The annual Focus Conference shines a spotlight on the state of education in the country

Foreground, Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting VC and Principal, left, and Dr Whitfield Green, CHE CEO, at the conference

As has become tradition, the annual Focus Conference continued with its academic tradition of interrogating the current state of higher education, with a strong international flavour. Organised by the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), this year’s conference focused on the impact of Covid-19 on higher education, and how the universities are responding to the pandemic.

Delivering the first keynote address of the conference, Dr Whitfield Green, the Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), said decision-makers and academics had to consider the challenges that are facing the South African higher education sector with clear minds.  Dr Green emphasized how higher education’s response to Covid-19 has made inequalities in the sector very clear. Professor Green highlighted how some of the responses and solutions to the challenges caused by the pandemic were superficial and based on what was the general belief – that one decision was going to be a solution to all the problems. But that was not the case. For instance, most higher education institutions thought that providing data to students who were now supposed to study from remotely was a universal solution. They were surprised to discover that some large parts of the country did not have connectivity, and therefore the students could not use the data they were provided.

Dr Green also pointed out that some students, especially first-year students, did not know how to use computers. He explained that when they enrolled with the institutions, they believed they would have someone in front of them all the time, teaching them. All of a sudden they found themselves all alone, with no laptops, with no lecturers, but with some family members who may not have any idea what the student was doing. It became clear that the well-intended step was not yielding any positive results. One of the results of this kind of disengagement from a system was that some students got frustrated, and dropped out of the system.

This situation affected mostly students from rural areas. Professor Adam Habib, Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, agreed with Dr Green’s view and explained that the problem was global, and should be treated as such. Professor Habib, who is former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, said only solutions that consider all parts of the problem will work. Professor Habib said that there was still a necessity for the traditional mode of delivery or face-to-face teaching and learning because it enabled a connection between the student and the lecturer. Responding to MUT Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale’s suggestion that there will now be contract professors, Professor Habib said that such a way of teaching could escalate inequality.

“The students in the University of Cape Town that have a direct connection with the professor benefit, while those that the professor teaches online do not benefit in the same way,” Professor Habib said.  Professor Habib went to the extent of saying that the world was just not ready for some of the solutions that were employed while dealing with the pandemic. He said even a bold step like closing down the borders did not work. He suggested that what would have worked was giving everyone the necessary vaccine.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at MUT, Dr Manyane Makua, and Dr Green went further with the issue of the mode of delivery. They both said that packaging a lecture for the face-to-face meeting with the students should be different from doing it for online teaching. They were responding to the possibility that the quality of teaching may have been compromised by online teaching, and that this may have led to a lower quality of graduates.

Professor Habib warned that each case should be treated on its own merits; there was no one size fits all. Professor Habib was aptly supported by Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, Vice-Chancellor of the Tshwane University of Technology. Professor Maluleke warned against speaking ‘triumphantly’ about Covid-19, as if the problem was gone. He suggested that people in the sector still had to be vigilant, and had to monitor the effectiveness of the strategies they were using to teach the students.

Focus Conference proceedings to be published in the world-renowned journal

From left, Professor Monwabisi Ralarala, from the University of the Western Cape; Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting VC and Principal at MUT; and Dr Manyane Makua,  the Acting DVC: Teaching and Learning, at the conference

The Focus Conference, which is organised by the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), continues to spread its wings transforming itself into a premier teaching and learning conference.

As has become the norm, the conference gathers academics, scholars, and practitioners in the higher education sector to share their perspectives and experiences on challenges and developments in the higher education sector.

Over and above international input from international education experts, this year’s instalment of the conference will be remembered for its push towards getting the proceedings to the international community. This is not a surprise given what the conference Chair and Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at MUT, Dr Manyane Makua and Dr Phiwayinkosi Gumede, Conference Content Director and Acting Senior Director: TLDC, said last time. They said they would be pushing the bar even higher. Indeed, they did.

In his opening address, Dr Makua said “we are delighted to announce that the proceedings of the ninth Focus Conference will be published in the Atlantis Press, which is part of Springer Nature”. Dr Makua said the proceedings will be in the Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research Series of the publication. “Normal double peer review processes will be followed, and all papers will be available online, in Open Access,” Dr Makua said.

Dr Makua also informed the delegates that Springer Netherlands has approved their book proposal to publish mostly the 2021 proceedings.

Biomedical Sciences academic attends an international conference to create international networks

From left to right, Sumeera Gopal from the University of Western Cape;  Ziningi Jaya from MUT;  Vusi Madonsela Ambassador (South African –  Netherlands);   Dr Shalom Mashile, from the University of Venda; Lindelweyizizwe Manqela University of Limpopo; Ntandokazi Masimula, from the  University of Belgium.

It is fast becoming a norm for Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) staff to jet off to overseas countries to interact with colleagues for knowledge generation and knowledge sharing. Recently, an academic in the Faculty of Natural Sciences went to the Netherlands where she learnt some valuable lessons.

“To my surprise, a week after the date where awardees were meant to receive feedback about the outcome of their application, I received a letter from the department of Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), informing me that my application was successful.”  The magic letter was informing Nobuhle Jaya, a Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences,  that she would be attending the Eurosciece Open Forum (ESOF) at the University of Leiden.

Jaya was impressed by the fact that the conference was attended by researchers from Europe, America, Australia, Canada, and South Africa. This confirmed that Science knows no borders, she saidJaya said that although some of the sessions discussed concepts that were new to her, “it was clear that people across the different continents are faced with similar challenges, and all are trying to find solutions to solve the challenges”.

Jaya also noted that there was a gap between what the researchers know, and what the general public knows. She said scientists needed to be open-minded and find creative and affordable ways to communicate their research to the public.

Jaya also noted that there is politics in science. She said that science is a tool that can be used in politics. “Although scientists don’t make political decisions, politicians use their contributions to make informed decisions. The idea of integrating science careers with politics could prove very beneficial for not only the scientists and politicians but also for the public,” she said.

Delegates at the conference also discussed health and climate change. Climate change not only has an impact on the earth and space we live in but extreme weather conditions do make people in the affected areas sick and anxious. As such, mental health is also of great concern.

Jaya said the conference made her understand the necessity of international relations and collaboration in the education sector. She said she noted that nobody could survive and succeed on their own; individuals in the sector needed each other.

“Networking is important, and conferences provide the perfect environment for people to meet and discover the type of research being conducted in other countries by other researchers,” she said.

