based on their performance in the previous year’s AMESA KZN mathematics competitions across the province with successful candidates being divided into four groups, depending on age and ability. 

Each group gathers at UKZN’s Westville campus every two weeks for an intensive session of problem solving and mathematical extension, receiving 40 hours in total over the year.

Pillay says the results of his enrichment programme speak for themselves. Last year, the UKZN team competing against more than 20 other teams won the Senior Inter-Provincial Mathematics Olympiad for the first time. Three students from the group were among the top 10 in the National Olympiads run over three rounds.

‘This is really an exciting project,’ said Pillay. ‘Many of our future researchers, scholars and professionals are among these youngsters. One will be writing matric at 14!’

Pillay said that UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, together with SAMF was making a significant contribution to the nation as a whole through the project.

author email :



The College of Health Sciences’ Women in Leadership and Leverage Committee (WILL) recently held the first of its series of workshops for 2013 with staff and postgraduate students learning how to use the web-based software system, Turnitin.

Promoted as the global leader in plagiarism prevention and online grading, Turnitin allows research supervisors to engage every student with five types of feedback: originality reports, QuickMark® Sets, voice comments, grading rubrics and general comments.

The workshop was conducted by Mr Hilary Reynolds, Administrator for Turnitin at UKZN, who presented a step-by-step guide on how staff and students could benefit from the programme.

Reynolds said he favoured the programme because it made it easy for research supervisors to trace similarities between student submissions and research papers that had already been published in international journals and other research portals.

Reynolds recommended the use of Turnitin ‘based on the fact that sometimes people do not deliberately plagiarise’.

He said plagiarism took on different forms. While some people failed to reference correctly, others lifted ideas from previous papers and Turnitin could pick up plagiarism covered up in paraphrasing.

Reynolds showed the auditorium how submissions could be made into a student paper repository, current and archived folders, as well as periodicals, journals and publications.

The workshop participants said the emphasis was clearly on the College of Health Sciences being a centre for research excellence with the utmost respect for intellectual property.

Upcoming workshops by the WILL Committee will be advertised on the University’s notice system.

Reynolds said the University community could contact him for assistance at or 031-260 2472.

author email :



Throngs of first year Humanity students descended on UKZN’s Howard College campus for orientation, eager to be a part of the University’s student community for 2013.

Students were all smiles as they were handed their information packs and divided into large groups before embarking on a guided tour of the University’s campus grounds.

Each group had an orientation mentor, easily recognisable by their blue uniforms.

‘The students are very excited to be a part of UKZN,’ said Mr Kwenzo Dlamini, one of the orientation mentors. ‘We introduced them to the environment here on campus and gave them useful information and advice. There were a lot of questions but we managed to answer them all.’

First year psychology student Miss Asanda Nkwanyana of Greytown was eager to start her studies at the College of Humanities.

‘I chose psychology because it’s an interesting field to be in and I hope to do really well this year and make my parents proud. I can’t wait to be a graduate of UKZN,’ she said.

author email :



First year students belonging to disciplines within the College of Law and Management Studies experienced intensive orientation programmes on the Westville, Howard College and Pietermaritzburg campuses last week.

First year law students underwent an orientation programme on the Howard College campus where expectations were spelt out to them.

About 200 first time students have been admitted to study law at UKZN’s School of Law. The orientation programme acquainted them with what to expect from the academic programmes, the clubs and societies available to them and the student support structures at their disposal. 

Among the speakers addressing students were Mrs Judy Parker, the Academic Leader: Teaching and Learning; Professor Stephen Pete; Dr Bev Soane from the ADC support programme and various student representatives attached to clubs on campus. A common thread among all speakers’ messages was the need to work consistently from the first lecture.

Parker said students should be proud to be chosen to study at a law school where former chief justices had obtained their degrees. She urged students to conduct themselves ethically and communicate with staff and fellow students with respect. She stressed the importance of getting accustomed to independent work and encouraged students to work consistently.

