Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Gordon Zide with 1st year students
Parents and first year students braved the heatwave, wearing smiles and looking forward to finding out what the year ahead has in store for them at the second annual First Year Experience (FYE) Parents Day. O-Week Parent’s Day kicked off on Sunday, 21 January at Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) Isak Steyl Stadium in Vanderbijlpark.
Parent’s Day is an initiative that was developed by the Centre of Academic Development’s Ms Hazel Mtshontshi (FYE Manager), who saw the importance of the university management and support staff engaging with the parents of all first year students. It forms part of the Orientation Week programme (O-Week) which takes place from 22 to 26 January and involves representatives from VUT’s Executive Management Committee and all departments that engage with student matters on a day to day basis such as the library, sports department, Clinic and HIV Unit, Student Support Services, residences and the student representative council (SRC).
Giving a short yet impactful welcome address, Dr Pauline Machika, Executive Director of the Centre of Academic Development said that she is proud to see how well attended the parents day is. She alluded that she wanted to see the very same faces, wearing their best outfits and graduation regalia after three years and encouraged the parents to ensure that they are fully involved in following up on their children’s progress.
Buhle bakaZulu, a traditional dance group of VUT students set the scene by opening up with a fiery performance, setting the crowd ablaze before the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Gordon Zide addressed the parents and students. Giving them a warm welcome, Prof Zide expressed his joy at seeing all the students there. He urged the young men and women to focus and respect their parents and to never forget where they come from as it is through the hard work of their parents that they are able to attend university today. Raising a controversial societal problem, Prof Zide made mention of the fact that due to social inequality, peer pressure and lack of finances to buy the basic necessities, young girls often result in prostitution. He urged the first years to avoid that route and to speak up when they are in need as there are support systems in place at the university to ensure that students are assisted.
The president of the Student Representative Council (SRC), Mr Lemogang Medupi echoed the exact sentiments as Prof Zide. He said the SRC is there to assist in every aspect and students should always feel free to knock on their doors. The transition from high school to tertiary is not an easy one he said. He further added that the SRC is there to ensure that no learner goes to bed hungry, as they’re mantra is “Sifunda sidlile” loosely translated this means “We’ll study on full stomachs.” The SRC have pledged to help however they can and mentioned the together with the poverty alleviation initiative that is spear headed by Ms Kediemetse Mokotsoi, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations they will ensure that the less privileged students always go to bed full and have their basic sanitary necessities.