Community engagement creates socially conscious UP students of the future

Posted on November 19, 2019

One of the things that gives University of Pretoria graduates an edge over their counterparts is the community outreach programmes that UP runs. 

At one point or another during their studies, UP students are required to participate in these programmes. In 2018, the institution estimated that, on average, 25 000 students were participating in these activities per annum. 

According to Professor Norman Duncan, UP Vice-Principal: Academic, these activities are vital because they equip students with important skills that will help them become important contributors in society. 

“Being engaged in communities also exposes students to other worlds, which we believe is important for them finding their feet beyond the university. 

“Whether they are going to work in South Africa or abroad, being exposed to contexts where adaptation is required will obviously help any student. Students are not only doing community outreach for their learning only, we want them to partner with communities because as they benefit from the engagement with communities, communities should benefit from their relationship with the students,” Prof Duncan said. 

He added that above and beyond it being about practical, in-service training, it would also help them contribute to changing South Africa one positive act at a time. 

“There's an equal partnership that has to happen, students need to realise that they do not go into communities to impart knowledge, it's about them learning life's lessons as well and getting important information about these communities that they will be located in. In a society of want, such as is the case for the majority of South Africans, education really becomes a privilege, and if you manage to get one, then you should value it, not only for yourself but for broader society,” he concluded.

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