CPUT’s green efforts awarded

CPUT’s efforts to green its campuses was awarded during the 7th Annual Green Campus Initiative (GCI) Conference.

The conference was organised by the Association of College and University Housing Officers International (Acuho-i) and was held at UKZN.

CPUT was awarded the Green Award – Diamond for the Most Innovative University.

The SARETEC building and the composition of its materials as well as CPUT’s utilisation of unwanted plastics and recycled materials to establish various useful tools impressed the delegation.

A total of 12 institutions attended the event and the theme of the four-day conference was Land and Marine pollution.

“We are very proud of this award as it recognises our innovative efforts to green our campuses. We hope to build on these efforts in future and establish CPUT as a leader in such projects in South Africa and Africa at large,” said Phillip Chibvuri from CPUT’s Residence Business Unit.

Tech-ing it up a notch

Staff members and students can look forward to enjoying the benefits of a recent major network upgrade when they return in the new academic year.

CTS Network Manager Sam Bimray said all buildings were being linked to the IT centre and Admin centre with new fibre cables, which will increase the speed and result in a major improvement in the performance of the network.

“We are also installing new equipment in different areas to take full advantage of the new fibre installation.”

He said two projects, the wired project on the Bellville campus and wireless project across all campuses, were running concurrently.

“We are trying to make our network as accessible as possible all over the campuses. We want to ensure that every building that we have has full coverage of Wi-Fi. This has been our biggest challenge. Five years ago it was one person per device but now we find that every person has two or three devices. This has required lots of upgrades, switches to more wireless routers and a new server to help us manage the increase of users.”

The department’s Joshua Blanchard said residences were one of the key focus areas: “With the help of external companies we walked through residences with a tool to check the reach of wireless coverage. We’ve looked at what we can do to get signal in the areas that are not reached.”

Bimray said a PABX Software (telephone system) upgrade was also conducted which will enable the use of Skype for business and improve voice quality on the network.

Future projects will include upgrading all the old cabling infrastructure.

Hello brave new world

The Design building on the Bellville campus has a new Communication and Language Centre.

Situated on the first floor of the building, the Language Centre contains 30 computers equipped with language programmes, several language book resources and tutors on hand to help with computer and language needs.

Opened earlier this year with the help of the Financial Aid Office who sponsored three lab assistants and two tutors, the Language Centre has been offering help to Applied Sciences students for several months.

Applied Sciences Faculty Language Co-ordinator Dr Ignatius Ticha said students signed in 3180 times to use the lab, “so we have already achieved maximum usage of space,” said Ticha. The lab has been used for staff meetings, a reading quiz, training workshops and classes on two of the computer programmes aimed at improving students’ reading skills. Postgraduate students affiliated to Applied Sciences also asked for help on proposal and thesis writing.

Most of the students used the space to complete assignments or do research. The main function of the Language Centre is to provide language related services in a multilingual context. Posters about sign language dominate the walls and resource books touch on several South African and African languages.

Feedback from students who accessed the Readers are Leaders and Read and Write computer programmes is encouraging and Ticha says they will extend access to both programmes to the District Six campus during 2020.

Read and Write is a literacy support tool that works across platforms and audience members watching a demonstration of the programme were impressed by its potential use by special needs students.

The main function of the Readers are Leaders programme is to develop students’ reading speed and comprehension to the level necessary to cope with university material.

“It will grow into something useful for our faculty,” said Ticha proudly before Prof Joseph Kioko, Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, declared the Language Centre open.

Kioko reminded attendees that language is not just a neutral collection of words, they have meaning. “This laboratory is about skills. The world we live in now is different to the world we learn in. Things have changed and with that the ways the students must learn. This Centre has skills and resources that will allow lecturers to teach the students to survive in this new world,” said Kioko.

Written by Theresa Smith

Stitching together career development

The Technology Station: Clothing and Textiles recently celebrated their most recent crop of short course graduates.

Acting Dean of the Engineering Faculty, Prof Mellet Moll, was on hand to award certificates to the nine learners who successfully completed four short learning programmes.

Technology Station: Clothing and Textiles (TSCT) Manager Shamil Isaacs said it was important to recognise the achievements of the industry based learners who sacrificed their free time on Saturdays to attend classes.

“Also, to appreciate the support of participating host companies Pep, Seagull Industries, K-way and Sweet Orr and acknowledge the supporting stakeholders and funders who are the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA, the Technology Innovation Agency and CPUT as the host institution,” said Isaacs.

The learners completed Introduction to Pattern and Garment Technology; Textiles and Fabrics; Computer Pattern Making; and Product and Labour Costing.

The TSCT has a menu of 18 registered short courses on its brochure, focusing on areas such as Pre-Production Technology or Textiles. About 12 of these run on a regular basis, dependent on demand in any given year. The TSCT also offers customisable programmes based on consultation with businesses as part of a company’s internal staff development programme.

