Wits declares solidarity for Garissa

A number of campaigns are underway at Wits in solidarity for Garissa University. Witsies will me marching and petitioning in remembrance of the lives lost on 2 April in Kenya.

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Witsies are coming together in solidarity for Garissa through a series of campaign due in the next week.

The Wits Justice Project and Journalism Department have launched a petition to be signed by Wits staff and students.

Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi of the Wits Justice Project told Wits Vuvuzela that the initiative began from a belief that Wits should express its support of the Garissa students.

“This campaign started from a conversation about how we as Witsies are making a statement or acknowledging this tragedy.”

The petition is available online for students and staff to sign on ipetitions.com

“As academics, we understand the vital need for universities and institutions of learning to provide protected space for intellectual pursuits,” Erfani-Ghadimi said.

Wits staff and students have also shown support for the victims of the Garissa attack in social media and statements.

“As a student organisation, we cannot stand by and idly watch as our peers are being murdered on the very campuses on which they are on to receive education and on which their safety should be guaranteed,” said the Wits Muslim Students Association in a statement.

“As an African organisation, we cannot let it go unnoticed that our innocent African brothers and sisters have had their lives taken from them.”

The university is planning on marching in solidarity of the Garissa students, in collaboration with the Wits SRC’s silent candle light vigil at 12:30pm on Monday.

The march will begin at the FNB building on West Campus and end at the Great Hall. Everyone is encouraged to dress in black.

Wits Plus goes digital with DigitalCampus

DigitalCampus is offering 100% online Wits accredited certificates

DigitalCampus is offering 100% online Wits accredited certificates. Photo: File

DigitalCampus , the online platform that offers courses Wits online courses, has teamed up with Wits Plus to revolutionise the learning experience using an online learning platform.

Online enrollment began in December 2014, and for now only one course (A certificate in Managing Labour Relations) is on offer. 18 students are presently enrolled in the program. Courses that will be offered are aimed at corporate individuals who are looking to develop their professional skills.

According to their website the program offers more than just online courses. DigitalCampus assures that their courses are focused on the practical skills you need, to get ahead in your career.

What do I need to do to enroll for a course?

To get started you will need a Grade 12 or matric certificate (or equivalent). In the absence of a Grade 12 certificate, recognition of prior learning will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you are over the age of 23 and have 3 years working experience you may be considered.

The courses provided by DigitalCampus are 100% online.

The course duration is 10 weeks. These are divided into 8 modules, with one module a week. The 9th week is a study break which is then followed by a final exam in week 10.

Lecture videos are provided for a more comprehensive engagement with the content. Assignments and information are distributed online and via email correspondence.

Exams take place online. You must have access to the internet, a laptop and a webcam for identity verification.

All content is provided by Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand which offers various qualifications and a wide range of high-level short courses to mature professionals.

The qualification provided is a NQF Level 5 Wits certification.

The course will cost you between R10000 and R12000 per course.

All course material is in English and all assessments are delivered in English.

Register online at www.digitalcampus.co.za

Witsies march for social workers

Students mini-march for World Social Work Day. PHOTO: Tendai Dube

Social work students participated in a mini-march through Wits for World Social Work Day.  Photo: Tendai Dube 

Witsies celebrated social workers earlier this week with a mini-march on campus and an inspirational talk from a former student.

Around 35 students and staff members joined the march on campus from the Great Hall to the Emthonjeni Auditorium for a presentation by guest speaker Shamona Kandia.

Tuesday March 17 was designated World Social Work Day to acknowledge the contribution of social workers in communities.

A die-hard social service professional, Kandia returned to her Wits roots to “inspire others and to move them towards realising their potential and achieving greatness”.

“It just takes one person to bring about change”

She took to the podium to share her experience and expertise. “It just takes one person to bring about change,” said Kandia, a senior manager handling the health portfolio at Transnet.

Kandia says, “The passion energy and drive I had, emanated from the people who taught me in university. I still keep in touch with my lecturers … I just feel there’s so much value a social worker can add to the community.”

Kandia holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and various other qualifications in community development and management. She started as social worker for an NGO and worked in government for 16 years before moving to Transnet in 2012.

She is best known for her passion for community development and has spent her career as an advocate for child justice and the transformation of the child justice system in South Africa.

“Across the globe there is no social worker as unique as the African social worker. African, South Africa, truly has a heartbeat of its own and cannot be compared the world over,” she said.

Social Work is an important profession

Social work is a field that is devoted to helping people function at their best in their environment. The field includes services such as community development, child protection and health, among others.

Social workers are at the heart of the social protection system, Kandia said. She acknowledged the challenges and highlights of the profession and made it very clear that “social workers do more than just ‘feel good work’, we do more than just promote charities —we truly are advocates for change”.

The celebration was part of professional social work month, an initiative by the International Federation of Social Workers, the International Association of Schools of Social Work and the International Council on Social Welfare.

Witsies dressed in white and blue to represent the second pillar of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development and the theme of “Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples”.

Wits will continue to process NSFAS applications despite ‘a lack of substantial funding’

Wits students who have pending status on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary are being asked to pay an upfront Wits registration fee, which they may not be able to afford.

STATEMENT FROM THE VICE-CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL, PROFESSOR ADAM HABIB, PERTAINING TO STUDENT FUNDING AND FINANCIAL AID

 

The higher education sector is at risk due to a lack of substantial funding from the state and other societal actors. The amount of funding available for students in South Africa wanting to pursue tertiary education is inadequate and well below that of international norms in similar developing countries. This is a national, systemic problem that should be addressed at the highest levels of government if we are committed to investing in the future of our country.

We recognise that the funds allocated by the state to the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has quadrupled over the last five years to R9.5 billion. Despite this, the demand for financial aid still outstrips the availability of funds dedicated to higher education study.

 

Wits, like other higher education institutions in the country, administers funds on behalf of NSFAS. The amount of money allocated to universities from NSFAS in 2015 is limited and universities have been explicitly instructed not to overspend on the amounts allocated to them.

 

For 2015, Wits has been allocated R179 million by NSFAS, of which approximately R152 million has been offered predominantly to returning students. The R152 million has been offered to approximately 2 090 returning students and 330 new, first year students. It is anticipated that by the completion of registration in mid-February that Wits will have offered NSFAS funding to about 450 additional students. In total, NSFAS packages will be allocated to about 2 870 students at Wits this year.

 

The University will continue processing NSFAS applications as registration takes place over the next few weeks.

 

Wits has consistently awarded the most number of bursaries and scholarships in the country to its students, according to data collected by the Ministerial Committee on the Funding of Universities (see enclosed table, or click here). Last year, Wits administered about R828 million in student funding which it obtained from various internal and external sources including NSFAS, bursaries, scholarships, governments and the private sector.

 

The University must also stress that it informed students several times last year that they should prepare to pay their fees should there be insufficient funding from NSFAS. Other issues which are surfacing are that many students did not apply, or did not apply on time, while others submitted incomplete information which resulted in their applications not being processed timeously.

 

There is definitely a need for more financial aid for students throughout the country and rather than directing misguided anger towards universities, we should be approaching NSFAS, government and other sectors of society to collectively invest in developing the high level skills that our country and continent desperately requires.

 

Professor Adam Habib

Vice-Chancellor and Principal