Jaya said that over and above the conference proceedings, the visit enabled delegates to network and build international relations with each other in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field.  She had the opportunity to meet with scientists who specialise in technological advancements in the laboratory, and who facilitate learning, which includes e-learning pedagogy, an area that has become important in the past two to three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The use of technology is at an advanced level at international institutions compared to our local institutions. I believe we could learn a lot from others, and improve our teaching and learning pedagogical practices; this will be of great benefit to our students,” Jaya said. “As such, it is my intention to build a relationship with those individuals to strengthen research activities in my department, as well as teaching and learning practices, particularly e-Learning pedagogical practices,” Jaya said.

From security guard to IT graduate – Sthenjwa’s journey through academia

With Sthenjwa Nene, left, are Dr Vikash Jugoo, middle, and Slindile Luthuli, Lecturer in the Department of Information Communication and Technology

Others know him as a technician from the Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N), while others know him as a Soccer coach. Marvel ‘Sthenjwa’ Nene has travelled a long journey to academic fruition.    On 11 August 2022, Sthenjwa, as he is commonly known, graduated with an IT Diploma. He studied network communication in Information Technology.

“It took me four years,” he said.

Sthenjwa, who is from Eshowe in the north of KwaZulu-Natal, said he was motivated by seeing others progressing in life, his love for computers, and his curiosity about finding out how computers work.

“I would people’s lives changing after just a few years. I saw some of these people while I was a security guard at MUT from 2001 to 2006. One of these people was Nkosana Jijimba, who was also a security guard at MUT. Jijimba is now a Business Analyst: Student Systems at MUT.

In 2007, Sthenjwa studied for CISCO certificates. He also taught himself computer hardware. At the same time, he was also the University soccer team and he guided the team to the USSA games. From 2010 to 2011, he worked as a storeman, and later as a supervisor at the DH for a year. In 2012, Sthenjwa studied N1 Electrical  Engineering at the Coastal College in Umlazi Township.

Sthenjwa is aware that IT is not a very easy area of study. He said that some of his classmates dropped out but he persevered. Sthenjwa is now assisting first-year students with their studies. He has a good relationship with the Head of the Department of Information Communication Technology, Dr Vikash Jugoo. His input has enabled students to troubleshoot, and sort out their problems.

“They can now go online and consult Google and watch videos on YouTube for solutions,” he said.

He said it was now going to be easy for him to work in IT after qualifying. Sthenjwa is a Technician at the Department of Information Technology and Networks. He is assigned to the North Campus.  He is also the MUT Soccer Academy team, which is the building block for the senior University Soccer team.

MUT visits Midlands’ underserved Umsinga to recruit students

Zama Sishi

On the bright Sunday mid-morning, while Mangosuthu University Technology (MUT) staff will be having a deserved break, some members of the MarComms teams will be leaving campus on a 231,3-kilometre journey towards the province’s Midlands. They will be heading to Umsinga, near Ladysmith.

Mbali Mkhize, the Senior Director: Marketing and Communications at MUT, said her department was aware that some parts of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal did not have learners enrolling with MUT to further their studies.

Zama Sishi, Director: Stakeholder Relations Management in the department, said what they were doing was part of the University Anchor strategy.  She added that the department was reaching out to areas which are underserved by the university because education was needed everywhere.

“We have to be creative with how we conduct our student recruitment. Circumstances are no longer allowing learners to travel long distances to attend fairs that were usual practices.  The University used to have an Open Day every year wherein learners from schools in the province and beyond would be given relevant information about the academic programmes and be encouraged to consider enrolling with MUT.  Now things have changed. This time we are taking the important message to the schools in Umsinga,” said Sishi.

The MUT team, which will include academics from various departments, will return on Monday.

Department of ICT hosts hackathons

Some students participating in the hackathon under the watchful eye of, from left,  Adhir Mungaroo, CEO of Media Technology; Dr Vikash Jugoo, HOD; Professor Roger Coopoosamy, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences; and some members of staff

The Department of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) participated in three hackathons to get students involved in practical activities that transcended the scope of their syllabus. Hackathons include workshops and a competition whereby students learn new technologies and thereafter participate in the solving of problems by competing against each other.

First-year students Hackathon, which took place from 4 to 6 August 2022, in which 120 students were involved in assembling computer components and installing computer software and drivers to ensure that the computer could perform all its functions and connect to the Internet. Workshops were conducted on 4IR technologies which included 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and students received demonstrations on augmented and virtual reality.

The Head of the Department of Information Communication and Technology, Dr Vikash Jugoo, said the hackathon was conducted by five IT graduates who are currently serving their internship with a company called Media Technology. The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Adhir Mungaroo said he was amazed to see how the IT Interns planned, set up and presented the hackathon. They worked closely with staff from MUT in the departments of ICT and the Department of Information Technology and Networks (ITN).

“This experience helped the interns to build on their confidence and helped them to develop their softer skills of communication and engagement with students,” said Mungaroo.

Third-year students in the communication networks stream were involved in a four-day Hackathon on Ethical Hacking. This hackathon took place from 15 to 18 August 2022. The third-year students were exposed to the process of detecting vulnerabilities in an organisation’s infrastructure that an attacker can exploit. The techniques that were demonstrated to prevent cyberattacks and security breaches by lawfully finding the weak points in a network. The hackathon was conducted by an external industry partner from the Africa School of Technology, with whom the Department of ICT has an MOU.

The third-year students in the software development stream were involved in a Data Science Hackathon where students were taught advanced analytic techniques to extract valuable information from large datasets, to make strategic decisions.  The use of artificial intelligence and algorithm efficiency are important techniques that are taught. This hackathon was conducted by a company called AI Fusion, which specializes in the field of Data Science.

In each of the Hackathons, the winning teams received prizes for their achievements. Students commented that the events were tough, but they enjoyed being taken out of their comfort zone where they were exposed to new technologies.

Global academic heavyweights to descend on the MUT annual Focus Conference

Press release statement

Submitted by: The Department of Marketing & Communications

Via email: Hlophe@mut.ac.za

16 August 2022

Global academic heavyweights to descend on the MUT annual Focus Conference

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) will host its annual Focus Conference to discuss the latest trends in teaching and learning in the post-Covid-19 higher education context from 17 to 19 August 2022 at Durban’s Elangeni Hotel. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Re-inventing higher education: insights, trends and lessons learnt from COVID-19’.

This year’s Focus Conference, which is organised by the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) at MUT, features prominent scholars in the world of teaching and learning, along with academic leaders who experienced the impact of Covid-19 on teaching and learning first-hand. Over 200 delegates will take part in the conference to share their academic contributions to re-inventing higher education post-Covid-19.

