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MGD advancing student-driven engaged citizenship advancing student-driven engaged citizenship<p style="text-align:justify;">​​​​​​“Stellenbosch University's Vision 2040 clearly states the university's objective to become one of Africa's leading research universities and to be globally recognised as an excellent, inclusive, and innovative institution where knowledge is advanced in service of society. As such, Stellenbosch University is dedicated to preparing, training, and equipping students to become global citizens."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">These are the sentiments expressed by Ms Renee Hector-Kannemeyer, Head of Matie Community Service (popularly referred to as MGD) and Deputy Director of the Division for Social Impact, as she discussed some of the student-driven engaged citizenship activities MGD has been focusing on in the first term of the academic year.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Hector-Kannemeyer, students are confronted by increasingly complex issues such as food security, energy security, global economic challenges, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Fourth Industrial Revolution and now a global pandemic. ​</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This rapidly changing landscape requires universities to be more agile in responding to these challenges while preparing students to make a positive impact on society," said Hector-Kannemeyer.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">In March, MGD offered students at Stellenbosch University (SU) a valuable peer learning opportunity through a student-focused online Social Impact Colloquium which allowed them to engage with students and staff at other universities on the African continent and abroad. The colloquium, which focused on <em>Engaging with Social Impact across the Globe: The role of the university in enabling student-driven social impact</em>, replaced MGD's in-person Social Impact Community Morning. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The colloquium gave students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge on how to become change agents that bring about a positive impact on society, unpack what it means to be a socially responsive institution, and how that impacts on student volunteerism and the social impact initiatives students pursue.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It provided us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the role of socially responsive universities within a global context, and to discuss what that means for Stellenbosch University based on its Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019-2024, and for other universities who participated."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Panellists from SU, Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore, Rhodes University, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the University of Zimbabwe participated in the event, where they also shared mini-documentary videos showcasing their universities' student-driven social impact initiatives. Two of the universities that participated in the event are 2020 recipients of awards made by the international Talloires Network of Engaged Universities. <em>Read the full story</em><em> </em><a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=8043" style="color:#663399;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-decoration-line:underline;"><em>here</em></span></a><em>.</em></p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the colloquium students were, amongst others, able to learn effective methodologies to create viable and relevant social impact projects by using design thinking, with a real-time exercise provided by Ms Lana Franks, Student Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme Lead at the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UWC. Franks was one of the  panellists on the day.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Design thinking is concerned with creatively solving problems through an iterative and human-centred innovation cycle. This involves empathising with clients or end-users to develop a deep understanding of the problem, asking them questions for clarity, and involving them in finding creative solutions to their problems.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Commenting on the discussion on design thinking, Prof Ronelle Carolissen, Chair of MGD's Board and Professor of Community Psychology in the Educational Psychology Department at SU, pointed out the important lessons students could learn from the concept of design thinking, such as listening, consulting and collaborating with people in designing sustainable and solution-driven social impact projects. <br><br>“Coming to university is not only about acquiring curricular knowledge. University life also <br>provides an ideal opportunity for co-curricular learning that is mutually beneficial to students and communities. Students can use these platforms to solidify values-based approaches to community engagement that enhance the social good," said Prof Carolissen. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">MGD also recently launched its short course, the first of its kind, on Advancing Engaged Citizenship (AEC). The course aims to connect SU students to a variety of national volunteerism opportunities to acquire knowledge and skills to become engaged citizens while studying and upon entering the workplace. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The four-month AEC course started on 6 April 2021 with 108 Social Work students, 34 student leaders focused on social impact in residences and private student organisations at SU, and 16 community members joining the course via the Stellenbosch-based e'Bosch Heritage Project. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The course focuses on the following modules: Accessing and analysing information, Curiosity and Imagination, Agility and Adaptability, Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence, Effective Oral and Written Communication, Initiative and Entrepreneurship, and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. It is presented by the Training and Placement Centre within MGD.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The purpose of the centre is to enable students to gain civic engagement experience at a national level in order to produce cutting-edge thinkers who choose to make a meaningful contribution to real-life world challenges." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Over the past year, MGD has been on a journey of redreaming, re-imagining, and repositioning itself. We have been on a mission to understand how we can formalise the volunteer work students do and how we can position ourself as a modern NGO that is forward looking and future thinking."</p><p>The modules of the AEC course are also recognised by SU's Co-curricular Office and will form part of student social impact leaders' academic transcript.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Our new course allows us to continue to remain relevant to the critical issues and challenges facing South African societies and communities, and the world. Through our work we want to inspire students to be conscious actors in the world. This is about starting a new thought movement, fuelling new ways of responding to where we are as a nation and as a continent and re-igniting our imagination of what South Africa could be," she explained.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">MGD also launched a Virtual Volunteering course thanks to its partnership with <a href="" style="color:#663399;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-decoration-line:underline;">ForGood</span></a> – a national virtual volunteerism portal connecting individuals with causes and campaigns across South Africa. The ForGood community currently consists of over 54 000 registered volunteers who have made a contribution through more than 35 000 social impact connections.​<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The volunteering course is aimed at second-year social work students to provide them with the opportunity to obtain practice-based volunteering experience while also applying their knowledge as they actively engage with a variety of communities online.   </p><p>Students will complete 50 hours of volunteering, whereafter they will receive a certificate from SU in acknowledgement of the short -course they completed.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“With initiatives like this, MGD wants to ensure that we are responding to real-life challenges and encouraging active citizenship, that we enable virtual volunteerism opportunities for our graduates to gain experience within their fields, as well as enable our students to share cutting-edge academic knowledge with a range of national organisations," said Hector-Kannemeyer.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Leslie van Rooi, Senior Director: Social Impact and Transformation, added: “MGD has over decades guided the SU community to better understand our role in advancing active citizenship through, amongst others, volunteering possibilities. This it has done within a framework of deep, reciprocal engagement that allows for social impact. Through the online colloquium and the virtual course MGD again guides the university community in redefining our role as an engaged university in ever changing times."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">For more information about the AEC course, visit <a href="" style="color:#663399;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-decoration-line:underline;"></span></a>. You can also contact <a href="" style="color:#663399;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-decoration-line:underline;"></span></a> or Michelle Pietersen at <a href="" style="color:#663399;"><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-decoration-line:underline;"></span></a>. To watch a recording of the colloquium, please visit <a href="" style="color:#663399;"><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration-line:underline;"></span></a><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration-line:underline;">.</span></p><p>​<br></p>2021-04-28T22:00:00Z 2021-04-28T22:00:00.0000000ZRenee Hector-Kannemeyer and Sandra Mulder
SU collaborates with partners to provide relief in time of need collaborates with partners to provide relief in time of need<p>​​Over the past weeks, purposeful partnerships between Stellenbosch University (SU) and several others have brought relief to thousands of people who are experiencing need due to the national lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic.<br></p><p>During this time, which has been characterised by compassion to help people, SU has had to react swiftly to adapt the institution's processes in order to continue making an impact on society. With the realisation that although not everyone is in the same boat, we have been hit by the same storm, various relief efforts have been actioned.</p><p>Some people are experiencing a food shortage, or do not have shelter or mattresses and blankets, while volunteers are needed at health care facilities and new research on COVID-19 is welcomed.</p><p>The SU's Division for Social Impact, which strives to forge relationships with the community through cooperation, usually interacts and networks directly with the community but this has been hampered by the current state of lockdown.</p><p>Dr Leslie van Rooi, Senior Director: Social Impact and Transformation at SU, says his division had to overcome several new challenges in order to continue their work during the lockdown period. “All our work has to comply with the requirements of social distancing and mitigating the spreading of the virus. But we remain in contact with all our partners," he says.</p><p>When the national lockdown was announced, the division immediately joined forces with StellenboschUnite, an aid action group that was founded when the COVID-19 pandemic started, to assist people affected by the situation. </p><p>“A food crisis developed among people in different socio-economic classes. This made us realise that 'although we might not all be in the same boat, we are weathering the same storm'," says Ms Jeanneret Momberg, manager at the VisitStellenbosch tourism organisation. StellenboschUnite is created in collaboration with Visit Stellenbosch because many people lost their income and needed help for the first time.</p><p>These people include home workers, tradesmen, businesses owners and other workers.</p><p>So far, StellenboschUnite has received R1,6 million in financial donations from SU, individuals and businesses. This money was used to buy 61 367 kg of food, while volunteers worked 1 729 hours to pack 5 622 food parcels that were distributed among 3 500 people (families of four). An estimated 16 000 people are being fed with these food parcels.