Professor Pete presented a paper titled ‘The Guardian of the rule of law and the keepers of the Constitution’ where he likened students to those in the frontline, whose goal once they qualify, to be protectors of the Constitution and human rights.

‘You the future lawyers of South Africa, have to guard the principles enshrined in the Constitution. Your job is to be keepers of the promise. It’s up to you to remind those in power to remember the promise. You have to form the moral backbone of the country. Make sure that those in power act with integrity in relation to the Constitution,’ said Pete.

Dr Soane reminded students that they have the ability to complete their degree, however they needed to learn the skills to help them obtain the qualification. The first thing she asked students to do was “get rid” of the school mind set because university was worlds apart from the school environment they were used to.

‘Not all the thinking skills you were familiar with at school are applicable for the study of law. If you’re determined to get your degree learn ways of studying smartly. Get into studying from day one and don’t be among the drop-outs,’ said Dr Soane.

Students confessed to being overwhelmed at entering tertiary education.

Miss Renika Kandhai said she experienced first time jitters as this environment was a whole new world for her. ‘It’s very different to school. We have to be confident and take on challenges head-on. Despite the jitters I’m looking forward to the years ahead,’ said Kandhai who chose to study law due to its criminal psychology elements.

Mandisa Jwara said watching a Moot Court video presentation made her feel a little nervous as it outlined the challenging job of a lawyer and it made her question if she’d be able to do the job in future. ‘Overall it’s a lovely experience and I’m honoured to have been selected among the thousands who applied to study at UKZN. After the talks by the different speakers I feel motivated to make the best of my studies.’

Mbalenhle Shabalala said she chose law as her career so that she could help people and make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate who don’t know their rights. ‘Orientation has been an eye-opening experience that made me realise this is definitely not high school. Speakers have been inspiring. I’m looking forward to my first lecture. This is an exciting experience and I have to get used to this new environment.’

Commenting on the overall benefits of such programmes Professor Kriben Pillay said orientation programmes have immense benefits for students and are designed to help students overcome hurdles they may encounter.

‘This programme was offered to counter the fairy wide gap between the school experience and what is experienced at university. Many of our students come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds where first-time university life is a daunting experience. Our first years need to hear and see that their new experiences need not be negative. Orientation is designed to initiate the process of putting the student on a positive trajectory towards academic success and well-rounded personal development.’

Professor Pillay advised students: ‘Take advantage of all that we have to offer to make you a successful student. Enjoy university life, but this enjoyment comes with taking responsibility for one’s learning and one’s actions.’

author email :



Uhlelo lwe Architecture ngaphansi kweSikole seBuilt Environment neDevelopment (SBEDS) lusezinhlelweni zokuthuthukisa uhlelo lwezifundo olusha oluzobhekana ngqo nezimfuno ezibekwe uhlaka lwezemfundo lweziqu eziphakeme phecelezi – Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HEQF).

Abasebenzi bakulesi Sikole, ilabo abawongoti kulo mkhakha, nalabo abasakuwo kanye nezazimfundo eziqhamuka kulo lonke leli zithamele inkuthazokusebenza[1] engumbono waso iSikole, eGecko Culinary Adventures eThekwini muva nje.

‘Uhlelo esidinga ukulihlinzeka manje iziqu ezintathu (BAS, BHonArch kanye ne-March)kunalezi ezikhona manjei-(BAS kanye ne-March). Uhlelo lwethu lukhombisa isidingo sokuthi kuthuthukiswe umbono eminyakeni eyi-10 nokulapho ukufundisa kulo mkhakha kuzobe kudl’ ubhedu lapha eNingizimu Afrika futhi kuhlezi le kwelenyoni emhlabeni wonke jikelele,’ kusho lowo ongunobhala omkhulu uMnu Juan Solis.  

Ngokuka Solis, inhloso yale nkuthazokusebenza bekuwukuthuthukisa-ngqo lezo zingxenye zohlelo lwe architecture kanye nokuchasisa umongo wohlelo lwezifundo.

