SU helps build better communities

The interaction between Stellenbosch University (SU) and communities changes the lives of people and creates hope of a better future for those living in impoverished conditions.

This was the view of community partners, lecturers, students and support staff at SU’s symposium on community interaction at AF Louw Primary School, Stellenbosch, on Thursday (1 September). The theme of the symposium was KnowledgeInteractionHope – Critical reflections on the impact of community-university partnerships on lives and livelihoods.

A Gala evening, during which music and drama groups entertained the audience, preceded the symposium.

According to Prof Arnold van Zyl, Vice-rector: Research and Acting Rector, community interaction is important to SU. The university does not exist in isolation, but strives to be relevant and of service to the community.

Community interaction, as one of SU’s core functions, creates hope where there was despair, Van Zyl said.

“SU’s vision for the future is communities without poverty, where the humanity of all people is protected, where our social and ecological systems are healthy, and where peace, security and democracy are safeguarded.”

Dr Jerome Slamat, Senior Director of Community Interaction, Prof Julian Smith, Vice-rector: Community Interaction and Personnel, Prof Arnold van Zyl, Vice-rector: Research and acting Rector, Mr Adam de Vries, Principal of Kylemore Senior Secondary School and Prof Jan Botha, Senior Director of Institutional Research and Planning (SU) at the Gala evening. (Photo: Anton Jordaan)

Prof Julian Smith, Vice-rector: Community Interaction and Personnel, said the symposium confirms the strategic importance of community interaction. He described it as a “celebration of community interaction”.

Ms Nokwanda Siyengo, Project Manager of SciMathus, related how this project inspires students to fulfil their dreams.

Mr Jumien Peceur, a former student at SciMathus, attributed his improved life skills to the quality teaching he received at SciMathus.

SU’s TB-free Kids Project improved food programmes and school attendance, and reduced tuberculosis in children at Uitsig Primary, said Mr Hendrik Windvogel, Principal and community partner.

According to Prof Doria Daniels, a lecturer in the Faculty of Education, students gain a better understanding of the world in which they function through their involvement in Matie Community Service. This also helps to break down stereotypes about other people.

Ms Nokwanda Siyengo, Project Manager of SciMathus, speaking at the symposium. (Photo: Anton Jordaan)

Mr Willem Booysen shared how the Adult Education Training Programme (AET) of Matie Community Service has given him a second chance to live a better life.

Dr Jerome Slamat, Senior Director of Community Interaction, said SU, as a knowledge partner of communities, does research about issues in its own backyard that can have a global impact.