SA Universities and Community Engagement

According to the 1999 Kellogg Commission Report entitled Returning To Our Roots: The engaged institution, higher education institutions worldwide make substantial contributions to human resource development and knowledge production by the nature of their status as teaching, learning and research institutions, but they have made little progress in the area of building meaningful partnerships with their local communities other than simple “outreach and service”.

The same report maintains that there is a need for universities to reconsider their role and purpose in society. In South Africa, community engagement is informed by the 1997 SA Higher Education Policy White Paper which requires higher education institutions to demonstrate social responsibility while the Education Department’s 2001 National Plan for Higher Education maintains that universities need to be responsive to local, regional, and national needs. Most universities in South Africa acknowledge the role that social responsibility and active citizenship play but have different views about the extent and development of such programmes.

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