VUT HOSTS A SUCCESSFUL ONLINE PARENTS AND GUARDIANS ENGAGEMENT MEETING
By: Qhawekazi Memani – 11 July 2023
An online engagement pilot programme for parents or guardians of the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) first-year students was successfully launched during the early evening of 4 July 2023.
A research study conducted in 2021 by Dr Corneli van der Walt, a VUT Manager: First Year Experience and Mr Mothusi Samosamo from the Centre for Academic Development (CAD) on the success strategies of first-year student top achievers, served as inspiration for the project.
According to the duo, findings from the study highlighted the importance of family support in the top achievers’ academic success. Colleagues with an interest in the First Year Experience from the CAD and the Student Counselling and Support Department came together to devise the project and to develop an implementation plan. Parents or guardians were invited to participate in June 2023.
Approximately 170 parents, guardians and siblings joined the online meeting hosted on the VUTela platform. Ms Tisetso Mohloai, acting Manager from the eLearning Unit within the CAD, provided technical guidance and support to realise the meeting.
In addition, the first programme session constituted presentations on the context and aim of the programme itself, as well as the support network available to first-year students.
The overall aims of the parent engagement pilot programme are to provide parents and/or guardians of first-year students with relevant information to be able to support their student during their first year of study and thereafter in enhanced ways. The programme also seeks to learn about parents’ experiences in relation to supporting their students, as well as to engage them on their educational and/or support needs within the aims and scope of the programme.
During the first programme session, Ms Remeketse Makateng, Student Faculty Advisor at the Faculty of Management Sciences, and Ms Selloane Makau, Registered Counsellor at the Student Counselling and Support Department, presented the support network to first-year students constituting various services, programme and/or initiatives.
The parents, guardians and/or siblings were kept engaged through short polls relevant to the presentations, as well as through a lively chat that was facilitated by the student counsellors in collaboration with the academic faculty advisors. Moreover, Mr Sipho Nkosi, CAD Events Coordinator, secured sponsorships for the pilot programme from Cell C and MTN, which was represented by Ms Renee Viviers, at the meeting.
A lucky draw was done towards the end of the meeting, and five parents won data from MTN. The meeting concluded by inviting parents to participate in a second meeting that is scheduled to take place in October 2023. The meeting will focus on first-year student mental health and issues of stigmatisation, as well as the implications thereof for their success at university.