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Friday, 17 September 2021

CPUT hosts successful Covid symposium

SPEAKER: Prof Ramneek Ahluwalia SPEAKER: Prof Ramneek Ahluwalia Gallo Images

CPUT recently hosted a landmark virtual symposium titled Never let a Crisis go to Waste:  CPUT Research, Innovation, Teaching and Learning in the Age of COVID-19.

The conference focused on four main themes: Research, Technology Innovation and Product Development During COVID-19; Operational Efficiencies and Effectiveness in a Crisis - Lessons Learned; New Approaches to Teaching and Learning and Leadership and Governance in a Crisis.

Researchers from across the institution presented their research.  

During his opening remarks, Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, said the symposium was not just a talk shop and noted that during difficult periods in history, such as the Great Depression, several interesting innovations took place.

He said that in challenging times, rapid answers are needed and the solution might well be found outside the status quo.

“Our duty is to turn crisis into opportunity. Crisis and opportunity are two sides of the same coin.”

CEO of Higher Health and keynote speaker, Prof Ramneek Ahluwalia, spoke on the effect of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of staff and students and said when looking at the impact of Covid-19 on students, one can’t just look at the health element.

He quoted from the social impact study on COVID-19 among the Post-School Education and Training sector which showed, amongst other things, that over 65% of students experienced mild to severe psychological distress.

Ahluwalia appealed for an “integration of pandemics”.

“When you are doing Covid services, offer the HIV services, continue the education on sexual reproductive health, prevent GBV, talk GBV, educate GBV, don’t neglect mental health.”

Prof Mellet Moll, Compliance and Risk Officer, Business Continuity and Covid-19, spoke on the topic of: Lessons learnt from the trenches: Responding to COVID-19 in higher education.

He said this included having strategy, structures and systems in place that fit within the organisational culture, innovative communication campaigns and using all members of the community as agents, among other things

Dr David Phaho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, said the symposium rightly focused on shared experiences across all CPUT faculties, the lessons learned as well as new ways of living, teaching and working.

“The papers presented served as a vivid illustration that our long-term academic and research agenda must become more pro-active than reactive.”

Written by Ilse Fredericks

Email: Frederickskennediji@cput.ac.za