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SU’s Extended Degree Programme opens many doors for graduates’s Extended Degree Programme opens many doors for graduatesCorporate Communication/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie <p>​<br></p><p></p><p>No less than 42 graduates whose academic potential had been unlocked thanks to the Extended Degree Programme (EDP) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU), received their qualifications at the University's December 2019 graduation ceremonies this week.</p><p>Of the 42 EDP graduates, 19 of the students received distinctions during their studies at SU. One of those students, Tammy Jefthas, received 18 distinctions and will be doing a MA (Geography and Environmental Studies) next year. </p><p>“The EDP is a wonderful opportunity to not only gain a degree but offers much more. It sees the potential in students and sometimes even before a student sees it in themselves. My field of study presented to me the opportunity to grapple with current pressing geographical issues and I see myself using my knowledge gained to make a difference in society," says Jefthas.</p><p>SU launched the EDP in 2008 to help deal with systemic obstacles to equity and student success and to assist students with additional academic support. </p><p>According to Alex Zeeman, who managed to obtain no less than 16 distinctions during her studies, the EDP programme was a lifesaver after she received poor matric results. “I thought my life was over, but the lesson that university has taught me is that you're stronger than you think you are."</p><p>For Vuyolwethu Qinela, who obtained nine distinctions during her studies, the programme not only helped her excel academically, but also gave her the opportunity to do an exchange abroad. </p><p>“I was an average student in high school, so I never thought that I could achieve anything greater than just passing. The Extended Degree Programme, I believe, gave me a better advantage over mainstream students in that I was given foundational modules that covered all topics that are covered in most social science modules, while also improving my critical thinking skills," says Qinela. </p><p>Tamaryn Taylor Fourie from Eerste River says one of the highlights of being a student at SU for her is the fact that many doors were opened and that she had many opportunities. “Some amazing highlights would be when I had the opportunity in 2017 to travel to Johannesburg to represent the University at the Cradle of Humankind as part of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. I was able to engage with other like-minded individuals and expand my network. In 2018, I was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society," says Fourie.</p><p>In addition to this, Fourie had the opportunity to travel to Germany as an international student at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, which is one of SU's partner institutions.</p><p>Through the EDP, Fourie was also able to impact many lives by being a mentor and senior mentor for first-year EDP students, class representative on the PSO committee and a member of other campus-wide societies and organisations.</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 <em>Texts in the Humanities</em>, <em>Information Skills</em> and <em>Introduction to the Humanities</em>. </p><p>The EDP 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). Extensive extra-curricular support is also integrated into the academic offering to enhance student success.​<br></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"></a> <br><br></p><p>In the photo from left, Vuyolwethu Qinela, Tamaryn Taylor Fourie and Alex Zeeman​. ​<br></p><p>Photo by Stefan Els. <br></p><p><br></p>
Occupational physicians can’t serve any masters, PhD study finds 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=""></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=""></a> <br></p><p><br></p>
“Hugely symbolic” Chancellor’s Luncheon at Goldfields Residence“Hugely symbolic” Chancellor’s Luncheon at Goldfields ResidenceKorporatiewe Kommunikasie / Corporate Communication<p></p><p>Stellenbosch University (SU) concluded its last graduation week of the year on 13 December 2019 with a Chancellor's Luncheon, held at its Goldfields Residence for the first time.<br><br></p><p>“It is hugely symbolic that this event – a highlight on the University's calendar – is taking place here. This residence was built in 1987 to accommodate black, coloured and Indian students because at that time the Group Areas Act was still in place, and they could not be accommodated with white students on the rest of campus. It's hard to believe, but that's how it was under apartheid," SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers told the audience.</p><p>The Chancellor's Luncheon is held twice a year for new recipients of the University's honorary doctorates, PhDs, Chancellor's Medal and Chancellor's Awards. At its December graduation ceremonies, SU again awarded a record number of qualifications – 5 857 degrees, diplomas and certificates, including 154 PhDs, of which 50% were awarded to black African, coloured, and Indian students.</p><p>“Access to the University and all its residences has long since been opened in full, and I am glad to say that we have an ever more diverse and integrated student body and also staff body here at SU today, although it remains a work in progress. But this residence deserves recognition as an important role-player milestone on our journey towards inclusivity," Prof De Villiers said.