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Networks taking internationalisation forward taking internationalisation forwardProf Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs<p>​In August, the International Network of Universities (INU) celebrated its 25<sup>th</sup> anniversary in Hiroshima, Japan. It was an auspicious occasion, more so for Stellenbosch University (SU), as it was the first coming together of the network under SU's presidency, which we will hold until 2025.<br></p><p>For me personally, it was an honour to preside over the occasion as INU President. INU counts among the most prestigious networks to which SU belongs.</p><p>The INU value statement reads as follow: “We value the development of globally engaged and socially responsible change agents who commit to understanding and addressing the complexities of global and local political, economic, social, cultural and environmental challenges."</p><p>Furthermore, INU believes that by working together, universities can drive meaningful change on various levels – locally, nationally, regionally and globally. This is grounded in the conviction that partnerships and networks are essential for universities to realise their institutional goals and objectives and drive change and progress in society.</p><p>This aligns and resonates with the SU Internationalisation Strategy, which sets a high value on networks such as INU. We endeavour to seek out such mutually beneficial networks where we are able to engage and partner with the world's foremost universities.</p><p>In fact, network engagement is part of SU's Vision 2040. To us, networks offer an innovative way of expanding our global footprint and taking internationalisation in higher education forward into the future.</p><p>Networks increase their members' global profile and enable our researchers and students to collaborate in many ways. This is why SU currently belongs to at least 34 networks, of which more than 12 are on the African continent and the rest abroad.</p><p>In future, SU will continue to play an integral role in global networks as a means of taking internationalisation forward.</p><ul><li><strong><em>Prof Hester C. Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs</em></strong></li></ul><p><strong> </strong></p><p>​<br></p>
“Looking back is looking forward…” - The next 30 years of internationalisation at SU.“Looking back is looking forward…” - The next 30 years of internationalisation at SU.Robert Kotze, Senior Director: SU International <p>​​​​Stellenbosch University is celebrating 30 years of internationalisation this year and SU International is preparing for an external peer review – lots of looking back happening… <em>Can looking back, be looking forward?</em></p><p> <span style="text-align:justify;">The review is focusing on our alignment with and contribution to SU's Vision and the SU Internationalisation Strategy and on what is in place to deliver our value proposition. It is giving us the </span><strong style="text-align:justify;"><em>possibility</em></strong><span style="text-align:justify;"> to provide a broad and well-informed snapshot of where we are on our journey of </span><em style="text-align:justify;">Improved consolidation, Enhanced alignment and Augmented moving forward</em><span style="text-align:justify;">, our base-line motto for post-COVID to make the most of the known and new </span><strong style="text-align:justify;"><em>possibilities</em></strong><span style="text-align:justify;"> for the </span><strong style="text-align:justify;"><em>people</em></strong><span style="text-align:justify;"> in SU International and the broader SU community, our </span><strong style="text-align:justify;"><em>place</em></strong><strong style="text-align:justify;">.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The snapshot has already brought the following considerations to the fore:</p><ul><li>Newly established entities, like the SDG/2063 Hub, the SU Unit for International Credentialing, the SU Japan Centre, and our engagement with the GUILD of European Research-Intensive Universities are in support of the SU aspiration to be “a proud African knowledge hub that serves the continent through research, innovation and education." In its own right, each one of the entities also contributes to SU's sustainability, “a national asset that serves the diverse needs of our communities".</li><li>SU International is promoting the eight dimensions of the SU Internationalisation Strategy with wide-ranging <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong>: We are dared to build bi- and multilateral partnership for research collaboration to move beyond mere transactional engagements to stronger collaborative transformative programme development. There are also many <strong><em>possibilities </em></strong>for including Globally Networked Learning opportunities in our partnerships.</li><li>There is continued high levels of interest from various stakeholders to visit SU to strengthen existing or to explore new <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong>. Within this stakeholder engagement, the extensive contacts during our own international visit add to the <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> for going forward. The big question here is: To what extent do we follow up and take matters further? </li><li>There is huge anticipation to see the outcomes of our first year of engagement with international student marketing platforms. How many “clicks" have translated into applications and admissions? How many will eventually register in 2024? Was it possible to increase our 4,2% international undergraduate registrations in 2024? Did it have an impact on SU's commitment to provide access to SA students?