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Lecturer Waldon Hendricks has done CPUT proud at the Huawei ICT Competition 2022-2023 Global Final where his team bagged a first prize.

Hendricks was the coach and mentor of the South African Network Track global finalists for the competition, which was held in Shenzhen, China from 24 to 27 May.

The team bagged the first prize in the Practice Competition in Network Track.

“It's a network exam of eight hours long and they have to build a working lab topology within that time frame …,” said the Information Technology Department lecturer.

“This is a big achievement for me as lecturer and instructor for the Huawei ICT Academy at CPUT. This is also the first time South Africa won an award at the global ICT competition in Shenzhen, China. I'm truly grateful for this achievement and would like to congratulate the hardworking students who spent day and night preparing for the competition. For me this is a big milestone, not just for CPUT but also for the Faculty of Informatics and Design and the IT Department.”

Hendricks was also among the guest speakers at the Huawei Global Teacher Summit.

“During my speech at the Global Teacher Summit 2023 I mentioned that this competition highlights the importance of industry and academia collaborating in breaching the gap and ensuring that our students are well prepared for the industry. I would like to thank my wife, Dr (Boniface) Kabaso, CPUT and the Huawei ICT Academy for the amazing opportunity to lead the students in this competition."

There is a significant gap between high school and university mathematics for science and engineering students in South Africa with learners entering institutions of higher education unprepared.

This was one of the crucial findings of a research study presented at the first meeting in 2023, of Universities South Africa’s Teaching and Learning of Mathematics Community of Practice ((TLM CoP).

Exploring the Challenges When Transitioning from High School Mathematics to University Mathematics, the study focused on calculus and trigonometry. Lead Researcher, Dr Frikkie George (left) from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), explained that while the Mathematics Further Education and Training Phase covers ten content areas, (including Algebra, Geometry, and Statistics), trigonometry and differential calculus were chosen because they form the foundation for university mathematics and science courses.

The brief was to “explore the current South African high school mathematics curriculum and the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination reports of the past five years to contribute to the existing literature on school-to-university transition.” Dr George was working with Ms Ekaterina Rzyankina (CPUT), a qualitative data analyst.

Another objective, according to Dr Pragashni Padayachee, Chairperson of the TLM CoP and Senior Lecturer: Mathematics within the Academic Support Programme for Engineering (ASPECT) at the University of Cape Town, was “to inform university mathematics support programmes (tutorial programmes and bridging courses) so that these interventions can be more effective in addressing the school-to-university transition challenges confronting mathematics and science students.”

The researchers have completed Phase One of the study.

Problem statement: High failure rate in first year

Dr George said that while Calculus & Trigonometry are being taught across the grades in the Further Education and Training Phase, it was found that in certain topics, the concepts and skills were similar but differed in the level of difficulty. The research showed that the under preparedness of learners resulted in a high failure rate for first-year university mathematics students enrolled in engineering and science programmes across universities in South Africa.

Said Ms Ekaterina Rzyankina (right): “There is a lot of literature showing that Mathematics is a critical subject in South Africa and that it is difficult for students to cope with high school mathematics. Many high school learners aspire to pursue mathematics-related courses at university, but transitioning from high school mathematics to university mathematics can be challenging.”

This transition, the literature stated, remains unresolved with the gap getting wider. Notwithstanding that the Class of 2022 was the ninth cohort to be exposed to the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), Rzyankina said they had learnt from existing literature that “there is still a curriculum gap between high school and university mathematics which makes the transition from high school to university difficult. This results in high failure and attrition rates, and low throughputs at universities.”

Dire consequences

This had a range of dire consequences, she said. “If many students take longer to graduate, it means we are spending more to produce one graduate which leaves no room to admit new students into mathematics programmes. Worse still, when students drop out of university, the money invested will never be recovered.”

She added that low throughput rates suggest that the country will continue to have a scarcity of qualified personnel in the critical skills areas of the economy (4IR and 5IR). It also adds to unemployment.

