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'Burn the ships, not the bridges'http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6809'Burn the ships, not the bridges'Development & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p style="text-align:justify;">“Burn the ships, not the bridges."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">That was one of the five key points that Stellenbosch University alumnus, Werner Cloete, shared with undergraduate and postgraduate students who attended the recent Careers Café where he was the guest speaker. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Cloete is the Principal of Calling Academy in Vlaeberg, Stellenbosch, where boys from low income communities are provided with an opportunity to access a quality, private school education for less than R6 500 a year. He completed a BSc in Chemistry and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Stellenbosch University (SU) and spent some time teaching overseas before returning to South Africa to join the teachers' body at Paul Roos Gymnasium. In 2016, Cloete took a leap of faith to start the research in order to establish Calling Academy, which he co-founded with Dr Philip Geldenhuys. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“You have to commit to your vision, if you know the vision has come about through the right process, and to do that, you have to burn the ships to close the escape routes," he said to the 310 students who attended the talk.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">This, said Cloete, was one of the most important things he learnt when in 2017, a mere three  months before Calling Academy was to open and with many learners already interested, he found himself unable to secure a premises to house the school. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“You have to expect the hardships. It will test your commitment to the vision, but it will also bring about personal growth that will benefit your venture further down the line," said Cloete. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“If you leave too many escape routes open, you will look for a way out at that point, and you will end up leaving your vision behind. So burn the ships."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He also reminded students that it was crucial to remain in touch with what is happening in the world.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Once you have a vision and an awareness of what is going on around you, something will happen inside you due to the tension between “what is" and “what could be". I am talking about experiencing discontent –  being  upset at the current state of affairs."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">This state, said Cloete, is what will motivate you to innovate, another important tip in building a career while making an impact on society. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Innovation that is born from being in touch and being aware of what is happening in society, is a lot more powerful than innovation just for the sake of innovation," he added.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Cloete, going the road alone is not an option. He believes that if you want to do something extraordinary, you have to find the people who are doing “cutting edge work" and learn from them. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We need to move away from individualised decision-making towards group decision-making. Look for the kind of people who will take you to where you want to be and associate yourself closely with them. Spend your time with people who are moving in the right direction."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">However, while many of us are aware of the importance of having a mentor and even a coach, Cloete suggested that students rather seek developing a push-and-pull effect in their lives. This can be done by “filling the seats" around your table of support with a hero, an inner circle friend, a mentor, a mentee, a coach and a trainee. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Find someone whom you can mentor too. This is when you get a push-and-pull effect with a mentor that will pull you up and a mentee who will not only push you up through their questions and how they keep you honest,  but whom you can lift up and assist in developing their skills. So have both a mentor and mentee.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We can learn so much from each other, and so I would also suggest that you become intentional about building up relationships across cultures too," he added.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Cloete also touched on other points in his talk, such as the importance of gaining exposure and valuing the relationships that you have in your life.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Before concluding his talk, he encouraged the students to live their lives according to a quote he found to be a good reminder to treasure the people who are there through it all. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Remember that primary relationships are important and that 'no success outside the home can compensate for failure within'. Your family will carry the baton when you are gone. If you want to change the world, make an impact on the lives of those around you so that they can go out and make a positive impact on the world too. You don't want to be the guy who runs with a vision, but whose family says: I don't even know this guy." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Careers Café series was launched in 2016 by the Alumni Relations Office to provide a platform for alumni to engage with the university in a different manner by offering their time and skills to help current students prepare for the careers they want. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: Careers Café speaker and Principal of Calling Academy, Werner Cloete (far left), is seen here with Paballo Tsiu (second from the left) and Tianca Olivier, the two students who won an opportunity to have dinner with Cloete in order to learn more from him in a one-on-one conversation. With them is Marvin Koopman (far right), Alumni Coordinator at the Development and Alumni Relations Division. (Photographer: Henk Oets)</em></p><p><br></p>
Sign language-related courses help teachers of Deaf students with new curriculumhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4100Sign language-related courses help teachers of Deaf students with new curriculumLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">Last year, the first South African Sign Language (SASL) curriculum was rolled out nationally in South Africa after it had first been piloted as a project at the De la Bat School for the Deaf in Worcester from 2011 to 2013. Now, thanks to three short courses of the Department of General Linguistics that focus on language teachers, including sign language teachers, those who have to implement this curriculum will also have the necessary skills to do so effectively. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Dr Frenette Southwood of the Department of General Linguistics of Stellenbosch University (SU), the department has been offering shorts courses in the Foundations of Linguistics, Sign Language Linguistics and Literature of SASL to teachers of Deaf learners since the beginning of 2015. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"South African Sign Language is now acknowledged as a first language by the Department of Education, just like Afrikaans and English, and is also taught in schools," says Southwood. SU is one of three academic institutions in South Africa that offers these types of courses.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The courses are intended for language teachers who do not have a sufficient background in linguistics or literature and helps these teachers to interact optimally with the curriculum they have to teach."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The three courses were created after the department presented the first intensive five-day Foundations of Linguistics course to 31 teachers of Deaf learners and staff of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) in June 2015. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Ms Minna Steyn of the WCED, who also was the project manager of the pilot project at De la Bat, teachers in the Western Cape were provided with basic training by the WCED to implement the new curriculum. A year later, training was done at the national level. