The Ubuntu Learning Community celebrates Mandela Day at Brandvlei Prison

Dr Mary Nel, the academic director of a new educational partnership between Stellenbosch University (SU) and Brandvlei Prison in Worcester and a number of colleagues, including Prof Reggie Nel (Dean of Theology) and students from SU celebrated Mandela Day at the Brandvlei Prison on 18 July 2018.

The educational partnership,  which is the first of its kind in South Africa, is known as the Ubuntu Learning Community. It is an initiative of Prison to College Pipeline South Africa. P2CP is a project started at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York by Prof Baz Dreisinger and focuses on educating those in incarceration with the aim of integrating them into the university community upon release.

The Ubuntu Learning Community in collaboration with P2CP-SA is the first prison-university partnership in South Africa.

It is envisaged that an interdisciplinary pilot project will commence in 2019, where, under facilitation of SU academics, SU students and incarcerated UNISA students from Brandvlei will learn together in prison.  The theme decided on after a brainstorming session in Brandvlei involving SU students, SU academics and incarcerated UNISA students is: “Am I because we are?  Exploring selves and communities.”  Currently the Faculty of Law and the Departments of English and History are involved in the initiative. The Stellenbosch University Law Clinic is also excited to become involved in this project and to explore ways in which the relationship between clinical legal education and prison education can be used as a tool for social impact and transformation.

Any SU academics or SU students who are interested in learning more about the initiative are welcome to contact Dr Mary Nel at

Some of the participants at the Mandela Day celebration. Prof Reggie Nel (second from left), Prof Baz Dreisinger (fourth from left), Dr Mary Nel (middle) with Brandvlei staff and SU students


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