CPUT recently unveiled a banner on the Bellville Campus, outlining the institution’s position on Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Kuselwa Marala, Acting Director: Centre for Diversity, Inclusivity & Social Change, welcomed attendees and said part of the legislative framework relating to GBV in the Post-School Education and Training sector “urges us to be visible and advocate against GBV”.

“So what we are doing today is unveiling a statement by CPUT on our position as we try to fight the scourge against gender-based violence.”

Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, said the institution’s position on GBV is very clear, unambiguous and unapologetic. 

He said visitors to CPUT should be able to look up at the banner and say, “that is our position”’.

Nhlapo said that as a Higher Education Institution, he expected the university to also look at the impact that “we have made ever since we took this posture”.

“Let’s reflect as academics to say is there any dent, how are our numbers looking, have we seen reduction in terms of the figures that we are getting…”

He added that it was also key to look at whether we were embracing leading practice as far as addressing and facing the scourge head-on.

“It is known in literature that one out of three women experience GBV in their lives. And we are saying one GBV case is one GBV case too many at CPUT.”

In closing remarks, Dr David Phaho, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, said that as “we unveil the banner, lest we forget those who have suffered and died both in our country and beyond our borders, simply because of their gender or sexual orientation”.

Banners will also be unveiled on the university’s other campuses.

The Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) recently celebrated their second Annual International Day, a day which broadens students’ and staff menbers’ horizons and affords opportunities for them to learn more about their contemporaries while forming a greater understanding of their place in the wider community.

The event brought together students and staff from various backgrounds, showcasing the global community we have built. The day was marked by a cultural showcase, and prize-giving for the best cultural performance and best dressed in cultural attire. Assistant Dean: Learning and Teaching, Prof Bingwen Yan, emphasised the significance of embracing internationalisation in the academic community.

Prof Stephan Sauter from Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Ravensburg, Germany. delivered a keynote address Sauter shared valuable insights into the role of internationalisation in the curriculum. His talk focused on the collaborative efforts of international student teams and their project, "E-mule." Sauter also discussed the importance of international students working together to solve problems and the tremendous value that diverse perspectives bring to these projects. His vision for a more interconnected and inclusive educational experience captivated the audience.

“One of the day's highlights was the cultural showcase, which celebrated the rich diversity within our institution,” said Prof Veruscha Fester, Assistant Dean: Research, Technology, Innovation & Partnerships. Attendees were treated to vibrant displays of African and Asian cultures featuring traditional clothing, art, and culinary delights. Traditional dances were enthusiastically performed, adding a lively and colourful dimension to the event. “This programme segment reminded everyone of the incredible mosaic of traditions that make up our global community,” said Fester.

She added that the event also recognised outstanding contributions from “our international community with awards for the Best Performance and Best Dressed". “These awards acknowledged the commitment and enthusiasm students and staff showed in making the event a success. The recipients of these awards demonstrated a passion for their cultures and a dedication to fostering understanding and unity among our diverse community.”

Fester reiterated the importance of internationalisation in “our institution”. She encouraged everyone to continue working together to promote cross-cultural understanding, collaboration and mutual respect. Fester reflected on her journey of constantly feeling anxious when told to wear 'cultural attire' because she does not have specific cultural wear to use as an opportunity to embrace all aspects of her heritage. Last year, she embraced her African roots, and this year, she embraced her Indian roots. She also encouraged everyone to know that each person's background and culture are essential to determine how they will impact the world as engineers. The audience left with optimism and renewed commitment to promote a global perspective in their academic and personal lives.

“The event was an overwhelming success, reflecting our institution's commitment to fostering a globalised and inclusive environment. The event showcased our international community's incredible talents, perspectives, and traditions and served as a reminder of the power of diversity in education and beyond.”

The event was also fully supported by the Language Working Group in Fundani and “FEBE appreciates this support and looks forward to more collaboration next year”.

“We look forward to continuing our efforts to promote internationalisation and celebrate the diverse tapestry of cultures that enrich our institution,” Fester remarked.

Staff and students from the Architectural Technology and Interior Design Department recently enjoyed an insightful tour of the Old Granary as part of the City of Cape Town’s 2023 Heritage Month Education Programme.

