UKZN’s stand at this year’s Royal Agricultural Show in Pietermaritzburg has won a gold medal and the Trophy for Special Endeavour.

After weeks of planning and several days of strenuous set-up, the team of energetic volunteers from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science waited anxiously to hear the results of their efforts.

After the first round of judging, things looked promising when a new set of judges appeared the following day to take another look… and they obviously liked what they saw.

‘We were particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and extra effort put in by the students and staff who manned the UKZN stand – they went the extra mile,’ said Royal Agricultural Society President, Dr Iona Stewart.   ‘That is why we awarded them the trophy for Special Endeavour.  Both the displays and the staff had that extra something.’

All fields of study within the agricultural, earth and environmental fields were showcased at the stand via carefully created 3D displays with University staff and students on hand to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with show goers.

Other schools within the College, including Engineering; Chemistry and Physics; Life Sciences; and Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, displayed their offerings and research projects in the upstairs section of the stand. 

The instant ice-cream created by the chemists was a winner with the crowds as was a simple device provided by the dieticians, which enabled passers-by to measure their body mass index (BMI) and find out for themselves whether their height to weight ratio was as it should be.

Another crowd-puller was Dr Tanja Reinhardt’s fun, interactive science experiments.  Aimed at the young, the young at heart, and those who simply want to know “why”, she soon had her audience ducking for cover as she shot rockets into the air and pelted people with marshmallows, fired from her scientifically modified vacuum cleaner!

As the premier agricultural event in the province attracting about 150 000 people over the course of the event, it provided an ideal opportunity to showcase UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

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Associate Professor at UKZN's Discipline of Optometry, former anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner and internationally celebrated public health leader, Professor Kovin Naidoo, recently returned from the Vatican in Rome where he was a guest speaker at a special session on blindness prevention.

Naidoo is also the Africa Chair of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Global Programmes Director of the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE). 

Naidoo was privileged to be hosted by the Vatican which included reserved seating for an audience with the Pope.

His Excellency Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and President of the Good Samaritan Foundation ( The Holy See), invited Naidoo to attend The Non-Sighted Person: Master, I See again (MK 10:51) conference held on 4/5 May. 

Also there were Professor Gullapalli (Nag) Rao, Chair of the ICEE, and Dr Serge Resnikoff, Senior Consultant for the Brien Holden Vision Institute. The conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Foundation -The Good Samaritan - in collaboration with CBM Italy Onlus.

The conference took place within the framework of the Good Samaritan Foundation which was instituted by Pope John Paul II with the aim of providing economic support to those most in need and, in particular, people afflicted by  HIV and AIDS, who ask for a gesture of support from the Church.

‘I felt truly honoured to be invited to attend a conference at the Vatican. I was also humbled to be invited by His Excellency Zygmunt Zimowski for what was an enlightening Conference – bringing science and religion together, discussing the main causes of avoidable blindness, and legislative requirements and models of prevention against avoidable blindness.’  

Naidoo said the conference was a boost for blindness prevention efforts as it clearly outlined the responsibility of the religious sector in this extremely important struggle to ensure that no human being was deprived of social, economic or educational opportunities because society failed them in preventing avoidable blindness or failed to guarantee them the appropriate rights when they become blind from unavoidable causes, said Naidoo.

The two-day Conference provided a forum which reflected on pastoral care of the blind and was an opportunity for speakers of theological-pastoral, medical-scientific, educational and social persuasions to outline practical approaches to the need for support and treatment of non-sighted people.  

The conference built on a framework of a theological theme with an 'analysis on the representation of the blind person in Holy Scripture and the Church's historic concern for people who are blind as well as the approach to blindness in other religions’. This was followed by contributions from industry experts on the scientific, social, political, economic and legislative requirements of the topic under consideration.

In addition to the technical and prevention aspects, Naidoo outlined some key considerations when global organisations engaged Africans and the rest of the developing world on the issue of spectacle provision stating that Africans had a right to dignity and quality care and as such programmes that forced inappropriate recycled spectacles and other such products on them should not be supported.
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The awarding of the major component of the R26 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) mega radio telescope to South Africa will open doors to a wealth of new knowledge and the promise of exciting new job and study opportunities.

Researchers at the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) at UKZN have been working closely with the South African SKA Project (SASKAP) since its inception nearly a decade ago and now host a node of the SASKAP astronomy undergraduate bursary programme that will train the next generation of South African astronomers.

The SASKAP postgraduate bursary programme has previously funded three Doctoral and two Masters students who have graduated through their cutting-edge research in astrophysics and cosmology supervised by ACRU researchers. Currently, two Doctoral students and one Masters student at UKZN are working on SASKAP-funded research.

