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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>
SU lecturer wins prestigious international literary prize https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7933SU lecturer wins prestigious international literary prize Corporate Communication and Marketing/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking [Rozanne Engel]<p>​​​Dr Alfred Schaffer, a lecturer at Stellenbosch University (SU), recently became the youngest recipient of the PC Hooft prize, the most prestigious Dutch literary award, when he was announced the 2021 laureate.​</p><p>Schaffer, who is known as one of the most talented Dutch poets of his generation, received the prize for his poetry oeuvre.​</p><p>“The prize is a huge, huge honour and recognition, as well as something that feels totally unreal. It is the highest accolade one can receive as a writer, poet, or essayist in the Netherlands," says Schaffer.<br></p><p>The prize, which is named after the 17<sup>th</sup> century Dutch poet Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, is awarded alternately each year to a Dutch writer of narrative prose, contemplative prose and poetry. The PC Hooft Prize is worth 60,000 euros, and will be awarded in May 2021.</p><p>Over the years, Schaffer has published numerous poetry and prose collections. These include <em>Zijn opkomst in de voorstad</em> (His Rise in the Suburbs; 2000); <em>Dwaalgasten</em> (Vagrants; 2002), which was nominated for the prestigious VSB poetry prize; <em>Geen hand voor ogen</em> (No Hands Before Your Eyes), <em>Schuim </em>(Foam; 2006); and <em>Kooi</em> (Cage; 2008). ​ Over the years, his work has also been translated into Afrikaans, English, French, German, Macedonian, Turkish, Indonesian and Swedish.​<br></p><p>He has also received the prestigious Jo Peters poetry prize, Hugues C Pernath prize, the Ida Gerhardt poetry prize and the Jan Campert prize for his work. <br></p><p>According to Schaffer, writing poetry means he has “absolute freedom" to express himself and sees it as a way to “creatively understand the world" around him.<br></p><p><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Alfred%20Schaffer.jpg" alt="Alfred Schaffer.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:300px;" /><br></p><p>“I am triggered by language, like every writer, but what inspires me as well, is the fact that there are so many things that I do not understand until I have creatively written about it. To write a poem is so wonderful because I do not know what the result will be. Poetry has no hypothesis, like life," says Schaffer.</p><p>Schaffer grew up in The Hague, Netherlands - the son of an Aruban mother and a Dutch father. ​​He studied Dutch Language and Literature, as well as Film and Theater Sciences in Leiden, Netherlands. In 1996, he moved to Cape Town to continue his postgraduate studies at the University of Cape Town. </p><p>He returned to the Netherlands in 2005 where he worked as an editor in Dutch publishing before moving back to South Africa in 2011. He currently works as a lecturer in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch at SU.</p><p>Apart from producing his own poetry and prose, Schaffer has also made an important contribution to South African literature over the years by bringing local poetry to a broader audience through the translation into Dutch of, amongst other, Antjie Krog, Ronelda Kamfer and Koleka Putuma's work.</p><p>“Translation is everything. So many South African poets tell urgent stories of an intense life, right in the middle of the big issues of our time: migration, neo-colonialism, racism, guilt. I hope that readers see that there are many different stories, experiences and perspectives out there, formulated in wonderful and confronting poetry," says Schaffer.<br></p><p>Apart from his lecturing duties at SU, Schaffer is also currently working together with fellow academics in Belgium and the Netherlands on a book about lyrical activism and he is busy with the Dutch translation of <span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:11pt;line-height:107%;font-family:calibri, sans-serif;">Kamfer’s latest volume of poetry<em>, </em></span><em></em><em>Chinatown</em>.<br></p><p>The last time someone with a strong South African connection won the PC Hooft prize was in 1991 when it w​as awarded to Elisabeth Eybers for her oeuvre of Afrikaans poetry. ​<br></p>
SU’s Extended Degree Programme provides comprehensive student supporthttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6911SU’s Extended Degree Programme provides comprehensive student supportAsiphe Nombewu /Corporate Communication<p>​​​​​​​​​Thanks to the Extended Degree Programme (EDP), the future is full of possibilities for students such as Axola Dlepu, a BA Social Dynamics student who gained access to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) through the programme.</p><p>This innovative programme was instituted at SU in 2008 to deal with systemic obstacles to equity and student success and to assist students with additional academic support.</p><p>Coordinator of the programme, Dr Anita Jonker, says the EDP's role is to redress past inequalities and transform higher education by responding to new realities and opportunities.</p><p>According to Jonker, the programme is open to students who are interested in studying towards a Bachelor's degree with an average of 60–64,9% in their National Senior Certificate (NSC). She added that the National Benchmark Test (NBT) results, students' socio-economic status, as well as availability of places, are taken into consideration in EDP admissions.</p><p>EDP and mainstream students obtain the same degrees after completion of their undergraduate studies. The only difference is that EDP students do their first year over two years. Over and above their mainstream subjects, EDP students take modules that prepare them better for their graduate studies, such as Texts in the Humanities, Information Skills and Introduction to the Humanities.</p><p>In the first-year Texts in the Humanities, the focus is on academic reading and writing, plagiarism and referencing, , rhetorical structure, , text-linguistic characteristics, critical thinking and argumentation. The lectures are presented in separate Afrikaans and English classes to provide optimal academic support in students' preferred medium of instruction.