South African Higher Education continues to contend with the urgent and persistent calls for equitable education. What we witnessed in 2015 of the co-ordinated student voice should have prepared the sector as a whole for what we experienced in 2016, as the continued campaign of #FeesMustFall. As the campaign extends across the national landscape we have seen the discourse shift from #ZeroIncrease to #FreeEducationNow bringing the focus to the inadequate funding for higher education as a national challenge that affects every student, support staff, academic and university manager alike.
If HELTASA is indeed seen to be the premier association for learning and teaching in Southern Africa, providing support for hundreds of professionals working in the field of higher education teaching and learning across the region, we have our work cut out for us as we grapple with these issues across the uneven context of the sector.
Last year I posed two questions to which we have yet to provide adequate answers. As members of HELTASA our current context requires us to engage rigorously with these questions: what does decolonizing of teaching and learning really look like, and, linked to that, what is the role of academic development in institutional transformation?
In 2016 we have made preliminary progress towards answering these questions by strengthening and supporting the work of the Special Interest Groups (SIGs). We also revamped the set of criteria for the 2016 submissions for the National Excellence in Teaching Awards. The new criteria encouraged applicants to bring to light what informs their pedagogy and curriculum decisions that respond to the discipline whilst keeping a firm focus on the context in which our teaching and learning takes place.
The very first and newly affirmed Teaching Advancement in Universities (TAU) Fellows are also poised to make their mark and contribute to a scholarly approach to teaching and learning.
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