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"During the training at national level we realised that there was not enough training that focused on literature and poetry, although these form part of the new curriculum. The idea therefore was to show teachers and teacher assistants how to teach poetry and literature in sign language. I thus was keen to offer our teachers who teach Deaf learners more in-depth training and then discussed the possibilities with the Department of General Linguistics. The ETDP-SETA was then approached to find funding for 30 students to undertake training at Stellenbosch University," says Steyn. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn has been involved with the education of Deaf people for the past three decades and was head of the Thiboloha School for the Deaf and Blind in Qwaqwa in the Free State before being seconded to De la Bat for the launch of the SASL curriculum. She also completed her MA in the SU Department of General Linguistics in December 2015, focusing specifically on language and literacy acquisition by Deaf Foundation Phase learners in her thesis. In a report of the WCED in 2015, she said the following about the implementation of SASL as a first language: "Deaf children who are born into hearing families do not have the privilege of learning language in a natural manner from birth. It is only when they go to school that a Deaf child is exposed to Deaf adults and friends and that they learn sign language. South African Sign Language is the first language of Deaf people in South Africa and is equivalent to any spoken language. It has been proven scientifically that a child's mother tongue must be established firmly and be in place before an additional first language can be mastered."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During her time at De la Bat she noticed how Deaf learners in the pre-school classes started participating more in lessons because they now had sufficient Sign Language vocabulary to participate more easily thanks to the pilot project. Previously, sign-supported Afrikaans or sign-supported English (these are spoken languages that are converted into signs word for word, some of which were artificial, non-SASL signs) were used as language of teaching and learning in schools for the Deaf. This deprived learners of exposure to SASL in the classroom. With the rolling out of the SASL curriculum, SASL is also implemented as language of learning and teaching in schools for the Deaf – as early as in the preschool classes. Deaf learners' SASL skills therefore are being improved from early on and they have the opportunity to receive their school training in a natural language.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The courses of the Department of General Linguistics accommodate 30 people at a time, who complete the Foundation and Sign Language Linguistics courses over six weeks, with one week of lectures on campus and the rest being done by way of directed self-study and distance teaching. The course on the Literature of South African Sign Language runs over two days and comprises lectures that are presented on the SU campus. According to Southwood, the purpose of the training is to sharpen teachers' knowledge of language and sign language as a language so that they can be better language teachers. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This is not a sector that received much attention in the past and the quality of teaching therefore is not up to standard. There also are some teachers who cannot use sign language fluently but who have to teach in sign language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"So besides for teachers' sign language skills needing to be improved, they also need to have knowledge of this first language of their learners so that a teacher can be better able, for example, to teach their sign language-using learners English or Afrikaans as language of literacy. Through these courses we help our teachers to do the latter by helping them to understand what language is, how it works and how it is learnt. Our courses cover concepts such as the nature, function and structure of human language, how human languages are used and understood, how they are processed and produced, and how these aspects are applicable to sign language."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn believes that the courses will not only lead to better equipped SASL teachers, but also will raise the profile and visibility of sign language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"South African Sign Language is a stigmatised language, with rules and principles such as any other language. It therefore helps the image of the language if academic institutions such as Stellenbosch University offer courses on it." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn has herself completed three courses to gain a better idea of the type of training that teachers received by way of the courses. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"There is no other way to describe it other than to say that it is really wonderful for me to know that teachers are now empowered to implement this curriculum with the knowledge that they have received from SU."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Thus far, a total of 61 teachers completed the three courses in June to October 2015, with a further 36 who started training in April 2016. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn is now encouraging other provinces to build up similar co-operation with local universities in their environment and to ensure that teachers are empowered in this manner. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Southwood and her colleagues, this co-operation with the WCED also offers many other exciting opportunities for the training of students at US. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Our department is very grateful to be part of this. Sign Language Linguistics is now a section of our second-year module in General Linguistics and we will also offer it as a third-year module from next year. We are also planning to offer Sign Language Acquisition to students as a subject in 2017. We therefore are not only busy strengthening the expertise of current teachers, but also preparing a new generation of students to qualify themselves as teachers of Deaf learners." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Steyn, the broader impact of the project, which they started in 2011, is the most important result of a longstanding aim of ensuring that SASL is recognised as a fully-fledged language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The Deaf child now receives the type of education that prepares him/her academically. My dream is to have SASL as a subject in our mainstream schools and that hearing people are also given an opportunity to learn sign language."</p><p><em>Photo: Nine Deaf students (of whom seven are teachers of Deaf students) completed the courses in Foundations of Linguistics, Sign Language Linguistics and Literature of SASL in March and received a certificate from Stellenbosch University. Mr Christopher Dontsa (fourth from left) completed all three courses. In front, from left, are Prof Johan Oosthuizen, Ms Annette Humphrey-Heyns, Nodumo Same, Christopher Dontsa, Phumla Mosia, Ncumisa Loliwe, Andiswa Fayindlala, Lazya le Roux, and Dr Frenette Southwood. At the back are Christoffer Galada and Simon Ndaba.</em></p>
