Dr Joey Serekoane from the University of the Free State
by Puleng Maphisa
The Centre for Academic Development (CAD) hosted its second FYE symposium for lecturers teaching first- year students. The purpose was to engage with lecturers about the experiences they have with first-year students.
The symposium was guided by the following question: Is it not time to stop asking what is wrong with our new students but rather question what needs to change within our institutional practices in order to meet the new students’ needs?
The topic was debated by various guest speakers from different universities namely; Dr Joey Serekoane from the University of the Free State, Dr Subethra Pather from the University of the Western Cape and the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) lecturers Prof Connie Moloi, Dr Christopher Chitumwa and psychologist Mrs Lalitha Reddy.
This was critical for lecturers as they said that the decolonisation of the curriculum has to be a call for research and a call for learning. Dr Serekoane mentioned that most challenges that they face are through the foundation that was laid within first years.
He said: “Classes should be research spaces, but they are not. Some students study for more than three years for a three-year course and that has serious implications and causes funding problems.”
The guest speakers mentioned that if the first-year foundation was never properly laid it would be difficult for a student to pass through to other stages. They outlined questions that they could use when students from high schools arrive, such as “What do we know about our new students?” “Do we have appropriate student support?” or “How do first-year students experience the transition from high school to VUT?”
In conclusion, Dr Christopher Chitumwa posted a question: “Why should students go back to class or attend class?” he said that this is a question that all first-year lecturers need to consider in order to assist first-years adapt to the new environment and settle well.
The event entertainer, Ms Lungi
The function was closed with entertainment by musician, Ms Lungi, at a cocktail party on a boat cruise.