Solid foundations lead to student success

During one of our recent site visits, we met a previous ECP student who recently spent time in Belgium as an  Erasmus exchange student . Xenophen Masipa, who is currently completing is BTech in Architectural Technology, completed a first semester Masters in Architecture course as part of his exchange programme. Xenophen’s story highlights how extended curriculum programmes, especially at CPUT, are positively contributing to creating viable pathways to academic success for students. It also offers a useful antidote to common myths about ECP students, who are commonly branded as ‘weak’, ‘poor’ or ‘at risk’. Most in the ECP community have heard or tell similar stories of student success (see for example These stories reinforce the significance of the key principles on which ECP is built; the provision of access to higher education and the careful attention to educational support and nurturing to ensure student success.

Xenophen had the following to say about the benefits of participating in this educational exchange programme in Brussels: ‘The experience was truly a life changing one, because I feel as if my perspective on architecture and the world has changed but for the positive. This was truly an experience I’d recommend to anyone because it’s a journey that taught me a lot about myself and what I could become but also as to what our city & country could become.



Getting to know more about ECP using ‘The Journey’ video

Over the past month, staff in the ECP Unit have facilitated a short two-hour workshop with new ECP students, with the aim of ensuring that they fully understand what ECP is about. The primary resource for these workshops was the short video called ‘The Journey’ (access the video via the link). This video was produced a few years ago and details the learning ‘journey’ many ECP students undertake. The video attempts to highlight why students are selected onto an ECP programme and what kind of teaching and learning experiences they can expect. ECP lecturers in the Business Faculty also helped to devise some of the lesson plans available on the blog, that can be used in conjunction with the video. Various departments, especially in the Applied Science and Design faculties, have already been using the video as part of their orientation activities with their new ECP cohorts.

Sports Management ECP students during their workshop

Recently, it was decided to review the video content and look at ways in which it could be updated and improved. A focus group discussion with ECP lecturers and students was facilitated with the producers of the video and a range of interesting suggestions and ideas were put forward for this revamp exercise. We hope the new video resource will offer, especially students, a comprehensive overview of what it means to be an ECP students, while highlighting the multiple benefits and opportunities of an ECP learning pathway.

Access and success in higher education: it’s a complex picture

A recently published book Going to University: The influence of higher education on the lives of young South Africans’ by a group of eminent South African higher education scholars, seeks to challenge some of the commonsense beliefs which dominate our sector. For example, that success at university is primarily determined by a set of  attributes which reside with the individual student. If a student possesses these attributes, they are successful while failure is the result of the lack of these attributes.

The authors, therefore, make a different argument – they suggest that institutional culture, the curriculum structure, teaching and learning approaches and family support and relatives’ own knowledge of how universities work all play a vital role in helping the student find their way through the university system. Importantly, they highlight the significance of support provided from within the student’s familial structures (especially when fostering aspirations and helping with deliberations and choices around studies) and the important contribution that the social side of university life makes to student’s positive experiences of university.

Sioux McKenna, one of the co-authors of the book, offers a summary of some of these key points raised by the book in a recent ‘The Conversation‘ piece entitled ‘How class and social capital affect university students’. It makes for interesting reading and invites you into the more detailed exposition of the topic in the book. The research and the findings raised are particularly significant for those of us working within the ECP teaching and learning contexts. Hopefully the short ‘The Conversation’ piece will ignite a discussion about the complex story of success at university. The book is freely available for downloading (see link below).

Going to University: The influence of higher education on the lives of young South Africans : Case et al_2018_going to university


Experiencing Architecture: the value of excursions for ECP students

Alex Noble and Mongezi Msomi who are part of the Architectural Technology Foundation course, recently arranged an excursion to a nearby architectural landmark in the city. Alex, provides a short description of why this trip, practically at the start of the academic year , is such a significant one for students new to the field of architecture and interior design.

The 2018 Foundation Architecture and Interior Design students visited the Zeitz MOCAA Contemporary Art Museum in the Waterfront this week. As part of familiarizing the students with the professions of Architecture and Interior Design, students are encouraged to visit a variety of buildings, institutions, art galleries and building centres. This activity is part of their new subject ‘Practice’ and after visiting these sites of interests, students are then required to develop a blog page to describe and account for their findings. This all helps to contribute to students’ awareness of their professional field and develop a sense of interest and enthusiasm for what it means to either a architect or interior designer. The Zeitz MOCAA was their first visit. It is the largest museum of contemporary African Art in the world and is housed in the recently refurbished old grain Silo building at the V&A Waterfront. It was originally built in the 1920s and was once the tallest building in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has been beautifully redesigned and  re-imagined by the renowned British architect Thomas Heatherwick. It also houses some of the biggest names in South African and African contemporary art today including Mohau Modisakeng, Nicholas Hlobo, Nandipha Mntambo, Cyrus Kabiru, Jody Paulsen, Kendell Geers and William Kentridge, to name just a few.

Alex Noble & Mongezi Msomi (on the far left) with their 2018 Architectural Technology & Interior Design Foundation students, outside the MOCAA

Growing our own wood – from ECP student to Junior Lecturer

Amanda Morris, lecturer in the newly integrated Design Foundation course, offers a short introduction to one of her ex-students, and newly appointed Junior Lecturer to their Foundation programme – a success story of how to grow your own wood.

The new integrated Design Foundation course is proud to introduce Simphiwe Kenneth Tsholeka a previous ECP student in the Graphic Design Programme at CPUT. Simphiwe excelled in his Graphic Design Diploma and then went on to complete a Btech in Graphic Design in 2017. His journey to academic success started in 2013 in an ECP classroom in Bellville. In 2018 Simphiwe came back to his academic roots, but this time as a Junior Lecturer. This journey from student to lecturer is testament to his commitment, work ethic and visual design abilities. Simphiwe’s interest in teaching started when he took on the role of mentor to new ECP students. He also worked as a lab assistant in the department, which has given him unique insight into the different hurdles students regularly face. In 2018 Simphiwe’s main activities will to assist the  “History of Art and Design” and “Academic and Professional Literacy ” subjects. Simphiwe brings the following abilities and dispositions to his engagements in the ECP classroom; multilingual approaches to teaching and learning, a keen awareness of the issues that often face ECP students, a good practical knowledge of design and theory of design and a quiet respectful demeanor.


Zooming in on site visits: ECP in Archi and Design

(L-R) Monique, Sakeena, Nike, Lynn (ECP Unit), Mari, Amanda & Diane

Last week the Design and Architecture and Interior Design Foundation programmes hosted some rather productive site visits. Especially exciting was visiting the new Design Foundation in their new venue in the Design Building on the Cape Town campus. ECP lecturers in these two departments have always been particularly open and hospitable to these site visits, as the blog archives reveal. Its been particularly interesting to reflect back on the different venues, staff compositions and innovations incorporated into the ECP offerings in both these courses. A rather important observation, especially for maintaining continuity and quality of ECP provisions, is the relative stability of lecturers on both programmes. Many lecturers have worked in their respective programmes for more than five years. All involved agree that these visits are an important means of creating dialogue and exchange of ideas between different ECP stakeholders, working at the different levels of the institution. The plan is to increase the number of times these kinds of interactions take place this year.

From the archives:

2017 Visits

Janine (ECP Unit) with Amanda and Cheri in the Graphic Design, drawing studio

Diane (Lecturer) and Fatima (Administrator) with their ECP Design class

2016 Visits

(L-R) Kelly-Ann, Tasleema, Nike, Alex, Diane