MUT awards top performing schools in Umlazi

Zama, right, receiving some gift vouchers from GEM's MD, Idris Pandor
Zama, right, receiving some gift vouchers from GEM’s MD, Idris Pandor

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is once again hosting the annual Circle of Excellence Awards (CoE) today to honour local schools that performed exceptionally in 2018 Grade 12 examinations. The event is also meant to encourage other schools to improve their results and join their counterparts in achieving excellent results.

The CoE is a brainchild of MUT, working with the leadership of the Department of Education’s Umlazi District. MUT Stakeholder Relations Director, Zama Sishi, said the University was mindful of the role that the district director, leadership at district level, principals, teachers and even parents play in the success of these high schools.

“The time has now come for MUT to assist in the revitalisation of Umlazi Township, that is why in 2019 the CoE will be held at Umlazi Comtech High to symbolise our desire to work with the people of Umlazi. We see our relationship with the schools as a gateway towards this advancement of Umlazi. Together we have an obligation to empower learners to become global citizens who will recognise the necessity to embrace diversity and equality. The COE provides a platform for all of us as stakeholders to become astute and serve Umlazi to the best of our abilities,” said Sishi.

Now in its sixth year, the CoE has expanded its area of focus to include Accounting, English, Mathematics and Physical Science in order to accommodate more learners and schools in the area.

“Having celebrated excellence at Umlazi high schools over the past five years, we are heartened to see that our neighbouring high schools have changed learners from ordinary to extraordinary. Inspired by the COE, some schools have worked their way to the top, while those at the summit have been able to hold on to their positions. That is very nice to see,” said Sishi.

It is worth noting that the big push by its neighbours has not dislodged Menzi High School from its top spot, even after the sad passing of its revered Principal, Felix Mshololo. His management style has ensured that Menzi High continues to excel. This school has done even better by helping other schools to perform better. Sishi said that such corporate social responsibility was the very premise that the CoE were founded on.

The CoE has given Umlazi Township teachers a chance to rub shoulders with education leaders from all over the country. When the CoE was introduced, there was literally no budget; but through the benevolence of funders such as the Willowton Group, Gem School wear, Iqraa Trust, Elet, ENGEN, Lasec Edutrade, Lab O’Quip, Van Schaik Bookstores, ProcessLitho and Sesifikile Booksellers; MUT has been able to encourage good performance at Umlazi Township schools, and rewarded their excellence.

The CoE is in line with the new University Anchor Strategy which was introduced by MUT Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, as part of the University’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. The CoE reaffirms MUT’s commitment to the development and empowerment of Umlazi Township, its people and its schools in particular.

“It has been our observation that as a result of the CoE, additional schools have been spurred on to stake their claim within the circle of excellence. Just when we thought that certain schools were leading in certain subjects, we have noted that new schools are emerging as leaders in particular subjects. This is a healthy competition that should be encouraged,” said Sishi.

SABC’s Morning Live broadcasts from MUT

Debate session
Debate session: from left, SABC’s Leanne Manas, Mike Mabuyakhulu, Zwakele Mncwango, Vusi Khoza, Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi, and Simo Mkhwanazi

As South Africans get ready to go to the polls on 8 May 2019, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) kicked-off its election coverage in style as they broadcast Morning Live from Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) between 06h00 and 9h00 this morning (Friday, 15 March 2019). The show, which featured a political debate by various political party leaders in the province, was staged at MUT’s Anniversary Lane as staff and students walking into the University.

The SABC team arrived this morning at 4h00 to MUT main campus which was on standby to ensure that the Morning Live crew gets whatever logistical assistance they may require. By the time the show started at 6h00 all was set and ready to go. The first people to be interviewed were the Xubera Institute’s Managing Director, Xolani Dube and the Durban Chamber of Commerce President, Musa Makhanya. They both set the tone for the state of politics and economy in KwaZulu-Natal. The show provided a well-balanced overview by allowing various political representation to debate their eligibility for being the next governing party. The debate was facilitated by veteran Morning Live anchor, Leane Manas.

The panel discussion featured six panellists: the ANC was represented by the former MEC for Economic Development, Mike Mabuyakhulu; DA was represented by Zwakele Mncwango its KZN leader; Minority Front was represented by its leader, Mrs Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi; Vusi Khoza represented the EFF and the NFP was represented by Simo Mkhwanazi, national spokesperson. The Umlazi Community was interviewed at random as well as representative of Abahlali baseMjondolo movement.

Producers of the show chose MUT because of its strategic location within Umlazi Township and its easy access for the people. The SABC was using MUT as a springboard to reach out to the community of Umlazi Township, and the University’s students. The broadcast gave the University an opportunity to showcase its ability to host events and activities of national and international significance.

“We are honoured to have the SABC communicating with its listeners and the greater South African public from our main campus. We are very appreciative of national broadcaster’s considering MUT as a place from which they can communicate with the nation, and we hope that this will encourage other organisations to consider our university for hosting other activities,” said Azwi Mufamadi, Director: Public Relations and Brand Management at MUT’s Department of Marketing and Communications.