Dr Phiwayinkosi Gumede, acting Senior Director: TLDC, said he was confident that the conference would succeed in its mission to have academics and researchers share their research and experience on teaching and learning in a world where Covid-19 continues to shape how things are done.

“There is still a lot that we need to learn about how Covid-19 will continue to affect the higher education sector years beyond the lockdowns,” said Dr Gumede. “We are also fortunate to be joined by senior scholars in the field of teaching and learning, who will share their wisdom as we re-imagine the higher education landscape”.

Dr Whitfield Green, Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), will deliver the first keynote address on the first day of the conference.

One of the most anticipated sessions is the Vice-Chancellor’s panel discussion, which runs from 11h30 to 12h15 on Wednesday, 17 August 2022. The panellists for this session are former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand and current Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, Vice-Chancellor of the Tshwane University of Technology. The panel discussion will be chaired by MUT acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale.

On the second day, Professor Stephen J. Marshall, Director of the Centre for Academic Development at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand will deliver the second keynote address and share insights during his address. The University of Illinois’ Professor Bill Cope/Professor Mary Kalantzis will deliver the afternoon address on the second day of the conference.

The Focus Conference is a platform for academics and researchers to share knowledge and experiences on various subject matters; which include the dynamics and the complexities of the academic profession as altered by the Covid-19 pandemic,  the importance of e-learning and virtual education as a mode of learning, staff and students health matters as a result of disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to continue globalising education, and other challenges that academics experience within the profession and their possible solutions.

“Our sessions offer a variety of topics to provide a holistic understanding on the impact of Covid-19 beyond just access to teaching and learning,” said Dr Gumede. “One of the conference sub-themes will be looking at staff and students’ health in general, and mental health in particular, because most of the time the focus is on the adoption of e-learming, with less emphasis on psychosocial support”.

 

Acting VC pays tribute to women during MUT’s 2022 graduation

MUT Chair of Council, Sanelisiwe Mnyandu, standing, was referred to by the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) welcomed its first graduands after two years of virtual graduations due to the Covid-19 restrictions. On Monday, 8 August 2022, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT, Professor Marcus Ramogale, congratulated students from the Departments of Civil Engineering and Surveying, and Mechanical Engineering for being the first group to graduate in person since 2019.

“You are the lucky ones and there is a reason for the universe to grant this opportunity to you,” Professor Ramogale said.

In his speech, Professor Ramogale paid homage to women and said the University was honouring women. He said MUT was standing firm in its support for women.

“To appreciate this positionality, I wish to recognize the appointment of MUT’s first female Council Chairperson, Ms Sanelisiwe Mnyandu, who received her double qualifications from MUT not very long ago. She also represents you, as graduates of MUT in Council as a member of the executive of Convocation,” said Professor Ramogale.

Professor Ramogale also gave an update on several developments at the University. Among others, he said he was glad to announce that at its last Council sitting, MUT Council approved an Employment Equity Plan.

“This plan will enable us to be more intentional in recruiting the under-represented groups in our workplace,” he said.

Continuing by highlighting women, Professor Ramogale pointed out that the University was continuing to graduate more women.

“This year, we are seeing more women graduate than in any other year. This affirms our strategic intent to emancipate and empower the underprivileged and previously disadvantaged individuals through education,” he said.

The percentage of females graduating in 2022 is 58%, while the men’s is 42%.  A total of 1608 female and 1151 male graduands will be capped at MUT’s graduation ceremonies ending on 13 August 2022.

Professor Ramogale said that the University had always believed that education had to transform the lives of all in society.

“It is encouraging to see that women are graduating in their numbers. I am sure that these graduates will take what they have learnt and plough back to their communities,” he said.

Speaking directly to the female graduands, Professor Ramogale told them that they had made the University proud, “particularly because this is Women’s Month”. Professor Ramogale said the achievement cut across all three faculties at the University, where 990 women would l graduate from the Faculty of Management Sciences compared to 453 males, and 308 in the Faculty of Natural Sciences compared to 204 men.

“The Faculty of Engineering remains the only faculty where men lead the numbers with 494, compared to 310 women,” he said.

The statistics in the Faculty of Engineering are like those of 2021.

“I am throwing the baton back to high schools, we are here to encourage them to pay more attention to the teaching of mathematics and science to females right in high schools,” Professor Ramogale said.

MUT dedicates graduation ceremony to its Founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

HRH, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, middle, with Acting VC and Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale, fourth from left, and Professor Babatunde Bakare, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, right

On Monday, 8 August 2022, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) got its graduation off to an excellent start. The University dedicated this Faculty of Engineering graduation ceremony in honour of its Founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Prince Buthelezi, who attended the ceremony in person, used his address to inform graduands and their guests about how he founded MUT and the political environment of the time leading to the University’s founding.

“Year after year, when I was Chancellor of the University of Zululand, I heard a growing murmur of complaint. As the graduates received their certificates, they mumbled, “What good is a piece of paper, when there are no jobs to be had? The painful truth was that they were right. There were very few job opportunities, even for university graduates during the days of apartheid. Jobs were reserved for the minority and the glass ceiling at that time was made of steel. It became abundantly clear to me that unless our youth were equipped with vocation skills; skills that could immediately translate to work; the reality of joblessness would simply continue,” said Prince Buthelezi.

Prince Buthelezi added that he founded MUT at a time when the country was still coming to terms with the 1976 Soweto Uprising, and the killing of young people who took to the streets against Afrikaans being the medium of instruction.

“Although I was a loyal comrade in the ANC (African National Congress), and worked with leaders like Mr Walter Sisulu, Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo, I took an entirely different view on this matter of education,” he said. “I, therefore, urged our youth not to destroy their institutions of learning, but to value their education. I made a different call. I said: “Education for Liberation”.”

The Founder also congratulated students on their academic accomplishments and commended them for completing their studies in the face of adversity. He added that their character would be useful in taking the country forward.

“The fact that you are sitting here today, preparing to receive your degrees and diplomas, is testimony to your character in the face of adversity. It is by no means easy to accomplish what you have accomplished in completing your studies and reaching the goal. I salute every one of you, recognizing in you the persevering spirit that our country so desperately needs,” said Prince Buthelezi, to a cheering audience.

