Page 1


Volume 3 | Issue 2 November 2019

Issue 1 | May 2017

A communication from UP’s Office of Government Relations and Special Projects

Future Africa for the future of Africa The

Future Africa Campus of the University of Pretoria (UP) is a purpose-built institute focused on promoting transdisciplinary research excellence and fostering the development of research networks, partnerships and training opportunities. It aims to transform the world through African research excellence. Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP, explains that, in order to address complex societal challenges and to contribute to the achievement of Africa’s sustainable, inclusive and equitable development, research must adopt a transdisciplinary approach. Knowledge created through transdisciplinary, teambased research informs evidence-based policy making, monitoring and evaluation. He believes that Future Africa will become an agent of change that will revolutionise knowledge creation in Africa, and by Africans and their global collaborators, to transform lives, sectors, industries, societies and nations. Future Africa is located in the capital city’s scientific hub; near the Innovation Hub, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), and other research, development and innovation bodies and agencies. This locates Future Africa and UP in the fast-emerging most innovative square mile in Africa – a phenomenon comparable to other innovative spaces worldwide.

The collaborative ethos is intended to promote holistic solutions to problems that span numerous themes and industries. The research programmes hosted at Future Africa specifically consider issues of sustainability and equity. These themes are central to the National Development Plan 2030, the African Union 2063 Strategy, and the Interim Post-2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They have the ability to strengthen skills and knowledge in the areas of systems thinking, responsible leadership (including science leadership), effective governance and institutions, and sustainable development.

“The launch of Future Africa is a timely response to placing science, technology and innovation at the centre of Africa’s development.”

Future Africa also focuses on promoting academic leadership by developing local and African science leaders, and boosting the number of researchers on the continent. This will be done through leadership development programmes, as well as postgraduate, postdoctoral and research fellowships, and by hosting visiting scholars. Many industrialised countries invest significant resources in research and development; and many of the researchers and specialists who work in these countries are African scholars who

In future, the University will host an annual Future Africa Transdisciplinary Research Summit and a team-based competition involving established and emerging researchers to encourage efforts to solve complex problems. At the launch of the campus, the then Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said that Future Africa can stand as a shining example of how Africa can work to find solutions to Africa’s challenges by working together as Africans, rather than as citizens of individual nation states.

On-site features of the campus include, among other things, modern living quarters for postgraduate students, accommodation for visitors, an open research commons designed for interactive work, and a stateof-the-art conference centre. This translates into a space to create new knowledge in new ways to address complex current and emerging challenges facing both the continent and the rest of the world.

UP research for African sustainability edition

– Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Former Minister of Science and Technology

do not find the opportunities they need in Africa. Future Africa makes it possible to keep Africa’s intellectual capital in Africa. The purpose of its programmes is to empower Africa’s youth to make a meaningful difference to the future of the continent.

University of Pretoria Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tawana Kupe, during the launch of the campus.


GRASP University of Pretoria


From the

Manager’s desk:

from the Vice-Chancellor and Principal

The Office of Government Relations and Special Projects at the University of Pretoria


last edition of GRASP for 2019 touches on a broad range of collaborative initiatives between UP and government in all three spheres, and with foreign missions and universities abroad. The following three themes predominate: •

The importance of collaboration between higher education institutions, government and industry in ensuring development in our society, particularly in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on sustainability, job security, and keeping pace with the rest of the world. • Collaboration between the University and government in the cultural domain. • Expanding collaboration between the University and foreign missions in South Africa and the contribution that makes to development in South Africa. The message from the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tawana Kupe, sets the scene on the importance of collaboration and, indeed, “partnerships for impact”, especially in Africa. He also emphasised this theme in his address at the opening of the Future Africa Institute and Campus, which is featured in the lead article. The theme is also carried through in the need for collaboration between the sectors in promoting entrepreneurship to assist in addressing unemployment in South Africa, especially for graduates whose orientation, it is argued, should be transformed from being job seekers to job creators. In the focus on culture, we report on the initiative of Enterprises University of Pretoria to develop the creative sector, and our collaboration with South African National Parks and the South African Heritage Resource Agency in safeguarding world heritage artefacts in UP’s Mapungubwe Collection. We also report on the meeting of scholars of art, culture and heritage, who reflected on the role of culture in national, regional and worldwide development. Several articles focus on the growing collaboration between UP and foreign missions in South Africa, as well as with universities abroad. These include UP’s collaboration with our northwestern neighbour, Namibia, in securing animal feed during periods of drought, with the University of Porto in Portugal on auditing, with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Unimore) in Italy on motor manufacturing, as well as with the Japanese Embassy in hosting the fourth South Africa-Japanese Forum in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation, the National Research Foundation and Toshiba. The Vice-Chancellor and Principal has been at the forefront of driving the University’s profile in countries abroad and with universities overseas, and those efforts are starting to pay dividends. We hope that you will find the articles in this edition of GRASP interesting and informative, and that it will inspire you and your institution to pursue closer links with the University of Pretoria in support of the national development agenda. We look forward to working with you. Prof Denver Hendricks Manager: Government Relations and Special Projects (GRaSP)