<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/IMG_5423.JPG" alt="IMG_5423.JPG" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:460px;height:311px;" />​<br></p><p>“Through the years, it accommodated many students who would go on make their mark in society – is illustrious 'Goldies' like our own Prof Mohammad Karaan and Dr Leslie van Rooi, Francois Groepe, who served on the Reserve Bank' board of directors for 14 years, actress June van Merch, and the Springbok rugby player Breyton Paulse, to name just a few.</p><p>“The first residence head was Prof Willie Esterhuyse, who would play an important role in South Africa's political transition as a facilitator in the negotiations phase before there were official talks. One of the stories told of those days, is that Prof Esterhuyse received Thabo Mbeki here. Of course, the students heard about it, and also got the opportunity to speak to the man who would later become South Africa's President.</p><p>“A residence head who came later was Pieter Kloppers, who is still in Student Affairs to this day. And he credits his experience here at Goldfields with giving him hope for the future, and with laying the foundation for much of the innovative work done in Student Communities."</p><p>Prof De Villiers also pointed out some of the challenges experienced by Goldfields residents. </p><p>“Those who stayed here as students in those days also remember the feeling of being marginalised and isolated here on the edge of campus, even ostracised and discriminated against. We have to own up to that, as we admitted in our Centenary year in 2018 that there were mistakes in our history. For this we have deep regret."</p><p>The Chancellor's Luncheon took place in Goldfields' new dining hall, which has been in use since the start of the year.</p><p>“The residence decided to name it 'Sada Oms', a Khoisan phrase meaning 'Our House'," Prof de Villiers explained. In an earlier interview, the current Residence Head, Renee Hector-Kannemeyer, told Matie Media the name “speaks to transformation and honouring first nations".</p><p>“So, welcome here in Sada Oms, our house, in Goldfields, our residence, at Stellenbosch University, which belongs to everyone, not to any particular group," Prof De Villiers concluded.</p><p>Commenting on the event, Van Rooi, Senior Director: Social Impact and Transformation at SU, said, “I cannot begin to express how significant Friday's Chancellor's luncheon was. I'm very sure that it will also be true for the old Goldies. To think that the community on the outskirts of campus (more than just in terms of its physical location) became the centre of our University community really was a deeply symbolic act."<br></p><p> <em><strong>TOP: Arriving at Stellenbosch University's Chancellor's Lunch at Goldfields Residence, from left to right, Prof Wim de Villiers, Dr Ronel Retief, Prof Ronelle Carolissen, Prof Linus Opara, Prof Usuf Chikte, Ms Ellen Tise and Mrs Masoodah Chikte. </strong></em></p>
Bongani’s legacy will live on long after his departure from SU campus’s legacy will live on long after his departure from SU campusCorporate Communication Division/Sandra Mulder<p>​​Although Bongani Mapumulo, an honours graduate, has completed his journey at Stellenbosch University (SU) and will now bid the campus farewell to pursue a career, his legacy of making SU a better place for persons with disabilities will remain on campus for many years to come.<br></p><p>Bongani received his Honours BA degree in Intercultural Communication <em>in absentia</em> from the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at the seventh graduation ceremony at the Coetzenburg Centre today (12 December). He was a full-time residential student of Huis Russel Botman House for five years, first completing his undergraduate studies and then his honours degree majoring in Political Science, Sociology and Social Anthropology. He was also the head of Dis-Maties, a society that promotes awareness of students living with disabilities and advocates for their issues to ensure they have positive academic and social experiences on campus.</p><p>“As a resident of the only residence named after thought leader and late academic Prof Russel Botman, I have developed my consciousness and duty-based outlook on the world based on his ideas and teachings. His influence, even from his grave, has been priceless to who and what I have become," he says.</p><p>A part of the legacy Bongani created was as a member of this year's Students' Representative Council (SRC) in the portfolio of special needs. He contributed by promoting awareness for persons with disabilities. Although this portfolio was temporarily implemented as a pilot phase, it is now under consideration as a permanent portfolio in the SRC.<br></p><p>“The SRC is representative of the student body of SU. There are many students with special needs and therefore they need to be represented. The campus community will definitely have more empathy and understanding for the plight of the students with special needs if the SRC becomes involved," says Bongani.