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CPUT’s special Africa Day lecture focused on the idea of “Africanising” universities within the Agenda 2063 period. The lecture was delivered by Prof Simphiwe Sesanti, African Philosophy and African Renaissance intellectual, scholar and academic from the University of the Western Cape’s Faculty of Education.

Sesanti said English is just an ethnic language like any other language. He added that the colonialists used imperialism to inflict a cultural amnesia into Africans and that education was used in the eurocentic project.

“Everyone is a person of colour,” said Sesanti. He argued that names of people and places tell stories.

Sesanti said Christ was neither of English, Portuguese nor French descent. “We, as professors, are a product of imperialism.

“The truth is we have universities in Africa but no African universities.”

He added that language is a carrier of culture.

Sesanti said declaring oneself a revolutionary does not make one a revolutionary. He added that Europeans came to various parts of Africa and renamed people and places. He said people’s names carry their culture and history.

“This year is Julius Nyerere’s 100th anniversary,” he said before adding that Nyerere studied philosophy and was not only a politician.

Prof Andile Mji, Dean of Education at CPUT, said that academics have accepted that they should decolonise its universities. “Universities should let students be thinkers,” added Mji.

He said Africans had always believed in oneness, as could be seen in their circular kraals and rondavel houses.

“Do not illtreat women, whether you know them or not,” warned Mji.

Central SRC President Nanga Codana said Sesanti’s speech brought the audience to its roots and thanked Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, for organising the public lecture.

“If we are to be practical about Africanising the university,[let’s] document it in the university’s policies,” added Codana.

He made a call for residences to be named after African people.

Prof Drikie Hay-swemmer, Executive Director in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, said they learnt so much from the lecture, and persuaded her colleagues to invite Sesanti to talk to CPUT students again in the future.

More than 130 students in the Department of Emergency Medical Sciences will be the recipients of monthly donations of food packs and toiletries from the Gift of the Givers Foundation.

The founder of the humanitarian aid group, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman visited the Department recently where the first of the monthly donations was handed over.

Head of the Department, Lloyd Christopher, said 136 students who need support while they undergo rescue training off-campus, would benefit from the donations.

Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences, Prof Thandi Matsha thanked the Foundation for their support.

“We have students that come from very different background and this donation will go a very long way. We are looking forward to working with the Gift of the Givers further on this initiative.”

Sooliman said the foundation was aware of the challenges that many students face and was happy that the university reached out to them for support.

“When you have management that worry about students and worry about the well-being of those that are under them it’s a good sign for the country.”

The donation is the first initiative under the Department’s Adopt-a-Medic programme, which seeks to provide assistance to students.

“This initiative is more targeted at individuals who would like to help a student. This help could come in a number of ways. It could be financial, it could be moral support, it could be funding for a conference and could come from industry, alumni or small businesses, for example,” said Christopher.

The Department has a long-standing relationship with the organisation. Staff from the department have assisted with disaster relief responses, both locally and abroad, while Gift of the Givers has supported some of the Department’s Service-Learning projects.

Hundreds of needy students in CPUT residences will continue benefitting from food vouchers and parcels organised by the Division of Student Affairs.

The project’s model was approved by the university’s Executive Management and the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) was tasked with its planning and implementation, said Acting Dean of Students, Tulani Nkuntse.

Nkuntse added that funding is still a long-term endeavour with the Department of Advancement .and that the model is also based on the success of the cafeteria project which is “work in progress”. “DSA does not receive a budget for this, and is awaiting timeframes from Advancement on funding strategy,” he said.

“Currently, DSA uses its own budget which it reorganises to provide vouchers to the value of R300 or R400 and food parcels amounting to R500. This is really an interim measure which we are really struggling to sustain.”

He called for any form of assistance for the project.

The initiative, which saw hundreds of needy students in residences benefitting from food parcels, was started as a collaborative project between residence managers and Residence Student Assistants a couple of years ago.

During the project’s formative years food parcels were distributed at Down Town Lodge and J&B houses. Chumani Mashwanyela, Residence Manager at the two houses and the Project’s Co-ordinator, said that about 400 students benefited from the project in the first semester of 2020.

 To give advice or donate to the project contact Mashwanyela via email on Mashwanyelach@cput.ac.za or call 0735158591.

Results of a South African study conducted by a group of investigators from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Stellenbosch University (SU) and the US National Institute of Health (NIH) have demonstrated for the first time in an African population, the added value of combining glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and glycated albumin (GA) to diagnose dysglycemia, the combination diabetes mellitus and pre-diabetes. 

Diabetes mellitus, which is a condition characterised by chronic elevation of blood sugar, is a fast-growing disease worldwide, and much so in countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where the number of people with diabetes is estimated to increase by 134% from 24 million in 2021 to 55 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) South Africa (4.2 million), Nigeria (3.6 million), Tanzania (2.9 million), Ethiopia (1.9 million), and Democratic Republic of Congo (1.9 million) are currently the top five SSA countries for the number of people with diabetes. Diabetes in SSA is further characterised by the low detection rates, with about 54% of SSA people with diabetes being unaware of their condition; against 44.7% at the global level.

