Onderstepoort, 28 January 2016: The marked growth in South Africa’s human and animal populations within an environment characterised by climate change, emerging pathogens and toxic releases has resulted in increased health risks for humans and animals alike. To address this, the perspective on public health should be expanded beyond a single species to detect and manage emerging public health threats.
The link between animal and human health, combined with the need for skills development and transformation within the animal health sector, has resulted in the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) placing focus on programmes to meet these critical needs.
“The HWSETA has made extensive inroads into partnerships with institutions of higher learning to meet its mandate within the animal health sector and the R15 million committed to a number of key projects with the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science is set to establish this as a flagship project,” comments Yvonne Mbane, CEO of the HWSETA.
The funding made available by the HWSETA to the University of Pretoria will cover eight key projects, including: 20 undergraduate student bursaries for first year students; work integrated learning for final year students; undergraduate research bursaries; 42 postgraduate student bursaries; skills laboratory teaching aids; training of 20 learners for manufacturing of teaching aids ; ‘Adopt a School’ pilot project; and articulation with agricultural colleges
The Faculty of Veterinary Science has wasted no time in setting up partnerships with agricultural colleges and by the end of 2015, discussions between management at the Faculty of Veterinary Science and Tsolo Agricultural and Rural Development Institute (TARDI) in the Eastern Cape were well underway. The support for TARDI by the Faculty of Veterinary Science has been made possible through HWSETA funding and will further supplement HWSETA funding of 50 full bursaries for learners at TARDI to become animal health technicians.
“The HWSETA funding will make a significant contribution to our training and research programmes and we are very grateful for the HWSETA support,” comments Darrell Abernethy, Dean at the Faculty of Veterinary Science. “And, it will also assist us in networking with institutions that train veterinary technicians and agricultural students.”
“As the only veterinary faculty in South Africa we have a unique responsibility to train all veterinarians and veterinary nurses in the country,” continues Abernethy.
“We also conduct cutting-edge research on a wide range of animal-related diseases and issues that affect people. This is because of the close relationship between people, animals and the environment and the crucial role that veterinarians play in reducing the risk of diseases passing from animals to people, ensuring food safety and promoting food security.”
A progressive increase in student numbers, the availability of teaching animals, as well as animal welfare issues, have resulted in a massive shift internationally in veterinary clinical teaching methods through the introduction of veterinary simulators and models. Having recognised the value that a skills laboratory could add to its teaching and learning processes prompted the UP’s Faculty of Veterinary Science to invest heavily in a world class skills facility. Two of the projects funded by the HWSETA support the skills facility that directly impacts every student within the Faculty of Veterinary Science.
“The partnerships with TARDI and UP’s Faculty of Veterinary Science are just a beginning, yet we consider them important steps in addressing the country’s need animal health and transformation in the veterinary sector,” concludes Ms Mbane.
Find out more about the UP Faculty of Veterinary Science click here
Details on projects being funded by the HWSETA:
• 20 x Undergraduate student bursaries (1st year)
Twenty bursaries will be offered annually to students who have the potential to succeed but are constrained through financial hardship. The bursaries will be granted annually through the duration of the students’ studies and will be contingent on academic success each year.
• Work integrated learning for final year students
The final 18 months of the veterinary programme is wholly practical and students travel between sites to increase their veterinary experience. This bursary will give all students equal opportunity to gain experience anywhere in SA and especially in rural environments.
• Undergraduate research bursaries
Attracting young South African graduates into research is extremely difficult for various reasons (priority to repaying student debt, limited number of students, higher remuneration elsewhere). These bursaries provide an incentive for high-achieving students to consider a research career; granting of the award will necessitate that the student spends two years in an internship immediately following Compulsory Community Service after graduation (if an internship bursary is available. The student will be encouraged to commence a post-graduate research degree at the Faculty).
• 42 postgraduate student bursaries
These bursaries facilitate the training of South African veterinarians and in research on animal health and welfare, human health as it relates to animals/animal products, and food security. In this way they develop South African research and academic capacity as well as scientific leadership in the veterinary sector, particularly among previously disadvantaged groups.
• Skills laboratory
The Onderstepoort Skills Laboratory is an internationally recognised and world-class facility that allows students the opportunity to practice on animal models before trying their new-found skills on live animals. This reduces stress on both students and animals and incorporates a unique community-based project in production of the models.
• Training 20 learners for manufacturing of teaching aids
Through a community engagement initiative, young South Africans from the local community will be invited by the Faculty to take part in the process of model development and production by going through a 6-8 week training programme for model development.
• Adopt a school pilot project
It is essential for the future of the veterinary profession in South Africa that black learners and students, particularly from rural areas, apply to study veterinary science. This project supports this goal by having selected veterinary practices and state veterinarians “adopt” a local school, engage with Biology/Science learners and, with the assistance of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, help gifted learners to pursue a career in veterinary science.
• Articulation with agricultural colleges
The Faculty of Veterinary Science is the only veterinary faculty in South Africa but there are multiple other institutions that train agriculturalists and veterinary technicians. This project promotes networking between the Faculty and such organisations to ensure articulation between the respective programmes so that non-veterinary students may enter the veterinary programme.