Ezinsukwini ezimbili, zonke izethameli zabuzwa imibuzo ehlukahlukene baphinde futhi bahlelwa ngokwamaqoqo, imibuzo eyayibuzwa, yanyakazisa inkundla kakhulu, izinto zicutshungulwa nokwaholela ekutheni abantu bathole imibono engafani kanye nobuhlakani.

‘Emva kwezinsuku ezimbili zokuxukuz’ugebhezi, uhlelo lwethu lube seluhlomula ngolwazi olunothile kakhulu kulokhu okudingeka kwenzeke kusukela manje kuya phambili ukuqinisekisa ukuthi ukufundisa zonke izifundo kuzokwenzeka kususelwa kulombono owodwa nozokwenza ukuthi i-Architecture lapha e-UKZN ibe indawo eshaya khona,’ kusho oka-Solis.

[1] workshop

Click here for English version


author email :



The School of Arts within the College of Humanities recently had their annual postgraduate orientation at the Centre for Jazz that saw returning and new Masters and PhD students attend.

Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Nogwaja Zulu welcomed the students and voiced his pleasure at seeing such a large group of postgraduate students.

‘Our aim always at the School of Arts is to see an increase in the number of postgraduates and it is pleasing to see that now. You have been offered an opportunity to further your studies at one of the top five leading research universities in the country and you should make the most of it,’ he said.

Students were also given a brief introduction on what to expect for the year ahead and were both motivated and advised on how best to meet their research submission deadlines.

‘You must have a research proposal to conceptualise your research and read as much as you can about your research topic. Make sure your thesis is structured and work together with your supervisor,’ advised Professor Bernard De Meyer, Academic Leader for Higher Degrees & Research.

Academic Development Co-ordinator for the College of Humanities, Dr Saras Reddy also encouraged students to join the PhD and Masters Cohort supervision support and to attend the free Cohort workshops.

‘These workshops provide a platform for critique and feedback so that your thesis will be ready for examination,’ she said.

Masters student Miss Mbali Dlamini is keen to attend the workshops and to complete her thesis this year. ‘It is not easy being a postgraduate student but working with your supervisor helps immensely to ensure you complete your research on time. I’m looking forward to finishing my thesis on time and then to graduate,’ she said.

author email :



Two hundred and fifty first-year students were accepted into UKZN’s MBChB Programme this year.  

At the opening ceremony of a week-long orientation programme held at the Medical School campus, Professor Richard Hift, Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, led the students in the recital of the Hippocratic Oath in which they committed to becoming “the very best” medical doctors they could be upon completion of the intensive six-year programme.

The first three years of their studies will be at the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS) headed by Professor William Daniels, after which they progress to their clinical training component under Hift, and undertaking programmes such as Family Medicine, Behavioural Medicine, Public Health and Rural Health, all offered by the School of Nursing and Public Health within the College of Health Sciences (CHS).

Representatives of CHS leadership, the College Student Support Services team, the Medical Students Representative Council (MSRC) and other constituencies met and congratulated the students on their outstanding matriculation results and for being selected from a pool of 7 000 applicants for the first-year MBChB programme.

‘It is important to note how very fortunate you are to have been offered this opportunity,’ said Daniels.

The students were urged by both Daniels and Hift to take the first three years of their studies very seriously. ‘There are no shortcuts... we will know that learning has occurred when you display the knowledge later,’ said Hift.

Hift said the aim was to train a “competent, caring, professional, thinking clinician” who would graduate having been equipped with the necessary professional, communication and clinical examination skills.

Daniels stressed that it was the responsibility of students to learn while the College ensured that they did not become a danger to society. ‘As future doctors, society will look up to you. You are beacons of hope and will play major inspirational and leadership roles at all times.’

In presentations delivered by MSRC President Mr Nsizwenye Mkhwanazi, and College Manager for Student Support Services Dr Saloschini Pillay, students were assured all the necessary support structures were in place to guide them through their studies. 