</p><p>In Introduction to the Humanities EDP students are introduced to four different subject-fields, with a specific focus on multilingual technical concepts that provide a foundation for other subject fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences. All the terminology and lecture notes are available in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa and interpreters give students the opportunity to participate in lectures in their mother-tongues.</p><p>Students who speak Afrikaans, Kaaps and other related language varieties have a tutor, Jocelyn Solomons, who facilitates the tutorial discussions in these language varieties, and those who speak English and, inter alia, isiXhosa, have a tutor, Busiswa Sobahle, who facilitates the tut discussions in English and isiXhosa.</p><p>Extensive extra-curricular support is integrated into the academic offering to enhance student success. This includes the EDP mentor programme, which has received co-curriculum recognition and which is coordinated by Ms Shona Lombard. Here senior EDP students mentor first-year students with similar BA programmes and help them to adjust to the new challenges of university life.</p><p>Expressing his gratitude for being chosen to be part of the programme, Dlepu said, “The EDP programme has helped me a lot with academic support alongside being mentored. It made my life a lot easier than that of a mainstream first-year student."</p><p>The 20-year-old from Saldanah Bay encouraged other students in the EDP to use the programme to shine.</p><p>He said the EDP modules gave students a broader worldview and taught them how to engage with multilingual students from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.</p><p>Bavani Naicker, a 20-year-old BA Social Dynamics student from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) described the EDP as a comprehensive support system. She said they were given foundational knowledge to assist them in their studies.</p><p>“My highlight of the course was when we visited Parliament and interacted with representatives of the different political parties," she said.</p><p>Chloe Krieger, a BA International Studies student from Cape Town, said if it were not for EDP, she would have dropped out in her first year. “The EDP taught us crucial literacy and life skills that the basic education system failed to teach the majority of students."</p><p>Krieger said that the EDP helped her to develop an awareness about critical issues that she would not otherwise have been aware of. “I was also inspired to be an activist and to be an agent for change. I am currently serving on the 2019/2020 SRC and I am learning so much about issues that marginalised groups on campus face that many people overlook," she said.</p><p>Students who have provisionally been admitted to the EDP and their parents/guardians are invited to the first meeting with EDP lecturers and mentors on Friday, 24 January 2020 from 09:30 to 12:00 in Room 3001 of the Wilcocks Building at 52 Ryneveld Street.</p><p>Prospective students who want to read more about the EDP, can consult the EDP website at <a href="/english/faculty/arts/edp/home">http://www.sun.ac.za/english/faculty/arts/edp/home</a><br><br></p>
Social workers have become the foot soldiers working to mend broken societieshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5503Social workers have become the foot soldiers working to mend broken societiesLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">In a country where violent crime has become part of the norm, where rape and sexual assault is reported to be of the highest in the world and where many South Africans live in abject poverty, social workers have become the foot soldiers working on the ground to combat the social issues that arise from these societal problems. For Professor Lambert Engelbrecht, an Associate Professor in social work and chair of the Social Work Department at Stellenbosch University, social workers have become essential in the fight to protect the most vulnerable in society. But, while this is the case, their quest is not an easy one with many having to work in a system that often do not provide them with the resources needed to make the impact they would like to.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This is something that Engelbrecht has seen in his own research over the years. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My research during my Masters and doctoral studies focused on the supervision and management within the social work discipline and thanks to the papers that followed from that research, I participated in the Marie Skłodowska Curie International Research and Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES) where I became involved in projects where we studied the financial philosophy of business principles applied in social work or what is referred to as neoliberalism and the impact of this in various countries. We also compared results between countries and the impact of this model of management on social work services," explains Engelbrecht. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The research was inspired by the realisation that ironically the individual was often overlooked in the social work environment. A recent example of such a case, still fresh in the memories of many South Africans, led to the death of at least 143 vulnerable patients who were moved from Life Esidimeni, a state-run facility, to a number of NGOs that were ill prepared to accommodate these patients. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This is an example of how the Minister of Health tried to cut spending on persons with mental health problems but ended up doing so at the expense of the end user. The dehumanisation of vulnerable persons for the sake of financial sustainability showed that what may be considered to be better management principles that would lead to better services is often not what transpires in reality. Saving on costs is not always better for the client. This is also why I empathise with the protest marches by social workers in 2017 against the horrible working conditions they are exposed to because often what is just a political ball game at the top tend to impact extensively on those on the ground. There are many social workers out there with no telephones, computers or cars that are expected to deliver social services to the most vulnerable in our society."