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An Engaged University: Five Ways UWC Empowers Communities

Author: Nicklaus Kruger

The University of the Western Cape understands the importance of social responsibility and civic engagement as critical graduate attributes. That’s why UWC empowers students, volunteers and community members in so many ways. Here are just five.

(Published - 20 January 2020)

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is one of South Afr​ica’s f​oremost research, teaching and learning institutions, renowned all over the world for its contributions to scholarship, innovation and more. But it’s also a university that understands the importance of social responsibility and civic engagement as a critical graduate attribute. That’s why UWC empowers students, volunteers and community members to make a difference.


“Since its inception, almost exactly 60 years ago, the University of the Western Cape flung the doors of learning open to not only students, but to the communities it serves,” explains Professor Priscilla Daniels, Director of UWC’s Community Engagement Unit at the University of the Western Cape. “UWC takes the student-in-community as its academic point of departure for community engagement – the University pursues ongoing engagement with its communities while preparing students to take a place in the global community.”

Here are five ways UWC goes about building better communities...

1: Empowering Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurship stimulates innovation, production and economic growth, and job creation - something South Africa sorely needs. The Future Leaders Entrepreneurship Programme, initiated by UWC’s School of Business and Finance, trains youth in remote parts of the country, empowering a new generation of entrepreneurs by focusing primarily on the practical aspects of starting and running a business. And UWC’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, specialises in entrepreneurial training, uspkilling local entrepreneurs while giving UWC students the chance to start and develop their own businesses.
   
2: The Science Learning Centre - Building a Learning Culture: UWC’s Science Learning Centre for Africa (SLCA) is promoting a culture of mathematics and science, one school at a time. SLCA is working with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students to build a culture of mathematics and science learning through: tutorial programmes for Grade 12 learners; science teacher development, science competitions and science clubs; their Women in Mathematics programme; paper jets and robotics competitions, and more. The SLCA has also constructed dozens of state-of-the-art science learning centres (laboratories) at schools in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, with more planned for the Northern Cape.
   
3: Coding For Life - UWC Future Tech Clubs: Amazing things can happen when young men and women are encouraged to develop their STEM skills. UWC’s Future Tech Clubs - each one led by young pioneering Information Systems graduates - teach youth to empower themselves through technology. These clubs are a safe space, particularly for young females in Cape Town township high schools, empowering them with ICT skills, teaching them to be safe when on the Internet and social media, imparting leadership skills and enabling them to make use of the web for their own betterment, and that of others.
   
4: UWC Dentistry - Sharing Smiles: UWC's Faculty of Dentistry is the largest in South Africa, providing cutting-edge research and teaching while also providing world-class services to the community. The Faculty operates two large Academic Oral Health Centres and six other satellite clinical sites in the community where students and staff assist 120 000 patients a year. This includes services at the Red Cross Children's Hospital, and many other locations served by the Mobile Dental Unit. In addition, every senior student does a two-week rotation on one of two Phelophepa health trains, an ideal situation for both learning, and for providing some much-needed dental treatment to remote communities.
   
5: Legal Aid - Justice For All: The UWC Law Clinic operates as a law practice run by a professional staff of experienced attorneys, providing free legal services to indigent communities in the surrounding Cape Metro, Boland and West Coast Region of the Western Cape. Since its inception, it has operated consistently within the University’s guiding principles of being of value to its students and the community it serves. It fulfils these twin needs of access to justice for its clientele, and provides senior law students with clinical legal education and training.
   

Want to know more about community engagement at the University of the Western Cape? Why not visit the CEU website and find out more?

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