The short course brochure and application form for 2019 are now available on the CPUT website.

Isaacs pointed out a key driver of the TSCT is to support small business and emerging techno-entrepreneurs with a particular emphasis on previous disadvantaged persons.

One of the learners who collected her certificate of completion is Jackie Bezuidenhout. Manufacturing Technologist for Pepkor Clothing, she considered doing the short courses worth her time. “We learnt a lot and I would recommend doing these short courses to my colleagues,” said Bezuidenhout.

Written by Theresa Smith

Paralegal studies degree hailed

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation lauded CPUT’s Bachelor of Paralegal Studies degree, as significant for the professionalisation of the paralegal field.

CPUT is the only institution in the country which offers this degree.

The foundation recently visited the Unit for Applied Law to learn more about the new degree programme and interacted with lecturers and students.

Lorenzo Wakefield, Programme Officer at the Foundation, says: “We’re looking at how best we can support the accessibility and inclusivity of community-based paralegals into the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies and we are having good discussions with the Unit for Applied Law.”

Wakefield added:  “Injustices happen to the people and they don’t know how to get justice, the formal legal fraternity is inaccessible,” he says. “We’re looking at how we can assist them with their research activities and support them to gain the most from the degree.”

This was a site visit by the global coordinator to gain insight into the activities of the Unit for Applied Law which the South African office proposes to fund, says the Unit’s Head, Adv. Noleen Leach.

Leach says the Unit has a Memorandum of Understanding with CAOSA (merged institutions of the National Alliance for the Development of Community Advice Offices) and the Association of Community Advice Offices of South Africa.

“The Mott Foundation is one of the funders of Community Advice Offices in the country.  Most paralegals in practice in the advice offices do not meet the prescribed admissions criteria for the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies programme and CPUT has terminated the age exemption option for access,” she says.

She adds that the foundation extended an invitation to the Unit to apply for funding for research that will inform the Recognition of Prior Learning instrument to be designed for access to the Bachelor of Paralegal Studies by community-based paralegals.  “They will be working in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation to ensure that especially community-based paralegals gain access to the programme.”

She argues that the need for paralegals have become critical in the light of the recent announcement by the South African government that it intends to cut legal aid by R500 million over the next three years.  “Cheaper legal services is an imperative if we are to ensure that the marginalised and the poor gain access to justice,” she concludes.

Seminar tackles Translanguaging

Switching between two languages when teaching provides for the exploitation of all the linguistic repertoires of pupils in assessment for learning tasks rather than only taking their proficiency in the dominant language into account.

This is the view Prof Piet Van Avermaet, a visiting academic from Ghent University, Belgium, shared with the audience attending the Seminar on Translanguaging as a pedagogical resource.

The Seminar was hosted recently by the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences on the Granger Bay Campus.  The faculty’s language co-ordinator, Dr Sithembele Marawu invited Van Avermaet to address the seminar.

Presenting his lecture under the title, Translanguaging as a pedagogical resource. Go beyond binaries, he said: “Translanguaging is the process of making meaning, shaping experiences, gaining understanding and knowledge through the use of two languages”.

He added that social inequality and unequal outcomes in education were big problems not only in schools but also in higher education. Van Avermaet said language use at home is seen as the cause of this inequality; speaking the home language is seen as hindering children’s academic development.

“Move beyond the binaries and towards a new approach to learning that integrates translanguaging and learning,” enthused Avermaet.

He argued that when learning and evaluating are seen as inseparable, the concept of assessment for learning can be connected seamlessly to the concept of functional multilingual learning.

“Both call for a learning environment that allows frequent interaction between the pupils and allow for the exploitation of all the linguistic repertoires of pupils in assessment for learning tasks rather than only taking their proficiency in the dominant language into account.”

Growing the agricultural campus

When building started on the Agriculture Centre on Wellington Campus, the biggest problem was creating a French drain to siphon water away from the buildings. Three years later the biggest water-related problem is how to irrigate the experimental farm that will form part of the next phase of building.

Affectionately referred to as the Agri-hub by staff and students who started using the centre earlier this year, the buildings house 327 students studying Agriculture from first year to Masters level and 10 staff members.

In-house CPUT-employed architect Adriana Hornea says executive management decided to use the empty land next to their rugby fields, which sported a caretaker’s house and several palm trees. She had overseen the building of an experimental wine cellar on the premises between 2007 and 2009 for use by the viticulture and oenology students.

Taking its cue from the existing experimental cellar and caretaker’s home Somerset West-based husband and wife team Linares Architects designed the campus in a traditional Winelands style that wouldn’t clash with the area’s aesthetic.

Lillian Linares pointed out that when they started building the ground was very wet which constrained where they placed the Administration block. “It was not advisable to put a laboratory on the other side of the Admin block, that’s why they had to put the channels down to take away the water,” said Linares.