Preliminary findings

Dr George said data gathering in this desktop study had entailed exploring the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination reports, looking at the performance of matriculants over the past four years. “The questions based on calculus and trigonometry were the ones in which candidates performed worst. They did well in the low-order questions but lack high-order thinking skills.”

The findings:

  • Overall, the matriculants’ responses suggested a general lack of reading and comprehension skills.
  • Many candidates did not understand the vocabulary used in the questions.
  • A significant percentage of the 2022 candidates responded adequately to questions that required lower order thinking skills but performed poorly in questions that demanded analytical, evaluative, and problem-solving skills.

Dr George said these findings necessitate that high school teachers use dialogical argumentation in the mathematics classroom. Teachers are urged to use technology, visual demonstrations, practical activities and visualisation to improve learners’ understanding of the subject matter. They are also encouraged to make use of online learning platforms such as YouTube, that offer visual presentations to explain challenging topics.

“These and other intervention strategies should be integrated to improve the conceptual understanding of mathematics topics, a concern pointed out in the NSC diagnostic report,” he told the CoP members, mostly mathematics lecturers.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The literature examined in this desktop study showed that while the current high school mathematics curriculum, based on CAPS, appears to cover a wide range of content areas, it lacks depth in critical content areas of mathematics. The conclusion was that this, therefore, does not adequately prepare students for university-level mathematics.

Said Dr George: “The findings of Phase I of this study indicate that many core aspects of algebra and calculus (i.e. complex numbers, vectors, matrices, proof by mathematical induction, integration, and differential equations) are excluded or covered vaguely in high school mathematics.

“To narrow the gap between high school and university mathematics, we recommend deepening the core aspects of calculus and trigonometry to specialise in minimal subjects directly linked to their intended fields of study at university.” Additionally, students needed to be informed of their lack of understanding through formative assessments that gave immediate feedback (such as the use of audience response systems).

Dr George said the next phase (Phase II) of this study would survey lecturers and students, to gain a better understanding of their teaching and learning experiences, respectively. This phase would seek lecturers’ and students’ opinions regarding the mathematics curriculum. These would be used to analyse mathematics tests — particularly calculus and trigonometry questions administered in the first semester of first year, to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by students and how they can be addressed.

“The goal of this study is to provide evidence-based recommendations for addressing the school-to-university transition problem in mathematics education, so that all students can have the opportunity to succeed in these critical fields.”

The researchers are waiting for ethical clearance before they can begin Phase II of the research.

Written by Charmain Naidoo, writer for Universities South Africa

A former captain of the CPUT Ladies’ Rugby team has been co-opted to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of University Sport South Africa (USSA).

Lusapho Hlatshaneni grew up in the Eastern Cape and said while her father and uncle played rugby, she never imagined following in their footsteps.

She initially enrolled for the Diploma in Clothing Management and “reluctantly” joined the CPUT women's team in 2017 when she was recruited by former coach, Siyabonga Hani.

“He had seen me running a couple of times when they had practice and thought I would make a good addition to the team.”

Lusapho would soon become captain and one of her highlights was a match they won against UWC in the USSA Rugby 7’s tournament.

“I became captain in 2018 and one and the highlight came when we played in the USSA Rugby 7's tournament, hosted by Wits, and CPUT played UWC in our Plate Final and won. Before that game we had lost every game to UWC. We came third in the overall tournament but our team morale was at its peak.”

She has learnt many lessons from participating in rugby.

“The comradery that comes with playing rugby is unmatched. I’ve learnt to cheer for my team, even if I am on the bench and that every member of the team is important. It helped me build new relationships, taught me endurance on and off the field and most importantly to fight for what is right.”

This included fighting for a level playing field for the women’s team.

“I do not think I would have ended up as a sports administrator had it not been how my journey in rugby started.”

She joined the USSA Student Forum in 2018 when she was asked by the former manager of Sport and Culture, Siyabulela Mkwalo, to represent CPUT.

She gave birth to her son in 2019 and took a gap year whereafter she enrolled for the new qualification in Clothing and Textile Technology.

