Professor Renuka Vithal appointed Chair of International Study on School Mathematics Curriculum Reforms

Professor Renuka Vithal appointed Chair of International Study on School Mathematics Curriculum Reforms
Ms Busisiwe Goba and Professor Renuka Vithal at the 13th International Congress on Mathematical Education at the University of Hamburg, Germany.

Professor Renuka Vithal, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning at UKZN and Professor of Mathematics Education in the School of Education, will chair the next study of the International Commission for Mathematical Instruction (ICMI), on “School Mathematics Curriculum Reforms: Challenges and Changes”, together with Professor Yoshinori Shimizu of the University of Tsukuba, Japan.

This announcement was made during the opening of the 13th International Congress of Mathematics Education (ICME-13) recently held at the University of Hamburg (Germany), where Vithal was co-chair of a Topic Study Group on the “Social and Political Dimensions of Mathematics Education”.

‘It is an immense honour and privilege to be invited to Chair an ICMI Study,’ Vithal said. ‘I am particularly excited about leading this study, having recently been a member of the Ministerial Committee that investigated issues related to the National Senior Certificate, to gain a deeper understanding of school mathematics curriculum reforms that are taking place in many parts of the world and to explore what is shaping them.’

ICMI Studies are conducted by international teams of leading scholars and practitioners selected by ICMI. These studies, which can take several years, begin with a discussion document that invites papers on the topic, followed by a ICMI Study Conference of invited authors and culminating in a major ICMI Study volume.

Several academics in Mathematics education from UKZN’s School of Education participated in ICME-13, which is held only once every four years and is the largest international conference in Mathematics education attended by over 3 000 delegates. 

Ms Busisiwe Goba presented a paper from her doctoral studies on analysing mathematics education masters’ and doctoral theses in the decade after the demise of Apartheid. Ms Catherine Kazunga and Professor Sarah Bansilal presented research on challenges of upgrading in-service Mathematics teachers, while Dr Zanele Ndlovu’s paper focused on her research with pre-service mathematics teachers. University lecturers’ perceptions of using technology to teach Mathematics was the subject of Dr Jaya Naidoo’s paper; and Professor Michael de Villiers presented enrichment for the gifted in geometry. It was also an honour for UKZN to have Ms Busisiwe Goba and Dr Jaya Naidoo to represent South Africa at the ICMI Annual General Meeting.

author : UKZNDabaOnline
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The UKZN Griot. Of Medical Ads and Ethics

The UKZN Griot.  Of  Medical Ads and Ethics

Abortion, penis enlargement, discharge and womb cleansing, breast and hip enlargement, weight loss, skin treatments, strokes and paralysis, “woman tightening”  and all manner of pseudo-medical-psycho treatments are visible in newspaper classifieds, street trash repositories, tree trunks and telephone poles all over South Africa.  

“Muti”, magic and mystery can be dispensed by consulting this shaman, that “healer” or someone calling him/herself “doctor”, “mama” or just call a no-name cellphone number at rates that suggest that my GP is undercharging me. 

Failing romantic relationships can be fixed and advice on how to win the lottery is legion.  One such poster advertising penis enlargement was pasted over a rubbish bin hoarding for a play school in Johannesburg. The school’s catchphrase that framed this sticker is “Watch them grow”.  Mon dieu!

Such advertising and chicanery is commonplace.  Yet no-one complains, few are dragged before the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), no-one is charged with littering and few are held to account for botched procedures. The posters are not removed, the advertisers found and fined, the printers charged with publishing false medical promises or for just being offensive.

Yet, one globally known medico, Professor Tim Noakes, is pilloried and made to cry in front of a Health Professions Council inquiry for offering “harmful” nutritional advice on Twitter to a new mom.  Why? Because he publicly has identified all the junk we were told as kids by our own moms is “good for you” (sugar, preservatives and salt especially).  

So, like thousands of other dieters he experimented on himself, analysed the results scientifically and popularised the Banting approach that took on the obesity, cardiac and carcinogenic industries.

The Heart Foundation got into a tizz, the sugar industry went into a tailspin, the medical fraternity fried him in a hearing, yet Noseweek, Carte Blanche and journalists continuously expose medicos who kill, maim, and disfigure, often with impunity.  Maybe these charlatans also advertise on street poles. They have protective magic, those poles.  

And, what does the academic establishment do in cases of self-experimentation – complain about the lack of control groups and ethical clearance. How does one apply for ethical clearance to experiment on one’s self?  Is that ethical.

So, what’s going on here?   Entrenched interests?  Targeted victimisation? Sham science?  Consultations cannot be offered through social media, claimed one self-important psychiatrist. Inquirers must be referred to a medical practitioner. This wag really has not watched TV programmes like The Doctors and may have never heard of of Wits’s radio personality Harry Seftel who, with the radio doctor on SABC dispensed good sense weekly over the airwaves during the 1980s.  That programme is still running on SABC’s Channel Africa.

The assumption is that all individuals have easy access to doctors.  Perhaps this fellow should try to find a doctor in a rural area or a squatter camp or an informal settlement? Medicine Sans Frontiers can’t be everywhere!