The low diabetes detection rate in Africa is explained by a number of factors including the lack of screening programs, the low prioritisation of large segments of the population (young adults and non-obese people) for diabetes screening where programs are available, and the lack of accurate and practical diagnostic approaches.

In this first detailed study in an African population, the investigators used data for nearly 1 300 adults mixed-ancestry South African residing in Cape Town to examine the ability of glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and glycated albumin (GA) in combination to diagnose diabetes or dysglycemia. HbA1c and GA are both tests used to monitor blood sugar control in response to treatment in people with diabetes; but, have also been proposed for diabetes diagnosis, although not yet widely adopted in the African settings due to their variable performance.

 “In mixed-ancestry South African, HbA1c and GA levels varied in opposite directions with increasing levels of adiposity as measured by the body mass index (BMI). As a consequence, combining the two tests improved the detection of dysglycemia above and beyond the achievements of each test taken separately, and this improvement was observed across all levels of BMI” says Professor Andre Pascal Kengne, the lead author of the publication, and Director of the Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit (NCDRU) at the SAMRC.

Unlike other diagnostic tests for diabetes, HbA1c and GA do not require fasting. “These findings in mixed-ancestry South Africans are in line with results from our previous studies in African-born Blacks living in America, which have shown that combining HbA1c and GA improves dysglycemia diagnosis, particularly in individuals who are non-obese,” says Dr. Anne E. Sumner, senior author on the paper and Senior Investigator in the Section on Ethnicity and Health, Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. “This study suggests an approach that can be operationalised and incorporated into existing screening programs for diabetes in African settings,” adds Dr. Sumner.

Data used for the current study are from the Cape Town Vascular and Metabolic Health (VMH) project, which is an extension of the Bellville South research programme initiated in Cape Town in 2008. “These new findings are a very useful addition to our efforts to improve the understanding, prevention, detection and control of common cardiometabolic diseases in mixed-ancestry South Africans and other African populations over the last two decades” says Prof Tandi E Matsha, co-lead author of the paper, Principal investigator of the VMH project, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellness at CPUT, and Director of SAMRC/CPUT Extra-mural Cardiometabolic Health Research unit.

“Population-based screening for common chronic infectious diseases such as HIV infection is already taking place across Africa using minimally invasive blood sample collection” note the investigators. “Adding HbA1c and GA to these programs provides an opportunity to co-screen people for dysglycemia’ they conclude. HbA1c is already available as point-of-care test and similar approach can be developed for GA.

*The study was published in eClinicalMedicine, a Journal of The Lancet group, with the title “Combining HbA1c and glycated albumin improves detection of dysglycemia in mix-ancestry South Africans”; and is fully accessible here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(22)00173-0/fulltext

Written by SAMRC

In their quest to eradicate gender-based violence (GBV), and start conversations on educating CPUT men to be able to have a gender-equal campus, the Centre for Diversity, Inclusivity and  Social Change in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor recently hosted a workshop at the Bellville Campus.

The workshop followed the inauguration of the Vice-Chancellor’s’ s Think Tank for Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Task Team in March this year.  The Centre for Diversity, Inclusivity and Social Change in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor saw a need to have ambassadors who will be directly involved in GBV campaigns and interventions across all CPUT campuses in an effort to promote a campus free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination,  is diverse, equitable, inclusive and where difference is valued and celebrated.

The workshop was coordinated by the Centre’s Diversity and Inclusivity Assistant, Tumiso Mfisa. This included the training for the first cohort, which targeted students and facilitated the orientation of the ambassadors. The CSRC president, Nanga Codana, shared a message of support with the ambassadors where he highlighted the significance of men’s immediate response to GBV. The three sessions addressed issues such as how the ambassadors can conceptualise GBV in South Africa and how men can play their role in eradicating GBV on and off-campus.

The participants also went in-depth on the practicality of GBV interventions on and off-campus where the facilitator spoke on community engagement and  interventions which work mostly on awareness-raising on and off-campus, and how important it is to mobilise men in such programmes and educated the ambassadors on how to win over society in partaking in any intervention. 

There were also team building exercises and discussions on various qualities which the ambassadors will need to ensure success in implementing the GBV programmes and men’s development interventions. 

Mfisa highlighted the overall picture of what the ambassadors should be like, which included them being transformed in order to transform others and that “together we can forge gender equality the second cohort will follow and will involve CPUT Staff members”.  “A follow-up session will be done to further involve the larger number of students and staff in GBV interventions and campaigns. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias and we can all end GBV if we work together and not in isolation, ‘gender equality is everyone’s responsibility to enhance oneness and smartness,’” he said.

Ambassador, Kwena Etmond Mapumo, a Diploma in Analytical Chemistry student, said:  “It was a very thought-provoking session we had, and I’d like to see more engagements and for us to be the change we wish to see in making a safe space for all.”

