Biokineticist and doctoral candidate Ms Takshita Sookan has been selected to join the prestigious Research Capacity (RCI) of the South Africa-Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD).

Recently graduated with a cum laude Masters degree in Biokinetics and currently enrolled for a PhD degree, Ms Takshita Sookan is a recipient of the College of Health Sciences Scholarship for running expenses and a UKZN Doctoral Scholarship.

SANPAD is a unique collaborative research programme designed to develop the research capacity primarily of junior or inexperienced researchers to further research excellence. At the conclusion of the SANPAD RCI programme students are required to design a detailed PhD proposal demonstrating mastery of the material covered in the curriculum.


Sookan’s PhD research project is titled: “Effects of resistance training and nutritional supplementation on body composition, immunity and chronic risk factors in individuals living with HIV”. To support this research she has been awarded a UKZN doctoral scholarship on the basis of the excellent pass she attained in her Masters degree as well as running costs for her project from the College of Health Sciences.


The aim of her study is to determine whether resistance training and/or protein supplementation has an impact on muscle strength, body composition, immune status, as well as chronic disease risk factors in individuals living with HIV. The study population includes HIV-infected patients living in Durban and receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).

‘Treatment with combination ART reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection,’ said Sookan.

‘This infection results in profound changes in body composition of the infected individual. Noticeable changes include progressive weight and muscle loss as well as lipodystrophy. Theses alterations have been linked to the increased result of metabolic syndrome similar to that of obese individuals and to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

‘The effect of diet and exercise on the prevention and treatment of ART associated metabolic and body composition changes have not yet been established and hence my study is the first of its kind in the country.’

Professor Johan Van Heerden, Academic Leader Research in the School of Health Sciences, said the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences was showing increased post-graduate activity and research within the focus area of Exercise and Diseases of Lifestyle. ‘The funding support Ms Sookan's PhD project has received attests to the relevance of her topic and the potential of exercise as a therapeutic modality in managing disease.’

* The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes AIDS in humans is considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). From 1981 when the virus was discovered to 2006, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people. It infects about 0.6 percent of the world's population and South Africa has the highest prevalence of the disease (18.4 percent).
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UKZN Civil Engineering student and cum laude graduate, Mr Bongani Dladla, has topped his class, scooping three awards for his achievements. He also obtained a 100 percent pass mark for his dissertation – a rare and commendable feat.

This was announced during the prize-giving ceremony held in honour of final year Civil Engineering students – many of whom have already begun their professional careers. A total of 14 prizes were awarded to students who excelled in various categories.

Dladla received the J R Daymond Prize, awarded to the student who achieves the highest academic merit in water and environmental engineering, and the Walter Morgan Thomas Prize, awarded to the student who achieves the overall highest academic merit in final year. The title of his dissertation was: “The uMfolozi/ St Lucia Tidal Network Sediment Dynamics”.

Dladla, from Edendale in Pietermaritzburg, said he was happy and proud to have obtained the awards.  He is currently working at Umgeni Water as a graduate Civil Engineer and is completing his studies, part-time, towards a Masters in Civil Engineering. 

His advice to other students is to love what they are doing so their studies become easy and enjoyable. He said that his inspiration to study Civil Engineering came from his high school teachers who were dedicated to making sure he succeeded. Dladla also thanked his parents who gave him a good education.

‘My stay at UKZN was made especially enjoyable by the dedicated staff in the Civil Engineering programme, especially Professor Derek Stretch and Professor Cristina Trois who are heavily involved in new knowledge generation with their research. I look up to them,’ said Dladla.
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Essays and Source Material on Southern African-Irish History, edited by Professor Donal McCracken of UKZN’s Centre for Communication, Media and Society, was recently launched by Irish Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Brendan McMahon. 

This new book, the fourth in the occasional series Southern African-Irish Studies edited by McCracken, records the saga of the Irish Diaspora in Africa.  It was published by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.