Prof Tawana Kupe

Towards a prosperous Africa:

Partnerships for impact Africa

is a continent on the rise; a place where economic performance has proved resilient despite turbulent international events. But Africa is also a continent of contradictions and complexity – for example, although the percentage of persons living in poverty has declined, the absolute number of poor has increased, and striking levels of inequality persist. Eliminating poverty and inequality is a developmental priority that we cannot ignore. It is a challenge that is addressed by both the African Union (AU) in its Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. However, reaching these ambitious targets will require substantial investment – the likes of which development aid or public spending alone will not be able to provide. A strong call for cooperative action among all sectors – including the private and educational sectors – has therefore been made. Several mega-trends related to youth, education and employment are set to impact on the development agenda in Africa in the future. The continent is home to the largest concentration of young people in the world. Approximately 65% of African citizens are below the age of 35 and, although the continent can benefit from young people’s energy and ability to work, changing economies need skilled and educated workers. Failure to provide viable opportunities for economic participation for this “youth bulge” can lead to conflict and political instability. From this perspective, access to quality, relevant higher education is a fundamental building block, not only for economic growth, but also in working towards a just and peaceful continent. In this way, achieving targeted levels of economic growth will depend greatly on innovation and technology, which are driven directly and indirectly by science and tertiary education. In Africa, investments in higher education yield the highest returns in the world. Data shows that a one-year increase in average tertiary education levels would eventually yield up to a 12% increase in gross domestic product. To realise this potential, profound and transformative changes in the higher education sector are imperative. Africa needs to enrol more students. Fewer than 10% of young people in Africa are enrolled in higher education, compared to the global average of 26%. Africa also needs to produce more researchers who can contribute to the science and innovation agendas needed to promote development.

GRASP University of Pretoria

Unfortunately, only 9.3% of students are enrolled for postgraduate programmes. Under current conditions, universities across the continent do not have the human, financial or physical resources to expand the provision of higher education at the required scale. There is also an urgent need to combat increasing graduate unemployment. African universities have traditionally prepared students for public sector jobs, neglecting the needs of the private sector. Given that the private sector is expected to absorb most university graduates in the future, this is an important hurdle to overcome. Addressing this situation is a collective responsibility that will require improved and expanded collaboration between higher education and governments, in partnership with the private sector. Of the 10 to 12 million young newcomers to the labour market each year, only three million find decent, sustainable work. In this regard, a significant mind shift is needed, where African youth need to identify their potential to be job creators, rather than job-seekers. Africa needs to stimulate transformational entrepreneurship. African businesses have some of the highest rates of discontinuance in the world, and many countries still lack the regulatory good practices needed to stimulate business. Much more must be done to support entrepreneurship in Africa if development ideals are to be realised. High-level political support for higher education is currently at an apex. The first African Higher Education Summit, held in Senegal in March 2015, drew leaders from government, academia, multilateral organisations and the private sector across the continent, who worked together to devise a unified plan for strengthening the higher education system on the continent towards meeting its mandate. The result of the gathering was a declaration outlining steps to improve the higher education system on the continent. This includes the establishment of both the committee of 10 African heads of state and government, currently chaired by President Macky Sall of Senegal, and the African economic platform, which institutionalised a new annual platform for African leaders and created an avenue for dialogue among a range of sectors. Increased partnerships between governments, the private sector and higher education can deliver research for societal change. However, research with the scope and scale to address grand challenges requires long-term commitments to significant amounts of financing. Governments are increasingly accepting the important role that science, technology and innovation can play in national development. As governments increase their funding for research of national relevance, industries are also being called on to take up the charge and work with higher education to fund and test innovative solutions. Partnerships can also encourage curriculum transformation – both in terms of content and mode of delivery. This will enable higher education to train workplace-ready graduates. Private sector partnerships can serve as a catalyst for teaching and learning reform through internships, work placements and experiential learning to empower young people to acquire real-world experience and develop skills. Preparing the youth for careers in entrepreneurship has not historically been the focus of higher education, and if these institutions hope to empower graduates with the necessary skills, partnerships with government and the private sector will be required. Examples of support initiatives include mentorship programmes, investment capital, seed funding and low-interest loans.