Another ambassador, Lance Sibuyi, a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering student, said: “Indeed, it was an awesome session, [I] really learned a lot and this definitely upscaled my perspective and knowledge on various issues pertaining to gender-based violence.  Thank you, team, for the awesome workshop!”

For more information contact: mfisat@cput.ac.za

Meet our ambassadors by opening the link below: https://ieyegallery.pic-time.com/avm046TH

The CPUT Convocation has collaborated with Engen to encourage underprivileged learners to become the future economical workforce and to enable upliftment in the communities they come from.

The two institutions recently hosted a well-attended Career Day at Manzomthombo Secondary School in Emfuleni for the school’s matric learners and its neighbouring schools. Executive member of the Convocation, Andiswa Mrasi, said that as the Convocation they have a vital role to play in ensuring the university attracts strategic partners through their external networks.  

“And as such, we met with Engen to establish areas of potential collaborations, which included the career days as they have maths and science centres across the country. The purpose is to expose the high school learners enrolled in their maths and science centres to the various academic programmes offered by CPUT and share potential career fields,” Mrasi said.

She said their main objective was to see high academic performing students choosing CPUT as their preferred institution of higher education, “of particular interest is the fact that the high school learners enrolled in the Engen centres specialise in maths and science”. “Furthermore, they are guaranteed full funding towards a tertiary qualification of their choice post matric.”

Addressing the learners, Convocation president, Saziso Matiwane said the learners should be aware that student life at university comes with challenges and they should be prepared to tackle those challenges with support from the university. “Yes, life at varsity comes with freedom but that freedom comes with responsibility. You must stay focused and know your goals. I want you to be aware of those challenges. Our purpose here is to inspire you and you must know that there is no difference between us and you. Your background shouldn’t determine your future.”

He also encouraged learners to obtain good marks and pursue their studies to the PhD level.

“You need to have PhD, if you don’t have PhD, you’re a drop-out.”

Matiwane also urged the students to apply on time to secure places at the university of their choice.

Engen National CSR Manager, Adhila Hamdulay, said the career guidance sessions were a great success judging by the interaction and the turnout was 100% attendance by all learners.   Hamdulay said Engen was looking forward to future collaborations to encourage the underprivileged learners to become the future economical workforce. She said the Engen Maths and Science Schools have seen consistent achievements of graduates with year-on-year improved average pass rates over the past years. However, with the Covid pandemic continuing into 2022, the learners were still challenged in many ways, “especially our underprivileged learners”.

Hamdulay said Engen believed in collaboration and values the partnership they have with the Department of Education, Department of Transport and other stakeholders to ensure Engen continues to align and improve the programme.  “Our statement of purpose reads that ‘Engen is passionate about progress and enriching lives for a sustainable future’, and therefore, its investment in education, to empower and assist underprivileged learners to reach their full potential, is one of Corporate Social Responsibility’s key focus areas.”  Addressing the learners, she said: “We want to encourage all of you here today, to be the best version of yourselves and to wholeheartedly pursue your dreams. Work hard, persevere, stay focused and reach for the stars.”

Mrasi added: “Really, one can be anything in life if they put in the work, discipline and have smart goals. I cannot wait to celebrate with them on their CPUT graduation in the near future.”

Student Development Professionals from several institutions recently gathered at the Bellville campus for the Best Practice Summit (BPS) of the National Association of Student Development Practitioners (NASDEV).

The theme of the four-day event, which was also live streamed, was: Conceptualising the Future of Student Development in a Digital Transformation Era.

Prof Driekie Hay-Swemmer, Executive Director: Office of the Vice-Chancellor, welcomed the delegates to CPUT and said she believed the sharing of best practices in student development is now more important and relevant than ever before.

NASDEV President Dr Bernard Sebake said that over the past two years the association had not really been able to meet and assess the state of student development in the sector, mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We hope that out of this summit we will reflect a bit about our Covid experience, especially as it relates to the digital transformation because the new order of higher education requires that we really adapt some of the practices that we used to have or started having during Covid to move with the entire globe in terms of really being smart universities.”

He added: “What we hope is to really gauge our state as the profession in relation to how we are taking that posture to support students but look at them beyond the university circles and how they are going to generate and regenerate solutions for challenges that are being faced in society.”

Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Nhlapo, who was one of the keynote speakers, said one cannot talk about student development in the 21st century without leveraging on technology.

“This is the only way to satisfy the generation of students connected in the digital age to learn and maintain contact with the outside world and thus be of service to society.”

Nhlapo called for more Smart universities across South Africa.

“Universities need to incorporate smart technologies to take advantage of their capabilities to transform their processes, efficiencies and drive towards new organisational models and to be of service to societies.”

He said university leaders play a vital role in readying students to become the new architects of the digital future.

“Therefore, we have no choice but to embrace and endorse digital transformation as a future.”