According to McCracken, the population of Ireland declined by half after the great Famine of the 1840s. ‘One of the principal reasons for this was emigration. While hundreds of thousands of the suppressed and dispossessed Irish fled to the United States and Australia, some also came to South Africa,’ said McCracken.

Essays and Source Material on Southern African-Irish History has contributions which range from the 1808 Irish-led slave revolt in the Cape and the South African link to the Irish revolutionary Roger Casement, to a study of masculinity and Guinness in southern Africa. A document section contains a translation of a war diary written in French, brief biographies of hundreds of Irish in 19th century KwaZulu-Natal and a battlefield guide to Irish troop involvement in the province.

‘It has attracted scholars from nine universities in Ireland, South Africa, Canada, Britain and Malta as well as from three archives and the United Nations Commission for Refugees,’ said McCracken.

Born and educated in Ireland, McCracken is a historian whose interests include media and cultural history. He has been advisor on BBC-TV programmes on South African history and has published extensively on a variety of cultural topics such as the Zululand Wilderness, the Durban Botanic Gardens, the Anglo-Boer War and Irish History.
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UKZN student leaders who graduated during the April Graduation ceremonies were honoured for their achievements during an inaugural UKZN student leadership Graduation celebration on the Westville campus.

Master of Ceremonies and one of the achievers, Mr Mnikeni Phakathi, reminded the audience of the objectives of student leadership.

Executive Director: Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, was impressed by the high standard of the event, telling students they had set the tone for future ceremonies.

Chalufu said the University had a rich history in terms of student leadership with a number of former student leaders excelling in society.

He was happy to see leaders were not only assisting students, but excelling academically as well, adding that the importance of student leaders needed to be highlighted so the University produced leaders who were innovative and socially responsible.

UKZN Registrar, Professor Jane Meyerowitz, said a highlight for her at Graduation was seeing student leaders receive their degrees. She said success needed to be acknowledged and she wished the students well in their achievements expressing the hope they contributed to the knowledge and economy of the country.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, said the event was a wonderful and long overdue idea. She thanked the leaders for providing their leadership skills to fellow students, saying the University acknowledges the sacrifices student leaders make.

Central SRC President, Mr Thembani Khumalo – one of the graduates - thanked the office of student services for the event. He urged other leaders to further their studies and to contribute to the University.

Khumalo said students should do research around topics that affected them and have their work published so that everywhere they went they could bring change.

‘We must mentor young student leaders as we progress in life. Make sure you are exemplary to the young students coming up,’ he said.  

All the student leaders who graduated this year are currently studying towards their post graduate degrees.  They are: Mr Saneliso Sithole, Mr Nduduzo Msibi, Mr Keith Mazivisa, Mr Siyabonga Khumalo, Ms Sibongile Mncube, Mr Sifiso Gumede, Mr Eketsang Diaho, Mr Wiseman Khumalo, Mr Sithabiso Mthethwa, Mr Thandanani Nsele, Mr Khangelani Kubheka, Ms Thokoza Makhathini, Mr Thandolwakhe Katamzi, Ms Zanele Hlophe, Mr Siqiniseko Shezi, Ms Nontokozo Buthelezi, Ms Pearl Lugoma, Ms Nombulelo Dlamini, Mr Siyabonga Nkontwana, Mr Bhekithemba Dlamini and Mr Sandile Ngcobo.
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Malawian Professor Gregory Kamwendo is the new Dean and Head of the School of Education.  Kamwendo says he is excited about putting his skills and experience to their full use at UKZN.

I flew into Durban from Gaborone in Botswana on 1 May and the next day I found myself in the Dean's seat. Change of work place is never easy, even if you have to change within the same country or institution. In addition, the Office of Dean and Head of School is very demanding. But I am pleased to say that I have been warmly received,’ said Kamwendo.

‘Support is coming in from all angles - academic staff, professional staff and students, and even people who are outside UKZN. I have been here for just three weeks now but I am no longer a stranger. I am a member of the family, I can feel it,’ he said.

