Monthly Archives: June 2015

Da Vinci celebrates the realisation of the principles of the Freedom Charter

The Freedom Charter was the statement of core principles of the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the African National Congress and its allies the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People’s Congress. It is characterized by its opening demand; The People Shall Govern!
In 1955, the ANC sent out fifty thousand volunteers countrywide to collect ‘freedom demands’ from the people of South Africa. This system was designed to give all South Africans equal rights. Amongst these was a demand for  “Free and compulsory education, irrespective of colour, race or nationality”, which was with other demands synthesized into the final document by ANC leaders including Z.K. Mathews and Lionel ‘Rusty’ Bernstein.
The Charter was officially adopted on June 26, 1955 at a Congress of the People in Kliptown, Johannesburg. The meeting was attended by roughly three thousand delegates but was broken up by police on the second day, although by then the charter had been read in full. The crowd had shouted its approval of each section with cries of ‘Afrika!’ and ‘Mayibuye!’
The document is notable for its demand for and commitment to a non-racial South Africa. The charter also calls for democracy and human rights, land reform, labour rights and nationalization. After the congress was denounced as treason by the then South African government, the then ANC was banned and 156 activists were arrested, including Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned in 1962. However, the charter continued to circulate in the underground and inspired many a people to work towards a free and fair South Africa.
The Constitution of a democratic South Africa as agreed upon by fellow South Africans during 1994, included in its text many of the demands called for in the Freedom Charter. Nearly all the enumerated concerns regarding equality of race and language were directly addressed in the constitution. Matters related to the nationalization of industry and the redistribution of land, however still needs to be addressed in a meaningful way.
The principles of The Freedom Charter can be summarised as follows:
  • The people shall govern!
  • All national groups shall have equal rights!
  • The people shall share in the country`s wealth!
  • The land shall be shared among those who work it!
  • All shall be equal before the law!
  • All shall enjoy equal human rights!
  • There shall be work and security!
  • The doors of learning and culture shall be opened!
  • There shall be houses, security and comfort!
  • There shall be peace and friendship!
The Da Vinci Institute celebrates the marking of the realisation of these principles and is committed towards making a meaningful contribution to the development of sustainable solutions for the country. This is done by way of contributing towards the managerial leadership debate required to facilitate an engagement amongst all the people of our country in an attempt to co-create a future which will belong to all its people. 

Our Community have shared their thoughts on the Freedom Charter:

Mr Sechaba Motsieloa, Chairman of Da Vinci Council, “Any evolving society needs a vision that outlives the generation that conceives it.  For many generations to come, we, the people of South Africa, will forever be indebted to the people that adopted the Freedom Charter back in 1955 in Kliptown, Johannesburg.  It is the responsibility of current and future generations to make it relevant in their lifetime.”

Dr Shirley Lloyd, Alumni Representative on Da Vinci Council, The principles of the Freedom Charter remain as important and relevant today as when they were first penned and accepted. As South Africans we have come a far way in translating the words of the Charter into action. All South Africans have the vote; we have a wonderful constitution which provides for equality before the law, and human rights. Much remains to be done to implement the progressive vision and ideals of the Charter, especially in the realms of people sharing in the country’s wealth, land ownership, work and security and houses and comfort. We are reminded on a daily basis of the plight of many of our brothers and sisters. But I believe we must not get downhearted when we hear and see the often significant challenges we still have to overcome. I believe our young democracy has the benefit of being implemented and lived by robust, creative, vibrant and energetic people of all races groups, male and female alike. I believe that the spirit of those who carefully crafted the words of the Freedom Charter is in each one of us and we need to take courage that we can and must continue to work towards all the good things that being South African at this time in our history can bring.”

Mr Moeketsi Letseka, Educational Specialist on Da Vinci Council, The Freedom Charter is an historic document that arose out of nation-wide advocacy, organisation, lobbying and mobilisation of all progressive sections of society by the then Congress of the People Campaign. Adoption of the Charter during June 25-26 of 1955 therefore marked a pivotal point in the history of the struggle of the majority of the African peoples against a myriad of apartheid-induced injustices in South Africa. Pivotal in the sense that for the first time in the history of the anti-apartheid campaign an assertive and more focused document that epitomised a vision of the struggling masses of country was adopted. The Charter mapped out a vision for the mass democratic movements, a vision that made clear and unequivocal statements on:

Governance: “The people shall govern”;
Rights: “All national groups shall have equal rights”;  
Wealth: “All shall share in the country’s wealth”;
Land: “Land shall be shared among those who work it”;
Equality: “All shall be equal before the law”;
Human Rights: “All shall enjoy equal human rights”;
But for me as an educationist, the most important declaration of the Charter was on culture and education:
“The doors of learning and of culture shall be opened”.
60 years after the adoption of the Freedom charter we need to reflect on this very important statement on culture and education. In the introduction to my book, Open Distance Learning (ODL) in South Africa (Nova Publishers: New York, 2015) I note, in my rebuttal of Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s  (2013) irresponsible claim that South Africa’s education “was better before the advent of democracy”, that apartheid South Africa was a fascist state run by a minority white Afrikaner junta under the banner of the then conservative Nationalist Party (NP). The NP was unapologetic about its discriminatory and segregationist socio-political, economic and cultural stance”, a point Dr Ramphele knows too well given her background in the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). The point of this is that the type of education provided under the circumstances in which one race presumed a position of superiority and arrogantly discriminated against other races that were different from it cannot be regarded as better for those against whom the system discriminated. To think like that is, to quote Algerian activist, Frantz Fanon (1986), to “have a black skin, but to wear a white mask”.
Where are we 60 years after the adoption of the Freedom Charter with respect to education and culture? Great strides have been made, and these need to be acknowledged. Access to education for the majority of South Africans has been achieved. The number of children enrolled in schools has more than quadrupled. The number of you people enrolling in higher education institutions has also increased exponentially.
The only Achilles Heel hounding our education system is ‘quality’. South Africa’s education system continues to perform poorly when assessed by continental and international evaluation bodies – The Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ); Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), to mention a few. As I noted in my article my article, which appears in the Bloomington, Indiana-based international education journal, Phi Delta Kappan, “South African education has promises to keep and miles to go”, (Letseka, 2013).
Mr Richard Goddard, Da Vinci Faculty member, The anniversary of the Freedom Charter means many things for many different people. For me, the freedom of education is an important aspect to this Charter. Gone are the days where we create elitist education systems and segregated systems, such as `Bantu Education’, for the benefit of the few. Plato sums up the freedom of education: “Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.” (Plato, The Republic). Critical thinking and mode 2 learning is essential in our new South Africa if we wish to instil passion and grow entrepreneurship, especially amongst our youth.”

Da Vinci Power of 50 Graduation

The Power of 50 is a partnership between the Da Vinci Institute, Investec, Umuzi Photo Club and the Creative Council aimed at training and developing talented young people to become active participants in South Africa’s creative economy. First piloted in 2014, this one year learnership programme offers passionate 20-25 year-olds a platform to launch their professional journeys into the creative industry.

To mark a full year of dedication, resilience and sheer hard work on the part of participants and all our partners, The Power of 50 hosted its inaugural graduation on Thursday 25 June 2015 at the Investec Head Office in Sandton, Johannesburg. This is a significant milestone for all involved.

For Da Vinci, Investec, Umuzi and the Creative Council, it’s was a celebration of the power of partnership. Most importantly, it is was a celebration of the graduates’ out of the ordinary performance. A celebration of those who have realised that dreams without actions will remain just dreams. 