To leverage the multiplier effects of development partnerships, each of the three parties have discernible, but interrelated roles to play. Governments and policy-makers need to ensure predictable, stable funding in line with commitments, and foster enabling policy and regulatory environments for the business sector to support responsible, inclusive and sustainable income-generating engagements between higher education and the private sector. This can include leveraging tax revenues and incentives to stimulate partnerships, granting universities the autonomy to operate and form partnerships within appropriate accountability structures, and facilitate mobility on the continent between businesspeople and academics by simplifying visa requirements and processes. Higher education is looking to the private sector to invest financially in high-potential research and infrastructure projects, as well as student loan and bursary schemes. In addition, the private sector can explore the potential benefits of collaboration, and invest time and expertise by serving on advisory boards and councils. Collaboration with academic institutions has the potential to create opportunities for internships, placements and a wide range of creative activities that can lead to curriculum reform, and promote real-world engagement and 21stcentury skills attainment. The higher education sector needs to rethink and redefine the role of the research university as a critical pillar of the development agenda, and acknowledge the potential of government support and private sector partnerships in realising this vision. This can be done through the establishment of advisory boards or science-business innovation councils that include executives from relevant industries, engagement in innovative models for multidisciplinary partnership, and the development of cutting-edge curricula. Higher education institutions also need to focus on strong leadership, employ staff who understand business, and incentivise academics to bridge the gap between the private sector and higher education. The University of Pretoria is committed to establishing strong partnerships for impact with government and the private sector through four specific strategies: to align international partnerships with institutional research themes and areas of research strength; to strategically and synergistically increase the number of active international research partnerships; to increase the number of international students at postgraduate level; and to engage in the active recruitment of postdoctoral fellows. The primary mechanism for enabling this partnership strategy is the purpose-built Future Africa Campus, where we promote transdisciplinary research excellence and foster the development of research networks, partnerships and training at an advanced level.

Future Africa’s research programmes focus on sustainability and equity through its visible presence and its collaborative approach to unlocking the potential of Africa.

UP Vision: To be a leading research-intensive university in Africa, recognised internationally for its quality, relevance and impact, and also for developing people, creating knowledge and making a difference locally and globally. 3

GRASP University of Pretoria


to the findings of the Report on the Evaluation of the 2017 Universities’ Research Outputs (published by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in March 2019), UP produced the most weighted research outputs per capita for 2017, as well as the highest number of published research outputs in South Africa. The report reveals that 10.93% of published research papers produced by South African public higher education institutions in 2017 originated from UP. Excellence in research is a key element for realising the University’s vision to be a leading research-intensive university

in Africa, recognised internationally for its quality, relevance and impact, and also for developing people, creating knowledge and making a difference locally and globally. This achievement would, however, not be possible without research funding and support from government, industry and other partners. The subsidisation of quality research outputs produced by universities forms the basis for sustaining research, and for promoting increased research productivity and the other forms of knowledge generation required to meet national development needs. In this regard, research publication is essential, and global exposure for knowledge

production by South African researchers enhances the quality of the higher education system. During the reporting period, UP made a significant contribution to publications in a wide range of sectors. It also saw an increase in the number of enrolled master’s and doctoral students. According to the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tawana Kupe, the development of young talent, and the mentorship of the researchers and academics of the future is a priority at UP. This is because research, science and technology are needed to address socio-economic challenges and to transform the lives of people in South Africa and across the continent.



University of Pretoria (UP), in partnership with Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and other stakeholders, hosted a Student Entrepreneurship Week (SEW) at UP’s Hatfield Campus this year. The initiative provided a platform to advise students how to juggle their start-up businesses and their studies.

Student Entrepreneurship Week 2019 participants.

In the current economic environment, it is essential for students to understand the benefits of entrepreneurship as a career. Events like SEW serve to cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurship among students to promote innovation and problem-solving skills. During a panel discussion facilitated by the DHET and Universities South Africa, second-year industrial engineering student, Juliana Scheepers, won R10 000 to expand her business, Goobies – a babysitting company. She expressed her gratitude to the SEW team for bringing innovative students together to inspire and learn from each other.

Supporting female leaders in The Presidency


24 years of celebrating National Women’s Day, it is disheartening to see that women are still largely underrepresented in the upper echelons of leadership. With gender inequality still prevalent in the workplace, the need has never been greater to create, develop and foster a culture of potent and influential female leaders. In this regard, Enterprises University of Pretoria has developed the Women in Leadership Programme to give female leaders the tools they need to stand out as worthy contenders for management roles within their organisations.


The programme’s latest intake included a delegation of diverse female leaders from The Presidency. This highly interactive programme is only presented by female lecturers, and is led by Dr Melodi Botha, who won the Best Paper Award at the International Entrepreneurship Conference in 2006. Her profound understanding of the struggles facing women in the business world led Dr Botha to creating and championing this programme. She holds an NRF C-rating and has a sterling record in the research and practice of business management.

Dr Melodi Botha (centre back), coordinator of the Women in Leadership Programme, with a group of dynamic women leaders from The Presidency.

GRASP University of Pretoria

Developing the creative sector


South African Creative Industries Incubator (SACII), in collaboration with Enterprises University of Pretoria and the Department of Small Business Development, recently presented the Entrepreneurship for the Creative Industries short course at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg. The course aims to equip individuals working in the creative sector with the necessary entrepreneurship skills and knowledge to develop their entrepreneurial ventures. It also focuses on enhancing the delegates’ personal development through confidence building, persistent problem solving, leadership and professionalism. These ‘artrepreneurs’ represent ventures in various creative industries from areas such as Devon, Soweto, Krugersdorp and Braamfontein.

