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Enter our June-July photo competition celebrating World Environment Day 2023 our June-July photo competition celebrating World Environment Day 2023 Petro Mostert<p>​​This year the theme for World Environment Day 2023 reminds us that our actions on plastic pollution matters. Stellenbosch University's Environmental Sustainability Team and the SDG/2063 Impact Hub are raising awareness by launching a special photo competition about how our actions influence our environment that will be running during the months of June and July.<br></p><p>To participate in the photo competition, you simply need to take a photo and write a caption. We want to know how you will raise awareness for environmental sustainability. You are also allowed to enter more than once. <br></p><p>To celebrate World Environmental Day on Monday, 5 June, we invite students and staff to join us on a tour of our material recycling facility (MRF) at Welgevallen, on Monday, 5 June 2023 where we will show SU's efforts to sort our campus waste in such a way as to divert as much waste from landfill as possible and #BeatPlasticPollution.  </p><p>For inspiration, see what we do in the SU Environmental Sustainability Plan, click <a href="/english/management/OperationsandFinance/Documents/W27823%20Sustainability%20Plan%202022.pdf">here</a>.</p><p>The first prize is valued at R2000, the runner-up's prize at R1000 and the value of the 3rd prize is R500, sponsored by the Environmental Sustainability team. There is a special bonus prize for the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign sponsored by SDG/2063 Impact hub—spot prizes to be given on social media during June and July. We also have a prize for the most-liked photo on our Instagram page at @su.environmental.sust.</p><p>The closing date for entries is at 23:59 on 20 July 2023.</p><p>To enter our photo competition, please click <a href="">here</a> for the entry form online. You will need to be logged in with your SU credentials to access the form. <br></p><p><strong>For those who want to attend our recycling tour on Monday, herewith the details:</strong></p><p>Join us for a recycling tour of our material recycling facility at Welgevallen to celebrate World Environment Day and #BeatPlasticPollution.</p><p>Date: 5 June 2023</p><p>Time: 12h00 – 13h00<br></p><p>RSVP because places are limited: Please fill in the form <a href="">here</a><br></p><p>Transport will be available from the Conserve via SU's shuttle service for confirmed participants.​<br>#BeatPlasticPollution, #WorldEnvironmentDay<br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>
Cultivating GRIT for a life of success GRIT for a life of successTendani Tshauambea and Lide Janse Van Vuuren<p style="text-align:justify;">The Listen, Live and Learn programme recently hosted a workshop for its students on how to build “GRIT for success". The workshop provided an opportunity for about 40 LLLers to gain insights on how to build grit from the two invited speakers.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The workshop, which was held in the Russel Botman hall, was organised by the LLL management and forms a part of the LLL programme's co-curricular offering. Lukhanyo Mgobozi, a LLL intern, said that the workshop "was an opportunity to better equip postgrad students for the working world".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The first speaker was Mhlengi Ngcobo – a Stellenbosch University (SU) alumnus, entrepreneur and business owner – who in 2022 was selected for the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Mhlengi is the founder and CEO of <em>CoffeeMM</em>, an artisan coffee roastery with an outlet at the Co-Create Hub.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mhlengi brought an interesting yet fun aspect to his presentation, sharing openly about his longer than planned journey with studying engineering – an experience which many related to in the room.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Describing grit as “the ability to endure over time", Mhlengi spoke about his own experiences and how he applied grit to overcome obstacles and achieve his goals. During 2020, he was robbed of all his belongings and business equipment, travelled from Joburg to Cape Town with nothing but R2000 in his pocket and 'couch-surfed' for a few months until he managed to get <em>CoffeeMM</em> going.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In unpacking the meaning of grit, Mhlengi discussed various characteristics which can be cultivated to allow an individual to become “more gritty". He also focussed on the importance of passion and persistence in pursuing your goals, even in the face of obstacles and setbacks.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">His earnest yet personable approach resonated well with the students. Nicolas Miso shared that “Mhlengi's testimony brought me hope to keep working and to stay committed to the goal regardless of the hardships and failures that may come along the way".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mhlengi kept the students engaged with his approach to the topic, emphasising the value of challenges in developing grit, quoting an African proverb, he said “it is important to prepare the child for the road and not the road for the child".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The second speaker of the day was Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, who is the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) and a renowned mathematician, educator, scholar and well-respected thought leader. Prof Phakeng has been recognised for her contributions to research, education and advocating for the inclusion of underrepresented groups in STEM fields through numerous awards and honours.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Prof Phakeng's conversation with the LLLers was facilitated by Kwenzokuhle Khumalo, Primaria at Irene Residence. Drawing on her vast experience as an educator during and after-apartheid, Prof Phakeng focussed on the importance of knowing your purpose, which she illustrated with an anecdotal reference to the Notre Dame Cathedral.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">As an experienced educator, Prof Phakeng's presence in the room was palpable as she delighted the LLLers with her experience as an undergraduate at Bophuthatswana University (now NWU) studying her BSc.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Complementing Mhlengi's earlier presentation, Prof Phakeng shared that “it's never too late to be purposeful as purpose will carry you when things get tough". Speaking about grit, she emphasised that developing grit is a skill that can be learned and practiced over time. Her personal experiences and examples of how she had to apply grit to overcome challenges and achieve her success prompted the LLLers into thought, and provided a fitting illustration of her belief that “if you have purpose, you will do what you love and be successful at it".