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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) in partnership with South African Education Research Association (SAERA) is hosting the SAERA conference themed: Beyond Boundaries: Exploring possibilities through research and innovation, taking place at the Elangeni Hotel from Wednesday, 23 to Friday, 25 October 2019.

The SAERA conference is attended by delegates from different universities in South Africa, inclusive of academics, educators and researchers within South Africa and beyond, aimed at promoting research and academic collaboration, theory and practice, encouraging the promotion of research quality, and helping to develop the next generation of researchers.

Speaking on behalf of DUT on day one of the conference (Wednesday, 23 October 2019) was Deputy Vice-Chancellor: People and Operations, Dr Isaac Machi, whom in his opening address spoke at lengths on the possible outputs of the SAERA Conference. He said the conference serves as a point of engagement and a platform to exchange ideas on current research topics in the quest to find lasting solutions for current challenges, whilst continuing to learn from the future as it emerges.

“I believe that by the end of this conference all participants will make a contribution in a manner that will ensure positive outputs, through sharing ideas that will contribute towards tackling some of the most complex challenges that confront human kind in our education sector,” said Dr Machi.

He added that looking at the conference theme it is indeed correct to say the future belongs to a new breed of society and technology, and how the society thinks is the new currency for innovation in research and transformative global change.

“Our nations must transform and develop to nurture a more blended generation of innovation and entrepreneurship leadership through research. This conference will help our innovations take strong paradigms on how we can resolve global challenges and fit in accelerating technology,” he said.

SAERA President Professor Lesley Woods said in putting this conference together, the aim was never for it to just be a conference but to be an educational research body unit that contributes towards education in South Africa by finding workable connections to find solutions.

“Our research has to enable our teachers, learners, school management and department officials to do their jobs effectively with compassion. We cannot continue to produce knowledge about problems without taking any action towards finding solutions,” she said.

She further encouraged delegates to get involved and give support towards making education better in South Africa, adding that such conferences assist in finding workable solutions, building connections and building stronger communities in practice.

Day one of the SAERA conference consisted of four sessions where delegates presented on their conducted research relating to exploring possibilities through research and innovation.

A panel discussion was held on critical educational responses to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR): Meanings, appropriations and critics. Leading the discussion were two panellists from the University of the Witwatersrand Prof Rukshana Osman and Prof Nazir Carrim, alongside Prof Aslam Fataar from Stellenbosch University.

The panel discussion looked at how the fourth Industrial revolution intersects with existing educational discourses, and how it connects with re-arranges, confounds or advances transformative objectives. Most critically, the discussion looked at how 4IR affects the educational sector, curriculum knowledge processes and educational transformation, decoloniality and social injustice in education.

The SAERA conference is a three-day conference, which will end tomorrow (Friday) 25 October 2019.

Pictured: Deputy Vice-Chancellor: People and Operations, Dr Isaac Machi, at the SAERA conference.

Nomfundo Ngcobo

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