Most graduates to date for Africa Centre
The popularity of postgraduate courses at Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Africa Centre for HIV and AIDS Management seems to be on the increase, judging by the 67 MPhil and more than 300 Postgraduate Diplomas in HIV/AIDS Management awarded at SU’s second March graduation ceremony. These students were among the 926 from the Faculties of AgriSciences and Economic and Management Sciences who graduated on Tuesday.
According to Prof Jan du Toit, Director of the Africa Centre, this is the biggest postgraduate group that the Centre has delivered since its inception in 2001. “The Centre’s courses are so popular because they deal with such a relevant issue. Students come from 15 countries in Africa and 10 other countries. The more than 300 community projects that alumni have started are working very well and are making a huge impact on their communities,” said Prof Du Toit.
The Africa Centre offers comprehensive HIV and AIDS postgraduate academic training programmes, as well as community mobilisation programmes, which include interactive educational theatre to create awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention. It forms part of SU’s HOPE Project, a campus-wide initiative through which the University uses its knowledge and research to address societal challenges in Africa.
In June 2012, SU through its Africa Centre became the first university in Africa to enter into an agreement with a United Nations organisation when the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), contracted the University to be an implementing partner for its Regional Programme for Africa, which is active in 46 countries on the African continent. The UNFPA’s Dr Bunmi Makinwa also attended Tuesday’s graduation ceremony.
A total of 16 doctorates were awarded at Tuesday’s ceremony. Among the doctorates were Reinette Gouws and Oluwafemi Caleb. Gouws did research on a cosmetic disease that affects potatoes and which causes major potato losses worldwide each year. She developed ways in which this disease can be suppressed. Caleb’s research on the other hand focused on helping fruit producers, suppliers and processors in the emerging South African pomegranate market to find a perfect fit for the packaging material and storage conditions they choose. This helps to ensure the optimal shelf life and best possible quality of ready-to-eat pomegranate products. He is part of a growing number of researchers at SU who are assisting the emerging pomegranate industry in South Africa. His strategies are already being used by a local pomegranate producer in Porterville.
In his welcoming speech, Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, Vice-Rector (Teaching and Learning) said that SU will confer the most doctorates during a single graduation week to date. “Ladies and gentlemen, of great significance are the 130 doctorates that will be conferred during this graduation week. Combined with the doctoral degrees awarded in December 2012, it brings the total to 240 doctorates – the most ever in a single academic year at this University.”
Also among the graduates at Tuesday’s event was Phillip-Jan Van Zyl who received his HonsBSc. Van Zyl is part of a group of grandchildren whose grandfather set up a Trust to make provision for them to do tertiary studies. Their grandfather, Bertie van Zyl, himself did not have a university education, but it was his wish that his grandchildren should have the opportunity. Phillip-Jan’s sister, Thelma Janse van Rensburg, received a MPhil (Translation) Cum Laude on Monday evening. According to the siblings’ father, Phile van Zyl, about 12 grandchildren have already obtained their degrees from SU, thanks to the Trust.
Students in the Faculties of Education and Economic and Management Sciences (B group) will receive their degrees on Wednesday, March 13 at 16:30.
- Visit www.sun.ac.za for more information. The ceremonies will also be streamed live at www.sun.ac.za/streaming.