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The workshop was a great success, with attendees gaining new insights into developing their grit for lives of success. Arshia Rumluckun shared that “the LLL workshop was a highlight of my long weekend. Mhlengi's entrepreneurial background allowed me to hear a real-world case of grit being developed and used while Prof Phakeng's message on purpose made me realise how important the “why" behind the action is."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Developing grit is an essential skill for success in any field, and the workshop provided an opportunity for LLLers to learn more about developing grit. It was also a demonstration of the program's status as the flagship residential offering at SU, and its commitment to provide resources and opportunities for its community to grow and thrive.</p><p>Photo: ​<i>Mhlengi Ngcobo (left), a Stellenbosch University (SU) alumnus, entrepreneur and business ownert Stellenbosch, and Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, vformer Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), were the guest speakers at a recent LLL event.</i></p>
Stellenbosch University celebrates Earth Day 2023 with a two-day long exhibition at Jan Mouton University celebrates Earth Day 2023 with a two-day long exhibition at Jan MoutonPetro Mostert<p>​​​​We celebrate Earth Day on 22 April 2023, and Stellenbosch University will start commemorating early with an environmental sustainability expo at the Jan Mouton building on 13-14 April 2023.<br></p><p>The SU Environmental Sustainability Expo 2023 aims to broaden the campus conversations around environmental sustainability,  promote the SU Environmental Sustainability Plan, create engagement opportunities about the Net Zero Carbon campaign, and pioneer an annual campus event as part of global Earth Day events.</p><p>As part of the event, Prof Guy Midgley, Acting Director at our School for Climate Studies and world-renowned climate change researcher, will be doing a talk on How to Avoid Climate Disaster: An African View, tying with Earth Day's call to action: Invest in our planet. As part of the talk, he will demonstrate a dashboard that you can use to see how different interventions will impact climate action with different scenarios.</p><p>The exhibitors include environments within SU engaging in the climate change conversations, such as SU Facilities Management, the SDG/2063 Impact Hub dealing with the Sustainable Development Agendas of both the UN and AU at SU, The School for Climate Change, EcoMaties, the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), and companies helping SU to get to a net zero campus, such as Alveo, CRSES, Wasteplan, GBCSA, and others. <br></p><p>Join the SU community in pledging to reduce our carbon footprint and automatically enter a lucky draw.</p><p>Various tours and activities are also planned for the week of  17 April 2023.</p><p>There is an opportunity on Friday, 14 April, between 11:00 – 13:00 for SU staff and students to join us for an informal conversation about furthering the sustainability conversation across faculties and departments. Several panellists will participate in this session, share some of their research, and illustrate how they incorporate sustainability into their work.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Expo Dates</strong>: Thursday & Friday, 13-14 April, 11:00 – 14:00</p><p><strong>Venue</strong>: Jan Mouton building 2<sup>nd</sup> and 3rd-floor foyers<br><br></p><p>It is essential to RSVP for Prof Midgley's talk (13 April 12:30 to 13:30)– either to attend in-person or online: We will stream the lecture from the Jan Mouton Learning Centre. <a href="">Register here</a></p><p> For queries, contact:</p><p>Christine Groenewald at <a href=""></a> or 084 270 4489<br></p><p><br></p>
SU student awarded SADC Scholarship to study economic integration in the region student awarded SADC Scholarship to study economic integration in the regionTendani Tshauambea<p style="text-align:justify;">​Kgomotso Madiba is a multifaceted young woman whose identity has been shaped by both her academic and non-academic life. She enjoys the arts, history, literature, languages, and music – with jazz being her favourite genre.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">But she's also one of the first recipients of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Annual Scholarship that was introduced in 2022.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The research scholarship was established in February last year in honour of the SADC founders/founding nations and is meant to recognise and honour the founders for their contribution to the establishment of the community and their “pursuance of a solid regional integration" and development agenda. It is available to postgraduate researchers who hold an MA degree as a minimum and is “planning to pursue research or further their studies at doctoral or post-doctoral level" in any discipline.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Madiba describes herself as a “university hopper" – she completed her Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Studies at the University of Pretoria, and an LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently pursuing her Master of Law (LLM) degree at Stellenbosch University (SU).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It was thanks to the SU Law Faculty, she says, that she found out about the postgraduate scholarship.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Her interest in the law is inspired by the positive role that she believes it can play in society.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The law offers a framework that guides our interaction with others and with institutions. Our societies constantly evolve, advance, and undergo modifications. Be it politically, economically or with values and beliefs, the law ensures that all living under and through these modifications are represented, providing protection and dignity to individual rights and freedoms, and thus ensuring an equitable society," explains Madiba, who grew up in Motetema village near Groblersdal in Limpopo.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She was chosen for the scholarship after making it through a two-stage application process. Her application ensured that she was nominated by the Department of Higher Education and Training to represent South Africa in the second round of application evaluations between the different SADC member states. Her application came out tops, along with four other candidates, from the 16 SADC member states, making them the inaugural recipients of this prestigious scholarship.