Psychology
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COVID-19 is an opportunity to make our circles biggerhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7548COVID-19 is an opportunity to make our circles biggerJudy-Ann Cilliers<p>​The COVID-19 pandemic should also be seen as an opportunity to reach out to vulnerable foreigners who try to make a living in South Africa, writes Dr Judy-Ann Cilliers from the Department of Philosophy in a doctoral-based opinion piece for the <em>Mail & Guardian </em>(31 July).</p><div><ul><li><p>​Read the article below or click <a href="https://mg.co.za/coronavirus-essentials/2020-07-31-covid-19-is-an-opportunity-to-make-our-circles-bigger/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>for the piece as published.</p></li></ul><p><strong>Judy-Ann Cilliers*</strong></p><p>When President Ramaphosa announced the national state of disaster on 15 March, many breathed a sigh of relief. We were witnessing a world being consumed by a new virus with many world leaders failing to take sufficient action. Our government's early and decisive response communicated a desire to protect its people. Yet even then we knew that the cost will be high, and it will mostly be paid by those already marginalised in our society. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">These past few months we have seen more instances of domestic and gender-based violence, more people losing their jobs as businesses close, and as the number of infections grow, more people without sufficient access to healthcare. In a world that was already becoming more hospitable to xenophobic nationalisms, we read and hear about increased attacks on foreigners, especially of Asian descent, across the globe – any outsider is a threat, a potential carrier.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While we speak of the 'unprecedented times' we are living through, this kind of attack is not unprecedented. It is a common narrative in South Africa that foreigners should be kept out because they bring disease into the country. All kinds of xenophobic discrimination, exclusion, and violence against foreign nationals have been justified by the claim that 'they' are the cause of real diseases, such as HIV/Aids, and moral 'diseases', such as drug addiction and crime.  That this is true only in some cases is irrelevant to the xenophobe; humans easily extrapolate from 'some' or even 'one' to 'all'. The individual, collective, and systemic causes of xenophobia, and its intersection with racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression, are complex in ways I cannot do justice to here. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Studying instances of xenophobic discrimination and violence, one thing becomes apparent: the choice of victim is not determined by the individual's guilt, actions, legal status, or even their real nationality. It is enough that they exist <em>here </em>(wherever 'here' may be), and that they are perceived as a foreigner by the xenophobe. Xenophobia is therefore not a response to a specific threat – despite our rationalisations about crime and job scarcity and viruses – but to a perceived threat, where the perception is shaped by the xenophobe's own prejudices and stereotypes, and by our political narratives around belonging, borders, nationhood, and membership. Such narratives shape our ideas about who has a right to belong or to exist here, and who does not.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The fear underlying such perceptions may have different origins or motivations. In the South African context, migration and development expert Loren Landau identifies a deep apprehension about the meaning of belonging, an apprehension anthropologist Frances Nyamnjoh locates in a historically oppressed and excluded citizenry who, for the most part, still cannot meaningfully access the benefits and rights that come with membership. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Xenophobia is a reaction to a sense of insecurity, of not having a place where one belongs, and an accompanying attempt to establish security. As we face the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic – rising unemployment, lower levels of food security, a weakened economy, and individual and collective trauma – the xenophobic violence that is already characteristic of contemporary South Africa may become more prevalent and entrenched. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The irony is that the logic underlying such violence and such attempts to establish security and belonging preclude the possibility of establishing a more secure society, for it is a logic that seeks to exclude and even destroy that which is strange or new, and it inevitably becomes self-consuming. If belonging is rigidly defined and policed, the circle of who 'truly belongs' will inevitably become smaller and smaller. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">This logic stands opposed to what political theorist Hannah Arendt called the fundamental human capacity of natality – our ability to begin something new. This ability is the root of our freedom, as we constantly bring new things into the world through our actions and interactions with others. It is also necessarily unpredictable, which is why we often respond to it with fear and a desire to control. In asserting control, we banish the new and the strange and the unpredictable, and along with that our own ability to act and exist freely. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The pandemic poses a challenge that, for most people, is radically new. We have reason to be afraid in our current circumstances – to fear for our lives and livelihoods, to worry about the country and the world's future. These fears have been closely tied to our fear of others for so long, and the pandemic makes breaking those ties so much harder. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">It is harder to conceptualise a form of belonging that is not exclusionary when we are isolated from one another, when the risks of sharing the world with others are so evident, and when we do not even feel safe in our own homes. We have seen examples of incredible selfishness and cruelty in this pandemic. Predictably, some of the regulations put in place to protect and support people in South Africa during this time negatively affected foreigners in ways citizens were not affected, especially those that initially limited the activities of informal traders and workers.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Yet the newness and strangeness of our situation offers us an opportunity to reassess our assumptions, to create new world-shaping narratives, and to act in unpredictable ways. After hurricanes or earthquakes, great fires or terrorist attacks, when people are on the edge of life and access to resources cannot be guaranteed, we do not only see dog- eat-dog competition, but also altruism, solidarity, and empathy, often between people who under normal circumstances would not have reached out to each other. Uncertainty can make us hunker down, but it can also open our eyes to realities and injustices we were unable to see before. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">As we create meaning in this pandemic and from this virus, as we analyse and live through the implications of the lockdown, and as we try to rebuild and, perhaps, build anew, we need a critical awareness of the precarious position of foreign nationals in our society, as well as the true danger to a society when it does not protect its most vulnerable members.<br></p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li><strong>Photo</strong>: A group of people gathering. <strong>Credit</strong>: Wikipedia.</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>*Dr Judy-Ann Cilliers is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Philosophy at Stellenbosch University (SU). This article is based, in part, on her recent doctorate in Philosophy at SU.​</strong></p><p><br></p></div>
Call for applications: Full-time PhD scholarships in the Arts, Humanities and Social Scienceshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5092Call for applications: Full-time PhD scholarships in the Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;"><span>​​T</span><span>h</span><span>e </span><span>Graduate School for Arts and Social Sciences </span><span>is a HOPE Project initiative in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University to strengthen and advance doctoral training and scholarship in Africa.</span><span> </span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">More than 180 doctoral students from 18 African countries, including South Africa, have enrolled in this scholarship programme since 2010. A total of 93 have successfully graduated, of which 78% completed in three years or less.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">​Suitable candidates who are citizens of any sub-Saharan African country are invited to apply for three-year full-time doctoral scholarships in the research programmes of the Faculty to commence studies in January 2018. Scholarships are available to the value of R 420 000.00 over three years.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Collaborative research, supervision and exchange will be encouraged through the Partnership for Africa's Next Generation of Academics (PANGeA) involving leading universities across Africa.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Further information on the partially structured doctoral scholarship programme, eligibility and selection criteria, and application process is available online at <a href="/graduateschool">www.sun.ac.za/graduateschool</a></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>THE ​CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS IS 25 AUGUST 2017.</strong></p>
Ten SU finalists compete for SA’s ‘Science Oscars’ https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7411Ten SU finalists compete for SA’s ‘Science Oscars’ Corporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​​Over the past few years, Stellenbosch University (SU) has featured prominently at the annual <a href="http://www.nstf.org.za/awards/about/"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)/ South32Awards</strong></a>. This year is no different with 10 SU finalists competing for the 2019/2020 NSTF/South32 Awards at South Africa's “Science Oscars". As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the announcement of the winners will take place through a live-streamed Gala Event on Thursday, 30 July 2020.</p><p>Regarded as the most sought-after national accolades of their kind in the country, the NSTF/South32 Awards recognise, celebrate and reward the outstanding contributions of individuals, teams and organisations to science, engineering and technology (SET) in the country. Among the competitors are experienced scientists, engineers, innovators, science communicators, engineering capacity builders, organisational managers and leaders, as well as data and research managers.<br></p><p>According to the organisers, it is an extraordinary honour to be a finalist given the quality of the nominations received every year, the fierce competition that nominees face and growing interest from the SET community over the years.