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In honour of the commitment, involvement, and leadership contributions of the postgraduate and undergraduate Student Quality Desks (SQDs) within the institutional Quality Management Systems (QMS), the Quality Management Directorate (QMD) recently hosted a Leadership Award dinner at the Cape Town Hotel School.

In his opening address, QMD Director, Dr Siyanda Makaula, emphasised  the significance of involving students in all aspects of institutional QMS, aligning it with the strategic focus on smart student engagement outlined in focus area 7 of the CPUT Vision 2030. Makaula said QMD employs three key approaches: collaborative, participative and reflexive to engage students holistically in the institutional QMS.

He stated that while the SQDs are distinct from the Student Representative Council (SRC), their leadership roles in promoting quality and transformation within their respective faculties deserve acknowledgment.  Makaula emphasised QMD's commitment to “valuing students' voices, creating a foundation for students to be active co-creators of knowledge within the University academic community”.

The SQD representatives graciously shared their experiences and journeys, reflecting on how their perception of “quality” has significantly expanded over time. The Dean: Faculty of Applied Science, Prof Joseph Kioko, commended the QMD for involving students in their activities. Kioko offered encouragement to the SQD members, advising them to appreciate their leadership roles as preparation for assuming social leadership responsibilities in the future.

The Dean: Faculty of Informatics and Design, Prof Tembisa Ngqondi, also applauded the SQDs for their leadership, urging them to continue in their commitment to maintaining quality standards.

Also present was Faculty Quality Forum chairpersons, Prof Desiree Scholtz from the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences, Prof Anna Dippenaar from the Faculty of Education, and Prof Bingwen Yan from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, each sharing insightful remarks, contributing to the overall significance of the occasion.

The head of the Business Innovation and Incubation Centre (BIIC), Prof Michael Twum-Darko provided an overview of BIIC and presented innovative opportunities to the SQDs. This collaboration aims to make the entire CPUT student body aware of the business innovations facilitated by BIIC.

In recognition of the leadership capabilities and active participation of SQD members in the 2023 academic year, QMD and Ngqondi presented Leadership Achievement Awards to SQD leaders.

Lecturer Anzel Laubscher was recently honoured with the prestigious Goodwill Ambassador of Chess in Education Award from the Judit Polgar Chess Foundation.

Laubscher, a Law Lecturer in the Department of Applied Legal Studies and Department of Hotel Management, received the award during the Polgar Global Chess Festival, held in Budapest, Hungary.

Polgar is considered the best female player in chess history.

Laubscher said Polgar has been her chess idol since she was little girl.

“The Polgar Global Chess Festival is very exclusive and to obtain an invite to this event is really an honour. You can just imagine my excitement when I received the invitation to be a keynote speaker at this event! In fact, I was invited as a keynote speaker, as well as a round table discussion on Safeguarding in chess too.

“Little did I know that this is not where the blessings end. Upon arrival at the Festival, I also received the notification that I am awarded the Goodwill Ambassador in Chess in Education for 2023 award! I received a number of big awards in my life before, but this definitely made it to the top of my awards cabinet. “

She received the award based on her work in chess education worldwide, especially training educators in Africa and being the co-author of the course material for the International Chess Federation.

“I appreciate the acknowledgement of the work I do by the Polgar Foundation. I feel humbled and honoured by this award.”

Laubscher’s achievements have included being part of the first South African national team to participate at the World Olympiad, which was held in Russia in 1998. She obtained title of Woman International Master in 2003.

Laubscher serves on the Education Commission for the International Chess Federation as an Advisory Board member and as part of the development team.

In 2021 she took the initiative to drive the Chess in Education programme in Africa.

Thursday, 23 November 2023

Salute to seminar organisers

The 12 graduands who will receive their doctoral qualifications during the upcoming Summer Graduation Ceremony were recently given a platform to highlight their research findings and possible impact on society.

