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The HIV/AIDS Unit, in collaboration with partners, KeReady, NORSA, WITS Reproductive Health Institute (RHI), and TB HIV Care, recently wrapped up the First Things First campaign, which was launched in February.

The First Things First project is a Higher Health-funded campaign that has been around for more than 15 years, and it’s one of the most successful Mobile Wellness health screening campaigns at CPUT, according to HIV/AIDS Unit Head, Melanie Swanson. This campaign goes out to mobilise the students in their numbers to put their health first and know their health status. “These services include HIV screening (getting to know their HIV status), blood pressure screening, blood glucose screening, sexually transmitted infections screening and many more,” Swanson remarked.

KeReady provided COVID-19 and Flu vaccines across campuses. The teams made their way to all CPUT campuses. They extended their reach to CPUT-owned and leased residences across these campuses, reaching students after class and in the evenings. Contraceptive and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services were included in this campaign. Over 3 500 students participated in this campaign, and “we want to thank every student who participated, in particular our student leadership who always stand behind us with their support,” she said.

During this campaign, the teams demonstrated a remarkable commitment to student health and wellness. They did more than just provide healthcare services, they also taught students about health risk reduction strategies. Other services offered through Campus Health include access to chronic medication such as antiretroviral treatment.

“Remember, when living with HIV infection, you must be on antiretroviral treatment for life. Should you experience any difficulty in this area, visit your nearest Campus Clinic regarding your treatment or Student Counselling for emotional support. Living with HIV infection is like any other chronic condition that is manageable and treatable. By combining healthcare services with education and awareness-raising initiatives, the FTF campaign aimed to address health needs and created a lasting impact on the student community's overall wellness.”

The main goal of the FTF campaign is to promote proactive healthcare behaviours and empower students to take charge of their health. By offering a wide range of health services, the campaign aimed to foster a culture of health consciousness and encourage students to prioritise their well-being. To avoid unplanned pregnancies, students are advised to visit their nearest campus clinic for free contraceptive services. These dedicated teams will make their way back to the campuses and residences during the second semester.

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The Department of Medical Imaging and Therapeutic Sciences (MITS) recently hosted two students, Julie van Herck and Sien Paelinckx from Odisee University in Brussels, Belgium on a four-month clinical internship.

The MITS Department and Odisee University have an eight-year international exchange collaboration.

Guiding the students’ clinical training journey from January to April 2024, was Dr Aladdin Speelman, the international exchange programme coordinator in the MITS Department. Prior to commencement of the exchange programme, Speelman played an integral role in ensuring the registration of students with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and orientation within the Groote Schuur Hospital, amongst others. During the 2024 exchange programme, Speelman was supported by three academics within MITS department – Valdiela Daries, Yanda Peters and Heidi Thomas.

During their time in Cape Town, Julie and Sien completed clinical training in the Radiography department at Groote Schuur Hospital. They gained experience in a wide range of procedures including imaging of trauma patients and those with uncommon and rare diseases, often not seen in developed countries such as Belgium.

The two students’ experiences extended beyond the hospital environment. They had the opportunity to interact professionally and socially with CPUT students and academics, they travelled the Garden Route and explored the picturesque Cape Winelands while enriching their understanding of diverse South African cultures.

In March this year, the exchange programme saw Peter on a staff exchange to Odisee university. Peter spent a week at Odisee University and participated in teaching Odisee students during clinical tutorials on Angiography and Interventional Procedures. “I was thrilled to discover that our programme matched the standards of Belgium, a first-world country, especially in terms of the content covered in the afore-mentioned topics. This enabled me to actively engage and contribute meaningfully during tutorials, despite encountering some language challenges”.

Looking into the future, the four-month exchange period marks the continuation of a promising collaboration between CPUT and Odisee University. Through continued partnership, the MITS Department aims to create opportunities for Radiography students to visit Belgium in the near future.

The inaugural Food Security Colloquium served as a platform for meaningful dialogue, signalling CPUT's commitment to addressing food insecurity and fostering a supportive environment for all students.

The event was hosted by the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) and the Centre for Diversity, Inclusivity and Social Change (CDISC) and the theme was: Adopting and Institutional approach to food security.

Dean of Student Affairs, Nonkosi Tyolwana, emphasised the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle the issue of hunger, adding that studies that had been conducted on the topic had few solutions in terms of mitigating the problem.

She said that according to a HEMIS study, more than 60 percent of CPUT students come from indigent families.

There were currently 976 requests from students for food.

She added that the Institutional Transformation Forum, led by Prof Paul Green, had done “pioneer work” and developed the food security concept (immediate and short-term focus).

Mancom approved the concept in 2020 and requested the DSA to lead and coordinate it in collaboration with a number of internal partners.