<br></p><p>The SU finalists (with department or environment) and the categories in which they will compete are as follows:<br></p><p><em>Lifetime Award:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Prof Leslie Swartz </strong>(Department of Psychology)</li></ul><p><em>TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Prof Christine Lochner</strong> (South African Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders and Department of Psychiatry)</li></ul><p><em>TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Dr Wynand Goosen</strong> (Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research, Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, Department of Biomedical Sciences)</li><li><strong>Prof Richard Walls</strong> (Fire Engineering Research Unit)</li><li><strong>Dr Jacqueline Wormersley</strong> (Department of Psychiatry)</li></ul><p><em>​NSTF-Lewis Foundation Green Economy Award:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Prof Thinus Booysen</strong><em> </em>(Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering). He is also a finalist in the <em>NSTF-Water Research Commission Award</em> category.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Prof Wikus van Niekerk</strong> (Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies)</li><li><strong>Sharksafe (Pty) Ltd</strong> with CEO and Co-Inventor Prof Conrad Matthee (Department of Botany and Zoology)</li></ul><p><em>Data for Research Award:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Stellenbosch University Computed Tomography Scanner Facility Team with Leader Prof Anton du Plessis </strong>(Department of Physics)</li></ul><p><em>Communication Award:</em></p><ul><li><strong>Dr Rehana Malgas-Enus</strong> (Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science)​<br></li></ul><p><br></p>
Departments in Arts Faculty and others collaborate for Women’s Day concerthttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5142Departments in Arts Faculty and others collaborate for Women’s Day concertFiona Grayer<p style="text-align:justify;">​​The Music Department in partnership with Stellenbosch University's (SU) Transformation Office, the Visual Arts Department and the Women's Forum presented a concert in celebration of Women's Day in August in the Endler Hall in Stellenbosch. The SU Jazz Band took centre stage under the direction of Felicia Lesch joined by South African jazz legend Gloria Bosman and jazz singer and poet Mihi-Tuwi Matshingana.<br><br>The evening was specifically dedicated to honouring the memory of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke – the first black South African woman to obtain tertiary education and who graduated in the USA in 1901. Her mantra, “When you rise, lift someone up with you", is a maxim that artists Felicia Lesch, Bosman and Matshingana all embrace.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Lesch is passionate about music as a vehicle for social change and formed the SU Jazz Band as one of the ensembles of the Certificate Programme. The Certificate Programme is the pre-undergraduate programme of the SU Music Department which was created to empower students with skills to embark on a BMus or Diploma programme at tertiary level. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Matshingana completed a BCom degree at SU in 2014, during which time she also studied in the Music Department's Certificate Programme, a programme to which she paid homage on stage. She is currently a third-year Jazz Studies student at Wits University in Johannesburg.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">South African author and journalist Zubeida Jaffer's third book “<em>Beauty of the heart</em>", which is a tribute to Maxeke and also provides fresh information on her life, was available for purchase at the event. Jewellery from an jewellery exhibition by Kutlwano Cele, a student in the Visual Arts Department, was also on sale.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The SRC and many students from other departments and faculties supported the concert.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“For some this was their first “Endler experience", which made it a particularly joyful event," said Monica du Toit of the Transformation Office.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Special guests from within the Arts Faculty, the Women's Forum, the Gender Equality Unit, SU Museum, SU Transformation Office and community partners of the Music Department's own Certificate Programme also attended the Woman's Day Celebration Concert. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The event was a moment of institutional belonging and connection with new people at our institution."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We look forward to more meaningful collaborations in the future and honour the women (and men) on stage who are using music as a vehicle to liberate, educate, rage and dream," added Du Toit.​​<br></p>
SU’s Extended Degree Programme opens many doors for graduateshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7023SU’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">http://www.sun.ac.za/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 findshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7024Occupational physicians can’t serve any masters, PhD study findsCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>When occupational physicians have to make difficult calls related to health and safety in the workplace, they shouldn't be loyal to either workers or employers because it could influence their behaviour or cloud their judgments. <br></p><p>“Because impartiality, integrity, trustworthiness and professional autonomy are required from occupational physicians, they shouldn't show loyalty to either employers or employees," says Sasolburg-based occupational medicine consultant Dr Gerhard Grobler who received his doctorate in Applied Ethics at the ninth ceremony of Stellenbosch University's December graduation on Friday (13 December 2019). </p><p>In his study, the first of its kind in South Africa, Grobler did a moral analysis of the apparent conflict of interest in the profession of occupational physicians. He says dual loyalty, or at least the suspicion that loyalty to either party would colour the occupational physician's judgement, has been a problem in recent times and creates ethical ambiguity. It's especially when workers are injured on the job that the issue of dual loyalty arises.