New UJ campus revitalises Soweto
Sowetoans will soon be celebrating yet another historic watershed in its development history – the official launch of UJ’s new flagship campus.
In what will be another historic watershed in Soweto’s development history, the ambitions R400-million revamp at UJ’s Soweto Campus will be completed by September 2010. The new campus will be bold and cosmopolitan, further cementing the University’s commitment to achieving academic distinction.
“We are confident that our significant investment will consolidate UJ’s position in Soweto, and South Africa as a whole, and yield a premier and unique campus with its own distinctive brand and identity,” says Soweto campus director, Dr Joe Manyaka.
The Campus is nestled against a hill where, according to local legend,
Reverend Enoch Sontonga found his inspiration for the national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika in 1897.
Crafting a new academic character
The extensive facelift involves facility improvements, utility upgrades and installation of high-quality information technology. “The focus for the University is on enhancing academic space; expanding research capacity; providing support systems to assist staff and students to achieve academic goals; and improving the quality of student life," says Dr Manyaka.
This campus development is also aiding local trade and industry by making use of contractors who committed themselves to utilise Soweto's developing businesses, thereby creating work opportunities for the unemployed as well as providing construction skills training for unskilled workers from the surrounding community. The result is that a R37-million chunk of the construction contract is spent on investing in the local community.
“Community outreach of this kind is significant”, Dr Manyaka emphasises, “because the direct involvement of the community of Soweto is key to building its own vision for the Soweto Campus. We need to simulate conversation and excitement about the developments underway at the campus. This is really the groundwork that will make Soweto Campus successful in the long run."
“Community outreach of this kind is significant…”
Plans for transforming the land into a sports haven are also beginning to bear fruit. The construction work includes the building
of sports administration offices, a sports clinic, a pavilion, two soccer fields, a cricket oval, four netball courts, an athletic track and a fully equipped gym.
Other developments on the campus involve the construction of a larger information technology laboratory that will house customer support services, computer training facilities and innovative workspaces. It will have700 computers, a larger library, new lecture halls and a legal aid clinic.
Steering entrepreneurial growth
The Centre for Small Business Development (CSBD) situated on UJ’s Soweto Campus hosted an inaugural, international conference entitled Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development in Marginalised Communities earlier this year.
A joint venture between the CSBD and the Wits Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurship (CEE), the conference theme, Transforming Townships into Economic Powerhouses, attracted a large audience and focused on stimulating innovation and knowledge creation in township entrepreneurship.
Since the Centre’s inception in September 2008, headed up by Thami Mzawi, monthly entrepreneurial talks are held where members of the community attend and are assisted where possible to develop their small businesses.
Full house: Attendees at the entrepreneurship conference held at UJ’s Soweto campus.
Additional aid is provided to emerging young entrepreneurs in the community via the UJ/Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development partnership, where aspirant entrepreneurs in Soweto have been provided with a rare opportunity to learn business and life skills, supported by the Goldman Sachs 10 000 Women Program Initiative.
Lecture Block 1
Hector Pieterson Residence