</li><li>The Africa bilateral partnership development portfolio is similarly faced by <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> regarding partnership mapping and development, moving the partnerships on the transactional ß à transformational continuum through including, for example, the UMOJA student leadership initiative, SDG/2063 perspectives and scholarship development into partnership augmentation plans. There might be even <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> to reframe some partnerships into <em>Thematic bilateral partnerships</em> for more focus,</li><li>Incoming Study Abroad (free movers) numbers have grown as a result of SU's interaction with SKEMA Business School. What is the scope, again <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong>, for growing this portfolio to ensure financial sustainability regarding outgoing mobility bursaries and maintaining, and even strengthening, the SU International service delivery platform?</li><li>We have moved forward regarding our Employment Equity profile. How do we translate that commitment to inclusion into a more diverse cohort of outgoing mobility students? Is it only about increasing the travel bursary amount?</li><li>The portfolio of short-term mobility programmes is significant. Growing the portfolio will need more capacity. However, there is a <strong><em>possibility</em></strong> to go beyond the number of programmes by integrating them within the overarching Global Education Programme to ensure that we contribute to our Global Student Learning Outcomes (GSLOs).</li><li>We have moved forward with creating internationalisation <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> for PASS colleagues. The notion of “being an internationalisation practitioner" is gaining traction. How do we continue facilitating wider understanding and embracing of internationalisation in the institution beyond SU International?</li><li>Regarding scholarship development, we can point to milestones – a solid roadmap illustrating progress. To what extent should we go beyond the capacity building of the PhD pipeline? How do we submerge the <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> into our Africa partnerships and our work in African multilateral networks?</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">The first part of the stocktaking, compiling the report, has already prompted the above possibilities. It informs our looking forward:</p><ul><li>Bringing all global education initiatives within the Global Education Programme will contribute towards i<em>mproved consolidation.</em></li><li>Further alignment of the new initiatives with SU's aspirations and further development of the international undergraduate student marketing initiatives within the overarching institutional student recruitment imperatives will ensure overall <em>enhanced alignment</em>.</li><li>“Sweet spot" development for each African partnership, a mid-term review of the Partnership Framework and growing the profile of our outgoing student cohort regarding inclusion will facilitate <em>augmented moving forward</em>.</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">The engagement with the review panel is forthcoming. This will further help us to learn and look forward to finetune our responses towards the already emerged (“looking back") <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> and to create an appropriate optical prism for <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> on the horizon.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">As SU International, we are ready to learn from the review process – from one another, from the review panel and from internal stakeholders. This will enable us to co-create new milestones regarding the <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> for the <strong><em>people</em></strong> in SU International and the broader SU community, our <strong><em>place</em></strong>, all for the next 30 years.</p><p> </p><p>Robert Kotzé</p><p>21 August 2023</p><p> <img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/SUI%20stand%20wall%20250%20cm%20x%20400%20cm%20at%20half%20size.jpg" alt="SUI stand wall 250 cm x 400 cm at half size.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:851px;" /><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>​<br></p>
SU’s Unit for International Credentialling to consult on Lesotho's Advanced Secondary Certificate’s Unit for International Credentialling to consult on Lesotho's Advanced Secondary Certificate SU International <p>​<span style="text-align:justify;">​The Stellenbosch University Unit for International Credentialing (SU-UIC) has entered into an agreement with the Examinations Council of Lesotho to consult on their new national qualification, the Lesotho Advanced Secondary Certificate (LASC).</span><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Examinations Council of Lesotho (ECoL), on behalf of the Lesotho education ministry, used to offer the Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGCSE) in partnership with Cambridge University. However, when this partnership terminated at the end of 2022, ECoL decided to implement the LASC, a new school-leaving certificate that will provide learners with competencies comparable to international standards.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Although the LGCSE also served as a school-leaving certificate, its standard was comparable to Grade 11 in the South African curriculum. This served as an access barrier for learners who hoped to gain admission to higher education institutions in South Africa and elsewhere. The new LASC is intended to align with South Africa's National Senior Certificate and other, similar matriculation qualifications, enabling Basotho nationals to access a broader pool of universities.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The SU-UIC is the external quality assurer for Africa's first international school-leaving certificate, the International Secondary Certificate (ISC), which the Independent Examinations Board introduced in 2022. This spurred ECoL to approach the SU-UIC to quality-assure the LASC, which Lesotho hopes to roll out in 2024.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to the agreement, SU-UIC will consult on the LASC during its development in 2023 and beyond. SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers and the chief executive officer of ECoL, Dr Mokhitli Khoabane, signed the agreement in Stellenbosch in June. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">SU's support will help ECoL facilitate a significant paradigm shift in the Lesotho education system towards African relevance and responsiveness. Both stakeholders are excited to see the initiative take shape. <br></p><p>​<br></p>