Some smokers I know have been persuaded by tobacco companies that smoking is not unhealthy.  Indeed, the smell of third hand smoke lingered in the waiting room of a physician specialist I was recently required to consult by my health insurance company.  Not a good ad for the medico or the insurance company!  How can I trust a specialist whose clothes reeked of smoke while he was fitting me up on his ECG?

When linked to a global public health communication project I was astonished that many of these eminent NGO workers who were advising the masses on healthy living were themselves inveterate smokers.  So, what’s the difference between an actor dressed in a white coat purveying a claimed medical treatment in a TV ad and qualified health workers who do not even follow their own advice?  This was the question about causality and belief that Derek Wang used to ask CCMS students when he threw the bones while teaching a course called Science as a Cultural Expression. 

Other legal purveyors of addiction, death and ill-health include car manufacturers, the junk food and cold drink industries, alcohol producers, e-cigarettes and dagga, though the latter is claimed to offer medical properties.  The list is endless.  And, few question the self-styled nutritionists who persuade with their doctored before-and-after photographs. Indeed, one charlatan recently took on the ASA and won simply because the manufacturer did not subscribe to the ASA code of conduct. Talk about evading responsibility!

Yet, I would guess that the majority of South Africans are hungry, nutritionally lacking, and unhealthy, no matter how much they are eating.  But the obsessives focus on Noakes, and forget the bigger picture, which is part of his objective.  Attack him, humiliate him, but then get your penis enlarged by a “healer” who only has a cellphone number attached to a light pole, rubbish bin or electrical relay box.  Way to go. I am all for taking medical care onto the streets, and not just Harley Street or Lancet Hall.

Visit any pharmaceutical chain store.  The till queue lines snake purchasers cheek-by-jowl alongside scores of metres of child-accessible shelves displaying junk food, chewable rubbish and sweets that undo the good that the healthy stuff does that they actually came to the store to buy.  Once hospitals deliberately contributed to their own profiteering - from-causation by permitting smoking and providing cigarette dispensing machines.  They were peddling illness-inducing products and then charging to treat it.  This is akin to Lenin’s rope.  Woolworths once in a mad moment of social responsibility relocated their junk food shelves away from the till, and one Westville filling station lost R250 000 in just one month.  The tempting junk was back shortly thereafter at the till queues.

We are our own worst enemies. We are each complicit with the junk food industry in the shopping malls, and God knows who the nutters are that rely on the street pole dispensers. 

Medical Ads and Ethics

· Keyan G Tomaselli was at UKZN for 30 years, is still a Distinguished Professor at the University of Johannesburg, and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award conferred by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in SA for his research and education on public health communication.

· Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author’s own.

author : Keyan G Tomaselli
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Umcimbi i-Sugar and Spice

Umcimbi i-Sugar and Spice
Umgubho Wosuku Lwabesifazane eKolishi Lezifundo ZezeMpilo.

Click here for the Engish version

NgolwesiHlanu ziyi-19 kuNcwaba abasebenzi abangafundisi baseKolishi Lezifundo ZezeMpilo bebemenywe ozakwaba besilisa emcimbini i-Sugar and Spice lapho bekugujwa inyanga yabesifazane. Abesifazane bemukelwa ngamaphasela ayenezipho ezinhlobonhlobo ezitholakale kubaxhasi abahlukene.

‘Siyabonga, bekuwusuko oluhle kakhulu olupholile. Siyabonga kubasebenzi besilisa abahlele lo mcimbi omuhle kangaka, kusho uVanessa Chetty (uMabhalane Odidiyelayo WaseKolishi) 

Isikhulumi sosuku bekunguSolwazi Ncoza Dlova (oyiNhloko YoMnyango noSolwazi WezesiKhumba ) owethule inkulumo ejulile, evula amehlo futhi enolwazi oluningi mayelana nokukhucululwa kwesikhumba. USolwazi Dlova ukhuthaze abesifazane baseKolishi Lezifundo ZezeMpilo ukuba baziqhenye ngebala labo lendalo, ubakhuthaze nokuthi baguqule indlela yokucabanga mayelana nokuthi isikhumba esimnyama singaphansi kwesimhlophe ngokukhombisa imiphumela engemihle yokukhucululwa kwesikhumba njengezifo nomdlavuza wesikhumba. Ubuye wazisa abesifazane ukuthi kufanele bathande isikhumba esimnyama sabo ngoba sona siguga emva kwesikhathi eside futhi esimhlophe silulama ngokushesha uma sinomaka nemihuzuko.

‘Khethani abantu enibukela kubo, khethani abantu abadumile enibathandayo, labo abakhuculula isikhumba sabo abasona isibonelo esihle’, Solwazi Dlova

‘Kuthokozise kakhulu ukubongwa nokwamukelwa ngalendlela, iKolishi Lezezifundo ZezeMpilo liwahola wonke amanye ngokuthi lihlale liqinisekisa inhlalakahle nentuthuko yabasebenzi. Bekuwusuku oluhle obelunenkulumo esezingeni eliphezulu, ukudla nezipho. Belungaphezulu kakhulu kobengikulindele futhi ngiyabonga kakhulu. Siyabonga kakhulu kubasebenzi besilisa abenze lokhu’, kusho u-Wulganithi Thaver, Umeluleki Wabafundi.

author : Sinenhlanhla Ngubane
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Humanities Student Publishes Poetry Anthology on Syrian War

Humanities Student Publishes Poetry Anthology on Syrian War
Ms Kemera Moodly with her poetry anthology titled <em>Teardrops From My Pen</em>.