'You have to play the cards you're dealt'http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6028'You have to play the cards you're dealt'Development & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p style="text-align:justify;">​​“You have to play the cards you're dealt." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This was just one of the tips that Matie Alumnus and Technical Team Manager at Amazon Web Services, Philip Parrock, shared with the 350 strong student crowd at the second Careers Café hosted by the Alumni Relations Office at Stellenbosch University (SU). <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Philip, who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer that develops in one's lymphatic system) in February 2018, talked not only about how he had turned what would be devastating news to anyone into a learning opportunity, but shared other important advice with the students too.<br></p><p>“Be honest about your skills and abilities. Set and manage your deadlines and be clear about how much work you can do. Try to think of success in the long term, not in the short term. If you have to work ludicrous hours to get a project completed, you might end up sacrificing quality and that will reflect poorly on you. In most cases, a well-executed project, completed in a reasonable amount of time is worth a lot more than a rushed, low quality project," he said. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Careers Café series was launched in 2016 by the office to provide a platform for alumni to engage with the university by offering their time and skills to help current students prepare for their future careers. Through this interaction, current students are able to learn from the real-life experiences of Matie graduates in the corporate world and benefit from advice and tips from them as well. Other career development opportunities on campus are also promoted through this event, encouraging students to further improve their work preparedness.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Philip's journey at SU started in 2010 after he returned from England, where he had worked in the hospitality industry. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">After travelling more than 13 000 kilometres from South Africa to England to see the world, discomfort with where he found himself pushed him to return to Cape Town six months later. Back in Cape Town, he took up a full-time job working as a care assistant for a local retirement home. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I spent a lot of time in Stellenbosch over weekends, because a few of my friends from Pretoria were studying there. That's when I first started thinking about studying at Stellenbosch University."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I actually applied very late, on 28 August, with only two days left before applications for degree programmes closed on 30 August," he adds and laughs. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Philip enrolled for a BA in International Studies in 2010 and upon completion of that degree, finished an Honours and Masters in Political Science at the university as well. As a student who lived off-campus in private accommodation, Philip joined the private student organisation (PSO), Pieke, in his first-year at varsity. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">PSO's are student house committee structures that are formed for private students. They are similar to the house committee's (well-known as HKs at Maties) of residences and usually grouped with residences and other PSOs to form clusters that work together to coordinate student social, cultural and academic activities, represent students in matters on campus and provide a united voice for those who fall outside of the more traditional university structures. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">As a student, he played both rugby and soccer in his second year. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I was not as focused on getting involved in student governing structures on campus," he says. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">But, by his second year, his interaction with male students from Pieke piqued his interest in these structures. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">At the end of his first year, he volunteered for Pieke's Second Years Committee and in 2012 became a member of Pieke's HK focused on social activities for students. A year later he was elected as Pieke's Primarius. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Working within university structures and being exposed to different people of different backgrounds, I had my first taste of bureaucracy, which would stand me in good stead as I went on to work in a massive multi-national company."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“By the end of 2014, I was working on the last draft of my Masters and getting ready to start looking for permanent work. I sent out 60 CVs to a number of companies in South Africa, but received no response from any of them. It's at that point that you realise you don't have the experience to compete with other applicants and that you need to gain that somehow."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">When he spotted a seasonal job advertised by Amazon Web Services, which is owned by Amazon, he submitted a CV, not sure where it would lead. AWS is the single largest cloud computing company in the world, with a 41% market share in public cloud computing and is larger than its next 10 competitors combined.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“After being told about seasonal jobs at Amazon Web Services, I applied and was called in for an interview. But during the interview they offered me a permanent job as a Technical Customer Service Associate in their global customer service department training new staff recruited to the company." <br></p><p>At the time Amazon Web Services was also expanding its customer service base in Cape Town. When Philip started at the company in 2015, there were around 50 people in the department. This would grow by 169 in 2016, and on to over 300 people today.<br></p><p>A year and a half later, he was appointed as a Team Lead for new Customer Service Associates where he oversaw a team of 15 people. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Suddenly there were additional responsibilities, beyond the overall performance management and administrative duties I was responsible for. Now I had HR matters to attend to, was expected to understand how to implement labour law practices, oversee staff welfare and various benefits."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Life was good. However, in February 2018, what had started as pain in his hip in late 2017 and had led to a full hip replacement, was diagnosed as cancer.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“An MRI scan showed that there where lesions on my femur moving right up into my back and that those lesions were coming from the inside of my body. The cancer had started eating away at my femur." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Two weeks later, Philip was sitting in the oncology ward at the Kuilsriver Netcare, getting his first round of chemotherapy.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I was out of commission for seven months and received chemo five days at a time." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">It's been less than a month since he was told that he is in remission, but already he is back at work. In September, he received a promotion and is now a Technical Team Manager. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This demonstrates my third tip – prepare yourself for the job you want so that when the opportunity comes, you are ready for it. So, while it may not seem like the right thing to do, if there is a promotion you would like to work towards or a different position that you would like to fill, do not think of it as an opportunity to prove yourself, think of it as a reward for proving yourself. In the business world it is very difficult to be given a chance, rather go out and make your own luck, prove that you can do the job so that when it comes to the promotion or job interview, the interviewer is so convinced by your ability that the interview is just a formality."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In the time that I've been with Amazon Web Services I've learnt that the base of knowledge and experience you accrue at university is useful, but to be truly successful, you have to go above and beyond what is expected of you to be successful in the long term."<br></p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li><em>​​Photo: Matie alumnus and Careers Café speaker, Philip Parrock (second from the right), with the students who won an opportunity to interact with him and learn about the soft skills one needs t0 develop a career. From the left are </em><em>Phathiswa Hohlo</em><em>, Marvin Koopman, Alumni Relations Coordinator at the Alumni Relations Office, Thandeka Mwakipesile, Olona Ndzuzo, Philip and his wife Lisa, who is also a Matie alumnus. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)</em><br></li></ul><p><br><br></p>
