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Emergency medicine specialist a pillar of strength in times of Covid and cancer medicine specialist a pillar of strength in times of Covid and cancerFMHS Marketing & Communications / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie – Engela Duvenage<p>​During her childhood years Prof Heike Geduld, Head of the Division of Emergency Medicine at Stellenbosch University (SU), shied away from drama and tried to “quieten" emotionally laden situations as soon as possible. And because she aspired to be a doctor from early on, her dolls frequently developed “chickenpox", applied with her red khoki pen. <br></p><p>The decision to specialise in emergency medicine came during her third year at medical school when she had to accompany her very sick grandmother to GF Jooste Hospital in Manenberg. The calm professionalism of the emergency personnel amid the chaos of a weekend evening in a Cape Flats hospital hit her like a thunderbolt. <br></p><p>Since then, the world has just become a bit calmer whenever Geduld is in the vicinity. <br></p><p>In 2008 she was part of the very first class of emergency specialists in Africa who graduated with an MMed degree in specialist emergency medicine. Since then, she has been President of the College of Emergency Medicine of South Africa and of the African Federation for Emergency Medicine in Africa, allowing her to leave her mark on the continent. She advises the World Health Organisation (WHO) on issues relating to her field and has been involved in writing textbooks and many articles. <br></p><p>These days she doesn't see patients anymore, yet it remains a privilege to help in cases of need on an airplane, on her way to work or even at a wedding.  </p><p>“Emergencies happen. Sometimes I can't do much, but I can bring stability to the situation. We know it's okay when everyone is calm. We are here, we can make a plan. <br></p><p>“Even if I only say I know it is bad. That I'm there for the person. When the worst possible things happen to people, they often only want someone who can take control and defuse or de-escalate the situation."<br></p><p>Since being appointed as Head of the Division in 2019, equal access to emergency services, also for people in rural areas, has been high on Geduld's agenda. <br></p><p>“Someone suffering a heart attack in a rural area must have access to the same level of care as someone residing next to Tygerberg Hospital," she said. “We need more ambulances. And more specialists in rural areas. In the culture of the medical world the expectation remains that everything should happen in central city hospitals." <br></p><p><strong>Covid-19 strikes</strong></p><p>The first months of the Covid-19 pandemic was a severe test for her ability to remain calm – when local healthcare and related services had to start preparing based on the events that were unfolding overseas. </p><p>“I was still finding my feet as an academic leader. I thought I was tough, but then Covid happened." <br></p><p>Geduld helped draft policy on the management of critically ill patients, as well as on the resultant workflow between different specialist areas such as critical care and emergency medicine. She was constantly only a phone call away to help ambulance personnel of the Western Cape's Emergency Medical Services decide which emergency cases should be prioritised. She was also closely involved in the planning, erection and functioning of the Hospital of Hope for Covid-19 patients in an enormous industrial area at Brackengate. <br></p><p>“We learnt a lot and we made many mistakes. It was a huge test for us as people, but also for the system, to see where our breaking point is, as well as our strengths. <br></p><p>“I was proud of the way in which people moved out of their comfort zones to address the situation as one that is larger than a single person. The system works through relationships. People worked together. We had a clear vision and achieved things. People didn't have boundaries. They trusted one another. <br></p><p>“We must remember that now that we're returning to 'normal'. I sometimes miss the camaraderie." <br></p><p><strong>Cancer strikes</strong></p><p>Geduld confesses that she didn't take proper care of herself in those 25-hour days. There was no time.  </p><p>And then her own crisis struck. Shortly before Christmas 2020, between Covid waves, she was diagnosed with cancer. <br></p><p>Today, she can recall with a smile how she managed to fit in a breast biopsy during a meeting about ICU beds. And how nonchalant she was. <br></p><p>One day she was still chatting with colleagues in a lift. The next day, they barely noticed her when she was wheeled into the same lift as a patient. <br></p><p>During clear days in-between chemotherapy sessions, she tried to work on Covid-related guidelines for the WHO. On others she was only able to sit. She couldn't count. Her memory was poor. Due to neuropathy, her hands and feet ached for three months. Her hair frizzed. </p><p>All of these were typical chemo side-effects. The difference was that it was happening to her. The Doctor. <br></p><p>At the end of 2021 Geduld returned to work. Lists and notes remain part and parcel of her activities. Just in case. <br></p><p>She is eternally grateful towards her friends, family, colleagues, and so-called Chemo Buddies (the people with whom she shared chemotherapy treatment), for walking the road with her. <br></p><p>“My identity is no longer only that of doctor, but of a human in the world. I understand patients' experience of healthcare services better. I'm more in touch with how to handle the system." <br></p><p>Since her illness, she has often informally helped to calm several cancer patients and their families by “translating" their diagnosis and treatment – because she now understands both worlds intimately. <br></p><p>“People often tell you to be 'kind', but not how to achieve that. I've found a little spot in the world of chemo circles where I can be operationally kind. Where I can do something.  </p><p>“Sometimes I call someone who is enduring pain. And we talk about it; that it's okay to feel that way. And what to do about it. <br></p><p>“Sometimes it feels as if I've achieved more in those 20 minutes than in my whole day of sorting out systems."<br></p><p> <br></p><p><strong>More about Prof Geduld</strong></p><ul><li>1998: Qualified as doctor at the University of Cape Town (UCT)</li><li>2003: Obtained a diploma in primary emergency care from the College of Emergency Medicine of South Africa</li><li>2008: Obtained an MMed in specialist emergency medicine via Emergency Medicine Cape Town (EMCT), a joint SU and UCT specialist training programme </li><li>2009: Head of Education and Training at EMCT</li><li>2016: Received the South African Medical Association's Humanitarian Award </li><li>2018: Inducted in the Order of the International Association of the Federation for Emergency Medicine</li><li>2019: Appointed as associate professor and Head of SU's Division of Emergency Medicine </li></ul><p>​<br></p><p><em>Photo caption: Prof Heike Geduld</em><br></p><p><em>Photo credit: Damien Schumann</em><br></p>
Doctoral study examines advantages of the use of plain language study examines advantages of the use of plain language Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​When confronted with financial, medical, legal and public documents that influence your life, you want them to be comprehensible and clear. If such documents are written in plain language, it would be so much easier to read and understand them and to then make informed decisions. <br></p><p>This is the opinion of Dr Annie Burger, who received her PhD in Afrikaans and Dutch on Monday 27 March 2023 at one of Stellenbosch University's (SU) March graduation ceremonies. The title of her thesis was “The link between contextual and outer textual factors and the efficient application of plain language". </p><p>For her PhD, Burger, a postdoctoral research fellow in SU's Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, studied the characteristics of readers (e.g. income, qualification level, home language, and the extent to which they felt the documents provide useful information), as well as the context (financial, medical and legal contexts) of plain language documents. </p><p>She analysed existing plain language documents such as brochures about the Consumer Protection Act, an information sheet on how to care for a baby, as well as a financial form. She also used online questionnaires completed by respondents to gather data. </p><p>Burger points out that plain language is prescribed by South African legislation (such as the Consumer Protection Act) for public documents to ensure that the target reading group is considered. </p><p>“It is also generally used in financial, medical and legal contexts, for instance in forms to be completed by clients, information sheets about readers' rights, as well as in documents explaining medical procedures to patients. </p><p>“Unfortunately, the vocabulary and style of complex documents often make them inaccessible for target reading groups. Plain language can help them to read and understand these documents and thereby gain access to important information. Therefore, the focus has to be on the target reading group and the information they have to obtain from the document." </p><p>Burger says the results of her study show a link between the context in which a plain language document is situated, how useful and understandable it is and how readers experience it. </p><p>“Due to the complex nature of financial and legal contexts, respondents found it difficult to understand the plain language documents and to experience it in a positive manner. On the other hand, they found plain language documents in the medical context easier to understand and they also had a more positive attitude towards these documents." </p><p>A relationship also exists between readers' qualification level, their home language, how engaged they feel with the documents and their experience of the documents, she says.</p><p>“The higher their qualification level, the worse their experience of plain language documents was. Afrikaans-speaking respondents had a better experience with the documents than speakers of other home languages. Respondents' experience of the documents improved when they felt they provided information that they can use."</p><p>According to Burger a good plain language document is therefore a document with which the target audience can engage and from which they can gain the information they need. </p><p>She says her research can help document designers to better understand the nature of plain language, to look at the characteristics of the context of plain language documents as well as the characteristics of the readers of plain language when plain language documents are created.  </p><p>“It will also help them to make plain language documents understandable and useful and to improve the readers' experience of them."</p><p>Burger stresses that document designers should test their own documents with readers. “Testing is extremely important when creating a document. Each reader group is different and only testing can determine which aspects of the document work and which don't." </p><p><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Annie Burger at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</p><p> </p><p>​<br></p>