UNESCO Chair in Intercultural Competence pre-launch 14-15 August Chair in Intercultural Competence pre-launch 14-15 August Daniel Bugan<p>​​Stellenbosch University International (SU International) recently hosted two days of activities relating to intercultural competence, which culminated in the official launch of the UNESCO Chair in Intercultural Competence on the third day.<br></p><p> The chair, which was awarded to Stellenbosch University (SU) earlier this year, will be housed in the Africa Centre for Scholarship (ACS) in SU International. The Chairholder will be Dr Darla Deardorff, an SU-affiliated distinguished fellow from the United States, and co-chair Prof Sarah Howie, director of the ACS.</p><p> The two UNESCO Chair pre-launch events – a workshop and symposium on intercultural competences – took place on 14 and 15 August respectively. Prominent directors, researchers and academics from higher education institutions in South Africa, Africa and around the world as well as UNESCO chairholders and dignitaries were in attendance.</p><p> <strong>Intercultural competences capacity development workshop – UNESCO train-the-trainer story circles</strong></p><p> On the first day, Dr Deardorff, who is also the founding president of the World Council on Intercultural and Global Competence (, facilitated the 'train-the trainer' workshop. The session featured a key intercultural methodology used by UNESCO, with personal stories shared in circles (UNESCO story circles) as a way to practise and develop intercultural competences such as listening for understanding, open-mindedness and empathy. The aim was to prepare participants to go out and facilitate this methodology themselves.</p><p> “UNESCO story circles are grounded in one of the first research-based frameworks around intercultural competence," said Deardorff. UNESCO piloted the circles in all five UNESCO regions around the world as well as online, having used the methodology to train United Nations staff globally. Deardorff noted: “Circles have existed in indigenous cultures for centuries, but it is the first time that these circles are being used for the purpose of practising and developing key intercultural competences." Over 30 Stellenbosch colleagues along with global partners of the University participated in the workshop.</p><p><strong>Intercultural competences symposium</strong></p><p><strong> </strong>The symposium on the second day comprised hybrid plenary sessions, including talks by top SU scholars, panel discussions led by SU's international partners, and presentations by UNESCO chairs.</p><p>In her welcoming address, Prof Hester Klopper, SU's Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs, said: “This symposium comes at the right time, not only in relation to our struggle for gender equality or peace, but also with regard to many other forms of injustice stemming from the us-versus-them mentality that we so often see. This mentality plays out in racism, xenophobia, homophobia, gender-based violence and, in the case of South Africa, the continuing legacy of colonialism, slavery and apartheid. These unfortunate experiences provide us with the opportunity to collectively search for a better future. I believe that the UNESCO chair will play an important role in promoting and integrating this system of research, teaching and learning."</p><p>Dr Deardorff's opening remarks emphasised the importance of intercultural competence on a global level. “Over the past three years as the world battled the Covid-19 pandemic, we were reminded of the power of human connection as we experienced isolation, confinement, social distancing, and even fear. The pandemic years provided an opportunity for us to reflect on what matters most, what binds us together, and what it means to be good neighbours. It emphasised that we are all in this together and that it becomes imperative for us to get along, and that is where intercultural competence comes in.</p><p> “Over 60 years of scholarly work has been done around the intercultural competence construct. Increasingly, we are also seeing research about social emotional learning, emotional intelligence, and discussions around empathy and compassion. This, coupled with conversations around intersectionalities with justice, equity, diversity, belonging and inclusion, brings to mind further questions that need more research, in which this UNESCO chair can play such an important role."</p><p> However, she bemoaned the fact that much of the existing work around intercultural competence has come from the global north. “That is why it is so important to have this UNESCO chair at Stellenbosch. With the chair being located in South Africa, we can work with scholars from across the continent around intercultural competence," said Deardorff.</p><p> The UNESCO chair provides an exciting opportunity to work with colleagues at SU as well as across institutions, said co-chairholder Prof Howie in her opening remarks. “The intention is for the chair to be a think-tank that comprises a team in a bigger collaborative effort. It is a means to advance research, training and programme development around intercultural competence. The overarching goal of this chair is to contribute to quality education by exploring the intersections of intercultural competence with gender equality, climate action and peacebuilding, with a special focus on Africa, to create a more just, peaceful and inclusive society."</p><p> Prof Howie added: “To do that, the chair has four objectives: The first is to curate and disseminate intercultural competence research and practice. The second is to engage in projects that are relevant to the African Union's Agenda 2063, where intercultural competences may be less robust as an opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration to address gender equity, conflict/peacebuilding and climate action. The third is to strengthen the network of cooperation between the various universities relating to intercultural competence work. The fourth is to engage in institutional development and capacity development to strengthen intercultural competences among relevant stakeholders."