Masters student Kenda Knowles has been recruited by SASKAP to work with their commissioning team on data from the Karoo Array Telescope KAT-7 (a radio array comprising 7 dishes) precursor instrument. Ms Knowles is interested in studying the growth of galaxy clusters, the most massive objects in the universe held together by gravity, by measuring the radio waves that are given off in rare but highly energetic collisions between these objects.

UKZN researchers, Dr Caroline Zunckel and Professor Kavilan Moodley are closely involved with several key MeerKAT (the extension of KAT-7 to 80 radio dishes i.e., "More" KAT) projects that will come online in the next few years. Zunckel will participate in the MeerKAT International Giga-Hertz Tiered Extragalactic Exploration (MIGHTEE) project, that will study the growth of supermassive black holes located at the centres of active galaxies, and the MeerKAT Absorption Line Survey (MALS) project, that will study the build-up of stars from the reservoirs of hydrogen gas contained in galaxies. Zunckel has initiated a close collaboration with the Principal Investigators of the MALS project to train UKZN students to work on data from this project.


Moodley will play a key role in the Looking At the Distant Universe with the MeerKAT Array (LADUMA) and Pulsar Timing Array (PTA) projects, which have been awarded the largest fractions of MeerKAT observing time. He is leading a LADUMA science working group that will study the rotational motions of galaxies through the radio waves given off by the hydrogen gas that they contain. Moodley will also lead the PTA science working group that will study the gravitational ripples created in the fabric of space and time only moments after the big bang.

Current and future collaboration with SASKAP will see an expansion of astrophysics and cosmology at UKZN. Recently, three new academic positions dedicated to forefront research in astrophysics and cosmology have been created in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science in partnership with SASKAP. ACRU has also grown its postdoctoral research programme in recent years and will continue to recruit postdoctoral fellows in collaboration with SASKAP. Most importantly, UKZN now hosts a node of the SASKAP astronomy undergraduate bursary programme that will train the next generation of South African astronomers. In addition to generous funding from SASKAP, astronomy bursars benefit from individual tutoring and mentoring through an undergraduate internship programme run by ACRU. Undergraduate bursars such as Ms Sinenhlanhla Sikhosana and Mr Vishalin Pillay have been excelling in their degrees and have received numerous academic awards at UKZN. When the SKA telescope switches on in just over a decade UKZN will be well placed, through its growing team of astronomers, to play a leading role in the SKA's scientific and technological achievements.

Professor Andrew Kindness, Dean of UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics said that more than ever before there was a need to encourage as many youngsters as possible to follow science-orientated careers. ‘The establishment of the SKA will undoubtedly open a new chapter of learning and space investigation, not only in South Africa but in other emerging African countries.’ He said that opportunities would be transformed in a number of academic disciplines, including mathematics, physics, computer science and engineering. ‘If there was ever a reason for students to excel at school the awarding of this mega telescope and the enormous international spin-off in research endeavours, should be a compelling reason to achieve.’

The SKA is about 100 times more sensitive than the biggest existing radio telescope with approximately 4 000 dish-shaped antennae and other hybrid receiving technologies. ‘Historically we are a scientifically enriched nation, great enquiring minds, cutting edge empirical science’ said Professor of Physics and Senior Research Associate at UKZN, Manfred Hellberg, ‘We are up there with the best and we have a proactive government. So yes, it’s a very exciting prospect, not only for me, but the group of leading South African scientists.’

The telescope will be so powerful and sensitive that it will observe radio signals from the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang. It will search for Earth-like planets and potential life elsewhere in the universe, test theories of gravity and examine the mystery of dark energy and probe the so-called “dark ages”, when the early universe was in a gaseous form before stars and galaxies were formed. Scientists are optimistic that the SKA will allow many new discoveries about how the universe was formed and what it is made of. The foundation for this giant step into deep space are already underway in the northern Cape, mostly uninhabited sheep country of Carnarvon and Williston, some 150 kms from the South African Large Telescope (SALT) at Sutherland in the Karoo.

Collaborations will be made with outlying stations spread over several African countries, including Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Mauritius, Madagascar, Kenya and Ghana.

It will have a core of several hundred antennae and outlying stations of 30 - 40 antennae spiralling out of the core. These stations will be spread over a vast area - up to 3 000 km. The combined collecting area of all these antennae will add up to one square kilometre (= one million square metres).

Partner countries also include Australia, which will host the hundreds of low-frequency antennae required for the project and which needed to be in a separate site. Both country’s precursor arrays, the ASKAP in Australia and MeerKAT in the Karoo will be incorporated into Phase 1 of the SKA.

