Teachers are an important part of the academic enterprise. Their role in teaching students cannot be understated, especially in the post-covid-19 higher education system.
On Thursday, 8 December 2022, MUT hosted its annual Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Awards off-campus to recognise academics who have excelled in teaching. There was plenty to celebrate at the ceremony.
In his address, Dr Manyane Makua, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning highlighted some of the major changes in Higher Education, mainly as a result of Covid-19.
Dr Makua reminded the academics of the central role they play in the Higher Education sector, and said to them that “as the main players”, they could not “afford to be peripheral observers”. He reminded them that everyone benefited from “an excellent teacher”, who should be agile, flexible, and adaptable.
“For our University teachers to thrive and excel it will take a commitment to provide an environment that encourages such transformations to happen,” he said.
Dr Makua reminded academics that the University “acknowledges, recognizes, supports and honours excellence where it matters”. In line with the theme of the event – excellence – Dr Makua said an excellent teacher was committed, did not cut corners, and did not recycle their notes; instead, they are committed to quality and preparation for their lectures. They are lifelong learners who are committed to their students. They develop themselves and are not lazy. Excellent teachers learn more about what they do by researching it.
“Institutions and national structures have embarked on processes to rethink learning and teaching pedagogies that will suit dynamic and unconventional contexts such as what we find ourselves in,” said Dr Makua.
Dr Makua said that as Deputy Chair of the SAUT Executive Committee, he was better placed to understand changes in the sector. He said there was a “complete overhaul of the National Teaching and Learning Excellence Awards which were administered by Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA), and the Council on Higher Education (CHE), and that CHE’s Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) was running a project on the reconceptualization on learning and teaching in higher education.
Dr Makua said one of the “key takeaways” in terms of lessons learnt during the pandemic was that learning and teaching would never be the same. “The Covid-19 pandemic has redefined the perimeters of teaching and learning in very significant ways across all education sectors and throughout the world. In a short space of time a lot was written on how to teach and assess under these very difficult conditions,” said Dr Makua.
Dr Makua also said that both staff and students had to “dig deep to save lives and save the academic programme. The truth of the matter ladies and gentlemen is that we are all traversing and navigating unchartered territory in the history of higher education in our lifetime.”
The winners were as follows:
Best Established Teacher: Gold Award – Dr LQ Qwabe – Department of Analytical Chemistry
Best Established Teacher: Silver Award – N Thembane – Department of Biomedical Science
Best Established Teacher: Silver Award – Dr M Lecheko – Department of Environmental Health
Best Established Teacher: Bronze Award – H Els – Department of Agriculture
Best Established Teacher: Silver Award – Dr BYC Mvuyana – Department of Public Admin and Economics
Best Established Teacher: Bronze Award – K Mathe – Department of Accounting and Law
Best Established Teacher: Silver Award – Dr AT Jaiyeola – Department of Civil engineering and Surveying
Best Emerging Teacher Award – S Khuzwayo- Department of Accounting and Law
Best Emerging Teacher Award – ZN Jaya – Department of Biomedical Sciences
Recognition of Teaching and Learning Advancement Awards – E Selebi – Entrepreneurship Education
Recognition of Teaching and Learning Advancement Awards – NA Mthembu – Entrepreneurship Education
Recognition of Teaching and Learning Advancement Awards – PK Ramdeyal –Student Data provision
Recognition of Teaching and Learning Advancement Awards – Dr PT Duma – Scholarship of Teaching and Learning