In the first week of December 2020, the two UWC DAAD Centres of Excellence – the South African-German Centre for Development Research SA-GER CDR and the South African German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice TRANSCRIM – took part in a training workshop on the use of the new DigiFace digital teaching and learning platform. Colleagues from Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, who are managing partners of the DigiFace project, organized and run the training workshop in a venue close to Cape Town.
DigiFace – short for “Digital Initiative for African Centres of Excellence” – is a new project funded by DAAD that aims at supporting and facilitating Higher Education learning and research at all DAAD African Centres of Excellence. The project is strengthening the Centres’ digital competencies as well as the networking among all the Centres – between all institutions involved, between staff, students, and alumni.
Core element of the DigiFace-initiative is the creation and establishment of a central interactive digital platform which is based on the Moodle learning management system. Participants in the training workshop started to develop course material and got a good understanding of both theoretical and practical knowledge required to make full use of the different tools and facilities of the platform. The workshop that way supported both Centres in offering course designs suitable for blended and hybrid learning, – both essential elements of the current and future learning environment at UWC. The two Centres, going forward, are joining forces to promote the use of the new platform in their respective institutes, and to collaborate more closely within the digital infrastructure that the new DigiFace project provides.
In early 2020, South Africa has welcomed and hosted the ’27th Delegation Visit for Leaders of German Higher Education Management’, organized by the International DAAD Academy. In the second week of March, 20 Presidents, Vice Chancellors and Registrars from German universities visited South African higher education and research institutions, ministries and the National Research Foundation (NRF) as well as German partner institutions such as political foundations or the German Agency for International Cooperation GIZ. During the meetings delegates received in depth insights into the South African higher education system as well as into current research focal points of the respective institutions, and were able to directly reach out for potential further cooperation partners. The delegation was accompanied by the Secretary General of the DAAD, Dr. Dorothea Rüland, and Lena von Eichborn, Head of the International DAAD Academy.
On March 12, the delegation visited the University of the Western Cape. Umesh Prawa, Head of the university’s International Relation Office, was responsible for the visit and led the programme, supported by his team and further colleagues. After a profoundly informative input by different UWC Departments, led by UWC Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Vivienne Lawack, hosts and guests were able to network during a fingerfood-lunch.
After the break, Ruth Knoblich, the Centre’s new DAAD Lecturer in Development Research, presented basic facts and figures about the DAAD South African-German Centre for Development Research. Her presentation led to a lively round-table talk about the Centre’s character and activities by colleagues, alumni and current students: Prof. Julian May, Director of the NRF-DST Centre of Excellence in Food Security at UWC, Director of the Institute for Social Development and one of the four Steering Committee members of the South African-German Centre of Development Research: Dr. Razack Karriem (Acting Director of the Institute for Social Development), Prof. Mulugeta Dinbabo, Dr. Coretta Jonah, Dr. Martina Lembani, Melisa Dlamini, Langton Moyo, Tamara Kaschek and Kumbula Xego.
For the Centre, it was a particular highlight to meet RUB’s Rector Prof. Dr. Axel Schölmerich and Chancellor Dr. Christina Reinhardt who were part of the delegation, together with the Secretary General of the DAAD, Dr. Dorothea Rüland.
A historical campus-walk formed the last part of the UWC visit. Prof. Premesh Lalu, Director of the DST-NRF Centre for Humanities Research at UWC, offered impressive insights into the university’s history and its role during apartheid’s times.
The delegates later emphasized how much they enjoyed their time at UWC after participating in such multifaceted programme. They particularly underlined how impressed they were by the university’s spirit and engagement, and that they were able to set up valuable new contacts for further cooperation. For the Centre, it was a very special moment of making its networks visible: its network between former and current students, between colleagues from all institutions involved, between the leading level of UWC, RUB, and the DAAD as the Centre’s funding organization.
On March 3-6, 2020 the Kick-off Meeting of the new digitalization project DigiFace took place at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. DigiFace – short for “Digital Initiative for African Centres of Excellence” – is a new project funded by DAAD that aims at supporting and facilitating higher education learning and research at all DAAD African Centres of Excellence. DigiFace is setting-up tools and facilities for digital learning and knowledge exchange with the help of a central interactive digital platform. The project is going to strengthen the Centres’ digital learning, teaching and research competencies as well as the networking among all the Centres – between all institutions involved, between staff, students, and alumni.
The Kick-off meeting was the official starting-point of the new project. Delegates from all the currently 10 Centres as well as from the Centres’ Alumni Network gathered in order to exchange on the current statuses of digital infrastructure, the needs and expectations with regard to such an all comprising new digital network, the opportunities and challenges for its implementation as well as on the next steps to go.
The SA-GER CDR was represented by Lance Scheepers (Information Systems ISD), Enayat Hamza (Programme Manager: Training and Consultancy at the SoG), and Ruth Knoblich (DAAD Lecturer in Development Research at the SA-GER CDR).