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On a recent visit to South Africa, a delegation from Washington, DC, visited the PEPFAR funded Sinikithemba Centre at McCord Hospital, in Durban, to see for themselves the remarkable advancements that have been made in the treatment and management of HIV and AIDS in South Africa over the past 10 years. The group included Donald Gips, United States Ambassador to South Africa, as well as US Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi). Director of K-RITH, Professor Bill Bishai, accompanied the Senators on their tour and explained some of the challenges facing a population with such high incidence of HIV and AIDS infection.

South Africa has one of the highest HIV/TB co-infection rates in the world, Bishai, told the Senators. Fuelled by a high concentration of HIV positive individuals with reduced immunity, and emerging drug-resistant strains of bacteria that cause tuberculosis, the country has seen an explosive spread of new TB infections in recent years. Bishai reminded the delegation of the words of former President Nelson Mandela: ‘We cannot win the battle against AIDS if we do not also fight TB. TB is too often a death sentence for people with AIDS.’

The Senators learned that surprisingly little is known about this disease combination, which is very difficult and time consuming to treat. New diagnostics tools, more effective treatments, and advancements in vaccine research are desperately needed to devise more successful ways to combat and manage TB and the high prevalence of TB/ HIV co-infection.

K-RITH was set up specifically to tackle these problems. Through a unique collaboration between the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute in Maryland, USA and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, K-RITH is bringing together top class scientists to study this disease in an environment where solutions are needed most. It is hoped that this collaboration will lead to major scientific contributions to the worldwide effort to contain the spread of TB and HIV.

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Long after most staff and students had left for the weekend, Africa Day at the Howard College Theatre was abuzz with energy and opinions of passionate individuals eager for robust debate at the first annual Conversations for Change lecture.

Held by UKZN in partnership with a network of young African leaders called the Community of Mandela-Rhodes Scholars (CMRS), the role of education and entrepreneurship in transforming society was the main topic of discussion.

Ms Shabashni Moodley, a Sociologist and co-founder of Inkubator for Social Entrepreneurship, and Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya, an academic in Development Studies at UKZN, addressed the audience on the part the public could play in moving Africa forward.

Audience members were invited to raise matters that concerned them as individuals. Responding to student and other issues, Moodley suggested that people actively organise themselves into co-operatives for effective change rather than face dissonance that remained unaddressed.

‘Dialogue is therapeutic and creates a sense of activism,’ said Moodley. ‘We need to push the boundaries beyond learning to make fundamental contributions in society.’

Ngcoya’s address began with a discussion about South Africa’s “national gangrene” low self-expectations that hindered one’s full potential. He urged people to push the expectations they had of themselves, especially students challenged by daily circumstances that threaten goals and dreams. ‘If we do not see ourselves as people who can do, we are done for,’ said Ngcoya, ‘We need to think ourselves anew’.

Event Facilitator Mr Suntosh Pillay was encouraged by the night’s proceedings and success, ‘CMRS is delighted by UKZN’s support on this initiative as many of our alumni consider this home.’ He added, ‘Social activism must start at grass-roots level.  We must engage in conversations for a new world order, with afro-optimism as a norm.’ 

In response, Corporate Relations Division representative, Ms Unathi Makalima, welcomed the inspirational initiative of CMRS saying: ‘UKZN is excited to be part of the Conversations for Change project on this, Africa Day.  Many issues continue to preoccupy the African agenda. In partnering with the CMRS, we stress that Africa needs action, and that action begins with a conversation.’

Long after the votes of thanks, the Howard College corridor remained alive with chatter, proving that inspiration, call for action and healthy debate remain active at UKZN.

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A group of seven women in the College of Health Sciences (CHS) - dedicated to promoting excellence in research, teaching and learning - have been hard at work in a strategic partnership between UKZN and medical education research organisations.


The organisations are the Foundation for Advancement of Medical Education Research (FAIMER), and the Southern Africa FAIMER Regional Institute (SAFRI) - a voluntary, non-profit organisation (NPO) in South Africa.


UKZN’s Dr Jacqueline van Wyk, an executive and one of SAFRI’s founding members, forms part of a global network of FAIMER fellows. Van Wyk undertook the Philadelphia-based FAIMER Fellowship between 2004 and 2005.


Her passion is shared with colleagues and SAFRI Fellows: Professor Fikile Mtshali, Dean: Teaching and Learning (CHS); Dr Anna Voce, Senior Lecturer and Academic Co-ordinator for the Masters in Public Health programme; Dr Veena Singaram, Head of the Mentoring, Academic Monitoring and Support Office (MAMSO); Mrs Lakshini McNamee, Senior Technician and Student Co-ordinator in the Department of Forensic Pathology; Mrs Nirmala Naidoo who previously lectured in UKZN’s Department of Physiotherapy and is now at the University of Cape Town,  and Dr Sindi Mthembu who previously  lectured in the Department of Nursing and now heads the School for the College of Nursing of the KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Health.