Occupational physicians can’t serve any masters, PhD study findshttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7024Occupational physicians can’t serve any masters, PhD study findsCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>When occupational physicians have to make difficult calls related to health and safety in the workplace, they shouldn't be loyal to either workers or employers because it could influence their behaviour or cloud their judgments. <br></p><p>“Because impartiality, integrity, trustworthiness and professional autonomy are required from occupational physicians, they shouldn't show loyalty to either employers or employees," says Sasolburg-based occupational medicine consultant Dr Gerhard Grobler who received his doctorate in Applied Ethics at the ninth ceremony of Stellenbosch University's December graduation on Friday (13 December 2019). </p><p>In his study, the first of its kind in South Africa, Grobler did a moral analysis of the apparent conflict of interest in the profession of occupational physicians. He says dual loyalty, or at least the suspicion that loyalty to either party would colour the occupational physician's judgement, has been a problem in recent times and creates ethical ambiguity. It's especially when workers are injured on the job that the issue of dual loyalty arises.<br></p><p>Grobler, who has 38 years of hands-on experience in occupational medicine, points out that companies or organisations employ occupational physicians to look after the health and safety of workers who are vulnerable to unemployment, regular retrenchments, poor and collapsing public healthcare, non-compliance with health and safety legislation in the huge informal sector and the inefficiency in the office of the Compensation Commissioner.<br></p><p>“Occupational physicians play an important role in ensuring that workers are not denied healthcare, compensation or related benefits for which they are eligible. It often takes staunch personal commitment of the leaders in occupational health to prevent individual cases from falling through the proverbial cracks. <br></p><p>“Their judgements must be based on scientific knowledge and technical competence and they must not do anything that compromises their integrity and impartiality. They can never allow any conflict of interest to influence their advice and verdicts.<br></p><p>“Occupational physicians cannot serve any masters. Their guiding principle is to serve the health and safety of all workers and that of everyone at risk of illness or injury related to the incapacity of workers – whether the latter are airline pilots, rock drill operators or abattoir staff."<br></p><p>Grobler adds that occupational physicians are medical doctors that workers, employers, labour unions, relevant authorities and society need to believe they can trust with stewardship of the health and safety of workers.<br></p><p>He says where professional autonomy, impartiality, fairness, veracity and sound judgment are vital virtues, loyalty could well be an obstacle because it invites stakeholders to attempt to change rulings made by an occupational physician.<br></p><p>“Employers understandably suspect that their occupational physician is dedicated to the interests of patients. Workers, on the other hand, quite comprehensibly expect the occupational physician, employed and paid by the company, to serve the employer's business interests.<br></p><p>“If workers or employers experience or suspect that an occupational physician identifies with one party or allows loyalty to influence his judgement, all of his decisions become questionable."<br></p><p>According to Grobler, there's not enough appreciation for the role and contribution of occupational physicians in South Africa, especially among doctors in private practice.</p><p>“The discipline is often disparaged by some doctors in private practice. The sentiment is 'why would a bright doctor choose to earn a salary by working for a boss in a factory environment?'. And 'why do they seem to side with the employer – who my patients tell me is unsympathetic and unfair?'. " <br></p><p>Having worked closely with many occupational physicians, occupational health nursing professionals and occupational safety professionals, Grobler says he understands their sentiments, as well as the difficulties they face and have to overcome.<br></p><p>“Hopefully, my study might stimulate awareness and reform regarding the ethical challenges in occupational health, especially given the perception that the discipline just protects the interests of big business." <br></p><p>Grobler adds that doctors in occupational medicine, less experienced occupational physicians, non-medical professionals in occupational health and safety, as well as academics who teach ethics in occupational health could benefit from his research. <br></p><ul><li><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Gerhard Grobler at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</li></ul><p><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p>Dr Gerhard Grobler</p><p>Occupational Medicine Consultant</p><p>Sasolburg</p><p>Cell: 083 6254085</p><p>Email: <a href="mailto:gerhardgrobler6@gmail.com">gerhardgrobler6@gmail.com</a> </p><p><strong>ISSUED BY</strong></p><p>Martin Viljoen</p><p>Manager: Media</p><p>Corporate Communication</p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>Tel: 021 808 4921</p><p>Email: <a href="mailto:viljoenm@sun.ac.za">viljoenm@sun.ac.za</a> <br></p><p><br></p>
Social work more than just a job for Dr Abigail Ornellashttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5542Social work more than just a job for Dr Abigail OrnellasSonika Lamprecht/Corporate Communication Division<p style="text-align:justify;">For many people choosing a career is a difficult decision, but for others, life experiences point them in a direction and it becomes a calling. Dr Abigail Ornellas, who received her PhD in Social Work this week, is one of the latter.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Ornellas and her twin brother were adopted when she was almost five years old, after spending four years in foster care. “The family who adopted us is incredible and has given us an amazing life and opportunities we probably would never have had. This has always given me a sense of wanting to make my life count for something. I was the first in the family to go to university and get a degree. They have been incredibly supportive and are very proud of me.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My experience in foster care has made me intrinsically aware of the importance of social work and the impact it can have on a life. Some of the experiences I went through as a child have also helped me in social work practice, to understand the importance of opportunity. This is all people really need to truly step into who they are. It has kept me humble."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">However, it wasn't until closer to the end of her social work bachelor's degree that she began to realise how much more the profession was capable of and responsible for, and its complex history.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In her fourth year of social work studies, she worked at a local state hospital and spent a lot of time working in the mental health ward. “My biological mother had dealt with mental illness, and so this was an area of interest for me. But I hadn't realised how social work could play an important role in this field. I became increasingly aware of the struggles in mental health as many public mental health facilities were being shut down due to deinstitutionalisation."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">This sparked an interest in the concept of deinstitutionalisation and she decided to focus her Masters on exploring this phenomenon in South Africa. “This was my first real entry into the world of social policy. What I would later realise was that deinstitutionalisation was linked to a much bigger concept – neoliberalism, which emphasises individualism, inequality as a driver for economic growth, protection of the privileged and elite, the commodification of care, the privatisation of services, and the idea that welfare creates dependency. These are all in direct contradiction to the social work values of collectivism, social justice, social cohesion and human dignity."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Following her Masters, she worked as a research fellow on an international staff exchange scheme for two years where teams from 11 different countries actively mapped the impact of neoliberalism on social care and welfare. “This experience had the greatest impact on my career goals in social work and academic research. It gave me that bigger picture. Living in different countries working with social workers who have incredible stories and varied backgrounds opened my eyes to the vastness of our profession. I truly fell in love with it. I began to understand that social work has a responsibility to resist global socioeconomic changes that did not serve people."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Something one of her professors said stuck with her. When talking about the concept of giving a person a fish as opposed to teaching them how to fish, he added, “but it doesn't help teaching someone to fish, if there is a fence around the pond".<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“That day I decided I would commit myself to finding ways of removing the fence – and that is macro and structural, and in my opinion, at the heart of the social work profession. We need to confront the system in which social injustice occurs at the individual level, to tackle things from the outward in."  <br></p><p><br></p>
