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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Extraordinary Women: Dr Misiwe Katiya

Her lifelong love affair with languages has influenced every aspect of Dr Misiwe Katiya’s career path. From majoring in Afrikaans and Xhosa while still a student at Fort Hare to her current position in Academic Staff Development in the Fundani unit, Katiya says language can make or break a university.

Your position is a Senior Lecturer in Academic Staff Development what does that mean?

My main function is to administer the Teaching and Development Plan at CPUT, so when new academic staff members join the institution they enrol in the six month programme which ultimately assists in capping off your probation period or being made permanent. Apart from that I also develop and administer a range of teaching and learning programmes which may be requested by various departments or units.

Your love of languages is evident; tell me more about how you became interested in the study of language?

While majoring in Xhosa and Afrikaans during my undergrad years I realised how similar the languages were and I never really struggled in understanding them. Later at the University of Port Elizabeth (later renamed NMMU) I studied Linguistics and I continue to be fascinated by how people acquire new languages. Even with my own children I was fascinated by how they learned a language, they would hear something twice then start using the words.

You have developed a Xhosa for beginner’s class for CPUT staff what was that process like?

Because I am a teacher I always look at ways in which students can be assisted. Language can be such a barrier in the classroom. Lecturers are frustrated by outputs and think students aren’t trying hard enough while the students are too embarrassed to approach you because English is not their first language. The programme aims to have academics be able to have a very basic conversation in Xhosa. This in turn creates the impression with the students that this person is interested in me. South Africa needs more of us to talk to each other and learning one another’s language facilitates that.

What is the key to excelling as a female in the higher education space?

Take the opportunities when they come up. Here at CPUT they exist so don’t wait to be invited to apply, enquire and forge ahead. At some stage I would like to develop a Training and Development Programme for young academic females so that we don’t lose them. I would also like to see more opportunities arise for our female colleagues in administrative positions. They should also be empowered more.

Written by Lauren Kansley

Tel: +27 21 953 8646
Email: kansleyl@cput.ac.za

Liaises with the media and writes press releases about interesting developments at CPUT.