</p><p>But one of the things Bongani will probably be remembered for most, is the example that he has set to current students, prospective students with disabilities and others who experience some sort of hardship. His journey at SU is proof of his belief that there is “another world outside your disability or hardship you experience. We should strive to live an abundant life free of the physical limitations our bodies impose upon us." </p><p>Bongani's story started in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal where he was born and bred. At the age of four, he sustained a spinal cord injury and after years of medical procedures, he managed to walk slowly with the assistance of leg braces and crutches. He attended special schools for the disabled until he matriculated. He uses an electronic wheelchair to move around and during his years at Stellenbosch he became a familiar sight on campus. </p><p>“I had become used to being in a boarding school, being surrounded by many other learners in wheelchairs, on crutches or having some form of disability. I spoke isiZulu and had never been outside of KwaZulu-Natal. When I came to Stellenbosch, I was the only one in a wheelchair on campus in a strange province away from the comfort of my familiar surroundings," he says.</p><p>Bongani still clearly remembers how, shortly after he had sent his application to Stellenbosch in 2013, he received a phone call from the SU Disability Unit (DU). “The people from the University called me to inquire about the specifics of my disability, what I needed and what devices I used. I was surprised and felt that the University cared and that I would be in safe hands there. Therefore, I picked Stellenbosch. I never even heard back from the other two universities," he recalls.</p><p>During his five years at SU, he has indeed had a transformative student experience. Stellenbosch and the Western Cape became his second home, while he built a priceless network with the people he engaged with. He grew stronger in himself and became wiser – to such an extent that he is comfortable with the thought of making the Western Cape his permanent home.</p><p>His driving force is the thought of “just becoming". “I see challenges, which I have had my whole life, as opportunities to better myself. While other people say a challenge 'happened to' them, I will say the challenge 'happened for' me. Challenges improve your strength of character and ability to adapt. I have all these challenges to thank for the eternal optimistic spirit I embody that informs everything I do." </p><p>One of the next challenges that will “happen for" him is finding a job in the human capital and development field where he can engage with people and that will enable him to live life to the fullest as the outgoing and visionary person he is.<br></p><p><br></p>
PhD recipient thinks out of the box to benefit pomegranate industry recipient thinks out of the box to benefit pomegranate industryCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​Sometimes you have to think outside the box to solve a problem. This is exactly what Dr Matia Mukama from the Postharvest Technology Research Laboratory at Stellenbosch University (SU) did when he designed new multi-layer ventilated cartons that could soon help increase pomegranate export volumes per unit container, reduce packaging material needs, lower energy costs for cooling pomegranates and keep them fresher for longer.  <br></p><p>As part of his doctorate in Food Science, Mukama came up with the new design to help improve the overall performance of ventilated packaging in the pomegranate industry. Globally, this is the first time that a multi-layer ventilated carton has been designed for the handling and export marketing of pomegranates. </p><p>Mukama, who hails from Uganda, received his degree on Thursday (12 December 2019) at SU's seventh December 2019 graduation ceremony. In addition to this achievement, he finished second at the 2019 South African <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">FameLab</strong></a> science communication and public speaking competition held in Durban.</p><p>His research forms part of the South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology's programme on “Next Generation Ventilated Packaging of the Future" led by Prof Umezuruike Linus Opara, the incumbent of the mentioned Chair. Prof Opara and his colleague, Dr Alemayehu Ambaw Tsige, supervised Mukama's doctoral study. <img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Mukama_Pomegranate.JPG" alt="Mukama_Pomegranate.JPG" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:300px;height:400px;" /><br></p><p>Mukama used specific computer-based techniques to (a) redesign the vent holes of pomegranate fruit cartons to improve airflow and cooling performance in stacks, and (b) to design new ventilated corrugated paperboard cartons that hold pomegranates in multilayers to improve cargo density, space and material utilisation. The best performing virtual prototypes were then physically manufactured and experimentally evaluated to meet industry standards.<br></p><p>“The new multilayer carton design uses comparatively less cardboard material, allows for a lot more pomegranates to be packed in a shipping container, cools pomegranates more uniformly and faster, and leads to savings in packaging material. Together, these allow for better utilisation of both storage and shipping container space, save trees, and save energy required to cool and maintain the required fruit temperature," says Mukama.<br></p><p>“Tests on the performance of the new multi-layer carton design showed that over 1,8 tonnes more pomegranates could be loaded into a shipping container compared to the current single layer carton design.