Upon her return in 2020, she was elected as the student forum national working committee secretary.

“I learnt a lot about the background of sport and the administrative work, especially the advocacy for student athletes. I am honoured to be serving university sport at both national and international level, this is a big deal for both myself and CPUT and I am grateful that CPUT has always given me the support.”

She said she was co-opted into the USSA NEC when two seats had become vacant and needed to be replaced by students.

“The vetting process was long, it started last year in October 2022 and I was one of many students from various member institutions who were nominated.”

The CPUT Maritime Studies students recently participated in a fun-filled 5th Annual 2023 Maritime Industry Soccer Tournament, where the CPUT Deck team emerged as winners.

The teams which participated in the Five-a-side tournament included all teams from all aspects of the maritime and were CPUT Deck, CPUT Engine, Viking Norsemen, Nova Marine, Hesper United, Lawhill, AMSOL, SAMSA Stingrays, SAMSA Sealions, Viking Warriors, IQS, Damen Team 1, SHEQ International and SGM Mariners. The tournament was hosted by African Marine Solutions (AMSOL) to raise funds for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

The tournament has not been held since 2019, and CPUT enthusiastically played Five-a-side at Canal Walk Fives Futbol.

In an emblematic family day, a bus filled with Nautical Science and Marine Engineering players and supporters for an action-filled day headed to the field with the hopes of regaining the trophy. CPUT was represented by Maritime Studies Deck and Engine teams which were part of the 16 teams which participated in in the tournament.

Following excellent Five-a-side games, both Maritime Studies teams, CPUT Deck and CPUT Engine, made it to the semi-finals with the Deck team emerging as victors while the Engineers achieved a third-place finish.

The Deck team players were Sinikelelwe Nsele (captain), Xola Ndzima (player of the tournament) Ntembeko Dlamini, Mila Genenga, Thabane Hlongwa, Siyavuya Lendi and Anele Mkhiza. The team acknowledged and were grateful to Mulumba Ntamba (Marine Engineering Lecturer) who coached them to victory, and Samantha Montes, Senior Maritime Instructor: Survival Centre, who arranged the logistics for the day. The team also thanked their lecturers who supported them on the day and the students who were the “best cheerleaders”.

“We congratulate our students who played, they did us proud. We were so proud of their dedication and displays of excellent sportsmanship,” said Montes.

A lecturer in the Information Technology Department is flying the CPUT flag in China at the Huawei ICT Competition 2022-2023 Global Final.

Waldon Hendricks will be the coach and mentor of the South African Network Track global finalists for the competition, which is scheduled to take place in Shenzhen from 24 to 27 May.

He will also be one of the guest speakers and among the panellists at Huawei Global Teacher Summit 2023 on May 27.

Hendricks is a certified instructor at the CPUT Huawei ICT Academy. Earlier this year he was invited to the Huawei ICT Competition South Africa National Final awards ceremony and 2023 ICT Academy Kick-off after CPUT student, Edwin Taruvinga, was named the top achiever in the National Finals for Cloud Computing Track.

He said he was grateful and excited about the opportunity to represent South Africa and CPUT on a global stage.

“The opportunity cultivates hope and optimism, offering a platform to learn, grow and exchange ideas with global counterparts, thus promising a significant contribution to my personal and professional growth,” said Hendricks.

Hendricks first joined CPUT in 2005 as an IT lab assistant in the ICT centre at Bellville campus and worked as a CTS desktop technician from 2007 until 2010.

“I became an IT department technician as a permanent CPUT staff member from 2010 to 2021. In 2021 my employment started as an IT lecturer.”

Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Prof Rishidaw Balkaran, extended their salutations to scholars on their successful completion of the “prestigious” New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP).

The nGap is a University Capacity Development Programme funded programme offered by the Department of Higher Education and Training. “The CPUT Scholars who have been recruited into the programme are considered highly capable individuals who are supported as new academics in the academy said Fundani CHED Director, Dr Xena Cupido.

