(Un)Conference 2021

(Un)Conference 2021

Theme: Sivela phi? Siphi? Siya phi? – Being resilient, responsive and relevant in a shifting Higher Education context

It was a phenomenal experience (un)conferencing with you all. We are happy to have hosted, through the Remo platform, a series of important conversations about transforming higher education and being resilient, responsive and relevant in our ever-evolving Higher Education (HE) context. These conversations included inputs from a range of richly diverse voices, in line with our new model of conferencing.

Through workshops, poetry, videos, posters and a various other modes, our presenters engaged us all in compelling dialogues about decolonial love, accessibility, ubuntu, transformative pedagogies, collective agency and more. Our keynote provocateurs challenged our thinking and stirred us with their inspiring words that served as a powerful reminder that with every setback comes an opportunity to come back stronger. Participants also made excellent use of the event space to re-connect with former colleagues, forge new connections, contribute enthusiastically to collective harvesting sessions, and openly share their insights, ideas, research and first-hand experiences.

Transformation begins with us, and we all have the potential to be agents of real change in HE. Let us not confine our discussions to our conferences, webinars, and the like. Instead, may we take this into our institutions and engagements with all stakeholders in the sector. Keep the fire burning on the robust deliberations that took place at #HELTASA21 and continue connecting with one another. We look forward to implementing these ideas and embarking on exciting projects in the new year.

We are proud that we could achieve our aim of giving a platform to more diverse perspectives during the workshops, multi-modal presentations and, of course, our keynote provocation panels at #HELTASA21. It was an incredible online (un)conference experience filled with rich exchange, heart-felt sharing and camaraderie amongst participants.

Here are some remarks from participants, provocateurs and presenters:

“A post-democratic society needs to be responsive to people, especially the poor.”

– Molaodi Wa Sekake

“Simamkele Dlakavu spitting fire, calling out academics to #citeblackwomen. She spoke about her experience challenging the centering of black men in scholarship on decol work.”

– Sisanda Nkoala

“Thank you for reminding us that we are the best narrators of our own stories.”

– Priscilla Tshisikhawe Nesamvuni

“Institutions can turn back to marginalised communities and ask, what do you need further?”

– Siseko Khumalo

“Thanks for reminding us that our use and experiences of language frame how we position ourselves and allow others to position us.”

– Anthea Adams

“Our students are diverse, they have diverse backgrounds, and they bring with them their diverse indigenous knowledge.”

– Lutasha Ndesi

“Collaboration with students has really improved our research practice at the writing centre.”

– Denver Webster

This is what participants said about proceedings on Padlet

Thought provoking insights and analysis by the panelists. Thank you. It is critical that we do not forget and continue to interrogate and question our practices to enable, empower, to grow…”

“I really like the idea of the pandemic as a ‘gift’ and that with this gift comes pain. I have certainly been challenged over the last 18 months and am learning so much. We all contribute to the change, one person at a time.”

“Organically coming together to form communities of practice could become a powerful lever of change in higher education and beyond.”

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