WSU HOSTS EDUCATION CONFERENCE 300x226Close to 150 researchers and academics representing numerous national and sub-Saharan universities have congregated in East London for an intensive three-day research conference aimed at tackling critical issues confronting the higher education sector.

Themed “Transforming the education system for sustainable development in South Africa”, the 46th edition of the annual Southern African Society for Education (SASE) conference will run from 25 – 27 September and will provide a forum for researchers to stimulate ideas and initiate discussions about the past, present and what may be possible for the future in education.

“The past and present are known and have both successes and failures, which when we reflect upon, we realise that we have learnt important lessons that we would not like to repeat in future in order to create and transform the education system,” said former WSU research head and SASE president Prof Elphina Cishe.

In welcoming the expectant delegates, WSU Vice Chancellor Prof Rob Midgley reflected on the need for the higher education sector to align its mission with that of the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Midgley reminded the audience of two critical aspects of the goals upon which they should fixate their attention, which include inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all, as well as to participate in strengthening the means of implementation and revitalization of the global partnership for sustainable development.

“As WSU, we’re currently developing our own 2030 plan in line with that of the UN’s to ensure that we meet our obligation to offer inclusive and responsive education. Our research must make a tangible difference to people’s lives – it must provide workable solutions,” he said.

Head of Educational Technology Programmes at University of Cape Town, Prof Dick Ng’ambi, captured the audience’s imagination with his seminal presentation about the importance of the higher education sector to improve and reconfigure itself to respond to the prevailing circumstances.

Ng’ambi urged the delegates to look at finding innovative and creative ways in which to approach teaching and learning so as to counter the ever-changing face of teaching.

“The solutions that we have for education systems we had yesterday we can no longer use tomorrow. The challenge with the education system is that it’s similar to the rail network system because it was put in place before generations of learners were born.”

“It’s an inflexible structure that cannot persist and needs to change to reply to the prevailing contemporary circumstances of the digital era,” said Ng’ambi.