</p><p>Except for SU, the other StellenboschUnite partners are Stellenbosch Municipality, Visit Stellenbosch (tourism organisation), SCAN (Stellenbosch Civil Advocacy Network that represents the non-profit organisations) and the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust (administrators).</p><p>SU has also cemented its ties with the campus radio station, MatieFM (MFM). Van Rooi expressed his appreciation for the role MFM played to improve communication with the community, students and staff.</p><p> </p><p>According to Mr Tim Zunckel, acting station manager at MFM, the station broadcasts relevant information about health care, important contact numbers and lifestyle tips to control the coronavirus. MFM, which is licensed at the University, also broadcasts communication received from the national government, the Western Cape Health Department, SU and Stellenbosch Municipality to keep communities in and around Stellenbosch informed.</p><p>“In times of need, radio remains an important source of news and information. Radio is a reliable medium, it is easy to activate and it can reach people wherever they are. It also has an immediate impact," says Zunckel.</p><p>Some of the operations that SU is involved in include:</p><ul><li>Some 60 mattresses and 40 blankets were donated to the temporary shelter for the homeless which has been set up in the Van der Stel hall in Stellenbosch. Security guards from Stellenbosch Municipality protect the residents daily, while the Department of Community Development provides meals on a daily basis. The department of Social Services and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) provide additional assistance when needed.</li><li><a href="">A group of 360 Matie students from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) on the Tygerberg campus</a> are working as volunteers at Tygerberg Hospital to assist in the battle against COVID-19. Seventy students are working in the hospital's triage area; 20 students are guarding the entrance to the hospital and provide hand sanitiser to visitors, and 15 students are assisting to locate positive COVID-19 cases telephonically. Approximately 115 students are volunteering at the national COVID-19 helpline and 70 students assist with day-to-day functions in hospital wards. Students are also collecting data and processing statistics for the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, while other data is being collected for the Division of Medical Virology.</li><li>SU also forms part of Stellenbosch Municipality's Joint Operational Centre (JOC). Partnerships and cooperation between various public and private stakeholders in the areas of health, security and disaster manager form part of JOC.</li><li>The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences collaborated with Spier Wine Estate to donate food parcels to 450 farmworker families. The faculty also provided solar power to residents of Enkanini, an informal settlement. Click <a href="">here</a> for more information.</li><li>SU's Facilities Management Division is collaborating with provincial authorities and will provide quarantine and isolation facilities if necessary.</li></ul><ul><li>The department of Food Science at the Faculty of AgriSciences has <a href="">turned bread into hand sanitiser</a> to help curb the spreading of COVID-19.</li><li>FMHS researchers are part of the <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7238">CrowdFight COVID-19 initiative</a>, which comprises a diverse team of researchers worldwide who is analysing the COVID-19 virus to try and alleviate the suffering caused by the virus.</li><li>FMHS and <a href="">a local biotech company</a> are working together to test a synthetic pharmaceutical as a <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7234">supportive agent</a> for the treatment of Acute/Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which has been cited as one of the major reasons that COVID-19 patients become critically ill and/or die. <br></li><li><br></li></ul><p><br></p>2020-05-06T22:00:00Z 2020-05-06T22:00:00.0000000ZCorporate Communication/Sandra Mulder
Living School Garden breaking new ground School Garden breaking new ground<p>Using as few resources as possible to produce good-quality, nutritious vegetables. This – in a nutshell – is the goal of the Living School Garden project run by Ms Thanja Allison, Social Impact coordinator of the Department of Genetics, and supported by the Division for Social Impact at Stellenbosch University. <br></p><p>The project started at the beginning of 2019 when Ms Allison created vegetable gardens at the three campuses of the SEED Trust's Babin pre-primary school in Stellenbosch.</p><p>“My own children went to Babin and I see this as a way of paying it forward," says Ms Allison.</p><p>“At each campus, we took a piece of property that wasn't utilised as playing space for the children and we turned it into a vegetable garden. The aim is to grow nutritious vegetables to include in the school feeding programme. This means that every child receives at least one cooked, nutritious meal a day.</p><p>“At each campus the school provided someone to maintain the garden and the training of this person forms an integral part of the project."</p><p>Vegetables that grow easily, like spinach, carrots, potatoes and butternut, were planted, as well as flowers to attract bees.</p><p>To supplement the vegetables grown on the school grounds, the project is supported by the Welgevallen Allotment Garden project, which also receives support from the Division for Social Impact and is run by Dr Paul Hills of the Institute for Plant Biotechnology and Indren Govender from the Maths department. </p><p>“We plant the same vegetables to supplement the supply – we cannot produce enough on the school grounds," adds Ms Allison.</p><p>The school is responsible for the preparation of the vegetables and Ms Allison envisages that students from other departments, such as Food Science, could be requested to teach the staff members at Babin to prepare the vegetables in different ways to make it more appealing to the children. </p><p>Currently, the project is studying gardening alternatives because of a lack of soil and sun at some of the school campuses.</p><p>“For example, we're experimenting with straw-bale gardening. It is possible to create a garden in straw bale without having any soil. You treat a fresh straw bale with fertiliser and water for 12 days until it becomes like an incubator. You then plant seedlings in holes in the straw. A straw bale can be used for three years before it disintegrates.