The Effects of Virtual Learning

By Amahle Phendu

With virtual learning being the only option during the pandemic, everyone had no choice but to adapt and move with the time.

Virtual learning is an experience in learning supported by electronic devices ,both inside and outside the resources of an educational institution. In this, the learners and teachers are separated physically, and interact mostly in an online environment.

The transition to virtual leaning did not only affect teachers who need to change their way of teaching, it also affected learners who needed to adapt to the new learning environment. One of the most important consequences of this transition to virtual learning is the impact that it has on students’ physical health, mental health and sleeping habits.

Another issue is that while some students have access to resources like reliable internet and libraries, low-income families often cannot provide the same assistance ,thus, virtual learning increases educational inequalities.

As it is clear that virtual learning separates learners and teachers, and this in most cases, leads to social isolation and results in pupils not developing communication skills that are very much important in these times. This is one of the negative effects of not being able to interact with other students and teachers in virtual learning.

These challenges of online learning can impact both learners and teachers to a great extent, as it is clear the negatives of this style of learning are too much to be ignored.

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Post-Break Blues  

By Lelodwa Ngamlana 

Presently, it would be fair that you know exactly what your body needs after a few days of term break – ways to get back into your ‘master routine,’ the one that allows you to get things done.

Many people, during their short-term break, tend to sleep later than usual and give themselves more screentime. However, this unintentionally ruins their sleeping pattern and once the break is over, they may find themselves overtired and end up oversleeping and missing deadlines!

So how do you get your power back? By finding ways to manage your time and avoiding procrastination. This means having a to-do list to become more organized, developing self-discipline and holding yourself accountable for mishaps. If you have noisy housemates or roommates, forge an agreement with them or catch a shuttle and visit the library where you may have fewer distractions.

Holding yourself accountable means paying attention to how you play a part in everything. There will always be disruptions, everywhere, like when you visit the bathroom and catch yourself in the mirror and before long you are taking selfies. It is your responsibility to make sure that it stops right then and there – that it does not lead to you opening social media and inevitably, a rabbit hole. Take self-control.

You deserve a healthy and fruitful routine.

Photo credit: Siyabonga Dlamini

Remembering the Sharpeville Massacre and Langa March

By Siyabulela Ncetani

The youth have always held a crucial role during the struggle for freedom in South Africa, and it would be a vanity to quote history without reconciling its relevance in history. 

Annually, on the 21st of March, Human Rights Day is celebrated – a day that commemorates the horrendous 1960s Sharpeville Massacre that claimed sixty-nine lives and left 180 wounded. The day is historically linked to the injustices of the past, imposed by the Apartheid government on people of colour. These injustices were measured by the form of the Dom Pass law (1952). This law forced every South African of colour over the age of 16 to carry a passport-like document wherever they went. 

Despite this, the remembrance is often isolated to one event, leaving out the Langa March that was a continuation of what happened in Sharpeville. One may ask why this needs to be mentioned or revisited. 

A then 23-year-old Phillip Kgosana – University of Cape Town/Pan Africanist Congress student leader, lead a march. The protest action had about 30 000 to 50 000 protestors offering themselves up for arrest by not carrying a Dom Pass. 

This march being led by a young person holds so much significance today and prompts the need for the continuation of discourse and action as it aims at locating the youth at the centre of any struggle and introduces a narrative that destroys waiting rooms for young leaders and bringing in the consciousness that as a youth, you must occupy and effectively lead on any and every platform. This should remain until the popular and incorrect narrative about youth is erased politically, socially and in corporate lifestyles. 

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Together We Conquer! Divided we Fall! 

By Siziwe Ntyinkala 

Remember when you were younger and all you desired was to attend university? Great news – you have arrived, and you can accomplish everything that you set your mind to. Harsh reality? Full disclosure – with all the demands of varsity life, it is more a nightmare than a dream. Academics? Social life? Finances? Very important, but all that matters is your mental wellness.

Due to the responsibilities and an absence of mental awareness in students, particularly first years from disadvantaged backgrounds, it is easy for them to experience mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. As a result, a third-year psychology student, Siyabonga Kubheka, noted the importance of promoting student mental health as part of off-campus-based mental wellness programmes through Incoko.

“Incoko was inspired by the words of Miss Ayanda Mlatsha and Mr Avela Wana at the PSA central housing committee’s mental health awareness event in September 2021 at 3 on mil residence. I have always wanted to have a safe space where black people, particularly the young, can voice out their personal issues. At first, I thought 10 on smart students would undermine the notion, but to my surprise, participation has been consistently growing, with the support of my team, people are finding healing and the knowledge they require. Which motivated me to put in more effort. I want Incoko to flourish and expand outside of 10 on smart. Even when I graduate from Nelson Mandela University, I want Incoko to go on as a culture for future generations. Incoko is not mine, but ours” says Siyabonga Kubheka during our interview.