Lectures resume without interruption

The MUT Registrar, Mike Naidoo
The MUT Registrar, Mike Naidoo

In line with MUT’s commitment to give students quality education, lectures resumed this week with students showing up in their numbers to make up for the time lost due to student protests. Some lectures were filled to capacity, while others were over-flowing with students eager to learn.

MUT Registrar, Mike Naidoo, said that the priority was to get the academic programme going, given the delays and the challenges the University had with student demands and protest in the beginning of the year.

Naidoo also said that the University was busy preparing a recovery plan for all the academic programmes. “Now the priority is to relook at the academic plan for the first semester. A submission of the revised plan will be made to Senate on 14 March 2019 after consultation with various role players,” said the Registrar.

The revised or recovery plan will ensure that lecturers and their students will cover all the academic material and areas they meant to cover for their specific courses. This plan would ensure that the academic enterprise is not compromised and the University continues to give students quality education, which they come to MUT for.

MUT student selected for a course at Stellenbosch University

Mfundo Mpulo
Mfundo Mpulo

An Accounting final year student Mfundo Mpulo’s drive and love for entrepreneurship, innovation and personal development in the business world has already started paying dividends. He has been selected to participate on an online short-term leadership development course called JustLead at University of Stellenbosch.

JustLead! is a programme that aims to develop the leadership competency and capacity of young leaders across South Africa. The programme provides participants with rich insights into a variety of social justice challenges, with an emphasis on designing community engagement initiatives that are thoughtful and responsive. Justlead! is a rated at NQF Level 6. It is an innovative collaboration between Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Student Leadership and Structures, and the Sophia Foundation. Mfundo is the first JustLead student from MUT. He has already started his online course with the University of Stellenbosch. On 29-31 March he will be at Stellenbosch University to continue with the programme, although he still requires funding for his accommodation.  He is appealing to anyone who can help with funding for travel and accommodation, which will cost R6 000 altogether.

The programme manager for the course that Mfundo is doing has expressed her enthusiasm for having a student of his calibre being part of the programme.

“Mfundo Mpulo is the first participant we have accepted from Mangosuthu University of Technology and we are happy to have him in this cohort. He was selected based on his involvement in leadership and community development. He showed good understanding of leadership, he is very resilient, and has an ability to solve problems,” said Monique Withering, online programming manager, at the University of Stellenbosch.

Mfundo is the former President of the MUT Enactus and has won the Best President of the Year Award in 2018. He said he felt prepared for the opportunity, and was not scared to learn new things.

“Enactus has groomed me. It has given me the perspective to see opportunities and the talent to create value from those opportunities, the willingness to do and commitment to see it through even when the outcome is not guaranteed. Enactus has helped me evolve into a more socially conscious and responsible citizen. I invite students to take part at Enactus to make an impact upon their respective societies and develop themselves through entrepreneurship,” said Mfundo.

Also being an Accounting student has helped Mfundo in his entrepreneurship journey by providing a foundation in understanding the fundamentals of finance in the corporate world.

VC urges staff to put MUT first

Dr Malaza
Dr Malaza

Addressing the University staff during the annual State of the University address for staff on Thursday, 28 February 2019, MUT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, reminded staff of their duty towards the University and that staff should put the university and its business first before their own needs. “You are our most prized asset of the University. As University Management we are here to support you as you drive the core business of the University,” said Dr Malaza.

He asked staff to adopt a positive and constructive institutional culture, which he described as a “culture of stewardship that would benefit future generations. “We have a responsibility to safeguard the University’s material assets and to ensure their appropriate use,” said Dr Malaza.

In terms of the identity of the institution, MUT is firmly on the path to being a University that is research-informed and anchored within its immediate communities. Dr Malaza said MUT had set itself clear measurable performance indicators to guide it towards the vision of becoming a transforming, equitable, sustainable and academically excellent University of Technology. Dr Malaza appealed to staff to engage in discussions at faculty and department levels to give effect to the academic identity. He also asked them to implement operational plans that would give full expression to the Vision 2025.

Dr Malaza also highlighted areas within the processes of the University that need improvement. One of the steps is to formulate effective institutional responses to the findings and recommendations of the Report of the Independent Assessor that was released earlier in 2019. The report pointed to serious flaws in the intuitional culture and weaknesses in the governance of the University. Dr Malaza appealed for unity within the governing structures of the University. “We have to start at faculty level to set the tone that will shape the engagement at Senate. Faculties should have a focused academic identity and underpinned by clear criteria of well-functioning academic units,” Dr Malaza said.

Dr Malaza apologised to staff for the interruption of the academic programme. He appealed to staff to support the development of the catch-up plan so that MUT could continue to give its students an education that would enable them to fit into the professions and pay a meaningful role as global citizens.