Kamwendo says he was attracted by the high rating of UKZN and wanted to work at an institution which recognises, values, inspires and rewards research efforts and outputs. ‘While at UKZN, I hope to be able to contribute in humble ways to the positive research profile of the University.  The School, through previous leaderships, has achieved a lot. My humble task is to build on this formidable foundation.

‘No wheels will be re-invented. The goal will be to maintain the gains the School has reaped over the years, and also improve in areas where it hasn’t been performing well. I am happy because currently the school is standing on a very admirable foundation.’ He said both staff and students could expect a “listening and accessible Dean”.

Kamwendo obtained his Diploma in Education and Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Malawi, a Masters degree in Language Studies from Lancaster University in England, and a PhD from Helsinki University in Finland.

His academic career began at the University of Malawi in 1990 where he was employed as a staff associate in the Department of English. He was seconded to the Centre for Language Studies as a Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director for six years.

After receiving his PhD from Helsinki University in 2004, he returned to Malawi where he worked briefly before joining the University of Botswana's Faculty of Education as a Senior Lecturer in Language Education.

In 2007, he was appointed Head of the Department of Languages and Social Sciences Education and was also promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

A further promotion in 2010 saw him reach the rank of full Professor of Language Education at the university where he served as Head of Department of Languages and Social Sciences.
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UKZN Lecturers Professor Bice Martincigh and Dr Nyna Amin received Distingushed Teacher Awards at a gala dinner at the Westville campus hosted by the University Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO).

Welcoming guests, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, said coming from a family of teachers he considered teaching to be the ‘family business', adding  that from an early age he had learned to ‘value and respect the profession' and would always be there to support it.

The award acknowledges excellence and innovation in teaching annually.

Amin, a Senior Lecturer in the College of Humanities, was recognised for her innovations in the design and development of curricula in educational and research modules and also for her outstanding contribution to research supervision.

Martincigh, an Associate Professor in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, was recognised for her exceptional ability to tailor and differentiate her teaching to meet the different levels of study of her undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, said the distinguished teachers were not only outstanding practitioners but had also been recognised for their scholarship and contribution to research. Vithal punted the establishment of a Distinguished Teachers’ Alumni group.

The keynote address was delivered by Professor Delia Marshall, an Associate Professor in the Physics Department at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

Marshall drew on her experiences at UWC in her presentation: Crossing Borders in Undergraduate Science Teaching. Her presentation examined and explored the role teaching plays in helping science students transcend their disciplinary borders.

Marshall said broader perspectives were needed to solve 21st century problems. One of the mechanisms used by her Department - lectorials - allowed students to work in small groups after a short lecture.

‘Attendance matters – students are involved in pre-reading and warm-up tasks before lectorials. We also engage in lots of white-boarding,’ she explained.

The evening was rounded off by Martincigh and Amin presenting a theatrical portrayal of their journey to receiving the Distinguished Teachers’ Awards.

The search for UKZN’s 2012 distinguished teachers is underway with the University Teaching and Learning Office inviting nominations from UKZN academic staff and registered students.

Nomination Forms which are available on the UTLO Website:  must reach Corlia Ogle ( in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning by the closing date of Monday, 25 June 2012.

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Bachelor of Business Science student Mr Sumanth Sunkari has been selected for the South Africa team going to the 2012 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Australia in August.

Sunkari secured his place in the 23-man squad after taking part in the Cricket South Africa Cubs Week – an Under 19 cricket tournament in Stellenbosch in January. After scoring an impressive three 50s and taking six wickets in total he was selected to attend the National Academy in Pretoria, where he is currently preparing for the World Cup.

‘I feel very privileged to be a part of the SA U19 squad and it is a great honour for me to be recognised on a national level,’ said Sunkari.  ‘I am currently in the second year of my degree and it is quiet tough to balance sport and studies but if  you manage  your time properly, make sacrifices and commit yourself to a long term process, you can definitely excel in both fields,’ said Sunkari.