Head of Department Rayner Moodley said six staff members and five students participated in the tour of the historic building.

The Old Granary was built more than 200 years ago and is steeped in history. It has had many uses over the years including town granary, a woman’s prison and a magistrate’s court.

Following the completion of restoration work in 2018, it became the home of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

Marc Smith-Ferreira, Professional Heritage Education Officer in the City’s Directorate: Spatial Planning and Environment and the tour’s coordinator, said it was “truly great” to have the Department of Architectural Technology and Interior Design staff and students in attendance as part of the City’s 2023 Heritage Month Education Programme.

“The engaging nature of staff and students alike was apparent from the start and well received. All the more reason why we’re thankful for the opportunity to share the significance of the Old Granary’s heritage with them.​”

Moodley thanked the City and the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

Wednesday, 25 October 2023

Education student excels in netball

Education student Nika Lambrechts recently represented the Western Province (WP) u/21 (outdoor) netball team at the Spar National Netball Championships in Rustenburg.

Earlier this year the talented netball player was also included in the WP action netball team, which toured to Pretoria in March.

“We won gold in the 6’s a side division and won sliver in the 7’s division,” she said about the competition in March.

In Rustenburg, her team proceeded to the semi-finals of the Spar Championships and finished third.

“Since I was little, all I wanted was a netball ball. Then at the age of four, I started doing the mini netball clinics. So it all started at the age of four and ever since I never stopped playing. There were downhill times, but I got through it. Even through a badly sprained ankle I kept playing. The doctors told me I can’t play netball for two years and in two months I was on the court again.”

She said netball is her safe space.

“Everyone that knows me well knows that if I had a bad day, the place to find me is on the netball court. When I put my foot on that court, nothing runs through my mind except netball. It is like all my problems disappear. I just love this sport, because it is a team sport and all my co-players become like family.”

The third-year Intermediate Phase student is from Bellville and attended DF Malan High school.

Tuesday, 24 October 2023

Looming teacher shortage crisis

Foundation Phase Education Lecturer, Dr Milandre Vlok, is “humbled and honoured” to have joined various stakeholders in a panel discussion around the looming teacher shortage crisis predicted between 2030 and 2035.

The panel discussion was part of the We The Nation talk show, aired on ENCA, hosted by Dan Moyane. The interview panel consisted of numerous stakeholders in education, government, non-governmental organisations, academics, principals, teachers, social workers and more. Vlok said a study done by RESEP (Research on Socio-Economic Policy) conducted by the Stellenbosch University found that 1/3 write out of South Africa’s educators will be retiring between 2030 and 2035. This leaves a large shortfall of educators “but also creates tremendous opportunities for novice teachers to enter the educational marketplace”.

She said the universities across South African have a responsibility to train teachers to be future-fit to enter the teaching profession and provide quality education. “It was mentioned that the Department of Education is not an employment agency. It does not exist just to employ teachers. It functions in relationship to teachers, families, learners, schools, and society at large – non nobis solum (not for us alone).”

Vlok stated that the purpose of the Department of Education is to create conducive policy and contexts so that the principals of democracy (rights, inclusivity, equality) are taught and learnt in schools, alongside content, pedagogical and values-based knowledge, and skills, so that learners can contribute to South Africa’s economic growth when they leave school. “The panel agreed that there are various reasons why teachers are leaving the teaching profession, and that it is not only a case of retiring teachers. Some stakeholders highlighted the dire socio-emotional well-being of many teachers and learners, also as a result the Covid-pandemic.”

She said the state of learner literacy competency again came under the spotlight. Lack of pro-active values education was mentioned. Possible solutions were discussed. One solution that received much attention was the importance of continuing professional development for teachers and providing them with socio-emotional support, especially in context which are rife with systemic challenges. “Reflecting on the value of retired teachers, one panellist suggested that we call our retired teachers, legacy teachers and look to ways in which they can still add value to an unexplored educational market space (e.g mentorship).”

Vlok stated that it was concluded that the topic should still be extensively unpacked so that learners’ education is not compromised. “It was an honour and a privilege to be part of this important debate. CPUT is engaging in pioneering work to be represented on media platforms of this stature. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to have represented the university.”

