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An academic in the Faculty of Education, Prof Hanlie Dippenaar, is one of the editors of a recently launched book while Jacqui Scheepers, Manager: Service-Learning and Civic Engagement is one of the authors.

Another lecturer, Dr Rolene Liebenberg, a very experienced community engagement pioneer in the institution, is author of a chapter on “The transformative pedagogical potential of preservice teacher professional learning communities embedded in a mathematics service-learning course”.

The book is titled: Community Engagement Research in South Africa – Methods, Theories, Histories and Practice.

It is published by Van Schaik Publishers and emphasises the importance of community engagement in Higher Education.

“It showcases the value of partnering with communities, including community engagement and service-learning initiatives in the curriculum. It foregrounds students and academics as change agents in higher education,” said Dippenaar.

Dippenaar, who also authored a chapter in the book (“Collaboration embedded in service-learning through the lenses of a network of activity systems and a Change laboratory”), has been involved in Community Engagement and Service-learning since 2004, as a lecturer at the University of Pretoria (UP).

“When I joined CPUT in 2012, I continued this journey under the leadership of Mrs Jacqui Scheepers. Prof Irma Eloff, Dean of the Faculty of Education at UP at the time I was there, is one of the editors of the book, and invited me onto the project.”

She said the project was a lengthy one which took several years to complete, especially when the Covid-19 pandemic slowed things down.

“The authors who participated, however, are all experts in their fields and it was a privilege to work with them. Prof Elize van Eeden (editor) and Prof Irma Eloff are both experienced academics and I learned much from their leadership and guidance. We were all very passionate about the project as community engagement is an essential part of higher education and enhances the professional development of our students and lecturers,” Dippenaar said.

She added that working with colleagues collaboratively in community projects is very rewarding as it develops critical thinking, problem-solving and social responsibility.

“When we partner with our communities and learn from their skills and expertise, we prepare our students for a better society”. The cross-disciplinary engagement with community partnership has potential to provide a holistic view of education for students. Several chapters in this publication showcases examples of collaborative research.

At the book launch held at North West University, Beatrix Bouwman, former chairperson of the South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum (SAHECEF), said universities can contribute to community development by applying the basic principles of community engagement such as engaged research that is relevant and addressing community needs, and by engaged teaching and learning such as service-learning.

“I am confident that the scholarly contributions that the book brings, will impact this field of studies and those who are serious about its development in South Africa, Africa and beyond.”

Scheepers said her units strive to support the scholarship of engagement, which benefits students, staff and external university partners.

“As one of the authors, I want to express my gratitude for being able to contribute to this book, and am proud that one of our own, Prof. Hanlie Dippenaar, is one of the editors. We will continue to celebrate the engaged research achievements of CPUT as we grow our research footprint for SL and CE.”

Dippenaar said all their community engagement initiatives at CPUT are guided by Scheepers and the Centre for Community Engagement and Work Integrated Learning.

“They support us in all our projects, which was difficult during Covid. However, when we read the reflections and final reports by our students, we see the difference it made in their lives and how much they learned. The chapter I wrote in the book reflects some of our projects and was written in collaboration with Prof Marianne Teras from Stockholm University and Prof Eloff from UP. “

She said the project had been “most rewarding” and will contribute to the scholarship of service-learning and community engagement in Higher Education.

“I would like to thank all the authors for sharing their research and my co-editors for the privilege of working with them. I would also like to thank my Dean and colleagues from the Faculty of Education for opportunities to implement CE in our curriculum and look forward to taking this further in our new projects with colleagues and communities in and around CPUT as well as collaborating with partners overseas in a new project in India.”

What started as a favourite pet name inspired a CPUT staff member to enroll towards a doctoral degree. Senior caretaker at Mowbray Campus, Nyaniso Zonke (50), defied hardships to register for the DTech degree in Public Management.

In 2016 Zonke registered for the D-Tech degree but unfortunate circumstances forced him to deregister in 2017. He reregistered in 2019 but the Covid-19 pandemic and its accompanying lockdowns came about in 2020 and he could not collect data for his research and deregistered again.

“When l was growing up my parents use to call me Doctor and l knew when they use that name l would get tea. So that's why l am interested in becoming an official Dr to reclaim what my parents have been saying,” says Zonke.

Born in a remote village in rural Centane, Eastern Cape, Zonke was not born jn hospital. “My mother could not reach hospital,” he says. He adds that a nearby home was used to deliver him instead. He is a member of a family of ten children. “l come after twins, l still have both parents who depend on me for everything,” he says.