The Vice-Chancellor constituted the Institutional Food Security Committee, chaired by Prof Joseph Kioko, to ensure that a longer and sustainable approach to address student hunger is institutionalised.

Tyolwana outlined the purpose of the event, which included, among others, gathering information from the CPUT community on solutions to the immediate challenge of food insecurity with immediate, short and long-term solutions; to discuss interventions aimed at reducing food insecurity and to discuss holistic approaches to integrating food security across the university to enhance impact.

Keynote addresses by Green and Kioko highlighted the gravity of food insecurity, not just at CPUT but nationwide. Green highlighted commendable past initiatives such as food gardens and departmental food drives and stressed the need for a formalised approach. He proposed a few strategies for discussion including food banks, voucher programmes and nutritional workshops.

Kioko echoed the sentiment, emphasising the importance of food security in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He outlined efforts to address food insecurity, including the acquisition of land near the Wellington Campus as well as a tractor and other implements.

“The aim of buying this was to use it for training agriculture students and whatever is produced by those students can go into feeding themselves and other students.”

The event featured panel discussions on students' experiences with food insecurity and current initiatives to alleviate hunger, as well as a plenary discussion focusing on sustainable solutions.

Key takeaways included the need for project streamlining, including a database of initiatives and a need for a forum to provide structure.

Teamwork between the Division of Student Affairs and the Student Representative Council (SRC) culminated to the first ever Institutional Student Parliament (ISP) at CPUT.

The milestone launch of the CPUT Institutional Student Parliament, under the theme: Promoting Transparency and Accountability in Student Governance. was recently held at Bellville Campus. The establishment of ISP reaffirms the University's position on inculcating and institutionalising an ethos of transparency, fairness and accountability in both student governance and institutional governance.

Njabulo Maphumulo, Deputy Dean of Student Affairs, said it’s important to note that the ISP was not a body that will replace the SRC and its work, nor is it a creation of an extension of the SRC, “as it has its sole mandate that is to instil and preserve the principles of sound governance, accountability, transparency and efficient service delivery for the benefit and betterment of the greater CPUT community”.

“The objective of the ISP is to promote good governance, responsible citizenship, and ethical leadership at all levels. This milestone initiative demonstrates the University’s commitment to co-governance and interest in leadership development.” The ISP composition consists of the Central and Local Student Representative Council Members, delegates from the political, religious social and civil structures, delegates from the international student and differently abled communities and academic faculty representatives. The interim membership of the parliament amounts to 40 delegates among them, the executives such as the speaker, deputy speaker, secretary and campuses conveners.

Speaking at the launch, Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, said: “After years of hard work, grit and sheer determination, our dream came true. A dream that has been unnecessarily deferred or perhaps for far too long... We are brave, curious determined to overcome the odds… It can be done. Nhlapo added that the student parliament will hold the SRC accountable and transparent. “[It serves as an advisory body to the SRC on policy matters, propel CPUT to majestic heights of knowledge vanguard, consciousness, and brotherhood/sisterhood.

“[ISP] keeps the SRC and its substructures accountable, transparent and rooted in the principles and values enshrined in the SRC constitution.”

In his keynote Address: Promoting Transparency and Accountability in Student Governance, Chairperson, Student Services Committee of Council and Council Member, Dr William Mapena, said the aim of the university accountability process should be to guarantee universities maintain the principles and ethical practices that protect the university population. He said the University students' involvement in student governance is an essential prerequisite for constructing a contemporary higher education community and undoubtedly, students play a crucial role in governance as participants. “To maintain their reputation and trustworthiness, student leaders are expected to act responsibly, transparently, and with integrity in the eyes of their constituency. The qualities of student leadership should include vision, respect for the law, transparent management, ethical values, and a sense of social responsibility.”

SRC president, Sinelizwi Notshikila, said the ISP will provide a structured platform for student representatives from different student formations, societies, and various faculties to come together raise and address concerns, shape ways forward and advocate for students interests effectively. “It signifies commitment to democratic principles within our university. The ISP will encourage the active participation in governance, fostering a sense of responsibility and ownership among students towards their academic and social environment.”

The interim selection process consists of the election of delegates by various affiliated student societies and SRC substructures.

The swearing-in of MPs and election of the executive is scheduled for 17 May 2024, which will be followed by a series of training and capacity development sessions in partnership with the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. The interim parliament will be focusing on the foundations of student parliament establishment through the development of rules, regulations and policies governing the body. The ordinary seating will alternate between Chambers of the CPUT Council, City of Cape Town Council and Provincial Legislature.

Maphumulo said: “The launch of the ISP concept was a massive success and significant to our efforts towards ethical leadership, good governance and responsible citizenship.” The launch was attended by the previous SRC presidents with their messages of support. “The student parliament project has long been on the agenda of the University, and this was confirmed through their messages of support as they pledged their support,” said Maphumulo.