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While Engelbrecht, who received the Stals Prize for Social Work from the South African Academy for Science and Arts in June 2017, no longer practices as a social worker, he has been pouring his expertise into research and educating up-and-coming social workers at the Social Work Department since 2003. Most of his time is spent focusing on the supervision and management of social workers and the training of social work students. This contribution as well as his work on the effects of neo-liberalism on social work service delivery is precisely why Engelbrecht received the Stals Prize. His research has already delivered more than 90 scientific outputs and he is highly regarded both locally and internationally. What makes this achievement even more unique, is the fact that Engelbrecht is only the third academic within the social work discipline to receive the prize, with one other scholar from the SU department, Prof Sulina Green, having received it in 2011. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Like the department's philosophy – “we cultivate thought leaders in social development" – Engelbrecht and his colleagues focus on equipping students to think three dimensional and holistically. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In order to be prepared for what they will face in the field, we have to teach our students to think beyond assisting the most vulnerable or those with mental health issues, but to start looking at the structures within which they work and this involves understanding the micro and macro levels issues that impact on your industry and being able to engage with government at local and national level to bring about change.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We find that a lot of social workers are caught up in the day-to-day activities and the many crises they have to deal with and that functioning at another level, for example engaging with donors or working on an awareness campaign in communities versus helping a neglected child that need help now, will always come second."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">However, says Engelbrecht, the way that funding is spent within social work structures require that one starts looking at it like a business too. This is the reason that students that enter their lecture halls are taught to also ask questions about conditions within the field and learn how to put pressure on government structures through policy and advocacy groups to ensure they support those in the trenches more effectively.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">At SU, about 100  new students register for a degree in social work each year with about 300 undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at the department at any given time.  In 2017 these students rendered social work services as part of their practice education to 43 welfare organisations where they were supervised by 45 social workers.  The students were involved in 94  community projects and facilitated 197 small groups.  They were also involved in intervention to 579 families and individuals, and mentored 90 vulnerable children. In addition the students completed 57 research projects. </p><p>“So as you can see, social work is an intensive course, because you are expected to do the work as you are learning about it." </p><p>Asked about the high levels of violence and in particular child murders that have become quite prevalent in South Africa, Engelbrecht admits that poverty still has a major impact on the social wellbeing of South Africans in underprivileged communities. It's something the students see on a daily basis too.  </p><p>“When there is poverty it can also lead to turmoil within families because when there is no money, people tend to escape by abusing alcohol and drugs. You also find that children are often without supervision in poor communities and older kids are recruited into gangs because of a lack of supervision. This is the case in many instances because parents can often not afford child care when they work and thus children are left in the care of slightly older siblings, neighbours or older family members like a grandmother or grandfather."</p><p>The students, says Engelbrecht are therefore prepared during their studies to the deal with the realities of South African society as far as possible. “They are confronted with both academic expectations and with emotional challenges that other students  are not necessarily facing."</p><p>“While people often feel sorry for social workers due to the kind of work they do for little compensation and also see it as a course that does not required much academic  capacity,  very few people realise that social work is not an easy programme to follow, that students are often expected to think critically from the first day they arrive in class, and that both the emotional and  academic requirements are extremely high. There is a high demand in the field for social work graduates from Stellenbosch University owing to our student attributes which results in thought leaders, engaged citizens, well-rounded individuals and dynamic professionals. Therefore, our focus of training is not just on social work in local, traditional welfare organisations, but we also prepare students to work in diverse industries, contexts and internationally. We are extremely proud of the fact that 80% of our Masters' students passed their external moderated research theses in 2017  cum laude."</p><p>For Engelbrecht, in spite of the fact that the social problems that social workers deal with can sometimes seem never ending, seeing the rewards of his efforts, be it through his work with students, through his research, or the time he spent in the field, has been the most satisfying aspect of his job. </p><p>One of those moments for Engelbrecht happened in the mid-eighties in his third year of undergraduate studies. While doing community work in Wellington, he set up an informal care group for elderly, disadvantaged  people in the town. A decade later, after he completed his studies,  the group had developed into a fully-fledged service centre with a meals-on-wheels service as well.   </p><p>“I started the club for the elderly with 20  persons from the community. Nella, one of the persons who attended the group, suggested that we call it Gemoedrus back then. Our aim was to look at the type of services that the elderly community needed and to try and get those services provided through Gemoedsrus service centre," says Engelbrecht who assisted the group with finding facilities and also helped them find resources they could access for the group. </p><p>“I look back on that and realise that sometimes one plants a small seed that grows into something enormous and that just being there at the beginning, making a small contribution made a difference in the lives of many people for generations to come."</p><p>The most important lesson he has learnt over the years, he says, is to learn to listen more than one speaks. </p><p>“When I do my research I realise that my achievements in social work is not my own, it is owing to the voices of the unheard that are being heard, and so even the Stals Prize is an award that I received through the contributions of many other people." </p><p><em>Photo: Prof Engelbrecht with the Stals Prize (middle) he received from the South African Academy for Science and Arts in June 2017. With him is (left) </em><em> Prof Wessel Pienaar (Chairperson of the South African Academy of Science and Arts) and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University, Prof Anthony Leysens. (Photo supplied)</em></p>
Students design concept packaging for Politics of Nature™ board gamehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7193Students design concept packaging for Politics of Nature™ board gameMedia & Communication, Faculty of Science<p>A Danish PhD student's project to encapsulate the ideas of the French philosopher Bruno Latour  in a board game, have kept the third-year Visual Communication and Design students at Stellenbosch University up until the wee hours of the night recently.<br></p><p>They had to come up with concept packaging ideas for the <a href="http://www.politicsofnature.org/">Politics of Nature (PoN) board game</a> – a serious table top game that is being used to explore new ways of democracy whilst at the same time addressing urgent societal and environmental challenges. </p><p>The board game was originally conceived by Jakob Raffn and his collaborator, Frederik Lassen. Jakob is currently a PhD student in agricultural systems and sustainability at Aarhus University, Denmark. The aim of PoN is to explore how Latour's political philosophy, <a href="https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674013476&content=reviews">the Politics of Nature</a>, could work in practice.</p><p>According to Jakob, it was Cape Town's water crises in 2018 that led him to collaborate with Dr Charon Büchner-Marais at the Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI), and co-founder of the Stellenbosch River Collaborative.</p><p>“I hoped that the crises would give me an opportunity to experiment with this new take on governance," Jacob explains.</p><p>This led to another collaboration with Corbin Raymond, a lecturer in the Visual Arts Department. In March 2019, under the auspices of SUWI and supervised by Corbin, visual arts student Nadia Stroh designed a local version of the Politics of Nature game to be played by stakeholders in the Eerste River catchment.</p><p>This year, Corbin and Jakob again worked with the third year students to design concept packaging for the game. This included briefing sessions, physically playing the game themselves, and individual discussion and feedback sessions.</p><p>Jakob says these interactions are part of his project of “making science matter": “There are people who cannot imagine a different world. In this game, we are combining a myriad of disciplines to provide people with the tools to start imagining and building a new common world. We cannot do it with the current governance tools at our disposal."</p><p>According to Corbin, the design project has given students a valuable opportunity to interact directly with Jacob, and to work with him to come up with design ideas for a real-world product.<br></p><p><br></p>
Institute’s new offices honours first owners of house in Joubert Streethttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5997Institute’s new offices honours first owners of house in Joubert StreetLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p>​​​As a way of remembering the 3 700 residents who were uprooted from central Stellenbosch because of the Group Areas Act, Stellenbosch University's (SU) Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation (AOI) on Tuesday officially named its offices after the first residents who lived at 7 Joubert Street in Stellenbosch. This particular street later became known as the eastern border of an area that was known as <em>Die Vlakte</em>.<br></p><p>The AOI falls under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at SU and is an interdisciplinary music research institute founded in 2016. The Institute developed from the Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS), to which it remains connected through its funding of the DOMUS archive, its intellectual and creative programmes, curating activities, archival collection initiatives and core vision of creating in DOMUS the largest open-access archive for music on the African continent. The intellectual and creative programmes of AOI focus on music, research and innovation, which includes music research, research innovation and innovative approaches to music-making.</p><p>The property at 7 Joubert Street, which belonged to the Okkers family – many of whom live in Idas Valley today – will now be known as the Pieter Okkers House at the request of the family. The house is named after the first resident, Mr Pieter J.A. Okkers (1875-1952).