Empowering emerging managers


University of Pretoria, together with the National School of Government and South African National Parks (SANParks), collaborated to empower a SANParks delegation of junior management staff who participated in the Emerging Management Development Programme. The programme exposes junior managers from various sections of an organisation to the requirements of corporate management. The delegation was congratulated by Dr Milly Palle, Chief Director: Leadership Training at the National School of Government, who encouraged them to share what they had learned with the next generation of managers. Mr Fundisile Mketeni, Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, expressed his pride at the delegates’ achievement and encouraged them to continue studying.

Addressing issues of poverty and inequality


Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), in conjunction with the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria (UP), launched a flagship publication entitled Poverty and inequality: Diagnosis, prognosis and responses. The publication asks key questions, such as whether there is a South African explanation for poverty and inequality, how this compares to other contexts and countries, how the discussion on poverty and inequality can be taken forward, and whether wealth taxation is a viable instrument to reduce wealth inequality in the country. According to Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of UP’s Faculty of Humanities, the title surfaces critical concerns that enable further engagement with poverty and inequalities as complex and multidimensional issues. He is the editor of the publication, along with Prof Crain Soudien, Chief Executive Officer of the HSRC, and Prof Ingrid Woolard of Stellenbosch University. Poverty and inequality are centrally social science issues that are often products of wider scientific and technological developments or processes. According to Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General of the DSI, an important focus for the social sciences must be to continue to innovate in ways that will enable research findings to successfully inform policy and practice. This authoritative publication carries contemporary data about South Africa’s socio-economic issues, including the persistence of poverty and the growth of inequality. It was described by former Minister of Public Enterprises, Alec Erwin, as “a rich and timely contribution to a national reflection on the establishment and quality of our democratic nation state”.

COLLABORATION WITH PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT Provincial government partnerships for positive change in Gauteng cities


year, the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Campus played host to the annual round-table discussions between the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and higher education institutions in the Gauteng City Region. In the last few years, the Department has begun a journey of transforming itself into a world-class public infrastructure solutions provider for the Gauteng City Region. This transformative journey requires it to collaborate and partner with key stakeholders within the academic, industry, public sector and civil society structures. The key purpose of the round-table discussions is to identify areas of potential collaboration and partnership opportunities that contribute to the achievement of these goals. The University of Pretoria considers collaboration with government entities a top priority in its efforts to contribute to societal transformation. Partnerships on provincial government level can enable the University to effectively fulfill its role as an anchor institution in its surrounding area.

Disaster management


University of Pretoria’s African School for Humanitarian Forensic Action, in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health’s Forensic Pathology Service and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, organised a simulated aircraft accident at Wonderboom National Airport in an effort to prepare forensic units and law enforcement agencies for large-scale emergencies like natural disasters. The simulation showed more than 60 emergency professionals how various units can work together without interfering with each other’s responsibilities.


GRASP University of Pretoria

COLLABORATION WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT Music therapy congress could become a collaboration catalyst


University of Pretoria (UP) has been selected to host the 2020 World Congress of Music Therapy (WCMT). This will be the first time that the congress takes place on African soil. According to City of Tshwane representative, Thabo Mokebe, the City is pleased to partner with UP to host this prestigious event, which aligns with the City’s vision to ensure that its potential is achieved.

Music therapy is a method of using the healing power of music to address the cognitive, emotional and physical needs of patients. The WCMT is held every three years in partnership with the World Federation of Music Therapy. The organisation’s president, Melissa MercadalBrotons, said it is historically significant to bring the congress to Africa, and that it aims to leave a legacy fund to provide access to music therapy training for previously disadvantaged students.

PARTNERSHIPS WITH NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS Safeguarding world-heritage artefacts in UP’s Mapungubwe Collection


official agreement for the safeguarding of the worldrenowned Mapungubwe Collection has been reached. In this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the University of Pretoria (UP), South African National Parks (SANParks) and the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA). The agreement covers all the archaeological excavations undertaken by UP on the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site on a regular basis. It outlines each party’s responsibilities to safeguard the Mapungubwe Collection. The collection includes artefacts that have been excavated from Mapungubwe Hill and the surrounding area, and that date back to the Iron Age. Among other things, the collection is home to the 800-year-old golden rhino statue that was excavated in 1934, as well as ancient jewelery, beads and woodwork. The MoU was signed by Prof Tawana Kupe, ViceChancellor and Principal of UP, Fundisile Mketeni, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SANParks, and Lungi Malgas, Acting CEO of SAHRA.

