The University of Johannesburg (UJ) together with The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor, hosted a Leadership Indaba with students to discuss issues related to leadership, values and the future, on 30 June 2018 at UJ Soweto Campus. The event was attended by over 200 student leaders from across political and religious student organisations in Gauteng.
Minister Pandor was joined by the Head of the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, Ms. Yoliswa Makhasi, the Chairperson of the Moral Regeneration Movement, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa and the Chief Executive Officer of Higher Education and Training HIV/Aids Programme, Dr. Ramneek Ahluwani, who formed a panel to interact with the student leaders.
“This year we celebrate the lives of former president Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu. They were born a hundred years ago. I cannot think of any other hero and heroine as suited to our Indaba on leadership in higher education and training than these two,” said Minister Pandor.
While focused on the promotion of positive and ethical behaviour and leadership, the event was also responsive to issues of gender-based violence, alcohol and drug abuse, various forms of discrimination and crime, at institutions of higher education and training.
The Indaba aimed to address the scourge of these incidents at higher education institutions by calling on student leadership to step forward and take responsibility. It also called for student bodies to rally in support of ethical and progressive leadership.
“Today, as we hope to focus on leadership and values. Remember this first. South African universities are internationally competitive and recognised in a number of fields – in astronomy, as one of the hosts of the Square Kilometre Array, the biggest prospective international investment in African science ever; in paleontology and related sciences because of our rich fossil heritage; and in the health sciences because of the role our scientists are playing in finding a vaccine for HIV,” said Minister Pandor.
Also speaking at the event was Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal who maintained that, “Knowledge is important for our future. As leaders you must read because we are now in an era called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where you have to be open to new ideas as the world is evolving.”
“We need to gain more knowledge to succeed. Our education system must help students develop skills to be creative, said Prof Marwala. “As young leaders, you must also be well behaved. Leadership styles are a learnable quality that anyone can attain through hard work and self-discipline, added Prof Marwala”
A student leader from UJ, Ms Kelejo Mabusa, Community Development Officer, South African Union of students said: “We love sharing great ideas that student leaders can get involved with. This event was a fantastic platform as it allowed students to address issues of concern around areas of funding, accommodation etc. I feel my role as a student leader is to give back to the community and make sure students are satisfied in the education environment”.
The significance of this event was not only to ignite conversations amongst students, but also to significantly contribute towards the establishment of safe and conducive learning environments at institutions of higher education. This event promoted a strengthened culture of positive peer accountability where students will among themselves support ethical and constructive leadership and hold each other accountable for their actions.