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Madiba is clear about the opportunities this scholarship will bring to her. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Being a recipient of the SADC scholarship has empowered me as a young African woman. It is already difficult to get scholarships to further your education, particularly in the law field. Receiving the scholarship also affirmed me, affirmed my dreams and my confidence in so many ways. SADC took a leap of faith in investing in me," she says.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Good economics on their part because I intend on using this opportunity to contribute towards the betterment of our regional community."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Her Master's Degree in International Trade Law will involve studying institutions and society in SADC and focuses on strengthening economic integration in the region, with particular emphasis on the SADC Free Trade Agreement and the implications on regional economic integration.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This LLM course exposed me to the subject of free trade and open markets and how they could benefit and possibly advance the lives of people In African countries. Reading further, I learned that Regional Economic Communities had a much greater role to play in the implementation of these policies. This interested me and prompted me to do research on how this can be realised. I am passionate about the development of this continent, and I am willing to contribute however I can towards its greatness."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Madiba, the success of Africa will not be possible without women, their empowerment and support structures being put in place to ensure their participation in its development. Quoting the words of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first African Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Madiba believes that “investing in women is smart economics, and investing in girls, catching them upstream, is even smarter economics."<br></p>
SUNFin team ready to go live in July 2023 team ready to go live in July 2023Petro Mostert<p>​Stellenbosch University (SU) will soon have a new financial system. The SUNFin project has reached its final phase before going live in July this year. A comprehensive testing period is nearing its end, vital to ensuring a successful cloud implementation of Oracle Cloud Financials (OCF).  <br></p><p>“The SUNFin team – consisting of people from many SU divisions and external partners - has done a tremendous job of keeping this critical project on track. In addition to the seamless execution of the normal tasks of the Finance Division, they gave a lot of extra hours to ensure that we reach our milestones," said Prof Stan du Plessis, SU's Chief Operating Officer. </p><p>“This is the single biggest system SU has ever implemented. It is a wonderful example of a project that is future-focused and solution-orientated. It required us to review our processes and consider their effectiveness and relevance. It also allowed us to address internal complexity with a modern cloud-based solution. This is how we unlock the productivity gains of digitalisation in our business processes," said Du Plessis.</p><p>Since cloud implementation projects are evolutionary and integrated, SUNFin must undergo a comprehensive testing phase. “The SUNFin project reached a significant milestone when they commenced their User Acceptance Testing (UAT) phase. Over the next few weeks, we will complete the UAT phase and begin user training from May onwards," said Manie Lombard, Chief Director: Finance.</p><p>Lombard said the training phase will now commence, coordinated by Lizzy de Beer, Deputy Director: Financial Systems Support and Training, in collaboration with the SUNFin training team; the latter comprises the respective Subject Matter Expert (SME) of each business module and their super users and core finance support. Training will follow a carefully developed training schedule. It will take place in various formats and areas: one-on-one sessions, focus groups, and interactive question-and-answer sessions are a few methods the training team will use to ensure all users are equipped and able to use the financial system optimally and independently.</p><p>“From a technology point of view, this is our first Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) cloud solution whereby we are leading with cutting-edge technology being implemented in a university of our complexity and size. This is a giant leap we have made on the technology front," said Denisha Jairam-Owthar, SU's Chief Director: Information Technology.<br></p><p>As part of the SUNFin roll-out, a permanent user support desk will be established and managed by Brendon Grindlay-Whieldon, SUNFin Business Owner. Together with website support, his team will offer help when needed. As part of the support desk, there will also be technical support from the IT team, who will be responsible for the operational and technical support of OCF.  </p><p>Over the next few months, regular communication via SUNFin newsletters, SU's website, and social media channels will inform future users of the new financial system at SU about training schedules, implementation processes, and go-live roll-out deadlines. A special email address for SUNFin – <a href=""></a> – is available for staff with questions on the project. Please give 48 hours for the SUNFin team to respond.</p><p>​<br></p>
L’Oreal-UNESCO grant will support research to combat antimalarial resistance’Oreal-UNESCO grant will support research to combat antimalarial resistanceWiida Fourie-Basson (media: Fakulteit Natuurwetenskappe)<p>​A PhD-student in chemistry at Stellenbosch University, Jessica Thibaud, is one of six South African female scientists to have received a generous grant from L'Oréal's <em>Fondation L'Oreal</em> and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).<br></p><p>The <a href="">L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science international programme</a> provides support to female scientists at all stages in their scientific careers. According to an official media release, women still represent just 33.3% of researchers globally, and their work rarely gains the recognition it deserves.</p><p>Jessica's research focuses on identifying new chemical compounds to disrupt the life cycle of the malaria parasite <em>Plasmodium falciparum </em>after it enters the human host. It is no easy task to identify these compounds, however, as there are literally thousands/millions stored in databanks all over the world.  </p><p>In 2020, malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease was responsible for some 627 000 deaths worldwide, of which 96% were in Africa. The parasite is also showing increased resistance to antimalarial medication currently in use.</p><p> Jessica's research is just one aspect of a larger research focus on the design and development of antimalarial drugs, led by <a href="">Dr Katherine de Villiers</a> in SU's Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science. Dr de Villiers' research group recently developed a two-dimensional map of antiplasmodium chemical space. Generated using a simple principal component analysis algorithm, the map visually clusters together those compounds with known antimalarial activity. For her MSc-studies under Dr de Villiers, Jessica combined this map with recently acquired skills in machine learning to identify a subset of 6 000 compounds that showed potential of targeting a specific enzyme in the parasite's life cycle. </p><p>Since beginning her PhD, Jessica has benefitted from further training provided through the <a href="">H3D Foundation</a> at the University of Cape Town and <a href="">Ersilia</a> in the use of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to speed up the process of discovering new drugs. Using these computational methods, she was able to narrow down the search even further to a potential 30 compounds. She is now in the process of testing these compounds in the laboratory to find the one or two with the most potential for further development. </p><p>“Apart from their anti-malarial activity, these compounds also have to show important drug-like characteristics such as solubility, selectivity, and potency before they can be considered for further development," she explains.</p><p>She plans to use the L'Oreal grant for a more powerful computer to use in the laboratory, and to attend an international congress on bioinorganic chemistry later this year. As part of the grant she also attended a week-long training programme for the 25 African L'Oreal-UNESCO laureates in the Côte d'Ivoire.<br></p><p>​<br></p>
University hosts its first Seniors Welcoming hosts its first Seniors Welcoming Tendani Tshauambea<div style="text-align:justify;">​<span>When we talk about the university's Welcoming programme, we usually think about first years who are coming to study at Stellenbosch University (SU) for the first time. This year, however, the university held its first inaugural Institutional Seniors Welcoming aimed at welcoming senior and postgraduate students.</span></div><div><div style="text-align:justify;"><br></div><span style="text-align:justify;"></span><p style="text-align:justify;">The three-day Welcoming, which was held in February, provides an opportunity for honours and master's students, PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows to connect with the university community, explore the campus and its facilities, and engage in local outreach activities.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">.Net Coordinator (pronounced dot net), Tendani Tshauambea, explained that the Institutional Seniors Welcoming was a collaborative effort between various support structures including the Centre for Student Communities (CSC), the Postdoctoral Office, Development and Alumni Relations, the Corporate Communications and Marketing Division, as well as the Postgraduate Office.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“To ensure the welcoming and integration of postgraduate students, an Institutional Seniors Welcoming, led by various postgraduate communities and structures was held. This Welcoming is the first time that Stellenbosch University has officially welcomed postgraduate students to the <em>Matie </em>community and should improve integration and ensure that postgraduate students feel welcome," Tshauambea said. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The three-day programme began with a “Registration and Sign-up" session where the students were given an overview of the .Net communities, which were created to cater for the specific needs of senior and postgraduate students. Afterwards, the students moved to the Coetzenburg Stadium for the Rector's Welcoming speech, the 2023 university welcoming aerial photo and the Dream Launch. A reception was held for the students at <em>Die Stal </em>– the Alumni Relations' clubhouse – whereafter they took part in the Dream Walk and Dream Fair. This is the first year that the university held a Dream Fair on the Rooiplein.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Following the Dream Launch, the students participated in the Dream Walk, where they were encouraged to write down their dreams and aspirations on a welcoming card that was placed in trees lining Victoria Street. The students walked from the top of Victoria Street to the Rooiplein to symbolise the beginning of their journeys as postgraduate students and the aspirations and dreams they have for their student life. The Dream Walk symbolises the start of their journey at university and set the tone for the rest of the Welcoming, while creating a sense of excitement and optimism among the attendees, all of which ended the walk by exiting under a banner that read "Your dream starts here".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This walk was designed to inspire the postgraduates to embrace their aspirations and to recognize the potential of their time at Stellenbosch University," added Tshauambea.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During Welcoming students were also taken on a campus tour, which is “particularly important for new arrival and international postgraduates, who have never been to Stellenbosch University before". The campus tour provided them with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the university and to gain a better understanding of the institution's facilities, support services and other resources available to senior students. The tour was led by the .Net student leaders who provided insights into campus life and answered questions about the university.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Welcoming was nothing I expected it to be. People showed up, they participated, they genuinely enjoyed it and they interacted. Everything we wanted. I hope we can keep the students engaged throughout the year because we have already seen that they are keen to be part of it," said Tavonga Chirikure, one of the .Net student leaders who assisted with the Welcoming.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Other activities during the Welcoming included participating in a social impact initiative to foster a sense of social responsibility and community involvement among the postgraduates. The outreach took the postgraduates to a local beach where they participated in a clean-up and conversation about societal pride in our public spaces.