The students also enjoyed a fun-filled line-up of Orientation Week activities, including the screening of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the annual Amazing Race across all three health sciences campuses at UKZN, a tour of Durban, hiking, a beach picnic, and the first years’ annual Chill Session.

author email :



UKZN has hosted a one-day Southern African Regional Colloquium on Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) focusing on methodologies and epistemologies for IKS research, teaching, learning and community engagement in Higher Education. 

The IKS  Research  leader, Professor H O Kaya, welcomed the 100 delegates indicating  the colloquium was meant to share ideas and experiences on how  to promote indigenous African ways of knowing and knowledge production  which had  been marginalised  by  Western  knowledge systems over the  years.

Kaya said IKS would only have a meaning if it contributed to the improvement of the lives of the African people, especially the poor. It was a challenge for Higher Education to facilitate this  process.

In an interview he said: ‘It will not be easy because a number of decisions will have to be made regarding how we take an oral tradition and record it without losing its vitality and dynamism, how we ensure it is correctly interpreted and used, and how we make sure we are inclusive and yet relevant and authentic.’

Indigenous knowledge systems are the long-standing traditions and processes of specific local communities which encompass the skills, innovations and belief systems of people in their respective environments and communities.  They are usually the product of the environment in which they are created, and represent years of accumulated wisdom and practice within a certain community.  

As speaker after speaker mentioned during the colloquium, these collected wisdoms were often lost or replaced by artificial colonial systems which did not work as well in these particular contexts.  It was important, therefore, to study these and reclaim those that would improve the lives of ordinary Africans.

‘We can view this as our third wave of liberation, said Professor Nelson Ijumba, UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).  ‘The first wave was political freedom, the second wave was economic freedom, the struggle now is to restore indigenous knowledge to its rightful place in Africa.  We should have IKS

 in health, governance, agriculture, religion - all aspects of daily life.’

Professor G M Nkondo, advisor to the Minister in the Department of Water Affairs, struck a practical note when he said that this was a serious discourse on a major subject that required a pragmatic approach:  ‘We must ask ourselves: “How does IKS improve a person’s ability to do, or to be?”  Our starting point should be:  “Is a person better off with IKS?”

‘Let’s move away from nationalistic notions of identity,’ said Nkondo.  ‘This is going to be a very difficult and challenging study - South Africa has 11 languages and one assumes there are several different knowledge systems, and IKS turns on a number of different and complex histories.  How do we therefore negotiate the value of IKS in a poly-epistemological system?  And one cannot under-estimate the difficulty of translating different languages.  So ethics should be the first principle of research.’

‘The issue of propriety rights over indigenous knowledge was a crucial aspect,’ said Professor P J Kabudi of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.  ‘Indigenous people were never given property rights over their knowledge.  And subjugation by colonists has led to the alienation of indigenous cultures.  The challenge now is the recapture of this wealth of knowledge, but without losing the context.  So communities must be seen as partners, not merely sources of information.’

Mr J S Rai of UNESCO warned against Universalism:  ‘It is the belief that there is only one set of values, practices and beliefs.  IKS shows there is more than one way of looking at things.  But knowledge must be functional, this is not about recovering lost wisdoms but about the plurality of human genius and concepts.  We need common goals, but different approaches and methods.’

Dr M Murove of UKZN said knowledge should be context-specific otherwise it was just parroted.  ‘There is no point in recording information without its context,’ he said, ‘otherwise it loses its meaning.  There is this idea that knowledge is spread to the world from Europe,’ he continued.  ‘We need to reverse this trend and show that many types of knowledge systems originated in Africa.  I believe that indigenous discourse is a quest for world recognition.’

Researcher Ms W Martins delivered a lively case study in traditional law, saying that there had always been pre-colonial systems of justice that had been suited to their communities, and that in many instances nowadays they were more acceptable and accessible to rural people than formal law.  Issues of language, community dynamics, restorative justice - these were elements of traditional law that were now being adopted. 

