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Service Learning in Pharmacy (SLIP)


In efforts to address South Africa’s reconstruction and development programme, Higher Education Institutions explored new models for community engagement. The Community Higher Education Service Partnerships (CHESP) initiative facilitated implementation of community-based service learning programmes across academic institutions to address priority needs in underserved communities. In an attempt to achieve this goal a Service Learning in Pharmacy programme between the UWC School of Pharmacy and the Department of Health (Western Cape) was conceived.

What is service learning?

Service-learning is an approach to learning that links academic study with service to the community. Students engage in structured and organized activities that address community needs, while at the same time increasing their understanding of the academic subject matter and deepening their commitment to public service. The purpose of service-learning is to build bridges between academic institutions, the services and the communities to address national reconstruction and development through teaching, research and training.

Service-Learning in Pharmacy aims to provide a connection between the theoretical concepts of pharmacology, pharmaceutics and pharmacy practice and the real-life service environment so that learning becomes more relevant and meaningful, i.e. experiential learning. The aim of SLiP is to enable students to provide a service, and upon reflecting, derive learning from these exeriences. The process of reflection is a critical component of service learning and facilitates the student's connection between the service experience and the learning.


Why SLiP?

The primary goal of SLiP is to ensure that pharmacy school graduates have the knowledge and skills to be socially responsible, patient-centred pharmacists and are committed to addressing South Africa’s pressing primary healthcare needs.


The UWC-CHESP initiative lead to the establishment of a partnership between the School of Pharmacy and the Pharmaceutical Services (Department of Health, Western Cape) to identify priority needs. Fundamental to service-learning is the tripartite partnership which links pharmacy students and academic staff with professionals in the health services and with the communities and patients they serve.



  • SLiP3 is an opportunity for 3rd year students to do some clinic work in a primary healthcare clinic and conduct home visits to patients in the surrounding community. Students identify a facility or community need, which they address through direct engagement with the partnership.

  • SLiP4 is part of the 4th year experiential learning programme conducted in hospitals and community health care centres. Students are supervised in pharmaceutical and clinic-based activities to understand operational procedures within the health services.

Primary Facilitators:
Prof Angeni Bheekie
Dr Mea van Huyssteen


Bheekie A et al. 2011. Service learning in pharmacy: Opportunities for student learning and service delivery. AJPP 5(23): 2546-2557. DOI: 10.5897/AJPP11.375

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