From left: Professor Gueguim Kana, Dr Ansurie Pillay, and Professor Naven Chetty at UKZN’s Distinguished Teachers’ Dinner.

Honouring Distinguished Teachers

UKZN academics, Professor Naven Chetty, Professor Gueguim Kana and Dr Ansurie Pillay received Distinguished Teachers’ Awards at a gala dinner hosted by the University’s Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) at Coastlands on the Ridge.

Welcoming guests, Professor Bala Pillay, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, said the awards recognise and reward excellent teaching. He remarked that while in the past, teaching was often seen as research’s “poor cousin,” there has been a global shift to recognise good teaching, adding that educational institutions are the biggest assets we have.’

Chetty, an Associate Professor in the School of Chemistry and Physics, was recognised for his innovative approach to teaching. Chetty tries to keep students “engrossed and entertained” and uses YouTube and mobile apps to reach “techno-savvy” students.

Kana, an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences, was recognised for his excellent teaching portfolio as well his student-centred approach. Kana said he takes into account the different interests of students and uses web-based interactive tools in his teaching.

Pillay, a senior lecturer in the School of Education, was recognised for her excellent teaching portfolio and promotion of transformative education for social justice and change.

Pillay said she gets a “high” from teaching and emphasised the importance of ensuring students do not feel marginalised.

UKZN alumnus and Cape Peninsula University of Technology academic, Mr Siddique Motala, delivered the keynote address titled Between Art and Science: Storytelling and Ethics in Engineering Education.

Motala emphasised the importance of relating knowledge to the everyday lives of students.

Motala advocated for ethics, social justice, a deliberate focus on Africa, and ‘making space for the students’ voices.’

The event was rounded off by a video montage of the DTA awardees and a selection of their students.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer 

Photograph: Albert Hirasen