Psychology Masters’ student Ms Kemera Moodly recently published her third poetry anthology titled Teardrops From My Pen. The book is a collection of Moodly’s thoughts and emotions on the Syrian war and the Syrian refugees who subsequently fled their country and sought asylum in Europe.

‘Their desperation, their willingness to traverse oceans in little rubber boats, and walk vast distances from country to country inspired me but also moved me deeply. A lot of the poems expressed my feelings and thoughts on these refugees and their struggle to survive,’ she explained.

The book also features a short story that epitomises the struggle of Syrians. All proceeds from the sale of the book goes to the Gift of the Givers’ Foundation. Moodly has already made four lump sum contributions to the organisation from the sale of her books and hopes to continue donating to the Foundation.

Moodly has been writing poetry since the age of eight, continuing to write throughout her teenage years and even now as an adult. ‘It’s very fulfilling to know that my writing is now published and available for the public to read and hopefully enjoy. Those that have already read the book enjoyed it and have appreciated my work - they can relate to the thoughts and emotions I expressed, which is very fulfilling and gratifying for a writer.’

She is currently planning to write a book of short stories. ‘Ideas are already floating around in my head – I’ve actually jotted down the synopses for some of those stories. It’s quite exciting because I find that writing short stories is more challenging than poetry and I enjoy facing that challenge!’

‘But it's the feeling of writing down a story that partially reflects reality and partially reflects my imagination - it brings me joy to know that I can do that. I am inspired by events or situations I’ve seen in reality. I craft my own characters and plot to give readers my perspective on this event or situation.’

Moodly further urged the public to buy Teardrops From My Pen as she feels ‘it is a reminder of what it means to be human - we all experience pain, sorrow, heartache and we all shed tears.  This book aims to show that innate vulnerability through my poetry and short stories.’

Teardrops From My Pen can be purchased directly from Moodly for R120 via email or the e-book can be purchased online from (Kindle) for $10.25. Her other books for purchase are Words From My Heart and Seasons of My Soul.

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Quantum Research Postdoc to Participate in USA’s TechWomen Initiative

Quantum Research Postdoc to Participate in USA’s TechWomen Initiative
Dr Yaseera Ismail.

Dr Yaseera Ismail, a Postdoctoral Fellow in UKZN’s Quantum Research Group, has been selected to take part in the TechWomen initiative in the United States of America, a five-week programme which includes a professional mentorship visit with a host company, exposure to cultural and community service events, and targeted meetings with the US Department of State in Washington DC.

The Programme brings emerging women leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East into contact with their professional counterparts in the United States. The objective is to empower, connect, and support these women leaders.

Ismail was selected as one of the 90 participants for 2016, from the initiative’s most competitive submission round yet of more than 2 300 applications.  She joins a group of 333 other women from 21 countries who have taken part.

Ismail will spend four weeks at Synopsys, working on projects alongside a professional mentor, exchanging ideas and expertise. Mentors are also invited to visit the home countries of those they mentor.

While in the San Francisco Bay area, Ismail will take part in cultural activities and community events.  She will work with an impact advisor to network and develop a plan of action to overcome a socioeconomic challenge in their community.

The fifth week will be spent with other participants meeting with officials in Washington DC, attending special events and visiting the White House.

Inspired by the prospect of being mentored by like-minded professionals, Ismail looks forward to interacting with emerging leaders and building meaningful, lasting connections with global women leaders. The programme is also intended to impart skills for mentoring women, entrepreneurship and innovative leadership.

‘I am exhilarated to be chosen as an emerging leader,’ said Ismail, ‘and am looking forward to the opportunities this trip will present.’

Ismail is currently conducting research in quantum technology, specifically quantum communication, which promises to revolutionise ICT security solutions in the future through the encryption of data using quantum mechanics.

Through this opportunity, Ismail hopes to be enabled to harness her professional career skills in order to give back to society.  She wants to make the most of the chance to develop mentorship, project leadership and management skills, all of which are beneficial to a researcher. She looks forward to building networks for future collaborations, calling this a part of her lifelong journey towards making a difference in society.

author : Christine Cuénod
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Higher Education Training and Development Centre hosts First HEFAALA Symposium

Higher Education Training and Development Centre hosts First HEFAALA Symposium
The participants at the Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America (HEFAALA) Symposium.

The Higher Education Training and Development (HEDT) Centre, which operates as both a Discipline in the School of Education (Education Development cluster), and as Higher Education Training and Development within the Teaching and Learning Office, recently hosted its first international symposium, themed “Continental Realities and International Imperatives” as part of the Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America (HEFAALA).

