UKZN SCIENTISTS TAKE ON SOUTH DURBAN BASIN

UKZN SCIENTISTS TAKE ON SOUTH DURBAN BASIN

Previously referred to as “the toxic hub of South Africa”,  and internationally renowned as a hotspot for air pollution, the south Durban region is home to over 120 industries, including two of the biggest oil refineries in the country.  The basin accommodates over 280 000 people crammed into an area measuring approximately 60 km2 which sees residential communities juxtaposed with industry and commerce.  It is not surprising that residents within this area suffer from serious health problems, especially respiratory tract infections.

In a unique interdisciplinary collaborative project, a group of UKZN scientists are tackling the environmental and health issues and risks in the south Durban basin as part of an international project known as EO2Heaven (Earth Observation and Environmental Modeling for the Mitigation of Health Risks).  Co-funded by the European Commission as part of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Environmental theme, the three principal UKZN partners are the School of Environmental Sciences, the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and the School of Computer Science. 

EO2Heaven, a three-year project that started in 2010, seeks to ‘contribute to a better understanding of the complex relationships between environmental changes and their impact on human health.’  It involves monitoring changes induced by human activities with an emphasis on atmospheric, water and marine pollution. Using advanced technology, such as data from orbiting satellites, its goal is to develop and design a geographic information system (GIS) that will be able to predict health outcomes and risks in a changing environment caused by global climate change.  Ultimately, this system will act as an early warning mechanism for potential health risks. 

The overall project will rely on three different case studies to achieve its desired objectives which will be applicable on a global scale.  The first will address the environmental effects on allergies and cardiovascular diseases in Dresden, Germany.  The second will deal with pollution and respiratory disease in the south Durban industrial basin, and the third will be conducted in Uganda, investigating the impact of climate variables on the outbreak of cholera. 

The UKZN team involved in the south Durban study is working closely with the eThekweni Municipality’s Department of Health.  Their main focus is on air pollution and its effects on respiratory outcomes amongst children.   The researchers are using existing environmental pollutant data for the area as well as health data from previous UKZN studies on asthma in children.

According to the Head of UKZN’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and one of the project’s leaders, Professor Rajen Naidoo, the aim is to create a web-based risk map for the Durban area.  This will be an extremely powerful tool which will directly benefit residents. It will allow people to go online and select where they live or work and receive information about their risk to exposure from elevated pollution levels on a particular day or three or four days in advance.  Although Naidoo describes this as ‘an ambitious outcome’ he is confident it can be achieved.

The other two key researchers on the project
author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za

MONITORING MALARIA FROM EYE IN THE SKY

MONITORING MALARIA FROM EYE IN THE SKY  Innovations in science and technology have provided humans with the ability to keep a watchful eye on the world, something they have long yearned to do.  Satellites, which silently orbit the Earth, enable scientists to extend their influence for environmental, agricultural, economic, health, technological and humanitarian purposes.  For example, data collected using satellite remote sensing can be used for disaster relief and management, mineral exploration, determining the position and growth dynamics of populations, climate change analysis, planning and monitoring water resources and assessing crop yields.
  

Commonly referred to as Earth Observation (EO), this technology extends to the prediction and management of disease.  In sub-Saharan Africa, malaria, which is considered one of the planet’s deadliest diseases, kills at least one million people every year.  It is the region with the highest infection rate and is home to 90 percent of malaria-related deaths.  According to UNICEF, it seriously impacts the economy of Africa by hindering economic growth and development: ‘In Africa today, malaria is understood to be both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty.  Figures show that the annual economic growth in countries with high malaria transmission has historically been lower than in countries without malaria.’

Despite this dismal scenario, malaria is a preventable and curable disease. A new project in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Union, titled MALAREO, seeks to stimulate and facilitate the use of EO in malaria control and management in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. 

Initiated in February, the two-year project involves collaboration between three African partners and three European partners.    UKZN’s School of Environmental Sciences is one of the African partners comprising a team of small and medium enterprises, remote sensing experts, epidemiology experts and public health specialists.  The other MALAREO members include the South African Medical Research Council, Eurosense: Belgium, Remote Sensing Solutions: Germany, and the Swaziland and Mozambique National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCPs).  Head of the School of Environmental Sciences, Professor Fethi Ahmed, is leading the UKZN initiative. 

