Stenden South Africa Community Development
The South Africa government’s White Paper on Higher Education identifies three core functions of all institutions of higher learning, viz, teaching and learning, research and community engagement.
The first two pillars are well known and have received the necessary attention and resources from most institutions. Community engagement is relatively new and institutions still grapple with exactly how to do it.
Stenden South Africa decided on a strategy that aims to integrate all Community engagement within the very fabric of all aspect of the institutional life. We believe that to be the most effective way as it also prevents Community Engagement from being a mere add on activity that makes us compliant with the wishes of government.
On the contrary, we see Community Engagement as an integral part of the whole learning experience. Our main teaching/learning methodology is Problem Based Learning which is rooted in social constructivism theory. Practical application of theory is best done within a real life context, i.e. in the community.
In rolling out our Community Engagement strategy, we do not believe in a standalone approach, rather we constantly seek partnerships with other stakeholders in our local environment.
Our Community Engagement priorities are closely aligned with the government’s five priorities of education, health, rural development, job creation and crime.
At present Stenden South Africa allocates 10% of turnover to community Engagement. Below you will find some projects of the Community Engagement Department. All our activities are geared towards producing a graduate that is competent, committed to excellence and live the values of UBUNTU.
Stenden South Africa has an active Community Development Department, participating in a wide range of projects in the townships. The projects are in the field of education, social welfare and business development.
Community Engagement Department Projects
Nemato Sports Federation offers a sport and empowerment program for disadvantaged youth in Nemato and Station Hill. The program is comprised of a multifaceted schedule consisting of 5 to 6 sports sessions per week (rowing, gymnastics, soccer and netball), 5 homework sessions (including meals homework support in basic math and English), our Presidents Award Program (skill development, physical recreation, community service and adventurous journeys), HIV/AIDS Awareness Program, study and career counseling, etc.
The Robert Veenstra Entrepreneurship Center is a computer training centre in Nemato launched by Stenden South Africa. Students assist in the basic computer skills training for those who have no access to and no experience with computers. They help in the marketing of the centre. A new activity in the centre will be the consultancy for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the townships. Students will act as business consultants, training and coaching the entrepreneurs, conducting research, and writing business plans.
Ingubo is a day care and development center for children and youth who roam around the streets and the dump. Students provide a safe and encouraging environment where the children are offered meals, daily activities, counseling, skills training, sports, homework supervision. They assist the children in going back to school, assist in applying for birth certificates and ID books, team building/survival weekends, and create a social support network.
Enkuthazweni is a school in the NeMaTo Township of Port Alfred that looks after mentally handicapped children with special needs. Sister Elizabeth (an Anglican nun) has worked there for several years and is looking after 30-35 children. Prejudice and fear about mentally disabled persons is still influencing people in the township. Hence, Enkuthazweni tries to decrease the effects of discrimination within the community.
The Bathurst Community Centre functions as the major NGO in the area and is situated in the township of Bathurst, about 10 km from Port Alfred. The main goal is to improve the quality of life of the people from the Nalukhanyo Township. Tihylulwazi offers a crèche, a school after-care for up to 75 children from the primary school, a day care centre for the elderly and has a vegetable garden for self supply. Other services include an HIV/Aids group, a single parent group and home-based care.
Boniwe Msimango is the project coordinator of the Community Centre and supports people of all age groups, in cooperation with local care takers. They strive towards a township that will be a safer place for everyone, where the residents take responsibility for the things that happen in their community and where the elderly and vulnerable are safe in their own houses and do not have to live in fear of rapes, violence or being robbed.
The main goal of the Community Centre is to provide a safe environment for its people.
Phumelela is an organisation that takes care of vulnerable children, disadvantaged youth and orphans by creating a warm environment for them. At Phumelela children are nurtured and to encourage them to reach their potential. They receive personal assistance to overcome challenges in their lives, to pull together under difficult conditions, pursue their careers and thereby promoting a learned and responsible society. Phumelela seeks to encourage the children to exercise their rights to education, clothing, health and food by engaging themselves in different projects such as homework classes, counselling, providing school uniforms, life skills home visits, outings and HIV/Aids support groups.
The main goal of House of Happiness is to improve the quality of life of the elderly of NeMaTo. Approximately 40 seniors of the township are being supported with this project, which is an old-age home and offers a day-care and an activity facility. Activities such as gardening, arts and crafts, walks, and fitness activities are offered on a daily basis in order to keep the elderly mentally and physically fit and to bring some variety and dignity into their lives.
New Rest Crèche is host to roughly 50 kids aged 1-5 on a daily basis. The main goal of the crèche is to prepare these children for school. The crèche is located in New Rest; an area of NeMaTo where the residents live in non-permanent dwellings (shacks). Many of the residents have applied for RDP housing, but unfortunately they are still waiting to receive their housing. The shacks in which they live are made of corrugated iron and mud, as is the Crèche.