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The final event of the welcoming ceremony was a soirée held at <em>Die Stal</em> where postgraduate students could interact and experience some of the local culture and sample some of the renowned wines of the Stellenbosch region.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Mpho Maboee, a final year Engineering student shared: “In the past five years I have been here, I can confidently say that Stellenbosch University is intentional about creating a transformative student experience. This was evident in the Seniors Welcoming. I am once again excited about being a Matie and embracing the new culture of SU."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Tshauambea emphasised the importance of the event in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for the postgraduates.</p><p>"We believe that Seniors Welcoming is essential in setting the tone for the postgraduates' time at Stellenbosch University. We want them to feel supported, engaged, and excited about their academic journey here. By providing them with opportunities to connect with their peers, integrate into the university ecosystem and participate in local outreach programs, we are encouraging them to become active and engaged members of the community."</p><p>“The first Seniors Welcoming has set a high standard for future events and is a display of the university's commitment to ensuring that all postgraduates feel welcomed and supported throughout their time at the university.​​</p></div>
“We must fight for the society we want”“We must fight for the society we want”Tendani Tshauambea<p style="text-align:justify;">“We must fight for the society we want."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">These were the words of former Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs at the fourth Annual Social Justice lecture hosted by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice within the Law Faculty at Stellenbosch University (SU) recently.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">This year, the lecture focused on <em>Social Justice and the Constitution: Is this the country we were fighting for? with social justice coming under the spotlight as “one of the </em>most pressing challenges of our time, alongside climate change".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Social Justice Lecture is hosted by Prof Thuli Madonsela in her capacity as Director of the CSJ and the holder of the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In the lead up to the lecture, Madonsela said: “Its timing could not be more apt given that many are turning their back on the Constitution, with some accusing it of being nothing more than a so-called Potemkin village while others reject it as a neoliberal blueprint ossifying the status quo," Madonsela said.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Addressing a packed lecture room of just over 200 people, the retired advocate, anti-apartheid activist, writer and former judge did not waste time in answering the question of whether this was the country he was fighting for during apartheid.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Yes, this is the country I was fighting for, but no, it is not the society we were fighting for."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The country he was fighting for, said Justice Sachs, was “a South Africa with a Bill of Rights, a free press and all the other institutions associated with a constitutional democracy". Reflecting on his memories of how the Freedom Charter was created he said, it was “not designed [by lawyers] but came from the demands of the people".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The country we have today is the result of the people of South Africa who drafted a Constitution on South African soil through their democratically elected representatives."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">A wonderful storyteller, he took the audience on the journey of his life as an anti-apartheid activist, beginning with his arrest at the age of 17 while still a second-year law student at the University of Cape Town. He also spoke of his experience attending the Congress of the People in 1955 where the Freedom Charter was adopted as well as partaking in the adoption of constitutional guidelines for a new South Africa at an ANC gathering at the University of Zambia in 1988.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The discussion was led by award-winning journalist, Lukhanyo Calata, who served as the programme director with an audience that consisted of university management, students, student leaders and staff members. The SU community was also joined by various visiting dignitaries including the Swedish Ambassador, Mr Håkan Juholt, Dr Koketso Rakudu, the youngest serving Chief of the Royal Bafokeng Nations, MEC Sharna Fernandes, representatives of the Law Faculty Trust, as well as the directors of Cluver Markotter Attorneys.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In her welcoming address, Prof Juanita Pienaar, Acting Dean of the Law Faculty, described Justice Sachs as “having penned many wonderful judgments with finesse and precision".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Jaina Lalla, a Masters student said that she agreed with his answer to the question asked by the lecture's theme, “while he does not completely ignore the ongoing issues within South Africa, he highlights the beautiful nation that South Africa is, and more importantly he highlights the power that the South African people hold with their right to speak out against things they know are unjust. As a Zimbabwean this is something that really stood out to me; and has made me realise just how powerful this right is, as it is a right that my people have not had the safety and the freedom to exercise for their own".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I am an eternal optimist," said Sachs, but acknowledged that while South Africa is a free country, “it is neither fair nor equal, and plagued by crime, gender-based violence, corruption and dysfunctional municipalities."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">These sentiments were echoed by the Rector, Prof Wim De Williers, who drew attention in his opening address to World Day of Social Justice which had been celebrated just a day before the lecture and spoke about the requirement of “our full and immediate attention" to tackle the issues mentioned by Justice Sachs as a society.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Speaking of the struggles he faced as an anti-apartheid activist and the injuries that resulted from the assassination attempt on his life in 1988, he said that he did not think of these things as “sacrifices, but rather the only options he felt would be right in response to the unjust system of apartheid".