The focus-area of MALAREO’s work is the cross-border region of southern Mozambique, eastern Swaziland and north-eastern South Africa.  This is a vast, largely inaccessible and undeveloped malaria area.  For this reason, remote sensing is an effective tool for determining the exact location of the malaria vector (an organism that acts as an intermediary host for a parasite, which in this context is the mosquito) sites.  It will also provide valuable information related to social factors that affect the spread of malaria, for example where the majority of people are concentrated and where existing water bodies are located.   Throughout the duration of the project, the MALAREO consortium will work closely with the local end-user which is the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative.  

MALAREO’s primary objective is to ‘contribute to the installation of an EO monitoring cell that will support the daily work of the national malaria control programmes’ by providing ‘increased knowledge to analyse the distribution of malaria cases.’  African and European partners will work
author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za

NEW UKZN/CSIR-MERAKA CENTRE FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH

NEW UKZN/CSIR-MERAKA CENTRE FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RESEARCH A Memorandum of Agreement between UKZN and CSIR-Meraka was signed in June, thereby making the cross-institutional and jointly funded Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) a reality.

CAIR was initiated by Dr Thomas Meyer, Director of CAIR and Head of the Knowledge Representation and Reasoning group at CSIR-Meraka in Pretoria, and Dr Deshendran Moodley, Senior Lecturer at UKZN’s School of Computer Science and then Head of School. Its current members comprise 16 people, of which 11 researchers hold a PhD and five PhD students who are physically located at UKZN and at CSIR-Meraka in Pretoria. Additional MSc and PhD student and postdoctoral bursaries are being made available. As such, it is already the largest concentration of Artificial Intelligence research in South Africa, which aims to generate critical mass nationally and become well-recognised internationally.

CAIR’s activities focus on theoretical and applied AI research and, capacity-building through student thesis supervision and organisation of advanced taught modules. Concerning the latter, the first concrete event will be the Master’s AI School geared toward MSc and PhD students in computer science, which will be held from September 26-30 at UKZN’s Westville campus, following three successful editions in previous years in Pretoria.

While for a non-computer scientist the term “Artificial Intelligence” may generate a whole plethora of associations and perhaps be deemed already a sub-specialisation of computer science, there is a wide range of sub-topics that are grouped under AI, such as robotics, game theory, machine learning, and logic. The initial focus of the activities at CAIR will be on Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, and on logic-based reasoning and ontology engineering in particular. This may sound somewhat distant from any potential benefit to society, but, in fact, is not. By representing knowledge formally, the computer can process it correctly and by means of automated reasoning, e.g., “find” implicit information that is novel to the domain expert, test a hypothesis in theory before spending on expensive laboratory equipment, manage fires with intelligent sensor networks, and, in combination with data analysis, find patterns in, e.g., electronic health records which then can contribute toward improvements in disease treatments. The theoretical side of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning looks at ways to represent the domain knowledge in the right way, which logic-based language it needs and its characterisation, as well as designing and tailoring reliable and transparent reasoning services.

The applied side of the research, at present, zooms in on its applicability for biodiversity management and health informatics, of which the latter will be in collaboration with the Health Enterprise Architecture Lab (HEAL) located at UKZN. Other aspects of AI are being incorporated as well, principally the engineering and more data-oriented branch of AI, with topics such as evolutionary computation, machine learning, and image processing.

The CAIR website will be filled with details of the people and projects in the upcoming weeks. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact Dr Thomas Meyer (tommie.meyer@meraka.org.za), or CAIR’s local contacts at the School of Computer Science, Dr Deshendran Moodley (<
author email : keet@ukzn.ac.za

WORKSHOP ON HIV/DISABILITY AND REHABILITATION

 WORKSHOP ON HIV/DISABILITY AND REHABILITATION

UKZN’s Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) is hosting a series of skills enhancing workshops with the aim of supporting and improving the working ability of policy makers, researchers and practitioners in HIV-specific areas of work. June 21 to 22 marked the first of the series and the topic was “HIV/Disability and Rehabilitation”. The Workshop increased awareness of the links, vicious cycles and relationships between HIV and disability. It also exposed participants to literature and research perspectives on the subject.