<br></p><p>Grobler, who has 38 years of hands-on experience in occupational medicine, points out that companies or organisations employ occupational physicians to look after the health and safety of workers who are vulnerable to unemployment, regular retrenchments, poor and collapsing public healthcare, non-compliance with health and safety legislation in the huge informal sector and the inefficiency in the office of the Compensation Commissioner.<br></p><p>“Occupational physicians play an important role in ensuring that workers are not denied healthcare, compensation or related benefits for which they are eligible. It often takes staunch personal commitment of the leaders in occupational health to prevent individual cases from falling through the proverbial cracks. <br></p><p>“Their judgements must be based on scientific knowledge and technical competence and they must not do anything that compromises their integrity and impartiality. They can never allow any conflict of interest to influence their advice and verdicts.<br></p><p>“Occupational physicians cannot serve any masters. Their guiding principle is to serve the health and safety of all workers and that of everyone at risk of illness or injury related to the incapacity of workers – whether the latter are airline pilots, rock drill operators or abattoir staff."<br></p><p>Grobler adds that occupational physicians are medical doctors that workers, employers, labour unions, relevant authorities and society need to believe they can trust with stewardship of the health and safety of workers.<br></p><p>He says where professional autonomy, impartiality, fairness, veracity and sound judgment are vital virtues, loyalty could well be an obstacle because it invites stakeholders to attempt to change rulings made by an occupational physician.<br></p><p>“Employers understandably suspect that their occupational physician is dedicated to the interests of patients. Workers, on the other hand, quite comprehensibly expect the occupational physician, employed and paid by the company, to serve the employer's business interests.<br></p><p>“If workers or employers experience or suspect that an occupational physician identifies with one party or allows loyalty to influence his judgement, all of his decisions become questionable."<br></p><p>According to Grobler, there's not enough appreciation for the role and contribution of occupational physicians in South Africa, especially among doctors in private practice.</p><p>“The discipline is often disparaged by some doctors in private practice. The sentiment is 'why would a bright doctor choose to earn a salary by working for a boss in a factory environment?'. And 'why do they seem to side with the employer – who my patients tell me is unsympathetic and unfair?'. " <br></p><p>Having worked closely with many occupational physicians, occupational health nursing professionals and occupational safety professionals, Grobler says he understands their sentiments, as well as the difficulties they face and have to overcome.<br></p><p>“Hopefully, my study might stimulate awareness and reform regarding the ethical challenges in occupational health, especially given the perception that the discipline just protects the interests of big business." <br></p><p>Grobler adds that doctors in occupational medicine, less experienced occupational physicians, non-medical professionals in occupational health and safety, as well as academics who teach ethics in occupational health could benefit from his research. <br></p><ul><li><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Gerhard Grobler at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</li></ul><p><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p>Dr Gerhard Grobler</p><p>Occupational Medicine Consultant</p><p>Sasolburg</p><p>Cell: 083 6254085</p><p>Email: <a href="mailto:gerhardgrobler6@gmail.com">gerhardgrobler6@gmail.com</a> </p><p><strong>ISSUED BY</strong></p><p>Martin Viljoen</p><p>Manager: Media</p><p>Corporate Communication</p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>Tel: 021 808 4921</p><p>Email: <a href="mailto:viljoenm@sun.ac.za">viljoenm@sun.ac.za</a> <br></p><p><br></p>
"To be a warrior is all about riding through the storms..."https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7512"To be a warrior is all about riding through the storms..."Transformation Office | Disability Unit | AfriNEAD<div><em>SU's Rector and Vice-chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers announced late last year that 2020 will be the university's Year for Persons with Disability. It 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 2020. To honour this the Transformation Office and the Disability Unit, along with AfriNEAD, will publish monthly reflections or articles by persons with disabilities. Our fifth piece is written by </em><span lang="EN-GB"><em>Ulf-Dieter Koepp, a </em><span lang="EN-GB"><em>junior technical officer</em></span><em>​, in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences</em></span><em>.</em></div><div><br></div><div>​<br></div>​I am Ulf-Dieter Koepp from Windhoek. I was born deaf with a cleft palate. My deafness is a result of my mother having had German measles during her pregnancy. My mother taught me lipreading when I was a very little boy, and my schooling took place at Dominican Grimley School for the Deaf in Hout Bay from about 1982 to 1998.