SU’s Extended Degree Programme provides comprehensive student supporthttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6911SU’s Extended Degree Programme provides comprehensive student supportAsiphe Nombewu /Corporate Communication<p>​​​​​​​​​Thanks to the Extended Degree Programme (EDP), the future is full of possibilities for students such as Axola Dlepu, a BA Social Dynamics student who gained access to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) through the programme.</p><p>This innovative programme was instituted at SU in 2008 to deal with systemic obstacles to equity and student success and to assist students with additional academic support.</p><p>Coordinator of the programme, Dr Anita Jonker, says the EDP's role is to redress past inequalities and transform higher education by responding to new realities and opportunities.</p><p>According to Jonker, the programme is open to students who are interested in studying towards a Bachelor's degree with an average of 60–64,9% in their National Senior Certificate (NSC). She added that the National Benchmark Test (NBT) results, students' socio-economic status, as well as availability of places, are taken into consideration in EDP admissions.</p><p>EDP and mainstream students obtain the same degrees after completion of their undergraduate studies. The only difference is that EDP students do their first year over two years. Over and above their mainstream subjects, EDP students take modules that prepare them better for their graduate studies, such as Texts in the Humanities, Information Skills and Introduction to the Humanities.</p><p>In the first-year Texts in the Humanities, the focus is on academic reading and writing, plagiarism and referencing, , rhetorical structure, , text-linguistic characteristics, critical thinking and argumentation. The lectures are presented in separate Afrikaans and English classes to provide optimal academic support in students' preferred medium of instruction.</p><p>In Introduction to the Humanities EDP students are introduced to four different subject-fields, with a specific focus on multilingual technical concepts that provide a foundation for other subject fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences. All the terminology and lecture notes are available in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa and interpreters give students the opportunity to participate in lectures in their mother-tongues.</p><p>Students who speak Afrikaans, Kaaps and other related language varieties have a tutor, Jocelyn Solomons, who facilitates the tutorial discussions in these language varieties, and those who speak English and, inter alia, isiXhosa, have a tutor, Busiswa Sobahle, who facilitates the tut discussions in English and isiXhosa.</p><p>Extensive extra-curricular support is integrated into the academic offering to enhance student success. This includes the EDP mentor programme, which has received co-curriculum recognition and which is coordinated by Ms Shona Lombard. Here senior EDP students mentor first-year students with similar BA programmes and help them to adjust to the new challenges of university life.</p><p>Expressing his gratitude for being chosen to be part of the programme, Dlepu said, “The EDP programme has helped me a lot with academic support alongside being mentored. It made my life a lot easier than that of a mainstream first-year student."</p><p>The 20-year-old from Saldanah Bay encouraged other students in the EDP to use the programme to shine.</p><p>He said the EDP modules gave students a broader worldview and taught them how to engage with multilingual students from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.</p><p>Bavani Naicker, a 20-year-old BA Social Dynamics student from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) described the EDP as a comprehensive support system. She said they were given foundational knowledge to assist them in their studies.</p><p>“My highlight of the course was when we visited Parliament and interacted with representatives of the different political parties," she said.</p><p>Chloe Krieger, a BA International Studies student from Cape Town, said if it were not for EDP, she would have dropped out in her first year. “The EDP taught us crucial literacy and life skills that the basic education system failed to teach the majority of students."</p><p>Krieger said that the EDP helped her to develop an awareness about critical issues that she would not otherwise have been aware of. “I was also inspired to be an activist and to be an agent for change. I am currently serving on the 2019/2020 SRC and I am learning so much about issues that marginalised groups on campus face that many people overlook," she said.</p><p>Students who have provisionally been admitted to the EDP and their parents/guardians are invited to the first meeting with EDP lecturers and mentors on Friday, 24 January 2020 from 09:30 to 12:00 in Room 3001 of the Wilcocks Building at 52 Ryneveld Street.</p><p>Prospective students who want to read more about the EDP, can consult the EDP website at <a href="/english/faculty/arts/edp/home">http://www.sun.ac.za/english/faculty/arts/edp/home</a><br><br></p>
George Claassen first recipient of SU’s Media Lifetime Achievement Awardhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6985George Claassen first recipient of SU’s Media Lifetime Achievement AwardCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​<br></p><p>Prof George Claassen, former Head of the Department of Journalism at Stellenbosch University (SU) and deputy editor of <em>Die Burger, </em>is the first recipient of SU's Media Lifetime Achievement Award. </p><ul><li>Read the full "commendatio" <a href="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/George%20Claassen%20commendatio%20-%20skoon.docx">here</a> <br></li></ul><p>Claassen (70) received the award at an event at the Wallenberg Research Centre at STIAS in Stellenbosch on Thursday (5 December 2019). The event saw Excellence Awards made to teaching, research and to those who have excelled at communicating their research and expertise through the media</p><p>Reading a “commendatio" at the event, Mr Martin Viljoen, Manager Media, said that Claassen can rightly be called the father of science communication in Africa. “He had a profound impact on both journalism as a profession and as a field of study."  </p><p>Viljoen added that Claassen excelled in science journalism and the ombud system as important spheres of contemporary journalism. He was the first journalism academic in South Africa to develop a course in science and technology journalism with peers at American universities specialising in science and technology journalism considering his work to be the best in this field.</p><p>“It is safe to say that Claassen shaped the thinking of a whole generation of journalists operating in South Africa and beyond, imparting his knowledge on science communication and implanting in journalists a keen sense of detecting fake news and pseudo-science. He has an ability to see into the media future and has been preparing journalists accordingly, including for the explosion of social media, fake news and propaganda appearing on our screens. In many regards, Claassen led the charge in countering the impact of this onslaught on, in and from the media and it came as no surprise that he was the organiser of the first international conference on quackery and pseudoscience." </p><p>Claassen also dovetailed science journalism with establishing the first comprehensive course in cultural and scientific literacy in SU's journalism programmes, while paying close attention to advancing environmental journalism and reporting on climate change. </p><p>Claassen is synonymous with the media ombud system on the continent, Viljoen said. He established the media ombud system in Media24 and is currently, after his retirement from the company, still ombud for the company's community newspapers and public editor of News24. </p><p>He has served as a board member of the International Organisation of News Ombudsmen and Readers' Editors, he is a columnist on the subject and organiser and speaker of various conferences and symposia on an international scale.</p><p>At age 70, Claassen seems to show no signs of slowing down. Apart from his work as ombud, he is a science correspondent for the SABC and still teaches at SU's Department of Journalism. <br></p><ul><li>​Apart from the Media Lifetime Achievement Award, SU staff were also honoured in the categories Media Thought Leader, Newsmaker and Co-worker<br></li></ul><div>​<br></div>