Professor Nceba Gqaleni gave case studies where traditional medicine had been hi-jacked by the pharmaceutical industry.  ‘There is supposed to be integration with traditional medicine, but this has been limited,’ he said.  ‘Our way forward is to monitor safety and efficacy of traditional medicines, increase access and improve rational use but this is going to require a completely new way of thinking.  We must encourage people to write and publish in their own language, and we must respect their copyright and intellectual property rights. It is not one-way traffic, we have to be partners.

‘The doors of UKZN have been opened,’ said Gqaleni, to the applause of the delegates. 

* The Integration of IKS into the core business of UKZN i.e. research, teaching, learning and community engagement, has been identified as a signature project of the University. Management supports the IKS project in terms of funding, infrastructure and human capital, and will work in partnerships with other Higher Education institutions such as DUT, Unizulu, NMMU and Fort Hare to promote it.

author email :



The goal of UKZN’s International Relations Office is to make the transition to a new country, city and university as hassle free as possible for international students.

With this in mind, Dr Prem Ramlachan and his colleagues from the International Relations Office recently hosted more than 40 Internationals at an Orientation Day on the Westville campus.

Students were addressed by internal and external service providers with a view to equipping them for their stay. Integration with local students, joining clubs and societies, visiting tourist attractions and having a balanced academic and social life were encouraged.

Students were also given valuable information regarding student visas, FNB bank accounts and health and safety. The day was rounded off with a campus tour.

Mr Kutu Augustine, a Masters student in Economics from Nigeria, was impressed with the standard and facilities at UKZN. ‘In terms of world ratings, UKZN is doing well. It’s conducive to learning and a place where I can grow as an economist,’ said Augustine.

Dr Lee Tae-Hun, a post-doctoral fellow from South Korea, congratulated UKZN on its ‘professional approach to internationalisation’.

Utilising digital media tools such as Facebook and Skype, Ramlachan is often in touch with international students before they even board a plane for South Africa. Once they arrive in the country, they are received and welcomed at the airport and transported to their new home. ‘We ensure they settle in quickly,’ said Ramlachan.

More than 2 500 internationals call UKZN home this year. They are part of exchange and study abroad partnerships which include post-doctoral fellows, researchers, under-graduates and post-graduates. 

author email :



HEARD recently hosted a team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden as part of a research planning grant from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency which aims to foster research collaboration between the two institutions.

In view of the changing burden of disease in sub-Saharan Africa, the predictable changes to the demands on health care services and the challenges of developing improved health care, this partnership aims to produce a five-year research programme.

 The team included:

- Dr Lena Andersson from the Unit of Social Medicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy who is currently working on a project on mental illness, barriers to care and the right to health in Port Elizabeth;

- Dr Gunilla Krantz (MD), a Professor in public health science whose current research interest is in traumatic events, mental illness and barriers to care among young adults in Rwanda;

- Professor Dick Durevall whose research has mainly been in the field of applied development economics with a recent focus on HIV; and

- Dr Annika Lindskog a development economist with a focus on health, education, fertility and economic inequality.

 The programme will aim to understand specifically  issues related to:

Accessing health care (prevention, treatment, care and support) for people who are at risk and living with chronic conditions (HIV, TB, non-communicable diseases, mental illness, disability) in eastern and southern Africa;

- Challenges in terms of the re-structuring and sustainability of chronic care services. The research collaboration will also have a capacity building component, which aims to produce Masters and PhD students.  

The HEARD team led by Dr Kaymarlin Govender travel to Sweden in May to complete the research strategic planning process.

author email :



The School of Clinical Medicine recently held a public lecture on the development of a new classification manual dealing with mental disorders.

Known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and regarded as ‘the future of mental health diagnoses, DSM-5 is the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders which is due for publication internationally in May.

Professor Hans Wijbrand Hoek of the University Medical Centre Groningen in The Netherlands presented the lecture at UKZN. He said the DSM-5 was in its final stages and its development had been an open and inclusive process with input from more than 700 distinguished mental health and medical experts who were carefully screened for their contribution to the new manual.