“There is no easy road to achievement without perseverance” – Professor Salim Abdool Karim, MUT graduation honouree

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, middle, accepting his award from the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Professor Roger Coopoosamy, left, the Acting VC, Professor Marcus Ramogale

World-renowned South African AIDS researcher and Clinical Epidemiologist, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, identified and shared three building blocks of his success as he addressed a graduation ceremony of Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) on Thursday, 11 August 2022. Professor Karim was speaking in response to the University having dedicated the Faculty of Natural Sciences graduation ceremony in his honour.

Professor Karim said the three things that were instrumental to achieving success were passion, excellence and perseverance (PEP). He added that the three were the subject of his speech when he was invited to the African Union’s heads of state meeting in 2015 to receive the most prestigious prize for science in Africa, the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award.

The significance of passion in what you do

Professor Karim emphasised the significance of graduates finding their passion and working hard to be successful in what they were passionate about.

“For those of you who want to succeed, find your passion, find what excites you, find what you believe in,” said Professor Karim. “Every one of you has greatness in you; find it, exploit it, and make yourself the great person you really are. Find your passion, and with that passion comes the belief you need to achieve success.”

The pursuit of excellence

Professor Karim commented on the significance of pursuing excellence in whatever graduates do in their respective careers. He said that people who want to be the best that they can be, do not steal or pretend to be someone they are not.

“Excellent people don’t need to steal, they don’t need to be corrupt, they don’t need to pretend. They know who they are. They know that they are the best. They know that in themselves they believe that they have achieved their best selves,” he said.

Professor Karim added that excellence was about being the best version of yourself and refusing to accept “mediocre”.

Success starts with the ability to persevere

Finally, Professor Karim explained to the new graduates that perseverance and success were not mutually exclusive.

“There is no easy road to achievement without perseverance. Perseverance is the ability to achieve despite obstacles, despite the challenges. I can assure you that the path to greatness comes with many challenges,” he said.

Professor Karim warned graduates that having received a qualification did not mean that it would be smooth sailing throughout.

“Achievement does not fall onto your lap. Achievement comes because you are willing to work hard. Perseverance means that you will feel, find, and live with obstacles. But you will find a way to defeat those. You will find a way around those, and you will find a way over those as you move forward,” he said.

Professor Karim concluded by sharing his experience of having to convince Gilead Sciences, Inc to give him 25 kilograms of the Tenofovir drug to be used in manufacturing the Tenofovir gel, which “showed for the first time that we could prevent the spread of HIV through sexual transmission”.

Professor Karim concluded: “We do not let others tell us that we, in Africa, cannot develop new technologies, we in Africa are second best. We will never stand for that. As I leave you with today’s message, I want you to know that the path that I have followed, is a path that is available and is right in front of every one of you, students. You have the opportunity to change the world. You just need to be brave enough to seize it.”

Professor Karim started by paying tribute to the role that the Covid-19 pandemic played in getting the public to understand the role of epidemiologists and what their job entailed.

“I can tell you that before Covid-19, when people asked me what I did, I would explain that I was an epidemiologist, and they would say, “are you a skin doctor”? Of course, an epidemiologist is not a skin doctor. An epidemiologist is somebody who studies how epidemics spread; how diseases occur, how to prevent them and how to treat them. Today as we deal with the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all too familiar with what epidemiologists do,” said Professor Karim.

Biomedical Sciences graduate receive VC Award for the Faculty of Natural Sciences

Arisha, with her parents, Chris and Kavita Sivlal

Biomedical Sciences graduate at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for being the top student in the Faculty of Natural Sciences on Thursday, 11 August 2022. Arisha Sivlal walked away with the R5, 000-prize money in recognition of her stellar performance.

“I always strive to do my best and it is a great honour to know that I have exceeded my expectations and that my achievement is being acknowledged,” she said.

Arisha explained that upon hearing the news, her parents could not wait to share the news with the rest of the family.

“My parents are my biggest motivation. They have always emphasized the importance of education to me. I want them to be proud of me. As parents they have sacrificed a lot and it is the least, I can do for them,” said Arisha.

Although her parents were elated at the news of their daughter’s academic performance, the achievement did not come as a surprise to her mother, Kavita, and father, Chris Sivlal.

“ We have always been proud of her. She was a go-getter from Grade 1. We have done this many times with her,” said Kavita.

For Arisha, the secret to her success lies in her “hard work and consistency”. She explained: “I set goals for myself for each subject and my study plan helped me with attaining those goals. It took a lot of self-motivation, determination, dedication, discipline, focus and even some sleepless nights.”

Arisha, who is from Lotus Park in Isipingo, thanked her lecturers for going above and beyond in delivering on their academic responsibilities.

“The lecturers at MUT are wonderful. They spent time after hours and on weekends lecturing and imparting their knowledge onto us. They adapted their teaching methods through a pandemic which was a learning curve for us all. I would like to thank them for everything they did over the years; we are graduating this year only because of them,” explained Arisha.

For Arisha, it all started with choosing the right place for the qualification. This is where MUT stood out for her.

“MUT offered the study programme that I wanted to enrol in. The university is located close to my residence and as a University of Technology; MUT offers career-driven programmes. The staff and students at MUT are welcoming and accommodating,” she explained.

The Head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Dr Nhlanhla Nsele, was proud of having one of his students being crowned the best in the Faculty.

“The department is honoured. This is the first time. Now it is possible. We are going to keep trying. This is the beginning. I am very excited,” said Dr Nsele.

Choosing Biomedical Sciences was not a difficult choice for Arisha. Her passion is in helping other others and Biomedical Sciences enables her to pursue this passion.

“I believe I can make a positive difference using the skills gained through my studies.”

Arisha is currently doing an internship at Neuberg Global Laboratory and will be writing Medical Technology Board Exams next. Her advice to other students is for them to find the right balance.

“Have a balance between your study life and social life. Form a study group so that you can learn from others. Don’t give up. I live by the motto ‘The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary. Work smart and do not overwhelm yourself,” she explained.

Engineering VC Award recipient credits her success to time management and family support

Teddy Ngcobo, accepting her award from Acting VC, Professor Marcus Ramogale, left, and Dr Manyane Makua, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning. Behind them are the graduation party on stage

Siphiwo Teddy Ngcobo, Diploma in Building graduate, has been awarded the 2022 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for being the best student in the Faculty of Engineering at the second Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) graduation ceremony, held on 10 August 2022.

Ngcobo, who is from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, credit her success to her ability to manage her time successfully and make time for other relaxing activities.

“Whenever I got academically strained or felt like I have studied enough for the day I would find other activities, such as playing my guitar, to relieve me from stress,” she said. “Not being afraid to ask for help and getting information to help me understand better also helped a lot.”