Prof Kupe believes that the Mapungubwe Collection is a tangible example of Africa’s rich heritage, culture and economic ability, and that its treasures are of international importance. This agreement ensures that this valuable collection remains under the curatorship of UP, and entrusts the University to make it accessible to the public. The responsibility to promote the Mapungubwe Collection to a wide national and international audience has also been entrusted to UP. According to Mr Mketeni, findings from the era of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe, as captured in the Mapungubwe Collection, represent some of the most important pieces of information in the history of southern Africa. It represents historical achievements that all Africans can be proud of. In light of the newly signed agreement, Mr Malgas said that the Mapungubwe Collection forms part of the national heritage of the country, since it provides insights into the lifestyles and trading practices of people between 1000 and 1300 AD.

“The Mapungubwe Collection is a tangible example of Africa’s rich heritage, culture and economic ability.” – Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UP


GRASP University of Pretoria


Considering the role of culture in national, regional and worldwide development


of art, culture and heritage met at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Campus to discuss the role and relevance of culture to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union’s 2063 Agenda and the South African National Development Plan (NDP). Participants also considered how this relationship should practically inform development strategies and cultural policy. From the discussions, which were chaired by Prof Bernard Slippers, Acting Director of Future Africa, it emerged that the SDGs and South Africa’s NDP contain little reference to the issue of culture, while the Africa Union’s long-term development plan, Agenda 2063, affirms the importance of culture as one of its seven aspirations. Aspiration 5 sees an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics. By 2063, it is envisaged that Pan Africanism will be fully entrenched, the African Renaissance would have reached its peak and Africa’s diversity in culture, heritage, languages and religion, including the tangible and intangible heritage of Africa’s island, would be a cause of strength. Annabell Lebethe, Chief Executive Officer of Ditsong Museums of South Africa, noted that development in South Africa has excluded culture from development conversations, even though culture allows communities to have mutual respect for others – it allows for a sense of purpose and

contributes to social cohesion. She said that all communities should have multifunctional arts and culture centres, particularly in less-resourced areas. Presenter of the discussion paper and artist-in-residence at the University of Pretoria, playwright and president of the African Cultural Policy Network, Mike van Graan, said that structural inequalities in economic, political and military power persist at global, regional and national levels. These instruments of “hard power” are employed to pursue and secure national or group interests through means such as development aid, military intervention and political sanctions. Culture is the domain of “soft power”, but is no less important in perusing and securing interests; for it is through culture that citizens internalise values, ideas and perspectives that support or perpetuate particular interests. He expressed the view that it is through culture that individuals and communities become meaningful and establish their identities. In this regard, Van Graan said that decision makers are typically reluctant to embrace culture in decision making and strategies for a number of reasons. These could include the notion that culture is a nebulous, contested and vague concept for many, and that culture is often used to defend or justify what progressives would consider to be backward or reactionary practices. Nevertheless, development may only be sustainable if it respects and takes cognisance of the values, world views, traditions and belief systems of the intended beneficiaries.

“Development may only be sustainable if it respects and takes cognisance of the culture of the intended deneficiaries.” – Mike van Graan

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION Academic projects set to strengthen international bonds


year, the University of Pretoria (UP) hosted the Strategic Committee meeting between South African and the French Embassy. Delegates from the French Embassy in South Africa, including the ambassador of France to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud, gathered at the University’s Faculty of Humanities to discuss cooperation in the field of science, education and culture. According to Mr Farnaud, UP has been one of the key partners of the French Embassy for many years, and meetings such as this have the ability to push the cooperation between the two institutions even further.

UP also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the College de France to establish collaboration opportunities between its Department of Ancient and Modern Languages and Cultures and the Faculty of Theology and Religion at UP. UP has excellent links with CIRAD, the French Research Centre focused on agricultural and development issues. In this regard, UP students have studied at Sciences Po, the Paris Institute of Political Studies. Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of UP’s Faculty of Humanities, said that the Faculty is interested in formalising links with

Campus France, a national agency for the promotion of French higher education in South Africa. Campus France will assist with postgraduate support to students, as well as sourcing material in French. He believes that forging strategic opportunities in academic projects between France and UP in the advancement of science and culture presents innumerable opportunities beyond the French language. There are also huge prospects for connections with Francophone African countries for collaborations in teaching, learning, culture and science.


GRASP University of Pretoria

International partners intensify malaria research in Limpopo


90% of malaria cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and around 78% of these deaths occur among children under the age of five. With these numbers in mind, the University of Pretoria’s Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC) is contributing towards malaria elimination on the continent through research and awareness projects. In this regard, a group of researchers from the UP ISMC and the Aix-Marseille University in France visited two villages in the Vhembe District of the Limpopo River Valley to research the contribution of human behaviour to the high incidence of malaria in the region. About 1 000 community members will benefit from this cutting-edge research, which aims to ultimately solve the problem of malaria in the area. This project is one of several in the Remote Sensing for Malaria Control in Africa (ReSMaCA) programme in which researchers from the UP ISMC and the Aix-Marseille University are involved. The programme is dedicated to researching sustainable, safer and innovative ways to help combat the disease. Prof Riana Bornman, one of the lead researchers in this project, explains that a knowledge, attitude and practice survey is being conducted in these two villages, which appear to have the highest number of malaria cases in the area. In order to ensure accurate and useful results, the researchers use the services of local, mostly female, VhaVenda community members who have been trained to collect quality data through the use of

