CPUT’s Virtual Open Day is now open! Click here to visit >>>

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Learning from our history

ENGAGING: More than 150 students participated in the webinar. ENGAGING: More than 150 students participated in the webinar.

More than 150 students recently participated in a thought-provoking webinar, jointly presented by the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences and the District Six (D6) Museum.

The collaboration with the District Six (D6) Museum started in 2013 and has been integrated into the Diversity Management curriculum for the Diploma: Business and Information Administration (BIA) in the Faculty, said senior lecturer, Mandie Richards.

“The purpose of the transformation conversations is so that students may understand the past, the present-day situation and look at the way forward by engaging in positive collaborations. The curriculum needs to be socially responsive, to contribute to the graduate attributes of students and ultimately contribute positively to communities and humanity.”

During the webinar, the history of the country and social injustice were integrated through an exploration of culture and identity, that engaged students in dialogue as to the impact of apartheid. Joe Schaffers, an ex-resident of D6, recalled the hurt of the past, social injustices and the inhumanities still suffered today, and shared his story of his family being forcibly removed from the Bloemhof Flats, D6 in 1967 to Hanover Park on the Cape Flats.

Schaffers has been bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh for the work he does in communities and keeping the spirit of D6 alive by sharing his knowledge with local and international students, and visitors to the museum.

Students were immersed in the conversation with Mandy Sanger, the Education Manager at the Museum.

“The engagement by students was reflective, interactive and probing as the many questions and comments emphasised that these platforms are pivotal as they allow for students to share their voices as to their lived experiences and thereby have a deeper understanding of the impact of apartheid and the continued systemic racism as a result of this social evil. Discussions pertaining to moving forward through civic engagement is part of the dialogue and result in students engaging in a project which requires deeper research, and in so doing allows for critical engagement, and culminates in a digital storytelling video,” said Richards.

 Fidelis Chu, a lecturer in BIA, has lived in South Africa for 21 years and connected for the first time with the museum three years ago.  He highlighted the distortion of history and the value of the first-person narrative.

Yannick Vermeulen, a second-year student, commented that the session was very informative and that for change to happen, a positive paradigm shift is required as to the way we speak, understand and do things in our everyday lives.

Richards added that before the Covid-19 pandemic, students would engage in ‘Pay It Forward Projects’, and their engagement with the past and present, resulted in them being part of civic engagement initiatives in communities, and further enhancing their understanding by creating digital stories through intergenerational conversations with ex-residents, their family or members in their communities. 

The collaboration with the District Six Museum has been implemented as one of the transformation conversations in which the Faculty engages to enhance an understanding of how the past impacts the present, and the future.  The Faculty has also included this project in 2021 for departments to integrate into the curriculum.

Written by Ilse Fredericks

Email: Frederickskennediji@cput.ac.za