Although Ngcobo is today celebrated as the top student in her faculty, her journey to MUT was not in a straight line. Her father, Mhlonishwa Ngcobo, had another career in mind for his daughter.

“My father wanted me to study medicine, so I went to the University of KwaZulu-Natal to try and get enrolment. Unfortunately, they said my points were not enough to get me in. I then went to Durban University of Technology (DUT) where I was enrolled for a National Diploma in Civil Engineering,” said Ngcobo.

It was during her stint at DUT that she discovered her true calling in life. Ngcobo was destined for building.

“I got to learn that there are different careers in construction besides Civil Engineering. Civil Engineering was not my home. When I got to MUT, this (Diploma in Building) was the course which was offered to me. I fell in love with the course and understood my mission clearly,” said Ngcobo.

Ironically, it was the time she spent watching her father work on his projects that channelled Ngcobo towards a career in building despite her father wanting her to study medicine instead.

“Growing up my father has always been someone who does things for himself, especially with building activities as he was once a labourer at construction sites,” said Ngcobo.  “Assisting him made me learn a lot, such as the tools required for certain jobs and that is where I developed a love for Construction.”

While at MUT, Ngcobo took every opportunity she got to not only better herself but also help other students who needed assistance with their studies. Tutoring other students made all the difference.

Ngcobo explained: “The department of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying allowed me to tutor students for two years. That enabled me to work even harder to qualify for the position and allowed me to get used to being dedicated to what I do to allow myself to get opportunities.”

But her success formula extended beyond helping others to help herself perform better. Ngcobo had her strategy which she followed religiously. She believes that others could also learn from it. Her advice to fellow students is a combination of working smart and having the right motivation.

“Be one step ahead of the lecturer by going through the chapter which your lecturer will commence with. Repetition and practice are key as they help you to instil the knowledge. Information is not easily forgotten when you share it, so do not be afraid to share what you have understood. It will help you to automatically not forget. Do not compete with anyone but yourself and allow yourself to enjoy life,” advised Ngcobo.

Like many students, Ngcobo had many people looking up to her for exemplary behaviour and performance. Their relationship with her allowed her to share both hardships and moments of joy.

“My family, especially my mother (Nompumelelo Ngcobo), made me feel comfortable enough to talk about my wins and the hardships I was facing during my academic year,” said Ngcobo. “They would motivate me not to give up.”

Ngcobo’s father said he was very grateful for his daughter’s performance. He said his daughter made him proud.

New graduation attire takes centre stage at 2022 MUT graduation

Deans and Heads of Departments wearing the new graduation attire

The 2022 graduation ceremonies will always be remembered for being the first after the pause forced upon the University, and many other organisations, by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the University resumed celebrating this milestone in its history, and the lives of its students, what became clear was the brand new graduation attire worn by both the students and the dignitaries.

In his address to the audience, the acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), Professor Marcus Ramogale, highlighted this new development. To the graduates, he said: “You may have noted that this year, you are the first graduates to be robed in our new corporate identity. I am sure that it feels good to see that we have thought hard about how your brand matters and should be seen as equal to other universities.” What is notable with the new gowns is that the deans are dressed in black gown but their faculties’ corporate identity is highly visible. The statement is not easy to miss that they identify themselves with the faculty and even if a graduandi does not know the dean, it is easy to spot him based on associations with the faculty colours. The graduandi themselves have expressed appreciation of this identity.

Professor Ramogale appealed to the graduates to carry the University brand with dignity “and constantly remind yourselves that your national qualification is similar to all other national qualifications”. The new brand identity of the University has been cemented.

Two staff members were acknowledged for sterling leadership in MUT’s response to Covid-19

Dr Manyane Makua and Sister Nomusa Mkhwanazi

In his address at the graduation ceremonies, Professor Marcus Ramogale, acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal acknowledged the roles played by Dr Manyane Makua, acting DVC: Teaching and Learning and his team as well as Sr Nomsa Mkhwanazi who is the Covid-19 Convener at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT).

The significance of the roles played by these team leaders is that they added new responsibilities to themselves and the chosen teams to ensure that the University does not shut down during Covid-19. They and their teams needed to think out of the box and find innovative ways of how the academic year and lives could be saved. The rest is history but in the world of Prof Ramogale who is by nature a very gracious person, being always grateful is timeless, unlimited and endless.

“I wish to acknowledge the work of the Covid-19 Task Team, chaired by Sister Nomusa Mkhwanazi. Without them, we would not have saved lives. Without a lot of work on how we dealt with Covid-19 head-on, we would not be graduating this class today, some of whom were in their second year when Covid-19 started. I wish to acknowledge the contribution made in saving the academic years (2020-2021) and saving lives,” he said.

Professor Ramogale also thanked Dr Makua and his colleagues for adapting to the blended learning and platoon system.

Six Master in Nature Conservation fly the MUT flag even higher during graduation

Two of the Master’s students that graduated on 11 August 2022

This year, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has graduated six Master of Nature Conservation students during the graduation ceremonies which ran from 8 August to 13 August 2022.

Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Professor Roger Coopoosamy was ecstatic about having graduated six students as the university goes back to face-to-face graduation after two years of hosting ceremonies virtually.

“This graduation saw an improved quality of dissertations with a strong focus on research in answering problems associated with the country,” said Professor Coopoosamy. “MUT is the only university that offers the Master of Nature Conservation in the country with the PhD in Nature Conservation to be offered in the near future.”

As always, the dissertations produced by the graduates cover a wide spectrum of topics. The topics of study include: Effect of salinity on growth and physiology of Tetragonia tetragonioides (Pall.) Kuntze; Survey and documentation of medicinal plants used for treating diabetes within an urban environment: Berea Herbal Market; Investigation of the impact of climate change on Matlabas wetland in Marakele National Park, Limpopo Province, South Africa; Phytochemical screening and antibacterial activity of medicinal plants used to treat skin diseases in the Eastern Cape, South Africa; An assessment of the state of KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Belt Forest and the impact of bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) on the forest understorey in Zimbali Coastal Resort; and Study of the harvesting and sustainable practices of Aloe ferox and the resulting socio-economic implications towards harvesters from selected districts in the Steve Biko Region, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.

Professor Coopoosamy co-supervised three of the dissertations.

