Impassioned discussions and interrogations about transforming higher education in South Africa are set to spark a huge conversation at the 6th annual WSU Research Conference set to take place at the Mthatha Health Resource Centre from 5-7 March.
This year’s conference, themed “Transforming Higher Education Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century” will see close to 150 researchers, academics, students and research administrators from the education
fraternity presenting research materials that speak to this transformation agenda.
"This year’s theme is indeed a most appropriate one. The transformation of higher education for today’s innovative and rapidly changing world is an essential component for producing graduates who will be appropriately prepared for a demanding environment,” says WSU’s Interim Vice Chancellor Prof Khaya Mfenyana.
A total of 109 research studies will be presented orally, whilst a further 27 will be presented as posters. These will cover a plethora of pertinent topics, including “Reaching out across differences to find strengths in education”, “Professionalization of teaching in Universities”, “Preserving mother language in a multilingual environment”, “Learners attitudes towards HIV infection”, and “Can herbal remedies alleviate the adverse effects of TB?”, amongst many others.
WSU Research Development Director Dr Elphina Cishe says this year’s conference offers an opportunity to bring together different schools of thoughts and various fields in further exploring and responding to Africa’s challenges.
“The conference will provide an ideal forum to stimulate ideas and initiate discussions about transforming teaching and learning in higher education,” she says.
Some of the field’s most respected experts will also be delivering keynote addresses on a number of aspects regarding education.
One of those experts is University of the Free State’s education faculty dean Prof Dennis Francis. His address, titled “Teacher education: enacting a vision for social justice” is sure to capture the attention of all in attendance. Francis will be addressing critical issues regarding social justice education in the African and South African context.
The second of this dynamic trio is University of KwaZulu Natal’s Prof Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, whose topic “Learning from the Transformative Educational Studies (TES) project” will see her sharing her experience about the TES’s aim to enhance and study the development of self-reflexive pedagogic, research and supervision capacity among participants in the programme.
Rounding of this trio is University of Colorado’s Associate Professor, Dr Pamela Hanes, a visiting Professor currently working at WSU’s Health Sciences department.
Beginning in 2011, Hanes spent two months in the Eastern Cape as a faculty and staff mentor in the WSU’s Clinical Associate Training Programme, which produced the country’s first ever Clinical Associate graduates in 2011.
Since 2011, she has returned to WSU three times, and is due for another visit in March 2014 to continue her
mentorship of faculty and staff in the areas of program evaluation, principles of population health, and practice-based research.
Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research Prof Sandile Songca says it’s incumbent upon tertiary institutions to contribute to the economic growth of the country by producing students who possess in-demand skills.
“The economies that will thrive in the future are characterised primarily by their wealth generating intellectual assets in the high end intellectual human capital and intellectual property domains, which together drive the local intellectual gross domestic production,” concludes Songca.