The Workshop was facilitated by Dr Jill Hanass-Hancock from HEARD and attended by researchers and practitioners from UKZN and the public sector who work closely with people with disabilities and people living with HIV. The Workshop was inspired by the growing evidence that practitioners, policy makers, and the general community are not giving attention to the disabling effects of HIV nor the vulnerability of people with disabilities to HIV and AIDS and are therefore ill-equipped to work effectively with disabled persons.

Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that 80 percent of disabled persons live in low income countries and have limited access to basic services, including disability education and rehabilitation.

Disabled people are vulnerable not just because of their disorder or disease, but also due to factors affecting their social, financial and medical environment. Limitations in any one of these can lead to a lower standard of living.

Chief Physiotherapist at GJ Crookes Hospital, Miss Desiree Govender said that HIV/ Disability is a pressing issue that needs more attention in the public sector. The poor crowd public hospitals and practitioners find it difficult to communicate effectively with blind, deaf or otherwise disabled patients as they are undertrained. She added: ‘HIV and disability is separate in government, but it is time to integrate the two as they are interconnected’. She recommended in-service training programmes for medical practitioners on this subject.

HIV receives attention and funding for meeting medical and social needs, but many people are not aware of the close relationship between HIV and disability. Policy makers have not given the subject adequate attention and this neglect has contributed to generating an oppressive environment for persons with physical limitations living with the virus.

Disability Co-ordinator for the Howard College and Medical School campuses, Mr Neil Balakrishna, spoke about the extreme limitations suffered by some patients. ‘Imagine the person who is stigmatised by being HIV positive and further stigmatised by becoming disabled due to sicknesses caused by the virus, and its even worse when their sexual orientation is another issue,’ he said.

Participants learnt about international standards and policy on HIV/disability and rehabilitation that they felt would greatly improve South Africa’s response to the issue. 

 Dr Zachary Tambudzai from the School of Economics and Finance presented a paper at the Eurasia Business and Economics Society (EBES) International Conference on Business and Economics in Istanbul from June 1-3.

 

The Conference brought together researchers and practitioners from various fields in economics and business from all over the world to share ideas and discuss future developments. Tambudzai presented a paper titled: “Military expenditure and regional integration in Southern Africa”.

The paper discussed the effect of military expenditure in developing countries and Africa, in particular the varying mix of positive and negative economic development effects across countries. It emphasised the overall negative impact of military spending on economic growth and development. Conflict also negatively affects efforts at consolidating regional integration in southern Africa. The negative effects of military expenditure are most pronounced in countries facing legitimacy and security crises. Countries afflicted by conflict and poverty pay higher economic costs for their national security. The paper also explored the effect of regional integration on military expenditure in southern Africa. The basic premise of the research is that economic integration reduces conflict and eventually military expenditure. In addition regional security integration (via a peace dividend) may have positive economic externalities through uninterrupted trade between member states in regional trade blocs.


author email : tambudzai@ukzn.ac.za

VISITING BRAZILIAN JUDGE APPLAUDS SOUTH AFRICA’S JUSTICE SYSTEM

VISITING BRAZILIAN JUDGE APPLAUDS SOUTH AFRICA’S JUSTICE SYSTEM  South Africans can be proud of their Constitution, which sets an example to those who do not enjoy our constitutional rights. This observation was made by Brazilian Federal Court Judge, Erivaldo dos Santos, who visited UKZN’s Faculty of Law on June 17. Dos Santos added that while Brazil’s offender population is smaller than South Africa’s when population ratios are considered, South Africa’s justice system caters efficiently to the needs of both citizens and offenders.

Dos Santos was awarded the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute Prize for Human Rights in Brazil for a programme to reintegrate convicted prisoners into society by providing offenders with jobs after their release. He set up a co-ordinating committee consisting of private employers, public officials and members of the judiciary to place ex-prisoners in jobs. Part of his prize was a visit to South Africa and Mozambique to study their justice systems.