Congratulations to all our graduates. Your hard work has 

Member of Da Vinci Council talks about his new book

Edgar Rathelele recently interviewed Moeketsi Letseka about his new book. Letseka is an Educational Specialist on the Da Vinci Council and is a senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Foundations in the College of Education (CEDU) at Unisa.
Tell us about your upcoming book?
The book’s title is Open Distance Learning (ODL) in South Africa and it was published in March 2015 by Nova Publishers in New York, USA.
How did it come about?
In 2012, I co-authored a chapter as lead author with Professor Victor Pitsoe with the title Access to higher education through open distance learning (ODL): Reflections on the University of South Africa (Unisa). The chapter appears in a book edited by Rubby Dhunpath and Renuka Vithal called Access to higher education: Under-prepared students or under-prepared institutions?published by Pearson, Cape Town. In 2013, Pitsoe and I published an article titled Reflections on assessment in open distance learning (ODL): The case of the University of South Africa (Unisa), which appeared in Open Praxis, 5 (3), 197-206, the official journal of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) in Oslo, Denmark. In 2014, we published the article titled The challenges and prospects of access to higher education at Unisa, in Studies in Higher Education, 39 (10), 1942-1954. Studies in Higher Education is the official journal of the Society for Research into Higher Education, based in London.
These publications provided the basis for putting together Open distance learning (ODL) in South Africa. I searched the available literature and to my dismay found that no authoritative book on open distance learning (ODL) had emanated from Unisa. I saw this as a challenge and an opportunity to venture where others fear to tread. The book is the first in a trilogy of books I’ve planned. While plans are afoot for the launch of Open distance learning (ODL) in South Africa, I’ve already commissioned its sequel, a 16-chapter volume titled Open distance learning (ODL) through the philosophy of Ubuntu. Submission of the manuscript is scheduled for October this year and the book should be ready for publication in April/May 2016. The third and final volume of the planned trilogy, Assuring institutional quality in open distance learning (ODL) in the developing contexts will be co-edited with Dr Ruth Aluko of the University of Pretoria and Professor Victor Pitsoe of CEDU.
How long did it take to finally have the hard copy?
The call for chapters was issued in June 2014. The schedule of activities leading to the eventual publication of the hard copy was indeed a labour of love that entailed setting a date for submission of different iterations of draft chapters, review processes by a team of critical readers that I put together from a pool of reviewers who review manuscripts for me as editor-in-chief of Africa Education Review. This is an important process that needed to be carried out with diligence, given that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) only recognises for subsidy purposes books that have clear evidence of a rigorous peer-review process. In short, it took nine months from the date of commissioning to the date of publication.
What is the book about?
The title of the book, Open distance learning (ODL) in South Africa, says it all. It is about open distance learning in South Africa, but with the emphasis on ODL processes and practices at Unisa. The book explores Unisa’s mission statement, participation rates, assessment, best practices, pass rates, throughput rates, student support, the link between Unisa’s programmes and the labour market, and the plausibility for Unisa to shift from its ODL orientation to becoming an open distance e-learning (ODeL) institution.
Who did you work with on the book?
I was really privileged to invite, and gain acceptance from such a wonderful team of local scholars. The initial core of the team who bounced the idea around included my lovely wife, who is also a colleague at CEDU; Dr Matsephe Letseka, a dear friend of mine, and Victor Pitsoe, with whom I have been collaborating since our days in the old Department of Educational Studies. In fact, Letseka and Pitsoe co-authored chapter 5, Best practices in open distance learning assessment.
I could not envisage this sort of book on ODL without the participation and contribution of two important individuals on ODL at Unisa. First, Professor Mpine Makoe, who is head of the Institute of Open Distance Learning (IODL) at Unisa who authored chapter 2, A fit for purpose: Mission for widening access through open distance learning, and Professor Paul Prinsloo, now with the College of Economic and Management Sciences (CEMS), who contributed chapter 3, Participation in open distance learning. During 2011 and 2012, I served with Prinsloo on the Unisa Task Team 6 on ODL Student Retention that was chaired by the late Professor George Subotzky and was immensely impressed by his grasp of Unisa’s ODL processes.
I co-authored chapter 6 with Keleco Karel, an emergent scholar and Unisa doctoral student who is also an academic staff member in the Department of Adult Basic Education and Training and Youth Development.
The book is also a collaborative endeavour with my research associates at the University of Pretoria (UP) and the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN). Dr Ruth Aluko of the Unit for Distance Education at the University of Pretoria (UP) contributed chapter 7, Throughput rates in open distance learning; Dr Ruth Mampane of the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Pretoria (UP) contributed chapter 4, Assessment in open and distance learning; while Dr Monaheng Sefotho, also of the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Pretoria (UP), contributed chapter 10, The nexus between open distance learning and the labour market.
I then worked with Dr Rubby Dunpath and his wife Shakila Dhupath, who jointly contributed chapter 9, Student support for open distance learning (ODL). I worked with Dunpath at the Human Sciences Research Council prior to my tenure at Unisa and he edited the volume on Access to higher education to which Pitsoe and I contributed a chapter.
Chapter 8, Conceptions of success in open distance learning, is a contribution by Pitsoe and Dr Gezani Baloyi, Department of Adult Basic Education and Training and Youth Development. Finally, chapter 11 is a chapter I co-authored with Dr Sindile Ngubane-Mokiwa of the Institute of Open Distance Learning (IODL) at Unisa.
This is therefore a book that features intra-institutional collaboration, but more so capacity building at Unisa as evidenced by collaborative co-authorship with emerging black researchers and women researchers at Unisa, namely Letseka, Baloyi, Ngubane-Mokiwa and Karel.
What distinguishes this book from others in the field?
As mentioned above, there was no authoritative book by Unisa on ODL. This book therefore explores areas in ODL that have only been tackled in isolated ways in the form of journal articles. Most importantly, this book is not an isolated once-off publication, but forms part of a trilogy that I’ve planned on ODL at Unisa.
What does it mean to you?
It means a lot. Words alone cannot describe what this books means to me. Publication of a book is a demonstration of the author/editor’s tenacity, determination, and focus in starting something as big as putting together a book project, and seeing it through to its logical conclusions. A book containing contributions from various is even more difficult because it requires leadership skills and persuasion to convince fellow scholars and researchers to accept the editor’s vision. A book editor also needs to manage the team to adhere to timelines, to deliver quality work of the type of scholarship upon which you can bet your integrity, and finally he or she has to manage the business side of the project with, in this case, a publishing house in a different continent. These are some of the challenges that I had to overcome.
When are you launching the book?
Plans for the launch are currently underway. It is envisaged that the book will be officially launched at CEDU late in June 2015. An announcement will soon be made.
In the meantime what should people do if they want the book?
The publishers have issued an advertisement flyer that also bears the order form. Anyone who wants to place an order can send an e-mail to letsem@unisa.ac.zaand I will be more than willing to provide the book marketing flyer and the book order form.
Where to from here?
As I said, this is only the beginning. A trilogy of books on ODL is planned: Open distance learning (ODL) in South Africa; Open distance learning (ODL) through the philosophy of ubuntu, and Assuring institutional quality in open distance learning (ODL) in the developing contexts. As I have said, the first of this trilogy is hot off the press. The sequel has already been commissioned and submission is scheduled for October 2015 and publication is slated to be in April/May 2016.