Sunkari’s sporting skills are not limited to cricket - he was also a member of the South African Under 19 hockey squad last year. Although passionate about sport, completing his studies by 2014 is the top priority.

‘I am looking to go as far in cricket as possible and making the SA U19 team is a great stepping stone to bigger and better things for me. In saying that, I am definitely keeping my academic options open and will continue to study. I am interested in doing my MBA but I will re-assess my situation once I complete my undergraduate degree,’ added Sunkari.

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A UKZN academic and advanced trainer for the organisation Speed, Agility and Quickness (SAQ®) International, Dr Andrew McKune,  presented  awards to more than 50 delegates of the Namibian Biokinetics Association following a successful training programme in South Africa.

The awards - Performance Movement and Special Needs (Children) - were the first of their kind in Namibia, where McKune - an Associate Professor of Exercise Science at UKZN's College of Health Sciences - is also supervising two candidates for Masters and PhD qualifications.

SAQ® International’s early movement coaching principles - speed, agility and quickness training, sports conditioning, and movement training - have had a positive effect on physical education at primary schools in Western Cape townships and this has generated great interest in Namibia where it is hoped the programme will be introduced across the country.

Over the past 20 years SAQ® International has earned an unparalleled reputation throughout the world for providing innovative movement training solutions, consultancy services and supplying professional grade SAQ® equipment.

By submitting SAQ® training to both independent research and academic scrutiny it has been proven that flexible, sustainable SAQ® programmes  work “on the ground” and that applied sports science can be used by everybody regardless of their ability, age and aspiration.

Mckune said physical activity and exercise levels in children were low worldwide. Together with poor nutrition practices, physical inactivity was associated with the development of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, depression and cardiovascular ailments. 'Embedding a physical education programme that includes training in fundamental movement skills in primary education is one way to promote health and optimal development from a young age.'

Primary school teachers in Namibia will now receive SAQ® training from the Biokineticists certified by McKune. This will allow the teachers to introduce SAQ® programmes into physical education lessons at Namibian schools.

McKune said South Africa was on the path towards reintroducing a new physical education curriculum into schools and that a colleague of his in the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences, Dr Rowena Naidoo, was playing an important role in this process.

In addition to his interest in SAQ® training McKune is an expert in the field of saliva research. He was recently featured on Cambridge Network’s monthly edition of Salimetrics-One World which profiles leaders in salivary bioscience. 

According to McKune a benefit of measuring biomarkers in saliva is that the collection process is non-invasive and multiple samples can be obtained allowing research to be performed on a number of different populations relatively easily without the stress of blood draws.

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Commerce in Leadership Studies Masters graduate Mr Andrew Layman plans to put his recently acquired qualification to good use in the development of local economic development strategies in his job as Chief Executive Officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce.

Layman was among the first batch of students under the Gijima KwaZulu-Natal Local Economic Development (LED) Programme who graduated in April.  He is a stellar example of the programme’s success in the career path growth of its participants being promoted during the course to his current position after serving as CEO of Pietermaritzburg’s Chamber of Commerce.

In an effort to promote the stimulation of the small business sector, which Layman has highlighted as one of the most important challenges facing South Africa at present, the Durban Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a conference in Durban titled: “the Growth and Development of Entrepreneurs in the country”.

The conference topics included Growing the Economy through Green Initiatives, Readiness of Agricultural Transformation, Unlocking South Africa's Competitiveness and Entrepreneur Money Map, among others.

‘Regrettably, we lag behind many other countries in terms of our entrepreneurial spirit and our micro and small business achievements.    If we wait for government to employ the unemployed millions, the country will be crippled financially.   If we wait for large companies to employ, it will never happen,’ said Layman.

‘The small business sector offers self-employment and the possibility of others gaining employment, but only if these small enterprises grow into bigger ones.    We cannot do enough to improve the chances of this happening – by training, education, exposure to opportunities, insights into business,’ explained Layman.