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The only way I could be a free person in my country was to join the struggle led by African people."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Speaking about why students should support social justice initiatives, Thembalethu Seyisi, a candidate attorney, Social Justice Ambassador of the Social Justice M-Plan initiative started by Madonsela in the CJS, and a Stellenbosch Alumni chapter leader said: “It is of paramount importance for students to support social justice initiatives such as the Annual Lecture, so as to be conscientised to current social ills and to gain inspiration to start thinking systematically on how they can play their part in creating the South Africa where everyone's life is improved and potentially freed."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Throughout the lecture, recurrent themes in the life of Justice Sachs included his sense of duty, his clear understanding of right and wrong as well as his opposition to injustice that punctuates his life even to this day.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I do get angry, especially when I see people I had been in the trenches with, becoming crooks," he said.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Despite this disappointment in his former compatriots, he remains positive and called on the youth to take up the fight for a more just society, stating that “we will find our way through the difficulties we're in right now". <br></p>
Wrap-around support helps level playing field for disadvantaged students — Prof Ramjugernath support helps level playing field for disadvantaged students — Prof RamjugernathDeresh Ramjugernath <p>​​​​Wrap-around support helps students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to achieve academic success and equips them with valuable skills to enter the world of work. This is the view of Prof Deresh Ramjugernath, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching at Stellenbosch University, in an opinion piece published by <em>University World Ne</em>w​s on 16 February 2023.<br></p><ul><li>Read the article below or click <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>for the piece as published.</li></ul><p><strong>​Prof Deresh Ramjugernath*</strong><br></p><p>“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence."<br></p><p>I am reminded of these renowned words of 18<sup>th</sup> Century author, <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">Abigail Adams</strong></a>, each year when we encounter the scramble for enrolment at universities and other institutions of higher learning. It is a truism meant as advice for those eager to embark on an educational journey that will shape their futures. However, given the context and realities of our country, the ardor and diligence invariably also apply to our institutions of higher learning.</p><p>The key question is: given our fractured schooling system and the diverse socio-political contexts of our students on entering post matriculation education, how do institutions level the playing field? It is one thing to propagate our united goal to broaden access to as many deserving students from previously disadvantaged communities. It is quite another matter to ensure consistent access with success.</p><p>In South Africa, the gap between privileged and disadvantaged, a consequence of the gross inequality and the legacy of apartheid, is aggravated by the current economic crisis — increased unemployment, poverty, crime and corruption. Needless to say, financial circumstances have a significant effect on the ability of students to study successfully. And the ever-increasing demand for bursaries, scholarships, study loans and educational sponsorships are common knowledge.</p><p>Yet, admittance to an institution of higher learning with a bursary or scholarship to one's credit is no guarantee or passport to academic success. </p><p>For many first-year students, orientating to campus life and tertiary studies can be hugely challenging. In South Africa, according to research conducted by <a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>Statistics </strong></span></a><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>SA</strong></span>,  70% of first-year students are the first in their family to attend university or college.</p><p>Being a first-year student is difficult for most people (even those who come from families where previous generations have attended university). It takes grit to adapt to the new environment and it requires new and different ways of learning and thinking.</p><p>Ultimately, there are a host of factors, apart from the ability to master the subject content and a bursary to your name, that contribute to the successful outcome of a student's learning experience and their overall academic performance.</p><p>In our quest to level the playing field and to optimize the chances of academic success for particularly our students from disadvantaged backgrounds, Stellenbosch University has partnered with <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">The Dell Foundation whose Young Leaders Programme</strong></a> has designed a formidable wrap-round support initiative that serves as scaffolding for successful performance throughout the student's academic career. It focuses amongst others on:</p><ul><li>Strengthening academics via tutors and learning communities who have regular check–ins and support students throughout their graduate programme. (This is in addition to our longstanding successful tracking system that monitors the academic performance of new-comers, with early alert systems on poor performance and remedial action plans to keep scholastic achievement on track.)</li><li>Financial support with a 'gap cover'-orientation: to alleviate the additional stresses encountered by students during their day-today student life, covering any shortfalls from their tuition and accommodation [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] funding or keeping student debt low, providing funding for essentials such as membership fees for student societies, textbooks, photocopying, travelling, toiletries etc;</li><li>Situational support: focusing on the mental and social wellbeing of students by offering support in the form of counselling, mentorship and developmental workshops;</li><li>Work readiness: via a digital platform with tools and resources to support students to effectively manage their academic careers and to overcome barriers to employment such as creating a winning resumé, effective marketing of themselves for career related opportunities and preparing for professional interviews; </li><li>Job placement: which offers personal coaching and guidance consultations for final years to effectively create and implement action plans against their post-graduation goals for work or further study.