</p><p> The three panel discussions at the symposium focused on the themes “Towards a better future in Africa", “Towards a better future globally" and “UNESCO chairs' contribution towards a better future globally" respectively.</p><p> <strong>Towards a better future in Africa</strong></p><p><strong> </strong>This plenary session consisted of three talks on the intersection of the UNESCO chair with gender equality, climate action and peacebuilding.</p><p><strong> </strong>In the first talk, Prof Amanda Gouws, incumbent of SU's SARChi Chair in Gender Politics, emphasised that intercultural competences need to be accompanied by a feminist ethic of care. “A feminist ethic of care has the following characteristics: attentiveness, responsiveness, responsibility and competence. A care ethic is relational and demands that we listen to the needs of those we care for. In a similar vein, intercultural competences should be located in relationality to enable us to understand the cultures of others and how we live in relationships with others. It belies the liberal notion of the autonomous individual because we are all members of communities, and we all live in relationality with each other. At the root of intercultural competences is the notion of ubuntu. It is only when we admit that we are all connected that we will be able to contribute to the prosperity of Africa."</p><p> The second talk featured Prof Guy Midgley, acting director of SU's School for Climate Studies, who spoke about climate action and said that the UNESCO chair would be valuable in bringing about a better future for Africa in the context of climate change. “Southern Africa is approaching an era of sustainable development, with a healthy population demographic and economic outlook, if managed correctly. But our social ecological systems in Africa are at extreme risk of climate-related impacts as well as inappropriate adaptation and mitigation responses imposed upon us by the rest of the world, especially with regard to land use.</p><p> “International funders severely under-allocate support to this region. Our region has to invest its own meagre resources to maintain a world-class contribution to global knowledge. It needs to be better rewarded because our science contributes to the global knowledge base on climate change and adaptation. Southern African science in particular contributes substantially to global knowledge on climate change."</p><p> The third presentation by Ms Sarah Richmond, senior manager at SU International, addressed the theme of peacebuilding and the key role of internationalisation practitioners in developing intercultural competence. “One of the main tenets of UNESCO's work is to create a new social contract, specifically with regard to education, diversity and understanding. And that is why we, as practitioners at SU International, are so excited to host this chair. With our very specific interculturalism, multi-diversity and education, we have the ability to engage with different students, curricula, organisations and institutions on the very basic building blocks of mutual understanding, which will allow us, along with the UNESCO co-chairholders, to build a better future for Africa, with Africa," she said.</p><p> <strong>Towards a better future globally</strong></p><p>Some of SU's international partners who had supported the University's application for the UNESCO chair and will also be collaborating with the chair spoke in the second symposium session.</p><p> Dr Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, a professor of Psychology and director of the Centre for Research on Global Engagement at Elon University, United States, said her centre's aims were well aligned with the objectives of the UNESCO chair, as they were also fostering collaboration, building partnerships and establishing best practices.</p><p> She specifically mentioned an American Council on Education initiative around mentoring, which she had led at Elon University. “Mentoring matters. It is a very important way in which we highlight high-quality undergraduate education. There has been a lot of research over the past couple of decades, and it has been proven that students who experience mentoring are much more likely to thrive and succeed in their jobs at a later stage.</p><p> “We also convened two different think-tanks, which were very useful in trying to understand the layering of educational practices. Three themes emerged as key to the participants: to increase access to mentored, globally focused undergraduate research, to augment intercultural learning, and to address knowledge gaps."</p><p> Mr Milton Nyamadzawo from the Institute for Economics and Peace in Harare, Zimbabwe, highlighted a collaboration with UNESCO in which intercultural competence played a part to address political instability. “The UNESCO initiative Enabling Intercultural Dialogue has been developed in partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace to address the intercultural competence dialogue knowledge gap and support more effective dialogue. Following the launch of the Enabling Intercultural Dialogue framework, UNESCO now hopes to continue to grow intercultural competence dialogue through a dialogue support facility. It also plans a series of pilots with various countries to aid capacity building and policy guidance," he said.</p><p> The session also featured Ms Orla Quinlan, a representative of the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) and director of the International Office at Rhodes University. As a partner of the UNESCO chair, IEASA will help build an intercultural network in higher education across South Africa. Quinlan noted the important role of international education in developing students' intercultural competence. She stressed the need to integrate intercultural competence into higher education curricula and to support academics' professional development around intercultural competence.  </p><p><strong>UNESCO chairs' contribution towards a better future globally</strong><br></p><p><strong> </strong>The final symposium session featured the work being done globally in relation to intercultural competence by some of the international UNESCO chairs who had supported SU's chair application.</p><p> Prof Joanna Hughes, who holds the UNESCO Chair in Shared Education for Peacebuilding and Social Justice at Queen's University, Belfast, spoke about her work in shared education in Northern Ireland. According to Hughes, 'shared education' refers to a policy and practice that encourages and facilitates collaboration and the sharing of resources between schools from different religious and cultural backgrounds. The goal is to break down barriers between different communities, reduce segregation, and improve community relations. It is seen as a way to promote a sense of reconciliation and create a more inclusive and harmonious society in Northern Ireland.</p><p> “A number of educationists came together around 2004 to think about what they can do in the education system to try and provide opportunities to bring kids together, and this idea for shared education was born. Shared education is done through schools coming together in various partnerships, such as joint extracurricular activities, shared teacher development activities, and teacher exchanges," she explained.</p><p> Prof Marion Keim, incumbent of the UNESCO Chair in Sport, Development, Peace and Olympic Education at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), said she used her passion for sport as a tool for peacebuilding and development. She chairs the Centre for Sport Science and Development at UWC, which “is the only sport centre in Africa that does not focus on high performance or sports management, but on the concept of development and peace". In this capacity, she has initiated projects such as The Case for Sport, a study that explores the impact of sport on a country. “We have been able to prove that sport in the Western Cape brings more money into the province than tourism. This got politicians to pay more attention and to pump more money into sport and peace initiatives. This is an ongoing study that we are doing with the provincial government," said Keim. She added that they also started the Sport and Development Policy in Africa project with UNESCO in 2014, which maps African countries according to their sport policies.</p><p> Other international partners who took part in this session were Dr Jorge Gonzales, holder of the UNESCO Chair on Intercultural Dialogue at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and Prof Helena Marujo, the incumbent of the UNESCO Chair on Education for Global Peace Sustainability at Lisbon University in Portugal.</p><p>The UNESCO Chair in Intercultural Competence was officially launched at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies on 16 August, along with the UNESCO Chair in Complex Systems and Transformative African Futures held by Prof Rika Preiser and Ms Tanja Hichert.​<br></p><p>​<br></p>
Antibiotic-resistant sepsis still claiming newborn lives in Africa sepsis still claiming newborn lives in AfricaCorporate Communication and Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking<p>​A new European-African collaboration to improve the way infections in newborns are treated was launched recently. The project, SNIP-AFRICA, aims to reduce mortality among neonates in hospital with sepsis in Africa, in an era of increasing antimicrobial resistance.<br></p><p>Funded by the European Union under the Global Health EDCTP3 Programme, SNIP-AFRICA will conduct an adaptive trial to identify the best drug regimens and doses for difficult-to-treat infections and sepsis, which threaten the lives of newborns in neonatal units in sub-Saharan African countries.</p><p>Stellenbosch University (SU) will be involved in the majority of work packages. Professors Adrie Bekker and Eric Decloedt will be leading the working group aimed at accelerating African neonatal sepsis pharmacokinetic (how the antibiotic moves through and out of the body of the neonate) trials to optimise antimicrobial treatment for neonates. SU will also be facilitating African capacity building within the SNIP-AFRICA consortium to perform analytical quantification of antimicrobial plasma concentrations as well as training in pharmacometric modeling (using the measured neonatal drug levels to develop a combined mathematical and statistical model able to predict appropriate neonatal dosing) of these plasma concentrations to optimise dosing.<br></p><p>The SU research team involved, will benefit from R20 million funding<em>.​</em></p><ul><li>Read the international statement <a href="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/SNIP%20AFRICA%20PRESS%20RELEASE.pdf"><strong>h<span style="text-decoration:underline;"></span>e</strong><strong>re</strong> </a>. ​<br></li></ul><div><span style="color:#111111;font-family:-apple-system, blinkmacsystemfont, "san francisco", "helvetica neue", helvetica, ubuntu, roboto, noto, "segoe ui", arial, sans-serif;text-wrap:nowrap;background-color:#f5f5f5;">Photo by </span><a href="" style="box-sizing:border-box;background-color:#f5f5f5;color:#767676;transition:color 0.1s ease-in-out 0s, opacity 0.1s ease-in-out 0s;font-family:-apple-system, blinkmacsystemfont, "san francisco", "helvetica neue", helvetica, ubuntu, roboto, noto, "segoe ui", arial, sans-serif;text-wrap:nowrap;">Aditya Romansa</a><span style="color:#111111;font-family:-apple-system, blinkmacsystemfont, "san francisco", "helvetica neue", helvetica, ubuntu, roboto, noto, "segoe ui", arial, sans-serif;text-wrap:nowrap;background-color:#f5f5f5;"> on </span><a href="" style="box-sizing:border-box;background-color:#f5f5f5;color:#767676;transition:color 0.1s ease-in-out 0s, opacity 0.1s ease-in-out 0s;font-family:-apple-system, blinkmacsystemfont, "san francisco", "helvetica neue", helvetica, ubuntu, roboto, noto, "segoe ui", arial, sans-serif;text-wrap:nowrap;">Unsplash</a>​<br></div><br>
