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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) continues to commend all its essential service workers for their dedication and commitment in providing services to the DUT community during the COVID-19 pandemic. DUT’s Communications team’s Waheeda Peters spoke to Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Coordinator, Sanele Emmanuel Khubone from the Department of Ecotourism, who is based at DUT’s Riverside Campus.

Q: Describe your role at your campus, and what your job entails as a WIL coordinator?

A: “My role as the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Coordinator is to provide effective coordination of WIL portfolio in the Department of Ecotourism. The coordination includes among other things the support and administration of WIL related activities with students enrolled for the final year of their studies for the ND: Ecotourism. As a Portfolio Coordinator, I play a critical role in establishing, maintaining and extending partnerships with the tourism industry, government and community organisation to support student WIL opportunities. Through such collaborations, I play a key role in creating and facilitating the platform by which there is a dialogue between the Department of Ecotourism and the Tourism Industry.”

Q: How long have you been at this position?

A: “I started in March 2019 on a contractual base, but in June 2020 I received a full time appointment.”

Q: How vital is your role in terms of nurturing and guiding students in their careers, especially during COVID-19?

A: “Work Integrated Learning in simplest terms is a programme by which students will learn to translate the theoretical knowledge learnt from the classroom into the practical world of work. The programme assist students to identify their strengths and weaknesses in as far as the tourism corporate environment is concern, this opportunity enables each student to focus their strengths on specific careers that exist within the tourism sector.

As a WIL Coordinator, I play a critical role in coordinating the attendance of Ecotourism students to the “World of Work” “WoW” an annual career expo, event led by the Cooperative Education Department. My role also includes conducting lectures to introduce the programme to all registered WIL students, provide briefing and a list of careers that exist within various sectors of the tourism industry. Part of the planning for the student placement includes the coordination of the Work Preparedness Workshops where students are skilled with knowledge to manage the transition between the theoretical learning (Campus and student life) and practical learning (Corporate individual and a professional).

Q: As a former student at DUT how does this enhance your role as WIL coordinator, in terms of understanding the challenges students have?

A: “I remember how we used to struggle with finding in-service training placement by ourselves as students. I remember how we used to struggle with accommodation and transport fare because we were not getting paid by the host organisation. I remember the Logbooks and the assessment system that was not student inclusive in my view, the assessment method at that time was not promoting creative thinking from students and that was frustrating in my experience.

I am giving this background to support why the following initiatives have been introduced since my arrival. We have introduced an Online University Management System (OLUMS) for both administration and assessment activities, we do not need logbooks anymore and the system encourages students to use technology as well as creative thinking.

In short I think me being a student of this university and have been on the receiving end of the hierarchy, somewhat gave me that comfortability to action my ideas that were informed by my very experiences as a student.”

Q: What are your hobbies?

 A: “Playing musical instruments, such as piano, guitar and drums.” 

Q: With Envision 2030, how do you aim to incorporate these objectives from the strategy plan in what you do?

A: “Collaborations and partnerships with various entities is at the top of what I do, we have revived the Ecotourism Advisory Board Committee that comprises of representatives from various district municipalities in the province to ensure that the Department of Ecotourism engages with a broader society. My role includes the coordination of the Advisory Board where we invite various tourism role players to discuss new immerging challenges and possible solutions thereof, in this process the department of Ecotourism is able the update the curriculum that will respond to the challenges as identified by the industry role players.  Ecotourism is a concept that in its principles promote local economic development, my focus therefore has been the placement of students to community based ecotourism organisations to simply ensure that students are exposed to the concept of community engagement.”

Q: What do you treasure the most in life?

 A: “My health.”

A: What advice can you impart to DUT students who want to be part of the WIL?

A: “Students who want to conduct their WIL successfully should first have a learning attitude. Those students who are not willing to learn are most likely to cause frustration to themselves, frustrated students are more likely to have issues of behaviour at work, thus frustrating the host organisation. In this situation the student cannot learn or benefit anything from the programme (WIL).

My final word (to those who wants to be, and those who are part of the programme already) is, whatever your hands find to do, do with all your strength, and accuracy because you learn in everything you do, and that knowledge will develop you into a competitive professional; either as an immerging entrepreneur or an employee.”

Pictured: Sanele Emmanuel Khubone

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