Doctoral study can help prevent spreading of bovine TB in African buffaloes study can help prevent spreading of bovine TB in African buffaloesCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>A researcher at Stellenbosch University (SU) has found an innovative way to diagnose bovine Tuberculosis (TB) in African buffaloes and identify infected animals more accurately and rapidly. <br></p><p>This can help to prevent the spread of the disease in one of the continent's most iconic and high-valued species.<br></p><p>“It is essential to diagnose bovine TB quicker and to accurately identify infected buffaloes early because these animals keep the disease-causing bacteria in the ecosystem, which can cause infection of other species such as lions, wild dogs, rhinos, elephants, and antelopes," says Dr Charlene Clarke from the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at SU. <br></p><p>“This could negatively impact wildlife tourism, the economy, and conservation programmes," cautions Clarke, who obtained her PhD in Molecular Biology on Tuesday 28 March 2023 at one of SU's March graduation ceremonies. <br></p><p>For her doctorate, Clarke combined molecular and immune-based tests to help improve the diagnosis of bovine TB in buffaloes. She says current strategies to eradicate bovine TB require the testing of animals, followed by the culling of infected animals.<br></p><p>As part of her study, Clarke collected tissue and swab samples from the mouths and noses (oronasal) of infected animals while they were immobilised. She also collected oronasal swabs from buffaloes that tested negative for bovine TB. These swabs also allowed her to identify and characterise nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTMs) species in buffaloes. All the swab samples were stored in a medium that inactivates all pathogens and stabilises the DNA, thereby rendering them safe to handle.<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Clarke-fieldwork.jpg" alt="Clarke-fieldwork.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:505px;height:377px;" /><br></p><p>Clarke then used these inactivated samples together with a human TB diagnostic test to detect the presence of <em>Mycobacterium bovis</em> DNA in buffaloes. <em>M. bovis</em> causes bovine TB in wildlife and livestock species. She says her study is the first to combine these methods for the detection of bovine TB in buffaloes.<br></p><p>“We found that the combined use of swab samples, stored in a pathogen-inactivating medium, and the test used to diagnose TB in humans made it possible to accurately and rapidly identify <em>M. bovis</em> infected buffaloes, while ensuring the safety of the humans who handle samples that potentially contain zoonotic bacteria.<br></p><p>“We further found that there is a great diversity of NTM species present in buffaloes, some of which seem to cause false positive bovine TB test results in these animals. The wide diversity of NTMs in buffaloes identified in this study provides a foundation for further research to investigate their role in wildlife bovine TB diagnostic testing and host immune responses.</p><p>“This novel approach provided a safe sampling method and quick, accurate results, making it possible to bypass the requirement for costly and laborious tests of mycobacterial tissue grown in a laboratory for diagnosis."<br></p><p>Clarke adds that the human TB diagnostic test, which is available in many developing countries with African buffalo populations, could potentially minimise the need to transport samples from remote locations to specialised laboratories for bovine TB diagnosis. It could also provide same-day results to diagnose infected buffaloes. Currently, it takes more than two months before results from tissue grown in the laboratory are ready.<br></p><p>Clarke says her study is important given the factors that complicate accurate diagnosis in buffaloes, such as the confirmation of infection by mycobacterial isolation from tissue grown in a laboratory, which relies on time-consuming methods with limited sensitivity; exposure of buffaloes to more than 250 NTMs that are closely related to <em>M. bovis</em>; and the inappropriate interpretation of diagnostic tests. </p><p>“The presence of NTMs, for example, can cause false-positive test results which can lead to the unnecessary loss of animals due to culling, and quarantine of the farm on which 'positive' animals were identified." <br></p><p>Going forward, we need to continuously improve the diagnostic tools for accurately identifying infected buffaloes at early stages of infection, before they shed bacteria and transmit it to other animals, concludes Clarke. <br></p><p>​​​“The development of new molecular-based tools that are used directly on collected samples is a step in the right direction, as it significantly improves the accurate detection of infected animals at a faster turnaround time than culture-based tests, thereby giving same-day results. This will dramatically improve disease control strategies in the quest towards eradicating bovine TB in South Africa."​<br></p><p><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Charlene Clarke at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els<br></p><p><strong>Photo 1</strong> (supplied): Dr Charlene Clarke and fellow researcher Dr Wynand Goosen collecting samples.<br></p><p> </p><p><br></p><p>​<br></p>