</p><p>“This means anyone – even if they live somewhere without any soil or space – can have a garden."</p><p>Ms Allison is also experimenting with hydroponic gardening. She celebrated her 25<sup>th</sup> year at Stellenbosch University in 2019 and asked for a hydroponics unit as her gift.</p><p>She believes the knowledge gained by experimenting with different of ways of gardening to produce nutritious vegetables for communities using as few resources as possible could be a huge asset in South Africa.</p><p>She plans to host more formal workshops and training opportunities on the basic principles of gardening, earth-worm composting and gardening in straw bales.</p><p>According to Hlumile Malahlekani, who looks after the vegetable garden at Babin Babies, he has learned quite a few new skills and would be able to assist the members of his community in Kayamandi who want to grow their own vegetables.</p><p>The project depends heavily on volunteers and most recently international students from EARTH University in Costa Rica became involved in the project.</p><p>Sandra Kalua from Malawi, Lisbeth Castro from the Dominican Republic and Grace Aguti from Uganda were no strangers to community work. EARTH is a private, non-profit university that offers an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Sciences and students are required to do one day of community service each week.</p><p>They have seen projects like this on a larger scale and believe that the Living School Garden project has great potential.</p><p>The project's plans for next year include doing further research on straw-bale and hydroponic gardening, as well as testing different cover crops.</p><p>“We started small, but we're dreaming big," says Ms Allison. “The need for these kind of projects is now."<br></p><p><br></p>2019-12-18T22:00:00Z 2019-12-18T22:00:00.0000000ZPia Nänny
‘I can read’ project empowers learners AND students‘I can read’ project empowers learners AND students<p>The “I CAN read" literacy project not only aims to improve the literacy levels of foundation-phase learners, but also to alert prospective teachers to how context can and should influence their approach to teaching.         <br></p><p>This Social Impact project is the brainchild of Dr Zelda Barends, a lecturer in Curriculum Studies and the programme coordinator of the Foundation Phase in the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University (SU).          </p><p>“We all know what the statistics are – that 78% of our learners can't read with comprehension. South Africa is experiencing a huge literacy crisis. My research and work with teacher education also indicated to me that teachers' efforts are sometimes in vain because they do not understand the context in which they are working."       </p><p>Barends designed an after-school language development programme that focuses on foundation-phase learners (grades 1 to 3) at a school in the Stellenbosch area. This programme supplements the existing curriculum.         </p><p> A total of 75 Education students in their fourth year offered language support to 330 learners at the school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for 11 weeks in the first semester. The lessons consisted of phonics and word-building activities and were concluded with storybook readings to develop the learners' vocabulary and expand their knowledge.             </p><p>At the end of the 11 weeks each learner wrote his or her own story about a social issue they are confronted with in their own life. These stories and illustrations were then compiled into books for each grade and handed to each learner in the relevant grade.        </p><p>“These books give them a sense of agency. They now see they <em>can</em> read and they <em>can</em> write. The 'I CAN read' project is a support project, but it also empowers learners and gives them self-confidence," explains Barends.</p><p>“The feedback from the teachers was also precious. They said the children now write descriptive sentences."        </p><p>The Education students were divided into pairs and had to work together on the lesson plans, with emphasis on the reaction of learners during the lessons and discussions on how it should influence their teaching strategies.        </p><p>“It was important for me to create learning opportunities where students work in contexts that are unfamiliar to them, so that they can become aware of how their own choices and their own opinions and their own world views influence their teaching."      </p><p>Barends' dream is for SU to produce teachers that can teach efficiently in different contexts (context-responsive teaching), while addressing the needs that exist in schools. At the end of the semester the students had to complete a comprehensive assignment about their experience.</p><p>“It is hard work to be a teacher – you are challenged on all levels. You cannot be prejudiced and a 'one size fits all' approach does not benefit anybody. We need to acknowledge who our learners are and where they come from."         </p><p>According to Barends this project is a good example of how the different responsibilities of academics (research, teaching and learning, and social impact) can be implemented.       </p><p>“I used what research said, applied it in my teaching and learning, and expanded it into a Social Impact project with the help of my students."        </p><p>It is also an example of reciprocity in Social Impact projects, where not only the community benefits from the process, but also the University.      </p><p>“The learners and the students all developed new knowledge," said Barends.</p><p>She hopes to expand the project to at least one more school next year.<br></p><p><br></p>2019-12-17T22:00:00Z 2019-12-17T22:00:00.0000000ZPia Nänny