Professor David McQuoid-Mason from UKZN’s Centre for Socio Legal Studies accompanied the Judge to South Africa’s Legal Aid Head Office in Johannesburg and its Justice Centres in Durban and Verulam, as well as various tourist and heritage sites such as Constitutional Hill and the Apartheid Museum. During his visit to the UKZN Law Clinic and Street Law Programmes on the Howard College campus, he was impressed by the Street Law Programme. Around 100 law students participate in this Programme, which provides education on legal rights to school learners, prisoners and community members. The Judge expressed his desire to introduce a similar programme in Brazil.  

Dos Santos was also very impressed with Section 35 of the South African Constitution, which requires that an alleged offender come before the Court within 48 hours of being arrested.  He believes that if Brazil were to implement this requirement, offenders would not get “lost” in the system as they do at present. In Brazil, offenders can be detained  for up to 81 days without seeing a judge. 

Santos met with UKZN’s Dean of the Faculty of Law, Professor Managay Reddi, and some Faculty staff members and spoke about his prisoner-reintegration programme. The rate at which ex-convicts were re-offending and coming back to prison was 80 percent when they were unemployed and only 10 percent if they were employed. Therefore there was an urgent need for an intervention to provide prisoners with work to stop them reoffending. ‘The economy in Brazil is booming and there is a high demand for technical labour. This makes it easy for ex-offenders to be absorbed into industry,’ he said. The Federal Court where dos Santos is based sets an example for other employers by employing ex-offenders, showing that they can be trustworthy and competent employees. Nonetheless, negative perceptions remain that hinder employers from hiring ex-offenders. Reddi said that South Africa could learn much from this example.  

 

Dos Santos also described prison conditions in Brazil: ‘There is over-crowding, torture, lack of medical attention to inmates, and some people should not be in jail, but have not been released’. The  programme he has initiated also addresses human rights violations on behalf of offenders who do not have the means to defend themselves against corrupt judicial officials. He investigates complaints about district judges and has been granted direct access to offenders. Dos Santos also assists offenders with getting long overdue court dates and secures their release if they were unlawfully arrested. ‘This is not an easy process. [It is] tough, but all the effort has to contribute to moving our legal system forward,’ he said.author email : mavaneni@ukzn.ac.za

ISIDINGO SOKUQEQESHWA NGOBUCHEPHESHE KUBADLALI BEBHOLA

ISIDINGO SOKUQEQESHWA NGOBUCHEPHESHE KUBADLALI BEBHOLA

Abantu abaningi bacabanga ukuthi ithalente kuphela elakha impumelelo yembaleki kepha abaqeqeshi  bangakutshela kabanzi ngezinga lokuzimisela nokuqeqesha okudingekayo ukuze uvelele.

UMnz Thabo Dladla oyiSports Officer eNyuvesi yaKwaZulu-Natali (UKZN) ubengomunye wamalunga ezemidlalo kwiLiving Legends sports seminar – ithimba ebelidingida ukuthi izikole zoqeqesho zingenza kanjani ukuthi kukhiqizwe abadlali abasezingeni lazwelonke entsheni yanamhlanje eNingizimu Afrika. Loludaba belidungidwa ngaphansi kwaMasipala weTheku emhlanganweni obubanjwe ngohlaka-15 kuNhlangulana.

Lo mhlangano ubugxile ekutheni izikhungo zoqeqesho ezahlukahlukene zingabambisana kanjani kulolu daba lokunyusa izinga lebhola kubadlali abasebusheni babo. UDladla ubehlalisene nezihlabani zebhola uMnz Sugar Ray Xulu kanye noMnz Clive Barker abebemele abadlali nabaphathi babo. Usihlalo kube nguMnz Lindelani Mbense wezemidlalo kuSABC.