This was the aim of the first Research Uptake: Doctoral Graduates seminar organised by the Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships (SIP) Office and Centre for Postgraduate Studies on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, held at Bellville Campus. Under the theme: Potential Societal Impact of Research, doctoral graduands presented their research on a high level and discussed its impact on society. Manager Research Uptake: SIP, Dr Nelisiwe Maleka, who was one of the organisers, said the doctoral graduands were joined by their supervisors, representatives from the faculties and Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships.

The list of doctoral graduands who attended the event included:

  • Michael Agenbag from Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAD).
  • Warren Charles from Faculty of Business and Management Sciences (FBMS).
  • Martha Grewe, FBMS.
  • Maryna De Lange from Faculty of Education.
  • Howard Fawkes, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE).
  • Olukayode Ayodele, FEBE.
  • Mohamed Almihat, FEBE.
  • Gideon Joubert, FEBE.
  • Faeda Mohsam from Faculty of Informatics and Design (FID).

However, there were graduands who couldn’t attend the event due to work commitments:

  • Gareth Holtman, FEBE.
  • Leo Folifac, FEBE.
  • Monica Nehemia, FID.

In his opening address, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho, said: “Dear graduates there are those who now and, in the future, will express cynicism and doubts about your qualifications and the impact your research endeavours could have on society. It is the nature of existence as researchers and scholars, and this goes back to as far back as Galileo. Remember that this polymath from antiquity promoted the idea that the earth rotates daily and revolves around the sun, and this was met with opposition from within the church and from some fellow astronomers.”

Phaho continued: “Considering the significant societal and global challenges we face in areas such as food security, water and sanitation, energy, climate change, and public health, universities and other publicly funded organisations are expected to do more to address these challenges.”

Maleka said throughout the numerous presentations, attendees had an opportunity to learn more about doctoral research studies that are responsive to societal needs and challenges, their alignment to CPUT Research Focus Areas and Sustainable Development Goals.

Agenbag, a graduand, said the seminar created an initial space for them to share their research contribution to CPUT’s leadership regarding their commitment to CPUT’s research objectives and “how our input from our long research journey focuses on societal challenges and needs”. “It was also great to hear the research from other doctorandi and to be aware of the level of research that CPUT conducts. This seminar should undoubtedly become a regular for all doctoral graduates. The forum creates opportunities to share research done at CPUT and network with each other and different faculties and programmes.

“It was a positive experience and a salute to the organisers for this initiative.”

“Listening to these insightful presentations has renewed our passion, fervour, and enthusiasm for research as we have learnt of different expertise sparking insightful engaging discussions. A heartfelt thanks to our dedicated faculty members, mentors, and advisors who have played a pivotal role in nurturing students, academic and research prowess in the university,” CPGS Coordinator, Dr Thandazile Mhlongo observed.

Mhlongo said: “What a wonderful enlightening and thought-provoking Doctoral Graduate Seminar… It has been a wonderful experience witnessing not only the culmination of hard work through research and dedication done over the years by the doctoral candidates, but also the promise of a future where research becomes a catalyst for positive change in society through the work done in CPUT.”

“My humble advice to all of you as you embark on what I no doubt believe will be great careers, is that you must always be resilient, engender self-discipline, adopt an uncompromising work ethic and self-belief in that what you do now and for the rest of your days,” Phaho remarked.

Mhlongo also acknowledged the contribution made by the “chair Prof Izak [Van Zyl], the organising committee who are the behind-the-scenes heroes who worked so hard to ensure the smooth execution of this seminar”. “Finally, a sincere thank you to all the participants and attendees who have contributed to the success of this event. It is hoped that after this seminar colleagues will foster an environment conducive to intellectual growth and collaboration.”

Wednesday, 22 November 2023

MCD bags two MACE Excellence Awards

The excellent work produced by the Marketing and Communication Department (MCD) was recognised during the recent MACE Excellence Awards, where the department walked away with two prizes.