Hoek explained that the DSM provided a common language for all mental health professionals to predict, communicate and diagnose mental health conditions. Whereas previously there had been a possibility for mental health professionals such as counsellors, physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists to diagnose the same condition differently, the DSM-5 would streamline this process by overseeing the international classification of mental health diagnostics more concisely.

Hoek said the DSM-5 was different from the DSM-4 in that the new criterion was based on research evidence. The DSM-5, which aimed to reduce “Not Otherwise Specified” (NOS) categories, would use dimensional categories, and among others, there would be no separate child and adolescent category.

Hoek, an adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University, New York and an expert in screening for psychosis, is also a consultant in a pilot study investigating the incidence rate, early course, and treatment pathways (INCET) of first episode psychotic disorders (FEP) among treatment seeking individuals in the Vulindlela community in KwaZulu-Natal.

The study is being conducted by Professor Jonathan Burns, Academic Leader for Research in the School of Clinical Medicine, and Professor Ezra Susser of Columbia University. It is the first study to derive incidence rates for FEP in an African setting and Burns said it aimed to develop a method to screen for FEP that was feasible and culturally sensitive and devise a protocol for its assessment and follow-up. He said that the study had attracted postgraduate candidates who were conducting research in this area.

Burns said South Africa had a limited amount of research in psychiatry and ideally their goal would be to pick up every single new case of psychosis as they went along. He said they chose to conduct the study in Vulindlela because the rural community had limited healthcare facilities and the researchers planned to use the data to apply for a bigger grant in order to conduct an epidemiological study for the next three to five years upon completion of the pilot study.

Burns said the Vulindlela community was already benefiting from educational workshops, support structures and referral systems emanating from the research. In this study, researchers were using the DSM-4 model with the DSM-5 version planned for use in studies in the long term.

author email :



School of Management, Information Technology and Governance on the Pietermaritzburg campus hosted a PhD Seminar on recently which highlighted the importance of cohort supervision among post graduate students who conduct research towards their doctoral thesis.

Fourteen post graduate students together with academics at UKZN addressed the challenges and ways forward when embarking on this tough task in the seminar titled: “Appreciating Diversity”. The event was aimed at touting for the support of cohort supervision when undertaking research for the purpose of post graduate studies. Academics present suggested that having several supervisors offering guidance to a post graduate student could be beneficial in that a number of viewpoints are presented to students.

Participating students had the opportunity to present their research abstract to fellow students and academics to offer an insight into the research they embarked upon. Rigorous debate ensued following abstract presentations as those present suggested how abstracts could be improved and further interrogated.

Academic Leader at the School of Management and Entrepreneurship, Dr Maxwell Phiri said in his welcome to guests how happy he was to see the cohort research project materialise. ‘Cohort supervision has been emphasised. Don’t lose this vision. Cohort study is all about doing things together. However, this may breathe conflict in some instances. However, conflict can be good. It results in a resolve to find solutions and move on. Each one of us must not lose sight of our goal, which is to achieve our PhD degree.’

Dr Phiri suggested several spin-offs of the cohort system which included: the promotion of throughput, a driver of research publication among postgraduate students, encourages collaboration among cohort participants to facilitate publication in journals, creation of school-based journals and the production of books out of research work.

Dr Ziska Fields, Academic Leader in the School of Management and Entrepreneurship said postgraduate students needed the passion for doing a PhD. She said the seminar served to bring together students and academics as a community with the common purpose of assisting students in their growth and development.

Dr Fields advised students: ‘You need to make sure that you’re 100 percent committed to your endeavour. Take on this challenge and be positive. See the end vision that you’re adding to the academic environment for the better. Always remember that your research would bring change to society at large.’

The Seminar also discussed the challenges facing researchers. The limited funding allocated to research and the difficulty accessing research funds, were brought to the fore. Another point aired was the fact that supervisors and postgraduate students shared a tough relationship due to difference in opinions.

author email :