<br><br>I have now been working at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) for over three years as a junior technical officer. Before SU, I used to work on testing various applications by using Android Studio and MIT App Inventor (online). One of my many ideas was the one on Ava (<a href="https://www.ava.me/"><span lang="EN-GB">https://www.ava.me/</span></a>). I also assist the Humarga Helpdesk by monitoring personal computers and printers and stocking up paper reams. I have about five years of experience as a printer technician with various companies. <br><br>I was at a crossroads at the beginning of 2017, one year after the start of my employment at SU and my mother's sudden death in June 2016. I had been used to being deaf for 41 years, but this was not the case with the 'Big C'. At that crossroads, that 'C', nasopharyngeal carcinoma, held a gun to my head. <br><br>How did this cruel thief sneak into my body? Why had I not noticed this earlier? The fact was that I had booked air tickets to Namibia for a three-week vacation in November 2016, not knowing that I would be heading into another unknown direction. I had asked the ear, nose and throat surgeon whether I qualified for a cochlear implantation as a new candidate. Boom – the radiologist discovered a mass lesion deep in my left nasopharynx section after CT and MRI scans had been completed. It was presumed to be Stage 1 – so early! But within two weeks, it had grown to Stage 2. I had no symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, swollen neck, severe headaches or persistent sinus issues.  <br><br>How exactly did I manage to pull through? I used to think that SU was anything but a normal employer when it came to annual leave and sick leave, but I was shocked to see how it had structured sick leave in a way that went beyond my logic. I know that with any company, when illness struck an employee, the standard procedure was to grant that employee a limited grace period. However, when I looked at the way in which sick leave was structured, I thought, “Am I seeing something that is unique?" When an employee is extremely ill for a long time, SU has something called 'disability cover', which is extremely helpful in covering the loss of income. Indeed, SU is an upfront-unified-unbeatable, one-of-a-kind employer that is really committed to its students and staff, also a staff member with a disability!<br><br>Yes, I came out as a cancer warrior in complete remission in August 2017 and still am to date. To be a warrior is all about riding through the storms and finding the sunshine one day. Everything before my official diagnosis and during the treatments stripped me as if I were an onion being peeled away. Never had I thought that my theological studies at Cape Theological Seminary (Pentecostal-Charismatic Bible College, 1999 to 2002) would one day be put to the test when the 'Big C' interrupted my life like a Goliath.<br><br>Did I manage to obtain the implant? Unfortunately, not yet, but I am aware that Discovery Health does fund this type of operation from benefits. Both my oncologist and ear, nose and throat surgeon wonder whether I am still keen on cochlear implantation. The truth is that it does not always suit everyone.<br><br>My advice to other people with loss of hearing, based on my experiences at SU, is to be yourself and to keep your flame burning to inspire the person next to you. You are an asset. Go after small mercies that may transform your way of thinking and adapting.<br><br>
Social Work Department celebrates World Social Work Dayhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4356Social Work Department celebrates World Social Work DayLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">Earlier this year, the Social Work Department celebrated World Social Work Day 2016 (WSWD) along with a number of institutions across the world who also focus on the social work profession. WSWD is celebrated annually on the second Tuesday of March. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">By participating in this event, social workers are able to express international solidarity and bring common messages to governments, regional bodies and to the communities they serve. The theme for this and last year's WSWD was selected from the <a href="http://ifsw.org/get-involved/agenda-for-social-work/">Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development</a>. The Agenda was formulated in 2010 by social worker practitioners, educators and development workers at a meeting in Hong Kong in 2010 and reaffirmed "the need [for persons working within this profession] to organise around  major and relevant social issues that connect within and across" their professions. The Agenda consists of four themes which are focused on promoting social and economic equalities; promoting the dignity and worth of peoples; working towards environmental sustainability; and strengthening recognition of the importance of human relationships. Each theme is focused on for two consecutive years, with 2016 marking the second year that WSWD has centered its activities on Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"As staff members of the Social Work Department we take great pride in being social workers ourselves and even more so being an integral part of training and shaping the minds of our students to become excellent social workers. At our university we are in the privileged position be able to allow our students to make a social work impact on real clients, with real needs in real communities, from the first year of their studies in a manner that promotes the dignity and worth of people," said Ms Tasneemah Cornelissen-Nordien, a lecturer in the Social Work Department. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Department celebrated the day with a number of activities, amongst them a talk for first-year students which was presented by International Master's degree student, Sever Altunay, from Gothenburg University in Sweden and focused on the Impact of the Global Agenda for Social Work. Fourth-year students were also able to participate in an academic discussion with students in a postgraduate social work class from Coventry University in the United Kingdom through a video-conferencing session via Skype and shared their experiences of social work in the two countries. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Gary Spolander, a guest lecturer from Conventry University, presented a lecture to all social work students and staff based at Stellenbosch University. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This lecture stimulated insightful self-reflection and debates with others and aimed to motivate the social workers to continue to achieve great things within society, to not only make a difference in the lives of the individuals to whom services are rendered, but to work towards making an impact on government policy, to having the voices of social workers heard in parliament, and to striving towards making a difference on the political front in our country. WSWD 2016 yet again reminded the social work profession of its ethical responsibility to make politicians and government aware of the apparent ethical unawareness by which our country is currently being governed. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">On the day, the top achievers for 2015 were also recognised and were presented with certificates for their academic achievement in Social Work. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This day allowed our department to unite for human dignity and reminded us of our courage, strength, passion and will to make a difference in the lives of others," said Mr Zibonele Zimba, a lecturer in the Social Work Department.</p>
Sign language-related courses help teachers of Deaf students with new curriculumhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4100Sign language-related courses help teachers of Deaf students with new curriculumLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">Last year, the first South African Sign Language (SASL) curriculum was rolled out nationally in South Africa after it had first been piloted as a project at the De la Bat School for the Deaf in Worcester from 2011 to 2013. Now, thanks to three short courses of the Department of General Linguistics that focus on language teachers, including sign language teachers, those who have to implement this curriculum will also have the necessary skills to do so effectively. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Dr Frenette Southwood of the Department of General Linguistics of Stellenbosch University (SU), the department has been offering shorts courses in the Foundations of Linguistics, Sign Language Linguistics and Literature of SASL to teachers of Deaf learners since the beginning of 2015. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"South African Sign Language is now acknowledged as a first language by the Department of Education, just like Afrikaans and English, and is also taught in schools," says Southwood. SU is one of three academic institutions in South Africa that offers these types of courses.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The courses are intended for language teachers who do not have a sufficient background in linguistics or literature and helps these teachers to interact optimally with the curriculum they have to teach."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The three courses were created after the department presented the first intensive five-day Foundations of Linguistics course to 31 teachers of Deaf learners and staff of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) in June 2015. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Ms Minna Steyn of the WCED, who also was the project manager of the pilot project at De la Bat, teachers in the Western Cape were provided with basic training by the WCED to implement the new curriculum. A year later, training was done at the national level. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"During the training at national level we realised that there was not enough training that focused on literature and poetry, although these form part of the new curriculum. The idea therefore was to show teachers and teacher assistants how to teach poetry and literature in sign language. I thus was keen to offer our teachers who teach Deaf learners more in-depth training and then discussed the possibilities with the Department of General Linguistics. The ETDP-SETA was then approached to find funding for 30 students to undertake training at Stellenbosch University," says Steyn. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn has been involved with the education of Deaf people for the past three decades and was head of the Thiboloha School for the Deaf and Blind in Qwaqwa in the Free State before being seconded to De la Bat for the launch of the SASL curriculum. She also completed her MA in the SU Department of General Linguistics in December 2015, focusing specifically on language and literacy acquisition by Deaf Foundation Phase learners in her thesis. In a report of the WCED in 2015, she said the following about the implementation of SASL as a first language: "Deaf children who are born into hearing families do not have the privilege of learning language in a natural manner from birth. It is only when they go to school that a Deaf child is exposed to Deaf adults and friends and that they learn sign language. South African Sign Language is the first language of Deaf people in South Africa and is equivalent to any spoken language. It has been proven scientifically that a child's mother tongue must be established firmly and be in place before an additional first language can be mastered."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During her time at De la Bat she noticed how Deaf learners in the pre-school classes started participating more in lessons because they now had sufficient Sign Language vocabulary to participate more easily thanks to the pilot project. Previously, sign-supported Afrikaans or sign-supported English (these are spoken languages that are converted into signs word for word, some of which were artificial, non-SASL signs) were used as language of teaching and learning in schools for the Deaf. This deprived learners of exposure to SASL in the classroom. With the rolling out of the SASL curriculum, SASL is also implemented as language of learning and teaching in schools for the Deaf – as early as in the preschool classes. Deaf learners' SASL skills therefore are being improved from early on and they have the opportunity to receive their school training in a natural language.