Helping choirboys hit the right notehttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6403Helping choirboys hit the right noteCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​Hitting the right note can become difficult for choirboys during puberty when their voices break and conductors don't know whether to let them sing or to take a break. Simple vocal exercises can, however, help them to overcome this problem. <br></p><p>“Research has shown that by doing simple vocal exercises under supervision, adolescent boys can continue singing during puberty and this will benefit them as adult singers," says Xander Kritzinger a music teacher and choirmaster at Stellenbosch High School. He recently obtained his Master's degree in Music Performance at Stellenbosch University.<br></p><p>Kritzinger did an in-depth literature review of existing research by American and European voice specialists and vocal and choral pedagogues regarding pubescent singers and whether these boys should be allowed to sing as opposed to resting their voices. <br></p><p>“Since the changing boy voice is one of the most problematic aspects of young choristers, the aim of my study was to provide South African conductors and vocal pedagogues with a basic understanding of how to manage the vocal change of pubescent boys through the use of vocal exercises." <br></p><p>Kritzinger says despite South Africa's rich, strong and vibrant choral culture, little focus has been placed on vocal health and the development of young singers.    <br></p><p>“The question of how to deal with adolescent boys experiencing vocal change during puberty in a choral context has enjoyed even less attention." <br></p><p>For Kritzinger, the study was also personal. “I grew up singing in choirs and went to the Drakensberg Boys Choir school. During that time, my voice changed and I struggled with the technical side of singing.<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Xander.jpg" alt="Xander.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:455px;height:319px;" /><br></p><p>“Working with young singers, especially boys with a changing voice, is important to me. As much as I fell in love with the research process, the kids that I work with will gain much more from my research."<br></p><p>Kritzinger says his literature review showed that the modern approach is to let teenage boys continue singing during puberty when they experience a significant increase in the length and thickness of the larynx which sits above the windpipe in the neck and in front of the food pipe. The larynx manipulates pitch and volume.<br></p><p>“The findings showed that most researchers encourage singing during puberty and also recommend certain vocal exercises that boys can do in choral rehearsal spaces.<br></p><p>“These are general exercises that enhance vocal health. These examples start with exercises for the general improvement of breath control as a basis of proper vocalisation, followed by exercises for the improvement of healthy vowel placement and for the successful blending of the old higher boy voice with the new lower voice.<br></p><p>“Some of these exercises include hissing breath while sitting in a chair and lying on the back; panting; place a fingertip at the base of the larynx and speaking the vowels a, e, i, o, u while slowly breathing in through the nose before each vowel; unhinging the jaw slightly and speaking the words 'every orange'; inhaling slowly through the nostrils while lightly biting on the tongue; and using the fingertips to stabilise the jaw position slightly downward and back."<br></p><p>Kritzinger also highlights the importance of a good posture for all aspects of singing, adding that it allows for good breath control, which in turn forms the foundation for sound production. <br></p><p>“Thus, when working with adolescent boys, it is important to create a culture where maintaining a good posture is essential.<br></p><p>“Doing these exercises for no more than 30 minutes a day would have the best results in my opinion.<br></p><p>Breathing and vowel placement exercises should preferably be done before puberty." He says the blending of the old higher boy voice with the new lower voice happens during puberty and the settling phase afterwards.</p><p>Kritzinger says although not all of these exercises have been tested on adolescent boys going through the various stages of voice mutation, they could, however, significantly contribute to the education of healthy singing. <br></p><p>“These are practical solutions for choral conductors to deal with the pubescent boy and his changing voice that could result in a generation of pubescent boys equipped with tools to cope with vocal change."<br></p><p>He says through understanding the changing boy's voice more boys can experience proper vocal guidance through choral pedagogy. This, in turn, can place South Africa on a world stage of vocal pedagogy development.  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It is hoped that this might serve as encouragement for music educators dealing with the changing boy's voice."<br></p><p>Kritzinger says he would like to continue in this line of research and evaluate the true impact of the suggested vocal exercises on boys over a period of three years.<br></p><ul><li><strong>Main phot</strong>o: Drakensberg Boys Choir. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.</li><li><strong>Photo 1</strong>: Xander Kritizinger at his graduation. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</li></ul><p><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p>Xander Kritzinger</p><p>Stellenbosch High School</p><p>Tel: 021 887 3082    </p><p>Cell: 0748893848</p><p>Email: <a href="mailto:xander.kritzinger@stellies.com">xander.kritzinger@stellies.com</a> </p><p><strong>          ISSUED BY</strong></p><p>Martin Viljoen<br></p><p>Manager: Media</p><p>Corporate Communication</p><p>Stellenbosch University </p><p>Tel: 021 808 4921</p><p>Email: <a href="mailto:viljoenm@sun.ac.za">viljoenm@sun.ac.za</a> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p><br></p>
