Ten years, 210 workshops, 4 526 participants and 53 nationalities – this has been the success of the Stellenbosch University (SU) African Doctoral Academy (ADA) in numbers. For the past decade, the ADA, which is situated in SU International's Africa Centre for Scholarship, has been promoting, developing and enhancing scholars and scholarship across the continent through its biannual doctoral schools hosted on SU's Stellenbosch campus. The two-week schools take place in January and June/July each year.
To celebrate a decade of doctoral education, this year's Winter School, running from 1 to 12 July, kicked off with a gala event. More than 150 guests were treated to an interactive keynote session, inspiring conversations and networking, and great birthday cake.
Inspiring keynote session
Corina du Toit, ADA programme manager, opened proceedings with an overview of the ADA initiative and its rapid growth over the years. This was followed by a keynote address by Prof Jonathan Jansen, distinguished professor in SU's Faculty of Education.
Speaking on the quality of doctoral scholarship in South Africa and on the rest of the continent, Prof Jansen appealed to students to ask the right questions and be bold: “You get a degree, but that doesn't mean education," he said. “One thing you do as a researcher is to ask questions that nobody else seems to be asking. Make sure that the question is the right one; that it's powerful; that it can travel intellectually; that it has research importance and expectable magnificence. And make sure that the question has not been asked in this way by anyone on the planet before." Prof Jansen also urged students to maintain their “intellectual imagination" and continue reflecting critically on everything around them.
Double dose of success
The 2019 summer and winter schools not only mark the tenth edition of these ADA events – they have also attracted the highest number of participants since inception. During this year's summer and winter events, delegates participated in 786 workshops, a long way from the inception years.
With Africa one of the key focuses of SU's internationalisation strategy, it is encouraging to see that nearly half of this year's delegates are from African countries other than South Africa. Nigeria and Zimbabwe are particularly well represented. Moreover, 44% of delegates are working towards a PhD in the scarce-skills field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). And with the number of female participants this year surpassing their male counterparts, it is certain that the exceptional diversity of the group will ensure an even richer experience for delegates.
Photo: Delegates attending the ADA Winter School
Picture: Refiloe Nkhasi