World TB Day: FMHS experts in the news TB Day: FMHS experts in the newsFMHS Marketing & Communications / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie<p>​​​World TB Day is observed annually on 24 March and the theme for this year's commemoration was “YES we can end TB". A number of TB experts from Stellenbosch University's <a href="/english/faculty/healthsciences/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences</strong></a> were featured in the media in regard to this important topic.</p><p><a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">TB in children isn't being controlled – it's key to fighting the disease for everyone else</strong></a><br> <em>The Conversation</em> – 23 March 2023<br> Dr Tom Nyirenda – Department of Global Health</p><p><a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">TB kills 75 000 children in Africa every year: how this can stop</strong></a><br> <em>The Conversation</em> – 23 March 2023<br> Dr Graeme Hoddinott – Desmond Tutu TB Centre</p><p><a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>The forgotten form of TB that can carry on forever</strong></span></a><br> <em>financialmail </em>– 24 March 2023<br> Prof Brian Allwood – Department of Medicine</p><p><a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Animal TB Research</strong></a><br> <em>RSG</em> – 24 March 2023<br> Dr Wynand Goosen – Department of Biomedical Sciences</p><p><a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Could you or a family member have TB? Act now</strong></a><br> <em>Daily News</em><br> Foster Mohale (DoH) & Yogan Pillay - Department of Global Health​​<br></p><p>​<br></p>
Stellenbosch University Senate supports Vice-Chancellor’s pursuit of inclusivity and multilingualism University Senate supports Vice-Chancellor’s pursuit of inclusivity and multilingualism Corporate Communication and Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking<p>​By an overwhelming majority, the *Senate of Stellenbosch University (SU) on Friday (24 March 2023) adopted a motion of confidence in and support of the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, and his management team in their pursuit of inclusivity and multilingualism at SU. </p><p>The motion, tabled by Prof Geo Quinot of the Faculty of Law and seconded by Prof Mbulungeni Madiba, Dean of the Faculty of Education, read: </p><p>“Having noted the SAHRC [South African Human Rights Commission] report of 14 March and SU's response to it, Senate affirms its confidence in and support of the Rector and Vice-Chancellor and his management team in their pursuit of inclusivity and multilingualism at SU." </p><p>In motivating the motion, Prof Quinot submitted to Senate the following: “Having regard of the recent announcement in the public media by a SU council member of the intention to institute a motion of no confidence at Council in the Rector, Professor Wim de Villiers, based on the Human Rights Commission's investigative report into Allegations of Unconstitutional Language Practices at certain SU Residences of 14 March 2023, I would like to state that: </p><p>1. We as SU academic leaders are committed to multilingualism as set out by the SU Language Policy and indicated by the widespread implementation thereof by our university community. </p><p>2. The non-compliance with, or incorrect implementation of, such policy by certain groups and/or individuals in specific contexts within the institution does not support a vote of non-confidence in the Rector but rather supports a) the continued reflection by the university community on how to best become an inclusive and multilingual institution where everyone's rights are protected and promoted, and b) support of Management, including the Rector, to realise an inclusive and multilingual community through effective and thoughtful implementation of relevant policies in a complex, diverse and large institution. </p><p>3. Such collaborative pursuit would be appropriate to give effect to the constitutional responsibility to redress the wrongs of the past and the realisation of equality for all." </p><p>Prof Madiba supported the motion and said that he and the deans “view the intended no-confidence vote as a serious matter of concern, not only for the Rector, but for all of us, as language policy and planning matters in this university is a collective and collaborative effort.  </p><p>As one of the leading experts of language policy and planning, I can confidently say the intended no-confidence vote against the Rector has no basis. What our university has achieved with regards to multilingualism is not matched by most universities in the country." </p><p>He added that the language policy has gone through the scrutiny of various courts including the Constitutional Court. “Even the South African Human Rights Commission report couldn't find any fault with regards to our language policy, except one phrase which it recommended should be changed.  </p><p>We are not saying our language policy is perfect, as there is no such a policy in the world.  </p><p>The Management, under the leadership of the Rector, has always demonstrated a commitment to inclusive multilingualism, and also provided the requisite budget for implementation.  </p><p>Our budget on multilingualism is way above the budget of most other universities in the country. </p><p>Whilst it might be true that our language policy was not correctly interpreted by students at only two residences out of thirty-one residences during the orientation period as per the SAHRC report, these mistakes cannot be taken to represent the state of language policy implementation in the university and the overall performance of the Rector with regards to the implementation of multilingualism in the university."   </p><p style="text-align:left;">He concluded by saying that there are “many good success stories to tell with regards to the implementation of inclusive multilingualism at our university which the respective council member chooses to ignore in pursuit of his intended no-confidence vote."  </p><ul><li><div style="text-align:left;">The Rector and Management Team recused themselves from the meeting during discussion of the motion.</div><div style="text-align:left;"><br></div> <br><br><em>*Senate consists of the professors of the University, the Rector's Management Team, two members of council and representatives of amongst others the Student Representative Council, permanent academic staff and administrative staff.  </em> <br><br><em>The Senate is responsible, and accountable to the Council, for the academic and research functions of the University. It regulates learning, teaching, research and academic support functions at the University, and makes recommendations to the Council in respect of policies concerning academic matters.</em> </li></ul><p><br></p>
Stellenbosch University remains firmly committed to human rights, dignity, multilingualism and inclusivity University remains firmly committed to human rights, dignity, multilingualism and inclusivity Corporate Communication and Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking<p>​Stellenbosch University (SU) takes cognisance of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) Report on language in SU residences. “Human dignity is non-negotiable at SU and must be respected and upheld. SU was disappointed by the incidences that came to light and notes the recommendations of the SAHRC report on language at SU. I am on record as having apologised to anyone who may have been negatively affected by these incidences. SU remains steadfastly committed to advancing human rights, multilingualism and inclusiveness for all its students, staff and stakeholders and are continuously evolving to emphasise this mindset and compliance with the SU Language Policy (2021)". <br></p><p>This is the response of Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, to the findings by the SAHRC in the matter pertaining to claims that there was a prohibition on the use of Afrikaans in certain SU residences during the 2021 welcoming period.   </p><p>SU notes that the Commission states that the 2016 Language Policy [the previous Language Policy] would not allow any student to be prohibited from speaking their language of choice in residences. Furthermore, according to the SAHRC report, there is not “a blatant and concentrated ban on Afrikaans inspired and motivated by a concerted effort from the Respondent [SU] and certain individuals in university management to eradicate Afrikaans from SU."   </p><p>Notwithstanding this, in his apology, the Rector noted that “if there were students who were instructed not to use Afrikaans in a social context, “it is wrong", it was not the policy of the university, and that SU is committed to an ongoing investigation and rectification process. Many positive actions aligned with the remedial actions recommended by the Commission have already been undertaken, such as emphasising that in the spirit of multilingualism there should be no prohibition on the use of any language including Afrikaans. Further planned actions include ongoing training for residence heads and student leaders that are in line with the remedial actions in the report.    <br></p><p>“I am on record as stating that SU's multilingual journey is not easy. Mistakes are inevitable and we will learn from them towards charting a progressive multilingual and inclusive South African 21st century university. Within this context the University has already acted since the first reports about the use of language in a particular residence that came to the fore in 2021 – as was acknowledged by the Commission," says Prof De Villiers.   </p><p>“This, together with other initiatives that the University is currently offering to enhance the welcoming and inclusive nature of our institution, will go a long way in safeguarding the rights and privileges of all our stakeholders," says Prof De Villiers.  <br></p><p>“SU recognises that transformation is multifaceted and for it to be embedded, systemic and effective, it needs to be addressed in a multifaceted manner. It has been an ongoing journey for past two decades. This process is messy, difficult and asks for self-reflection. We will continue this journey and when and where necessary, focus on closing the gap between policy and practice, commitments and lived experiences. Our aim is to continue to contribute to solutions to the betterment of society." <br></p><p>The various aspects of transformation which SU addresses, include structural transformation; an emphasis on values; institutional culture; policies and plans; the student and human resources profile; research and social impact; partnerships; and the health and wellbeing of staff and students.  <br></p><p>Prof Deresh Ramjugernath, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching, echoed Prof De Villiers' sentiments: “While we don't necessarily agree with all the factual findings of the report at this early stage, the University will now consider the Commission's findings, proposed remedial actions and recommendations in detail and also consider its actions going forward."  </p><p>​He added: “SU is acutely aware of the importance of student leaders being informed about the Language Policy and the use of language on campus, residences and social spaces. The Commission's interpretation of how events unfolded and how language is used in residences are noted as we continuously evaluate the use of language across the campus, as well as in mproving the language policy implementation".     <br></p><p>Read the SAHRC report <a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;">here</a><br></p><p> <br> </p><p>Photo: Anton Jordaan<br></p><p>  </p> <iframe src="" title="YouTube video player" width="100%" height="415" frameborder="0"></iframe>