A VhaVenda field assistant conducting an interview for the survey with a participant from one of the villages that formed part of the study.

questionnaires. This overcomes language barrier issues and makes locals more comfortable with the research process. An important tool in the ReSMaCA programme is the use of satellite technology, facilitated by the French National Space Agency, to examine factors

The art of communication is the language of caring

Prof Juan Bornman, Director of the CAAC at the University of Pretoria (centre) presents a hard copy of the emergency communication board to representatives of the Embassy of Mozambique.



such as climate change, the habitats and habits of the mosquito vector, the parasite, human movement across borders, as well as land usage and vegetation. The researchers hope to be able to identify malaria hotspots, develop early warning systems and design effective control strategies in the area.

2019, the people of Mozambique suffered indescribable tragedy in the wake of both cyclones Idai and Kenneth. Following these natural disasters, the country was left in need of humanitarian aid. In this regard, Prof Juan Bornman from the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC), together with Enterprises University of Pretoria, reached out to lend a hand by presenting the emergency communication board to the Embassy of Mozambique. The emergency communication board was developed by the CAAC in collaboration with the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Assistive Technology (DART) in the UK. The purpose of the emergency communication board is to create a communication channel between English and Portuguese-speaking health care staff and patients. It consists of essential health and medical information, and is supported by pictures in both Portuguese and English to ensure effective communication. The health care staff make use of the pictures when communicating with a patient, and the patient will respond by pointing to a picture. The pictures on the emergency board are designed in such a way that they are gender, age and culturally appropriate. The use of pictures to support the interaction assists in eliminating possible communication challenges and misunderstandings.

GRASP University of Pretoria

Innovative animal feed saves livestock in Namibia


has been plagued by drought for the past three years. This has left the country with virtually no grazing reserves. In the current economic climate, the majority of Namibian farmers cannot afford to buy feed for their animals. As a result, farmers have succeeded in using encroaching bushes to manufacture game feed known as “boskos”, a substance comprised of about 80% bush material. To make boskos, the leaves, branches and seed of encroaching bushes such as blackthorn (Acacia mellifera) are harvested and shredded into a fine fibre. Woody parts are not used because of their high lignin content, which makes the substance less digestible. The fibres are then mixed with molasses, salt or maize meal, for example, to add energy and protein. The development of the labour-intensive boskos manufacturing industry has also added to the Namibian economy through the creation of job opportunities. However, since the industry is still in its infancy, there are many more questions than answers about the effectiveness of the feed at this stage. In this regard, the Namibian Agricultural Union has embarked on a boskos research programme in cooperation with the University of Pretoria.

Namibian farmers have succeeded in using encroaching bushes to manufacture game feed known as “boskos”. UP is collaborating with the Namibian Agricultural Union on a boskos research programme.

Portugal: Partnership in internal auditing

Italy: Collaboration in car manufacturing and transport industries



Unit for Internal Auditing at the University of Pretoria (UP) and the University of Porto in Portugal recently strengthened their relations on cooperation, as well as student and staff exchange programmes. During her visit, Maria Coimbra, Head of Audit and Internal Control at the University of Porto, observed the methodologies used by UP, as well as the University’s approaches to risk management, business continuity plans and internal audit policies. The visit was spurred by the excellent quality of the UP Unit’s academic articles, among other things. Ms Coimbra is also involved with both the Erasmus Plus Programme and the Mobility Unlimited Partnership for International Learning Experiences, which is supported financially by the European Commission. These initiatives encourage student, academic and administrative staff mobility, and the transfer of know-how and best practices. Olga Granova-Mooi, Head of UP’s Unit for Internal Auditing, explained that Ms Coimbra’s visit brought an international perspective to UP’s audit and investigative processes, and opened new possibilities for continued knowledge-sharing between UP and the University of Porto.

University of Pretoria signed a collaboration agreement with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Unimore) in Italy to promote learning and research in the car manufacturing and transport industries in South Africa. Other Gauteng-based partner universities include the University of the Witwatersrand and the Tshwane University of Technology. The agreement will ensure that the institutions work together by developing programmes designed to promote and facilitate the international exchange of ideas and research. It addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9 (to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation), SDG 11 (to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and SDG 17 (to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development). Programmes of particular interest are the Erasmus Plus Programme for student and staff exchanges and the Horizon 2020 Programme for collaborative research. Horizon 2020 is the biggest European Union (EU) research and innovation programme that takes innovative ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace and stimulates economic growth and job creation. Unimore has taken advantage of its position in the heart of the “Motor Valley” in northern Italy to build excellent collaboration with global leaders in supercar and related automotive engineering and manufacturing, such as Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. It also has a proven record of success in obtaining EU funding for student and staff exchanges and for collaborative research with universities in other countries and with industry. The automotive manufacturing industry is important because it is the largest sector of the manufacturing industry in South Africa. Mobility engineering is growing massively in importance as pressures on society increase due to rapid urbanisation and due to the environmental impact of mobility.


