Psychology students from the University of Botswana and University of South Africa came together and organized the first ever Southern Africa Students’ Psychology conference.
The conference was held at UB over the weekend to present student’s research as well as to give an insight to the community about the importance of psychology in society.
Chair of the Psychology department at UNISA, Dr Matshepo Matoane, stated that the main objective of the conference was to bring together students and discuss the relevance of psychology in Africa, hence the theme: Re-imagining Psychology in Africa. She asserted that psychology is very important in society because it brings out human perceptions and attitudes. “Psychology brings human understanding into societal level,” Matoane said.
She further said though psychology was not initially her subject of study, she grew to love it, adding that psychology is good in the sense that it helps one to deal with different personalities, something which makes it possible for people to understand each other better.
Officially opening the conference, the UB’s Deputy-Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Professor Lydia Nyathi Ramahobo applauded the students for the work they would be presenting before their colleagues, lecturers and the community as a whole. She added that the discipline of psychology deals with human behavior, which is necessary to build good relationships with others as well as to lead a happy life with those around us.
Students gave about 80 presentations, which were all research based and psychology related.┬á One of the presentations, titled Bridging the gap: Psychology, public health, and violence and injury prevention: The case of Unisa’s Institute for Social and Health Sciences, by Lebohang Letsela of Witwatersrand University, explored the collaborative benefits of the above mentioned subjects.
Letsela established that psychology, as an academic and applied discipline, involves the scientific study of human mental functions and behavior and, given the scope and branches of psychology, it is essential for the principles and theories it advocates to be utilized in relation to other disciplines.
“The collaborations will foster holistic understandings of social experiences and phenomenon and without the collaborative benefits, psychology like many other disciplines, remains isolated in terms of practice and academia,” she said.
Another interesting presentation was that of McDonald Raditladi from UB on Raditladi’s personal theory and process model. Raditladi decided to come up with his own personal and theory process model to contribute to the Africanization of Psychology as an adopted discipline.
“This theory of personality will be relevant to Africa and will take into consideration aspects of culture and an African experience,” Raditladi said. The theory also looks into stages of human development, how healthy and unhealthy personalities develop.
The conference was well attended by students, professors and lecturers from other Southern African universities in Zambia, South Africa and Malaysia. The conference was also a highlight of the UB psychology department’s fifth anniversary.