UKZN is one of nine South African universities partnering with FAIMER. Three UKZN members have taught on the SAFRI staff development programme.


SAFRI is currenly presenting a two-year FAIMER supported programme for health professions educators in the sub Saharan-African region.  The NPO’s objectives include establishing a regional community of Health professions educators equipped to deliver health professions education appropriate to the needs of the region and the design of responsive curricula according to current international standards of best practice.


The programme has a strong focus on leadership development, research and the advancement of  scholarship in health professions education. It offers a two-year Fellowship that combines residential and distance learning components.


The programme also provides opportunities for alumni to participate in an online learning environment and other collaborative networks such as the South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE) conference.


Opportunities are offered for staff to undertake formal studies such as a Masters Degree in Medical Education in partnership institutions, while fellows receive guidance and mentorship in conducting educational research in health care settings. Publication of innovations can be submitted for the South African Journal of Health Professions Education.


Singaram, a 2008 SAFRI Fellow said the fellowship was a positive influence for her as a medical education researcher. It provided key skills for mentorship and research.


The partnership also focuses on several topics including: educational leadership, curriculum development, teaching methods, managing learning, mentoring and coaching, distance training and learning, informal learning, e-learning, education technology, organisational team building, education research,  skills and competency assessment, communication and presentation skills, appreciative enquiry, educational tools development, learning network formation, performance improvement methods, faculty development, and scholarship development.


Mtshali said the College Teaching and Learning Office was very honoured to be working so closely with van Wyk and Singaram. ‘We intend to recommend the fellowship to others as well. It uses innovative ways to develop the critical skills needed for teaching and research.’

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Mr Benjamin Bearnot, a final-year medical student at New York University and holder of a Fulbright-Fogarty fellowship in Public Health, spent months committed to HIV and AIDS programmes at UKZN.

In January this year, under the guidance of his Fulbright-Fogarty fellowship mentors Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim and Dr Ayesha Kharsany of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Bearnot established a collaborative relationship with UKZN’s HIV/AIDS Programme. 

Through this partnership, Bearnot together with Ms Nomonde Magantolo, the HIV/AIDS Programme Co-ordinator, assisted staff in the HIV/AIDS Programme with programmatic evaluation and employing innovative ways to increase HIV testing uptake on the Howard College campus.

‘While HIV prevalence has been shown to be lower in the tertiary education sector than in the wider community, universities are in the vanguard of South African society and have important roles in the education and protection of future African leaders, executives and scholars,’ said Bearnot.

Since 2010, students and staff wanting HIV counselling and testing (HCT) on UKZN campuses had to arrange appointments in advance at the campus clinic.  Under this system, the number of students and staff testing on campus fell as waiting times for appointments grew.  Another concern was that many students and staff failed to arrive for appointments, possibly after having a change of mind.

‘To address this, we began by hiring two trained HIV counsellors to provide HCT services at two locations on campus – the campus clinic and the HIV/AIDS Support Unit – and eliminating the requirement for making an appointment,’ said Bearnot.

Furthermore, they designed an HIV testing service that was compatible with and targeted to the specific needs of a university student population.

Bearnot was instrumental in developing a communications campaign to help further catalyse students’ reinvigorated enthusiasm for testing, which is called Value In Prevention or VIP. 

‘As part of this campaign we have placed posters on campus informing students of our new drop-in HIV testing service and advising them that they can become VIPs in their university community by knowing their HIV status and encouraging members of their social networks to do the same,’ said Bearnot.

Staff in the HIV/AIDS Programme said within the first three months of the improved HCT strategy, they had tested more than 1000 UKZN students and staff – over three times the number tested at the Howard College campus clinic last year.  ‘Many of the students arrive in groups and often return after their own HIV test with other friends to get tested.  There is a tremendous energy surrounding the HIV/AIDS programme, and after the successes of our pilot project, we are optimistic about sustaining our services at Howard College and extending these programmatic gains to other UKZN campuses and beyond in the coming months.’

Bearnot said he had been fortunate to work at CAPRISA and at the HIV/AIDS Support Unit. ‘The people I have worked with are very bright and hard working.’

‘In the absence of a vaccine we need to use a collaboration of strategies to end HIV… The goal is an HIV free generation.’

HIV Counsellors, Ms Pinky Myaka and Ms Londeka Masobo, and Health Promoter in the HIV/AIDS programme, Ms Noxolo Bathembu, said although there was still a lot of negative feeling around HIV, the programme was happy to be helping create a new generation of leaders who would be sensitive and break down the stigma around the disease.
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The School of Management, IT and Governance recently launched its first after hours Master of Commerce programme at the Howard College campus.                                   