MUT graduation grows popular online

Making graduation more accessible to those watching from home

As MUT gets back to face-to-face graduation after two years because of Covid-19 protocols, the expectation was that the turnout would be overwhelming. No one would have guessed that the virtual ceremonies would also be just as popular. In the four ceremonies that have so far gone, the YouTube version of the ceremonies has been averaging about 4,000 viewers, with the first ceremony being the most popular with over 7,000 views. Friday and Saturday ceremonies, which are for the Faculty of Management Sciences, are expected to be the most populous ceremonies because of the volume of students graduating. The number of views is expected to grow with time, as more people watch the ceremonies. The graduation ceremonies, which started on 8 August 2022, will end on 13 August 2022.

MUT ready to host graduands and guests at the 2022 graduation– Protection Head

Protection Services members will be available to assist with information and parking

After a two-year break because of Covid-19, Mangosuthu University of Technology is now ready to welcome over 3000 students, who will be graduating in its face-to-face ceremonies, along with their parents and relatives. Graduation will start on 8 August 2022, and end on Saturday of that week. There will be no graduation ceremony on August 9, the Women’s Day holiday.

The Head of Protection at the University, Jackson Rammala, said all security agencies are ready, and will all be available for the duration of the event.

“The South African Police Service will be available to maintain law and order; the Durban Metro police will be available to provide the services required on the roads around the University; the emergency services will be available in case they are required. We have also added extra security personnel to help out with parking,” said Rammala.

Rammala said the university had all the necessary resources in place to handle 3000 students and their parents and relatives.

“This figure is nicely spread out over five days. We will be able to manage,” Rammala said.

Rammala added that Inwabi Road will only open for use exclusively by graduands and their guests between 07h00 and 09h00 every graduation day morning. Only valid ticket holders will be permitted to use the road at those times.

MUT Registrar, Dr Phumzile Masala, cautioned graduands and their parents against falling for a scam about buying graduation tickets online.

He explained: “Only individuals with tickets collected from MUT will be allowed to enter the Seme Hall,” said Dr Masala. “Don’t waste your money on ticket scams.”

MUT second semester registration draws closer to the end

Zolisa Gqamane

Second semester registration at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is almost at the end with second semester students registering in their numbers for an opportunity to continue with their studies.

Commenting on progress with registration, Deputy Registrar: Academic Affairs, Zolisa Gqamane, said he could not be more satisfied with the process. “In terms of second semester students, we are sitting at over 3650 students. We decided to extend the registration period from Friday, 5 August to Monday, 08 August 2022,” he said.

Gqamane said the extension was meant to accommodate the last group of students who might have registered within the allocated time for various reasons. He urged students who had not registered to use the last opportunity to avoid disappointment.

MUT Academic Enterprise Lekgotla provides a platform to discuss teaching and learning

Members of the departments and divisions that attended the lekgotla

Teaching and Learning at the University got a shot in the arm this week. All the academic departments, and divisions that report to the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, held a three-day lekgotla off-campus to discuss all matters that have to do with teaching and learning. The lekgotla took place from 1-3 August 2022.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, said one of the reasons for the meeting was that they wanted all the departments and divisions that contribute to teaching and learning to be up-to-date with what they were doing. He said they wanted to break down the silos and create an opportunity for colleagues to inform each other about their areas of work. To this end, the deans of the three faculties and the heads of departments made presentations on their faculties and departments’ strategic issues such as student enrolment, student success rates, quality matters, performance and challenges during the lockdown, online teaching preparedness, advances in the design of learning and teaching for online platforms, quality assurance of assessment in the past two years, programme development, state of advisory boards, programme accreditations, infrastructure challenges, staff development, and materials development.

Dr Makua said the Academic Enterprise Lekgotla provided a platform to discuss key strategic teaching and learning focus areas for 2022.

“The event came at the right time when the higher education sector is at the cusp of very dramatic developments,” said Dr Makua. “The Lekgotla was a space to reflect on these and plot our path for 2022.”

In his opening, Dr Makua advised his colleagues to ensure that the key issues that were identified in the 2011 Institutional Audit were addressed as the Institution continues its preparations for the 2022 Institutional Audit.

“The University is currently compiling the Self Evaluation Report (SER) that will be submitted to the Council on Higher Education (CHE) later in the year. The same issues were also identified in the 2022 Independent Assessor Report,” he said.

Dr Makua further cautioned that the issues of culture, if not addressed, could be picked up in the 2022 Institutional Audit; which could have an impact on the quality of MUT’s programmes, he said.

The Lekgotla also provided a platform for Directors of the Quality Management Directorate (QMD), the Library Services, Community Engagement and Development Directorate (CEAD), Research, Co-operative Education, Technology Station in Chemicals (TSC) to make presentations that allowed academic departments to find out how what they are offering relates to the academic programmes. Dr Mogasuri Moodley made a presentation on the SER and the upcoming institutional audit by the CHE. Dr Moodley urged all MUT staff members who would take part in that process to prepare for the audit adequately.

Over and above the robust engagement opportunity that the lekgotla provided, it also provided a chance for stakeholders to share their good stories, and opportunities for future collaborations.

MUT hosts the 2022 National Science Week launch

Dr Njabulo Gumede wowed the audience with his ground breaking cancer research

The last weekend of July saw the launch of the 2022 annual National Science Week. After a two-year break as a result of Covid-19, the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, requested the University to host its event. During the build-up to the event which was launched on 30 July 2022, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, welcomed the request from government departments, and said the University would make the necessary resources available so the project would be a success.

The highlights of the launch were the University’s research efforts, and a presentation by 12-year-old Nokwazi Mbhele, a grade 7 learner from Ngilosi Primary School in Umlazi Township.

The presentations on the University’s research indicated that the University was well on its way to competing with some of the best in the world in terms of research. Dr Njabulo Gumede’s presentation on his cancer research had an immediate impact. Dr Gumede said that a conversation he had with Professor Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Dr Gumede said that further talks with the CEO would discuss how NRF would assist him in reaching milestones planned between 2022-2024.

“I was also fortunate to be approached by Dr Rebecca Maserumule from Department of Science and Innovation. Dr Maserumule will connect me with the department that funds manufacturing start-ups. I have also spoken to Khamusi Mutoti, from the Medical Controls Council, to discuss Investigational new drug registration of the experimental therapeutics,” said Dr Gumede.

Dr Gumede said that before regulatory approval, the new therapeutic drug needs to be manufactured in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and at an appropriate formulation-approved site. The GMP is a system for ensuring that products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards. It is designed to minimize the risks involved in any pharmaceutical production that cannot be eliminated through testing the final product.

