Exceptional Teaching Practices Recognised

The University of Zululand hosted its second prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Learning on Friday, 14 September 2018, at the Richards Bay Campus.

The awards aim to acknowledge the exceptional performance of staff members in teaching, curriculum innovation, community engagements and support services, which are aligned with the University’s vision about social and technological innovations in delivering quality education in the higher education landscape.

Candidates were nominated by either peers, students or self-nominated in three categories namely, the emerging academic, developed academic and distinguished academic.

In the Emerging Academic category, Nontobeko Prudence Khumalo took the award, receiving an amount of R50 000

Prof Unathi Kolanisi, the Head of the Department of Consumer Science snatched the Distinguished Academic award and also received a R50 000 cash prize.

“My sincere congratulations to all the nominees of the Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. You can be exceptionally proud of your achievements. Thank you for your outstanding contribution to UNIZULU and thank you for giving to our students,” UNIZULU Vice-Chancellor Prof Xoliswa Mtose said to the awardees.

In his opening remarks, Prof Sandile Songca, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, said: “If I were to give a title to my presentation today, I would say the changing role of a teacher in higher education creating learning opportunities. I am aware that, here at the University of Zululand, academics have more than just warmed up to the idea of excellence. They have moved to the centre stage of this enterprise in many respects. Academics are upscaling their qualifications in their subject areas. We are getting new doctoral degrees in many kinds of subject areas, many of whom are supervised locally by local professors demonstrating the immense capacity that we have as an institution to enhance learning and teaching.”

Prof Songca also reflected on UNIZULU’s strides which include the recognition of the work and footprint of the University. “Let us be very proud of this brand. A lot of praises are starting to come out from CHE (Council on Higher Education) and DHET (Department of Higher education and Training) about our university,” he said.

Delivering his keynote address, Professor Maharaj who is currently a professor of Information Systems and Technology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), spoke about the fourth industrial revolution and its impact on higher education. “We need to appropriate technology as and when necessary to enhance what we are teaching. I don’t believe for one minute that lectures will become redundant. I think that the task of a lecturer is to inspire learning. We need to stand in front of the students and the students need to be inspired and say, ‘That is interesting, let me go to Google, let me go to YouTube and learn this.’,” Maharaj said.

Dr Yasmin Rugbeer, Director: Teaching and Learning Centre, acknowledged the vital role lecturers play in shaping the futures of students. “Surely there can be no greater gift in life than the gift of learning. A great teacher provides us with a hunger for knowledge that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. We at the Teaching and Learning Centre believe that this is a developmental journey. This is only our second such awards so this gives us a chance to re-evaluate and come back with stronger, improved portfolios. So may I encourage all candidates to stay ambitious, stay strong, focused, dedicated and positive,” she said.

– Precious Shamase


Dr Yasmin Rugbeer, Director: Teaching and Learning; Prof Xoliswa Mtose, UNIZULU Vice-Chancellor and Prof Sandile Songca, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning (all front row) with nominees of the 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Learning on the back row.