The idea of turning the masters programme into an after-hours course was proposed when it became clear that many students who need what is offered in the full-time programme could not attend lectures during the day.

 Now that the programme’s hours have been extended to between 18h00 and 21h00, it is attracting about 70 students, compared to a maximum of 10 previously.                                                        

Areas of specialisation for the programme are;

(1)         Human Resources Management and Development

(2)         Industrial Relations and Employee Relations

(3)         Management

(4)         Marketing Management

(5)         Information Systems and Technology (to be added next semester)

These programmes are in demand because industry and the workplace in general require their staff to specialise at this level and acquire the latest skills and competencies. The School of Management, IT and Governance, plans to turn this programme into one of the flagship offerings for the School, extending it outside the ambit of the eThekwini Metropolitan area.

Introducing a block release based programme and utilising some of the technologies for advanced Higher Education and learning in order to make this a reality will happen next semester and may be extended to the Pietermaritzburg campus.

Students will be able to access their modules and complete their assignments online following the attendance of a compulsory block release programme. The School intends to continue being the leader for the dynamic development and offering of highly sought after and specialised programmes in Management and Information Systems and IT Management in South Africa.
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A group of MBA students from the University of California in the United States presented their impressions on South Africa’s agricultural co-operatives at an interactive forum hosted by the School of Management, Information Systems and Governance recently.

The event, organised by UKZN academic and a Trustee for the PEACE Foundation Trust, Ms Malindi Kunene, was attended, among others, by the chairperson of the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network, Ms Vuyelwa Xaba, as well as Inkosi Sbonelo Mkhize of the Abambo Traditional Council.

First year Berkeley business students, Mr Roy Fujimoto, Ms Amanda Hat, Mr Diego Otarola and Ms Augustina Sacerdote, were on a three-week visit to South Africa working on the development of a model for second tier co-operatives suitable for the South African environment. They worked in co-operation with the PEACE Foundation Trust, an NGO whose main goal is the creation of sustainable economic development through the use of cooperatives.

Their presentation was titled:  “Establishing a Secondary Agricultural Co-operative Model in South Africa, which defined what financial and organisational services are needed for co-operatives to be a success”.

The group studied 10 KwaZulu-Natal co-operatives representing a range of structures, operations and markets.

‘This research has been a huge learning experience for us as we have engaged with various co-operatives, local government officials and farmers to gather information,’ said Sacerdote. 

‘Through this case study we discovered that as co-operatives become sophisticated so do the services they provide and that there are benefits in collaboration and pooling of resources.

‘This information will be vital in providing an outside view of what makes co-operatives successful.’

At the presentation, UKZN alumni and PEACE Foundation representative Mr Phakama Nhassengo highlighted the NGO’s role in alleviating poverty in rural areas by cultivating sustainable partnerships between the communities and local stakeholders through co-operatives.
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Six delegates from Jackson State University (JSU) in the United States recently visited the Howard College campus to discuss and develop joint projects between UKZN and JSU.

This comes after JSU was awarded $4 million (R32 million) to fund a five-year programme to transform the work climate for women in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the fields of Social and Behavioural Science (SBS).

The award will fund a project called JSUAdvance, which is aimed at advancing the careers of female STEM and SBS members through mentoring, professional development and institutional change.  Interim Associate Dean, College of Science, Engineering and Technology at JSU, Dr Loretta Moore, said she hoped to partner with UKZN to ensure that women were equipped and mentored to attain more senior positions at Institutions of Higher Education and be able to conduct research as well.

‘We want to see a successful international collaboration with UKZN and we hope to meet with women researchers and academic staff and seek out and engage in joint research with these academics, to share data and even to establish peer mentoring on research,’ she said.

The JSUAdvance team hopes to kick start the partnership later this year with joint research publications, proposals and workshops. They have already launched several strategic initiatives to allow women to focus on the areas necessary to advance their academic careers.

According to Moore, there is a mentoring programme for junior faculty women that will provide advice about strategies for success and advancement, there’s even a summer writing retreat for women to take the time and opportunity to focus on completing their research.

Assistant Dean for the Division of International Studies at JSU, Dr Patricia Jernigan, said that she had visited UKZN last year with the hope of establishing a partnership with the teaching faculty at the University. ‘Now we can collaborate on different projects and we hope with the JSU Advance Team our faculty will begin a fruitful relationship with the UKZN faculty,’ she said.

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After months of meticulous planning and networking, Friends of UKZN Agriculture – the University’s very own Agricultural Alumni Society – was launched on 25 May.

