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Faculty of Accounting and Informatics lectures, Dr Musawenkosi Ngibe and Miss Mbali Msomi, founders of the Academics in Action organisation, presented 30 boxes of school shoes, 30 shoe brushes and 30 black shoe polishes to learners at the Thembalihle Primary School, Umzimkhulu, recently

Academics in Action is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2021 by DUT’s Dr Ngibe and Miss Msomi.  Dr Ngibe is one of the youngest most published scholars in the Faculty of Accounting and Informatics at the Durban University of Technology. He is currently employed in the Department of Information and Corporate Management as a lecturer.  Miss Msomi is a lecturer in the Department of Management Accounting who has over a decade worth of experience in Teaching and Learning. She has vast knowledge and expertise in promoting teaching and learning excellence to undergraduate pupils. Her fundamental role is ensuring that first-year students transition smoothly from high school into a university setting. Miss Msomi is also currently pursuing a PhD in Accounting.

Msomi explained that the idea of formulating such a community engagement project which was presented to her by Dr Ngibe, was based on his childhood experiences and straight away she could relate to his ideas and accepted his request to partner with him.

“This drive does not only give school shoes and other necessities to children who are underprivileged but it also gives them hope, in a sense that they one day will be in our shoes and assist others like them in the foreseeable future,” she said.

When it comes to the selection process of which schools will be the beneficiaries for the school shoes, Dr Ngibe said that a random selection approach is made after the team does a thorough research of the schools identified in that particular selection process of the year.

“Currently, the scope is very narrow considering the limited resources we have and that is why our focus in on primary schools located in KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.

Adding further on the role of the organisation, Miss Msomi said that the organisation is devoted to identifying and reaching out to impoverished primary schools across KwaZulu-Natal and awarding them with school shoes and other school necessities on an annual basis.

“We call this initiative a school shoe drive,” she said.

Dr Ngibe added that Thembalihle Primary School coordinated the event and Academics in Action was involved in awarding the school shoes to the pupils. During the ceremony, Dr Ngibe, was one of the guest speakers. He spoke profoundly on the importance of community engagement and ploughing back to the community.

“a child is not only raised by its immediate family, but by the community, meaning that we as the community need to lend a helping hand in order to better the livelihood of our children,” said Dr Ngibe in his address to the school.

Dr Ngibe further focused his attention towards the learners and admired their resilience and passion for education, regardless of their circumstances or challenges they might be facing.

In presenting the shoes, Dr Ngibe informed the learners that ‘the road to education is very steep, rough and burdensome without shoes or strong shoes, however, with strong and comfortable shoes, the road to education becomes much more sensational and exciting.

Dr Ngibe further encouraged the learners to pay attention and focus in class as this will help them progress in their grades and eventually, after many years of studying be able to register at DUT for tertiary education.

Concluding his address, Dr Ngibe enlightened everyone that the shoe drive is not only meant to plough back to the community, but to plough a seed of ‘ubuntu’ in learners so that they can realise the importance of helping one another.

Msomi explained the vital importance for the DUT community to become involved in this initiative by donating school shoes and supporting the organisation financially so that they can collectively improve the livelihoods and the future of primary school learners.

She expressed that they have also seen that the cost of travelling to the school is very expensive and are appealing to the DUT community to help the organisation by contributing financially towards transportation costs.

It is clear from our ENVISION2030 strategy plan that community engagement is fundamental to what DUT is and what it stands for. Community engagement is what makes DUT strong and recognised around the world. Our initiative benefits not only the learner receiving the shoes, but also the parent who will save money, and the school teachers who will teach happy learners. Therefore, community engagement is very important since it tends to benefit not only one person, but the entire community,” Dr Ngibe stressed.

Pictured: Learners from Thembalihle Primary School with their school shoes from DUT’ s Academics in Action organisation. (Photo Credit: Thandile Khiwa).

Waheeda Peters

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