The two-day Symposium, supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, was marked by robust discussions and rigorous analyses of topical Higher Education issues of regional, trans-regional and international significance by leading experts from five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

UKZN academic and convenor-founder of HEFAALA, Professor Damtew Teferra, sees the Symposium as the only forum to deliberate on African, Asian and Latin American Higher Education with an eye on international trends and developments.

‘Both the symposium and the Forum are intended to foster discussion, research, policy formulation and analysis, publication and communication.  This is in recognition of the enormous common challenges as well as emerging opportunities, particularly in the three regions in the increasingly globalised Higher Education domain,’ said Teferra.

UKZN Vice-Chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld sees the Symposium as a wonderful initiative for conversations about Higher Education. ‘Higher Education is evolving and developing rapidly from a shift from knowledge production to a skills economy and it would be great to see how HEFAALA contributes further to the Higher Education landscape,’ he said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Professor Renuka Vithal noted the appropriateness of the Symposium theme, saying, ‘It forces us to ask pertinent questions and to anticipate what universities will be like in the next 50-100 years in terms of knowledge production, technology in universities and human capacity.’

One of the topics discussed was “Key Trends in Global Higher Education”.  Professor Hans de Wit, Director of the Centre for International Higher Education, Boston College, talked about several indicators - privatisation, diversification, internationalisation, academic profession, academic freedom, rankings, access and equity of Global Higher Education.

‘Academic freedom is an important basis for quality Higher Education, teaching and research, but it is under pressure in emerging and developing countries. Even rankings drive the agenda of institutional leaders and government. Rankings are here to stay but governments and institutional leaders should not let themselves be guided by the indicators, but by investing in a diverse and broad Higher Education system. Free Higher Education as an isolated policy is not only an illusion but has also proven not to guarantee equity,’ said de Wit. 

In light of these issues, he sees the Symposium as an important contribution in bringing the knowledge from the three continents together and setting a research agenda for the future.

Other issues discussed were Key Trends in African Higher Education, South-South & South-South-North Cooperation; Internationalisation/Regionalisation: Academic Mobility, Brain Drain/Circulation; Access, Expansion, and Institutional Differentiation; Quality and Relevance; Similarities and Peculiarities in the Global South; Doctoral Education, Research Capacity, and Knowledge Production; Governance, Leadership and Management and Women in Executive Leadership.

HEFAALA is one of the initiatives of the International Network for Higher Education in Africa, based at HETD, UKZN.

author : Melissa Mungroo
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UKZN Hosts Annual Bridge Building and Design Competition

UKZN Hosts Annual Bridge Building and Design Competition
New Forest High School won the Phil Everitt Innovation Award at the South African Institute of Civil Engineering annual model bridge building competition.

UKZN’s School of Engineering recently played host to an event with a difference - the South African Institution of Civil Engineering’s (SAICE) annual Model Bridge Building Competition.

Held at the UNITE building, this year was the competition’s 21st anniversary. Some 100 learners from 11 different schools came to participate and learn more about civil engineering.

Sponsored by Naidu Consulting, the 2016 event proved itself to be a successful career guidance initiative that attracted learners from previously disadvantaged rural schools, model C schools and private schools.

‘As an activity that is both technical and challenging, bridge building provides learners with a glimpse of what it takes to be a Civil Engineer,’ said Mr Josh Padayachee of Naidu Consulting.  ‘The competition also provides a chance to build bridges between people and cultures.’

Participating schools entered learners in groups of three. The aspirant bridge-building trios then used model dowel sticks, glue and strings to build bridges according to the technical specifications provided.

Judges examined bridge design and durability in order to determine the winning teams.  After a nail-biting wait, Fairvale Secondary School grabbed the glory - winning first, second and third places.  They were presented with their awards by Mr Josh Padayachee and Ms Morag Horne of Naidu Consulting.

New Forest High School won the Phil Everitt Innovation and Design Award, which was awarded for the second year.

The excited winning teams participated in the national Model Bridge Building Competition which was held from 25-27 August in Pretoria.

author : Basetsana Mogashoa
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UKZN PhD Candidate to attend BRICS Young Scientist Conclave in Bangalore

UKZN PhD Candidate to attend BRICS Young Scientist Conclave in Bangalore
Mr Sphumelele Ndlovu.

UKZN PhD candidate Mr Sphumelele Ndlovu has been selected by the Department of Science and Technology along with six other young scientists to represent his country at the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Young Scientists’ Conclave in Bangalore, India in September.

The programme was endorsed by BRICS leaders at the Seventh BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, in 2015, and is co-ordinated by India. The Conclave will bring together bright young scientists from each partner country, providing a platform for intense scientific exploration, exploration of avenues to transform societal problems, and the opportunity to investigate technological innovations.

Ndlovu, who began his academic career in UKZN’s Science Foundation Programme (SFP), works at the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) Space Geodesy Programme at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO). At HartRAO, Ndlovu has worked on a project unique to both the African continent and the southern hemisphere concerning the measurement of Earth-Moon distance. He has been involved in developing a mathematical tool to optimise efficiency and estimate the signal path parameter of a Lunar Laser Ranger (LLR) system at HartRAO.

Speaking of the Conclave, Ndlovu said, ‘As a young scientist, I am hoping to meet participants who are willing to exchange knowledge and ideas, and to collaborate on global scientific challenges.’