World Social Work Day allows social workers to take a deeper look at their professionhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5552World Social Work Day allows social workers to take a deeper look at their professionLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​​ World Social Work Day is celebrated across the globe on 20 March each year. This year, in celebration of the international day of recognition, the Social Work department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences hosted a talk by Dr Abigail Ornellas entitled <em>'These clothes don't fit us anymore!' – Expanding Your Idea of Social Work</em>.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The talk forms part of a number of events being hosted by the department in celebration of the university's centenary year.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The theme of World Social Work Day is promoting community and environment sustainability – these are big topics, and topics that social workers can at times shy away from, or limit themselves to certain areas with the belief that this is as far as their impact or reach can go," said Ornellas, who has just completed her doctoral degree in Social Work at Stellenbosch University (SU). (Read her full story <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5542%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B">here</a>.)<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“However, through my experience and research I have found that the social work profession is both capable of, and responsible for, a much grander vision than I believe we sometimes allow for ourselves."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For this reason, Ornellas wants to challenge social workers to “go further and be bold in their right and responsibility to tackle politics, economics and macro-scale challenges" and to engage with policies and government structures to make a far bigger impact on society.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She encouraged social workers to start thinking of their field as a professional one, where they are capable of bringing about change at a higher level and not only on the ground.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">During her talk she highlighted how the revised global definition of social work of 2014 calls upon social workers to “go beyond the individualistic approach we have been too long comfortable with, and to consider the collective and the structural causes of individual challenges".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In particular, I often refer to a need to understand the impact of economic and political theory and landscape on our profession – to critically question the intervention activities we undertake and ask, “Why? Why this way? For what and toward what?," said Ornellas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For the last few years, Ornellas has been focusing on expanding her research knowledge of social work and building up her expertise. Currently, she is a postdoctoral research fellow of the Social Work department at SU. Before completing her doctoral degree at the university, she spent some time travelling as a full-time research associate for the department across 11 countries. This expedition was funded thanks to two EU International Research Staff Exchange Schemes. Over the years her work has also been published in more than seven scientific international publications and she has lectured and presented at conferences in South Africa, Portugal, Italy, Spain, England, South Korea, Russia, Finland and India.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While she did not work as a social worker following her studies, the degree programme in the department is set up in such a manner that students gain extensive practical work experience in both child and family welfare as well as clinical social work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It is these experiences during her Masters studies, she said, that led her to the concept of deinstitutionalisation.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It was my work experience at a local state hospital in my final year that really propelled me into research as I became aware of the role of policy and socio-political dynamics in social work practice – which could limit or free the profession to fulfil the mandate of the global definition. My work was concentrated in the psychiatric ward, and at the time South Africa was undergoing a transition toward deinstitutionalisation of mental health care. This where institutional psychiatric facilities are shut down and mental health care is shifted to community-based initiatives," explained Ornella.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This sounded like a noble idea," said Ornellas, “but when implemented in a neoliberal (a policy model favouring free-market capitalism) environment, it is very much a cost-saving exercise that frees the state from the expense of mental health care, turning this responsibility over to civil society without sufficient community development and support or facilities."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It is one of the main reasons, she said, that the Life Esidimeni tragedy took place. In 2016, the decision to move patients from Life Esidimeni, a state-run facility, to a number of NGOs that were ill prepared to accommodate these patients led the deaths of 144 vulnerable patients.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Some of the conversations I had with social workers attempting to navigate this shift and assist vulnerable groups affected by deinstitutionalisation still haunt me today. They felt they were hitting out against a solid brick wall. The frustration and desperation was concrete. It made me realise that social work research had a role to play in challenging the structural systems that hinder social workers on the ground," added Ornellas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“What I have come to realise," she said quoting from research she conducted with Prof Lambert Engelbrecht of the Social Work department at SU and Dr Gary Spolander  from Coventry University in the UK, “is that unless social work is able to correctly identify the nature and causes of social distress, it will be unable to recommend and support appropriate interventions."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“That said, I am deeply aware of the limitations in my understanding, as an academic. I am not facing what they face. But my commitment in my academic endeavours is to social workers grappling with these challenges. It's why my doctoral thesis highlighted the need to move outside of the small academic periphery, into unpacking and showcasing the views of frontline social workers," she said.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">What she does know, said Ornellas, is that “social work has a critical role [to play] in the current neoliberal and globalisation debate and should not just acquiesce to priorities such as budgetary constraints and premises that one cannot make a difference beyond helping those on the ground. It also plays a critical role in challenging policies of current regimes that do not work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Social work should use research, pedagogy and critical voice to support it in facilitating social change, development, cohesion and social stability, as well as the empowerment and liberation of people."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She encouraged the up-and-coming social work students to feel “empowered in their role and profession and to “truly be committed to social justice in its entirety rather than being an instrument or bystander to someone else's agenda and also touched on the need to “decolonise social work training from its Western colonialist, capitalist and neoliberal underpinnings".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While she may not have practised as a social worker, Ornellas has intimate knowledge of the child welfare system. As a young child Ornellas and her twin brother often found themselves in foster care as their mom, who tried in vain to deal with a mental illness, struggled to raise Abigail and her brother.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My biological mother wanted to take care of us but it wasn't easy for her and we would often need to be moved into places of safety. I have always been grateful to her for finally making the decision to give us over to another family permanently. We were adopted when we were almost five years old by an amazing South African family of musicians – they have been an incredible support system and really are some of the best people I know. The experience was hard and certainly there have been things I have needed to work through as an adult, but I wouldn't really change things. It certainly has made me a better social worker. But it is only one part of my story and there is so much more that has shaped me and my love for this profession. I try not to make it the central focus."</p><p>It is one of the reasons that led her to social work in the end, she told the audience.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My first experience of social work was when I was in foster care as a child and so I have always believed it to be important – in my world, it's always been quite large and meaningful and it played a significant role in bringing me to where I am today, so I have a deep respect for it. As I went further into my studies, the more I learnt, read and witnessed, the more I believed this profession was even bigger than I had initially imagined in terms of its impact potential and role in society. Though the practice of social work is something I deeply love and wish to engage in in the near future, it was the profession itself, the people, the concept, that really grabbed me. This was something I wanted to be a part of."