HIV prevention project in Zimbabwe utilizes PrEP to empower men in the fight against HIV prevention project in Zimbabwe utilizes PrEP to empower men in the fight against HIVCERI Media & Communication - Maambele Khosa<p>Zimbabwe, like many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, faces the harsh reality of the HIV epidemic. With a substantial portion of the population affected by the virus, innovative approaches are urgently needed to combat its devastating impact.<br></p><p>At the heart of this pioneering initiative lies the promotion of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as a highly effective method for preventing HIV transmission among men. PrEP involves the use of antiretroviral medication by individuals who are at high risk of acquiring the virus. By adhering to a daily regimen, men can significantly reduce their chances of acquiring HIV infection, enabling them to take control of their sexual health and ultimately prevent onward transmission of HIV to their partners.</p><p>Professor Frank Tanser, a distinguished Epidemiologist and the Programme Director of Population Health Innovation at the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI), who co-leads the project, emphasizes the importance of this initiative: “HIV is still prevalent, but we possess the knowledge and tools to make a significant impact. By engaging men through innovative strategies like PrEP, we can empower them to protect their sexual health and contribute to curbing the HIV epidemic."</p><p>Led by Tanser in collaboration with the Biomedical Research Training Institute (BRTI) in Zimbabwe and other international partners from Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the USA, this project aims to address the challenges faced by men in preventing HIV transmission. The team of researchers seek to establish the impact of HIV self-test distribution through male social networks, coupled with innovative community-based support on PrEP uptake among men in Eastern Zimbabwe. The objective is to engage hard-to-reach men and decrease barriers to the uptake of male HIV testing and prevention by reducing the need for engagement with clinics. By leveraging male peer networks for HIV self-testing distribution, the project aims to ignite curiosity and empower men to take charge of their sexual health.</p><p>Initial distributors, identified by the team, will receive an HIV self-test kit for personal use and additional kits to distribute to their peers, creating a ripple effect of awareness and prevention throughout the male community. With HIV self-testing, phone-based support, and improved risk perception, the project seeks to expedite PrEP initiation at local clinics, making it more accessible to men who may otherwise face barriers to traditional healthcare services.</p><p>By combining innovative technology and community-driven initiatives, the team challenges the existing stigma surrounding HIV prevention and empowers men to make informed decisions about their sexual wellbeing.</p><p>As Zimbabwe grapples with the HIV epidemic, the project offers hope for a brighter future. By fostering curiosity and empowering men through innovative HIV-prevention strategies, particularly with the use of PrEP, this pioneering initiative envisions a day when the epidemic no longer casts a shadow over the nation's health. With the potential to shape HIV prevention approaches in high-incidence regions, the project has the power to save countless lives and drive Zimbabwe closer to a future free from the burdens of HIV. The research findings hold promise for the development of a generalisable, multicomponent male peer-based HIV self-testing and PrEP uptake model that could be applied in other high HIV incidence settings, bringing hope for progress in the global fight against HIV.<br><br></p>
Stellenbosch University scoops top global award for its sustainability initiatives University scoops top global award for its sustainability initiatives Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking<p>​​The work of the <a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-4">SDG/2063 Impact Hub</span></a> at Stellenbosch University (SU) has been named the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) Initiative of the Year (Africa) at the Accreditation Council for Entrepreneurial and Engaged Universities (ACEEU) <a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-4">Triple E Awards</span>​</a> held in Barcelona recently.<br></p><p>The Triple E Awards are a global recognition of entrepreneurship and engagement in higher education. </p><p>SU competed against North-West University, Euromed University of Fes in Morocco, and the German University in Cairo, as well as the American University in Cairo for the top spot on the African continent.</p><p>The University was also recognised in the People's Choice Awards (overall) for its SDG initiatives. Furthermore, SU was one of five finalists in the Entrepreneurial University of the Year category with <a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-4">Innovus</span> ​</a>taking second place with its entry on “Making Stellenbosch University Innovation Matter!" </p><p>Programme Manager of the SDG/2063 Impact Hub, Corina du Toit said: “This is a testament to the good progress we have made at SU in embedding sustainability at our institution and raising awareness of our contributions to the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs and the African Union's Agenda 2063 for a peaceful and prosperous Africa. It also underscores the timeliness for creating awareness of the contributions by SU to the Sustainable Development Agendas on the continent and globally. There is a wealth of initiatives to report on."</p><p>The award recognises the strides SU is making in realising its vision to be a leading research-intensive university though teaching, learning, research and impact. SU's entry, titled “Sustainable Development Progress for the Africa we want", highlighted the key objectives of the Hub, which is situated within the Centre for Collaboration in Africa. These include raising awareness​ on existing SDG/2063 related activities, advocating for the visible uptake of sustainability in research, teaching and operations, creating partnerships through international collaborations, and the collection of data, measurement of impact and consolidation of resources related to sustainability goals. </p><p>The SDG/2063 Impact Hub was established in late 2021 to help the University become more systemically sustainable and highlight SU's contributions to the two Agendas. It has mapped and documented SU's contributions to sustainable development on a regional and global scale.