recent visit to Canada.
Mr Brian Kwazi Majola, a Lecturer at the College of Law and Management Studies recently explored Canada’s local government system for four months as part of the research for his doctoral studies. He took a break from his normal duties in order to learn more from one of the most developed countries in North America. Majola’s research interests lie in the area of gender equality, affirmative action, political participation and people with disabilities ranging from women’s participation and representation at local/district government level to the review of employment policies in relation to people with disabilities.
Majola secured the opportunity through the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Programme which provides short-term exchange opportunities for candidates from Commonwealth countries for study or research in Canada at the Master’s or doctoral level.
‘As a new academic, I discovered that people within the University are working in silos and besides my research, I wanted to go outside to learn more about the world of academia unlike when I was a student in Europe few years ago,’ said Majola.
As part of this scholarship, Majola was able to study at Canada’s Carleton University under the guidance of the Director of the University’s Institute of African Studies, Professor Blair Rutherford. It was an opportunity which inspired Majola to look at different angles for his research which he is now keen to share with his students.
‘I discovered that there are no political parties at local level in Ottawa, Ontario and that people there are taught about local government issues at secondary school level which makes them more accountable to the people rather than political parties. I also got an opportunity to interview Ottawa’s City Council members. I also saw the difference between conducting research in a first world country and a “second” world country such as ours,’ said Majola. As a Visiting Research Scholar, Majola attended seminars and learned more about the African continent and its people. He was given an opportunity to work as a guest lecturer and was thrilled to be called “Professor” for once, as university teachers are all referred to as professors in America.
With his key focus also on looking at how students with disabilities are treated, Majola plans to write a paper comparing the service disabled students enjoy at Carleton University in comparison to the ones offered at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
‘I visited the residences, library and also explored how disabled students at Carleton University participate in sports. I discovered that the number of students with learning disabilities has decreased over the years but the University has experienced an increase in students with psychiatric challenges at a tertiary level. I want to use this information to explore ways that UKZN can improve its facilities for the disabled thus making it an institution of choice for students with disabilities in South Africa, if not in Africa,’ said Majola, who is also a Ford Foundation International Fellow.
The highlight of Majola’s visit at Carleton University was when he was requested to present a paper at the 43rd Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) by Professor Rutherford in May 2013. Under the theme of Africa Communicating, he presented a paper titled: “The Role of the Media in Promoting Women’s Participation and Representation at Local Government Level in South Africa”.
‘It was my first time presenting a paper at a conference and it was a remarkable experience. I also got to meet and network with other academics from academic institutions all over the world with the purpose of strengthening international links between UKZN and international institutions,’ said Majola.