GRASP University of Pretoria

International scientific cooperation efforts receive tremendous support


fourth South African-Japanese Universities (SAJU) Forum was held at the Future Africa Campus of the University of Pretoria (UP) in May 2019. The conference aims to explore new collaborations in research, strengthen existing relationships and discuss opportunities for student and staff mobility. It is a critical catalyst for cultivating and nurturing the next generation of globally minded and technically skilled scholars for both countries. This year’s conference was organised by Universities South Africa, in close collaboration with the Centre for Japanese Studies, and supported by Japan’s Embassy in South Africa, the Department of Science and Innovation, the National Research Foundation, Toshiba and the University of Pretoria (UP).

Prof Jun Matsukuma.

Over 200 delegates attended this prestigious event in an effort to promote the notion of collaboration between academics, institutions and nations in efforts to tackle the world’s problems, and to realise the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations across the globe. Support for collaborative scholarly enquiry reverberated in keynote addresses from senior government officials representing both South Africa and Japan throughout the conference. The conference was hosted by Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP, and his counterpart, Prof Jun Matsukuma, Vice-President of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

he visited, and emphasised that the academic exchange with South African universities will be very significant. He noted that, with relationships between South African and Japanese scholars over the past decade now solidified, it is time to explore transdisciplinary collaborations. He also encouraged scholars to work with practitioners, including policy makers, governmental agencies, and business communities, and to embrace the responsibility to explain research to the broader public. By engaging communities, scholars can identify opportunities for new research.

According to Prof Kupe, it is fitting that a conference seeking to deepen research collaboration between South African and Japanese universities took place at the Future Africa Campus. This is where UP hopes that Africa’s leading scientists, and those from across the globe, will assemble to seek evidence-based solutions to the challenges confronting the continent, its people and the world. He believes that, in a world in constant search of new ideas, new knowledge, new methodologies and new paradigms to solve pressing issues, internationalisation and international collaboration should be a deliberate strategy to achieve tangible outcomes. The SAJU Forum provides a collaborative space that allows for transdisciplinary research that crosses national borders and disciplines, and offers an opportunity for clearer, strategic, efficient and productive networking.

International cooperation has been most beneficial for the development of scientific capacity in developing countries, and South Africa is no exception. This is according to Dr Daniel Adams, Acting Deputy Director-General for Research Development and Support in South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation, during his address at the SAJU Forum. Since the country’s research system is still relatively small and in the process of becoming demographically transformed, such cooperation has the potential to contribute to addressing pressing problems in Africa and the world.

Prof Matsukuma expressed the fact that he was impressed by the excellent academic environment of the South African universities

Prof Tawana Kupe.

The second day of the Forum comprised a round-table discussion between academics and industry practitioners. It was chaired by the Dean of UP’s Gordon Institute of Business Science, Prof Nicola Kleyn. The conference yielded concrete outcomes that will mutually enable Japan and South Africa to advance the academic project management and knowledge domain, and to further strengthen the relations between the two participating countries.

“None of the issues discussed at the SAJU Forum can be researched or addressed in silos. The grand societal challenges facing our contemporary world have to be tackled by working together.” – Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UP

From left: Prof Ahmed Bawa, Chief Executive Officer of Universities South Africa, Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, and Minister-Counsellor Shuichiro Kawaguchi from Japan’s Embassy in South Africa.


GRASP University of Pretoria


International Students’ Day at UP

Our alumni are our most enduring asset



University of Pretoria (UP) has more than 130 international academic staff members and more than 4 000 international students. To celebrate this diversity, the University hosts International Students’ Day each year. The event aims to strengthen relations between local and international students and staff through their cultural diversity. It features exhibitions and cultural activities, including different traditional attire, music and performances. Under the theme of internationalisation, participants were given several minutes to showcase their cultures on the amphitheatre’s stage on the day of the event. Prof Themba Mosia, Vice-Principal: Student Affairs and Residences at UP, noted that leaving one’s country can be a huge transformation in terms of culture, environment and diversity. UP therefore strives to create a healthy environment for its international students. According to Prof Tawana Kupe, ViceChancellor and Principal of UP, a university must demonstrate the fact that knowledge and knowledge seekers know no borders or boundaries. The event was attended by ambassadors and high commissioners from various countries, as well as UP staff and students.

