The mission of the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) embraces the concept of community engagement. This mission is concomitant with the national education policy documents such as the NCHE report that called for increased participation, greater responsiveness and increased cooperation and partnership as well as criteria set out by the HEQC.
Within this context the University has made a commitment to growing its Community Engagement practice. Evidence of this commitment is found in its mission statement, strategic plan and its financial projections.
The quality of its Community Engagement (CE) provision is directly linked to the University’s reputation. A strong Community Engagement (CE) component demonstrates to the market this University’s commitment to community development and engagement. It also serves to promote its entire educational provision. Community Engagement provision is an activity that complements the University’s core teaching and learning and research activities and adds another dimension to the VUT profile.
Because of the contact it creates between the University and its external environment as well as helping to place University in the midst of practice in society, Community Engagement is strongly encourage in all aspects of the University’s business and appropriately recognized in relevant policies e.g., Research Policy.
Through its Community Engagement provision, a significant opportunity for the university staff to interact with the community as professions.
Policy aims and objectives
The primary goal of VUT in its Community Engagement, as stated in its institutional plan, is to maintain and enhance the University’s standing as a significant contributor of intellectual, educational, cultural and other engagements to the local state, national and international communities
Broadly stated, Community Engagement within the context of applicable documents and as it applies to VUT, refers to all those activities undertaken by VUT and the community inclusive of the community with mutually beneficial outcome. This broad definition encompassed concepts such as community development, community engagement and Community Service Learning
Rationale for Community Engagement
The main rationale for an ongoing VUT commitment to CE arises from its contribution to:
- The University’s profile and mission.
- Professional and academic contact.
- Contribution to national imperatives such as sustainable growth.
- Translating knowledge into practice to improve human well-being.
Because of the contact it creates between the University and its external environment, and because it helps to place the University in the midst practice in society, Community Engagement (CE) is considered an integral part of the work of VUT, at all levels. Accordingly, Community Engagement (CE) is strongly encouraged in all aspects of the University’s business and appropriately recognised in relevant policies.
Through its Community Engagement provision the University is exposed to a different group of clients than participants in its formal programmes. It also provides a significant opportunity for University staff to interact with the community and the professions.
The following three aspects typify the Community Engagement (CE) provision:
- information sharing,
- consultation, and/or,
- active participation.
- Respect and recognition of the previously marginalized in knowledge building on issues concerning sustainable development.
- Mutual and reciprocity in power relations amongst universities, scholars, communities and partner.
- To develop a knowledge based society better positioned to raise, challenge and develop suitable and customized solutions on issues critical to their contexts.