News & Events

Building an enabling environment for postgrad students

Lucas Mamabolo, a BA Honours Psychology student and National Postgraduate Officer on the National Student Representative Council (NSRC), recently participated in a Q&A session with myUnisa news.

Q: Please give us a summary of your responsibilities as National Postgraduate Officer on the NSRC.

A: I am responsible for all academic matters affecting postgraduate Unisa students at a national level. The NSRC provides an interactive, conducive and accessible system of communication that gives students an opportunity to express their academic concerns and needs. We also represent students in the Senate of the University and its sub-committees, which include the Senate Library Committee and the Student Funding Committee.

Q: Tell us about your background.

A: I was raised in Limpopo Ga Maja, where I completed both primary and secondary level education. Like any other rural area in our country, social ills such as poverty, unemployment, crime, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy make it difficult for many young and talented people in the community to realise their potential. Education remains a hope to many to better the circumstances of their families, and many young people show interest in the development efforts of the community.

Q: How do you juggle your academic and leadership responsibilities?

A: Being a servant of students is a demanding activity, which requires time, focus, passion and commitment. On the other hand, NSRC members are students and ought to set an example of good academic performance. We are sometimes expected to apply our minds to complex student issues, and this requires a certain level of understanding, knowledge and skills to bring about change in areas of concern and injustice. Therefore, it should be a priority for members of the NSRC to acquire as much knowledge and academic skills as possible to contribute to the productive nature of the NSRC-student relationship. Student leaders need to devote much effort and time to academic issues of students and at the same time be able to maintain their academic standards to meet the demands of their studies. I balance my responsibilities through the following activities

• Managing my time properly

• Keeping a dairy of academic and NSRC activities

• Being punctual, especially regarding meetings

• Doing relaxation exercises to keep my body and mind healthy

Participating in social activities keeps my leadership and academic demands always balanced, and not distressing.

Q: How will you add value to the Unisa student community through your portfolio?

A: Being a postgraduate student of the university, I understand the academic language, needs and concerns of students at this level, and this gives me a good opportunity to relate well with them, in their context. Through my office, postgraduate students would primarily experience an enabling academic environment built on conditions of trust, respect, transparency, accountability, and open communication as these are fundamental factors in the success of a student.

Postgraduate students, mostly, are inspiring future knowledge developers in the field of research, and maximum attention is required in this area to help in programme development in my office. Having knowledge in research, it is also important to conduct research on new methods of teaching and learning as adopted by the university, to discover what its implications might be, particularly for students. Providing feedback to students regarding their concerns and needs is important as it keeps them up to date and on task with their studies.

The Unisa Library is a source of knowledge, and students in the postgraduate level make use of it to the maximum. The library resources need to be accessible and up to date so that teaching and learning in the university speaks to issues the current developments as well as changes in our country. Postgraduate student bursaries need to be accessible to all students in need of funding, and be distributed fairly to students regardless of who they are. In a nutshell, a good working relationship between students and lecturers is paramount, and needs to be improved to satisfy their academic needs. Information needs to be collected regarding their concerns and needs, to contribute to programme development.

From a student perspective, research must be conducted to discover how newly adopted e-learning methods impact on student success, and what the disadvantages are. Library services must be improved, and student funding services made accessible to all needy students.

Get in touch with Lucas:

Email: mamabml@unisa.ac.za

Facebook: Dimakatso Lucas Mamabolo

Twitter: @LucasMamabolo

* By Lesego Ravhudzulo (Communications Directorate, Department of Institutional Advancement)

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Publish date: 2019-02-19 00:00:00.0