</p><p>“The importance of the specific focus of the Stellenbosch University SDG/2063 Impact Hub to also highlight our activities in terms of the African Union Agenda 2063 goals should not be underestimated," added Dr Nico Elema, Director of the <a href="/english/SUInternational/about-us-1/centres/centre-for-collaboration-in-africa"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-4">Centre for Collaboration in Africa</span>​</a>.<strong> </strong>“While it is important for all universities to ensure sustainability aligned with the UN SDGs, we as African universities need to take the extra step and articulate our activities within our African context, which is where the AU Agenda 2063 goals provide us with a guiding framework." </p><p>One of the Hub's highlights in the past two years was the founding of the African Regional Forum on Climate Change, ahead of Cop27 in 2022, with 23 other higher education institutions. </p><p>SU noted in its submission for the Triple E Awards that for real change to happen, there needs to be investment across the University at all levels. The Hub is therefore driving a working group that will incorporate all aspects of sustainable development in all aspects of research, teaching, outreach and stewardship. </p><p>​​ </p><p><br></p>
Embrace the hustle: African universities can make a real impact on the continent the hustle: African universities can make a real impact on the continentProf Wim de Villiers <p>​​Opinion article written by Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University. <br></p><p><br><a href="" target="_blank">Click here to read</a> <br></p>
Promoting indigenous foods could improve food security in Southern Africa indigenous foods could improve food security in Southern AfricaCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​Despite an abundance of indigenous vegetables and fruits in Southern Africa, people in the region continue to suffer from food insecurity. It appears that they do not value these foods and their potential to eradicate poverty and hunger, promote health and nutrition, and provide an income for households.<br></p><p>“The consumption of indigenous foods such as Bambara groundnuts, cowpeas, green leafy vegetables, and pumpkin leaves is declining in most Southern African countries. This decline has been attributed to several factors, including the westernisation of African diets, the bitter and discouraging taste of wild vegetables, culture, and the perception that wild vegetables are low-income foods," say researchers in the Division of Human Nutrition in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University. </p><p>They add: “A lack of interest in learning about indigenous foods or the absence of the older people passing on information to the younger generation about the identification, harvesting, preparation and preservation of these foods have also contributed to this decline. Also, commercial farming, research and development have significantly ignored these foods, making them less competitive than established major crops."<br></p><p>The researchers did a systematic review of existing data (2011–2021) about the availability of indigenous foods in Southern Africa, including factors leading to their utilisation. They wanted to determine the availability, regularity of consumption, utilisation, preparation, harvesting and preservation of indigenous foods. They also wanted to detail the knowledge, perceptions and beliefs of indigenous foods under these themes.<br></p><p>The findings of their review were published recently in the international open-access journal <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Sustainability</strong></a>.</p><p>The researchers say the review revealed that the availability of and knowledge about indigenous foods were critical determinants of their intake. This was followed by the belief that they are more nutrient-dense than foreign foods. <br></p><p>“Studies in Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe have shown that indigenous foods are rich in macro-nutrients (protein) and micro-nutrients (calcium, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron) but their nutritional potential and advantages have yet to be adequately appreciated and explored. <br></p><p>“These foods were reported to be consumed more frequently in rural areas, mainly by the elderly and the unemployed. Studies in our systematic review revealed that some indigenous vegetables obtained from multi-purpose plant species are consumed as food and medicine to promote health. Additionally, various drinks made from indigenous foods are available, including traditional beer, fermented non-alcoholic beverages and herbal teas.<br></p><p>“Indigenous foods are not only accessible, but they are also consumed to provide both nutrition and health benefits in various communities. This is particularly important given that most rural areas in Southern African countries have little to no access to medical facilities or people have to walk long distances to access these facilities."<br></p><p>The researchers add that indigenous foods were said to have the ability to improve food security through their availability, accessibility, sustainability and utilisation.<br></p><p>They point out that only a small number of studies addressed the preservation of indigenous foods, which explains why the indigenous food plant seed supply business in Southern African countries is underdeveloped. <br></p><p>“The long-term storage of these foods is significantly hampered by the lack of scientifically validated preservation techniques. Hence, conducting scientific testing on these techniques is essential to ensure that no nutrients are lost."