Entrepreneurship project gives young people new hope project gives young people new hope<p>In an environment where the unemployment rate is high and job opportunities are few, the Young Entrepreneurship Project (YEP) offers young people an alternative way of thinking about employment.<br></p><p>For the past two years the project, a joint initiative of Stellenbosch University (SU) and the HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, in the Netherlands, has presented an entrepreneurship workshop to high school learners from schools in the Stellenbosch region.</p><p>Working in teams, students from the two universities developed course material for the workshop. At the workshop, held during the July school holidays, start-up ideas and business plans are developed, culminating in a presentation in front of a panel of judges on the Friday. The best ideas win start-up capital of R4000 per group to make their plans a reality.</p><p>This year, learners from Kayamandi, Makapula and Lückhoff High Schools attended the workshop. The winning idea, called Siblam Bracelets, came from Lückhoff High School. The learners presented an idea to recycle plastic and other waste and turning it into bracelets, which can be used to store information of those wearing it, especially young children, to help track them if they were lost or became separated from their loved ones.</p><p>Last year, two of the winning business plans came from Makapula High School in Kayamandi.</p><p>The Kayamandi Vegetable Store Garden plants vegetables at school, selling the fresh garden produce at low prices to Kayamandi residents to improve the health of and empower the people of the community. The second project sells <em>vetkoek</em> at the tuck shop at school. They recently bought a gas stove to enable them to produce <em>vetkoek</em> in bulk and use skills they learn in subjects such as Accounting to do their own books and manage their business.</p><p>The project offers mentorship for up to six months after the workshop.</p><p>According to Mr Adolph Neethling, YEP programme coordinator and lecturer in the Department of Business Management at SU, some of the teachers at schools report a high degree of despondence and lack of motivation to study among learners.</p><p>“Many of the learners don't see the point of matriculating because of the high unemployment rate in the country. This project exposes them to an alternative way of thinking – that they should perhaps create their own opportunities.</p><p>“It aims to empower learners and give them the support and confidence they need to convert their ideas into practical products."</p><p>Neethling is also passionate about the project's second goal, which is to introduce university students to communities that they might not have been exposed to before. Participation is voluntary and students go on a township tour and speak to small business owners in these areas, among other things.</p><p>“We go to these communities to learn. We see people who make a living regardless of their circumstances. We might think that we don't have resources, and then we see people who have even less but still manage to make something out of the little they have."</p><p>The students' participation in the project is very important.</p><p>“These schools are on our doorstep. If we can assist in a small way to stimulate learners to be more positive about the future, students who pass through SU have the unique opportunity to contribute to the upliftment of society."</p><p>Neethling is currently engaged in discussions to expand the project. He has recently held talks with student leaders of Engineers without Borders at Stellenbosch University, who had expressed an interest in providing expertise and support such as prototype and product development.</p><p>“With the right support and marketing, we can engage more students to reach and offer support to even more schools," he says. <br></p><p><br></p>2019-12-17T22:00:00Z 2019-12-17T22:00:00.0000000ZPia Nänny
Financial Literacy Project aims to inform and empower Literacy Project aims to inform and empower<p>The Stellenbosch University Law Clinic's Financial Literacy Project (FLP) seeks to empower local communities by sharing knowledge about financial matters and informing people about their rights as consumers.<br></p><p>This entails teaching farmworkers and high school learners basic financial literacy skills – for example, how to prepare a budget, why a savings plan is important, and the difference between good debt and bad debt.</p><p>The long-term goal is to strive towards sustainable social change and to provide a way for these members of society to migrate out of poverty. </p><p>Through collaborative relationships fostered between the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, SU Language Centre, the offices of the National Credit Regulator and Western Cape Consumer Protector, the Department of Social Development and finally, the SU Law Clinic, the project aims to achieve what is ultimately a shared goal – to educate, broaden access to justice, uplift and support.</p><p>The Law Clinic provides professional legal advice and representation in civil matters to members of the community who qualify for legal aid, and according to the FLP's project manager, Mrs Susann Louw, the FLP was envisaged when legal professionals at the Law Clinic noticed that many of their walk-in clients experience financial difficulties.</p><p>“They thought it might be useful to create an initiative that informs and educates people before their financial situation becomes negative," she explains.</p><p>The FLP offers an opportunity to combine service learning and community engagement and serves both the student volunteers and the greater community. Law of Civil Procedure 371 and Financial Planning 378 students volunteer to act as presenters at empowerment workshops. </p><p>Before they start, the prospective presenters attend three training sessions. The first is with the National Credit Regulator and the Office of the Western Cape Consumer Protector. This enables them to inform people about their rights as consumers and useful tools such as the National Credit Act.</p><p>The second is a session about presentation skills offered by the Language Centre.</p><p>“The students learn how to adapt their presentations to their audience, and how to convey information to people who might be older or younger than they are, or come from different backgrounds," explains Mrs Louw.</p><p>In their third session they share their planned presentation with Mrs Louw. The students and Mrs Louw then discuss possible examples that can be used to share the presenters' message and knowledge with their audience in a way that will make sense to the listener. </p><p>The students hope to convey, among other things, an understanding of personal financial issues and the tools to address these issues, as well as an understanding of consumer rights and credit regulations. The Law Clinic also provides access to justice when issues are of such a nature that legal assistance is required.</p><p>In 2019, the students presented workshops at 10 farms and four schools in the Stellenbosch area. A recent requirement is that all students should present at a school as well as a farm. This gives them exposure to more than one audience.</p><p>In 2020, Mrs Louw hopes to include even more students and expand the project's footprint.</p><p> “We aim to visit and support new communities each year and see opportunities for expansion into urban settings. Furthermore, we are placing strong emphasis on the development of training material that can be used to conduct the training, taking into account audiences' literacy levels and language preferences," says Mrs Louw.</p><p>A booklet with tips and advice is being designed, and will be available in Afrikaans, English and Xhosa.<br></p>2019-12-17T22:00:00Z 2019-12-17T22:00:00.0000000ZPia Nänny