Incoko interactions nurtured the warmth of family love and unity – family, like branches on a tree, spreads in several parts, but the roots remain as one. As a result, even students who have relocated to other residences return every Sunday to attend Incoko, reflecting the spirit of holding together in laughter and tears.

Mental illnesses are sometimes unavoidable. Help is available. Keep in touch, ask for help, and always spread love and kindness. Remember it starts with you.

Photo credit: Nhlanhla Sangweni 

Your Licence to Freedom! 

By Liyema Mpompi

As we become older, we realize the necessity of having certain things, like a driver’s licence. This document identifies you as a legally licenced driver and has many benefits – like allowing you to operate a motor vehicle, for job hunting and most importantly, for law enforcement purposes. If you are pulled over by the relevant authorities and fail to produce your licence, you could receive a fine or worse.

Interestingly, the job market now demands a driver’s licence alongside relevant qualifications and experience to be considered for a vacancy. It is important for agencies and companies like Takealot, Uber, Mr D and so forth to require this, but even within other sectors, having a licence is advantageous. It offers a sense of freedom, if you have a licence, you can go anywhere and are considered flexible and of use to the company.

Especially when you are financially stable enough to have a car of your own, you do not want to have to still do your licence. The best option is to get your licence as soon as possible. It is true that the daunting experience and the amount of money spent on driving schools, hiring of vehicles and tests, is not for the faint hearted, but it should not discourage you.

Get your license now and unlock and drive through a journey of freedom! 

Photo credit: Duncan Alfreds

You Deserve a Break 

By Lelodwa Ngamlana 

Right now, you can unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders, and lean over backwards because you deserve a break!

The term has been frustrating thus far, and it is highly likely that at some point, you stopped looking after yourself. Nevertheless, there are so many things you can do to ensure that you rest and fully recharge to finish the semester off strong! As the end of term approaches, you must make an effort to be outside, whether engaging in something enjoyable or sitting in a park, just be outside!

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) has some captivating places open to visit, and you may just find yourself a favourite spot. The NMBM boasts a range of affordable dine-ins to art galleries, even museums! There are wonderful hiking spots where you can capture the most breath-taking pictures of the sky, sunset, and nature alike. Gqeberha also shows off with amazing picnic spots, beautiful beaches, and restaurants where you can break bread with a friend, accompanied by amazing views.

You can exercise, sharpen your swimming skills, or just take a breather. With the Bay’s amazing malls and various outlets, the Bay is your Oyster.

Remember, taking care of yourself is as important as getting high marks.

Photo credit: Siyabonga Dlamini  

Embracing Religious Identity 

By Nhlanhla Mtyali 

Religion is a spiritual and psychological anchor for a lot of students, and universities expose a lot of students to a plethora of beliefs. These beliefs then form part of their identity and can be used to further promote unity among students through sharing and embracing their different religious conformities. 

Among dealing with the stress and pressure of coping with university life, some students find it easy to cope with their academic lives through participating in religious activities. These activities also act as a device that enables them to socialise with other students and some students go as far as viewing it as therapeutic. That affords students to be better acquainted with each other and in turn, embrace different identities and champion for equality. Nelson Mandela University has been sure to support this notion through its policy on Religion/ Belief/ Opinion put in place to make sure that an individual’s religious beliefs are respected as well as the value of human dignity and freedom within religious communities in the university. 

Having students thrive within a safe and valued diverse community ensures a progressive and supportive student life. That will champion mutual respect between students and staff members, which is pivotal for individual and collective growth in the Madibaz community and ensure continued freedom of expression. Promoting religious practices for those who are already practising them and for those who are willing to start, would be very beneficial in terms of contributing towards working for a common goal of an equal, progressive, and just society both within and outside the university. 

Being reflective of Nelson Mandela University’s vision and mission which is to provide a supportive and affirming environment that enables students and staff to reach their full potential. Embracing religious identities would also pave the way for further promotion of integration with other forms of individuality and shun discrimination. 

Photo credit: Pixabay 

Injustice, In Any Form, Jeopardizes Justice! 

By Siziwe Ntyinkala 

It has been two years since seven Nelson Mandela University student leaders were arrested during a February protest in 2020. They were fighting for students’ right to free education, including funding, housing, and registration. Three of them were released on the same day, while four of which namely Zukisa Sigoxo, Ngcaliyethu Dingani, Siyamdumisa Vena & Siyamcela Mantshontsho were released on bail and are still under investigation and are appearing in court up to date. Their case has been dragging with no concrete evidence or charges since 2020, raising the question of whether the state and the institution are seeking justice or attempting to demonstrate what will happen should there be any more protest using this tactic. 

