ASSOCIATE Professor Nan Yeld and Hamieda Parker are the latest UCT scholars to have been awarded the prestigious Harvard-UCT Mandela Fellowships, and will make their way to the ivy league institution in the United States within the next few months.
Yeld, Acting Director of UCT's Academic Development Programme, and Parker, a lecturer in entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business, are both headed for Harvard's WE Du Bois Institute for African-American Studies, the country's oldest research centre dedicated to the study of the history, culture, and social institutions of African Americans. Yeld will take up her fellowship in September this year (she is as yet undecided whether she will stay for one year or six months), while Parker will spend six months at Du Bois as from February 2003.
During her time at Du Bois, Yeld will be working with scholars from the institute's Graduate School of Education. Having been introduced to the "business end" of educational assessment at Princeton University a few years ago, she plans to spend her time at Du Bois looking more into the teaching and practice of assessments. This is an area, says Yeld, in which Harvard boasts a number of "very good people".
In turn, Parker will be taking a close look at the various intervention strategies that can be used to boost entrepreneurship among disadvantaged communities. Her time working in a "not so good area" of West Philadelphia a few years ago had given her some idea of the strategies implemented in the US, where the government invests a lot of money in entrepreneurship among disadvantaged communities, says Parker.
During her stay at Du Bois – she will spend much time at Harvard's business school – Parker hopes to learn more about the efficacy and implementation of the strategies on offer. "In South Africa, we have far fewer resources dedicated to entrepreneurship, so we need to be very, very discerning and knowledgeable when we do direct resources," she explains.
According to Associate Professor Ian Scott, Acting Director of the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), which administers the fellowships, both projects are prime examples of work UCT has set it strategic sights on. "Both these topics, although different in so many ways, are of particular strategic importance to UCT, and to Harvard, so there'll be plenty of cross-teaching," he notes.
One of the features of the Mandela fellowships is its focus on teaching, adds Professor John de Gruchy, Director of the Graduate School of Humanities and Chair of the fellowship's selection committee. "The whole idea behind the fellowships is to improve our educational capacity," he points out.