<br></p><p>“In a standard refrigerated 12 m (40 ft) container loaded to capacity with 20 pallets of fruit, the new multilayer design will hold 4 800 more pomegranates (240 cartons) compared to the current carton used in industry. Based on the volume of fruit exported from South Africa in 2018 and assuming sea freight, the new multi-layer carton would require 26 less refrigerated containers than current commercial cartons."<br></p><p>Mukama points out that with multi-layer cartons about 15 152 less refrigerated containers would be required globally to handle fresh pomegranates. This would also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with refrigerated transport and cooling, he adds.<br></p><p>Mukama says the findings of his study highlight the need for proper carton vent design and vent-hole alignment in stacks of fresh fruit during postharvest handling, storage and refrigerated transport. <br></p><p>“This is important because the main limitation of single-layer pomegranate cartons is the improper vent-hole alignment when they're stacked in pallets. This creates hot air zones during forced air cooling, thereby delaying cooling, and resulting in non-uniform cooling of fruit inside the carton. Both inadequate cooling rate and improper temperature along the supply chain reduce the quality of pomegranates."  <br></p><p>As to who will benefit most from his research, Mukama mentions those in the pomegranate industry, consumers and the environment. <br></p><p>He says they will now patent the new multilayer design and also conduct extensive commercial export trials.<br></p><p><strong>Main photo</strong>: Dr Matia Mukama at the graduation ceremony (<strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els). <strong>Photo 1</strong>: Dr Matia Mukama working in a pomegranate orchard.<br></p><p><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p>Dr Matia Mukama</p><p>Postharvest Technology Research Laboratory<br></p><p>Faculty of AgriSciences</p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>Cell: 0846720286</p><p>Email: <a href=""></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=""></a> <br></p><p><br></p>
Visual impairment does not deter Loandrie from excelling impairment does not deter Loandrie from excellingAsiphe Nombewu /Corporate Communication<p>​​<span style="text-align:justify;">​After spending the last four years working on her</span><span style="text-align:justify;"> </span><span style="text-align:justify;">Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) degree, Loandrie Potgieter will be among the 5 853 students who will graduate at the 2019 December graduation ceremonies at Stellenbosch University (SU).</span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Despite her visual impairment, Potgieter was one of the top academic achievers in the Department of Social Work since her first year in 2016. She will receive her Bachelor's degree in Social Work <em>cum laude</em> on Thursday.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">KC, her guide dog will accompany her as she walks up to receive her degree.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Potgieter says her personal attributes played a significant role in ensuring what she describes as an exciting and fulfilling academic journey at Stellenbosch University (SU). </p><p style="text-align:justify;"> “SU has had a big impact on me as an individual; however, my personal traits – resilience, optimism, self-efficiency and determination – helped me to overcome barriers in the environment."</p><p>Potgieter was born with an eye condition and had functional vision up till 2013. “I did everything normally, except for when using a computer or reading a book (had to hold it closely).</p><p>In 2013, my eyesight deteriorated overnight, I had to figure out new ways of doing things."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">But, says Potgieter, being visually impaired did not change her personality. “I am still the person I always was and I still have the same outlook on life, and the same personality. Being visually impaired presents you with a different set of challenges to overcome and it makes life interesting in various ways."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Although it can be very challenging at times, she says she gets by with the support of friends and family.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The 30-year-old, who hails from Port Elizabeth, says that even though it took her a while to figure out what she wanted to study, her mind is made up now that Social Work is the career for her. She intends to do her Master's degree next year and eventually practise social work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My Master's research topic is about measuring and building resilience in disabled persons," she says.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I am very passionate about social work and enjoyed my training. I also did various additional things besides academics, which contributed to the richness of my academic journey. These included a summer school in Belgium, completing some short courses and giving a presentation at a conference."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She says graduation signifies an end of her undergraduate career, and although she feels a bit sad it also gives her a sense of satisfaction. Potgieter says she believes in doing things to the best of her ability. “I am passionate about everything I do.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“SU is a resource rich environment that offers many opportunities such as summer schools and short courses. I used these opportunities, which brought me to where I am today." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">She says her degree course focused on practical education, where they were taught the theory, but were also expected to demonstrate in reports how they applied this theory in practice. “This means that SU social work students graduate with theoretical as well as practical experience, which makes them well-rounded professionals."</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p><br></p>