The Department of Biomedical Sciences recently collaborated with the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR) for the annual Bone Marrow Drive at the Bellville Campus.

The SABMR helps to find matching donors for patients needing a bone marrow transplant and who do not have a match within their own families.

Biomedical Sciences lecturer, Rizqa Siebritz, said the Bone Marrow Drive aims to bring awareness of the importance of being a donor in the hope of giving someone else a better tomorrow.

“My students in the Haematology II Biomedical Sciences Department volunteer to assist in spreading awareness of the bone marrow donation process and how easy it is to become a donor.”

Nadia Chalkley, head of donor recruitment for the SABMR, said drives like the one at CPUT were critical “because it helps us really focus in terms of the demographic we want to recruit to our registry”.

“The South African Bone Marrow Registry , even though we have 78 000 current donors, [they] are predominantly Caucasian, and we really need to diversify if we want to service all our patients in South Africa and in Africa. So, not only diversifying the registry in demographic terms, but giving patients a better outcome, really is what this is about. And it's obviously always wonderful working with CPUT, they're so efficient in the implementation of the service-learning agreement that it makes sense for us to partner with CPUT through events like this, through lectures and hopefully more to come this year.”

The Bone Marrow Drive was followed by a virtual online talk by Canadian partner, Sylvia Okonofua, from Black Donors Save Lives. It was titled: “A needle in a haystack: What are the odds it’s going to be you?”

The aim was to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the donor population in order to increase the chances of finding donors for patients in the same genetic pool.

Other partners in the drive included:

  • Childhood Cancer Foundation (CHOC)
  • Organ Donor Foundation (Save Seven Lives)
  • Vitanova (Tissue Bank)
  • Western Cape Blood Services.
  • CPUT Student counselling
  • CPUT HIV/Aids Unit

The Faculty of Education recently announced the commencement of a mutual reciprocity collaboration between the faculty academics, students, and Chandigarh University in India.

Clive Brown from the Intermediate Phase at Mowbray Campus said in an era marked by interconnectedness and globalisation, universities worldwide increasingly recognise the value of international collaboration in advancing academic pursuits and nurturing a diverse, inclusive learning environment.

Brown said the CPUT visit to Chandigarh University earlier this year, served as the catalyst for a burgeoning partnership aimed at bridging geographical boundaries and harnessing the collective expertise of educators and learners from diverse cultural backgrounds.”

Dean of the Faculty of Education, Prof Andile Mji, thanked the colleagues from India for being caring hosts to Dr Rolene Liebenberg, Dr Sharon McAuliffe, and Prof Hanlie Dippenaar during their international visit to India.

Brown said developing a transnational collaboration between CPUT and Chandigarh University holds immense importance in fostering global academic exchange and synergy. “Such collaboration can enrich educational experiences by offering diverse perspectives, methodologies, and cultural insights to students and faculty alike. It facilitates the sharing of resources, expertise, and research findings, enhancing the quality and depth of academic programmes and research endeavours.”

He added that transnational collaboration opens avenues for joint projects and initiatives, fostering innovation and addressing complex global challenges through collective efforts. By leveraging the strengths of both institutions, “we can embark on interdisciplinary research endeavours that transcend geographical boundaries and contribute to the advancement of knowledge on a global scale.

This collaboration cultivates a network of international scholars, graduates, and professionals, promoting cross-cultural understanding and facilitating the exchange of ideas and best practices. “Through meaningful engagement and collaboration, we can collectively work towards building a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable future for education worldwide.

“This partnership underscores the mutual reciprocity between the two countries and institutions in advancing research across transnational spaces. Together, we embark on a journey of discovery, learning, and collaboration that transcends borders and enriches the academic landscape for generations to come.”

More than 100 graduates recently celebrated their achievements during the Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences’ Higher Certificate Graduation ceremony.

The ceremony, which was held at the Education Hall on the Bellville Campus, celebrated graduates who successfully completed the Higher Certificate in Dental Assisting and the Higher Certificate in Emergency Medical Care in 2023.

Acting Assistant Dean, Dr Lloyd Christopher, welcomed the graduates and their loved ones and said the road the graduates had taken was challenging but they completed it and excelled.

“You’ve made a success of your time at CPUT and now you can inspire others to consider a university education because they have seen you succeed,” he said.

“What we would like to do is to take what you’ve learnt from us and do to good in small and big ways.”

Dental Assisting class representatives Radhiyah Fakier & Faaria Shaik acknowledged the support of their lecturers and congratulated their fellow graduates on their success.

EMS alumni Sergio Amos and Ashlee Alpes shared their experiences in the field and thanked the EMS staff members for the role they played in their lives.

“You can never go back to being the same person you were. This is a special department in that it changes you and you grow so much as a person and a practitioner. At this time, I want to commend the lecturers, the management and the staff of EMS,” said Alpes.