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The courses of the Department of General Linguistics accommodate 30 people at a time, who complete the Foundation and Sign Language Linguistics courses over six weeks, with one week of lectures on campus and the rest being done by way of directed self-study and distance teaching. The course on the Literature of South African Sign Language runs over two days and comprises lectures that are presented on the SU campus. According to Southwood, the purpose of the training is to sharpen teachers' knowledge of language and sign language as a language so that they can be better language teachers. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This is not a sector that received much attention in the past and the quality of teaching therefore is not up to standard. There also are some teachers who cannot use sign language fluently but who have to teach in sign language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"So besides for teachers' sign language skills needing to be improved, they also need to have knowledge of this first language of their learners so that a teacher can be better able, for example, to teach their sign language-using learners English or Afrikaans as language of literacy. Through these courses we help our teachers to do the latter by helping them to understand what language is, how it works and how it is learnt. Our courses cover concepts such as the nature, function and structure of human language, how human languages are used and understood, how they are processed and produced, and how these aspects are applicable to sign language."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn believes that the courses will not only lead to better equipped SASL teachers, but also will raise the profile and visibility of sign language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"South African Sign Language is a stigmatised language, with rules and principles such as any other language. It therefore helps the image of the language if academic institutions such as Stellenbosch University offer courses on it." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn has herself completed three courses to gain a better idea of the type of training that teachers received by way of the courses. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"There is no other way to describe it other than to say that it is really wonderful for me to know that teachers are now empowered to implement this curriculum with the knowledge that they have received from SU."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Thus far, a total of 61 teachers completed the three courses in June to October 2015, with a further 36 who started training in April 2016. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn is now encouraging other provinces to build up similar co-operation with local universities in their environment and to ensure that teachers are empowered in this manner. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Southwood and her colleagues, this co-operation with the WCED also offers many other exciting opportunities for the training of students at US. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Our department is very grateful to be part of this. Sign Language Linguistics is now a section of our second-year module in General Linguistics and we will also offer it as a third-year module from next year. We are also planning to offer Sign Language Acquisition to students as a subject in 2017. We therefore are not only busy strengthening the expertise of current teachers, but also preparing a new generation of students to qualify themselves as teachers of Deaf learners." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Steyn, the broader impact of the project, which they started in 2011, is the most important result of a longstanding aim of ensuring that SASL is recognised as a fully-fledged language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The Deaf child now receives the type of education that prepares him/her academically. My dream is to have SASL as a subject in our mainstream schools and that hearing people are also given an opportunity to learn sign language."</p><p><em>Photo: Nine Deaf students (of whom seven are teachers of Deaf students) completed the courses in Foundations of Linguistics, Sign Language Linguistics and Literature of SASL in March and received a certificate from Stellenbosch University. Mr Christopher Dontsa (fourth from left) completed all three courses. In front, from left, are Prof Johan Oosthuizen, Ms Annette Humphrey-Heyns, Nodumo Same, Christopher Dontsa, Phumla Mosia, Ncumisa Loliwe, Andiswa Fayindlala, Lazya le Roux, and Dr Frenette Southwood. At the back are Christoffer Galada and Simon Ndaba.</em></p>