The audience was also captivated by the presentation by Professor Akash Anandraj, the Director of the Department of Nature Conservation’s Centre for Algal Biotechnology. Professor Anandraj listed the milestones that his centre has achieved. These include the discovery of how biodiesel and jet fuel can be generated using algae. Together with colleagues in the centre, and the department of Civil Engineering, Professor Anandraj focuses on environmentally-friendly renewable energy. They have written and published several research papers based on this theme, in world-class journals.

All the research by the MUT’s staff was described as groundbreaking by Dr Phil Mjwara, the Director-General of the Department of Science and Innovation, who represented Dr Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation at the ceremony.

Nokwazi Mbhele and her journey through artificial intelligence

Left, Nokwazi Mbhele, with her mentor, Senele Goba

Addressing a packed Seme Hall, the young Nokwazi said that she and her schoolmates felt privileged to be selected to participate in the programme.  Nokwazi said she was speaking on behalf of the four schools that are the beneficiaries of the Minister’s Special Project. These schools are Asithuthuke Combined School, Jabula Combined School and Crystal Springs Primary schools, in the Umngeni Municipality, in Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. The four schools benefited when Minister Dr Nzimande handed over 88 computers to them on 14 October 2021.

Nokwazi, an excellent speaker for her age, told the audience that the project started last year. Nokwazi said they had learned a lot during this time. They were taught computer programming.  She said Tuesdays had been turned into “very special days because they were days of fun and learning new things. We learned about computers and the different types of computers that we find around us.  I did not know that there are so many computers that we come across in our daily lives. I am talking about ATMs, tills at the shops, and even smartphones and tablets,” she said

A well-taught Nokwazi said that they learnt that computers have ‘brains’. “We learned that computers have features similar to humans. They have brains, much like human beings, but these ‘brains’ are called processors. Computers have input devices that send information to the ‘brain’, just like the senses that humans have. Of course, they are not human – I mean, they don’t have a sense of smell, yet, but who knows what we can invent in the future!” said Nokwazi.

Nokwazi said that they learned to code and create algorithms, which are step-by-step instructions to complete a task. “We learned how to find errors in our code and remove them. This is called debugging. We also learned how to shorten our code and make it work faster by using repeat statements and many other tricks in coding,” she said.

They also learned how to create stories using Scratch Junior, along with learning how robots work, how computers drive a lot of things that people use every day, and how those things work.

Still, on robots, Nokwazi said they were taught about inventions and innovation, and how to build robotic models that help people understand how things work and “models of systems that can solve problems in the world”.  They built models that ranged from parking lot systems, railway crossing systems, obstacle-avoiding cars, can-picking robots, robotic arms, automatic doors and many more, she said. They were also taught about Artificial Intelligence and how it is used to teach robots new things about the environments they are used in.

“We taught a robot that can clean the ocean, how to identify sea creatures and separate them from litter. By doing that, the robot can then remove litter from our oceans, dams and rivers,” Nokwazi said.

The young Nokwazi refuted that technology was going to take away people’s jobs. “I think with programmes like these, we are getting prepared for jobs of the future,” she said.

MUT appoints Executive Director of Institutional Advancement

Dr Connie Israel

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has appointed the Executive Director: of Institutional Advancement (IA). Dr Connie Israel started in her new position on 1 August 2022. Dr Israel said IA is a new department at MUT.

“This position seeks to consolidate an integrated approach to mechanisms that will advance the University in realising its mission, vision and goals, and to ensure a sustainable future,” Dr Israel said. IA incorporates Marketing and Communications, International Relations, Enterprise Development, and Fundraising and Development. Dr Israel described these divisions as “key pillars”.  She said there was a “dire need” to project MUT onto the international map and on the radar of potential donors, to establish a higher education environment and platform, which not only enables success and excellent performance but also brings satisfaction and sustainability.

Dr Israel said IA will engage stakeholders who are all partners in the academic enterprise, of which students are the core. These include Council and Executive Management, academics and researchers, alumni, government, community, donors (foundations, trusts, individuals) and the private sector.

“All have a potential role to play in contributing to the success of the higher education enterprise in South Africa, and specifically here, at MUT,” Dr Israel said.

Dr Israel, an academic by background, last worked at the Durban University of Technology. She also worked at the University of Zululand and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Now she is back at MUT after a 15 years hiatus.

Dr Israel served MUT as Head of the Department of Communication and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences. Dr Israel said she was looking forward “to bringing my resources and experience to bear here. Every experience is an opportunity to grow…oneself and others,” she concluded.

Student Counselling Director contributes to African scholarship

Dr Paulette Naidoo

Dr Paulette Naidoo, Director of the Student Counselling unit in the Department of Student Affairs at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), and recipient of the USAf/ Helm Women in Leadership Fellowship was overjoyed at her recent publication in the South African Journal of Higher Education. Dr Naidoo’s paper, entitled “Future-proofing imperatives for remote online teaching, learning and student support in the context of pandemic change and beyond: A case for South African higher education transformation”, was co-authored with her former colleague from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Diane Van Staden.

The paper tackles the complexities around transformation in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, with particular reference to how teaching, learning and student support had to adapt to ensure academic continuity and student support. The paper furthermore highlights the importance of taking students’ psycho-social contexts into account in the pursuit of transformative endeavours, as the success of higher education transformative practices hinges on these being compatible and responsive to student realities on the ground. In particular, issues of socio-economic status, living environment and conditions (rural and remote), as well as access to technology resources, are considered, with a focus on how these factors have the potential to promote or hinder, student success and well-being.  The paper concludes with a sobering acknowledgement that while blended teaching and learning may have been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, a hybrid approach to academic and student support has essentially become the norm in an increasingly unstable and evolving world. As such, it becomes imperative for higher education institutions to earnestly prioritize future-proofing academic and support service initiatives in ways that ensure student participation is maximized, and not compromised.

Dr Naidoo stated that her engagement with South African women leaders and academics in the USAf/HELM Women in Leadership program has been inspiring, and motivated her to make a meaningful and sustained contribution to African scholarship. She added that she felt privileged and honoured to be able to practice and write about her passions, which are student support and success in South African Higher Education.  Dr Naidoo acknowledged MUT for its role in supporting her and enabling her to wear both the practitioner and scholar hats, and that she was looking forward to ongoing research output that would showcase MUT as an institution of excellence, on par with other institutions of higher learning.

SAICE leadership visits Civil Engineering at MUT

SAICE leadership, and MUT staff and student. Second from right are Nthabeleng Lentsoane,  Asiphe Memela, and Professor Marianne Vanderschuren

Civil Engineering students at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) have a massive chance to benefit from the efforts of the national professional body called South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE). On 1 August 2022, the University’s Civil Engineering students attended a presentation by SAICE President, Marianne Vanderschuren, a Professor in Transport Planning and Engineering, and Deputy Dean: Social Representativeness and Transformation at the University of Cape Town.

