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ASSADPAM Conference

2010/11/23 05:20:30 PM

UKZN academics participated in a conference hosted by the Association of Southern African Schools and Departments of Public Administration and Management.

Academics from the School of Public Administration and Development Management and Human Resources Practitioners participated in a conference hosted by the Association of Southern African Schools and Departments of Public Administration and Management (ASSADPAM Conference).

State of the Discipline – Theory, Teaching and Practice of Public Administration – Memory of the Future, was the theme of the conference co-ordinated by the University of South Africa at the St. George’s Hotel in Pretoria from September 27-29.

Dr Mogie Subban, a lecturer in the School, participated as session chair and co-presented three papers at the conference. The first paper, co-authored with Mr Kishore Gobardan, UKZN Performance Manager and Dr Pregala Pillay, Head of School, was titled: Implementing Performance Management in institutions of higher learning: A case study of UKZN.

Their paper was presented by Mr Gobardan in the sub-theme: Academic/Practitioner Interface, and was premised on the newly-configured performance management system at UKZN. The thrust of the paper was that UKZN, as one of the leading institutions of Higher Education addressing complexities of teaching and learning, is positioned to address productivity at all levels. In this regard, the preamble of UKZN highlights employees as its greatest asset and as the key to fulfilling its mission, vision and strategic objectives. UKZN recognizes that managing and reviewing employee performance and fostering development are critical factors in successfully achieving institutional strategic priorities. In pursuit of its vision as the Premier University of African Scholarship, a key strategy is implementing an Institution-wide performance management system.
Elements of the framework driving a performance-based institutional culture at UKZN were explored, as well as some operational realities and challenges under scrutiny in the first year of the new performance assessment. According to Dr Subban, this paper is part of ongoing research in the area of performance management.

Student and supervisor collaboration

Dr Subban co-presented a paper with her doctoral student, Mr Ramchandra Reddy, the Executive Manager: Governance and Transformation at Emnambithi/Ladysmith Municipality. Their paper was premised on Mr Reddy’s proposed research entitled: Doing more with less: the Shared Service Way – Lessons for Municipalities in South Africa.

Focus on teaching and learning

Dr Subban and Dr Pillay co-presented a paper on the sub-theme: Teaching and Learning, with a paper titled: Enhancing Teaching and Learning through Communities of Practice: A collaborative praxis.

“Collaborative learning is not everything in education, but without collaborative learning, everything is nothing in education” (adapted from Association for the Development of Education in Africa 2006). The focus of the paper was on: student performance is influenced by their academic skills and self-regulatory strategies to learning. Specifically, difficulty in areas such as reading, writing, including for scientific purposes, memory retention, time management and overall organisation in studies, negatively impacts negatively on performance in individual courses whilst reducing the overall likelihood of degree completion. Secondly, students’ individuality and personal experiences impact on their levels of engagement with the content of learning materials which contributes to their knowledge base. The paper examined a few critical focus areas and emphasised the need for independent critical thinkers taking responsibility for their own learning as the ultimate outcome. The added value of social learning whereby learners contribute their experiences and knowledge in significant ways to co-create new knowledge and stimulate their individual performance in a community of practice was the highlight of the paper.
Dr Subban presented a practical example of the teaching methodology she uses in class to enhance students’ performance. This was followed by a dialogue on teaching and learning methodologies amongst academics in the session.

Dr Betty Mubangizi attended the same conference and presented a paper titled: Public Leadership for Citizen Value: Reflecting on Public Administration Teaching and Research. Co-authoured with Mr Francois Theron of Stellenbosch University, this paper explored the interface between public leadership and citizen value.

By analysing existing curricula of Public Administration at selected universities in South Africa, Dr Mubangizi’s paper interrogated the suitability of these curricula in inculcating a people-centred approach to Public Administration teaching and research. The paper concluded that while academic conferences on Public Administration in South Africa were vibrant in their discussion of innovative processes in public administration, and while discourse at such conferences has always emphasised notions of public leadership, public governance and public participation, this is not sufficiently reflected in the curriculum of Public Administration – at least not at the undergraduate level. The paper suggested, among other things, a multi-disciplinary approach to the teaching of Public Administration and the incorporation of a research and a practical component into the curriculum.

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