Dr Vusi Msiza, a lecturer within UKZN’s School of Education, graduated with a PhD in Education for his research which explored ways in which men who are teaching in the foundation phase construct and perform care.
He looked at how this group relates their understandings of care to their masculinities and as teachers in Mpumalanga.
‘The topic is close to my heart. I am a qualified foundation phase teacher. While pursuing my first degree, I was discouraged and shamed for doing a qualification on an occupation that is historically perceived as for women. Also, my research area is new and emerging in South Africa and for me, it is the right area to contribute my research to,’ explained Msiza.
His research challenges the gendered stereotypes around foundation phase teaching such as the belief that men are not suited to teach young children, while debunking the idea that men cannot provide care. ‘My participants understood care as love and protection. The history of some of my participants’ upbringing of growing up without a father and their teacher identities influenced their caring practices. Men offer care in the foundation phase but are constantly challenged by patriarchal notions of what men ought to be,’ said Msiza.
Through his research, he engaged with senior academics on different platforms within and outside of the University; travelled to Tokyo, Japan, to present his work at an academic conference; and spent three months at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City, receiving mentorship on research. This was done through the University Staff Development Programme (USDP) funded by the South African government.
He also received a full doctoral scholarship from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS).
Msiza thanked his family, friends and supervisor for their unwavering support, ‘They gave me sufficient time to focus on my study and supported me through frustrating moments of the PhD journey. My friends listened to my ideas and served as my critics.’
Advising other scholars, he said, ‘Read widely. It is good to know your field of research, how it is emerging and the key debates.’