THE MAHLABATHINI SCHOOLS ENGAGEMENT PROJECT RECEIVES THE CHANCELLOR’S IMPACTFUL COMMENDATION AWARD

The Mahlabathini Schools Engagement Programme which is project initiated under the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement [DVC RIE] – was recently awarded the Chancellor’s Commendation Award under the Impactful Category at the ENVISION2030 Institutional Excellence Awards 2021/2022 . The award recognised the Project Leader, Ms Phumzile Xulu and the DUT Engagement Team alongside project partners, from the DUT Chemistry, Student Recruitment, and Corporate Affairs – Events, PR and Marketing Departments. Also social partners from the Phakamile Mazibuko Foundation [PMF] and the Department of Education’s [DoE] Mahlabathini Circuit Manager Cluster [CMC] for supporting schools in the Mahlabathini area located in the Zululand District of KwaZulu-Natal.

The ENVISION2030 Institutional Excellence Awards are an annual event that seeks to promote, celebrate and recognise the researchers and members of the DUT community that are doing exceptional work in the areas of research and innovation.

The Chancellor’s Award: Impactful received by the Mahlabathini School Engagement Project team, is awarded to, “an initiative/project in teaching, research or public engagement that significantly contribute to the reciprocal partnership between DUT and society and that shows the university operating with global vision and ambition.”

The Mahlabathini Schools Engagement Project was started as a direct response to the dearth of support that rural schools receive within South Africa. The programme is facilitated through a partnership with the Phakamile Mazibuko Foundation, The DoE Mahlabathini CMC, and DUT. The initial need was identified by the PMF, which is a local non-profit organisation which works in the Mahlabathini area.

The project sought to provide high schools in Mahlabathini with access to resources and knowledge, that they would not traditionally have access to, at no cost to the schools or the Department of Education. This included Physical Sciences experiments demonstrations and career guidance workshops in selected high schools in the area. The team conducts this project via a two-week intensive programme, in which the team is accommodated in the Mahlabathini area, and conducts daily visits to the selected high schools.

The Mahlabathini Schools Engagement Project speaks to the bigger goals and strategies enshrined within DUT’s vision and the ENVISION2030 statement of intent. The project strongly highlights the ENVISION2030 pillar of society, as it is an engagement project that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved. Furthermore, this project promotes the spirit of an engaged university, in which staff and students actively pursue engagement endeavours and perform them willingly. This project also fosters a sense of stewardship (another ENVISION2030 pillar), as it adopts a people-centred culture that encapsulates the DUT values and principles.

Speaking on the importance of their monumental award, Ms Phumzile Xulu of the Engagement Office stated that it is always an honour to be recognised and awarded for the work that you do. “Being the recipients of the DUT Chancellor’s Commendation Award encourages us as the DUT Engagement Team to carry on doing the work that positively impacts communities. It is wonderful to be recognised for the efforts and milestones we were able to achieve working together with the Project Partners,” she said.

Pictured: The Mahlabathini Schools Engagement Project Team at the ENVISION2030 Institutional Excellence Awards 2021/2022.

Tracy Khuzwayo

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