SciMathUS offers a second chance at achieving dreams offers a second chance at achieving dreams Asiphe Nombewu /Corporate Communication<p>​​​A second chance, coupled with hard work and the determination to succeed, has seen Phumeza Gova, a beneficiary of the SciMathUS programme, take to the stage twice during Stellenbosch University's December 2019 Graduation Week.<br></p><p>Gova was awarded a BSc Degree in Geology during the Faculty of Science graduation, and this evening she will receive a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) during the Faculty of Education graduation ceremony.</p><p>Gova is one of many students who have been given a second chance to succeed through the SciMathUS programme. An initiative of Stellenbosch University (SU), the programme offers learners who have already passed Grade 12 (with an average of at least 60%) but who do not qualify for higher education, a second opportunity to improve their NSC results in specific subjects to enable them to re-apply for university programmes.  </p><p>Thanks to the support of a teacher who advocated for the SU SciMathUs programme, the 27-year old, who hails from Delft, took the train to Stellenbosch in January of 2011 to enquire and apply for the programme.</p><p>“After one year at SciMathUS, I was unstoppable in Maths and Physical Science, but I struggled with academic literacy a lot – and failed twice. However, giving up was never an option because I was the only person in my family who had the opportunity to go to university.</p><p>“I failed in 2013 and again in 2014, but strangely enough there were still people who believed in me – people who wanted to see me succeed," recalls Gova.</p><p>One of these individuals were Nokwanda Siyengo, Director at SciMathUS, who Gova says believed in her even when she did not believe in herself. </p><p>Although Gova moved on to pursue her studies in the Faculty of Science, she kept close ties with SciMathUS and became a mentor in 2019.</p><p>“Being part of the SciMathUS programme meant I knew what students in the programme struggled with," Gova says.</p><p>The graduate now has her sights set on finding employment and taking care of her family. “I want to make my mother proud; she has been patient with me and believed in me even when I was failing." <br></p><p><br></p>
Master’s study highlights plight of Zimbabwean migrants with disabilities in Cape Town’s study highlights plight of Zimbabwean migrants with disabilities in Cape TownCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​​​The dream of finding a better life in South Africa has turned into a nightmare for Zimbabwean migrants with disabilities living in Cape Town, a new study at Stellenbosch University (SU) found.<br></p><p>“The voices of these disabled migrants are largely absent from migration and disability policies and literature which means they're often marginalised, lack access to social services and have to do menial jobs where they are either underpaid, exploited or not paid at all," says Noel Dangarembwa who obtained his master's degree in Human Rehabilitation Studies on Tuesday (10 December 2019) at the third graduating ceremony of SU's December graduation. Also hailing from Zimbabwe, Dangarembwa explored the livelihood experiences of Zimbabwean migrants with disabilities living in Cape Town. His supervisors were Drs Lieketseng Ned and Martha Geiger from the Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies in SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dangarembwa says he decided to do the study because although remarkable disability studies have been conducted in South Africa, they have paid little attention to the livelihood experiences of migrants with disabilities who generally have a harder time in host countries than able-bodied migrants.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Most policies and literature on migration are devoid of livelihood experiences of migrants with disabilities both internationally and locally."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dangarembwa says that in interviews he conducted with the disabled Zimbabwean migrants , they revealed that South Africans regard them as inferior and “good for nothing disabled foreigners" who come to squander the resources of the country. <img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Noel%20en%20Lieketseng.jpg" alt="Noel en Lieketseng.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:450px;" /><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Migrants with disabilities are labelled with inferiorised identities which hamper their access to social services and continuously deny them livelihood opportunities to sustain themselves in South Africa due to their assigned identities of being disabled and a migrant.