Earlier in the year, the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences was approached by enthusiastic alumni and individuals from various agribusinesses with the aim of improving their networks and relationships with their alma mater.

Led by Managing Director of LIMA, Mr Duncan Stewart and a dedicated committee of volunteers, these supporters formed the society.

Stewart said the main objective of the society was to form closer working relationships between UKZN agriculture and agribusiness stakeholders.  ‘We need to close the gap.  The University has contributed massively to the economy and to the sector and feeds us quality graduates.  The brain trust of agriculture in this country is alumni and it’s time to plough back in and to give back.’

The idea of a more active alumni group and a closer working relationship between agribusinesses and the University was received with a great deal of excitement by Dean and Head of School, Professor Albert Modi, who felt that there was considerable scope for collaboration and research between the University and the agricultural sector.  

Modi was passionate in his belief that the University had a primary role to play in agricultural skills provision for the continent and that agricultural training and research were critical components for food security and poverty alleviation in Africa.

‘UKZN remains one of only three South African universities in the world top 500 rankings and is the only one of the three which offers a degree in agriculture,’ said Modi.

Friends of UKZN Agriculture was formally launched on 25 May - the opening day of the Royal Agricultural Show in Pietermaritzburg – and the province’s agribusiness community came out in force with about 150 alumni gathering to show their support.

As Founder and Chairperson of the Society, Stewart said the body aimed to ‘explore and build bi-lateral relationships and networks within the agricultural sector’.   Its immediate goals were to organise social events, publish newsletters and magazines, raise funds and create viable and mutually beneficial business relationships and networks.

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The UKZN International Relations Department in partnership with the School of Music hosted 10 students and two academics from the University of Waterloo in Canada recently for a three-week, fun-filled African music experience on the Howard College campus.

This music partnership has been on-going for the past decade with UKZN welcoming eager international music scholars to share in both the African music experience and its literature.

Professor Carol Ann Weaver, a jazz pianist and composer and Professor of music at the University of Waterloo, has had a long connection with African music as the forerunner of jazz and, on her own initiative, has brought groups of Canadian students to UKZN to introduce them to African culture, music and dance.

The students attended a series of lectures on African music and jazz, isiZulu language and culture, and even African literature. But they also had the opportunity to go sight-seeing in and around Durban,’ said Mr Roy Dace of the UKZN International Relations office.

He highlighted the importance of such partnerships stating that it provided an opportunity to showcase the School of Music and to promote the province in general and UKZN in particular in Canada.

Bachelor of Music student at the University of Waterloo, Ms Jackie Annis, said: ‘Being in South Africa and UKZN has definitely been a culture shock for me. But it has been such a great learning experience and I feel like I’ve learnt something so valuable and precious with African music and its culture.’

Another music student, Ms Jane Honek, shared similar sentiments. ‘There’s so much music in Africa that I haven’t heard before in my life. It’s truly amazing. We even learnt how to speak a bit of isiZulu and how to “Zulu dance”. That was awesome.’

The students attended various concerts and the UKZN Youth music festival. They were keen to visit Durban again. ‘UKZN is such a beautiful campus. It’s sort of like a nature campus - we’d definitely like to come back soon,’ said Annis.

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An interesting debate focussed on transforming education to strengthen health systems for today’s health professionals was heard during a journal club meeting of the recently formed Health Professions Education Research Group


The debate was led by Professor Sabiha Essack, Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences in the College of Health Sciences (CHS), while the meeting was chaired by Dr Veena Singaram from the Teaching and Learning Office.


The discussion was framed around the Lancet Paper - Health Professionals for a New Century: Transforming Education to Strengthen Health Systems in an Interdependent World.


The aim is for a thorough and authoritative re-examination of health professional education to develop a shared vision and common strategy for post-secondary education in medicine, nursing and public health that transcends national borders and silos of individual professions.


The journal club – run by the CHS - discussed possible ways forward in joint planning, reviewed academic systems, global networks and the promotion of the culture of critical inquiry.


Essack said problems with the current health systems included prominent inequities and gaps between and with countries; failure to share dramatic health advances equitably; health insecurity resulting from new infectious, environmental and behavioural risks in the context of rapid demographic and epidemiological changes.


Furthermore, health systems were complex and costly putting greater demand on health workers. There were quantitative and qualitative imbalances in professional labour markets while leadership had been weak in improving health systems performance.


She said problems within education systems highlighted that health challenges had outpaced curriculum reform with the fragmented, out-dated and static curricula producing ill-equipped health graduates. There was a mismatch of competencies and patient/population needs; poor teamwork; gender bias of professional status; narrow technical focus without contextual understanding; episodic encounters as opposed to a continuum of care, and hospi-centric as opposed to primary healthcare-based approaches.


