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Professor Shenuka Singh, Dr Msizi Mkhize, Professor Ruth Hoskins, Professor Fayth Ruffin, Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer and Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, at the DTA dinner.

Four UKZN academics received Distinguished Teachers’ Awards (DTA) at a dinner hosted by the University Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO).

They were Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Dr Msizi Mkhize, Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya and Professor Fayth Ruffin.

And for the first time at UKZN, Certificates in Excellence in Teaching were presented. They went to Professor Ruth Hoskins, Professor Shenuka Singh and Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer.

UKZN’s Director of Teaching and Learning Dr Rubby Dhunpath reflected on the attributes of those who received awards, acknowledging them as “quiet intellectuals”. 

‘There is no fanfare about them, they usually operate below the radar. They often run on empty, offering all that they have, often for very little recognition.’

Dhunpath extolled the DTA award winners’ empathy for their students, colleagues and even the system they operated in.

Interviews with the award winners and their students.

The Durban University of Technology’s Professor Raisuyah Bhagwan delivered the keynote address at the dinner, emphasising the importance of an holistic approach to education. ‘Education is fundamentally about human relationships, it is about co-teaching, co-learning, reflection, the dismantling of power and research, which enables the co-creation of contextually relevant knowledge with communities,’ she said.

Bhagwan, who holds degrees in Social Work, advocated the incorporation of innovative ways of teaching, including storytelling, movement, dance and drama.

She reminded the audience of the importance of community engagement: ‘It is through this type of actively learning in communities and seeking to understand communities that students become more conscientised about their role as social activists and also become more socially responsive. It compels a greater appreciation for community as a source of knowledge and the need to make porous the boundaries between university and communities to enable a university to become more engaged.’

Academic Leader for the Cluster of Music at UKZN Professor Chats Devroop, and UKZN alumnus in Music and Drama Ms Jamy-Lee Simons entertained guests with musical interludes.

DTA holder Dr Ansurie Pillay served as programme director. The dinner concluded with a rhythmic presentation and a video montage featuring the DTA winners.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Albert Hirasen