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Award recipients, Mr Andile Gumede (left) and Ms Phakamile Mazibuko (right) with UTLO’s Mr Abdulbaqi Badru.

Two students from the School of Education, Ms Phakamile Mazibuko and Mr Andile Gumede, were recently awarded the 2022 UKZN Student Spotlight Award which recognises academically excelling students who also actively participated in University and community outreach programmes during the online learning period.

The award was presented during the second UKZN Teaching and Learning Office’s (UTLO) virtual e-learning symposium titled: Imagining a Technology Enhanced Higher Education Future.

Symposium Chair, Mr Abdulbaqi Badru said as part of UTLO’s objectives to ensure that students are carried along in the University e-learning community of practice, they conceptualised the Spotlight Student Award.

He said students were required to submit a portfolio of evidence, which went through rigorous reviews to finally select the two winning students.

Mazibuko, a Master of Education student, said the transition from traditional to online learning was challenging at first because of the unfamiliarity which caused much anxiety and fear. She said she was grateful for the support services initiated by the University through workshops and webinars.

Through her non-profit organisation the Phakamile Mazibuko Foundation she was also able to offer career support through online workshops and social media.

Gumede, a final year Bachelor of Education student, who is also an academic monitoring and support mentor and member of Enactus UKZN, said the challenges brought on by online learning motivated him to lead by example.

He said besides the academic challenges, he also faced a lot of losses in his family. ‘Being able to help and receive help from my peers has been one of the top ingredients in achieving my success.’

He thanked UTLO and the symposium committee members for their support. Advising other students, he said: ‘Know that your dreams are valid and that on your path, you are never denied but redirected.’

The students were awarded a laptop and gift bags to aid them in their online learning.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photographs: Supplied