He passed matric in 1992 with exemption at Ncedisizwe Senior Secondary School in Centane. “I had to travel an hour on foot to and from school,” remembers Zonke.

“I was motivated by the need to put bread on the table for my family, in order to do that l needed education,” he continues. He then worked as a security guard but his monthly income of R1 500 did not meet his home’s needs. “One day l decided to the quit security job wherein l was paid R1500. 00.I could not take it anymore and decided to take my monthly salary to pay my school fees,”. One other aspect that motivated Zonke to further his studies is that he hoped that one day something better would come his way and get a better salary as he was the only one working at his home.

“I grew up in an area where education was not a matter of interest and that kept me focused and wanted to make a difference,” murmurs Zonke. “My parents were always telling me to study, so they are my pillar of strength. Suffering is what makes me continue.”

He enrolled towards a Diploma in Public Management at CPUT in 2009 and proceeded to a B-Tec degree in Public Management in 2012. Forced him to deregister in 2017. In 2013 Zonke did an M-Tech in Public Management and in 2016 he registered fora D-Tech degree but unfortunate circumstances.

“In 2019, l again registered but Covid-19 came in 2020 and [I]could not collect data from my research” area and had to deregister again, until now which l will register next year,” he said.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

CPUT and iThemba LABS join forces

In an effort to enhance student training, research development, and technical support to the Faculties of Engineering and the Built Environment, Applied Sciences and others, CPUT’s representatives are engaging with their iThemba LABS counterparts.

At the meeting held on the Bellville Campus recently, Faculty of Applied Sciences and the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment presented their research endeavours. Manager Research Uptake: Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships (SIP), Dr Nelisiwe Maleka, states that the purpose of the meeting was to improve training collaboration between iThemba LABS and CPUT. Maleka says the two parties “seek to explore and consolidate possible areas of research collaboration and training opportunities”.

She adds that the partnership will create opportunities for joint teaching, joint supervision, future development of diploma qualification in Physics, funding opportunities through a scholarship for postgraduate students, and international exposure for students through student practice.

SIP Director, Prof Judy Peter who chaired the meeting, says: “The expansion of the partnership with iThemba Labs is aligned with CPUT’s vision and commitment to collaboration and knowledge exchange with industry, society and the public sector.” While iThemba LABS Deputy Director, Dr Rudzani   Nemutudi, says that the focus was on current and prospective training opportunities under the Southern African Institute of Nuclear Technology and Sciences) training and that most of the Chemical Technologies working at iThemba LABS are from CPUT. Nemutudi emphasises the importance of pulling and sharing resources and that there’s a need for postgraduate students to attend courses.

There were some areas of collaboration which were explored during the engagement, including joint funding opportunities for postgraduate students who have to be linked with iThemba LABS while remaining registered full-time students at CPUT.  This also includes research and development technical support, software engineering, software engineers/developers, information technology and many more.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

VC lauds Research Week in France

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo who recently led the CPUT delegation on their visit to the University of Montpellier, has applauded the, “highly successful South African Higher Education and Research week in France”.

The CPUT delegation of eight included Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, Dr David Phaho,  Faculty of Applied Sciences Dean, Prof Joseph Kioko,  Head of Department: Food Technology, Prof Jessy Van Wyk, researcher at the Centre for Water and Sanitation Research,  Prof Bongani Ncube, Assistant Dean: Faculty of Engineering and  the Built Environment, Professor Veruscha Fester, Dean: Faculty of Engineering and  the Built Environment, Marshall Sheldon, and Busiswa Luqhide,  Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator in the  Office of the Vice-Chancellor.

CPUT was invited to attend the event by the French Embassy in South Africa in collaboration with South African Embassy in France and National Research Foundation (NRF). The purpose of the event was to reinforce the mutual understanding and knowledge of France respective academic landscapes and hence achieve the objective of expanding the bilateral scientific and academic cooperation to South African universities.

The CPUT delegation met the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and several engagements with various universities on diverse topics of collaborations and partnerships namely, Science Po, Toulouse University, University of Paris Saclay, University Paris-Est Creteil, University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and University of Montpellier.

In an interview at Montpellier with Ecom News, about the exchanges between the University of Montpellier and South African universities, Nhlapo said: “We are involved in satellite missions, so we have launched a number of satellites with them in space and we also had a number of staff and students’ exchanges.”