The lack of support from the student community as the case proceeds is a sign that the case has been long forgotten, even though this was a fight for the benefit of the entire student community, the struggle continues to this day. 

“Indeed, the situation of our arrest in a student protest in 2020 has affected me severely. Academically I couldn’t complete my degree on record time because of the stress of constantly having to appear in court almost every month. The postponements are costly because I must save money, I don’t even have much to be able to travel to court. Emotionally it’s so demanding and draining. One could see that we are isolated and we are on our own.  I even attended counselling because the load was unbearable. This case has made my life a misery, it’s so heartbreaking when you realise that despite being subjected to courts every month. The issues you were arrested for are still not resolved. Students are still struggling to register, to find accommodation. Free education is a dream that seems to take forever to come through” says Zukisa Sigoxo. On their court appearance on February 11th, 2022, their case was postponed to March 22nd, 2022. This gives their attorney, Adv. Nyoka, time to prepare as the court presented new evidence. 

In times of oppression, we must reaffirm our values and commitments as students; justice is more than a buzzword; it is a rallying call. Now is the time to put it into action through advocacy and actions because what appears to be justice to others is misery to some. It is essential to fight against the unjust treatment of the poor in academic institutions, as well as other injustices. Injustices never rest and we cannot either; an injury to one is an injury to all. 

Photo credit: news24 

Male Birth Control? Almost. 

By Liyema Mpompi 

In South Africa, we have witnessed a growing number of unwanted pregnancies and teenage pregnancies. These statistics are traced through the number of people who file for adoption and abortion. Various interventions have been made available to prevent such circumstances through contraception. 

Condoms work up to 98% of the time to block conception and also protect you from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) like herpes and chlamydia. But if you don’t wear protection the right way every time you have intercourse, your chances for an accidental pregnancy can be surprisingly high. Some estimates put it at nearly 1 in 5. 

The ongoing debate is how far we have gotten with male birth control pills. Various attempts have been made to create a safe male birth control pill as an alternative measure of women being the only ones to take preventative medication. The first problem was participation hesitancy. We have seen men being resistant to the trials because of possible side effects. The other birth control alternatives that are being researched, are vas occlusive injected gels which are injected into the vas deferens that blocks sperm from travelling into seminar fluids. The other is a topical gel that is meant to be rubbed on your shoulders which blocks testosterone in the testicles. 

The main point is the sense of urgency to assist and reduce the national crisis of unwanted pregnancy by introducing these birth control pills and that as far, no male birth pill has been made for use as strict and thorough research is still being done. 

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Embracing Change 

By Luyolo Mapekula

There are many different types of first-year students. Regardless of the type, they all need assistance with the transition from high school to university. Having said that, let’s all get excited and take some notes. 

Obviously, when you first get to varsity you will encounter many challenges and one of those is the difference in attention between your high school teacher and your lecturer. No one is going to push you to study, you will have to push yourself. You will also be forced to find your own learning strategy. Make use of meta-cognitive strategies as these strategies may be helpful in finding a balance between the heavy workloads that you will receive in varsity. It is also very important as a first-year student to manage your time. Time management is the key to literally everything. 

Students are at higher risk of developing mental health problems. Believe me when I say UZOGOWA! Students are more exposed to stress, which could lead to mental health problems like depression and anxiety. For students to improve their mental health, they need to conjure up the courage to speak to a free therapist. Every university provides one, take time out to enjoy yourself, visit family members and find some hobbies. 

The change from classroom learning to online or blended can be beneficial to students depending on how disciplined they are. Advantages include being able to learn in your own comfort zone and having that sense of flexibility. One should be careful with how one treats online learning. 

Procrastination is a big issue when it comes to blended learning. Falling behind on your work creates a domino effect that is hard to reverse. With blended learning, enjoy your own space but also engage in social interactions with students on campus. It’s important to join a study group as this will ensure a safe community for you to learn and grow in. 

This is to my introverts since we struggle the most with socializing. I highly recommend joining those societies. Join drama, choir, public speaking, MadibazNews, MadibazRadio etc. This will make you work in teams thus enabling you to talk to people daily – thus widening your circle of acquaintances or even better – your circle of friends. 

Are you afraid of losing iphakade lakho – your soulmate – your mjolo? Well, you should be. Just kidding. Relationships from home do not have to change, it all depends on the effort from both sides. Are you both willing to make it work, regardless of distance? Forming new relationships is important. Embrace the change. Find someone. Fall in love. A lot. Trust me, you won’t regret it. 

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