DEAR COLLEAGUES (AND NEW MEMBERS TO THE HELTASA FAMILY)
Warm greetings! On behalf of the executive team and the HELTASA family, I would like to welcome new and existing members to our organisation and community of praxis. We hope you will find HELTASA to be an inclusive and generative space to grow and expand your knowledge and practice of all aspects of teaching and learning, especially in times of crisis. I would like to encourage you to participate and contribute in any way you can to build and shape HELTASA as we use our present contexts to help us shape shift into the future.
You join us at a critical juncture in higher education, which is on the cusp of another transition and extension of its identity and agency. Your engagement in this space is valuable and will ensure that representation across our diversity is enabled. Together we can shape higher education meaningfully and with legitimacy. We need to remember what it means to be an African higher education sector but not in an exclusionary or reductionist way. We have to rise from the ashes of our complex past and engage a social imaginary that foregrounds belonging, community and relevance.
We are also on the cusp of our first-ever online conference, hosted by the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT). This is going to be an important space for reflection and action as we ride the wave of the pandemic and the tensions and opportunities it has presented to us all. As the 2020 Conference theme suggests, we need to create enabling spaces that are inclusive, collaborative and authentic for all aspects of the academic project. Transformation of these spaces is a key imperative for the sector and HELTASA is working with various stakeholders to usher in necessary changes. Our keynote speakers will no doubt explicate these impetuses and provide conceptual tools which we need to use to translate into praxis. Individual presentations focus on important studies that reflect how academics have been responding to their contexts. We would like you to take special note of the Collaborative Learning Communities (CLC’s) engagement as well as the AGM, featured on the programme where you can not only learn about what HELTASA is doing / has done to date but discover new ways of working in the current pandemic (see our SASASA pieces and CLC webinars). We also launched the HELTASA PhD programme and Special Interest Group for Academic Development Leaders during the lockdown and pandemic. If you are interested in joining the exec, please make contact with our administrator, Ms Nomfundo Siqwede (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We look forward to meeting you and engaging with you in various conference spaces next week. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our conference hosts (CUT) and conference convenor, Dr Ntsoaki Malebo, in advance for what we know will be a productive and thought provoking space for us all.
With warmth and inspiration,
Assoc Prof Kasturi Behari-Leak (PhD)
HELTASA Chair and President
Obo the HELTASA executive team