The University of Venda (UNIVEN) Faculty of Health Sciences in collaboration with the Directorate of International Relations and Partnerships (IRP), held a workshop with the delegates from the South African- Sweden University Forum (SASUF) on 05 July 2022 at the Research Conference Centre (UNIVEN).

Group Photo: Meeting Delegates


Mr Thabo Dikgale, Partnership Officer from the International Relations and Partnerships Directorate, chaired the meeting. Mr Dikgale welcomed the meeting participants and indicated that the SASUF-UNIVEN partnership will continue to strengthen UNIVEN’s collaboration with its Swedish counterparts. Mr Dikgale noted that such initiatives are critical to the achievement of the University’s Mission of producing graduates that are locally relevant and globally competitive. 

Prof Sonto Maputle from the Faculty of Health Sciences provided the purpose of the meeting. In her intervention Prof Maputle underscored that the SASUF platform gave her the opportunity to network with 14 Swedish universities. She noted that SASUF is a transformative project uniting 38 universities from across Sweden and South Africa bringing together leading researchers, teachers, students, university leaders and other stakeholders. Prof Maputle concluded by stating that this programme provides the UNIVEN community with an opportunity to develop joint solutions to the challenges posed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2030.

UNIVEN has 12 projects participating in SASUF, three of which were presented during the session as well as a presentation from the SASUF Student Network. The first presenter was Ms Fatima Peters, Lecturer in the Department of Psychology. Ms Peters explained that the collaboration has been beneficial for the students and staff members. She indicated that that through SASUF her students have increased their networks and have gained access to national research support and can now connect students to online support. 

In giving her second presentation, Prof Maputle, noted that the SASUF programme has played a crucial role in the implementation of two projects that she is currently leading. The two projects currently being led by Prof Maputle are titled Pregnancy outcomes of women with anaemia in rural areas of Vhembe District, South Africaand the Factors associated with anaemia in pregnancy: A case study of Matibidi village, Ehlani District in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Further to the research, Prof Maputle noted that two Masters students were supported with registration fees towards their degrees. In conclusion Prof Maputle highlighted that they were busy finalising another project titled “Prevention of maternal anaemia and the impact of an anaemia care programme for young women in a low-income setting. A pilot study in Uganda with synergy effects in South Africawhich was submitted to the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT) in April 2022 (participating countries are Sweden, Uganda, and South Africa). 

Mr Jospeh Mundadi, a UNIVEN PhD student and UNISU president presented on the three SASUF Student Network projects which focused on Food Security, Mental Health, and Climate Change (deforestation education and awareness). Mr Mundadi noted that the objectives of the SASUF student network and the proposed projects were to promote mobility of students and researchers between South Africa, enhanced research and educational collaborations between South Africa and Sweden especially concerning sustainable development and the SDGs and the reinforcement of existing funding mechanisms for research, education, and innovation as well as the development of new funding schemes focused on student research. 

The other project that was presented was by Prof Lizzy Netshikweta, from the Department of Advanced Nursing Science. The project focused on the Sustainable Prevention of Obesity through the Creation of Childhood Obesity Prevention Zones (Echo Zones). Prof Netshikweta highlighted that obesity is a major challenge amongst South African youth and it needs to be addressed sustainably. In this regard, she noted that the objective of the Echo zones project is to execute, for the first time, an approach that halts the current increase in childhood obesity, creates a sustainable downward trend in childhood obesity and develops scalable solutions for the prevention of childhood obesity in children aged 0-6 years to be accomplished within 10 years. In conclusion, Prof Netshikweta, outlined that the project is still in the proposal stage, and encouraged emerging researchers at the University to join the project team. 

Ms Helin Bäckman Kartal, the SASUF coordinator from the division for Global Partnerships at Uppsala University delivered the last presentation. Ms Kartal mentioned that SASUF has 38 partnerships with 14 from Sweden and 24 from South Africa. Adding that SASUF has connected over 3000 researchers, students, university leaders, and funding agencies across both countries in seminars and workshops. She indicated that more than 140 workshops, seminars, and visits have been organised independently by research groups and students in both countries. Highlights from Ms Kartal’s presentation include the following: 

The call for Workshops for SASUF Goes Digital is open! 

You can read more about the call here, as well as to get access to the application document for the workshops/sessions. 

Timeline for SASUF 2022-2024 

To access the timeline for the SASUF main events and happenings during 2022-2024, please have a look at this link . 

Partner Universities in SASUF 

To access the list of all 38 partner universities that are included in the SASUF network, please find it here. 

In conclusion Ms Kartal outlined that SASUF has developed a student network administrative structure (Student Board) where the University of Venda is represented by Mr Joseph Mudandi. The SASUF student Network has representatives from all partner universities and meets every 6th week virtually. The network will be hosting a physical conference in the coming years and UNIVEN students are encouraged to join the network. Ms Kartal concluded by noting that the SASUF student network themes will be focusing on Climate change, Gender equality, Food security (food gardens), Decolonisation, and Mental health. UNIVEN students who wish to participate in the student network can contact the International Relations and Partnerships (IRP) Directorate. 

Exchange of Gifts after the meeting: From left to Right: Mr Thabo Dikgale, Ms Fatima Peters, Prof Sonto Maputle, Ms Helin Bäckman Kartal and Ms Fanny Jonsson.

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 / 8710
Date: 21 July 2022