UDladla usezakhele igama njengomqeqeshi wamaqembu amaningi eSouth African Youth National Under-20 kanye no-Under 23, waphinda waba yisekela lomqeqeshi kwi-Under-20 Soccer World Cup ngonyaka ka2007 kanye nango-2000 kuma-Olimpiki. Ngo2009 uDladla waqala i-Izichwe (Warriors of Shaka) eMgungundlovu emuva kokubeka phansi izintabo ekuqeqesheni amaqembu ompetha entsha. Kuloluhlelo abadlali abasebasha baqeqeshelwa ukuba ngopmetha nokuhola ngokuvelele kwezemfundo, ubunyoningco kanye nokuzikhulisa kwezemidlalo. Loluhlelo lubanjelwa ePeter Booysen Training Centre eMgungundlovu lapho kuqeqeshwa abadlali abangamashumi amane abasukela eminyakeni engu12 kuya kwengu14. Baqeqeshwa nguDladla kanye nabanye abaqeqeshi abahlanu ababhaliswe kwi South African Football Association (SAFA). Abadlali baphinde baqeqeshwe yizifundiswa ezisaqhuba izifundo zobuchwepheshe esikhungwini saseNyuvesi esiseMgungundlovu. Baphinde babe neqembu leizibalo ngaphezu kwalokho. Impela ngabadlali bekhethelo laba.

UDladla ugcizelele ukubaluleka kokuqeqesha intsha isencane. ‘Izikhungo zokuqeqesha zidinga ochwepheshe kwezokudlala, kwezobudokotela kanye nabaqeqeshi nabaphathi abathembekile.’ Evumelana noDladla, uXulu uthe kumele kube lula ukudlala kubadlali asebethanda ukuqina. UBarker uthe kubalulekile nokuthi abadlali abasebasha bachithe isikhathi nemindeni yabo kuze bathole inkuliso.

Umqeqeshi uMnz Neil Tovey ukhulume ngokubaluleka kwezemidlalo, kahulukazi ibhola ezikoleni. ‘Uma abadlali bekhula beqhudelana ezikoleni lokhu kunciphisa amathuba okuthi bazithole kuncipha amathuba ekusasa eliqhakazile,’ kusho uTovey. ‘Abaqeqeshi asebethathe umhlalaphansi nabo silindele ukuthi bazimisele ukuqeqesha njengoDlala.’

Amalunga ezihambeli zalomhlangano abuze ukuthi uhulumeni angasiza kanjani ukwenza lamaphupho afezeke. Athe kumele uhulumeni abambisane namaqembu amakhulu nabaqeqeshi bebhola. Baphakamise imibono efana nokwethembeka, izinsizakuqeqesha kanye nempatho enhle yabasebenzi njengezaba ezizosiza lesi simo.

Umhlangano lo obuhanjelwe namalunga ahulumeni, abanandisi kunye nosaziwayo bebhola abathokozele umculo othulwe izifundiswa zeSchool of Music eNyuvezi. 

Click here for english version


author email : mavaneni@ukzn.ac.za

SCHOOL OF ACCOUNTING GRADUATE DOES THE UNIVERSITY PROUD

SCHOOL OF ACCOUNTING GRADUATE DOES THE UNIVERSITY PROUD  Ms Heather Snyman recently did the University proud when she earned herself a spot in the Top 10 of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Board Exam Part I. She graduated in April with a BCom Honours cum laude from UKZN. 

A Trainee Accountant at KPMG, Snyman said that she is very pleased with her results, but even more thrilled to have earned UKZN a place in the Top 10.  The School of Accounting has again proved the quality of students they produce as they always take up positions in the Top 10 of Part I and Part II of the exam.

Snyman said that in order for her to earn the Chartered Accountant (South Africa) designation, her next step is to serve her articles for 36 months and then write the second board exam which can either be the Public Practice Examination or Part II of the Qualifying Examination later next year.

The exam is written annually. It consists of four three-hour exams and is written over two days. For students to qualify for the exam, they must have passed their Honours in Accounting or a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting with Theory of Accounting (CTA).

Candidates that write the exam come from universities across the country including the Universities of Johannesburg, the Witwatersrand, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Pretoria and UNISA.


author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za

2011 IASIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE

2011 IASIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE  Professor Purshottama Reddy from the School of Public Administration and Development Management attended the 2011 annual conference of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) in Rome, Italy from June 13-19. The conference was hosted by the Italian Government and University of Roma Tre.

The IASIA celebrated its 50th anniversary at the conference, hence the theme: “IASIA at 50: Challenges and Ways Forward for Public Administration Globally”.