SciMathUS: Double success as twins get second chance Double success as twins get second chance Daniel Bugan<p></p><p>As the first twins to complete the SciMathUS programme, Rochelle and Jennelle Cloete serve as shining examples to disheartened matric students - that second chances can knock twice on the same door. </p><p>Stellenbosch University's SciMathUS University Preparation Programme gives high school learners who have passed Grade 12 but do not qualify for higher education selection a second opportunity to improve their National Senior Certificate (NSC) results in mathematics, physical sciences and accounting. This will enable them to re-apply for university programmes after they have successfully completed the programme.</p><p>The Eerste River siblings entered the SciMathUS programme in 2019 after discovering that their matric mathematics marks were not good enough to get accepted into SU for their intended course of study – a Bachelor's in Accounting (BAcc).</p><p>Rochelle recalls: “Our accounting teacher at Kleinvlei High School told us about the SciMathUS programme which we could apply for to improve our maths marks. And when we applied, both of us got accepted into the accounting stream."<br></p><p>Jennelle says the year-long programme was everything they hoped for and more.<br></p><p> “We gained a deeper understanding of maths and the basic principles thereof, which we had not had before. Thus, our maths marks improved exponentially. Consequently, we got accepted for our BAcc studies at SU the following year."<br></p><p><strong>BAcc graduates</strong><br></p><p>She says the programme also equipped them with academic literature and thinking skills as well as an introduction to economics and computer literacy skills, “which helped us in our undergraduate year as those basics were integrated in some of the modules for our degree".<br></p><p>Their SciMathUS journey also provided them with some valuable lessons which they do not hesitate to share with the class of 2023. “Do not be afraid to ask questions in class. Ask the lecturer for help if you are unsure about something, be it academic or personal. Stay up to date with your work and do your homework as required."</p><p>The sisters concede that their participation in the programme as twins had its advantages and disadvantages.<br></p><p>“One of the advantages was that we at least had each other in the beginning when the environment was new and strange. This was especially advantageous since we stayed in a hostel during that year for the first time in our lives," says Rochelle.<br></p><p>“One of the disadvantages was that we didn't really deem it necessary to make any new friends as we had each other. But in the end, we did actually make really good friends," says Jennelle.<br></p><p>The pair obtained their BAcc in 2022, but their SU journey is not over yet. Rochelle is planning on completing a postgraduate diploma in accounting this year, while Janelle will attempt her postgraduate studies in 2024. They plan to qualify as Chartered Accountants in the future.<br></p><p>And now, as they stand poised on the cusp of their dreams, the twins are full of gratitude for the SciMathUS programme that gave them the second chance to not only improve their maths marks and pursue their chosen degree, but also to change their lives forever.<br></p><p>​"Thank you SciMathUs for helping us to take control of our future, and for making our parents proud of us again."​</p>
Reforming public procurement in South Africa public procurement in South AfricaGeo Quinot<p><br><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The African Procurement Law Unit (APLU), which is housed at the Stellenbosch University (SU) Law Faculty, initiated a national conversation on public procurement reform in South Africa during a two-day gathering in Johannesburg from 27 to 28 February 2023. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The initiative is a response to the call of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture which noted that “any serious attempt to address the problems which beset public procurement must go well beyond state capture … the process of reform requires a coherent and comprehensive plan of action which needs to bring the public and private sectors together in a joint initiative to restore proper standards and discipline within the procurement system."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The event drew over 120 delegates from the South African public procurement/supply chain management community to discuss all aspects of public procurement with the aim of framing a vision for the future of public procurement in South Africa. Delegates came from all levels of government, including key national departments such as Treasury; Justice and Constitutional Development; Public Works and Infrastructure; Trade, Industry and Competition and Defence as well as from public bodies such as the NRF; Public Service Commission; SARS; Competition Commission and SANRAL. Suppliers to the government as well as supplier organisations such as Consulting Engineers South Africa and the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa were present. Participating NGOs included Corruption Watch; the Legal Resources Centre; Amabhungane; Open Ownership, OUTA and the Public Service Accountability Monitor as well as some of South Africa's leading procurement academics and lawyers. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The topics discussed ranged from the forthcoming public procurement legislation for South Africa, how best to deal with the restriction of poor performing and corrupt suppliers to government, the liability of public officials for procurement failures, the need for the state to buy local goods in order to support local industrial development, how to accelerate transformation via public procurement practices, increased use of technology to improve efficiencies in procurement and to reduce abuse and how best to deal with challenges to tender awards. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Prof Geo Quinot, APLU director and professor of law at SU, noted in his opening remarks that “public procurement is the backbone of service delivery in our country, of making real the aspirations of our constitution, of driving economic development. By coming together, all of us can strengthen that backbone to the benefit of everyone who live in our country."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The issues raised during the plenary engagements were categorised under five themes and discussed in more detail by smaller working groups. The themes are institutional arrangements; procurement integrity; targeted procurement; procedures & efficiency; and dispute resolution. The South African public procurement community intends to contribute to the ongoing reforms of the public procurement system and following the two-day workshop, the national conversation continues by way of workstreams where delegates will continue to explore the themes raised in the working groups.  For each theme, an issue paper will be collaboratively developed to set out inter alia the nature of the issue, its role in the procurement system, possible ways in which it could be regulated, suggested operating procedures and standard documents, and the skills required to manage the issue. The issue papers will include case studies, from South Africa and beyond, on how the issue has been successfully addressed. These issue papers will be discussed at further gatherings, including another national workshop in June. The outcomes can feed into the public consultation processes that will accompany new procurement legislation, and the crafting of regulations and other implementation instruments under a new procurement statute, once passed. Generally, the initiative aims to assist all stakeholders in improving procurement practice – from the regulators tasked with designing and overseeing the procurement system; to the leadership of organs of state in using procurement as a strategic tool; to procurement officials in their daily acquisition functions; to businesses wanting to supply goods and services to the state. </p><p>The South African procurement community believes that by bringing together the experiences of officials awarding tenders, of enterprises selling to the state, of regulators monitoring the spending of public money, of NGOs focusing on the impact of procurement on civil society and of academics researching and training on all aspects of public procurement, the South African society can collaboratively construct a fit-for-purpose procurement system that can deliver best value for money. <br></p><p>​<br></p>
PhD study can help the visually impaired read mathematical equations, diagrams study can help the visually impaired read mathematical equations, diagrams Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>​Blind or visually impaired persons access documents by using a screen reader that reads a text out loud or displays it on a special hardware braille device. However, a large body of technical and scientific material remains inaccessible to them because mathematical equations and diagrams are represented as images and not as text that a screen reader can read. <br></p><p>This is according to Dr Rynhardt Kruger who recently obtained his doctorate in Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU). For his PhD, titled <em>Technical document accessibility</em>, Kruger developed methods that could make it easier for blind or visually impaired people to read non-textual graphical information in electronic documents (<strong>see video</strong>). His supervisors were Profs Thomas Niesler and Febe de Wet from the Digital Signal Processing Research Group in SU's Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Kruger works as a researcher and developer in voice computing at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p><br></p><ul><li>Cellphone users click <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here </strong></a>for the video.</li></ul><p>As someone who was born blind, Kruger says he knows first-hand how difficult it is to read equations and diagrams in scientific documents. “During my studies, it was not always easy to access the material in my textbooks. I realised that many technical documents do not adhere to existing accessibility standards for blind or visually impaired people." Despite this, Kruger became the first blind person at SU to obtain both his BSc honours and master's degrees in computer science. For his Honours project, he developed a programme that allows blind musicians to study music notation. For his master's degree, Kruger researched methods to allow blind people to access online virtual worlds.<br></p><p>​He is passionate about broadening access for people with disabilities and says it is important to continuously search for assistive technologies that blind or visually impaired people can use to read equations and diagrams in scientific texts.<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/RynhardtKruger_pic_orig.jpg" alt="RynhardtKruger_pic_orig.