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15 May 2018
Education Dean's Merit Awards 2018: Excellent Educators Elevated

Education Faculty Dean's Merit Awards 2018: Honouring the Excellent Educators of Tomorrow

On Tuesday, 15 May 2018, the Faculty of Education held their annual Dean’s Merit Awards. This year marks the Faculty’s 11th Merit Awards ceremony and they honoured 284 of their top future educators - a huge increase from last year’s 161 students.

Faculty of Education Dean, Professor Vuyokazi Nomlomo, praised the students for their achievements, and for demonstrating the power of education.

“Students like you show that the Faculty has managed to attract good students with great qualities,” she said. “You are proving that, gone are the perceptions that teaching is of low status, and should therefore be a last choice.”

UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Development and Support, Professor Pamela Dube,  Registrar Ms. Nita Lawton-Misra and Deputy Registrar Dr Ahmed Shaikjee attended the event on behalf of the UWC Executive.

“I believe that teachers are the most important people in the world,” Lawton-Misra said to the students being honoured. “I encourage you all to always remember that, wherever you may be in the world. You’re making a difference in the lives and futures of many.”

Student’s certificates were divided into categories including B.Ed (Languages and Life Orientation), B.Ed (Languages and Social Sciences), B.Ed (Languages and Mathematics), B.Ed (Mathematics and Natural Sciences), PGCE, B.Ed (Honours), Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education: Teaching and Learning, Higher Diploma in Adult Learning (ETD) and Foundation Phase Teaching.

This year’s ceremony honoured a high number of Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude achievements, in both the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

A special Marie Grant Book Award was conferred on former UWC student Nasreen Ahmed, in recognition of her dedication to - and outstanding competency in - teaching.

The Marie Grant Award is conferred by the Cape Town Branch of the South African Association of Women’s Graduates, in memory of Marie Grant, co-founder of the Association (in 1923) and the first Cape Town Branch President. In her lifetime she was recognised for her commitment to education and the empowerment of young people.

Leaving a Footprint in the World

“Teaching is the mother of all disciplines,” said UWC’s Writer-in-Residence, Dr. Sindiwe Magona, the guest speaker for the evening (and herself a recent Rhodes University Honorary Doctorate recipient), congratulating the students for staying the course and not being part of the criminally high dropout rates in the country.

“Not only did you stay in school but you did that with purpose. Because of that, you have been singled out as a result of your performance,” she said. “And you are setting an example to inspire those you will educate.”

She expressed agreement with the Registrar, urging the students to believe in change and transformation, because that is what they will need to transfer to the children they will be educating.

“You cannot infect anybody with a disease you do not carry,” she said. “If you do not read, the children that you will teach will not read.”

Dr Magona encouraged the students to be proud alumni and future educators who will facilitate social transformation, and to recognise the honour and the privilege of helping someone become the best that they can be.

“Choose to be unafraid, trust your gut instinct, be brave,” she advised. “You will make mistakes, but you will learn and you will grow - just pray that you never make one that you cannot rectify.”

“Leave a footprint at UWC, and in the world beyond.”

One educator who lived out that advice is Professor Juliana Smith, who ended the night on a positive note, giving thanks to the support systems that allowed the students to excel and that helped them devote their efforts toward education - and to choose UWC as a place of learning.

Prof Smith will be retiring in a few months, and noted that she, along with other lecturers, hoped that they had nurtured, developed and critically engaged the professional education practitioners and scholars for the transmissional and diverse 21st century teaching context.

“I am proud to have been part of this faculty which has produced this excellent, competent and overachieving group of students,” she said.

“This community that we have shaped and elevated with excellence, intellectual heritage and values will continue to shine for many generations to come - if you aim to make a difference out there, not only in teaching but also in life.”