 

Certain sessions of the conference focused on the accomplishments of the past 50 years which allowed participants to review the history of the IASIA as well as that of Public Administration education, training, and training needs, while other sessions focused on more specific issues requiring interdisciplinary contributions thus involving the various Working Groups. These sessions were invaluable to Reddy who is currently the Project Director of the Working Group on Local Governance and Development of the IASIA and also serves on the Board of Management representing the Africa Region.

Reddy participated in two panel discussions, presented a paper titled: “Local Economic Development: A Critique of the African Experience”, and served as a rapporter of the Working Group on Local Governance and Development.

The highlight of the conference included a special recognition of Reddy and other long standing colleagues who received certificates for Distinguished Services to IASIA.

Reddy has attended all the IASIA Conferences since 1991 and was the organiser of the 1996 conference in Durban. He was one of the founders of the Working Group on Local Governance and Development and has served as its Project Director for 14 years. The Working Group is one of the most successful and productive working groups of the IASIA as it generally receives the highest number of abstracts for the annual conferences. In addition, three books have been published over the years. 

The Working Group will be working in collaboration with the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) of the United Nations on Strengthening Public Administration and Leadership for the Millennium Development Goals at Local Level in the next two conferences.  It is envisaged that this co-operation will be over a two-year period where the Working Group will be used to facilitate the activities of DPADM relative to local administration and the Millennium Development Goals.
author email : reddyp1@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN-SIFE SEMINAR TACKLES CLIMATE CHANGE

UKZN-SIFE SEMINAR TACKLES CLIMATE CHANGE  In the year 2000, statistics provided by the World Resources Institute showed that South Africa releases an estimated 417.6 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. After much consideration, the government introduced the Carbon Disclosure Project Survey, a global initiative that documents the world’s carbon footprint in leading businesses.

These were some of topics discussed during the UKZN Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE-UKZN)’s business seminar titled “Effects of Climate Change on the Triple Bottom Line”, on June 23.

SIFE is an international non-profit organisation that works with leaders in business and Higher Education in order to mobilise university students to make a difference in their communities whilst developing skills to become socially responsible business leaders.

The business seminar is an annual event hosted by the SIFE-UKZN Foundation aimed at fund-raising whilst engaging the community through socially and economically relevant issues. The funds raised are used to cover the costs associated with attending the SIFE South African National Competition. This year’s Competition will be held in Johannesburg from July 13-14.

Among the guests was South African Revenue Services (SARS) Group Executive, Mr Nathaniel Mabetwa, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at UKZN Professor Nelson Ijumba and Professor Patrick Bond, Director of the University’s Centre for Civil Society.

The Carbon Disclosure Project was introduced in order to persuade business organisations to voluntarily disclose their carbon emission levels.  The major problem this project faced was the non-participation of numerous large industry players.

In order for the students and guests to get a visual glimpse of the impacts of climate change in another part of the world, Bond used an innovative animation video on climate justice politics and the Kyoto Protocol legislation in the United States of America (USA). 

The Kyoto Protocol legislation provides three mechanisms that enable countries in developed countries to acquire greenhouse gas reduction credits. The global issues of greenhouse gas emission trading, also referred to as “Cap and Trade”, allows specific sources of air pollution such as power plants and waste facilities a certain number of pollution credits, which represent the amount of various pollutants that industry is allowed to emit.

This cap-and-trade system was devised as a means for the USA government to control the emission of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) concentrated pollutants in the atmosphere.  The major failure of this system was that business organisations and facilities took advantage of the system by buying enough air pollutant credits in order to pollute more rather than less.

 In essence, the video’s message was that the way forward in the USA was to introduce strong and solid caps with stringent policies that could not be overlooked or manipulated.

South Africa is currently debating the introduction of carbon tax as a means of reducing CO2 in the atmosphere by 2012. The Carbon Tax proposal is based on the “polluter- pays- principal”.

 UKZN’s Women in Leadership and Leverage Programme (WILL) hosted an inspirational workshop targeted at UKZN academics on June 20. This was the fifth workshop organised by WILL this year. 

The purpose of the workshop was to define what makes a distinguished teacher stand out from the rest, and to encourage lecturers to always put their best foot forward in their practice and research.

Each year, UKZN bestows Distinguished Teachers’ Awards (DTAs), which recognise and reward outstanding teaching and acknowledge the commitment of academic staff who respond creatively to the complexity of teaching and learning environments and the rapidly changing student population. 