Doctoral graduate never thought she would study that far graduate never thought she would study that far<p>​​<br></p><p>Doctoral graduate started working at age 12 to support household Dr Virginia Dlamini–Akintola's story of commitment and perseverance started in the village Ntondozi in the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland). She was nine years old when her father died and she had to start to work at the age of 12 to help her mother make ends meet and to pay for her own education.</p><p>In those years, she would never have thought that one day she would receive a PhD degree in Philosophy in General Linguistics from Stellenbosch University (SU). “I never thought I would study this far. I ended up studying in Stellenbosch by of the grace of God," she says.</p><p>As a young girl, she also experienced what it was like to have only one meal a day or sometimes even no meal. “My mother taught us that hard work helps and education would help us improve our situation in life," says Virginia. </p><p>“I was very lucky to grow up in an environment that had a school nearby. It was a mission school. I went there and my faith in God also grew. It helped me through many challenges," she says.</p><p>During her childhood years, she also became very fond of reading. She read everything from her schoolbooks, her mother's knitting patterns, magazines in Zulu and English to local newspapers in SiSwati.</p><p>“I believe all this reading helped me to create an interest in education and to perform well at school," she says.</p><p>“Each time I passed a grade, I wanted to do better in the next grade. Therefore, when I obtained my first degree, I was motivated to study towards the next one. Hence now, by the grace of God, I have been awarded a doctoral degree," says Virginia.</p><p>After completing her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Humanities and Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of Eswatini, she worked as a teacher for a few years, before applying to do her Master's degree in General Linguistics at SU. After completing this degree, she went on to the next degree, just as she did with all her school grades.</p><p>Virginia's family followed the graduation ceremony via the live streaming platform. “My husband is extremely happy and relieved. My children are very happy too. They actually say now I will have more time for them. What makes me sad though, is that my mom passed away last year – she was still motivating me even then."</p><p>After completing her MPhil at Stellenbosch in 2003, she was appointed as a part-time lecturer at the University of Eswatini. This position became permanent in 2009.</p><p>Her doctoral thesis, which is titled <em>The Discursive Construction of Identity in Young Offenders' Narratives in Swaziland</em>, is anchored in sociolinguistics and discourse studies, which are subfields of linguistics. She has a special interest in psycholinguistics.</p><p>While she was doing her research at a juvenile prison in the Kingdom of Eswatini, she became involved with a school at the facility where education was used to curb youth offences. She then realised that the name 'juvenile school' had a negative impact on the youth.</p><p> Virginia made the school management aware of the negative impact, basing her arguments on the labelling theory. According to this theory, the self-identity and behaviour of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them. The name of the school was consequently changed to the name of the town where the school is located and it became the Malkern Industrial School. It was later changed to Vulamasango School which means “opening opportunities". </p><p>This positive school name created a positive perception and many people see it as a school that is not only suitable for convicts but also for other children with behavioural problems. Many parents now enrol their children (with discipline/behavioural problems) at the school to help them focus and complete their education, says Virginia.</p><p>She thanks SU and especially the Department of General Linguistics and her supervisors, Dr Marcelyn Oostendorp and Prof Elmarie Constandius, for the excellent training she received.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p><br></p>2019-12-12T22:00:00Z 2019-12-12T22:00:00.0000000ZCorporate Communication Division/Sandra Mulder
Bongani’s legacy will live on long after his departure from SU campus’s legacy will live on long after his departure from SU campus<p>​​Although Bongani Mapumulo, an honours graduate, has completed his journey at Stellenbosch University (SU) and will now bid the campus farewell to pursue a career, his legacy of making SU a better place for persons with disabilities will remain on campus for many years to come.<br></p><p>Bongani received his Honours BA degree in Intercultural Communication <em>in absentia</em> from the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at the seventh graduation ceremony at the Coetzenburg Centre today (12 December). He was a full-time residential student of Huis Russel Botman House for five years, first completing his undergraduate studies and then his honours degree majoring in Political Science, Sociology and Social Anthropology. He was also the head of Dis-Maties, a society that promotes awareness of students living with disabilities and advocates for their issues to ensure they have positive academic and social experiences on campus.</p><p>“As a resident of the only residence named after thought leader and late academic Prof Russel Botman, I have developed my consciousness and duty-based outlook on the world based on his ideas and teachings. His influence, even from his grave, has been priceless to who and what I have become," he says.</p><p>A part of the legacy Bongani created was as a member of this year's Students' Representative Council (SRC) in the portfolio of special needs. He contributed by promoting awareness for persons with disabilities. Although this portfolio was temporarily implemented as a pilot phase, it is now under consideration as a permanent portfolio in the SRC.