‘I hope to gain more knowledge I can bring back and share with the South African research community,’ said Ndlovu. ‘I am looking forward to learning about different cultures and disciplines from the other BRICS countries, as well as the Science and Technology challenges facing BRICS countries; hopefully I can be part of the solution.’

According to organisers, the Conclave will also harness solutions to, and ideas about, country-specific problems and common challenges faced by BRICS nations; the BRICS Young Innovation Prize for Innovative Ideas will encourage participants to develop unique designs on Computational Intelligence, Energy Solutions and Affordable Healthcare. The main objective of the Conclave is to create a BRICS leadership pool of creative youth in Science and Technology, who can accelerate change both individually and collectively (BRICS Youth Alumni).

author : Christine Cuénod
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Occupational Therapy Students Fight Drug Abuse in Mariannridge

Occupational Therapy Students Fight Drug Abuse in Mariannridge
Occupational Therapy Students.

Final year UKZN College of Health Sciences’ Occupational Therapy students are working with the Mariannridge Community outside Durban to fight drug abuse and addiction amongst high school learners.

The students, Ms Ntombikayise Shange, Ms Claudia Menezes and Ms Nomfundo Mlaba with the assistance of Mr Zwakele Shezi, a Speech Language Pathology student, held a drug-awareness day for Mariannridge High School learners.

‘Our aim is to build insight about the dangers of substance abuse, to provide scholars with better ways to deal with life problems, to inspire young substance abusers to strive for a better future and to motivate them to change before it is too late,’ Shange said.

A community member Mr Ralph, known as “Uncle Ralph,”said they appreciated the assistance of the students in fighting drug addiction in their community.

‘As a community we are excited to be working with the students. They have helped us to set up a number of projects that will assist in the fight against drug abuse within the community,’ said “Uncle Ralph”.

The students have set up support groups for families affected by drug abuse, and established a “Rising above Addiction” group which is aimed at assisting recovering substance abusers.

The students initially did a community-needs assessment and found that substance abuse was a major problem affecting the whole area. In order to deal with this issue, they decided to host a Drug Awareness Day and target the local high school. ‘We believed that interventions need to begin at a school level,’ said Shange.

The students provided an informative and entertaining programme for the learners.  The learners gained insight and learnt about the realities of drug addiction told by the recovering drug addicts.  They were also given information about the different programmes available from government that deals with drug related projects, such as those provided by the Department of Social Development, Department of Health and Department of Education.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email :

Mayshree Singh - Wonder Woman in Science Does It All

Mayshree Singh - Wonder Woman in Science Does It All
Dr Mayshree Singh.

National Science Week is a countrywide initiative that promotes careers in Science, Engineering and Technology for South African students while National Women’s Day on 9 August commemorates the 1956 march of 20 000 women protesting against the country’s pass laws.

Both events shed light on important issues, including a skills shortage in Science, Engineering and Technology and the limited presence of women in these fields.

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science has showcased its support for these causes through a series of articles acknowledging its own Wonder Women in Science - all passionate, pioneering and persistent heroines who are “kicking ass” in Science and stand as shining examples for all women.

Wonder Women in Science are not to be seen as a standard, by which others are judged. Instead they should be seen as everyday people, with the tenacity to rise above real life struggles to realise their greatness.

Professionally speaking, Dr Mayshree Singh meets all the requirements to be a Wonder Woman in Science. She is a Lecturer and a Programme Co-ordinator for Land Surveying at the School of Engineering; and is the first woman to get her PhD in Land Surveying at UKZN. But her true power lies in her ability to manage work commitments and family life. During our interview, she received a call from her daughter to work out last minute extra-curricular logistics. She asked for a minute, made the arrangements and then got back to business – like a true #bosslady.

Singh pinpoints her first science-related memory as a Grade 4 experiment, where she witnessed a 5lt oil gallon tin being crushed by air pressure. ‘This was the first time I was able to see a reaction occurring, which piqued my interest in science,’ she recalls. This curiosity led her to pursue studies in Geology and Physics at UKZN. She later specialised in Seismotectonic research, which studies the stresses within tectonic plates for earthquake risk management and safety in construction.

Never seeing her gender as an impediment, Singh admits that she never felt inhibited as a woman in science. ‘The opportunities are there, you just have to look for them,’ she says. One such opportunity came from the Thuthuka Bursary Fund which helped her obtain her ground-breaking PhD.

Although Women in Science are under-represented, Singh believes that the bigger issue is that there are not enough scientists in the country. This is why initiatives like National Science Week are so important, as they address the skills shortage within the country.

She believes that investment in the schooling infrastructure and better career guidance will help usher in a new generation of scientists. She provides budding scientists with an impassioned yet real view on science. ‘Science is very challenging but it’s just as rewarding. You have a wide array of options which can see you working either in a lab or the outdoors, depending on what you’re interested in.’

Geophysics in combination with Land Surveying has many real-world applications that we may not be aware of. Singh’s students are involved in community-driven research that looks at these applications, such as:

·         investigating the effects of the KZN earthquake that occurred in February this year,

·         testing the earthquake resistance of RDP homes,

·         measuring the EMF radiation emitted from cellphone towers, and

·         locating groundwater aquifers in the Karoo.

