The Extended Curriculum Programme/Foundation Special Interest Group (ECP SIG) held its annual colloquium in the tranquil and beautiful scenery of Vhembe District Municipality from the 22nd to the 23rd of August 2018. The University of Venda played host to approximately 100 delegates during this momentous occasion. Attendees of the colloquium received a warm welcome from the Acting Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda, Professor Jan Crafford. Prof Crafford emphasised the importance of extended programmes in universities to bridge the articulation gap between high school and university education. This was followed by a series of vibrant and engaging presentations over the two-day event.
The gathering was opened with an inspiring keynote address entitled Enabling access to the ECP undergraduate physics: Implication for curriculum and pedagogy, delivered by Dr Honjiswa (Honji) Conana. Honji, a Senior Teaching and Learning Specialist at the Faculty of Natural Science of the University of the Western Cape, responded to the theme of the conference titled: “Reclaiming Education”. She shared much needed practical ways to teach Physics to undergraduates, especially those in the extended programme. Her approach to teaching Physical Science is no doubt geared towards enabling epistemological access and thereby dispelling the myths that Physics is a difficult course. Through this engagement, Honji confirms that her presentation was well received and she also received valuable feedback from a number of delegates who were present at the colloquium. She further indicated that the opportunity enabled her to make new connections with the ECP community of practice.
The second day was opened by Mr Nkosinathi (Nathi) Madondo from Rhodes University. Nathi, whose interests lie in critical thinking, academic literacy, student development and decoloniality of knowledge, is a well-known academic in the Extended Curriculum community of practice. He titled his key note address: Ways of knowing and becoming literate in disciplines: A case for Extended Curriculum Programmes at South African Universities. In his thought-provoking address, Nathi suggested that critical scholarship and research that underpins university teaching and learning is necessary to challenge common sense teaching and learning approaches which are assumed to be neutral and not embedded in the disciplines. He further reiterated that common sense approaches disadvantage students because of the ways in which the very fabric of teaching and learning in academic institutions is structured to serve those who are already privileged, that is, the children from middle-class, educated backgrounds.
The University of Venda ECP Colloquium organising team chaired by Mr Aaron Khosa, a lecturer in the Management Sciences Foundation Programme, was comprised of colleagues from the Foundation Programme, the Academic Development Unit of the University of Venda as well as Mr Munienge Mbodila of Walter Sisulu University. A special thank you goes to Mr Munienge Mbodila who continued to support this committee throughout the planning period despite having left the institution a few months before the event took place. Mr Mbodila was originally the Chairperson of the organising committee.
We would like to express our gratitude to all colleagues from all corners of South Africa who made their way to Venda to share their intellectual abilities with us. Your presence and contributions during the two-day meeting left us with fresher perspectives on how we could reclaim education in our own space as we engage with our students and we hope that everyone in attendance was equally positively affected.
The quality of colloquium presentations at this event highlights the need to share future colloquium outputs through special themed journal issues and/or a colloquium-dedicated website where the presentations can be published. The baton was passed on to Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). We hope to see you all at the Extended Programme and Foundation SIG colloquium to be held at CPUT in 2019.