Reflecting on the benefit for CPUT, Nhlapo said: “It’s an opportunity for international exposure for our students, actually, if you look at the F’SATI or the French South African Institute of Technology, it has been there for more than 25 years, there are a lot of projects and we are looking at the sustainability of the model because the model works”.

Nhlapo said all delegations from 23 South African Universities and more than 40 French higher education and research institutions “benefitted immensely”.

During this visit, the Vice-Chancellor was also impressed by the annual Montpellier Sustainability Global Day. “The Scientific workshop and panel discussions on various topics related to sustainability was world-class and very high level. This was organised in partnership with University of Montpellier, CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), IRD (Institute of Research for Development) and CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement).

Nhlapo was highly impressed by the conference in Brussels between European Union (EU) and Africa aptly themed: Imagining a new Euro-African scientific partnership.  He said this was organised by the CNRS and the IRD in the framework of the French Presidency of the European Union Council.

“I would also like to thank the NRF for funding this visit, the South African Ambassador in France and the French Ambassador in South Africa for making this once in a lifetime experience possible.” Nhlapo adds.

Maritime Studies Department successfully hosted Erasmus + Marine Education and Training (MET) hybrid symposium at Granger Bay Campus, recently.

The purpose of the event was to disseminate the project, The European Commission’s 2020 Erasmus+ programme guide which defines dissemination as “a planned process of providing information on results and initiatives to key actors”. CPUT’s work package was to ensure this was done.

Senior maritime instructor and manager at Survival Centre, Samantha Montes who facilitated the event, said the symposium was held to share the results of the work packages. “Long-term project vision is the offering of unique personal and professional development, mobility and partnership opportunities for staff and students between the six institutions with the project objectives aligning maritime education and curriculum standards to enable and facilitate student and staff exchange.

“Increase the pool of globally competitive and highly marketable seafarers, efficient and high-quality training geared for the 21st century (in time and economy),” said Montes.

The project had three main focus areas, namely:

  • Curriculum evaluation
  • Pedagogical processes
  • Facilities and resources

The results of the research into the above focus areas were shared at the event with industry stakeholders and other interested parties. The seminar allowed introductions from the six universities in the Euro-ZA: Capacity Building in the Field of Maritime Education which included,  CPUT, Durban University of Technology, Hochschule Wismar University of Applied Sciences Technology Business and Design, Germany, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

The programme culminated with two open round table discussions, facilitated by Colleen Jacka, managing editor of Maritime Review Africa.

The topics of the first-round table discussion were ‘project challenges and how they were overcome, lessons learnt and how they will be applied, and how each university benefit from the project’. The topic of the second-round table discussion was ‘what does the industry (as potential employers) want to see from academic graduates?

“We often throw around the concept of collaboration in the maritime sector, but three local tertiary institutions have truly embodied the concept over the last few years working with three international maritime training institutions to put the student first and create world-class training centred around the needs of the student and industry,”  enthused Jacka.

Montes, who heads up the CPUT team acknowledged the hard work of the previous CPUT Erasmus + team members, Prof Edward Snyders, Douglas Dyers, Vanisha Harry, Dr Derek Lambert, Captain Natasha Fowkes.

Reflecting on the project, Montes said: “The project has contributed to improving the quality of higher education and enhancing its relevance for student employability.” She said the programme has contributed to the level of competencies and skills of students through the transfer of best practices in curriculum evaluation, pedagogical processes, facilities and resources. 

Montes said the funding received assisted in increasing the capacities of South African partners to modernise their higher education systems to the benefit of the students with the minimum required technology for the training of seafarers in the form of upgraded simulators and computer equipment.

The Student Affairs Division and Services (DSA) will be running the #WiseUp Healthy living campaign from 19 July to 5 August.

Head of Department: Student Counselling, Leanie Brits, says the mandate of DSA is to educate and support students’ adjustment, development and wellness outside of the classroom, through its various service portfolios.  “We strive to create opportunities for engagement and education to empower our students to grow. The prolonged lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an increase in psychosocial challenges for students.

“The pandemic challenged people’s ability to be resilient and placed great strain on people’s general coping strategies,” says Brits.

The #WiseUp Healthy Living campaign emanated from the need to empower the CPUT community with information, tools and resources on how to maintain the fundamental principles of a healthy body and mind.  “It also seeks to promote wellness, mental health, and amongst others, focus on depression and suicide awareness, substance use and abuse and gender-based violence (GBV) awareness,” emphasises Brits.