<br></p><p>“The SRC is representative of the student body of SU. There are many students with special needs and therefore they need to be represented. The campus community will definitely have more empathy and understanding for the plight of the students with special needs if the SRC becomes involved," says Bongani.</p><p>But one of the things Bongani will probably be remembered for most, is the example that he has set to current students, prospective students with disabilities and others who experience some sort of hardship. His journey at SU is proof of his belief that there is “another world outside your disability or hardship you experience. We should strive to live an abundant life free of the physical limitations our bodies impose upon us." </p><p>Bongani's story started in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal where he was born and bred. At the age of four, he sustained a spinal cord injury and after years of medical procedures, he managed to walk slowly with the assistance of leg braces and crutches. He attended special schools for the disabled until he matriculated. He uses an electronic wheelchair to move around and during his years at Stellenbosch he became a familiar sight on campus. </p><p>“I had become used to being in a boarding school, being surrounded by many other learners in wheelchairs, on crutches or having some form of disability. I spoke isiZulu and had never been outside of KwaZulu-Natal. When I came to Stellenbosch, I was the only one in a wheelchair on campus in a strange province away from the comfort of my familiar surroundings," he says.</p><p>Bongani still clearly remembers how, shortly after he had sent his application to Stellenbosch in 2013, he received a phone call from the SU Disability Unit (DU). “The people from the University called me to inquire about the specifics of my disability, what I needed and what devices I used. I was surprised and felt that the University cared and that I would be in safe hands there. Therefore, I picked Stellenbosch. I never even heard back from the other two universities," he recalls.</p><p>During his five years at SU, he has indeed had a transformative student experience. Stellenbosch and the Western Cape became his second home, while he built a priceless network with the people he engaged with. He grew stronger in himself and became wiser – to such an extent that he is comfortable with the thought of making the Western Cape his permanent home.</p><p>His driving force is the thought of “just becoming". “I see challenges, which I have had my whole life, as opportunities to better myself. While other people say a challenge 'happened to' them, I will say the challenge 'happened for' me. Challenges improve your strength of character and ability to adapt. I have all these challenges to thank for the eternal optimistic spirit I embody that informs everything I do." </p><p>One of the next challenges that will “happen for" him is finding a job in the human capital and development field where he can engage with people and that will enable him to live life to the fullest as the outgoing and visionary person he is.<br></p><p><br></p>2019-12-11T22:00:00Z 2019-12-11T22:00:00.0000000ZCorporate Communication Division/Sandra Mulder
Social Impact Impact<p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;line-height:20.8px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;">​<a href="/english/faculty/science/earthsciences/Pages/Outreach.aspx" style="color:#0072c6;text-decoration:none;"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="color:#0072c6;">The Earth Sciences department regularly offers community outreach projects for learners and school teachers</strong></a><br style="margin:0px;line-height:20.8px;"></p><p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;line-height:20.8px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;">Delft high school learners visited the departement to learn about climate change on 23 October 2019. The grade 10 learnes were greeted by our team which was at the time on a research expedition to Antarctica. The learners  joined the discussions with other environmental researchers of the team at the department.<br style="margin:0px;line-height:20.8px;"></p><p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;line-height:20.8px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;"><img alt="Delft School.jpg" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Delft%20School.jpg" style="margin:5px;border:0px #444444;width:170px;" /><img alt="Community outreach Susanne Delft small.jpg" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Community%20outreach%20Susanne%20Delft%20small.jpg" style="margin:5px;border:0px #444444;width:407px;" />​</p><p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;line-height:20.8px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;">The team on the Agulhas II expedition ship greeted the learners visiting the ES department.</p><p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;line-height:20.8px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;"><a href="/english/faculty/science/earthsciences/Pages/Outreach.aspx"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>Read more</strong><font color="#008000"> </font></span></a>about this and other visitors at the ES department.<br></p><p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;text-align:left;text-transform:none;line-height:20.8px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;"><br> </p><p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;text-align:left;text-transform:none;line-height:20.8px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;">Other Social Impact projects are</p><ul style="text-align:left;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;cursor:text;min-height:0px;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;"><li style="cursor:text;min-height:0px;">Transatlantic Science Educational Cooperative​​ (TSEC)</li></ul><blockquote dir="ltr" style="padding:0px;text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;"><p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;line-height:20.8px;"><span style="text-align:left;color:#666666;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;display:inline;white-space:normal;orphans:2;float:none;background-color:transparent;"><font color="#008000"></font>This initiative focuses on three objectives, namely: 1) Scientific skill set and literacy development among R-12 students within the Western Cape and in collaboration with the Western Cape Education District, 2) Establishment of collaboration between Stellenbosch University, North Carolina State University, and the Western Cape Education District and ​3) Capacity building for teachers to develop in-class experimental and observation learning projects. <a href="/si/en-za/Pages/initiative.aspx?iid=797" target="_blank" style="color:#0072c6;text-decoration:none;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="color:#0072c6;">Read more...