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Developing graduate attributes through student mentorship training

Unisa’s Eastern Cape Region presented a student mentor volunteer programme at the Phyllis Ntatala Collaborative Library in East London from 4 to 6 April 2022. The programme was coordinated by Nolwazi Somtsewu, a student counsellor in East London. The aim of the programme was to recruit, train, supervise and mentor final-year students to be champions of graduateness and success.   

The volunteers who participated in the programme will mentor fellow students to help them adjust to the university and achieve academic success.

Keynote speaker Dr Matome Mashiapata, Director: Counselling and Career Development

Dr Matome Mashiapata, Director: Counselling and Career Development, delivered the keynote address, titled “Graduate attributes”, virtually at the opening of the programme. In his presentation, he highlighted challenges confronting the higher education system, which is currently producing few graduates in absolute numbers relative to the intake numbers. He pointed out that there are mismatches between current graduate attributes and the broader needs of society and the economy.

Event organiser Nolwazi Somtsewu (front row, centre) with student mentor volunteers attending the programme

Mashiapata encouraged higher education institutions to ensure that they impart the highest level of knowledge and basic skills possible, and said that this will require a very deep understanding of the surrounding society and the economy. He further stressed that universities must prepare students for the world of work and cultivate an intellectual mindset (scholarship, global and moral citizenship, and life-long learning) and the underpinning skills and attributes needed for sustained employability.

In his conclusion, Mashiapata mentioned that graduate attributes, when viewed as transferable, relate both to the academic sphere and the world of work. “The Council on Higher Education has set out the graduate competencies required of South African graduates in the 21st century,” he said. “These competencies are computer literacy, knowledge reconfiguration skills, information skills and problem-solving skills, among other things.”

* Ntsiki Gasa, Communication and Marketing Specialist, Unisa Eastern Cape Region

Publish date: 2022/05/18

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