The MACE (Marketing, Advancement and Communication in Education) Excellence Awards takes place annually and celebrates excellence and the achievements of specialists and practitioners in marketing, advancement and communication in the higher education sector.

This year’s awards ceremony and annual MACE conference were hosted by the University of the Western Cape and 255 award entries were received from 17 institutions.

MCD won two bronze awards – the first was in the Campaigns category: stakeholder engagement campaigns for the Shero campaign, which ran on the university’s social media channels during Women’s Month and featured phenomenal female staff members at CPUT.

The second award, which was in the same category, was for the 2023 Vice-Chancellor’s State of the University address.

Cathy Cloete, who manages Public Relations and Events, said winning two excellence awards for these campaigns for CPUT was a significant achievement and a testament to the outstanding efforts and creativity of the individuals or team involved.

“Such recognition typically reflects a high standard of work, commitment to excellence and innovation in the field of marketing, communication, or related areas,” said Cloete, who submitted the entries.

She said receiving an excellence award acknowledges the successful execution of a well-planned strategy and the ability to effectively communicate and connect with the target audience.

Kurt Mitchell, who played an integral role in the Shero campaign and accepted the award on behalf of the department, said: “This was a collaboration between myself and Cathy Cloete, as well as the support from colleagues. I'm grateful for the opportunity and appreciate the recognition received from MACE."

The annual Teaching Practice (TP) Symposium under the broad umbrella of Work-Integrated-Learning within the Faculty of Education was recently held online.

This productive event assembled the voices of diverse stakeholders within Education field.

The theme was: A relook at the qualities and competencies of professional teachers. The event has become a yearly occasion which looks at final-year student-teachers who are eagerly and simultaneously anxiously awaiting their turn to venture into the world of work. The symposium composes various professionals who provide the last-minute moulding of South African professional teachers emanating from the Faculty of Education.

Clive Brown, Intermediate Phase Teaching Practice Coordinator, said the Faculty of Education is the largest provider of teacher educators within the Western Cape, which shifts huge responsibility to the Faculty, ensuring that beginner teachers possess the theoretical and practical knowledge base concerning the competencies relating to a beginner South African classroom.

“The discouraging levels of challenges teachers within the classroom face are well documented in both scholarly works and published in South African newspapers. A few of the daily challenges emanating from schools are a lack of educational resources, learner overcrowding, and immense learner behavioural issues, coupled with low teacher morale and mammoth administrative-related duties,” said Brown.

The TP Symposium Organisers for 2023, led by Dr Belinda Cornelissen, Ruben Daniels, Brown and Dr Alettie Van Den Heever, were tasked with carefully selecting participants who could expand on pertinent matters in the real-world classroom. “Hence, a robust dialogical engagement concerning the execution of the vital role of teacher professionals in the holistic development of each learner assigned to them when they commence their formal employment was orchestrated,” he said.

Undergraduate student-teachers, academics, beginner and seasoned teachers, official structures within the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the teacher unions gathered to enlighten student-teachers about the way forward in their career as professional teachers. These respective stakeholders were an extensive list of members, which are as follows:

  • Wiesahl Christians: a Foundation Phase-focused best practicing lesson
  • Simamkele Tsitsi and Hana Fester: Respective Intermediate Phase lessons
  • Liam Hendrickse: a fairly newly qualified professional teacher based in Qatar who provided insight into his local and international teaching experience.
  • Dylan Mayumba: a final-year Department of Senior and Further Education & Training Phase studies, who reflected on his mentoring experience during the four-year degree programme.
  • Reginald Dirkse: An Honours degree graduate providing insights into balancing postgraduate studies and professional work-life.
  • Ashwin Arendse: Focused on the beginner teachers’ challenges facing the 4th industrial revolution - the lack of educational resources and facing the outdated chalk-and-talk classroom.
  • Dr Frederick Sylvester: Focusing on the emotional well-being of the newly qualified teacher.
  • Sinovuyo Gada: Zoomed into the realities faced by NQT - Facing problems in and around the classroom.
  • Noel Isaacs: Shifted the focus on the realities faced by newly qualified teachers and teaching outside of your major subject.
  • Ingrid Leukes: Provincial Education Convener South African Democratic Teachers’ Union Western Cape, provided insight into the professional teacher as viewed by the teacher union and listed professional development opportunities.