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“What is clear is that the intersection of disability and the migrant status coupled with social locations such as gender and socio-economic status confines migrants with disabilities to the peripheries of livelihood sources. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">While others had managed to pursue their interests like part-time sewing and braille transcription and massaging, the options of the majority were commonly limited to begging – an activity that is seemingly 'fit' for disabled migrants which exposed them to exploitation and ridicule by an able-bodied society which questions both their impairments and justification for migrating, explains Dangarembwa.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He says most Zimbabwean migrants with a visual impairment revealed that they sustain their livelihoods through begging at traffic intersections where they often face ridicule and derogatory name-calling, as well as the risk of being run over by vehicles or losing some of their daily takings to their sighted helpers who take advantage of their visual impairment.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Despite this though, these migrants remain resilient in using begging as way to earn a living in South Africa,"  adds Dangarembwa.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He bemoans the serious lack of institutional support for Zimbabwean migrants with disabilities.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In instances where they are given support, they are expected to be grateful for whatever they receive, without being allowed to ask any questions, or to voice their needs and concerns that are unique to their migration status and disability."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dangarembwa says his findings have exposed the vulnerability of migrants with disabilities, while also raising crucial questions regarding the United Nations' 2017 Migration Report which mentions only women and children as examples of vulnerable migrants. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This is particularly concerning because the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has specific articles which speak to migration and disability. Disabled people form part of the collective migrant groups, and thus vulnerable to oppression." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Calling on the South African government to fully implement the ratified and signed CRPD, Dangarembwa says it should review its migration policies to provide reasonable accommodation for Zimbabwean migrants with disabilities that will enhance their full participation in and contribution to all spheres of live in South Africa.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He says both Zimbabwe and South Africa must collaborate to address policy barriers which prevent migrants with disabilities from obtaining the necessary documents that will make it easier for them to access various opportunities for sustainable livelihood.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Both governments should work together to facilitate the voice of migrants with disabilities to incorporate their needs and concerns into the design and implementation of appropriate policies." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dangarembwa adds that more research is needed on migration and disability policies and practices to extensively interrogate the livelihood sources of disabled migrants. <br></p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li><strong>​Main photo</strong>: Noel Dangarembwa​ at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photo 1</strong>: <span style="text-align:justify;">Noel Dangarembwa</span> with one of his supervisors Dr Lieketseng Ned. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Noel Dangarembwa</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Cell: 0764563717 / 0834795224</p><p style="text-align:justify;">E-mail: <a href=""></a> </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>ISSUED BY</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Martin Viljoen</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Manager: Media</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Corporate Communication</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Stellenbosch University</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Tel: 021 808 4921</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Email: <a href=""></a> <br></p><p><br></p>
Top medical student wins coveted Chancellor’s Medal medical student wins coveted Chancellor’s MedalCorporate Communication/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie <p>​​​<br></p><p>Jennifer Kate van Heerden, the recipient of this year's coveted Chancellor's Medal, passed every year of study with distinction, and obtained distinctions in every one of the 11 domains of the final-year examinations.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Van Heerden, who was awarded the degree MBChB <em>cum laude</em> this morning, passed every one of the 29 theory modules in the six-year programme with distinction, completing the programme with an average percentage of 87,8%. </p><p>The coveted Chancellor's Medal is awarded annually to a final year or postgraduate student who has not only excelled academically, but also contributed to campus life in various ways and worked hard at developing co-curricular attributes. </p><p>The awarding of this year's medal was also a significant moment for Stellenbosch University (SU) as it is the first time that an earlier Chancellor's medal recipient awarded the Chancellor's medal to another top performer. Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, also graduated in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in 1983, and he was the recipient of the Chancellor's medal in that year. </p><p>Van Heerden said she felt honoured to have received the medal and said none of her success would have been possible without a support system around her. </p><p>“My success has been made possible by the support system I have had around me. I absolutely love what I study and my passion for medicine has helped me to go the extra mile, even during the tough times while studying towards my degree," Van Heerden said.</p><p>In addition to the Chancellor's Medal, Van Heerden has scooped several other awards during her academic career. These include:<br></p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li>Various awards for Excellent Achievement in Academics – 2014; 2016; 2017; 2019;</li><li>Certification of recognition for exceptional contribution to the MBChB academic programme – 2019;</li><li>Huis Francie Van Zijl Honorary Colours for exceptional performance in academics – 2016;</li><li>Golden Key International Honour Society – 2015;</li><li>Merit bursaries for the top 5% achievers per faculty (minimum requirement of 75% average in the preceding academic year) – 2014–2018.</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">She has also occupied student leadership positions and served on committees, including President of Friends of Médecins Sans Frontières, a society in support of the non-profit organisation Médecins San Frontières (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders). In addition to all of the above, Van Heerden also made time to participate in a wide range of developmental activities, such as completing an  elective course at <em>Antonio Lorena Hospital</em> in Cusco, Peru where she worked in the paediatric ward in a resource-limited environment, and attending the Msinga Outreach Camp, a medical and community outreach in rural<strong> </strong>KwaZulu-Natal. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Van Heerden plans to intern at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg after her graduation and her dream is to specialise in paediatrics one day. <br></p><p>Photo by Stefan Els.<br></p><p><br></p>
SU declares 2020 as the Year for People with Disability declares 2020 as the Year for People with DisabilityCorporate Communication Division/Sandra Mulder<p>​​​Stellenbosch University (SU) has declared that 2020 will be the year to drive transformation with a specific focus on disability inclusion. <br></p><p>In celebration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, SU's Rector and Vice-chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, announced today (3 December 2019) that 2020 will be the University's Year for Persons with Disability. SU's aspirations link up with the international day's theme of “full participation and equality". Prof De Villiers also promised his involvement, where possible, in some of the proposed activities for 2020. </p><p>This declaration flows from SU's commitment to inclusivity and equality for every person with academic merits to be able to fully participate on equal grounds in the academic journey at the University. The University and its departments, divisions and units will throughout the year engage in seminars, papers, general information and presentations. At these activities, the successes will be highlighted and there will be a focus on the work that still needs to be done to reach full participation and equality.</p><p>The Year for Persons with Disability will culminate in the sixth African Network for Evidence-to- Action in Disability (AfriNEAD) conference, a prestigious international network that will be hosted by SU from the 30 November to 3 December next year.  </p><p>AfriNEAD is a regional disability research network initiated in SU's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences'  Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies (CDRS). It is chaired by Prof Gubela Mji, who is also the head of the CDRS. AfriNEAD was founded in Cape Town in November 2007 as a research network of various disability advocacy groups, local and international academics and researchers, health service providers and representatives from various government departments. AfriNEAD's aim is to facilitate evidence-to-action in the disability field so as to impact real change in the quality of life of people with disabilities in Africa.</p><p>The 2020 AfriNEAD Conference entitled “Disability unplugged – Beyond Conventions and Charters: What really matters to persons with disabilities in Africa" has afforded a platform to the University to present an institutional commitment and an aspiration in advancing the debate of an inclusive university community. “It is with this endeavour that Stellenbosch University declares 2020 as a disability year here at SU, as we advance our commitment to disability inclusion on our campuses and promotes inclusivity," says Mji.  </p><p>"At the same time, continuous work is done by SU's Disability Unit (DU) to not only broaden the accessibility of physical spaces and information but also to make people more aware of the rights of persons with disabilities, is a work in progress," says Dr Marcia Lyner-Cleophas, Head: DU.<br></p><p>According to Lyner-Cleophas, the University has been on a positive learning curve regarding the needs of persons with disabilities with the first students with disabilities entering the University even before the 1970s. </p><p>Today the University has an approved Disability Access Policy (2018) applicable to all people on campus, including visitors. “With the Disability Access Policy we want to ensure that we cover all aspects of people's functioning in each and every department on campus, so that we can implement plans to address disability in a holistic and truly inclusive way," she says.</p><p>Among the general student population on campus, the disclosed mental health conditions show an increase from 53 mental health disorders in 2018 to 73 mental health disorders in 2019. In general, the number of students who disclose disabilities and who seek support is increasing rapidly, says Lyner-Cleophas. These figures, however, do not reflect the actual numbers of students seeking support for psycho-social conditions. </p><p>“Statistics have shown that more and more students feel free to open up about their need for support with mental health conditions. The reality is also that most disabilities are not visible, such as students with specific learning disabilities, mental health and other health conditions.</p><p>“Although the DU has come a long way in tackling the challenges to make the campus more accessible, there remains much work to be done," says Lyner-Cleophas.</p><p>“Raising awareness and engagement with universal access, universal design and well as universal design for learning should become part of the social fabric of the University at all levels with the promotion of a culture of ethical conduct, respect and embracing diversity. This culture needs to start internally with the academic institution role modelling inclusion, democracy, equal rights and university citizenship for all persons, including persons with disabilities," says Mji. </p><p>“There are departments, centres and special units within our University that have assisted SU in improving its response towards the inclusion of students and staff with disabilities. After a marathon of 11 years of tabling regional conferences, AfriNEAD is coming back home to Stellenbosch University. AfriNEAD is also a research network that advances the debate on realising the rights of persons with disabilities in Africa," says Mji. </p><p>SU's Disability Access Policy, already implemented in April 2018, also guides the international trend of increasing universal access across all higher education institutions, said Lyner-Cleophas.</p><p>Besides the SU policy, other structures such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa and the South African National Development Plan 2030 also provide the impetus to envision and enact a prosperous and better life for all. A strong focus is placed on disability-inclusive environments in all aspects of life, including physical inclusion in all spaces, participation in education, in matters related to health and the economy. </p><p>According to Lyner-Cleophas, the Unit is still confronted with new challenges regarding the inclusion of students and staff with disabilities. The accessibility of buildings, campus areas and academic and general campus information via electronic format, Braille or screen readers are on their to-do list. In reality, this has to be on every person's to-do list, on campus. Inclusion is about everybody, not only the DU, says Lyner-Cleophas.</p><p>Year on year more students with disabilities register at SU. DU provides support services specific to the individual needs of each student. Lyner-Cleophas says it is important that they are informed about students' individual circumstances in order to respond appropriately.  </p><p>The first point of disability disclosure is on application to the University, which means that the registration of disabilities is not done directly through the DU. Students register like all other at SU, and then decide if they need further support and engage with us further as partners to their successful study.</p><p>“We do not force students to disclose their disability and it is thus up to the student to engage with the Unit. However, we are integral to looking at relevant support as might be required from specific students with disabilities who come to us directly, via campus departments or via the Centre for Student Counselling and Development in Student Affairs," says Lyner-Cleophas. </p><p>Among the approximate 32 000 students at SU, are approximately 423 students with disabilities who disclosed their disabilities on application to SU. When examining disclosed disabilities received from the Admissions Office, it is found that 1,32% of students with disclosed disabilities are on campus. When examining the total number of students actually coming for support, SU has 2,66% receiving support (852 of the approximate 32 000 SU student population). These numbers are low compared to international figures, which indicate about 10%–15% and more people have disabilities, particularly in areas of low to mixed resources and access. We commit to striving towards increased inclusion and participation of students and staff at SU," says Lyner-Cleophas. <br></p><p><br><br></p>