</span>​</a>​​</span></p></blockquote><ul style="text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;cursor:text;min-height:0px;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;"><li style="cursor:text;min-height:0px;">​The Earth Sciences Introduction - Inspiration (ESII)​</li></ul><blockquote dir="ltr" style="padding:0px;text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;"><div style="cursor:text;min-height:0px;"><span style="text-align:left;color:#666666;text-transform:none;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;display:inline;white-space:normal;orphans:2;float:none;background-color:transparent;">The department of Earth Sciences has since 2017 set up an initiative to introduce primary school learners to various aspects of Earth Sciences. Topics range from minerals and rock types and fossils, from ore to metal, and environmental geology. Visits to the department give the learners a feeling of what it is like to be at a university. They can include a small lecture as well as a tour or quiz related to our rock, mineral and fossil exhibition. The leaners have the chance to gain hands-on experience with a variety of tasks. <a href="/si/en-za/Pages/initiative.aspx?iid=1088" target="_blank" style="color:#0072c6;text-decoration:none;"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="color:#0072c6;">Read more...​</span></a></span><br style="cursor:text;min-height:0px;"><br></div></blockquote><p style="margin:0px 0px 10px;text-align:left;color:#444444;text-transform:none;line-height:20.8px;text-indent:0px;letter-spacing:normal;font-size:13px;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;font-weight:400;text-decoration:none;word-spacing:0px;white-space:normal;orphans:2;background-color:transparent;"><br style="margin:0px;line-height:20.8px;"> </p><p><br> </p>2019-12-11T22:00:00Z 2019-12-11T22:00:00.0000000ZM Frei
Visual impairment does not deter Loandrie from excelling impairment does not deter Loandrie from excelling<p>​​<span style="text-align:justify;">​After spending the last four years working on her</span><span style="text-align:justify;"> </span><span style="text-align:justify;">Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) degree, Loandrie Potgieter will be among the 5 853 students who will graduate at the 2019 December graduation ceremonies at Stellenbosch University (SU).</span></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Despite her visual impairment, Potgieter was one of the top academic achievers in the Department of Social Work since her first year in 2016. She will receive her Bachelor's degree in Social Work <em>cum laude</em> on Thursday.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">KC, her guide dog will accompany her as she walks up to receive her degree.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Potgieter says her personal attributes played a significant role in ensuring what she describes as an exciting and fulfilling academic journey at Stellenbosch University (SU). </p><p style="text-align:justify;"> “SU has had a big impact on me as an individual; however, my personal traits – resilience, optimism, self-efficiency and determination – helped me to overcome barriers in the environment."</p><p>Potgieter was born with an eye condition and had functional vision up till 2013. “I did everything normally, except for when using a computer or reading a book (had to hold it closely).</p><p>In 2013, my eyesight deteriorated overnight, I had to figure out new ways of doing things."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">But, says Potgieter, being visually impaired did not change her personality. “I am still the person I always was and I still have the same outlook on life, and the same personality. Being visually impaired presents you with a different set of challenges to overcome and it makes life interesting in various ways."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Although it can be very challenging at times, she says she gets by with the support of friends and family.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The 30-year-old, who hails from Port Elizabeth, says that even though it took her a while to figure out what she wanted to study, her mind is made up now that Social Work is the career for her. She intends to do her Master's degree next year and eventually practise social work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My Master's research topic is about measuring and building resilience in disabled persons," she says.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I am very passionate about social work and enjoyed my training. I also did various additional things besides academics, which contributed to the richness of my academic journey. These included a summer school in Belgium, completing some short courses and giving a presentation at a conference."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She says graduation signifies an end of her undergraduate career, and although she feels a bit sad it also gives her a sense of satisfaction. Potgieter says she believes in doing things to the best of her ability. “I am passionate about everything I do.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“SU is a resource rich environment that offers many opportunities such as summer schools and short courses. I used these opportunities, which brought me to where I am today." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">She says her degree course focused on practical education, where they were taught the theory, but were also expected to demonstrate in reports how they applied this theory in practice. “This means that SU social work students graduate with theoretical as well as practical experience, which makes them well-rounded professionals."</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p><br></p>2019-12-11T22:00:00Z 2019-12-11T22:00:00.0000000ZAsiphe Nombewu /Corporate Communication