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30 November 2020 | Story Nonsidiso Qwabe | Photo Supplied

Acclaimed South African writer, author, and UFS research fellow Zubeida Jaffer was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for her career in journalism during the Standard Bank Sivukile Awards ceremony. 

Passion for journalism spans decades
During the award ceremony on 15 October 2020, Jaffer received the prestigious Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises a sustained and extraordinary contribution to journalism. Jaffer said she never chose journalism, but journalism chose her. She said when she first stepped into a newsroom looking for a holiday job in the 1970s, she did not know she had stepped into her future in news reporting. Since then, Jaffer has earned many accolades in the journalism industry as well as in academia. She also became an acclaimed author, and wrote her third book, Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, during her time as a writer-in-residence at the UFS. While at the UFS, she founded the online media platform, The Journalist, a platform that provides history and context for key issues facing South African journalists. This portal also links students with academics across the country and will soon be extended to the African continent and the diaspora.

Jaffer said she felt blessed to be recognised among the many journalism pioneers in South Africa. 

“It’s extremely wonderful because it came so out of the blue. This year, with COVID-19, I was digging deep, and trying my best to keep focus. I’m very thankful. It’s made me pause, reflect, and realise that a lot of things I’ve done have been of value. When living your life, it’s not that you’re aware of that all the time. There are many people doing great things who don’t always get this kind of recognition,” Jaffer said.

Still a great need for journalists in South Africa 

Talking about journalism today, Jaffer said: “I am often overwhelmed to witness the enthusiasm and determination of young journalists across the country who come from humble backgrounds and inspire those around them. Our country is gripped in a bipolar condition. It is not clear how the healing will come, but it will. The challenge is to keep our minds in balance so that we can be strong enough to root out corruption and gender-based violence, while at the same time fully understanding our blessings as a people.”

UFS alumna Rising Star in Journalism 

In another accolade for the UFS, the Upcoming/Rising Star of the Year award went to former UFS Journalism student Brümilda Swartbooi for her article titled ‘Sy het hard vir ons gewerk’. The article highlighted the senseless killing of a woman outside her workplace, minutes after her husband dropped her off.

Brümilda Swartbooi. Photo: Supplied

News Archive

HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’, says Prof Petersen
2017-08-22

 Description: HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’ Tags: HEMIS training ‘shares insights across institutions’

UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Francis Petersen
presents the welcoming address at the 2017 HEMIS Institute
in Bloemfontein.
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Higher education institutions such as universities need information and accurate data to make critically important management decisions. Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), expressed these sentiments during his introduction at the 2017 HEMIS Institute recently held in Bloemfontein.

Reporting a critical part of HE practice
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) uses its Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) to manage and verify performance data from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) regarding four crucial datasets, namely students, staff, space, and postdoctoral information and research fellows. HEMIS data is collected for quality control, funding, and planning purposes, in particular for steering the system and for monitoring the sector. This data must then be audited, since it is used for subsidy allocations to HEIs.

“Institutional reporting on aspects of what we do as public universities is a critical part of practice in Higher Education,” said Prof Petersen. He added, “Whether about insourcing statistics, … student accommodation, or transformation and indicators within that domain, it’s really all about accurate data with which informed, evidence-based decisions can be made. This HEMIS Institute 2017 ultimately enables us to share insights across institutions, which can grow and strengthen the sector as a whole.”

‘It’s about accurate data with
which informed decisions can
be made’—Prof Francis Petersen

Public and private HEIs attend training alongside government reps
The Institutional Information Systems Unit of the Directorate for Institutional Research and Academic Planning (DIRAP) hosted and presented the Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) HEMIS Foundations workshop and the annual HEMIS Institute in Bloemfontein. These training opportunities were attended by university data managers and representatives from 26 public and private HEIs, as well as representatives from the Council on Higher Education (CHE), DHET, and the Namibian National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). The Foundations workshop was designed to assist those new to the platform to be better acquainted with this data management tool, while the two-day Institute was structured to answer complex questions and address issues around the use of the relevant reporting structures and software.

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