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:346px;height:407px;" /><br></p><p>“Currently, graphical material must first be converted to an accessible format before they can read it. The problem is that diagrams are still only accessible through textual descriptions or tactile diagrams, which are costly to produce. Textual descriptions are often inadequate to describe the complex relations between components of diagrams such as lines and rectangles or the contours of a geographical map. <br></p><p>“Also, when equations are available in an accessible format, they must be read in a linear fashion since this is how mathematics is expressed in currently accessible formats. This hinders blind or visually impaired readers from accessing the visual layout of the equation."<br></p><p>According to Kruger, blind or visually impaired readers can use his methods to explore diagrams, geometric shapes and equations through sounds and as gestures on a touch screen or by text-based navigation.<br></p><p>He explains: “Diagram content is played to users as a special form of sound from which they could interpret the content being explored. For example, in the case of a descending line from upper-left to lower-right on the screen, the resulting sound would be a tone descending in pitch. <br></p><p>“I devised two gestures that blind or visually impaired people could use to explore content on a touch screen. When one finger is dragged across the screen, the content directly under the finger turns into a sound. When two fingers are dragged across the screen, the line between the two fingers acts as a scanner, and all content encountered by that line becomes a sound."<br></p><p>Kruger says that to convey an equation to readers, the different elements of the equation are represented as “rooms that they can walk through". “The directions between rooms reflect the visual layout of the equation, so that, for example, the reader would have to move right in order to visit an element which is situated visually right of the element where the user is currently located."<br></p><p>He points out that the equations used in his study were similar in format to other inaccessible equations that readers might encounter in published material.<br></p><p>Kruger emphasises the significance of his study and says it showed that blind or visually impaired readers are able to identify the basic components of a diagram and to explore previously inaccessible equations using his approach.<br></p><p>“My methods allow blind or visually impaired readers to access graphical material directly and read equations and explore diagrams by just using a tablet instead of having to pay for costly hardware or conversion services.<br></p><p>“These methods will help to get an idea of a diagram's shape where the shape itself is important (such as a previously unknown geometrical shape), and for accessing already published material which was produced without taking accessibility standards into account."<br></p><p>Kruger says he would like to see his methods built into a book reader application that will allow readers to study diagrams and equations directly from books.<br></p><ul><li>​<strong>Main photo</strong> by Gerd Altmann from <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Pixabay</strong></a>. <strong>Photo </strong>1: Dr Rynhardt Kruger​</li></ul><p><br></p>
SU loses valued and loyal friend loses valued and loyal friend Corporate Communication and Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking<p>​"Not only has the University lost an extremely talented council chairperson, but a valued and loyal friend of the University." <br></p><p>This is according to Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU). The University learnt of the passing yesterday (31 January 2023) of Mr Ainsley Moos, Chairperson of the SU Council and passionate Matie alumnus.  </p><p>"This is obviously a huge shock to the university community and it comes, to say the least, at a time when the University has depended heavily on his management expertise and his proven experience as a communications specialist, but also in terms of his skills as manager of stakeholder relations in the corporate world.  His support to me personally was inspirational. Matieland has indeed lost a great friend. His family and loved ones are in our thoughts at this sad time," says Prof De Villiers. </p><p>“Ainsley was passionate about Stellenbosch University and the role the University, its staff and students should play both in the country and on the global stage and he worked hard to share this vision," said Dr Nicky Newton-King, Deputy Chair of Council. “His humility and calm leadership stood the Council in good stead as it dealt with a series of critical challenges in the past year. The University has been so lucky to have counted Ainsley amongst its leaders at this crucial time in its history." </p><p>Mr Moos was a member of the executive team of the financial services company African Rainbow Capital.  </p><p>He has served on the Council since 2014 and was, amongst others, Chair of the Council's Remuneration Committee, a member of the Executive Committee and the Human Resources Committee. He was elected Deputy Chairperson in 2018 and started his terms as chair on 3 December 2021. </p><p>Mr Moos is an SU alumnus who obtained the degrees BA, BPhil (Journalism) and an MBA from the University. He has also completed leadership programmes at GIBS, Wits and Harvard. <br></p><ul><li>The SU Council has a supervisory responsibility for academic and operational matters, as well as institutional policy and strategy at the institution. <br></li></ul><p><br></p>