Life Orientation Teachers Open Day showcases Life and Learning at UWC
Early on a cold grey Saturday morning, teachers and subject advisors begin to stream into the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Life Sciences auditorium, with University stationery in hand and their eyes set on their students’ future.
“It is not enough that teachers only read about our academic programmes from our brochures,” explained Cheryl Pearce, Director at the UWC Student Enrolment Management Unit (SEMU). It is important that they also experience the University’s campus and its people, and get a feel for what student life and learning would be like here.”
This is what the special Open Day Event for Life Orientation Teachers, organised by SEMU and the seven UWC faculties, succeeded in doing this October. Not only did this event strive to inform different schools about what the University of the Western Cape (UWC) has to offer academically, but also in a more holistic way.
A resounding opinion from the teachers present was that they as teachers are not as informed as they should be about just how accomplished UWC is - and the day allowed them to look at UWC in a new light.
“Three of the four universities in this region are currently ranked in the top 3% of universities in the world,” Larry Pokpas, UWC Institutional Planner, said in his opening address. “Three of the four universities are in the top five in South Africa; one of those universities is the only one ranked in Africa in the top 100 Golden Age universities, and is ranked in the top 300 in the world in the areas of humanities and social science. That’s UWC.”
Mr Pokpas, among other things, emphasized the importance of collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship. “In the world we live in today students no longer walk into professions, they must create the new professions,” he said. “We do our best to empower them to do that.”
Living and Learning at an Engaged University
The moment Professor Michael Davies-Coleman, Dean of UWC’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, took to the podium, he reiterated just how world class UWC is. One of the examples quoted was that of a UWC-anchored team placing second only to Tsinghua University (China) in the World Undergraduate Computer Cluster Competition in Germany earlier this year (a competition UWC had been excelling in for the last three years in a row). Prof Davies-Coleman also brought to light the fact that we have some of the most accomplished and driven women in Maths and Science in the world, and emphasized the fact that not only is UWC a place of quality, it is a place to grow - and an institution that is growing in size as well as influence.
The Faculty of Arts highlighted its UWC Creates programme, which is the only creative writing programme in South Africa which operates across three languages - isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English. Here students learn to work with their particular abilities and develop their unique voice while being exposed to poetry and prose writing, under the guidance of established and celebrated creatives.
The morning was filled with informative and inspiring presentations by all seven faculties, providing for a well-rounded view of what campus life is like. Teachers also got to hear from students about what it takes to make it at UWC - and why it’s worth it.
Anrich Visser, in the final year of his Bachelors in Education Degree, had this to say: “When I first got to UWC I felt very lost, empty and ill- equipped, but after studying here I felt like I was guided and am now equipped for my chosen profession.”
This further drove home the point that not only does UWC guide and equip students - it opens their minds to what the future could hold.
“Academically, university is very, very different from school,” dentistry undergraduate Adnill Kock noted. “You have to motivate yourself and encourage yourself, but you also get to reap the rewards of your hard work - and socially it’s lovely because I get to treat the most common disease in the world (gum disease) with my best friends.”
A short video clip took teachers through the campus facilities and highlighted just some of the many on-campus activities available.
During tea time, teachers were encouraged to browse exhibitions by the various faculties and ask as many questions as needed so that they could feel properly informed - and in turn inform their students on faculty requirements and what learners should expect from life at UWC.
In a closing interview with Ismail Teladia of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), he stressed: “Life Orientation teachers play an important role in informing learners of what universities have to offer, the required subject choices, as well as setting the tone for career choices.”
UWC understands this, and wants to see the youth of our nation grow and learn at a place of quality, a place which can help them take their talents and passions and guide them to becoming the leaders of tomorrow.
We’re graduating citizens of the world - and we hope you’ll help us make a difference.