In spite of the Covid-19, the University’s Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) was able to host the annual Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards. Winners of the awards were judged in terms of the strength of their portfolios, the innovativeness of their teaching strategies, and the opinions of their students about them, among other things. These are some of the attributes that make a good teacher, as Professor Marcus Ramogale, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, said during the meeting. Winner after winner on 18 December 2020 thanked the TLDC for continuing to recognise the efforts of the academics in improving the lives of the students through education, their colleagues, and families for giving them support.
Dr Thulile Duma, a Lecturer in the Department of Human Resources attributed her success to the “push” she got from her students. “They are our customers. Without them we would not have anything to do. The students’ success is our success,” said Dr Duma.
Professor Georgina Arthur of the Department of Nature Conservation, Dr Kaniki Tumba, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering, used the podium opportunity to unpack their teaching strategies that were the main reasons for their success. Dr Tumba said that lecturers needed to ask themselves it they would be successful if they were doing something they were not happy with. Dr Tumba said he first makes sure the students are happy before he starts his lecture. Professor Arthur said she pays particular attention to the first year students because they are vulnerable at this stage of their studies.
Tarirai Chani, a Lecturer in the Department of Information Communication and Technology highlighted the support she got from the Head of the Department, Dr Vikash Jugoo. Kavita Behara, a Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering, was more philosophical. She said her mentor, Professor Pius Owolawi, former Head of the Department and an award winner, used to tell her to “swallow and swallow everything.” One day it would be beneficial to her, she was told. Kavita also credited her students for her success.
Another winner was Mantwa Madiba. From the time she joined the Department of Accounting and Law a few years ago as an N-Gap lecturer, Mantwa hit the ground running. Mantwa used technology to get her message across to the students. Mantwa also used other means to strengthen her relationship with the students. Mantwa is currently studying in the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship. Connecting to the meeting via Zoom, Mantwa reiterated what other winners said the TLDC, and the importance of support from various quarters.
The other winner was Dr Kuben Naidoo, a Lecturer in the Department of Nature Conservation. Dr Naidoo could not attend the event.
All the winners won an all-expense paid for attendance of 2021 HE LTASA conference, and some cash, among other things. Dr Tumba’s package includes a student assistant as a resource to alleviate his teaching load.
The organisers of the event continued to recognise the efforts of the students. The following students won varying amounts of cash, trophies, and goodies hampers: T. Sikhakhane and NF Mhlongo, both from the Faculty of Natural Sciences; TM Malinga and M Mlungu, both from the Faculty of Management Sciences; and NM Dlamini and AZ Xhoko, from the Faculty of Engineering. Some of the students said it was working hard, and having the passion for what they were studying that made them successful. The event was graced by the presence of the University Chair of Council, Mr Morailane Morailane.