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Help at Hand For Budding and Talented Writers At DUT

Help at Hand For Budding and Talented Writers At DUT

Writing Centres Interview 002

Staff and students at the Durban University of Technology are being urged to take advantage of the University’s Writing Centres, a new initiative which is being piloted to promote both academic and creative writing among the University community.

The Writing Centres, being run under the office of the DVC: Academic, Professor Nomthandazo Gwele, have been established in all DUT and PMB campuses, with the exception of Brickfield and Ritson campuses. Staff and students at these campuses will be serviced by the City and Steve Biko campuses respectively. It is however important to note that the Writing Centre in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the DUT City Campus has been operational since 2008.

To date, the Writing Centres, which are expected to be in full swing before the end of this academic term (June 21, 2013), have already assisted 39 post graduate students from the Faculty of Accounting and Informatics through a series of workshops held between March 14 and April 17 this year (2013). Several students from other faculties have also been assisted in this respect.

“It is important to note that the Centres are not remedial”, said Dr Gift Mheta, the Project Coordinator. “The Writing Centers are there to assist both staff and students with writing challenges, be it conference papers, dissertations, poetry, short stories, etc. They are also there to help those who are already talented because there’s always room for improvement. Even a sharp spear needs constant polishing. We’ve had a number of staff members who have approached us for assistance in terms of (writing) articles and conference papers and we have offered them the assistance they needed. Students are, on the other hand, generally being assisted with academic writing. The Centres came as an intervention to help students with this,” said Dr Mheta.

He said the workshops are mainly intended to assist post graduate students who are writing their Masters or PhD dissertations, adding that the Centre is planning to host others (workshops). “We are also hoping to work with the University’s Centre for Research Management & Development. We are however yet to finalise details of our collaboration”, said Dr Mheta.

Modern technology such as turn-it-in, a leading technology which assists teachers and students to check academic plagiarism, will also be used at the Writing Centres. The Writing Centres will operate through a booking system. Those needing assistance will be required to contact, or in the case of students, email the designated manager at the respective centre and make an appointment. Students are reminded that assistance is free of charge and that the Centre will only accept bookings made via their DUT4life emails.

The tutors, who will give one-on-one assistance are mainly Masters and PhD students who have “demonstrated that they are passionate about writing”. They have also undergone rigorous interviews and received the relevant training, said Dr Mheta.

To date, 21 tutors have been recruited for the Centres. Because tutor distribution will be done according to student numbers, the Steve Biko and ML campuses will be allocated more (tutors) compared to other campuses.

“As a Centre, our focus is not on academic writing per se, we also want to promote creative writing,” said Dr Mheta. In line with this, the Centre will run a short story competition in September this year (2013) in support of budding writers. The competition is meant to honour and celebrate the life and achievements of the late literary great, Chinua Achebe, who passed away at the age of 83. The Nigerian author, who died on March 21, 2013, is known the world over for having played a germinal role in the founding and development of African literature.

“We want to celebrate his works. The competition will only be open to students. Big prizes, including a laptop and books written by Chinua Achebe will be up for grabs. Students must keep an eye on their DUT4life emails because that is where details of the competition will be communicated to them,” he said.

Dr Mheta said the project will be formally launched some time in September this year (2013). The date will be confirmed soon. “There are no writing centres without students and members of staff. We want them (our staff and students) to make use of these Centres which are there to help everyone whether they are budding, challenged or talented writers. Our doors are always open and we would also want to get feedback so we continue to improve,” he said.

The locations and contact details of the Writing Centres are as follows:

Steve Biko Campus

Venue: Allan Pittendrigh Library, Seminar Room 1, Ground Floor.

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 9h00 to 17h00.

Contact person: Shahieda Kraft, ext: 6735/e-mail:

ML Sultan Campus

Venue: BM Patel Library, Ground Floor Office and Second Floor (Audio-visual Room).

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 9h00 to 17h00.

Contact person: Nereshnee Govender, ext: 6701/ e-mail:

Indumiso Campus

Block 7 (Offices formerly occupied by Protec).

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 9h00 to 17h00.

Contact person: Nonhlanhla Patience Zuma, ext: 9061/ e-mail:

Riverside Campus

Venue: Postgraduate Computer Lab.

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 9h00 to 17h00.

Contact person: Nonhlanhla Patience Zuma, ext: 9061/e-mail:

City Campus

Venue: Faculty of Arts and Design, Room 124.

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 8h00 to 16h00.

Contact person: Andrea Alcock, ext: 2365/

– Sinegugu Ndlovu

Pictured: Dr Mheta (behind) is captured while having a discussion with one of the tutors, Qiniso Nkosi at the Steve Biko Campus Writing Centre. Nkosi is currently doing his BTech in Biotechnology.

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