Dis­sect­ing is­sues re­lated to African­is­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion

The Mercury - - TERTIARY TIMES -

AF­TER the suc­cess of its 2016 Teach­ing and Learn­ing Con­fer­ence, the Univer­sity of Zu­l­u­land (UNIZULU) once again held this sig­nif­i­cant con­fer­ence with a fo­cus on African­i­sa­tion of Teach­ing and Learn­ing: Creativ­ity, In­no­va­tion, In­ven­tion, In­for­ma­tion andCom­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nolo­gies and Stu­dent Par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The con­fer­ence, held over three days, ac­knowl­edged the crit­i­cal im­por­tance of na­tional de­bates on african­i­sa­tion and de­coloni­sa­tion of higher ed­u­ca­tion. The de­bate has been sig­nif­i­cant and rel­e­vant since the 2015 #feesmustfall move­ment.

Pre­sen­ters at the con­fer­ence framed and fo­cused their pre­sen­ta­tions in high­light of UNIZULU’s his­tor­i­cally and pre­dom­i­nantly dis­ad­van­taged back­ground. Dr Yas­min Rug­beer, the Direc­tor in the Vice-chan­cel­lor’s of­fice at UNIZULU, gave an open­ing ad­dress on be­half of the Vice-chan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor Xoliswa Mtose. Rug­beer said the Univer­sity has made sig­nif­i­cant strides in re­al­is­ing its vi­sion of be­com­ing a lead­ing com­pre­hen­sive univer­sity pro­vid­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and wishes to cast its at­ten­tion on cur­ricu­lum trans­for­ma­tion within the African con­text.

“African­i­sa­tion is seen as an ap­proach of sur­pass­ing in­di­vid­ual iden­ti­ties in a quest for co­he­sion as well as a way of ac­knowl­edg­ing and ac­cept­ing ‘oth­er­ness’. African­i­sa­tion can be un­der­stood as the adap­ta­tion of the sub­ject mat­ter with teach­ing meth­ods geared to the phys­i­cal and cul­tural re­al­i­ties of the cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment. By do­ing this, we might be able to form an as­so­ci­a­tion with the broader African ex­pe­ri­ence and this would as­sist us in the de­sign­ing cur­ric­u­lar that knit us to­gether. The in­sti­tu­tion will now fo­cus on cur­ricu­lum trans­for­ma­tion within the African con­text. We need to de­velop mean­ing­ful cur­ric­u­lar,” said Dr Rug­beer.

Sibu­siso Mchunu, the Dean of Stu­dents at the Univer­sity, spoke about the ad­van­tages of a co-cur­ric­u­lar pro­gramme for stu­dents, say­ing that stu­dents are part­ners in the learn­ing process and they don’t en­rol into higher ed­u­ca­tion for aca­demics only.

“Learn­ing is not merely an aca­demic pur­suit. The whole univer­sity en­vi­ron­ment should be a learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment. The great­est im­pact ap­pears to stem from re­in­forc­ing aca­demic in­ter­per­sonal in­volve­ment that is rel­e­vant to the par­tic­u­lar ed­u­ca­tional out­come,” he said.

Pro­fes­sor Sandile Songca, Deputy Vice-chan­cel­lor in­vited aca­demics to ini­ti­ate ac­tiv­i­ties that will re­flect on their teach­ing.

“We can’t take our teach­ing for granted as if it is busi­ness as usual. It is a space for in­no­va­tion. We need to start do­ing things bet­ter and dif­fer­ently. Stu­dents also need to come for­ward and take part in their learn­ing,” he said. THE Univer­sity of Zu­l­u­land (UNIZULU) hosted a sym­po­sium on dis­abil­i­ties in an ef­fort to em­power and in­spire its stu­dents liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties.

The sym­po­sium was or­gan­ised by the UNIZULU Stu­dent Ser­vices Depart­ment (SSD) un­der the theme, Ac­cess and Suc­cess for All, in keep­ing with the Univer­sity’s val­ues on the pro­mo­tion of di­ver­sity as well as its com­mit­ment to cre­at­ing equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for all stu­dents.

Both abled and dis­abled stu­dents formed part of the con­ver­sa­tion. Sibu­siso Mchunu, UNIZULU’s Dean of Stu­dents, pointed out that the South African Con­sti­tu­tion stip­u­lates that all cit­i­zens should be re­spected re­gard­less of colour, race, so­cial sta­tus or back­ground, adding that the num­ber of stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties has hugely in­creased at the Univer­sity.

“One has to ac­knowl­edge the fact that the in­sti­tu­tion lags be­hind when it comes to ac­com­mo­dat­ing stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties. How­ever, we walk this road as we build it and we can­not be per­fect at this stage. The fact of the mat­ter is that we have started and will get there soon with the ef­forts from dif­fer­ent col­leagues and sec­tions within the in­sti­tu­tion. That means that we are re­ally com­mit­ted to see­ing that stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties are ac­com­mo­dated at this Univer­sity,” said Mchunu.

Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of In­sti­tu­tional Plan­ning, Nh­lanhla Cele, said that all stu­dents, re­gard­less of their abil­ity, should have a sense of be­long­ing at the Univer­sity.

“Stu­dents, as well as mem­bers of staff with chal­lenges, should be per­ceived as peo­ple in the world not as peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. We should deal with is­sues of dis­crim­i­na­tion as part of in­sti­tu­tional cul­ture and also ed­u­cate the en­tire univer­sity com­mu­nity about such is­sues,” he said.

Dr An­lia Pretorius from the Dis­abil­ity Rights Unit at Wits Univer­sity said sev­eral South African uni­ver­si­ties still have a long way to go in im­prov­ing ac­cess for stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties.

“Hav­ing said that, it’s im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge that South Africa has come a long way and that more and more stu­dents are find­ing it a pos­si­bil­ity to go and fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion. It’s im­por­tant to en­sure that stu­dents are not only sup­ported with their for­mal univer­sity or in­sti­tu­tional pro­gramme, but also in so­cial and sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. We still find it very dif­fi­cult to man­age with that be­cause peo­ple are just not ‘think­ing dis­abil­ity’ and it’s im­por­tant to see dis­abil­ity as part of trans­for­ma­tion,” she said.

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