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Ubuntu Storytelling

Ubuntu Storytelling

The Community Engagement Office under the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Innovation and Engagement (DVC: RIE) hosted its first Community Engagement Showcasing and Pitching Awards in 2020. The awards sought to highlight the work done by DUT staff, students, alumni, and social partners in the community.

Among the projects showcased in that year was the Ubuntu Storytelling Project headed by DUT lecturer, Dr Pamela Tancsik, of the Drama and Production Studies Department.

According to Dr Tanscik, in 2016 she was approached by Dr Sury Rajah, whom at the time was teaching the Math, in the Applied Science Department at DUT. Dr Rajah had started a project in partnership with the National Research Foundation (NRF), which centered around ‘value-based education’, in the form of an educational theatre show, which is widely practiced in Australia, the UK, and India and not yet in South Africa. That project was called; ‘The Unfoldment of Ubuntu through Indigenous Values-based Education in Foundation Phase’.

Speaking to the Community Engagement Office, Dr Tancsik said, “The project was a great collaboration between us and was going on for 3 years. However, Dr Rajah left DUT in 2019 but by then the project had come to an end.”

She further explained that the purpose of an Educational Theatre show is to convey a powerful message or learning outcome. Children in the foundation phase are said to be in the so-called ‘imaginative phase of developing’ and stories and shows with characters they can identify with, usually have an enormous impact on their memory and thereafter might even change or adjust their attitude to a certain issue. This project fueled the Ubuntu Storytelling Project.

Dr Tancsik explained that through these projects, they intended to re-implement Ubuntu values into the South African foundation phase learners in the light of a major decline of values and increase in crime, corruption, violence, disrespect, and other important values which are essential to forming a humane and equal society.

According to Dr Tancsik, once children in the foundation phase can identify with a character in a story that shows the value of sharing and compassion, they are easily able to follow such a role model and will try to identify with the attitude or shown qualities of that character, which is why it is so important to implement values-based education at an early age.

Dr Tancsik said, “While most students know about Ubuntu, they agreed that such values are no longer present or hardly present in their communities. Even though the project was over, I kept the project purpose and put it into my curriculum for Educational Theatre I in my second year of Drama Studies. Students are still asked to engage with the philosophy of Ubuntu and write and perform stories centered around a catalog of 10 important values.

Community Engagement Practitioner, Phumzile Xulu, said the dedication showed by DUT staff, students, and partners to ensure that they have a positive impact on the youth today to ensure a bright future for the generation ahead is commendable. It was also important to integrate community engagement into the curriculum so that students can get an opportunity to engage with communities as part of their learning.

“The DUT community truly lives the DUT ENVISION2030 perspective of being engaged citizens, in all that it does, as it strives to improve the lives and livelihoods of the communities they come in touch with. And we hope that with these awards, the DUT community will be encouraged to come forward with their engagement projects and showcase the wonderful work that they are doing to touch the lives of those around them,” said Xulu.

Picture caption: Ubuntu Storytelling cast in Waterloo Pre-School

Khumbuzile Mbuqe

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