She adds that the campaign is supported by CPUT’s external partners, the Department of Social Development, National Institute Community Development and Management, Department of Health, that will be exhibiting on campus on the 19th and 20th of July. The Department of Student Counselling and Campus Health clinic will also be exhibiting on these days.

Students are encouraged to attend the exhibitions’ stalls, and the various activities that will run during the campaign. The organisers anticipate that more than 500 students will participate in the on-campus events that will run during this period. The campaign has to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and therefore certain activities will be limited per number of attendees, to comply with venue capacity restrictions. The drama performance and exhibitions are open air/outside events, these activities will be regulated but limited.

The target audience are all CPUT students, especially students who seek to empower themselves with knowledge and those who want to learn how to live and maintain a healthy life. “This campaign gives students the opportunity to learn the facts about general strategies to maintain wellness and mental health, substance use and abuse, depression and suicide, and GBV,” summarises Brits.

She also states that the wellness and mental health should be a daily priority and that without proper self-care, one might find it difficult to focus on one’s academics and may even notice social and emotional problems such as depression, low motivation, isolation, high levels of stress and inability to deal with pressure.

“Students may end up engaging in unhealthy coping strategies such as increased alcohol use, unhealthy eating and sleeping habits etc. We are holistic beings and wellness, and mental health cannot be separated from our work and academics. We encourage the CPUT community to #BeWise and equip themselves with the knowledge to live healthily,” adds Brits.

To view the line-up, click this link:

Financial constraints nearly frustrated him out of the doctoral degree programme, “Glory be to the almighty God for open door of opportunity to be a recipient of Vice-chancellor Prestigious Achievers Award twice”.

Here Dr Imisioluseyi Julius Akinyede shares his story.

Akinyede was born in a polygamous family  in Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State of Nigeria to the family of Akinyede-Asamo dynasty. In 2013 he registered for MTech in Construction Management at CPUT and graduated in 2015, and then he worked as a project manager from 2015 to 2016. Akinyede commenced his DEng degree in 2016. His work experience manifested in the research he conducted on affordable sustainable housing delivery and his role as a research assistant, mentor and as a lecturer helped him “tremendously with research outcome”.

His mother, Felicia Akinyede, a trader made Akinyede to understand that road map to success is through education, and she encourage him towards achieving his set target in education morally and financially. The major factor that helped him to get to the present position is his endurance and perseverance “through God guidance.

“And I always set a target for myself and focus on the achievement.”

Akinyede received the Vice-Chancellor Prestigious Achievers Award in the year 2019 and 2020.  “It helped me greatly to complete my doctorate degree within the record time as scheduled by the university. I was a debtor to the university, and registration became difficult for me as a result of the debt I owed the school [CPUT]”. Immediately I received this award, thereafter, I was able to register in the year 2019 and 2020, respectively.”

“The Vice-Chancellor Prestigious Achievers Award impacted my career and life significantly. I was on the verge of dropping out from the school because of financial challenges, but the monetary value attached with the award helped me to pay the fees and accommodation expenses.”

The Construction Management and Quantity Surveying Lecturer, Akinyede passed his master’s degree at CPUT with Distinction. During the master’s degree programme, he presented and published nine conference papers accredited by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) for subsidies. His excellent work manifested in his doctoral degree programme, consequently, Akinyede published an article in an international journal accredited by DHET and presented five conference papers at local and international level. His thesis focussed on affordable housing delivery, based on challenge of affordability and availability of housing in South Africa.

Reflecting on the support he received from CPUT staff during his studies, Akinyede says: “My departmental staff are virtuous people, ready to assist at all time, the love and kindness shown to me by academic staff of the Department of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying during this study was wonderful and appreciated.”

Akinyede also pays tribute to the Vice-Chancellor and the awards’ committee. He acknowledged the support of the Vice-Chancellor for skill development at CPUT. “I am one of the beneficiaries. The formation of the Vice-Chancellor Prestigious Achievers Award is a good initiative by the CPUT management team. My appreciation goes to the award committee for nominating me as one of the recipients.”

“I will forever be grateful to the Vice-Chancellor and the awards’ committee for the financial value attached to the award. Furthermore, I appreciate the Vice-Chancellor for the letter he sent to me on my graduation. I am willing to continue my academic career at CPUT in reference to the content of letter sent to me by the VC to join group of talented academics at CPUT.”