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Today as the world focuses on World Social Work Day, Ornellas hopes that the day is not only celebrated as a day for social workers to reflect on the “collective mandate into which our day-to-day practice falls , but that the day also implores us to think bigger, reinvigorates our commitment on days we struggle to remember why we do what we do and if we make any difference. It also encourages us to remember our strength and value as a profession – we are a globally collective body that plays such a massively significant role in societal wellbeing."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In a country like South Africa, we need to know what our society needs and whether we are meeting those needs and if not, what needs to happen in terms of structural barriers for us to meet those needs. There are a lot of professions doing therapy work but there are not a lot of professions like social work, that engages with the macro aspects of the social systems that lead to social ills."</p><p><em>Photo: Dr Abigail Ornellas was the guest speaker at the World Social Work Day event of the Social Work department at Stellenbosch University. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses) </em></p>
SU produces first book and DVD set for Deaf and hearing childrenhttp://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6414SU produces first book and DVD set for Deaf and hearing childrenLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a group of staff and postgraduate students at the General Linguistics Department at Stellenbosch University (SU), the first South African Sign Language (SASL) book and DVD set that can be enjoyed by Deaf and hearing children simultaneously was recently released. The set consists of a multi-authored, English book called <em>Sign Language Saves</em>and an accompanying DVD in five languages – South African Sign Language,  Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa and isiZulu. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Deaf children can now read the English book or watch it in SASL on the DVD while hearing children are able to follow the story along with their Deaf peers in one of the four language translations on the DVD while also seeing the SASL.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The team that worked on the project included Maryke van Velden, a Project Illustrator and Creative Writer who handled the aesthetic aspects of the book design; Sima Mashazi, a junior lecturer and MA student who did the SA English and isiZulu voice overs; Frenette Southwood, who did the Afrikaans voice over; and PhD student Khanyiso Jonas, who did the isiXhosa voice over. Vanessa Reyneke, a Project Coordinator for the development of teaching and learning support material in SASL in the General Linguistics Department, was responsible for the signing on the DVD and the management of the entire project. The project is funded by the Rector's Strategic Fund, with an additional book to follow later in 2019 and another in 2020.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Reyneke, the project came about when the team started investigating the possibility of developing SASL reading material for schools that Deaf and hearing learners could read together. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We came across a Flemish children's book that we could turn into a SASL book and DVD with characters that were unique to South Africa," explains Reyneke.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Reyneke approached the authors of the book, who agreed that the story could be reproduced in South Africa and the sign language amended to reflect SASL signs.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">To get to the final book and DVD set, the team had to follow a long process from securing copyright to publish the story to having some illustrations amended – the animal characters, all South African wildlife, use signs in the illustrations, and the original Flemish Sign Language signs had to be replaced with SASL signs.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We were attracted to the Flemish book because the characters were all animals found in Africa. We thought familiarity with these animals would open up the story to children in South Africa from different cultures and backgrounds. There were some things we were requested to keep the same, such as Noah the Lion's tail, which twitched to show just how excited he was. He is also the main character and always wears red in the Flemish book, so we did the same in the South African version." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Thereafter we had to translate the SASL on the DVD to Afrikaans, South African English, isiZulu and isiXhosa. While there is only one sign language version of the story on the DVD, the voice overs were done in the different languages."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">One of the most important things about this series, says Reyneke who is Deaf herself, is that hearing children are now exposed to and made aware of SASL. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">While sign language is taught in Deaf schools, it is not an official South African language and therefore not one that many hearing children are exposed to. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Sign language is something that remains hidden, out of the public eye. Even when you see sign language on TV, it is being done by an interpreter in the bottom right corner of the TV screen. So we have limited exposure to South African Sign Language," says Reyneke.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“With this book, we can expose hearing children to sign language, which I think is a great idea as it will create an awareness of the language amongst hearing children. Who knows, it may even prompt them to learn the language in order to communicate with Deaf persons."  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The book and DVD set will also allow hearing parents with Deaf children to read with their children. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The majority of Deaf children are born to hearing parents and thus far there has been no SASL material around that allows hearing parents to enjoy a story with their Deaf child. It creates an opportunity for parents and children to bond and build their relationships."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">While Reyneke took the lead on the project, she is quick to point out that she would not have been able to complete the project without the assistance of her colleagues, Van Velden and Mashazi, and PhD student, Jonas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Because I cannot hear, I also had to rely on an interpreter, who is able to hear and sign and who could ensure that that the tempo of my signing matched that of the spoken language and visuals seen on the screen."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Now that the first book and DVD set is publicly available and another two are in the process of being illustrated, Reyneke hopes to also produce a DVD with voice overs in the Afrikaans dialect, Kaaps. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We did a quick test by sharing the second book, which is currently being illustrated, with a group of hearing and Deaf children and they really loved it. They were asking when they could get some more books like this to read."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For now, Reyneke is content knowing that together with her colleagues, they have opened up a whole new world to both hearing and Deaf children to enjoy together. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This is something that was not available in South Africa before and now that it's been done, I hope it shows that a lot more is possible in future." </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: The first South African Sign Language (SASL) book and DVD set that can be enjoyed by Deaf and hearing children simultaneously was recently released thanks to the hard work of the General Linguistics Department at Stellenbosch University and funding received from the Rectorate's Strategic Fund. (Photo supplied)​</em></p>