Essack said the professional education system needed to design new instructional and educational strategies to have a positive effect on health outcome.


A vision had been set out for all health professionals in all countries to be educated to mobilise knowledge and to engage in critical reasoning and ethical conduct so that they were competent to participate in patient and population-centred health systems as members of locally responsive and globally connected teams.


This would assure universal coverage of the high quality comprehensive services that were essential to advance opportunity for health equity within and between countries.


Essack said the goal was transformative and interdependent professional education for equity in health. To realise this goal, mobilising leadership, enhancing investments, aligning accreditation and strengthening global learning were highlighted as some of the enabling actions to be taken.


These actions needed to be competency-driven and IT-empowered, measure up on a local-global scale, and have educational resources and a new level of professionalism


The South African Committee of Health Science Deans is hosting a conference on the Westville campus on 3 July on “Training Competent Healthcare Professionals for the 21st Century: Challenges and Solutions”.


Essack is co-founder and Chair of the Committee.

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Postgraduate students doing laboratory-based research studies in the College of Health Sciences heard about good clinical laboratory practice (GLP) during an all-day workshop presented by various speakers at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine campus.


‘The basic principles of quality apply across all the laboratories as guided by all regulatory bodies,’ said Dr Sanil Singh, Head of UKZN’s Biomedical Resource Unit.


‘To become an expert in good laboratory practice requires years and years of practice.’


Singh spoke about the importance of maintaining good habits, discipline and attitude in laboratory practice, saying: ‘We should not compromise safety.’


‘Quality is never an accident; it is always a result of intellectual effort,’ said Mrs Luthchmee Eswarlal of the Discipline of Laboratory Medicine at UKZN. She addressed the students about the application of principals in quality systems.


Professor Fanie Botha, Director: College Professional Services, presented on the principles of GLP as well as the formal organisational quality practices in biomedical research.


Other topics covered in the workshop were: Ethics in Biomedical Research Import and Export Process; Documentation; Importance of Adherence to Laboratory Health and Safety Rules; Practical View of Solution Preparation and Storage; and Supervision and Quality Management.


The students benefited from a practical view of laboratory tools and techniques presentation by the Discipline of Laboratory Medicine’s Dr Bronwyn Joubert.

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Professor Kriben Pillay and Dr Angela James of the College of Law and Management Studies’ Teaching and Learning Office (TLO) hosted a meeting for tutors, academic development officers and academic development councillors who work at the TLO.

A challenge placed before the audience by Professor Paul Hobden of the School of Education, was: Are we providing opportunities for developing reasoning in students?

Hobden’s presentation covered crucial issues such as:

* If we expect students to learn as we did five years ago without any changes to the curriculum and teaching and learning strategies, we need to ask the question: How are we preparing students for the 21st century?

* We know that what is happening in the industry presently will have changed somewhat by the time students graduate. So, what should our focus be when educating students – should it be on routine cognitive skills or the core 21st century skills for example, adaptability, self-management, and non- routine problem-solving skills?

 * If we expect students to reason then we need to plan for this in how we design our curricula, teach and assess them. It does mean that the action of every individual in student progress needs to be critiqued and constantly evaluated. 

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IHhovisi lakwaTeaching and Learning (TLO) kwiKoloshi lezeMpilo libona kubalulekile ukuthuthukisa abafundisi baseNyuvesi ukuze babe ngompetha kwezocwaninigo nangendlela abafundisa ngayo.

Ngalokhu uDkt Jacqueline van Wyk ophuma kuleli Hhovisi ubambe umkhando osemqoka ngokubuyekeza abafundi uma kade bevivinywa ezifundweni zabo. Uthe ukubuyekeza abafundi yikona okuqikelelisa izinga lempumelelo ezifundweni zabo kanti kuphinde kuthuthukise nezindlela abafundiswa ngayo.

Abafundisi bathembisa ukuthi bayayidlala indima yabo ekubuyekezeni abafundi kepha kokunye abafundi abawuzwisisi umbuyekezo. Abanye abafundi bathi bona umbuyekezo bawuthola kwabanye ozakwabo kanti lokho kubabeka encupheni yokuthola ulwazi olungelona kunokuba bazwisise okushiwo abafundisi.

Umkhando lo usize abafundisi bahlolisise uhlobo lombuyekezo abawunika abafindi, waphinde wabacebisa ngezindlela ezintsha abangase bazisebenzise uma benza lokhu.