The TP Symposium was heralded as a success since the objective of the online meeting was achieved through robust, respectful engagement. “Moving forward, the aim is to shift to a dual symposium, which, with extensive planning, will hopefully bring together members face-to-face and online”. In closing, Brown, added: “Our Faculty of Education here at CPUT is committed to producing professional teachers for the world of work who are highly competent, skilled and sought after within the field of education.”

Monday, 20 November 2023

CPUT engages industry partners

CPUT recently hosted business and industry partners for an engagement session, which provided an opportunity for networking as well as valuable input from stakeholders.

The event was held at the SA Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) and guests were welcomed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Prof Rishidaw Balkaran, who said the theme for the event was: One Smart CPUT: Engaged with its Critical Stakeholders.

Vice-Chancellor Prof Chris Nhlapo said the University needs industry partners and members of civil society to achieve the goals set by the institution.

Nhlapo said the key component of a knowledge economy is greater reliance on intellectual capacities and capability than on physical input of natural resources.

He said that if South Africa were to play its role in the knowledge economy space, “it is important that we nurture our relationship with quintuple helix partners”.

“Unfortunately, we have no choice as we can all see the rampant inequality, corruption and poor education standards that continue to impede growth in South Africa. Thus, all of us must contribute.”

Dr David Phaho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, said CPUT is being proactive in terms of responding to the change in the job market.

“We are working to develop programmes and courses that prepare students for the job market, not just through a regional lens, but a national lens and also a continental and a global lens. We have to make sure that we identify emerging trends and tailor our curricula to meet the needs of industry.”

Prof Lalini Reddy, Director: Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning (WIL), thanked all the partners and said the university subscribes to the concept of ubuntu.

“We can’t do anything on our own.”

She said the institution appreciated the input from the business and industry partners.

The day included presentations by the WIL coordinators of each faculty as well as an exhibition prepared for the stakeholders.

CPUT STEM Club achieved second place in the Siemens Gamesa’s HackStem Hackathon Challenge 2023.

The central theme of the hackathon was climate change, with a specific focus on creating a digital product aimed at raising environmental awareness among children aged five to 12 and promoting stewardship. “Stemming from our passion for STEM, we were enthusiastic participants in this competition,” said Coordinator of the Coding and robotics subcommittee of STEM Club, Simphiwe Makhathini, who added that: “I extend my warmest congratulations to the exceptional members of our STEM club who participated in this event.” Siviwe Tshananda, Manelisi Mpotulo, Ntobeko Xolani and Makhathini dedicated a challenging weekend to coding and worked “harmoniously” as a team. “Our collaborative efforts culminated in the development of an educational game…”

One can explore the project on GitHub by visiting the repository at CPUT STEM DEVS GitHub. Throughout the event, the team engaged in enlightening conference meetings with various stakeholders who offered valuable insights and information. Among the primary stakeholders they interacted with were the India Sesame Workshop, Siemens, UNESCO, WAGGGS, Vianeo, and ITT Delhi. These discussions revolved around the critical role of youth in combating climate change. “Vianeo, in particular, delivered a significant session on developing and pitching a business idea. Siemens Gamesa was also kind enough to acknowledge our achievements in a LinkedIn post, which you can find in Siemens Gamesa LinkedIn Post.”

STEM coordinator, Dr Frikkie Georger, said: “Once again, I want to express my pride in our team's remarkable performance and thank everyone for their hard work and dedication. We look forward to addressing the challenges we encountered and continue our commitment to the CPUT STEM Club Robotics and Programming Division.”