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Minister Pandor orders probe into VUT’s missing R30m

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Minister Naledi Pandor is set to go after those responsible for siphoning millions of rand through an alleged corruption and maladministration scandal which has plagued the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) for several years.

Pandor, who is the Higher Education and Training, wrote an explosive letter, which The Star has seen, to VUT council chairperson Tebogo Hlapolosa, saying she had appointed renowned Professor Barney Pityana as an independent assessor to probe, among other things, financial procurement and tender irregularities at the institution.

The Star reported in September last year that VUT management had diverted more than R30-million away from fixing a badly burnt 120-bed student residence without government-mandated approval.

This, according to senior staff, was to perform “cosmetic projects” such as painting walls at internal residences, instead of addressing “much-needed student accommodation”, in what the sources added was a deviation intended to loot VUT coffers.

On Wednesday, Higher Education spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele confirmed the authenticity of the minister’s communiqué to VUT, adding that Pityana’s role would commence once the decision was gazetted.

“In terms of (the Higher Education and Training Act) section 47(1), the report must contain findings of the investigation together with the reasons upon which the findings are based and recommendations of appropriate measures and reasons why such measures are needed,” Pandor wrote.

-SOURCE-IOL

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Wits looking to make R1bn from land sale in a bid to help ‘poor students’

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The Citizen reported that Wits University is looking to make R1 billion from selling the controversial Frankenwald Estate near the Marlboro Gautrain station. The site was given to the institution – through a deed of gift – by British mining magnate Sir Alfred Beit in 1905 to be used for “education in perpetuity”.

In a 2017 report to the university’s council, vice-chancellor Adam Habib said the institution was exploring the possibility of an outright purchase of Frankenwald Estate by the City of Joburg.

Habib said: “We have also received a request from the executive mayor to explore the possibility of an outright purchase of Frankenwald by the municipality. We have had subsequent, similar conversations with the Gauteng MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs and human settlements.

“I have made it clear in my discussions with the government that we are looking at a R1 billion purchase price to establish an endowment to enable access for poor students.”

Jim Powell, a concerned resident opposing the sale and commercial development of Frankenwald Estate, said the university was not honouring the legacy of the “Alfred Beit Deed of Gift” and instead was trying to make a quick buck.

“Professor [Guerino] Bozzoli [former Wits vice-chancellor] stated in the 1920s when Wits was pressed for cash, the council very unwisely sold off about 1 200 acres [486 hectares] to the neighbouring dynamite company,” said Powell.

“Similarly, Wits has also sold the portion to the east of the N3 to the Johannesburg Pension Fund. It is now Linbro Park Industrial.

“Both of these sales were contrary to the deed of gift conditions…” he added.

“Now the intention is to sell the land and take the money again.”

Powell said there was no dispute as to Beit’s wishes for education on Frankenwald.

“The chancellor, councilors and vice-chancellor should consider the assessment by future benefactors to Wits when the Alfred Beit gift is treated in this way.”

Powell said the nearby Alexandra township was in great need of education and skills training of all types and that the development of education on the Frankenwald Estate would go a long way in meeting that need.

Speaking to The Citizen, Wits University’s head of communications, Shirona Patel, said the institution had engaged extensively with Powell on this matter.

“The university will engage with Mr. Powell through the appropriate forum and not through the media.”

SOURCE– CITIZEN.co.za

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Fulbright Specialist tours South Africa to recruit aspiring journalists

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United States Embassy Fulbright Specialist Prof Peter Glendinning is touring South Africa to recruit aspiring journalists into capturing the country’s important moments and history 

Glendinning, also a professor of Arts, Arts History and Design at Michigan State University in the USA, offered Media Studies students at the University of Limpopo (UL) an opportunity to collaborate with him on a project titled “Attached to the soil”. The project seeks to capture special portraits and record of oral history related to the 25th anniversary of democracy based on Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech. He says UL is one of the South African universities that are highly recognised for excellence in education and broader successful alumni. 

Presenting a lecture on ‘Better Photograph by Design’, Glendinning told the students that he intends to create awareness on the truth, meanings, expectations, baggage, rules and design in photography.

While presenting on ‘Better Photography’, he addressed foundational principles of image organisation through concepts of design. He also highlighted principles of understanding photography as a creative medium of communication “in an age where everyone with a cellphone is a photographer.”

Head of Department of Media, Communications and Information Studies at UL, Dr. Solomon Bopape says Glendinning has played a significant role in the planning of an envisioned photography module in the university’s media studies programme.  “Photos are an essential part of communication and work more perfectly in media studies. In the future, we will send our students to benchmark on good photography and its concepts at Michigan State University. We will also have a look at their course outline to further develop our programme,” Bopape informs. 

-Source- University of Limpopo News

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Fostering multilingualism on campus

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isiXhosa and Afrikaans short course graduates received their certificates at a special ceremony this week organised by UCT’S Multilingualism Education Project (MEP). Image:BRENTON GEACH

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela.

That was the message Professor Mbulungeni Madiba, coordinator of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Multilingualism Education Project (MEP), shared with recipients of isiXhosa and Afrikaans short-course certificates on 14 May.

The isiXhosa course was launched in 2006 and forms part of UCT’s New Language Policy, introduced after the government identified the need to promote different languages at South Africa’s institutions of higher learning.

Madiba said UCT selected isiXhosa as its language of choice and committed to providing students and staff with additional learning opportunities in the language. An Afrikaans short course was introduced to the campus community for the first time this year.

The graduation, following the two-month short courses, comes at an opportune time, he said – as the world observes the International Year of Indigenous Languages, as declared by the United Nations, as well as Africa Month this May, a celebration of the continent’s independence.

Multilingualism is the norm

“We cannot celebrate things that are African without celebrating the languages.

“Our continent is the richest in terms of language. In the world right now, there are over 6 000 languages spoken, and a third of those languages are spoken on this continent.”

“Our continent is the richest in terms of language. In the world right now, there are over 6 000 languages spoken, and a third of those languages are spoken on this continent.”

In an evolving world, the ability to speak more than one language has become second nature, Madiba said, adding that very few people around the world today speak only one language.

“The world has changed a lot. There is no way you will find a [place] where they speak only one language. Go to Europe today and you will find that people speak many languages.”

He described monolingualism – the ability to speak only one language – as an “exception”, and jokingly referred to it as a disease “that needs to be cured” – and with a short course no less.

Madiba congratulated the group of students, saying they are now part of the multilingualism norm. And those who completed the isiXhosa short course are now equipped with basic isiXhosa communication skills, even though “you may not be able to click all the way just yet”.

“I am so happy that you have made the decision to take part in this course. Our language policy at UCT is clear, we want students to be well-rounded in order to fit into the societies they will be part of after university.”

Preserving languages

According to Madiba, research indicates that many of the world’s languages are in danger of extinction. At least one language dies every week, he said.

And when a language dies, cultures, traditions and philosophies go with it. It’s for this reason that the need to preserve all languages has increased dramatically.

“Many things go with a dying language, including morals. But language is a resource, not a problem.”

“Many things go with a dying language, including morals. But language is a resource, not a problem,” he said.

He told students that the short courses provide them with a stepping stone to further explore and learn both languages in greater detail, and encouraged them to use every day to practise and learn a new word or phrase.

“This is a start, continue as you go along. When you meet people, practice with them, talk to them. Remember, multilingualism is a resource for development, it’s a form of empowerment,” Madiba said.

Source-UCT News

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