COVID19 Update and TSIBA 2019 Annual Report
We are delighted to share with you a digital copy of our 2019 Annual Report
In addition to the delivery of the 2019 academic year, a number of strategic orientated projects were undertaken with the future of TSIBA in mind. Our “Road to Woodstock” project was completed when we secured our beautiful new campus in Woodstock (TSIBA House) and we gained a foothold in Gauteng with TSIBA Ignition Academy moving into funky new premises in Newtown, Johannesburg. In addition, projects to enhance the academic content of both TSIBA Business School and TSIBA Ignition Academy programs were undertaken as we continued our efforts to provide post school opportunities for young people and to prepare our students for the future world of work.
But beyond 2019, this year will be remembered as a defining year in TSIBA’s history. As we share this report with you, our BBA degree students are preparing to sit for first-semester examinations – online – following three months of remote engagement with the academic program. As with most learning institutions, the past months have seen unprecedented shifts to digital learning. The Covid-19 initiated lock-down imposed by the national government on the 26th March 2020 has speedily and decisively leapfrogged both TSIBA Business School and TSIBA Ignition Academy’s pedagogy into the digital age.
With little prior warning (the announcement of the lockdown was made on the 23rd March), TSIBA academics swung into action, hosting a series of strategy sessions to test and do comparisons on different online platforms. The objectives were to select the best solutions to enable learners who had never been exposed to online pedagogy, did not have access to learning devices, nor data, and who resided in settlements not conducive to online learning, to participate. While solutions to participation have been achieved we have been guided by those elements which have always made the TSIBA learning experience a unique one.
TSIBA’s ‘Investing in People’ Response
Underpinning TSIBA’s academic curriculum are its human-centred values which include – empathy; dignity; paying it forward. These form part of our ‘Profile of Graduateness’, much of which finds practical expression in the Leadership and Development curriculum and in the engagement of staff with students.
When the curriculum shifted from a classroom-based pedagogy to online teaching and learning, a number of interventions were activated. These included the following:
- Psycho-social support of learners and staff: Social media support groups (‘Communities of Support’ and ‘Communities of learners’) were established where staff and students could reach out for solidarity. Of great importance at the outset of the lock-down was to allay the fears and anxiety in staff and students about the uncertainty of the pandemic and academic impact of Covid-19. The Student Support Office also availed counselling or coaching services where required.
- Teaching and Learning ‘tool kits’: The biggest challenge to TSIBA was to supply students with data and learning devices to access online learning. Using the Easter break for strategizing, within 3 weeks of lockdown, data distribution was made to the students and plans were in progress to distribute Chromebook devices to those students who did not have access. Albeit that online teaching and learning presented many initial challenges, progressive learning by staff and students remain ongoing.
Tapping into broader Support Eco-system
TSIBA’s shared vision of providing skills, education and transformative opportunities to learners from socio-economically deprived areas spurred many philanthropists to fund unbudgeted for data and sundry costs. Hence, the Business School could pivot effectively and proficiently sufficient data for staff and students.
Support to TSIBA during the lockdown ranged from, equipment such as laptops (donated by one of the Rotary Clubs) and significant financial support (from international and local donors, as well as individuals). This moment of the lockdown also saw the establishment of The Chairperson’s Fund, established by the Chair of the TSIBA Board. Additional support also came through skills sharing; academics assisting with skills development.
TSIBA Leveraging Covid-19 for Broader Skills and Knowledge Development
Online teaching and learning provided opportunities for the upscale of skills in the academic staff with regards to appropriate epistemology and knowledge development. The response to this initiated a broader plan to promote professional development. These include the following:
- Skills development seminars arranged through partner universities such as the University of Stellenbosch and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
- Short courses for professional development with the TSIBA Ignition Academy and the Entrepreneurial Planning Institute.
- The first TSIBA branded webinar – ‘Visual Storytelling for Start-ups’ through the TSIBA Ignition Academy.
Additional initiatives which will enrich the TSIBA experiences for staff, students and the broader community include the following:
- Voices of Hope and Inspiration creativity project: This is a student-centric platform to encourage students to give creative expression to their feelings, sentiments or inspiration during the lockdown. The aims of these are catharsis, solidarity and to develop confidence through literal or symbolic language.
- ‘AHA’ Arts for Healing and Affirmation: The AHA initiative aims to bring TSIBA closer to the arts and creative communities and aims to promote arts as a vehicle for emotional well-being, holistic development as well as entrepreneurship.
In closing, TSIBA has both transformed and affirmed its abilities to pivot and respond confidently to changing scenarios. These provide invaluable skills and lessons to prepare the TSIBA collective for the stressors and shocks of increasing future uncertainty and complexity.