</p><p><span style="text-align:justify;">Speaking at the event, Prof Wim de Villiers, the SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor said: “</span><span style="text-align:justify;">Stellenbosch University is this year commemorating its centenary. And in our Centenary year, we have been celebrating the University's many achievements the past 100 years – with appreciation to all who have helped build the institution into what it has become today. But, at the same time, we have been apologising unreservedly to those who were excluded from the privileges that Stellenbosch University enjoyed in the past."</span><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“A very painful part of our history occurred here a half a century ago when residents of Die Vlakte were removed from this community supposedly because they had the wrong 'skin colour' according to the hated Group Areas Act of that time. This was the handiwork of the government, but the university did not object and later benefitted when some of the expropriated land and properties were transferred to the university.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“What happened then was wrong. It is why I am thankful that SU, already in 2000, said that “the University acknowledges its contribution to the injustices of the past" and that the institution in the same breath committed itself to redress and development," said De Villiers.​</p><p>In 1964 Die Vlakte, as it was referred to by those who lived there, was declared an area for so-called white persons, leading to the relocation of many families who lived there between the years 1964 and 1971. Die Vlakte stretched from Muller Street in the north of Merriman Avenue in the south, eastwards to Joubert Street and then to the west in Bird Street. The relocation affected six schools in the community as well as a mosque, a cinema and 10 businesses.</p><p>In 2017, when the institute moved into the university-owned property, it did so with the intention of celebrating their “new premises with an inauguration and a naming of the house".</p><p>“However, this was not possible," says Dr Marietjie Pauw, Postdoctoral Researcher at the AOI, “without first engaging in research about the history of the plot, the built structure, the area, and possible connections to people who had lived there".​<br></p><span style="text-align:justify;">“We were lucky," says Pauw. “Early on in my search, a friend who is also a heritage consultant, Lize Malan, sent me a document that indicated that 'P. Okkers' purchased two sites adjacent to one another in Joubert Street in 1903, when the erven were first opened up. When I asked Hilton Biscombe whether he knew of a P. Okkers, he immediately referred me to the Okkers descendants, Pieter and Sarah Okkers, now living in Erasmus Smit Street.<br><br></span><p style="text-align:justify;">“Pieter is a great-grandchild of Piet Okkers. However, there was more: Hilton's wife, Colleen (born Gordon), had a story to add: her mother, Rosina (Sinnie) Gordon, had been born in Joubert Street. She had always asked the children to take her to Joubert Street to see in which house she had been born. Sadly, Ma Sinnie passed on only a few months before the research on the property was begun."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">A year after the Joubert Street property was bought, Piet Okkers passed away. The properties were then transferred to his son, Pieter James Andrew Okkers, who proceeded to build a house at 5 Joubert Street (in 1926) and 7 Joubert Street (in 1927). The Okkers family lived in these premises until the houses were sold to the Conradie family (5 Joubert Street) and the Du Toit family (7 Joubert Street). The exact year of their relocation to Erasmus Smit Street is not known, but it may have been as early as 1946, when their grandchildren twins were born.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Colleen Biscombe, the great granddaughter of Pieter James Okkers and wife of Hilton Biscombe – author of the book, <em>In Ons Bloed</em>, depicting the history of Die Vlakte – her mother Rosina, had often in her old age asked to be driven past the homes in Joubert Street. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My only real knowledge of the properties in Joubert Street was the times my mother would ask us to remember to drive her down Joubert Street one day as there were two houses in that road that looked exactly the same, and she was born in one of those homes, she just couldn't remember which one. Thanks to Marietjie we now know Ma Sinnie was born in Joubert Street 5," said Biscombe at the event.</p><p>The naming/re-naming of buildings at SU is guided by the Naming Policy and the application to name the house went through the necessary institutional processes – with full consultation and final approval by the SU Council. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Linked to the naming processes, the Visual Redress Committee worked closely with AOI in order to visually represent and contextualise the name. </p><p>“Visual Redress at SU has as aim to visually represent our stories, histories and experiences in a number of ways. As such it goes hand in hand with the naming processes. The Pieter Okkers house will be the first of many houses in <em>Die Vlakte</em> that will be contextualised as part of restoring the stories of the houses and the broader historic neighbourhood. SU will thus enter into conversation with many other families to visually represent their stories in relation to many others over generations. This is one attempt (of many others) to restore the historical relations between the SU community and the broader <em>Vlakt</em>e community," says Dr Leslie van Rooi, Senior Director: Social Impact and Transformation. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Pauw says the naming of the house was important to the AOI, because the Institute wanted to honour the first person who built the house and who lived there. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Pieter Okkers is today considered to be a man who brought about much good in this town. He was a founding member of the politically radical Volkskerk, he was a founding member of the Spes Bona Soccer Club, and he was a Chairman (for the period 1927-1930) of the Free Gardeners organisation when they first opened an Order in Stellenbosch (the fourth order in South Africa)," says Prof Stephanus Muller, Director of AOI. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“He is also honoured for the provision he made for his family and descendants. To this day the Okkers family is proud to be associated with him and his wife, Rosina. Heidi Okkers, great-grandchild of Pieter Okkers, plans to begin an online blog on which family and friends can post photographs of members of the Okkers family and the wider web of relations, documents, and stories." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Over the years, a number of initiatives honouring those who were displaced from <em>Die Vlakte</em> have been carried out by SU, which owns many of the old homes that formed part of this community, and new buildings that later replaced the demolished properties. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences hosts a permanent installation that includes panels with photographs of the area depicting the everyday lives of the people who lived there, as well as testimonies from former residents, their children and grandchildren and a write-up of the historical context of the time. In 2016, SU also established <em>Die Vlakte</em> Bursary Fund by allocating bursary funding to children of the families who were removed from the area. It was thanks to Mr John Abels, a former resident of <em>Die Vlakte </em>and an ex-learner of the old Lückhoff School, that the idea to set up such a bursary was first suggested. </p><p>The office will now also form part of a walking tour of <em>Die Vlakte</em> that is currently being planned. </p><p>“The Africa Open Institute office will in future form part of the walking tour of <em>Die Vlakte</em> that is being planned by the SU Transformation Office and the Committee for Visual Redress. Uniform wall plaques with information and photos of former residents are planned for buildings in <em>Die Vlakte</em>, curated by Dr Van Rooi and Prof Elmarie Costandius of the Visual Arts Department," adds Pauw.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photos: The </em><em>Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation (AOI) on Tuesday officially named its offices after the first residents who lived at 7 Joubert Street in Stellenbosch. The house will </em><em>henceforth be known as the Pieter Okkers House. It was first owned by Mr Pieter JA Okkers, who build the two similar looking houses at 5 and 7 Joubert Street. Here is Okkers (far right) in ceremonial dress (with chairman's collar) of the Free Gardeners in approximately 1930. His wife, Rosina C. Okkers (middle), is pictured with two of her granddaughters: Roslyn Brandt on the reader's left, and Elizabeth Okkers on the right. (Photos provided</em><em> by Leonard Meyer and Elizabeth Meyer, born Okkers) </em></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Pieter Okkers (far left), the </em><em>great-grandchild of Piet Okkers</em><em>, attended and spoke at the </em><em> </em><em>unveiling of the AOI office's name. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)</em></p>
Mapping science communication research over more than three decadeshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4888Mapping science communication research over more than three decadesJournal of Science Communication & Lynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">Over the past year, two researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) have generated a "world map of science communication research", based on the broadest bibliographical analysis of global science communication research outputs to date, shedding new light on current trends in the field. They have also provided very valuable recommendations for increasing diversity and representation of developing countries, which – unfortunately – are still considerably under-represented.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Their work has been <a href="https://jcom.sissa.it/archive/16/02/JCOM_1602_2017_A02">published</a> in the Journal of Science Communication (JCOM), an open access journal on science communication published by Sissa Medialab in Italy.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">This milestone contribution to the field comes from two researchers linked to the South African Research Chair in Science Communication, hosted at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST). The study was carried out by Dr Lars Guenther, a postdoctoral fellow and Marina Joubert, a science communication researcher.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Our aim was to determine patterns and trends concerning the authors, institutions and countries that are actively contributing to scholarship in this emerging field of research, in order to highlight areas in need of attention", say Guenther and Joubert.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Research in the field of science communication started emerging about 50 years ago and has since then matured as a field of academic enquiry. According to the researchers, early findings about research-active authors and countries reveal that scholarly activity in the field has traditionally been dominated by male authors from English-speaking countries in the West. Their study encompasses a systematic, bibliographic analysis of a full sample of research papers that were published in the three most prominent journals in the field from 1979 to 2016. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Our findings reveal that early inequities remain prevalent, but also that there are indications that recent increases in research outputs and trends in authorship patterns — for example the growth in female authorship — are beginning to correct some of these imbalances," the researchers say. <br><br>"Furthermore, the current study verifies earlier indications that science communication research is becoming increasingly institutionalised and internationalised, as demonstrated by an upward trend in papers reflecting cross-institutional collaboration and the diversity of countries where authors are based."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Yet, even with these positive findings, the researchers concur, diversity in the field is still lacking with a striking majority of research contributions made to the three main journals in the field – <em>Science Communication, Public Understanding of Science</em> and <em>JCOM</em> – originating from the USA, UK and Australia, and continents like Asia, Africa and South America still considerably under-represented.