</li><li>Membership to an Alumni Community that enhance professional support and knowledge-networking opportunities for career development and expansion. </li></ul><p>This range of support mechanisms enable students to excel academically and gain valuable skills from their campus experience. It is geared to significantly reduce the dropout rate which is currently notably higher amongst students from disadvantaged groups, students of colour or those who form part of the 'missing middle.'</p><p>Having wrap-around support equip students with more than just a degree — it provides them with skills necessary to flourish academically and to enter the world of work with the graduate attributes that will serve them well as engaged and responsible citizens that are focused on making a positive contribution to society.</p><p>As leading institutions of higher learning, it is thus incumbent on us to assist and promote the process of human restitution by moving beyond the traditional paradigm of distancing ourselves from the deficiencies of basic education and to step-up our efforts to level the playing field with ardor and diligence. It is nothing less than a moral obligation to tertiary education and the future of our country.</p><ul><li><strong>Photo</strong>: First-year students at Stellenbosch University's welcoming event. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</li></ul><p>*<strong>Prof Deresh Ramjugernath is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching at Stellenbosch University.</strong></p><p>​<br></p>
DSAC partners with Maties on first social cohesion music festival DSAC partners with Maties on first social cohesion music festivalLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">Stellenbosch University (SU) ended its Welcoming programme for newcomers with a music festival focused on promoting social cohesion through diversity with the staging of its first ever Maties Connect Festival, or MC Fest for short, on Saturday, 11 February. The festival, which was funded by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC), the university's Division Student Affairs (DSAf) and Maties Connect, brought together local and international musicians and DJs from different musical genres on one stage.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In a country where some music genres are still considered to appeal to only certain races, the Division Student Affairs at Stellenbosch University wanted to create an event where we could expose all our students to a diverse group of artists and music genres and show them that there is unity even in diversity. Music is a great way to do this," explained Mr Charl Davids, the Director of the Centre for Student Counselling and Development (CSCD) within DSAf.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Davids, together with other DSAf staff members within the Centre for Student Communities (CSC), the Maties Connect team under the leadership of Connect Coordinator Ms Leoné Wilkinson, and the DSAC were the driving forces behind bringing the festival to SU. Maties Connect is a student-driven non-profit organisation that raises funds for a predetermined foundation each year. The organisation is also responsible for managing <em>Vensters</em> (directly translated as Windows), a popular Maties event during which newcomers in residences and commuter student communities (previously referred to as Private Student Organisations or PSOs) put on short acts for students, staff, and the public to see. Funds raised from <em>Vensters</em> this year will go DSAf and the #BridgetheGap initiative.<br><em><br>Vensters</em> preceded the MC Fest with both events held on the Welgevallen Hockey Fields in Stellenbosch. The MC Fest featured artists like Early B, Neon Dreams, ObvslySnowy, Simeon, Barnaschone, Mr Thea, Chef KD, and Sun-El Musician.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Having 16 stages across the Stellenbosch campus is costly and was just not financially feasible anymore. Instead, we were able to build one master stage where we could have <em>Vensters</em> during the day and the MC Fest in the evening. We also want to ensure the safety of our students when we stage <em>Vensters</em>, and therefore having it in one venue where you have police and security officers, and paramedics on standby to assist in case of an emergency makes sense," said Wilkinson.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We could also monitor access to the venue as students and staff had to book tickets using their student and staff numbers. Controlled access points meant bag checks could be done as another measure of ensuring safety, and attendees were prevented from bringing hard liquor into the space and over consuming alcohol."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Newlands Spring Brewery Co. and SABSharp, South African Breweries' outcome-based responsible drinking platform launched in 2021, came onboard as partners to ensure responsible drinking at the festival, with only beers with a low alcohol concentration on sale. In addition, water hydration stations were also made available by SAB and students were provided access to their online responsible drinking platform. SAB also sponsored a range of other items required for the festival.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Others who contributed towards the MC Fest included Mia Mélange, Eikestad Mall and The Village Lounge & Café.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Building social cohesion amongst our students is important for Maties Connect and we know that students interact more with each other when they bond over something that is also fun," explained Wilkinson who along with her team took responsibility for the planning and organisation of the MC Fest as well.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We connected with students to find out which artists they would like to see on stage. This meant that we could cater to many students' tastes. Students therefore became involved in building social cohesion before and during the event without even realising it and that's what you want to do, you want to create a space where that can happen naturally and on a subconscious level. Otherwise, these things can become performative."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The festival was also used as a “welcome back for seniors and a 'welcome to Maties' for newcomers" under the banner of starting a “Rainbow Revolution".<br></p><p>Mr Vusithemba Ndima, the Director-General of the DSAC, attended the MC Fest on Saturday evening and welcomed all the newcomers, senior students, and staff to the event.