Professor Raisuyah Bhagwan , Dr Chandrakant Puri , Executive Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) Faculty of Health Sciences recently entered into a partnership with the Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women’s University in Mumbai, India.

This five-year partnership centres around understanding how community engagement occurs in South Africa and in India.

It also seeks to remove the notion of universities being seen as an elitist space that is disconnected from the communities they serve.

Dr Chandrakant Puri is a Chair Professor at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Contemporary Studies, University of Mumbai, who shared his presentation titled “Inclusion of Tribal Communities in India: Issues and Challenges.”

Her presentation aimed to discuss community engagement and how research of community engagement can lead to action in those respective communities.

Dr Puri elaborated on the key undertakings required in order to achieve community engagement. “Through intensive research, you are able to find out what are the issues that people have in that community, what are the problems that government policies have and how universities can play a role in the community. It is through students that we strategise and build on the understanding of the issues and aspirations of the community,” he said.

Professor Raisuyah Bhagwan from the Department of Child Youth, Community Health Studies emphasised the importance of having academics involved in such initiatives.

“Each Department has a responsibility to bring community engagement into their curriculum and research, and if they start from that point, every academic and post graduate student has the opportunity to identify communities in need. However, we need to remind ourselves that this is a mutually beneficial relationship. It has to do with what we learn from those communities as well,” she said.

Pictured: Professor Raisuyah Bhagwan, Dr Chandrakant Puri, Executive Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor  Nokuthula Sibiya, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Professor Ashley Ross .

Thembela Makhuba