TT100 Internship: Closure of 2014 Programme

The closure of the TT100 Internship Programme for 2014 took place on Friday 29 May 2015 at the Modder Sports Club situated in Modderfontein, Gauteng. An Awards ceremony was also held as part of the final farewell, as the below interns were awarded in their respective categories. 

Best Presenter: Thabo Moilwe 

Most Improved: Phillemon Mamabolo

Initiative Award: Elliot Mabitsela

All rounder of the year : Tumelo Selokela

Most improved English: Victor Mahlo

Confidence Award: Charks Matlala

Most Opinionated Award: Donald Matunda

Most Sociable Award: Nkateko Ngobeni

Humour Award: Mulalo Ranwedzi

Portfolio of Evidence: Sanele Jiyane

Conscientious Effort: Zama Nxumalo

Continuous Striving: Nomcebo Sithole


The Coaching team which consisted of Deirdre Marcus, Margaret Drake and Zoe Loeve announced the awards and each awinner received a book as a prize, which was specifically chosen to suit their individuality. After the awards were announced, Mrs Marcus thanked the mentors and the contributing Da Vinci team members which assisted with the internship programme throughout 2014. These members were Marizanne Burger (Operations Manager), Piet Swanepoel (Operations Support) and Storm Thomas (Communications Manager). Other individuals that were thanked was Rachel Kobe who used to work with the interns and Caryn Myers, Senior Consultant at Oriole Consulting, who has assisted TT100 with legal advise over the years. The internship is sponsored by the Department of Science and Tecnology and representative Phineas addressed the interns and attendees and thanking them for their participation, whilst encouraging further growth as they proceed on their journeys.


After the final speeches and thank you’s, lunch was served and the interns got to enjoy a game of human foosball which was a great success. To all the interns and mentors, thank you for your hard work, passion and energy that you have displayed at the respective host companies.



Second group of BCom Supply Chain students start their journey

On the second of June 2015, nineteen individuals from various companies within the courier industry entered the Da Vinci Institute, situated in Modderfontein. With a clear purpose and intention to journey on a road of co-creation and life-long learning, the energy within Da Vinci escalated as the excitement and nerves started to filter. 

The Da Vinci welcoming was orchestrated by Thrishan Naicker, Key Account Manager for the BCom Supply Chain cohorts. Garry Marshall, CEO of SAEPA addressed the students with encouraging and inspiring words. Marshall stated that gone are the days of old when people with just experience and no formal qualifications operate within the Supply Chain industry. The future of the courier industry is dependant on allowing passionate individuals to learn but also to focus importance on the application of such. 


Dr Linda Chipunza carries out personalised student support for all students and in her gentle character, encouraged students to find that balance within their own lives in how to effectively manage work pressures, home life and that of a study routine. As working adults it is often hard to take on an additional task of studying, and this is commendable and achievable. Dr Chipunza relayed her support to the students and also advised them of Shadowmatch, which is a behavourial pattern tool to establish various behaviours which allow positive action, rather than negative.


Ronald Mlalazi is a Da Vinci associate and is a colleague at Commerce Edge, procurement and supply chain management faculty at Da Vinci. Mr Mlalazi congratulated students for having the courage to take the first step on this journey and offered words of wisdom in accomplishing this great achievement.


The first workshop for students was facilitated by Mr Joshua Bhengu and consisted of Self, Other and Social Context (SOS), Problem Solving, Creative thinking and decision making (PCD) and Managerial Leadership Development (MLD). True to Da Vinci’s purpose is the notion of cultivating managerial leaders, of which these three modules apply strongly to. Each one of these nineteen individuals are a managerial leader within themselves and the co-creation of such modules assists in unlocking and unleashing the very potential to become a great managerial leader.