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“As part of galvanising the whole of society, including institutions of higher learning, to play a meaningful role to promote social cohesion and rid our country of the scourge of racism and other social ills, the Department is currently engaged in the process of developing a social compact for social cohesion and nation building. The rationale for the social compact comes from the realisation that no single sector, including the government, can single-handedly succeed in driving the vision towards a socially integrated and inclusive society," explained Ndima.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“That is, for South Africa to become a socially integrated and inclusive society, the different sectors in society need to make commitments and hold each other accountable to promote social cohesion and nation-building in our country, and thus, it will be a grave mistake if this concert is a once-off and not  followed up by a fully-fledged programme that will facilitate social cohesion and nation-building in this institution. Therefore, I implore you to make the required investments in the spirit of a social compact so that this institution can become a shining example of integration and inclusion in our nation where everyone is treated equally and is welcomed.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In the end, we all desire a country that is characterised by more social interaction, collaboration, and solidarity. We must work together to realise this vision and advance South Africa."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Edwin Cleophas, Secretary General for the Social Cohesion Advocates Programme within Arts and Culture at DSAC, “it was an easy decision for the department to partner with Stellenbosch University" because of DSAC's focus on driving diversity and social cohesion in South Africa and the university's commitment to transforming.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Universities are places where you put a diverse group of people together in a space where they are being 'forced' to live with one another. Prior to coming to university, if you wanted to, you could attend any school and choose a school that is more exclusive. However, when you enter university you have to learn to live with people from different backgrounds, who speak different languages, have different cultures, and who you may not have been exposed to.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The Department is focused on nation-building and social cohesion and believe that you can't build a better South Africa for all if you do it independently. Universities provide a space for us to focus on nation-building and social cohesion amongst diverse groups, and especially newcomers," said Cleophas.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Even with SU being under public scrutiny due to concerns raised around the progress of transformation in the Khampepe Commission Report last year, Cleophas believes that it is the perfect institution for DSAC to partner with to build social cohesion amongst young South Africans.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We know SU's history, and we know that it was the birthplace of apartheid. It is a heavy label to carry, and it is time that we deal with that label and discuss it to move past it. The minister does not see this as a once-off engagement, but the start of continuous engagements with staff and students at the university and other stakeholders in and outside SU. All the partners involved are excited about the possibilities of this partnership.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The university has said that it is serious about transformation, so now we must put in the work and be intentional about bringing about transformation. The university is onboard, and government is here to support the university so that every individual, regardless of background, religion, income level, or language feel that they belong here."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The festival is also considered an opportunity for “staff to model to students what it means to be diverse". This is important, said Davids, as one of the “complaints that is often heard from students is that when events like <em>huisdans</em> (house dance) for example takes place that only one genre of music is played".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“That causes unnecessary racial division and conflict," he said.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“By hosting an event like this, we want to model to our students what diversity and inclusivity look like and that we can, even as we are different, be at the same event and enjoy the music we love, but still cater to as wide an audience as possible. If we don't as staff model to our students what it means to be diverse and inclusive, how can we expect them to know how to do it practically," added Davids.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He is particularly excited about the prospect of some of the profit from the festival going to an emergency fund within DSAf so that adhoc expenses – “such as a student needing glasses to write an exam after being mugged and having their glasses damaged" –  can be covered through the fund.  Maties Connect also ensured that the Division Alumni Relations was able to fundraise for its #BridgetheGap fund which assists students by helping them overcome obstacles that may stand in their way of continuing or completing their studies. Individuals who purchased tickets were given the option of donating to the fund at the time of purchase.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Cleophas said that while a music festival provides the opportunity for people from different backgrounds to interact with each other, the responsibility of continuous transformation rested firmly on the shoulders of SU staff and students as a collective.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In order to change the culture at an institution, we need individuals to commit to the process of transformation, diversity, inclusivity and belonging as a collective."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Having witnessed and heard about the support that the university offers students during his visits to the institution, Cleophas said that he wanted students to know, especially first years, that the university offered multiple opportunities for them to access support and resources to make a success of their studies.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">​“Isolation is one of the key reasons that people drop out university, however, what I have seen at SU is that when you are struggling, it is important to ask around for help which is there."​</p>