Uvan Wyk uthe kusemqoka ukuthi umfundisi kanye nabafundi baqonde injongo yomsebenzi abawunikiwe. ‘Ukungazwisani ngenjongo yomsebenzi onikeziwe abafundi kungaholela ekutheni umfundisi abuyekeze ngento kumbe ngendlela abafundi abangazwisanga. Ngokunjanlo, uma umfundisi engaqondi ukubaluleka kokunika abafundi umbuyekezo kuholela ekutheni angakwazi ukubhekana nezidingo zamfundi ngamunye ngamunye.’

‘Umbuyekezo owakhayo uyazisa lapho umfundi eqhuba kahle, uqikelelise ukuthi uyaluthola usizo lapho eludinga khona.’

Uvan Wky ukhuthaze ukuthi abafundi banikezwe umbuyekezo kufushane kunalapho beqeda kuvivinywa, ukuthi lokhu kwenzeke endaweni nangenkathi efanelekile, nokuthi umfundisi abanonane nomfundi uqobo bengekho abanye abafundi abazothikameza.

‘Umbuyekezo owakhayo uncoma okuhle, uvulela ukuthi umfundi abhekisise ukuzimisela kwakhe kanye nezindlela anganyusa ngayo amasokisi. Kubalulekile ukuthi umfundi azwisise umbuyekezo.’

UMnu Stephan van de Linde, iStatistician kwiPublic Health e-UKZN, kanye noNks Pamela Pillay ofundisa iClinical Anatomy kwiSkole seLaboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, bathe umkhondo ubuqukethe ulwazi oluningi futhi ube lusizo olukhulu.

Abahlanganyeli bafunde lukhulu bathakasela nezibonelo eziningi ezisetshenzisiwe ngesikhathi becobelana ngolwazi.

Click here for english version

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UKZN’s final year physiotherapy students, invited by a faith-based organisation, recently held a community health awareness day in the community of Klaarwatwer, in Mariannhill near Durban. Students were under the supervision of Community Clinical Supervisor, Mrs Verusia Chetty.

The day involved health promotion, health education, community based rehabilitation, awareness and community empowerment. Students distributed pamphlets on various aspects of physiotherapy including management and prevention of lifestyle disorders, diabetes management, hypertension, ante-natal education, post-natal education as well as joining the community for fun and games. About 550 members of the community were also treated to relaxation therapy and massages by the students.

The day was a huge success and students recommended that community engagement continues for students in the Physiotherapy Department at UKZN. They also suggested that this should involve a multidisciplinary team within the University fraternity.

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The UKZN Youth Music Festival, presented by the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM), was held on the Howard College campus recently.

The festival kicked off with an electrifying concert featuring high school bands Toxic Candy and The Sunshine Band.

Joining them were young solo artists from local schools in and around Durban, a UKZN student ensemble comprising students from the Music School’s Foundation Programme and local band Sounds Good.

However, headliner for the evening, the Durban-based eclectic band Gangs of Ballet, got the crowd rocking.

The purpose of this festival is to promote a lifelong engagement with music through a structured programme of performances and educational opportunities for UKZN students, the broader community and young musicians at local schools,’ said Ms Debbie Mari, Music Lecturer in  the University’s Discipline  of Music.

She said the festival aimed to encourage an appreciation for and the study of jazz and popular music in KwaZulu-Natal with the festival providing an opportunity for sharing musical knowledge and skills in a variety of collaborative music-making activities. The festival also aimed to highlight the need to advocate broader music education in schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

A music workshop, facilitated by UKZN Music Lecturers Mr Neil Gonsalves and Ms Debbie Mari, proved successful as many young musicians from Umlazi Comprehensive Technical School, Hilton College and Eden College attended to learn more about the idea of improvisation and accompaniment/ensemble playing through exploring one, two and three-chord song forms.

Another captivating concert was presented in the evening, starting with a delicate duo performance of Indian Classical compositions of sitar and tabla.  Moving from one extreme to another, the concert continued with performances by the UKZN Big Band directed by George Mari, UKZN Voices (close-harmony jazz vocal group), UKZN Jazz & Popular Music Ensembles and the Umlazi-based UC Jazz Ensemble.  An energetic, youthful four-piece instrumental outfit The Sir Walrus Band brought the evening to a close.

There was an international element to the festival with a concert featuring Paraguay Primeval led by Canadian-based pianist and composer Ms Carol Ann Weaver, and featuring acclaimed vocalist Ms Rebecca Campbell and Ms Meaghan McCracken (flute).

The original composition chronicled the experiences of Paraguay's Chaco and Germanic Mennonite immigrants. The evening opened with Demi Fernandez’ student Ensemble who performed a selection of original compositions and arrangements written by Composition students in the University’s Jazz Studies Programme.

The UKZN Youth Music Festival’s final concert featured Music Lecturer Susan Barry’s Student Ensemble.

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