In her presentation, Professor Vanderschuren, who is also the President of SAICE, told the MUT and DUT SAICE student leadership about the benefits of being part of the SAICE. She said SAICE members get a chance to share useful information that contributes to their professional growth.  Some of these, as per the body’s website, are CPD courses for all civil engineering divisions. These courses were reviewed, endorsed, and accredited by recognised experts and civil engineering practitioners, thereby offering technically sound and approved training.

Members of organisations also get an opportunity to network with each other. Explained further, the website states: “Increase your professional profile by engaging in our branches, divisions, committees, panels and chapters, and by participating in our events. This is your opportunity to network with clients, government officials, civil engineering executives and fellow engineers.” The website further says that the membership immediately allows members entry into an extended network of like-minded professionals – where they can market their professional services and initiate other commercial and social initiatives.

Professor Vanderschuren emphasized the importance of having enough knowledge of the Excel software that assists users to organise their work. She also stressed the need for the necessary behaviour in the profession. She said members of the profession must be ethical. Together with Professor Vanderschuren, Nthabeleng Lentsoane, SAICE’s Head of Marketing and Public Relations, referred the students to the website, which is www.saice.org.za for more information.

Asiphe Memela, the student Chair of MUT SAICE, said they were grateful for the visit and that they learnt a lot from it.

Said Memela: “This SAICE presidential address provided us with an opportunity to learn many more things, which gave us the confidence to attend further events. Receiving inspiring feedback from the students who attended motivated me as a student leader to do better and create more opportunities such as these for students in my institution so they can also benefit as I do, so we can all feel whole professionally.”

MUT Student Affairs units itching to move into the new Student Centre

Student Affairs staff and SRC members at the Student Centre

Infrastructure development at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is positively affecting staff and students as new projects are near completion. This week and a couple of weeks prior, members of the Sports department and Student Affairs department could not contain their excitement when they took a tour of the more than 80% finished Student Centre. The Sports department went to check the gym space, while the Student Affairs department went to check their offices.

Leading the team into most of the offices, under the watchful eye of one of the engineers, Dr Mthoko Ntuli, the Student Development Officer at MUT, laid a big claim on one of the open spaces, which unfortunately is likely to be allocated to someone else. He eventually found ‘his’, and was very happy to pose for a picture in the centre of it. All the members of the Student Affairs department also made their choices, which may not come to pass. Members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) also made their choices. Both departments cannot wait to relocate.

The Deputy Director of Sports, Siyabulela Mkwalo said: “The massive space allocated to the Sport and Recreation Unit creates an avenue for development, growth and excellence. The gym will require some investment in equipment that will make it suitable for the planned High-Performance sports programmes contained in the recently Council-approved Sport Strategic Plan.

“The allocated floor spaces in this new building will offer a wide range of sporting programmes that will encompass the promotion of healthy living, recreational activity, sporting competitiveness, and wellness for the entire university community,” Mkwalo said.

MUT adds two new cars to its fleet

MUT Transport Manager, Khehla Ndlovu, with a Toyota dealer salesman in front of a brand new minibus

The University has bought two vehicles to add to its fleet. Khehla Ndlovu, Transport Manager, said they bought the two cars to meet the needs of both staff and students.

“We bought two big cars for the following reasons: the seven-seater is for when staff needed to be transported. This is the middle ground between the much larger vehicles and the five-seater. This car has a much bigger boot space. It is ideal for travelling long distances. The minibus is mainly for the students that are wheelchair-bound. However, it can also take six passengers, plus the driver. It is a versatile car,” said Ndlovu.

Ndlovu also said that the cars would be delivered to the University when they are branded. “We need to have them branded for both marketing and security reasons. Concerning the minibus, we are waiting for the installation of the hydraulic step for the wheelchairs. That should happen in a short while,” said Ndlovu.

Ndlovu also thanked staff for using the University fleet with care and appealed to them to be even more careful as there are problems they face because of some staff members not treating the cars with care.

MUT to host the National Science Week launch and webinar

Press release statement

For immediate release: 28 July 2022

Submitted by: The Department of Marketing & Communications

Via email: Hlophe@mut.ac.za

 

MUT to host the National Science Week launch and webinar

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) will host the launch of this year’s National Science Week (NSW) and a webinar to celebrate the role of women scientists as part of the build-up to the NSW, which runs on 1-6 August 2022. The launch of the NSW will take place on Saturday, 30 July 2022, at the University’s iconic Pixley kaIsaka Seme Hall from 08h00 in the morning.

“We are honoured that MUT has been chosen to host the launch of the National Science Week. The NSW is about bringing science to the people. As the only South African university solely based in the township, bringing the launch of the NSW to MUT is part of efforts to widen access to sciences to the broader South African society,” said Dr Manyane Makua, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at MUT.

The NSW webinar, on the other hand, will be held on Friday, 29 July 2022 at Hall 7 at MUT’s North Campus. The webinar, which is titled: “The untold story of women scientists in MZANSI”, will start at 11h00 and will also be available to participants who wish to join the conversation virtually through Zoom.

The webinar is intended to celebrate women in the sciences and highlight some of the challenges they encountered in their various career trajectories.

The webinar is hosted in honour of all women in science, who have defied all the odds, from science being male-dominated to societal expectations of what women should and should not do. The webinar will also explore the role of professional development societies and organizations in advancing women in STEM, careers in the post-pandemic era and issues of Gender-based violence.

The webinar will be hosted by Xolile Ngubane of the Technology Station in Chemicals at MUT. It will feature three speakers who are in various stages in their journeys through their careers in science.

The first speaker is Professor Zilungile Mkhize-Kwitshana, Associate Professor: Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN). Professor Mkhize-Kwitshana is a C-3 National Research Foundation-rated scientist and former Head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at MUT. Miranda Mpaka-Mbatha, Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at MUT, is the second speaker. Mpaka-Mbatha is the 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Best Emerging Teacher Award recipient. She was recently awarded an international scholarship to read for a doctorate with the University College of London. The last speaker, Zakithi Mkhize is a doctoral candidate in the HIV Pathogenesis Programme at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, UKZN. Mkhize is also an avid science communicator and youth STEM activist. Through her YouTube channel BlackGirlScientist, Mkhize shares her journey through science to help others to navigate the field.

Follow the link for more on the NSW focus programme.                                                                                                                                                                   Ends