Prize-winning author Prof Brenda Flanagan says it was “an extraordinary delight” to complete her Fulbright Specialist term at CPUT.

Flanagan, a full professor in the Department of English at Davidson College in North Carolina in the United States, recently visited the Education Faculty as a Fulbright English Specialist.

Flanagan has served as a Cultural Ambassador for the United States Department of State since 2003 and has won several awards for fiction and drama in her home country.

Prof Hanlie Dippenaar, Assistant Dean: Faculty of Education, said the focus of the visit was to discuss the teaching of literature in the English courses which are part of the BEd undergraduate programmes in the Faculty of Education.

“This was an opportunity to share ideas and to benchmark the curriculum internationally. During her visit she presented several classes to undergraduate students on the Wellington and Mowbray campuses on relevant literature, addressing the agenda of political awareness and decolonisation. She accompanied colleagues in the Department of English to service-learning projects where Education students were tutoring at a correctional facility and at a children’s home and she gave valuable advice and insights.”

Flanagan also presented a special session to lecturers in the Faculty of Education during which she addressed the theoretical grounding of the teaching of literature, going beyond merely a reader-response theoretical framework, to include the essence of literary analysis.

She was the keynote speaker at the Literacy Day hosted by Joanne Arendse, librarian of Wellington, and her team at a local school in Wellington.

“During the last few days of her stay in South Africa, she joined CPUT colleagues and MEd students at the LITASA conference in Port Elizabeth (Gqerbeha) where she shared her ideas and joined colleagues across South Africa participating in discussions on literacy. Students and staff alike were in awe at Prof Flanagan’s energy and insight into the South African context and inherent challenges, especially regarding the teaching of English, which is often described as the language of the coloniser. Her impact will be felt for a long time to come by everyone who had the privilege to meet her.”

Flanagan said the students were engaging and the professors, including Sandra Swanepoel in the Math department, “were ones I’d like to have as forever colleagues”.

“I learned valuable lessons from the vital work professors like Cisca De Kock, Valencia Theys and Lizette De Jager are conducting in and outside their classrooms, and thanks to Joanne Arendse, I was able to visit a primary school to learn about the library’s activities and buy the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Nomalizo Mapasa provided warmth each cold day I came to campus. Of course, none of this would have been possible without Assistant Dean, Hanlie Dippenaar, who initiated the Fulbright proposal, provided great Indian food, and took me to Port Elizabeth ( Gqeberha). I wish all the students and faculty at CPUT and Mowbray every success and offer my gratitude for an unforgettable experience.”

Everyone can play a part in reducing greenhouse emissions and begin preparing for the adaptations due to climate change, Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, urged the guests during his annual Vice-Chancellor’s Prestigious Lecture.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Prestigious Lecture 2023 was themed: Climate Change: Implications for the Western Cape Mediterranean Climate and was held at the Bellville campus. Nhlapo said the region is on the tip of Africa and the only place in South Africa that has the Mediterranean climate “That’s now, your summers are very dry and hot, and your winters, cool, rain [and] wet”. That’s actually what a typical Mediterranean climate is about.”

He said: “We have to maintain the integrity of the biosphere…” Nhlapo said there are drastic changes in human behaviours that need to take place to avert all the ecological disasters. “So, when you talk about environment, whether you talk about the industrial development, the first, the second, the third, you have to balance that with the environment…the development should be sustainable…. It’s important that the greenhouse gases are reduced to minimal.”

Nhlapo said: “What we can do, what you can do and what everybody else can do, we have to be advocates of climate change. We have to ensure that we deal with all those anti science or contrarians to ensure that we can actually protect the climate. Here I am talking about we can ensure that the world leaders know that we are counting on them. Then we can reach out to businesses that there must be ethical, there must be a subscribed sustainable development. And then of course as a community, we can play a role in terms of addressing the issues of sustainability.”

The respondents to Nhlapo’s lecture address, Prof Guy Midgley, Acting Director: School for Climate Studies at Stellenbosch University and Prof Gina Ziervogel, Director: African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town, both hailed the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestigious Lecture and acknowledged that the battle against climate change “isn't a hopeless fight”.

Ziervogel said: “I really liked the fact that you focused on the concept of the environment and environment and sustainable development. She added that “it’s very important that local voices are heard”.