The DCE Foundation Phase programme infuses service learning and other forms of community engagement throughout the four-year pre-service teacher education programme for the primary school. We use an integrated curriculum design utilising, specifically, the teaching (laboratory) school (Funda UJabule) of the faculty, not just for clinical experience or work integrated learning, but also to optimise the affordances of the school for service learning – thus promoting learning for students in terms of the relationship of the teacher education programme to the teaching school and its location within Soweto. The service learning and community engagement activities are designed to inform and draw on students’ practical learning in a school environment and their situational learning, and addresses the notions of integrated and applied knowledge in South Africa’s Teacher Education Framework (DoE, 2011).
The service learning and community engagement activities and projects have been deliberately designed to build on each other with students offering service in a school attached to the Faculty before moving their activities into the wider Soweto community. The incremental inclusion of service learning and other forms of community engagement over a four-year period, and the varied nature of the service-learning projects within the programme, extends students’ learning from practice, provides opportunities for them to see others as ‘experts’ who have something to contribute to their education, and maximizes the potential civic and academic outcomes for students. SL also continues to be a pedagogy that staff use to decolonise the curriculum. Examples of service learning and community development initiatives are food gardening projects, the social science gallery walk, Africa Day, anti-bullying campaigns, sports day and story-telling festival.