Balkaran said: the nGap, currently the largest programme of its kind, is aligned to the Staffing South Africa's Universities Framework (SSAUF), to assist in advancing the national transformative agenda. “At Fundani CHED we are immensely proud of the nGap scholars recruited into the programme across the eight phases at CPUT. As we successfully complete Phase 1 of the programme, we extend our congratulations to scholars on this remarkable achievement.

“We will continue to create a nurturing and supportive environment, ensuring that scholars receive the necessary resources to achieve a successful outcome.”

Balkaran also extended his congratulatory message, saying: “We are very proud of the achievements of the CPUT nGap scholars”. He said being selected into “this prestigious programme is a testament to the exceptional academic abilities, dedication, and hard work”.

He said: “Most importantly, embarking on this transformative journey will not only shape the life of the scholar but also contribute to the betterment of society, by giving back through the pursuit of knowledge and learning which will make a positive impact on communities, both locally and globally.”

One of the scholars, Dr Motsoko Makhetha, said the recognition serves as a reflection on his journey in the nGAP since joining on a full-time permanent academic position as a lecturer in Product and Industrial Design department in the Faculty of Informatics and Design (FID) at CPUT.

“I was fortunate enough to have a mentor (Prof Andre Van Graan) for my first four years of the programme. I am grateful for his selfless mentorship without even claiming a cent from his budgeted line item because he felt that mentorship programmes should be a normal practice by universities for skills transfer in any case. Prof Van Graan had just retired when he became my mentor and I believe coming from a different department from mine enabled fair discussions between us about navigating university structures, requirements of an academic and preparation on how to handle office politics,” said Makhetha.

He also had the opportunity to participate in some of the national research goals through his research, which formed part of the collaboration with various universities, aerospace and medical companies in South Africa through the Collaborative Programme in Additive Manufacturing (CPAM), which is aimed at qualifying additively manufactured parts for industry application while strengthening links between research and these industries.

Dr Mkhululi Mnguni, another recipient of the nGAP scholarships in the year 2016, who participated for a full six years expressed his gratitude to nGAP for providing him with the opportunity to be part of the Phase 1 nGAP at the Department of Electrical, Electronic, and Computer Engineering (DEECE), in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE).

“My first three years were difficult because it was a development phase in which I required mentoring, teaching, and research development. I was expected to take a reduced teaching load, however, that was not the case for me. So, I had to work harder to achieve my objectives. The last three years (phase 2) was much better because the part was for Induction and early career development, and I was also done with my studies. So, I had enough time to focus on my career development.

“Therefore, I want to personally thank the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and CPUT for helping make it possible for me to pursue my dream of becoming a Doctor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering.”

He said the contribution of the nGAP scholarship allowed him to become an excellent lecturer and scholar. He said the programme has also helped him to achieve the 15 papers published recognised journals that are “DHET accredited and produced one doctor and seven Master’s students”.

“I hope to continue to give back to the university by helping the student to reach their educational goals through scholarships such as nGAP. I would recommend that DHET continues with this excellent programme, and thank you for the opportunity, highly appreciated.”

The other lecturers were Dr Vusi Mshayisa, Dr Sacha West, Dr Morakane Khaledi and Dr Maphelo Malgas, who has since left CPUT.

CPUT has opened applications for the 2024 academic year and prospective students can visit the university website to start their application.

The institution offers more than 70-career focused courses and has six faculties, namely Informatics and Design, Health and Wellness Sciences, Education, Business and Management Sciences, Engineering and the Built Environment and Applied Sciences.

Our 2024 Prospectus booklet will help prospective students decide on the best course to study, and outlines the admission requirements.

A maximum of three online applications is allowed per applicant, and applicants are advised to have all the necessary documentation ready when starting their application.

Applications must be submitted online and our website offers a step-by-step guide to assist school-leavers with the application process.

Prospective students are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible to avoid last-minute submissions or disappointment as the demand for places is high.

Please visit our website for further information, including the deadlines for the various programmes and follow our social media channels for any updates.

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