Two lecturers in the Faculty of Heath Sciences were the proud recipients of DTAs at the Faculty’s Graduation Ceremony in April 15. Professor Fatima Suleman, who has distinguished herself as a teacher in the area of curriculum and module development, and Mr Mark Tufts who has established a reputation in Physiology teaching strategies and methodologies were presenters at the WILL Workshop.

‘It’s challenging to make a change, but it’s never boring!’ These were the words of encouragement to the workshop participants by Suleman who is Associate Professor in Pharmacy Practice. Outlining what goes into a teaching portfolio, she stressed that although mostly done for promotional purposes by academics, a portfolio is a documentation of the work one is doing over time. ‘A teaching portfolio is a factual description of an academic’s teaching strengths and accomplishments,’ she said. She advised that a portfolio requires continual and constant compilation but is essential to keep as a lecturer.

Workshop participants heard that keeping a portfolio not only builds evidence of one’s teaching profile but also serves as a quality assurance, monitoring and evaluation approach to a lecturer’s own work and how they relate to students. Maintaining effective communication and introducing innovative ways of teaching today’s undergraduates – a challenge often faced by lecturers in engaging first-year students – was also identified as one of the key ingredients of becoming a distinguished teacher.

Presenting on the topic “How to develop a winning teaching portfolio for large group classes”, was Tufts, whose teaching strategies range from standard traditional didactic lectures, to interactive sessions.  His strengths have been in addressing issues like high failure rates, disinterested students, and the pressure of teaching large classes. Tufts said it is important to always identify the problem correctly and scientifically, and thereby identify appropriate and relevant solutions.

Tufts said it is essential to always be available to students, maintain good communication, to use student friendly media and applications, and to promote active learning even outside the classroom

WILL committee member and one of the 2007 DTA recipients, Professor Busi Ncama of the School of Nursing, said that she hoped that the workshop attendees would be encouraged by knowing that the University acknowledges and values commitment in teaching. She emphasised that academics should not be discouraged but continue to strive for innovative methods of teaching to benefit UKZN’s diverse student population. 


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

TIP-OFFS ANONYMOUS LAUNCHED AT UKZN

TIP-OFFS ANONYMOUS LAUNCHED AT UKZNActing Director of Corporate Governance at UKZN, Mr Ranesh Sivnarain and Deloitte & Touche representative, Ms Louise Williams provided stakeholders and staff members with information on Tip-off Anonymous on all the University’s campuses on June 22. Deloitte & Touche is the current independent service provider of Tip-offs Anonymous, which replaces Whistle Blowers.

The Tip-offs Anonymous Call Centre operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the year. Staff, students and other stakeholders are encouraged to utilise this facility should they wish to make an anonymous tip-off.

The aim of this service is to encourage the anonymous reporting of irregularities. UKZN has implemented a Fraud Policy and Response Plan to deal with fraud risk, which falls under the auspices of the Forensic Services Section of the Corporate Governance Division.  All matters reported via Tip-offs Anonymous are investigated. Where sufficient evidence of irregularities is gathered relevant disciplinary, criminal and civil action will be instituted against the perpetrators.

Williams provided information on the steps to follow when reporting irregularities and the support services provided; and the options staff members have when reporting an incident. Callers may use a Free-Call telephone number or email address to report irregularities. They will be given a reference number for the purposes of feedback. Irrespective of whether the caller chooses to be partially anonymous or completely anonymous, the callers’ identity would never be revealed. Williams also outlined how the call would be dealt with, to whom the information provided would most likely be forwarded and what kind of information the professional operators will request.

Sivnarain urged staff members to be vigilant and honest when reporting illegal activities. ‘We must remember that this system aims to serve all stakeholders of the University,’ he said.

For more information contact the hotline 0800 203 285, e-mail: ukzn@tip-offs.com or visit their website on http://wwwtip-offs.com.


author email : nyikana@ukzn.ac.za

MICROBIOLOGY STUDENT PRESENTS AT ASM MEETING IN NEW ORLEANS

MICROBIOLOGY STUDENT PRESENTS AT ASM MEETING IN NEW ORLEANS Ms Megan Gemmell, currently doing her MSc with Professor Stefan Schmidt in the Discipline of Microbiology on the Pietermaritzburg campus, recently presented her work titled “Microbiological Assessment of River Water and Irrigated Produce in Subsistence Farming in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa)” at the Annual General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in New Orleans (Louisiana, USA).