While attributing his career success in leadership to good health and hard work, Layman says knowledge he gained through the LED Programme broadened his outlook considerably.

‘The role of the private sector in the development of local economic development strategies has been neglected to quite a large extent.    Such strategies require consultation between local government and business.   While the former is often pre-occupied with a socio-economic political agenda, business is concerned about profits. 

‘The consequence is that there is little mutual understanding of the best methodologies.   My course gave me important insights into the whole matter, and I think that I understand both sides of this coin.  My advocacy will be better informed and more credible by my broader understanding of what is at stake,’ added Layman.
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More than 100 UKZN medical professionals recently graduated from the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) as new fellows.


The Graduation ceremony in Durban was held to recognise doctors from various institutions of higher learning in the country who passed CMSA specialist examinations.


The CMSA is the custodian of the quality of medical care in South Africa and is unique in the world in that it embraces 28 constituent colleges representing all the disciplines of medicine and dentistry.


The CMSA sets a single standard which is accepted by all South African Medical Faculties as well as by the Health Professions Council of South Africa, the country’s official statutory registering body.


The new Fellows were welcomed by Professor Anil Madaree, President of CMSA, who applauded their dedication and hard work, reminding them about their duties to the patient as well as encouraging them to return to South Africa if they decided to go overseas.


Premier of KwaZulu-Natal and Chancellor of UKZN, Dr Zweli Mkhize, promoted the need to foster healthy lifestyles for all South Africans and the continent at large.


'We need, all of us, to go out there and be ambassadors for good behaviour.’


Mkhize said it was unacceptable for a country like South Africa with its highly sophisticated levels of training, technology and development to still have some of the highest mortality rates from preventable diseases.


He argued that the country's overriding health challenges were mostly attributed to attitudes and behaviour that could be changed.


Although it might take a while to implement the Department of Health proposed National Health Insurance the new Fellows were faced with the challenge of producing knowledge and information which would be used to mobilise communities, even at the grassroots level.


Mkhize said local leaders should be champions of good behaviour, adding that simpler health solutions should be made available for all.


'Democracy will prevail when people know that you don't have to die of something for which medicine is available... for which preventative measures can be taken.'


‘Qualifying as a CMSA Fellow is a milestone never to be forgotten,’ said Dr Bhavika Daya of UKZN’s Department of Anaesthetics which is situated at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital. 'It's an amazing feeling of pride and an overwhelming sense of relief!’


Dr Stephen Knight, Senior Lecturer in Public Health at UKZN, said he enjoyed attending CMSA’s admission ceremonies. ‘It’s incredibly exciting to see how students develop over time and leave as specialists in their respective fields.’
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The challenges and interventions for HIV sero-discordant couples were debated during a Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) monthly presentation at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine campus co-ordinated by UKZN’s Enhancing Care Initiative (ECI).


Professor James Hakim, Head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe’s College of Health Sciences and Principal Investigator for the University’s MEPI Programme in Harare, spoke on heterosexual HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.


Hakim explained the term sero-discordant couple was used to refer to a relationship where one partner was HIV positive and the other HIV negative. Sero-discordant couples faced a different set of challenges compared to sero-concordant couples - couples in which both partners are of the same HIV status – either both positive or both negative.

Taking care of a sick partner and survivor guilt were some of the psychological issues that could affect sero-discordant couples. In addition, sero-discordant couples could encounter financial strain if one partner became ill and potentially less able or unable to work.   

‘HIV sero-discordance is risky for both men and women. Providing reproductive care for HIV-1 sero-discordant couples is a huge challenge,’ said Hakim.


‘The prevention of HIV transmission from the partner living with HIV to the uninfected partner needs special attention for sero-discordant couples.’

Hakim unpacked several issues affecting sero-discordant couples, saying he was concerned that it was only recently that the World Health Organisation (WHO) produced the relevant guidelines for couples HIV Testing and Counselling (CHTC).