The University of Pretoria (UP) paid tribute to its alumnus, Dr Fred Brownell, designer of the iconic national flag, who passed away on 10 May 2019. He received his PhD from UP in 2015. Dr Fred Brownell was a former postgraduate student in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies. Prof Tawana Kupe, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, paid tribute to Dr Brownell, stating that his “momentous contribution to South Africa’s democratic story will live on via our much-loved flag, the most colourful and one of the most recognisable in the world, and an iconic symbol for millions of South Africans”. According to Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Dr Brownell’s signal contribution to nation building, which has helped so greatly in uniting South Africans in their diversity and commitment to creating a society that reflects all its people, is a contribution that captures the very essence of the humanities. Dr Brownell’s doctoral thesis, which was completed under the supervision of Prof Karen Harris, Head of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies, was entitled “Convergence and unification: the national flag of South Africa (1994) in historical perspective”. It presented a detailed analysis of the process by which South Africa’s democratic-era national flag came into being ahead of its unveiling in March 1994, and its first official hoisting on 27 April 1994, the day of South Africa’s first democratic elections.

International Students’ Day participants in their beautiful cultural attire.

Event category winners Mr UP International Students’ Day: Keketso Mabuleka – Lesotho Miss UP International Students’ Day: Kiara Hanimonth – India Best exhibition: Japan South African winner for cultural song and dance: XiTsonga Non-South African winner for cultural song and dance: India

Dr Brownell was South Africa’s State Herald from 1982 to 2002, and was also involved in the design of the Namibian flag, which was adopted in 1990. He was not only directly involved in every phase of the process of choosing a new South African flag, but saw his design chosen after a public competition failed to produce a design that elicited public support. “In contrast to the previous national flag adopted in 1928, which was essentially a symbol of state, our present national flag has truly been embraced as a symbol of the people,” says Prof Harris. “When we consider the historical tensions in South Africa before and during the negotiation process that led to our new democratic dispensation, the level of acceptance of this flag, across the broad spectrum of society, has been truly remarkable.” In recognition of this achievement and for his work as State Herald, Dr Brownell became the first South African to receive the Vexillon Award of the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (FIAV) in 1995 for his important contribution to vexillology (the study of flags). He is the only recipient to have received this award twice, as he was awarded it again in 2015 for his doctoral thesis, which was praised as one of the most significant academic contributions to flag science. He also received the Order for Meritorious Service, Silver, as designated by President Nelson Mandela, in 1999.


GRASP University of Pretoria

Transformation at UP

Promoting inclusion for Students with a Disability at UP The Disability Unit (DU) has come a long way since its establishment at UP in 2003. It was founded in response to a number of students with visual and hearing disabilities enrolling in small groups annually from 1999 onwards. In its early days, the DU comprised only two staff members and a computer laboratory with six computers, servicing approximately 20 students with mainly visual disabilities. The DU of 2019 has evolved substantially, to the point where it occupies its own building and supports in excess of 800 students. The Unit is now presented with various disabilities, ranging from “invisible” disabilities such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to severe physical and sensory disabilities such as cerebral palsy and blindness. Funding from the Department of Higher Education and Training enabled largescale expansion, which increased the number and quality of resources to the high standard that can be observed today. This also enabled the decentralisation of services, as specialised ICT equipment is being rolled out to satellite campuses and libraries across the University. The operational focus has also shifted towards an increasingly proactive model of support. Prospective students are encouraged to consult with the Unit as early as possible to effectively map out strategies to overcome anticipated barriers, and to develop maximum independence by the time of graduation in order to increase their readiness for the demands of a competitive labour market. More students with a disability are now opting to continue with postgraduate studies, particularly in the faculties of Humanities, Law, and Natural and Agricultural Sciences. The relationships the Unit has developed with internal departments at UP have resulted in some notable additions to the campus landscape. These include, but are not limited to, tactile walkways on prominent routes, ongoing modifications to historic buildings to include universal design elements and a secluded garden for service animals. The Unit assists all academic departments with tests and examinations, where assistive technology such as text-to-speech, or human support such as scribing, is needed. The Unit also presents the compulsory computer literacy programme to blind students with the use of an adapted curriculum. This class is presented by a senior student who is also blind, and who received training from both the DU and the School of Information Technology to ensure that the course covers standardised content, while still being relevant to blind users. External stakeholders assist with mobility training for visually impaired students on campus, as well as with consultation for medical and psychological assessment, and the sourcing of human support. Various institutions continually contact the DU for the placement of graduates and interns who have a disability. Notable institutions that have employed some of the Unit’s 2018 graduates include the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Sasol. The Unit’s relationship with its students is of high importance. In line with the narrative of “nothing about us without us”, students were encouraged and assisted to launch a society promoting awareness of people with disabilities. This society was established in 2016 and goes by the acronym BOLD (beyond our limiting disabilities). As the 2019 academic year draws to a close, the DU is preparing to assist with the successful completion of examinations for many students with a disability. Many of these students will be graduating because they have been enabled to realise their potential and successfully complete their degrees on an equal footing with their peers, and become valuable members of the working community.


Some of UP’s students with visual disabilities functioning optimally on campus with the help of the DU.

Transformation achievements English-only for UP


the first time since its inception, the University of Pretoria has adopted English as the only language of tuition for all of its firstyear programmes in 2019. The only exceptions are modules in which students study a specific language. English has also been adopted as the only language for official communication and administration on the University’s campuses and in its residences.

Profile for University of Pretoria