College of Education

Academically Resilient

The Teaching and Learning (T&L) e-Festival is an annual event where all members of the teaching and learning community at the University of South Africa (Unisa) share the various approaches to Open Distance and eLearning (ODeL) teaching and learning. The goal is to encourage and promote excellence in teaching and learning at Unisa.

Education is an act of love, and thus an act of courage – Paulo Freire

The theme for the 2021 T&L e-Festival is “Academically Resilient”. Prof Puleng LenkaBula,  Principal and Vice-chancellor of Unisa, in her opening address explained that the theme is akin to the Basotho model of Letsema, or Ilima in Nguni languages, which means pulling together to maximise our collective effort. She added that the e-festival seeks to showcase and celebrate acts of humanity that gave meaning to the system  changes that were catapulted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Prof LenkaBula reaffirmed that Unisa is a committed student-centric university that partners with the state, society and the continent – by ensuring that through knowledge, societies can become transformed for the better. Moreover, Unisa achieves this by creating sustainable innovations and  ensuring that the socio-political, economic and ecological systems create meaning for life as well as dignity for staff, students and society at large.


This year’s keynote address, "Decolonization, Academic Resilience and the Transformation of the Academy: Implications for Ethical Warriors”, was delivered by Prof   Catherine A. Odora Hoppers, who is a Professor of Education (Gulu University) as well as a Professor Extraordinarius (University of South Africa). Prof Hoppers says: “I believe that the 21st century is the century of Africa’s reclaiming of human agency, and of her status in world citizenship as a subject, not object”. Her presentation emphasised that what is true of society is true of knowledge. She described that no knowledge is complete in itself. Prof Hoppers added that no knowledge is complete without the dreams of the other complemented by the principles of hospitality, reciprocity, generosity and plurality. Prof Hoppers took the time to explain the simplified meaning of being a warrior and said that a warrior is not a soldier. A soldier is but a node, in a chain of command. A soldier obeys orders and regulations, and is loyal to his/her superiors. In contrast, a warrior is not loyal to anyone. A warrior is his/her own authority. He/she has total trust in his/her own understanding.

Sub-themes for the 2021 T&L e-festival included: Reimagining authenticity: affirming students as holders of valuable knowledge; Affirmation in teaching and learning: the teacher as a place-holder who fosters emergence through dialogue; Dialogue as making community: towards a pedagogy of liberation; and Alone together: acts of love and courage that enable co-creation.

Congratulations to our winners

The following individuals and/or groups received awards in acknowledgement of  excellence in various categories of teaching and learning.

Excellence Award for MODULE DESIGN: Dr EC Rudolph and Dr K Stander (College of Economic and Management Sciences)

Excellence Award for SCHOLARSHIP IN TEACHING AND LEARNING: Prof B Shuttleworth (College of Accounting Sciences)

Excellence Award for TRANSFORMATION IN TEACHING AND LEARNING: Dr N Radebe (College of Human Sciences)

Excellence Award for ASSESSMENT: Dr BL Mogoje (College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences)

Excellence Award for INNOVATION IN TUITION: Ms PK Tlakula (College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences)

Excellence Award for STUDENT SUPPORT: Ms J Verster (College of Accounting Sciences)

Congratulations to our nominees

The event also celebrated the academic excellence of the following NOMINEES, who are also awardees for excellence and are the winners in their categories within their respective colleges:

Excellence Award for MODULE DESIGN: Prof MS Ngoepe, Dr L Jacobs, Mr MG Mojapelo and Prof N Marutha (College of Human Sciences); Prof E Kritzinger and Dr P Gouws (College of Science, Engineering and Technology)

Excellence Award for TRANSFORMATION IN TEACHING AND LEARNING: Mr M Makola (College of Law) and Dr E Ochola (College of Science, Engineering and Technology)

Excellence Award for STUDENT SUPPORT: Prof K Naidoo (College of Law); Mr M Maake (College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences); Dr JMC Motitswe, Dr G Ledwaba and Dr I Mkhuma (College of Education); Mr P Sebatjane (College of Science,  Engineering and Technology) and Prof LG Fitz (College of Law).

The e-Festival ran over the course of two days (31 August 2021 and 1 September 2021). Each day consisted of a mix of asynchronous and synchronous sessions (video and live presentations), which are available for viewing:

(31 August 2021)

(1 September 2021)

2020 and 2021 have presented a unique mixture of challenging and exciting times of transition in the Open Distance and eLearning teaching and learning landscape. Prof   Veronica McKay, the acting Vice-principal: Teaching and Learning at Unisa expressed gratitude to all the academics at Unisa. She acknowledges that academic stress is one of the highest indicators that almost all research has shown with academics during the Covid-19 pandemic that is currently sweeping across the globe. Prof Mckay said that the festival was timed on the eve of the inauguration and investiture of Prof LenkaBula, who is fervently committed to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

* By Dineo Horner, Acting Marketing and Communications Specialist,  College of Education

Publish date: 2021/09/02

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