Presenting findings from studies conducted in various Africa countries, Hakim recommended CHTC for both sero-discordant couples and sero-concordant couples.

He defined CHTC as when two or more partners were counselled, tested and received test results together. 

The benefits of CHTC included safer contraceptives, HIV prevention for external partners to the relationship if they exist,  decreased stigmatisation, increased male circumcision for uninfected males, increased uptake and adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), an increase in marital cohesion and an increase in preventing mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.

‘Regular CHTC may strengthen the trust and support in a couple’s relationship; ensuring preventative measures are taken at all times.’

Hakim said pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – a comprehensive HIV prevention service in which HIV negative individuals who are at high risk take antiretroviral medication daily to try to lower their chances of becoming infected with HIV if they are exposed to it – would be an important intervention for sero-discordant couples.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) argue that if proven safe and effective, PrEP could help address the urgent need for a female-controlled prevention method for women worldwide who are unable, because of cultural and other barriers, to negotiate condom use.

Furthermore, if effective, it could provide an additional safety net for all men and women at risk due to sexual or drug-using behaviours, when combined with reducing the number of sexual partners, HIV counselling and testing, condom use, use of sterile syringes, and other prevention measures.
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Emeritus Professor in UKZN’s School of Chemistry and Physics, Professor Tony Ford, was recently elected a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. 

Launched in Cardiff on 25 May 2010, the stated aims of the Society are ‘to enable Wales to participate at the highest level in the international world of learning and scholarship, and to promote the academic excellence and achievements of Wales to the wider world’.

The Society is open to people ‘who are resident in Wales or are persons of Welsh birth but are resident elsewhere, or who otherwise have a particular connection with Wales’.

The Society was established by a group of 59 Founding Fellows, all based in the United Kingdom, under the inaugural presidency of Professor Sir John Cadogan, formerly Professor of chemistry at the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh and Chief Scientist at the BP Research Centre.

A new group of 119 Fellows was elected in the 2010-2011 cycle, including the first from outside the United Kingdom, Professor John Williams, who is Professor of information engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Cambridge in the United States.

Ford’s election during the 2011-2012 cycle made him only the second Fellow to be elected from outside the United Kingdom. In April 2012, another 73 new Fellows were elected, with one further “outsider”, who hailed from Geneva.
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UNksz Angeline Stephens oqokwe njengomphathi wakwaStudent Support Services eKolishini lakwaHumanities uthe uzoqikelela ukuphathwa okukahle kwalomnyango.

UStephens uwujabulele lomsebenzi emva kokusebenza iminyaka eyisikhombisa emnyangweni wezeMfundo eKZN, aphinde asebenze eceleni enza umsebenzi ophathelene ne-Individual and group psycho-therapeutic and psycho-social interventions, assessments and research.

‘Ngikulangazelele ukwazi engizosebenza nabo e-UKZN nabafundi. Ngiyazi ukuthi kunezinqinamba eziningi kodwa ngikubona lokhu njengethuba lokuthi ngiqhamuke nezindlela ezintsha. Ukusebenza kwami sekungifundise ukuthi kuhlale kunezikhathi ezibuyiselayo,’ kusho uStephens.

Njengomuntu owafunda e-UKZN, uStephens unethemba ukuthi njengoba ekewaba uthisha futhi aphinde abe iPsychologist, kuzosizakala abafundi neNyuvesi ekufundeni nasekuthuthukeni.

‘Nginenhlanhla ukuthi sengisebenze ekufundiseni emazingeni ahlukene nakuma NGO nasezinkampanini ezizimele. Lomsebenzi unginikeza izikhali zokwazi kangcono ukuxhumana kwezinto eziningi ezahlukene nokubaluleka kokuba nobudlelwano ukuze kufikwe esiphethelweni esisodwa e-UKZN.

