Twenty-six Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) bursary recipients attended the inaugural Human Settlements Conference hosted by the National Department of Human Settlements in Port Elizabeth.
The students - from the Housing Masters course and the third year undergraduate class in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies - were accompanied by their lecturer, Mrs Judith Ojo-Aromokudu, Academic Development Officer, Mr Sibonelo Gumede, and Technical Assistant, Mr Nkanyiso Shange.
Speaking about the importance of the Conference, Ojo-Aromokudu said: ‘As a Discipline we believe attending the Conference gave the students immense networking and exposure benefits in their field of study.’
Shange, who is doing his masters degree, said: ‘We were able to informally network with representatives from various organisations, the private sector, civil society and the general public. For us as students though, a picture was painted in our minds of where we are headed as a nation. This was an eye opener. There is still a lot to be done and as students we need to go back and look into it, especially in our academic spaces.’
Said another student, Mr Ntando Cedrick Ngcobo: ‘The Conference helped me to understand the relevant technologies and best practices being used to improve housing delivery to redress mistakes of the past in South Africa.’
Some of the sessions the students participated in were on multi-innovative low cost building technologies and engaging with representatives of provincial government departments, municipalities and other agencies such as the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).
Students were also given the opportunity to engage with the Minister of Human Settlements, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, on issues related to housing and human settlements.
‘To talk about these issues was not easy,’ said student, Mr Sandile Hlatshwayo. ‘Implementing these ideas and plans for sustainable neighbourhoods can only be executed by approaching people directly involved with these problems because no-one understands the issues better than them.’
The trip was made possible through funding and assistance from the Department of Human Settlements’ Mr Monwabisi Maclean, BEDS School Management and LGSETA.