As a mom with two young kids, Singh sometimes struggles with the travelling and after-hours demands of her job. But she chooses not to sweat the small stuff and confidently says, ‘I have the full support of my family so I make it work.’

She interprets the inspiring of greatness as being a role model for students and upcoming professionals. ‘When I was growing up there weren’t many geophysicists to look up to. So it’s important to give budding scientists something to aspire to.’ She looked to her mentor Professor Andrzej Kijko and Dr Mosidi Makgae (CEO at CGS) for her inspiration.

This Wonder Woman in Science has big things on the horizon, with the Underwater Heritage Mapping project she is planning to launch. This will allow students to use specialised cameras to scan/create an image of Durban shipwrecks as well get their divers licence. We are sure that Singh’s ground-breaking work will register on the Richter scale soon!

We asked Mayshree to create a ‘super hero profile’ for herself. Here are her answers:

Q. What would your super power be and why?        

A. It would be the power to teleport, so that I can cut down travel time and spend more time with my kids.

Q. What would be your theme song?

A. It would be Rachel Platten’s Fight Song because like the song goes, ‘I still got a lot of fight left in me.’

Q. Who would be your sidekicks and why?    

A. My sidekicks would be my kids Shreya and Shivek, because my daughter will keep me laughing and my son will keep me entertained.

Q. Where would your secret lair/ hide-out be?

A. My secret hide-out is my office at Howard College. Because it’s the last one in the corridor, it’s quite peaceful….and has really fast internet too.

Q. Describe your happy place. 

A. I find my happy place at the ashram because it helps me connect spiritually and keeps me centred. 

To find all articles on Wonder Women in Science go to:

author : Sashlin Girraj
author email :

Prominent Business Leaders at UKZN’s Business Management Conference

Prominent Business Leaders at UKZN’s Business Management Conference
Delegates of the 4th Business Management Conference hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies.

Issues such a global sustainability challenges and potential solutions were the focus of the discussion between prominent leaders from the business and government sectors and academia at the 4th Business Management Conference (BMC) which was hosted by the UKZN College of Law and Management Studies from 24 to 26 August at the Riverside Hotel, Durban.

The multi-disciplinary conference themed: “Innovative and Creative Solutions for Economic Growth Strategies and Sustainable Futures”, created a platform for the international community to engage in dialogue and share their expertise in addressing the world’s most pressing socio-economic challenges.

Commenting on the theme, the Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Mr Daniel Mminele said: ‘The theme of this conference is well-chosen and very relevant to our current context as, eight years after the global financial crisis, strong, sustainable and balanced growth remains elusive, and policymakers across the world, including in South Africa, are indeed grappling with finding innovative and creative solutions for generating growth.’

Mminele contributed to the conference proceedings through a keynote address titled: “South Africa’s poor economic performance and the relevance of Monetary Policy”. The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, Mr Alan Mukoki also gave a speech with a theme focused on: “Industrial production, trade and economic growth in South Africa: What is the missing piece of the puzzle?”

The other highlight of the BMC was a gala dinner which saw KZN Provincial Treasury’s Head of Department, Mr Simiso Magagula, delivering an address on “The role of government in promoting innovative and creative inclusive economic growth”.

Magagula concurred with Mminele stating that innovation should be prioritised in order to grow our country’s economy. ‘Our government needs to commit to supporting research and innovation, creating a more open and integrated innovation ecosystem, as well as by removing barriers to innovation,’ said Magagula.

The Conference also featured international speakers including the Chair for Innovation Research and Technology Management, Professor Dr Stefan Hüsig, as well as Research Associate at the Department of Political Science, Dr Sebastian Liebold, both from the Technische Universitat Chemnitz, Germany. The two speakers spoke on “Innovation and sustainability. From disruption out of emerging markets to the base of the pyramid. Innovation and beyond” and “Sustainability and Liberty – Remarks on a Conflict of Social Values” respectively.

Commenting on the importance of the Conference within a global perspective, Conference Convener and College Dean of Research, Professor Marita Carnelley said: ‘The hosting of the BMC is a further validation that the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which prides itself in being a research-led institution, is committed to utilising multi-disciplinary and cross-border collaborations as a tool for innovation when it comes to cultivating economic growth and pushing research boundaries where the creation of a sustainable future for all is concerned.’

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, Professor John C Mubangizi commended Carnelley for her commitment to ensuring an improvement in research output of the College and encouraged academics and postgraduate students to convert their papers into publishable research work.

author : Hazel Langa
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New Approaches to Teaching and Learning Presented at Workshop

New Approaches to Teaching and Learning Presented at Workshop
A workshop was held on the Westville campus on new approaches to Teaching and Learning.

A three-day workshop on UKZN’s Westville campus titled “New Approaches to Teaching and Learning” attracted academics from traditional universities and universities of technology from all over South Africa.

