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Monday, July 13, 2020
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    Conference to support students’ needs in the current dispensation

    Veli Nkosi, Instructional Designer at Gert Sibande TVET College, e-Learning unit delivered an interesting presentation that focused on how e-Learning can be integrated in academics and Student Support Services.

    Gert Sibande TVET College held it’s first-ever Student Support Services Conference recently at Waterfront, Standerton, with the theme ‘Student Support Services in the Dispensation of the fourth Industrial Revolution’.
    According to the college CEO, Portia Mange, the purpose of the conference was to address social affairs, academic support and financial aid. The topics ranged from disability support, the role of student support in Word Skills competition, job placement and work preparedness amongst others topics.
    Student Support officials from Gert Sibande, Ehlanzeni, Nkangala and Vhembe TVET Colleges formed part of the delegates. Day one of the conference comprised of speakers from different organisation to emphasize the importance of Student Support Services in the overall well-being of students in the current dispensation.
    Richard Mediroe, Acting Director: Student Support Services in the Department of Higher Education and Training. His presentation touched on the importance of Student Support Services from the perspective of the Department of Higher Education and Training. According to him, an ideal Student Sport Services should provide Pre – entry support, on-course support and exit support. He further spoke about the benefits of Student Support Services which are: to enable students to choose programmes aligned to their interests and cognitive capability, guided by the critical skills areas of the country, serve as an early warning mechanism to college management on issues affecting students as well as their social and learning environments and eliminate barriers to students success amongst others.
    Lutendo Doyoyo, Relationships Manager at the National Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), explained the application process of NSFAS and the expectations for 2020 and answered some of the frequently asked questions by delegates. Sihle Nzuza, Job Placement Manager at Gert Sibande TVET College, shared best practices of Workplace Based Experience (WBE) and graduate placement with delegates.
    Veli Nkosi, Instructional Designer at Gert Sibande TVET College, e-Learning unit delivered an interesting presentation that focused on how e-Learning can be integrated in academics and Student Support Services. His presentation showed the importance of integrating technology in the classroom. Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives and it has created a number of social ills.
    Pat Zwane, Director from Mpumalanga Basic education spoke about the use of social media in teaching and learning. He also touched on social media legalities as well as branding. He pinpointed the fact that students should refrain from opening social media pages under the name of the college because whatever is said on those pages might reflect badly on the colleges as brands.
    Kagisho Selebano, Student Support Services Manager at Motheo TVET College shared best practices about the significance of disability unit. Selebano defined disability as “An impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory or some combination of these. It substantially affects a person’s life activities. It may be present from birth or occur during a person’s lifetime.” According to him, the role of disability unit is to nature children’s skills and abilities, the manifestations of his/her disability and the nature of the course or programme amongst others. Motheo TVET College runs one of the most successful disability support units in the country.
    Most TVET Colleges in the country do not have exit support to support students after they exit the TVET system. Lulaway representative, Evha Nteso gave a brief presentation that was aimed at exit support and work readiness. Lulaway Holdings is a company that prides itself in connecting people, funders, government and business. They also play a unique player in the entry-level recruitment and training sector in South Africa. “As a social enterprise, we are dedicated to sustainable job creation through entry-level staffing, matching employers with candidates recruited through our nationwide network of job centres and empowering those entrants to the workplace further with the support they need in order to retain their jobs, develop and remain active contributors to the economy,” alluded Nteso.
    The placement of students in the workplace is also heavily reliant on how ready are they for the workplace. Career guidance plays a significant role in determining what career path an individual can embark on. Ditupha Fothane, Director of career guidance at the Department of Higher Education and Training, defined career guidance as “Services that are intended to assist people of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational decisions and to manage their careers.” According to him, career guidance is important because it seeks to address lack of access to career guidance and information in schools, mismatch between demand and supply, the high rate of unemployment in the country, the high drop out and to promote lifelong learning amongst others.
    The programme of the first day included a Gala Evening. The keynote on the Gala evening was delivered by a clinical psychologist from Shaping the Learner, Gerald Williams. He also conducted psychological training for student support services officials on day two of the conference. The training touched on basic counselling for students who experience trauma and social challenges, he trained delegates on how to manage students with problems. Williams also aided delegates with doing referrals and how to get feedback from the referrals. He further trained delegates on how to draw action plans and collect a data base of support groups and other relevant organizations that can support students for their overall wellbeing.
    The prgramme of day two was kick-started with commissions. The commissions were aimed at addressing the following key issues:
    • Interventions that can be implemented to ensure that qualifying students are funded and debt recovery strategies are in place for unfunded students
    • How can the results of a placement test be used to improve academic performance and students who are underperforming
    • The role of Student Support Services in the overall management of student wellness and how to build a database of social support structures to help students develop holistically and the impact of social media in the dispensation of the 4th industrial revolution
    • Career guidance, work placement, linkages and tracking (pre-entry and exit support)
    • Management support in the context of the Student Support Services plan and pillars of Student Support Services. The perception of an ideal Student Support Services Unit.
    The conference was a success and delegates were happy to have been part of the conference. According to them, the conference assisted and it spoke to issues of importance in addressing student overall well-being.

    Conference to support students’ needs in the current dispensation