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Although publications in general have increased over time in all three journals, suggesting that "science communication is maturing as a field of scholarly activity", it is interesting to notice that out of a total of 2 680 unique authors who contributed to published research in the study, the vast majority of them (82.3%) published only once in the main journals of the field. Furthermore, "the fact that only 28 researchers published six or more articles (over the entire period since 1979 and in all three journals combined) is perhaps an indication that there are still relatively few research leaders in the field". Most of the articles (74%) were written by only one or two authors, and it is rare to find research teams presenting joint research papers (only 5% of all research outputs were authored by five or more authors).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">An extremely useful suggestion raised by the authors to address the issue of some countries overshadowing the contributions of others is that, "(…) instead of calling for research papers from developing country authors, a more effective way of stimulating diversity in research authorship would be to encourage collaborative research that would include researchers in developing countries from the outset of multi-country research projects". <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The South African Research Chair in Science Communication is supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF).<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: Dr Lars Guenther and Ms Marina Joubert have managed to map science communication research over more than three decades</em></p>
New study hopes to build caring universitieshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4870New study hopes to build caring universitiesLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">With rates of psychological distress amongst students on the increase at universities across the globe, Stellenbosch University (SU) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) have launched the <em>Caring Universities</em> project to learn more about the risk factors and trajectory of mental health disorders and document the support needs of students. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">As part of this project, an online World Student Health Survey was launched on Thursday 11 May with first-year university students from SU and UCT invited to participate in the survey.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The information gathered in this survey will help universities in South Africa plan effective prevention programmes and implement innovative interventions," explains local researcher Dr Jason Bantjes from the Psychology Department at SU. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The rest of the research team includes Prof Christine Lochner, Mr Lian Taljaard and Ms Janine Roos of the Medical Research Council's (MRC) Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders at SU and Prof Dan Stein of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at UCT.  Others involved in the project include Dr Wylene Saal, a post-doctoral fellow appointed by SU, and Mr Franco Gericke and Ms Maria Annandale, both honours students in the Psychology Department at SU. The team will work closely with international experts from more than 10 countries to investigate the prevalence of common mental disorders among undergraduate university students around the world. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Our aim is to quantify how many students are affected by mental health problems, but we also hope to learn more about the risk factors and trajectory of these disorders, and document the support needs of students," explains Bantjes. "Furthermore we want to understand what psychological factors contribute to academic success and university dropout."<br><span style="line-height:1.6;"><br>"This information will be utilised to develop innovative, cost-effective and efficient interventions to promote resilience and reduce psychological distress on university campuses."</span><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><span style="line-height:1.6;">Considering the statistics, the research to be conducted may literally help save lives and will certainly help to improve the wellbeing of university students.</span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">"In South Africa as many as 12% of university students suffer from symptoms of depression and 15% report clinically significant symptoms of anxiety. Studies indicate that approximately 50% of university students abuse substances, most commonly alcohol. One study found that 24.5% of South African university students reported having had thoughts of suicide in the previous two weeks. A recent survey of university students in the USA that was conducted by the American College Health Association revealed that 44% of students reported having felt "so depressed it was difficult to function" at some point in the past 12 months. These statistics paint a rather grim picture of the psychological health of university students," adds Bantjes. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Mental health problems have a serious impact on academic attainment and lead to problems such as academic failure and university attrition."  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Some reports suggest that as many as half of students who enrol at South African universities never finish their degrees. Dropout rates are also worse among students from historically disadvantaged communities. </p><p>"The reasons for this high dropout rate are poorly understood which makes it difficult for universities to plan effective interventions. There is however little doubt that untreated and poorly managed psychological problems contribute to high dropout rates," says Bantjes. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Only 1 in 6 students with mental health problems receive minimally adequate mental health treatment. While approximately 24% of students in high income countries receive the mental health care they require, the situation is a lot more dire in most parts of the world. In developing countries, like South Africa, between 8% and 11% of students with mental health problems receive psychological treatment.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to the researchers, it is important to focus on the mental health of university students, especially because this developmental period is associated with major psychological, social, academic and financial challenges. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"We need to remember that university students have to negotiate a number of tricky transitions, including entering young adulthood, changes in family and peer relationships, leaving home, entering a new social context, increased opportunities for substance misuse and an increase in academic pressure. The stress of dealing with these transitions may contribute to poor psychological functioning. Many university students also face financial challenges and other life stressors including exposure to trauma." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">At the same time, young adulthood is also considered a peak period for the onset of several serious psychological problems, including psychotic illnesses, depression, anxiety disorders and substance use problems. Studies have shown that left untreated, these disorders can have a serious impact on students' development, motivation and attainment, leading to university dropout and academic failure. <br><span style="line-height:1.6;"><br>"This research will help us to better understand the mental health needs of our country's university students, but most importantly it will also help us find innovative ways to improve our support of students and address their psychological needs."  </span><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The first-year survey data collection for 2017 will end at the end of June, however, the team of researchers will follow up over the next four years with all the students who participate in the survey to monitor them until they complete their undergraduate degrees. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The project will therefore run for at least another four years. In the meantime we will also start testing interventions so the project may continue long after that time."<br></p><p>​<span style="line-height:1.6;">First-year students at SU who would like to participate in this study can obtain more information by visiting </span><a href="http://mentalhealthsa.org.za/"><span style="line-height:1.6;">http://mentalhealthsa.org.za</span></a><span style="line-height:1.6;"> and by contacting Dr Wylene Saal (</span><a href="mailto:wylene@sun.ac.za" style="line-height:1.6;">wylene@sun.ac.za</a><span style="line-height:1.6;">) or Ms Janine Roos (</span><a href="mailto:jroos@sun.ac.za" style="line-height:1.6;">jroos@sun.ac.za</a><span style="line-height:1.6;">). </span></p>
Goodbye, Pieter Muysken – and thank youhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=8156Goodbye, Pieter Muysken – and thank youProf Frenette Southwood (translated by Dr Kate Huddlestone)​As with many linguistics departments across the world, we have read Pieter Muysken's work, and prescribed it to our students – and we do so still. We also have had the privilege to get to know Pieter personally, firstly in 2004 as PhD-supervisor of one of our colleagues, and later (from 2011) as extraordinary professor in our department. His period as fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study (STIAS) was a pleasant opportunity to spend time with Pieter – both academically and socially.<p></p><p>Pieter was an interesting person, but also an interested one. He was naturally interested in Afrikaans and its history, as well as language contact and code-switching in South African contexts, but the history of South Africa and her diverse people, local happenings, the natural heritage of our country and less well-known attractions also captured his interest. For example, during a visit to Grahamstown, when he was invited to be a plenary speaker at the yearly linguistics conference which was held that year at Rhodes University, he looked forward to visiting the town's observatory museum – this while the majority of South African conference attendees were blissfully unaware of the existence of the museum. It appeared that the idea of a visit to this small little museum made him just as excited as the whales that he saw frolicking along the coast in Hermanus. Pieter was no pleasure seeker, but he was definitely a pleasure finder, and he had the gift of finding enjoyment in both large and small things. </p><p>During his visits to Stellenbosch, Pieter gave lectures and seminars for staff and students on language contact phenomena, but he also started a remarkable tradition: At his request, research presentation days were organised. Masters and doctoral students were given the opportunity to present their research proposals (and their studies as they stood at that point in time) to Pieter, other members of the department and each other. The students benefited richly from Pieter's deep knowledge, sharp insight and meaningful comments and suggestions. But what will remain with us as staff is Pieter's sincere interest (as one of the world's best sociolinguists) in the work of young researchers, even if their work didn't deal with language contact or language structure phenomena. This testifies to Pieter's wide field of interest, but also his humility despite his stature as an academic. </p><p>How will we remember Pieter? As an academic superstar without pretention – someone who was generous with his time, knowledge and money, who was equally comfortable conversing with undergraduate students as with rectors, who was cheerful and always laughing. Future generations of linguists in our department and elsewhere will benefit from his pioneering work, but they will not get to know Pieter the energetic people person. We mourn Pieter's passing, but we are thankful for the privilege of having had him as part of our department. For many of us, he changed how we move through our working life.​​</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>