TAU would like to pay tribute to Dr Vanessa Merckel from the University of Johannesburg. She will be much missed within TAU. Our lives have been so much richer for those of us who worked with her, and there have been many. Vanessa was a respected colleague, a well-liked and dedicated educator who exemplified what it meant to accept and implement socially just pedagogies. We offer our very sincere condolences, on behalf of TAU, to her family and colleagues. May her soul rest in peace.

We wish to express our enormous gratitude to Moragh Paxton who recently communicated her wish to withdraw from all TAU responsibilities as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Moragh has been part of the TAU programme from its early days. Many fellows from TAU 1 and TAU 2 experienced the huge contribution she made as part of the Contact Session programmes and as an Enquiry Group Advisor. Most recently, Moragh took on the role in TAU 2020 to rethink the training and development of TAU Advisors. Under her guidance, several TAU Fellows were recruited to serve as Advisor in TAU 3 and 4, and an online Advisors Orientation and Development Programme was developed and delivered to support them and the remaining three experienced TAU advisors in these roles. This new cohort of TAU Advisors injects fresh and dynamic approaches to TAU, which is a tribute to how Moragh has worked with them.

We pray that the treatment Moragh is undergoing will provide her with relief and healing.

Ms Kibbie Naidoo (TAU convener)

Kibbie Naidoo (TAU Project Convener)

Welcome to TAU 2021

I hope that you have all had a gentle start to 2021. On behalf of the TAU OpsCom, I want to welcome you and wish you all a safe and happy year. We are pleased to announce the appointment of Emeritus Associate Professor Jeff Jawitz as the new manager for the TAU programme. He has been extensively involved in TAU as an advisor and member of the OpsCom since the programme began. He brings a wealth of experience to this position and TAU we are lucky to have him on board. He takes over the helm from Prof Elizabeth de Kadt. We also want to take this opportunity to thank Elizabeth for her sterling work as manager of the TAU programme.

Elizabeth Jeff

Jeff Jawitz is an Emeritus Associate Professor in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at the University of Cape Town. The new TAU online platform is being developed in collaboration with CILT and will use UCTs VULA learning management system.

We are looking forward to meeting our 53 new participants at the start of TAU 3 in July 2021.

Kind Regards

Kibbie Naidoo


Kibbie Naidoo is supported by a TAU operations committee (OpsCom) including; Prof Jawitz (Project manager), Mrs Hellen Agumba (Project administrator), Prof Elizabeth de Kadt, Dr Rejoice Nsibande and Dr Amanda Hlengwa.

TAU 3 Begins (12-16 July)

The TAU 3 session 1 successfully commenced with 52 participants across all Universities in South Africa taking part in the Online Session 1. The COVID pandemic completely enveloped the programme of TAU 3 Session 1. In the lead, up to Session 1, four of our team members contracted COVID, and one, Vanessa (Ness) Merkel, was hospitalised. She had played a convening role in the Curriculum Development of the TAU 3 programme during TAU 2020. She died on the 11th July 2021, the night before we opened Session 1. On the morning of 12 July, we started the programme with weeping hearts.

The remaining three team members with COVID – tried to remain active as much as they could however, two were dealing with their entire families, including small children, contracting the disease and were themselves very sick. Several participants reported contracting COVID, and some had family members pass away, and others hospitalised. One TAU Advisors, Liqhwa Siziba, heard on 12 July that her mom had gone into hospital in Zimbabwe. She immediately went to get tested and as soon as she could, she flew to Bulawayo on the 15 July in time to be with the family all the time continuing to fulfil her TAU advisor responsibilities online. Her Mom passed away on the 22nd July.

Several TAU team members needed to keep vaccination appointments during the week of 12-16 July. Several participants needed to move house or workplace because of the violence. Gunshots and uncertainty surrounded many. One participant needed to queue for food for one and a half days in UKZN. Despite all of this, we managed to deliver the programme as planned and with over 90% attendance by TAU participants. Advisors have followed up with any individuals in their Enquiry Groups who missed any sessions. We recorded all the plenary and content-based sessions and have made them available to people who missed them.

Particular thanks go out to all the TAU team members who stepped in at the last minute when required to and picked up whatever needed to be done. It was a fantastic team effort. One I feel very proud to have been part of.

Jeff Jawitz

TAU program manager

For more information about the origins of TAU , see the following publications:

DE KADT, Elizabeth; JAWITZ, Jeff. (2018) Exploring Discomfort and Care in the Experience of a National Academic Staff Development Programme. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning (CriSTaL), 6(2), 21-39. ISSN 2310-7103. Available at: http://cristal.epubs.ac.za/index.php/cristal/article/view/152

DE KADT, Elizabeth. (2019) Promoting social justice in teaching and learning in higher education through professional development. Teaching in Higher Education. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2019.1617685