By Siviwe Mxuma
Dr Ntethelelo Sibiya of the Rhodes University Pharmacy department has won the 2022 Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
With an endearing charm and infectious enthusiasm, Sibiya gave a lecture at the awards ceremony on the intricacies of human anatomy and blood pressure regulation. What stood out immediately was his ability to simplify a subject that often intimidates even the most determined learners. He had a unique knack for breaking complex concepts into digestible morsels of knowledge, ensuring every student in the room could grasp the essentials.
Sibiya has an incredible ability to remember each student. In an age where large university classes can sometimes blur the individual faces in the crowd, Sibiya defied this trend. He personalised the learning experience in his acceptance lecture by addressing students by name, fostering a sense of connection and inclusivity that resonated deeply. This personal touch showcased his commitment to the growth and success of every individual under his guidance.
Sibiya’s innovative teaching methods are closely intertwined with his research interests, particularly metabolism. His research focuses on understanding the development of diabetes mellitus and evaluating novel strategies to manage this prevalent disease. This approach enriches his students’ educational experience and contributes to the broader scientific community’s understanding of metabolic disorders.
In accepting the award, Sibiya extended heartfelt thanks to his family and friends, with his wife sitting amongst the audience, acknowledging their unwavering support throughout his journey in academia. His gratitude extended to his former teachers, whose guidance and mentorship had paved the way for his success. Notably, he appreciated the Rhodes University governing body for recognising and honouring his dedication to teaching.
Sibiya’s educational path began at Noodsberg Primary School and Siyaphumula High School, where his passion for learning was ignited. After graduating, he embarked on his higher education journey at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he obtained a Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree with a specialisation in physiology.
He then pursued a Bachelor of Medical Sciences Honours Degree, a Masters in Medical Sciences, and a PhD in Health Sciences. His doctoral research focused on human physiology, encompassing a range of fields, including pharmacology, and biochemistry—a testament to his multidisciplinary approach to learning and teaching.
In 2018, Sibiya joined the Rhodes University family as a lecturer in the Faculty of Pharmacy and was promoted to senior lecturer within two years. At present, Sibiya teaches first- and second-year students, teaching human anatomy and physiology and obtained a postgraduate diploma in Higher Education from Rhodes University in 2022, demonstrating his commitment to honing his teaching skills and fostering effective learning environments.