‘Abafundi nabasebenzi kumele balindele uMphathi okwaziyo ukuthi bakhulume naye, onolwazi nozobasekela. Ngizolalelisisa izidingo zabasebenzi nezabafundi ngisebenze nabo ukuze kufezeke lezozidingo ngokushesha.’

Click here for english version

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Exploring Problem-Based Learning was the title of a seminar presented by Dr Fayth Ruffin of the School of Management, IT and Governance as part of the College Dean of Teaching and Learning’s ongoing forum series in the College of Law and Management Studies.

Ruffin took the participants at the seminar – some of whom were from other colleges – through the learning journey that she completed with her 120 students in the module Introduction to Public Sector HR Management.

‘Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered teaching and learning modality designed to develop critical thinking and analytical skills and abilities,’ said Ruffin. ‘Although controversial, PBL is “international property”, being used across multiple continents and through many disciplines including the health sciences, law, accounting, engineering, ICT, management, and public administration.’

Ruffin shared her passion for PBL as a 21st century pedagogy that promotes internationalised education. Her hour-long presentation generated another hour of interactive discussion about how PBL, or derivatives thereof, can help motivate students, encourage academic achievement and better prepare students for the workplace.

Outcomes of the interactive discussion include Ruffin collaborating with the College Dean of Teaching and Learning's office to convene workshops for academics wishing to generate both critical thinking and performance improvement of students through problem-based learning.
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Mindful Leadership and the Perils of Ordinary Perception was the title of a lecture given by Professor Kriben Pillay, Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Law and Management Studies, at the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein recently.

Pillay was invited to deliver the presentation by CUT’s Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences, Professor Albert Strydom.

Pillay’s hour-long address, attended by members of the University’s executive management, academics and the public, emphasised the importance of mindfulness as an essential evolutionary capacity for being in today's complex world.

He referred to both the latest research in leadership education and to the social change model Theory U from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), showing that people are hardwired for self-deception if they do not become consciously mindful.

He also used his trademark illusions to provide interactive illustrations of how faulty ordinary perception can be.

In an email to Pillay after the presentation, Strydom said: ‘Thank you for the very interesting and inspiring lecture you delivered last night.  I received wonderful feedback from all my colleagues. I hope it is the first of many future engagements.’

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The School of Built Environment and Development Studies recently hosted an informative research seminar on the Howard College campus led by Professor Edward Webster of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Webster's research was a reflection on the contested nature of the developmental path South Africa has taken in the post-apartheid period in the field of industrial relations.

Webster argued that the rise of labour as a key component of the internal liberation struggle laid the foundations for a new union-friendly labour regime.

‘This vision of a new industrial relations system led to the creation of a range of innovative labour market institutions that were formalised in a raft of new legislation in the mid to late 1990s.  This was a moment of optimism in which the African National Congress (ANC) was willing to satisfy the demands of the labour movement, opening up the possibility of a democratic corporatist path,’ he explained.

But the implementation of this bold vision had proved complex and contested as many of the legacies of South Africa’s conflict-filled past persist such as strikes and strike violence.

‘It was widely believed in apartheid South Africa that there was an unacceptably high incidence of unnecessary and unprocedural strikes. This was attributed to the absence of procedures for the independent and effective mediation of disputes. Many disputes that could have been resolved by consultation, it was believed, were instead resolved by industrial action, often characterised by violence,’ said Webster.

He pointed out that strike action was also being fuelled by a growing number of break-away unions as well as the use of replacement (scab) labour. ‘This is in part the result of economic pressure in which established unions struggle to deal with retrenchment and workers struggle for jobs.’

He also agreed with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) on the need to forge a common vision on economic policy. ‘Building a shared vision is a difficult process, with gains today and retreats tomorrow. However difficult, we need to achieve consensus because this is at the heart of our jobs and equity challenge.’

Webster concluded by raising the question as to whether the sophisticated labour market institutions created in the immediate post-apartheid period were able to respond adequately to the changing world of work or whether the legacy of the past and the challenges of the present were leading to a return to the patterns of conflict that characterised the apartheid past?

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