While recognising he has big shoes to fill, the newly appointed principal of MANCOSA, Professor Magnate Ntombela, says he draws strength from the human assets and organisational structures assembled by his predecessor.
Professor Ntombela takes over the helm of the private higher education institution from the philanthropist and eminent educationist, Professor Yusuf Karodia, who passed away last December.
As the founder and principal of the Southern Africa-based private distance education institution MANCOSA, Professor Karodia was voted Africa’s greatest visionary in the development of higher education. He was awarded the Person of the Year 2019 – Educational Development Award, for his contribution to the growth of education and deepening knowledge.
Professor Ntombela, who until his appointment as principal, was Academic and Social Purposes Initiative Director, said Professor Karodia had bequeathed the people of Southern Africa with MANCOSA’s philosophy of accessibility, affordability and accreditation which are critical to building a competitive advantage in the knowledge economy.
“My appointment as principal is humbling and also quite daunting. However, I take courage and strength from the fact that Professor Karodia, as his lasting legacy, managed to imbibe in MANCOSA an ethos that enables it to respond in an agile manner to challenges faced by higher education.
“I believe in MANCOSA’s contribution to the country’s human resource development through online and blended learning, and in whatever role I am given a chance to play, I will do my best,” said the affable academic who had to struggle hard to overcome the hurdles and obstacles that apartheid created for aspiring young blacks.
Mohamed Goga, Managing Director of MANCOSA, congratulated Professor Ntombela on his appointment and wished him well in his new position.
“Professor Ntombela assumes the position with considerable experience at executive level and is well-equipped to continue developing educated, well-informed and professionally skilled people, who can address local and global challenges and contribute towards creating successful and thriving societies.
“Professor Ntombela comes with the requisite strategic leadership and management experience in, and sound knowledge of, the higher education sector,” he said.
As principal of MANCOSA, Professor Ntombela will serve as the institutional academic custodian and provide leadership to the academic executive committee to advance and preserve academic integrity and governance.
He must also ensure mentorship and guidance in support of the MANCOSA academic faculty development agenda and promote the advancement of the institution’s research standing and impact.
Professor Ntombela has also inherited leadership of MANCOSA’s “Million Books Project”. Professor Karodia was a strong believer that reading is an essential ingredient for children to improve their literacy. Through the Yusuf Karodia Foundation, he launched the project which aims to provide more than a million books to school children across South Africa through mobile libraries.
The road to academic success was not always straight for Professor Ntombela, who can look back with pride at a lifetime of working with NGOs, in public schooling and in public and private higher education.
He began his working life in the education industry and then worked for NGOs that sought to improve the teaching of science and mathematics in disadvantaged schools through innovative teacher development programmes.
In 1999, he joined the University of South Africa where he worked as KZN Regional Director for 17 years.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree (Biochem & Zoology) and a Secondary Teachers’ Diploma from the University of Zululand; Advanced Diploma Adult Education from the then University of Natal (now UKZN); Master of Professional Studies (Agriculture & Life Sciences) from Cornell University; Master of Education (Science Education) cum laude from Leeds University as well as completing various short programmes. In 2018 the Novosibirsk State University of Economics and Management in Siberia, Russia awarded him an honorary professorship. In his spare time, Professor Ntombela plays golf or watches soccer, running and tennis. He also enjoys reading and listening to music