Hosted by the Teaching and Learning Office, the academics were alumni of the Teaching Advancement at University Fellowship Programme (TAU) which promotes and sustains the scholarship of Teaching and Learning at South African universities and is sponsored by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

The workshop included panel discussions on “New Approaches to First Year Teaching” and “New Approaches to Postgraduate Teaching; Research as Transformation/Transformation as Research”.

The Director of Teaching and Learning at UKZN and convenor of the workshop, Dr Rubby Dhunpath, said it had been a ‘historic moment’ in cultivating a relationship between traditional universities and universities of technology. Dhunpath commended UKZN’s Professor Suzanne Francis, a TAU Fellow, for this feat and quipped that while TAU stood for Teaching in Advancement at University, it was also a Xhosa word for lion.

In a panel discussion on undergraduate student performance and success, Tshwane University of Technology’s Dr Janine Lewis presented her experiences on applying ‘embodied performance towards collaborative practice and Augmented Reality’.

An academic at the University’s Department of Drama and Film, Lewis promoted the use of Augmented Reality in teaching and learning, something she has managed to do successfully using Aurasma, a user-friendly, free app that is accessible to all students who have smart devices.

The Central University of Technology’s Dr Brenton Fredericks examined Academic Literacy: from Generic to Discipline Specific, emphasising the need to systematically address the ‘problem of academic literacies at universities’.

Dr Paulene Naidoo of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) delivered a presentation titled: “An Investigation of how Graduate Attributes are Developed through Teaching, Learning and Assessment”.

Mangosuthu University of Technology’s Mr Alex Nabbi revealed his findings on barriers to success among a cohort of first-year students, while his colleague Professor Sandiso Ngcobo presented on: “Biliteracy Development of Summary Writing Skills in Communication Among First-Year University Students”.

In a second panel discussion on postgraduate interventions, UKZN’s Professor Suzanne Francis revealed her innovative way of teaching research by using a field school model in a San community in the southern Kalahari as a developmental approach. She posed the questions: ‘Who will the new knowledge makers be? What will they carry with them?’

DUT’s Professor Ashley Ross spoke on: “Preparedness for Postgraduate Study. A Survey of the Effectiveness of Existing Methodology Offerings Within the Faculty of Health Sciences at DUT”.

UKZN’s Professor Oliver Mtapuri presented his experiences in a talk titled: “Application of Case Studies in Teaching and Learning in Development Studies at UKZN”.

DUT’s Dr Anisa Vahed outlined her innovative way of facilitating epistemological access by developing students’ experiences of undergraduate research.

The engagement provided a valuable opportunity to expand the TAU Fellowship to embrace regional challenges with Fellows committing to continuing their collaboration on common projects to promote student success and quality of outcomes. 

author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
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Anthropology Professor Contributes to International Book on Gender

Anthropology Professor Contributes to International Book on Gender
Professor Maheshvari Naidu.

Professor Maheshvari Naidu, Associate Professor in Anthropology and Academic Leader Research in the School of Social Sciences, has contributed a chapter in an international publication on Gender Studies.

Entitled Introduction to Gender Studies in Eastern and Southern Africa: A Reader the book is edited by James Etim of Salem State University. The book is published by Sense Publishers (Boston and Rotterdam) and consists of 298 pages.

Comprising of five themed sections, the focus is on Theory and Research; Gender and Education; Gender, Culture and Power; Gender, Law and Politics; and Gender, Health and Violence.

Naidu’s chapter forms part of the Theory and Research Section and is entitled “Local Contexts, Local Theory: Revisiting Standpoint Theory through Situated Ethnographic Vignettes”. The chapter draws from a number of Naidu’s ethnographic studies that focus on women and power inscriptions.

According to Naidu, the book forms an important contribution to an already rich landscape of work on Gender Studies and focuses on issues of power, reproductive rights and body politics; violence against women in all its multiple forms and contexts, including sexual harassment and rape; sex trafficking and sex slavery; female genital mutilation; health care access and health care politics; women and education, etc.

‘Given our own geo-political location, the fact that the empirical and theoretical emphasis is on southern and eastern Africa is an added bonus, and the book acts as a Reader to both researchers and students working in the different areas of Gender Studies,’ said Naidu.

She added that the editor’s invitation to contribute to the book in early 2015 was a pleasant surprise and the project has been two years in the making.  ‘I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to have contributed,’ she said.

Approximately 21 academics from universities from the USA, southern and eastern Africa contributed chapters, with the American authors having done extensive work in southern and eastern Africa. The contributors are also drawn from the multiple fields of gender studies, political science, anthropology, law and education, and comprise both academics as well as researchers and activists.

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Book on Sociological History in South Africa written by UKZN Academic

Book on Sociological History in South Africa written by UKZN Academic
<em>Sociology in South Africa</em>.

Professor Radhamany Sooryamoorthy of the School of Social Sciences has published his new book, Sociology in South Africa: Colonial, Apartheid and Democratic Forms.

This book, published by Palgrave Macmillan-Springer, is the first comprehensive account of the history and current state of South African sociology.

Providing a holistic picture of the subject - both as it is taught in universities and as a field of research - it reveals the trajectories of a discipline in a challenging socio-political context. With the support of historical and scientometric data, it demonstrates how the changing political situation, from colonialism to apartheid to democracy, has influenced the nature, direction and foci of sociological research in the country.

