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 Background and History

​Background and History


The University of Western Cape has recognised the importance of community engagement as a third pillar.  The Community Engagement Unit evolved out of two key partnership initiatives at UWC namely the Western Cape Community Partnership Project (WCCPP) as well as the Community Higher Education Services Partnership (CHESP).  The former project focused on the development of community placement sites for the engagement of Community Health Sciences students doing community based education as part of their curriculum; while the Joint Education Trust funded CHESP project, provided seed funding for the development of service-learning courses and extended this invitation to all University Faculties.  One of the outcomes of CHESP project was the development of a unit to manage Service-learning initiatives at the University.

 A national debate was developing following the Higher Education Quality Committee’s Audit of Higher Education Institutions where the concept of service-learning was reflecting one teaching and learning methodology which excluded the various other teaching and learning methods geared at facilitating social responsiveness and civic engagement employed within various universities.  Following a closed HEQC -CHESP international conference in September 2006, a paper published and presented by Martin Hall and subsequent responses by Slamat, Ngonxa referred to the all-encompassing term of ‘community engagement’ which is the umbrella term that acknowledges various experiential teaching and learning methods as it aims to develop social responsibility and encourage civic engagement.  Following the HEQC report and joint conference, the importance of creating a central unit to facilitate and coordinate community engagement activities which includes community outreach, service learning, community based education etc and volunteerism etc.  The unit that managed the Service-learning initiatives under the CHESP project evolved into the Community Engagement Unit which was established under the office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic).






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