Gemmell thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to attend this highly prestigious international meeting as she had the opportunity to meet leading scholars working in this field and to discuss her research with her peers.

Her presentation attracted a lot of interest, as the use of water that is contaminated with fecal matter and used for irrigation of produce can lead to serious, food-borne bacterial infections. The increasing number of studies reporting bacterial infections probably due to fecal contamination of fresh produce - including the recently reported infections caused by a Shiga toxin forming E. coli strain in northern Europe - demonstrates the importance of her research.

To lead a healthy lifestyle, it is important to have a diet that includes fresh and minimally processed produce. A large proportion of the South African population exhibits suppressed immune systems, largely due to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. It is therefore essential that minimally processed produce is safe for consumption and not contaminated with potentially pathogenic microorganisms.

Due to limited access to potable water, rural communities in South Africa are known to use river water for irrigation. However, informal settlements lacking adequate sanitation are frequently located near rivers, potentially contributing to the fecal pollution of river water that is used downstream for irrigation.

As a transfer of potentially pathogenic bacteria present in river water onto fresh produce can thus take place, the evaluation of the microbiological quality of river water used for irrigation and the irrigated fresh produce is of utmost importance. The results obtained by Gemmell so far show that river water used for irrigation of produce frequently exceeds acceptable hygiene indicator values specified by the WHO (World Health Organization) for safe irrigation.


author email : schmidts@ukzn.ac.za

UWW GRANT WILL HELP THE EMS PROGRAMME GROW ITS OWN TIMBER

UWW GRANT WILL HELP THE EMS PROGRAMME GROW ITS OWN TIMBER The Enriched Management Studies (EMS) Programme at UKZN has once again received a generous grant of approximately R380 000 from the United Way Worldwide (UWW). This is four times more than the donation value received from the same organisation in 2010.

The EMS Programme in the Faculty of Management Studies offers a curriculum with enhanced learning opportunities to selected students from disadvantaged schools wishing to pursue studies in Accounting and Finance.

The grant came at an appropriate time, when the Higher Education sector is facing challenges inherited from the basic education system. It has been noted that the quality of students being recruited into the Programme is deteriorating, even though the students achieve high marks in their high school examinations. To address these challenges, the EMS Programme was planning to establish a Summer and Winter School for learners from grade 10 to 12 which will now commence in 2012 thanks to the generous funding from UWW. 

According to the Director of the EMS Programme, Mr Jabulani Zikhali the learners will receive tuition in English, Mathematics, Accounting and Physics. They will attend workshops aimed at helping them with career guidance and developing soft skills such as relationship handling, study skills, time management and leadership development.

The EMS Programme will recruit its annual intake of 50 first-year students from this cohort of well-rounded high school learners. This relationship building exercise is expected to yield long-term benefits such as a reduction in drop-out rate and improving the throughput rate. Previously, the Programme only interacted with learners in grade 12.

Zikhali said: ‘The major benefit from this approach is that it will expose students to university education and studying early in their education. Secondly, the University will establish relationships with these learners and their schools … we intend monitoring the learners' academic performance and personal development to help them prepare for university studies. Lastly, we expect to receive better-prepared and more rounded students who should handle their university studies and life better.’

Zikhali believes that better educationally prepared students complete their university studies within the minimum period for their respective degrees. This means better returns from the investment and a more meaningful contribution to the fight against skills shortages, especially in the accounting and finance professions. He added: ‘Funding of this nature is a stamp of approval and confidence in the EMS initiative and its endeavour to promote access to Higher Education, reaching out to the less privileged.’

‘Without the UWW grant, this initiative would have remained a dream. Instead, a number of students will have their chances of advancing their studies at university drastically improved and enhanced,’ said Zikhali.

The UWW is the leadership and support organisation for the network of nearly 1 800 community-based United Ways in 40 countries and territories. The organisation strives to advance the common go
author email : langah@ukzn.ac.za