More than 100 staff and students attended the first Transformation Indaba hosted by the Transformation Office at Stellenbosch University on 29 November 2017. The Indaba brought together University stakeholders and transformation committees to share their experiences and practices, to consider opportunities that may advance the Transformation Plan and to make recommendations to the Institutional Transformation Committee on the support required to realise the Transformation Plan in 2018.
The one-day Indaba comprised of six themed presentations from various institutional experts. These themes included reflections on the status of transformation in Higher Education, leadership lessons, decolonization of the curriculum, visual redress, universal access for disabilities, addressing rape culture and building an enabling institutional climate and culture.
“The energy and solidarity of community willing to share responsibility for transformation at this event was probably more powerful than any document or presentation," said Monica du Toit, Head of the Transformation Office. “We immediately realised that participants came to contribute and deliberate and that the time allocated would not be sufficient," she continued. “When staff and students show this kind of commitment after a year of challenges and hard work, it speaks for itself."
Prof André Keet from the Ministerial Transformation Oversight committee emphasized that Stellenbosch University as in an ideal position to give a shock to itself and be bold in 2018. Prof Jimmy Volminck encouraged leaders to be willing to continuously listen to its staff and students and acknowledge and learn from previous mistakes. The Indaba further showcased the work of innovative academics like the Decolonize STEM working group and participants recommended that the next Indaba prioritizes student led presentations and engagements too.
According to Dr Leslie van Rooi, Senior Director for Social Impact and Transformation, the Indaba showed us how far we've come. “It allows us to see what we should focus on, and what we should do more or less of. Moreover, it allows the greater university community to collaborate on a new SU that wants to give shape to its mission and vision because it allows everybody to be part of the transformation process."
Comments from participants:
“The real value was congregating as a community who shares a focused vision of a more equitable campus to share the successes, current challenges and way forward for all the different stakeholders.
“The initiative was heartening, perhaps most of all because we talk more about the need for transformation than the doing of it. This was a practical way forward, and suggested the same to others. It was good to see the people on campus who are also working hard towards a better environment."
“Thank you for all the effort this time of the year. More opportunities to share with support and academic staff need to be created in order to bring everybody on board. Silos do not work and in the time that we work, we need to work more collaboratively together".