<br></p><p>According to the researchers, cooking is the most popular method for preparing indigenous foods to improve their digestibility and flavour. “Indigenous vegetables are cooked before consumption, while indigenous fruits that are not poisonous are typically consumed as soon as they are picked in the field."<br></p><p>They say the review also highlights the significance of successful global, regional and national policies in promoting indigenous foods, with little to no supporting policies in most Southern African nations, save for South Africa who has led the way in promoting research on these foods through financial assistance from organisations like the Department of Science and Technology and the Agriculture Research Council.<br></p><p>The researchers emphasise the need for capacity-building skills and suitable infrastructure in rural communities, and enough money for comprehensive research and marketing so that those involved in the growing of indigenous foods can earn a living through their jobs.<br></p><p>“We also need awareness and promotion campaigns across the region through workshops and programmes on radio and television, as well as relevant governmental organisations involved in promoting the uptake of these foods in schools, and hospitals, and making them part of daily meals.<br></p><p>“The preservation of knowledge about indigenous food in books and continuing education of the younger generation about the importance of eating these foods and their nutritional content may help with their uptake. The transfer of knowledge may help promote their consumption, preparation and preservation," add the researchers.<br></p><ul><li><strong>Source</strong>: Nxusani, Z.N.; Zuma, M.K.; Mbhenyane, X.G. A Systematic Review of Indigenous Food Plant Usage in Southern Africa. <em>Sustainability</em> 2023, 15, 8799: doi: <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">10.3390/su15118799</strong></a>.<br></li></ul><p>​<strong>Photo</strong>: Pumpkin leaves, ​Bambara groundnuts, and cowpea leaves.<br></p>
PhD candidates learn secrets to success at ADA winter school networking event candidates learn secrets to success at ADA winter school networking eventDaniel Bugan<p>As part of its 2023 hybrid winter school, the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) in Stellenbosch University (SU) International hosted a networking event on 11 July. Guests comprised doctoral candidates, supervisors and researchers who were attending the winter school from 3 to 21 July at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).<br></p><p>For his engaging talk, guest speaker Prof Sebastian Kernbach from the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, drew on his experience as visiting professor at Stanford University and his involvement at the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Themed “Design your future: Three keys to surviving, mastering and thriving on the PhD journey – learnings from ADA, Stanford and NASA", the talk emphasised personal contribution, creativity and holistic intelligence as crucial for successful doctoral studies.</p><p>“What is the personal contribution you want to make to your family, community and country through your PhD?" he asked. “If you reconnect to why you are doing what you are doing, it will keep you going when the going gets tough. Secondly, research is a process of uncertainty, and because of this, we have to work creatively by diverging – creating ideas – and converging – selecting ideas and options. Lastly, consider IQ researcher Robert Sternberg's model of successful human intelligence and use its pillars of analytical, creative and practical intelligence not only for your PhDs, but also for your role as a human being on this planet."</p><p> The annual ADA winter and summer schools at SU offer high-impact training in research design and methodology, academic preparedness and career development for PhD candidates and their supervisors. “There is a compelling case in Africa for supporting PhD candidates, as we do not produce as many doctoral graduates as we'd like," says Dr Mmampho Gogela-Smith, senior programme manager at SU International's Africa Centre for Scholarship. “And that is exactly what we are trying to do through the ADA winter school programme. We also hope that participants would make use of this opportunity to network and form partnerships."</p><p> The 2023 edition of the ADA winter school is the first fully hybrid version, presented 50% online and 50% in face-to-face format. “The hybrid mode provides a convenient option for those who face financial challenges or are tied up with work commitments and are unable to attend in person," explains Dr Natalie Kowalik, ADA programme manager at SU International. With over 350 applications submitted from hopeful participants from South Africa, the rest of Africa and beyond, interest in the winter school was overwhelming. “More than 200 participants, some of them scholarship recipients, are joining the online and in-person courses. They hail from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, to name just a few," Natalie adds.</p><p> Participant Lawson Naidoo, a lecturer and doctoral supervisor at Tshwane University of Technology, says his university enrolled him for the ADA winter school in order to build his capacity and skills as a supervisor. He is especially looking forward to learning fresh perspectives and good practices in the workshop “Good practice in postgraduate research supervision".</p><p> Fellow winter school enrollee Siyabonga Rayise, a PhD student from Vaal University of Technology, says he was drawn to the programme because, judging by the content, it could add value to his studies. He is particularly interested in the course “How to write an effective literature review for your doctorate". “I hope it will equip me with more skills and tools to help me write my literature review," he says.</p><p> Since inception in 2009, the ADA's schools have hosted more than 5 500 prospective and current doctoral candidates and their supervisors from 53 countries in Africa and beyond, including Europe, Asia and America.​</p><p>​<br></p>