An Engaged University
As an exponent of engagement the University of Johannesburg is committed to ever closer contact with the community as embedded in its vision, which embraces the advancement of freedom, democracy, equality and human dignity. This is realized through the application of its human capital in adding value to external constituencies by entering into strategic contractual partnerships and relationships that are mutually beneficial to the University community, as well as the broader external communities which extend to Gauteng, the country as a whole and the SADC region.
Community engagement, in the form of service learning and community- based research, is a core academic function of the institution, which has the reciprocal benefit of enabling the community to access the University’s intellectual capital and approved project-based resources. Staff and students gain simultaneous awareness of and can thus assist the community in addressing their needs.
Community engagement has three components, namely Service Learning, Community-based Research and Organized Outreach, as defined below:
- Community Engagement involves partnership initiatives that utilize the knowledge capital and resources of the University to address the development needs of communities at no cost.
- Community-based Research entails research projects that make a significant contribution to a community in the form of services, products and/or new knowledge and skills transfer.
- Organized Outreach relates to the provision of community-determined services and resources by students and employees, outside of academic programmes, to address development needs.
Service Learning necessitates teaching and learning that targets specific community needs through a curriculum-based assessment that is accredited and which enables students to participate in as well as reflect on contextualized structured activities that address identified service needs.
The University is compliant with national guidelines and criteria (such as HEQC requirements for programme reviews and institutional audits). It strives for sustainable development in its community engagement initiatives which are managed in accordance with generally accepted tenets of good governance. The Senate for Teaching and Learning Committee has oversight of the management and implementation of the service learning in the curricula of academic programmes on behalf of Senate. The University Research Committee and, where appropriate, the Senate Higher Degrees Committee, has oversight of community-based research activities in the faculties. Accountability and responsibility for a specific community engagement initiative or community-based project resides with the initiating faculty/department, researcher, University employee, student body or division concerned.
Faculties working hard towards Community Engagement
Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA)
Phumani Paper Project
By reaching out and transferring skills and innovation, Phumani Paper(PP) supports the 15 paper-making businesses units under its wing to generate income and to fight poverty. They assist these communities to transform biological resources, as well as paper waste, into handmade paper and paper products that can be sold.
Since its inception in 1998, PP has seen significant growth and is currently representing one of the largest active community engagement programmes at UJ.
- Other projects: Soccer Legends logo; Diepsloot Community Project.
Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences
The Thuthuka Programme is one of UJ’s projects to assist in the empowerment and development of students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds - a partnership between SAICA, Fasset and lecturers of the department, as well as various accredited training officers.
Teacher training workshops also fulfill a great need among Economic Management Science teachers, especially regarding economic knowledge, teaching methods and low pass rates, resulting in schools dropping EMS as a subject of choice.
- Other projects: Support projects for University of Fort Hare and University of Limpopo; Equity Development Programme and Project 26
Faculty of Education
The faculty of Education adopts a multi-tiered service and support system between students and staff and a number of local schools. It strives to build mutually beneficial relationships with various communities, matching local need with faculty strengths.
It focuses on 11 school projects, including RAUCALL, 10 service learning sites, and a community organisation in the vicinity of the University. Not only does this involvement out of the classroom make a valuable difference to school communities, it also contributes to the development and preparation of future teachers.
- Social issues such as HIV/Aids, workshops for learners from partner schools, science on a shoestring, Golden Gate excursion, RAUCALL Mentoring project.
Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment (FEBE)
FEBE engages on many fronts with the national and international community through projects and professional affiliations, e.g. through joint ventures with Group 5; Formula One in Schools Project; Technology Transfer Project.
After failing to source high potential students from schools in Soweto, Group 5 became involved at Metropolitan RAUCALL. It identified a lack of skilled engineers from disadvantaged backgrounds as a serious problem to their industry, mostly because potential students cannot afford the high tuition fees. The programme, now in its fifth year, includes workshops that are held at a regular basis at the Techno-lab for gifted learners from RAUCALL.
- Other outreaches: Formula One (the manufacture of miniature Formula 1 cars by school learners); techno-lab (workshops to school learners) and the Metal casting technology station (technical assistance provided to local foundries and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as part of the MCTS activities).
Faculty of Health Sciences
More than 20 000 patients per year are seen by students in clinics where the focus is on free and subsidised screening.
- Operation Bright Sight focuses of informal settlements where the department carries out eye examinations on patients, using senior students and qualified optometrist supervisors. Not only does it expose students to a broader base of patients, it also helps those in need. Sometimes as many as 200 patients are seen.
- Nursing and Optometry’s Phelophepa Train takes students to rural areas to provide free community service, while third-year students visit the Helen Joseph Hospital Breast Cancer Unit regularly to conduct reflexology treatment on patients.
- The Chiropractic students offer free health services to detect spinal abnormalities - 700 learners at a primary school in Doornfontein were screened by students.
Faculty of Humanities
One of the biggest success stories, the Kopanang Women’s Empowerment Project, focuses on the development of life skills. This group of 50 women generates income with personal artwork and handmade products to support their families. Kopanang means “gathering together” or “building bridges”.
Its psychosocial rehabilitation programme for psychiatric patients provides life skills training for mentally ill patients. They have also established a school counseling referral system. The educator capacity building helps teachers to deal with dysfunctional learner behavior associated with low self esteem.
Support group - Eldorado Park Women’s Forum’s shelter for abused women.
Faculty of Law
One of UJ’s biggest successes is its Law Clinic, which boasts three operational law clinics - Doornfontein Campus, Kingsway Campus and the Central Divorce Court in Johannesburg. Opening its doors to the public in 1981 with 18 students, the clinic has developed over the years - rendering free legal services, coupled with the training of law students in a clinical environment dealing with real clients. Today, communities with specific needs are served by final year LLB students – 202 in 2009 - under the supervision of four attorneys. It is regarded as one of the most advanced South African models, providing inspiration to others.
Faculty of Management
As one of the biggest faculties (10 departments over the four campuses), this is also one of the faculties spreading its wings most regarding community engagement. Its flagship - the Students in Free Enterprise (Entrepreneurship Department), is an international organisation established in 1975 to improve the living standards of the needy throughout the world. They develop community outreach projects that equip others with the knowledge and skills to achieve greater economic success. The focus is on teaching the principles of market economics, success, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, business ethics and environmental sustainability. The following projects and organisations have been targeted:
- Siyampambili Schools Project - 15 schools in Soweto grow calendula flowers for their oils. The petals are used for colours in painting.
- The Manica Land Bakery Project - Students worked in Manica, Mozambique to assist the community with a bakery. They imparted critical entrepreneurial skills to the community and the project is currently making profits. Although the project has ended, UJ is still actively involved in Manica.
- Sir Elton John Foundation in Eldorado Park - Three projects are currently running: a bakery, bead work and fashion designing.
- Abraham Kriel Children’s Home - orphans are trained to become independent upon leaving Abraham Kriel by engaging in arts to generate income.
Faculty of Science
This faculty is widely involved in community outreach programmes ranging from HIV education to teaching baking skills to families from disadvantaged communities. There are also academically directed initiatives, for example teaching Mathematics to educators. Various projects have this year created a lot of excitement in the Science Faculty – the Scientiae@UJ, Witsblitz, the Parks Alive Project and the baking course for women in Soweto, not to mention its Scientele Project that makes its laboratory facilities at the Doornfontein and Kingsway Campus available to grade 11 and 12 learners from disadvantaged schools, with lecturers standing by to provide learners with tuition - free of charge.