The Office of the DVC-Research Innovation and Engagement launched the Durban University of Technology (DUT) Community Engagement (CE) Cluster on Tuesday, 20 November 2018. The main function of the DUT Cluster is to facilitate collaboration between DUT staff, students, as well as alumnus and the community for meaningful University-community engagements.
The event was held at the DUT Hotel School and was attended by more than 140 guests from institutions of higher learning, civic organisations, businesses, local government, DUT staff, and students.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement Professor Sibusiso Moyo welcomed all guests and gave her opening remarks and stressed the importance of community engagement at DUT. She said that DUT is looking forward to strengthening the community engagement initiatives that are currently being undertaken by faculties and staff. “The success of community engagement is established through partnerships, we appreciate our existing partners and look forward to forging new ones as we engage and grow,” she said.
The keynote speaker Prof Raisuyah Bhagwan from the DUT’s Faculty of Health Sciences Department of Community Health Studies talked about how greatness is created through community engagement. She said that developing student preparedness was important by providing introductory lectures to students on engagement, including workshops on diversity and the asset-based approach, and familiarise students with theories of social change and transformation, as part of the teaching-learning process.
A three-person panel led a discussion on ‘Engaged Scholarship in Practice’ where each speaker shared their experiences with community engagement at DUT. Dr Rama Naidu from the Democracy Development Programme (DDP) said that it was important that the universities approach community engagement differently and that communities are involved in deciding on projects universities undertake.
Also, guest speaking at the event was Prof David McQuoid-Mason from the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at UKZN. Prof McQuoid-Mason shared his experience with community engagement which started back in 1976. He said that community engagement was not about the universities but about communities, as they are the ones that must lead the process.
During the launch, DUT’s academic and professional staff members were given an opportunity to showcase community engagement projects that they are conducting for prizes. The top three projects showcased were awarded a monetary prize to the total value of R 30 000 (first prize R15 000, second prize R 10 000 and third prize R 5 000). A total of 18 projects were showcased and the following were the winners:
Third place went to Prof Poovendhree Reddy from the Faculty of Health Sciences, for her project titled: In response to community health challenges: Alleviating the burden of non-communicable diseases among residents in the Mkhizwana rural area in Cato Ridge, Durban.
Second place winner was Khaya Mchunu from the Faculty of Arts and Design, for his project: Sewing 4 Africa and Fashion and Textiles Community Engagement.
First place was clinched by Dr Knowledge Ngwane from the Faculty of Accounting and Informatics for his project titled: Preparing DUT and Durban Community for Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Khanyisile Msweli from the eThekwini Municipality gave her closing remarks and thanked DUT for the work that the University is doing to change the lives of poor people. She said that eThekwini Municipality is committed to working with DUT on community engagement projects and invited faculties to partner with her to work on projects in her area of Cato Manor.
Photos: DUT Audio-visual Team
Article by: DUT CE Cluster Team – Phumzile Xulu and Luleka Mkuze