More information of this book can be found at:

author : UKZNDabOnline
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School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences Annual Research Day

School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences Annual Research Day
SLMMS student presenters at the annual Research Day.

The School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences from the College of Health Sciences held their annual Research Day for their masters and PhD students at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership Auditorium (Westville campus) recently.

Professor Manormoney Pillay, Dr Onyemaechi Okpara Azu, and Professor Anil Chuturgoon each facilitated three oral and poster PowerPoint presentations. Students were given between two to eight minutes to present on their research dissertations or thesis. They had the opportunity to talk briefly about their research, share their research aims and methodology and their findings. After each student presented, the floor was then opened for questions or any further explanations.

After all of the presentations had been made the judges voted for the best oral abstract presentations, the best poster presentations and the most popular presenter. In the oral presentation category, the first place went to Duyilemi Ajonijebu.  In second place was Preenan Pillay and third place went to Yvette Chetty. For the oral poster presentations, first place went to Samantha Anderson, second place went to Shanel Raghubeer and Pholisiwe Mbona took third place.

The most popular presenter (voted by the audience) was awarded to Ajonijebu who gave a very interesting presentation.  From the time he began his presentation - titled “Interrupting alcohol and drug consumption- Good or Bad news?” - the audience was captivated, intrigued and left wanting to hear more about his research findings.

Every single student that presented on the day brought their “A game”.  They spoke excellently, and all came well prepared and knew exactly what was expected of them. All the students from the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences represented their School well by showcasing that the College of Health Sciences is truly inspiring great researchers who are going to go out into their different fields to make a huge impact. 

author : Sinenhlanhla Ngubane
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Engineering Careers on Show

Engineering Careers on Show
Students explore career options at the Engineering Career Fair organised by the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

Students from UKZN, along with private companies that took part in the 2016 annual Engineering Career Fair held on Howard College campus on 5 August, only had good things to say about this year’s bumper event.

Among the many employers that exhibited at the 2016 Career Fair were Goodyear, Unilever, FNB, Denel Dynamics, ATNS and Defy.

‘We were delighted with the positive response from companies,’ said Career Development Officer within the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Ms Karuna Mahadave.

Students from Engineering had a busy start to the semester with over 30 companies attending the Career Fair and a further 10 visiting the campus for presentations during the second and third weeks of August.

The UKZN Engineering Career Fair provided a platform for graduating students to meet potential recruiters and obtain more information about opportunities available in the world of work.

It also exposed first - and second-year students to the working world and showed them the options available to them upon completion of their degrees.

author : Karuna Mahadave
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JOMBA! Opening Night offers Stunning Contemporary Dance

JOMBA! Opening Night offers Stunning Contemporary Dance
JOMBA! Opening night performances.

UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities had a successful opening night of the 18th JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience at the packed Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

Speaking at the event CCA Director Mr David wa Maahlamela said, ‘People say some of the festivals run by the CCA are the largest in the African continent, but in such assessment, they fail to realise that CCA is one of the few centres in the entire globe, if not the only, to run more than one successful annual festival. We truly pride ourselves with the great legacy of JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience as one of the contributions in turning Durban into the artistic and creative face of the continent.’

On offer for opening night was a performance piece by duet MAMAZA, a young award-winning Swiss company. They brought a tender and viscerally challenging duet that places the two ex-Forsythe dancers in a reflecting stage space that sees their lives connect and re-connect in an endless algorithm of what two people can be, with visions and echoes of themselves.

France’s Company Ex Nihilo also featured on opening night, offering a site-responsive dance work for the audience. Ex Nihilo, based in Marseilles, create dance “interventions” around a desire to regard shared public spaces as a work place, as they embrace spatial history, never excluding the passer-by and spectator.

‘We are particularly proud to host dance companies like Ex Nihilo who are breaking down the traditional barriers that often exist in theatre spaces,’ said Artistic Director of JOMBA! and Performing Arts Lecturer at UKZN, Ms Lliane Loots.

Loots gave the keynote address on opening night.  Her speech touched on gender parity and decolonisation, while also reflecting on the longevity of 18 years of embodied danced rebellion against the effects of the Imperialist cultural bomb.

‘This Festival makes a dedicated effort to invite and partner with organisations, artists and dance companies who are using the voice of their physical art form to break down stereotypes, to address embodied histories and memory, who physically deconstruct socially and culturally defined ways of being inside one’s skin, and who also, sometimes, decolonise a theatre space by asking you to watch dance in another site.’

‘We fight, through JOMBA!’s dedicated space of serious contemporary dance-making, against being seduced into thinking that dance only consists of dance reality competition shows on television that promise the winner fame and fortune. We fight against being uninterested by the demands of contemporary art and dance because it asks us to think and feel and listen - and sweat.  We fight thus against participating in the slow death of critical arts; and with this, the death of our resistance,’ said Loots. 

JOMBA! runs till September 4 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre and KZNSA Gallery. Tickets are priced between R45 and R60 and are available at Computicket or at the venue an hour before the show. For more information and a full downloadable programme, visit

author : Melissa Mungroo
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