Their first master plan suggested a much bigger complex but budget restraints limited them to one laboratory building, one lecture hall and an administration building.

A walkway from the admin building leads the students to a courtyard and then a lecture hall with the laboratory to the right of classroom.

Unfortunately, after the buildings were completed the big tree in front of the entrance was discovered to be dying and it had to be cut down to a stump.

Head of the Agriculture Department Professor Francis Lewu laments the loss of shade but is excited about the possibility of up-cycling the stump into a signpost that will show what they do on the campus – teach students about the technicalities of growing crops and, eventually, taking care of livestock.

The next phase will be to extend the laboratory spaces and lecture halls, add more office space and most importantly get started on the experimental farm.

First though Lewu says they will erect greenhouse tunnels to start the students propagating plants under controlled circumstances while they figure out how best to manage irrigation of the experimental farm.

“The plan for the second phase is to have fixed vineyards and orchards plus designated plots for the Applied Sciences Faculty,” he said.

Written by Theresa Smith


Men’s Forum gathering steam

More than 100 men are taking a stand against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and have joined CPUT’s Men’s Forum.

The Forum, which aims to involve men in being part of the solution in the fight against GBV, along with The Institutional Position Statement on Gender-Based Violence, was launched in August this year.

The 116 members who have joined include students and staff members and a host of activities are being planned for next year, said Melanie Marais, Head of the HIV/Aids Unit.

The draft policy on Gender-Based Violence has already been circulated to staff and students and a steering committee will take the process forward.

Marais said 7 000 copies of the Position Statement would also be placed under doors in student residences to ensure students are informed.

Students are urged to contact their res coordinators or campus protection services to report any incidents.

To join the Men’s Forum send an email to Naythan Kayser at KAYSERN@cput.ac.za .

Campus Protection Services can be contacted on the numbers below:

Bellville (021) 959 6301/6550

Cape Town: (021) 460 3122/3631

Granger Bay: 021 440 5726

Mowbray: (021) 680 1582

Wellington: (021) 864 5551

Preparing for the first year experience

Student Retention Officers, lecturers and Fundani staffers recently gathered at Saretec for a First Year Experience Student Symposium.

They discussed the first year student’s experience at CPUT, issues encountered by student Retention Officers (ROs) during this past year and how they can all better the experience of next year’s first year students. ROs said one of the biggest problems they face is not having a dedicated space where students can always find them to ask for help or advice.

Some students also provided feedback on intervention programmes that have been initiated in various faculties. A coaching programme aimed at first year students in Chemical Engineering was deemed insightful and helpful in providing students with different ways of dealing with internal and external issues.

The question was raised whether ROs should not become involved with the orientation process at the beginning of the year. “The students need to see the support they will get from the beginning,” Student Development Officer Melani-Ann Hara pointed out.

FYE coordinator Dr Nosisana Mkonto said they are well aware that it is difficult for first year students who didn’t know who to ask for help and a proactive intervention programme which could provide skills to cope with life as well as the academic work load was needed.

She commended the ROs for their work during 2018 and said what they did keeps her motivated. “The challenges you go through is also what we in FYE go through. The stories I heard from you today is that you became mentors because you didn’t want other first year students to have your experience.

“FYE is everybody’s business. Let’s work together and make life better for the next first year students,” said Mkonto.

Written by Theresa Smith

Interrogating the draft language policy

Students who attended a workshop on the draft CPUT Language Policy prefer Swahili to Afrikaans as an additional language of instruction.

The students said they preferred isiXhosa and Swahili to be developed as media of instruction alongside English. In its current form, the draft policy provides for all three languages used in the Western Cape, including Afrikaans, to be developed for teaching purposes.

The students denounced Afrikaans as the language of the country’s former oppressors and that it has no role to play in the creation of multilingual societies and a decolonised curriculum.

Hosted by the Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development’s Language Unit on the Bellville Campus recently, the workshop was meant for students to gain insight into the university’s language policy and deliberate on the Language Implementation Plan.

Nomxolisi Jantjies, IsiXhosa Language Specialist at the Language Unit, presented the draft CPUT Language Policy to the students.

Jantjies said that the policy has to promote previously-marginalised languages and intellectualise them.

She discussed the Unit’s initiatives such as translation services, collaborations with academic departments and faculties, research and the multilingual glossaries.

“Students on the Wellington Campus complained about the Afrikaans geographical names and signage so the Language Committee thought it wise to have the names in other languages as well,” she said.

  • Jantjies listed the following language initiatives that have been rolled out across CPUT campuses:
  • Central language labs with various language resources such as the Readers are Leaders programme and Texthelp;
  • Language labs situated at the Applied Sciences Faculty; and
  • Language indabas and faculty-based colloquia.

She added that for the creation of multilingual glossaries students select difficult terms in the course of study and the Unit will then have them translated into isiXhosa and Afrikaans.

The students were subdivided into commissions to discuss the Language Implementation Plan.