Dr Roomaney – one of 51 SA academics selected for advancement programmehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7397Dr Roomaney – one of 51 SA academics selected for advancement programmeLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p>​​<span style="text-align:justify;">​​Dr Rizwana Roomaney, a lecturer in the Psychology Department at Stellenbosch University, has been selected as one of 51 black academics from across South Africa to participate in the Black Academics Advancement Programme in 2020. She is one of three academics at SU to be selected for the programme. </span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Black Academics Advancement Programme (BAAP), which is being funded to the tune of R165 million over the next five years, is a strategic partnership between the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the FirstRand Foundation (FRF) “to promote the development of Black South African academics and South African academics with disabilities, to become nationally and internationally recognised researchers". </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The programme gives black academics, who are completing a PhD degree or working on post-doctoral research, the opportunity to take a sabbatical for two to three years and to fund the sabbatical through a grant. The grant covers the academic's running expenses, such as local and international conference expenses, research-related costs and lecturer replacement costs for the duration of the sabbatical. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This grant has allowed me to significantly increase the time that I am able to focus on my postdoctoral research by buying out my teaching obligations over the next two years," explains Roomaney, who is also a registered counsellor and research psychologist. “I teach almost 2 000 undergraduate students a year and currently supervise 15 postgraduate students. So I look forward to having time off from lecturing to focus exclusively on research and mentoring my postgraduate students."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Through her research, Roomaney seeks to understand psychosocial well-being among men and women who seek fertility treatment. She leads a team of researchers in South Africa and Ghana. With 10 million couples in sub-Saharan Africa experiencing infertility, Roomaney's research will make an important contribution to scholarship in this regard. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The magnitude of importance attached to biological parenthood in Africa makes cultural beliefs about infertility inseparable from the experience of infertility. Globally, many couples with infertility experience anxiety, depression, stress, and stigma. In Africa, the experience of infertility seems to be aggravated by the cultural worldview of the couple, making the psychosocial well-being of the couple more difficult to disentangle," she adds.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“There is limited current research on the psycho-social aspects of infertility among men and women in South Africa," explains Roomaney. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">She adds that this research may be used to provide psychological and social support to men and women seeking fertility preservation. The original intervention was developed by her co-investigator, Dr Florence Naab at the University of Ghana.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Over the years, Roomaney's research interests have focused on the field of health research, specifically reproductive and women's health. She is an experienced methodologist, and is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa as a Research Psychologist. It was during her postgraduate studies that she found herself drawn to research on reproductive and women's health and she is currently working on studies with research collaborators and students in oncology, oncofertility (the preservation of reproductive health in cancer patients after treatment), endometriosis, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and infertility. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I became interested in women's health and reproductive health mainly because women often find themselves isolated as they silently struggle with their health issues. For example, women who live with endometriosis struggle to talk about matters such as menstruation because we have been socialised not to talk about it and other matters that affect our reproductive health. It is encouraging to see though that women are becoming more empowered and taking charge of their bodies and their health by seeking help online and engaging with other women experiencing the same issues." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Understanding these matters, says Roomaney, is not only about helping women who suffer silently. Studies has shown that there is a real impact on the economy when women have to remain absent from work due to debilitating symptoms that accompany endometriosis or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Roomaney has been building a solid academic career in the field of reproductive and women's health and has published 19 journal articles and two book chapters during her relatively short career in academia<em>.</em></p><p style="text-align:justify;">At present, she is the national delegate for South Africa on the European Health Psychology Society and is working with the Psychological Society of South Africa to develop a Health Psychology Special Interest Group (SIG).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I hope that the SIG creates a space for all psychologists working and conducting research in health psychology to share ideas, collaborate and be of service to communities."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">​“I would like to make a contribution to the field of health psychology and am grateful for the support that I received through this grant. There is a need to advance black academics, and the NRF and FRF are providing much needed support. It is now up to the universities to further support young black talent and strive to further transform the academic body."  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Roomaney calls attention to the fact that the professorate is not sufficiently transformed. She states that this lack of transformation is a structural problem because mainly privileged people can afford the years of study to get a PhD and work towards to becoming professors. This goal can take decades to achieve, while lecturers struggle to manage their competing academic roles. The BAAP therefore fast-tracks people to become professors who have been disadvantaged because of structural inequalities in society.​<br></p>