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Unisa online - Meeting MDGs through social security law & community engagement

From left: Prof Kris Pillay (Acting Deputy Executive Dean: CLAW), Gugulethu Nkosi (Senior Lecturer, Department of Jurisprudence), Wiseman Magasela (Deputy Director General: Social Policy, Department of Social Development) and Dr Shighughudwana Mashele (Executive Director: Tashima Research) enriching the MDGs discussion at the CLAW colloquium

Prof Sunette Pienaar-Steyn (Acting Deputy Director: Community Engagement) encouraging community engagement at Unisa

Dr Siphamandla Zondi (Director: Institute for Global Dialogue) and Wiseman Magasela (Deputy Director General: Social Policy, Department of Social Development) enriching the MDGs discussion at the CLAW colloquium

Africa is working at a fervent pace towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. But how achievable is this and how does South Africa fare in the 2015 countdown? Discussing this and other key strides and challenges, the College of Law (CLAW) held a colloquium entitled ‘2015 Countdown: South Africa working towards meeting the MDGs through Social Security Law’ on 2 August 2012.

‘Community engagement, research and teaching – the missing link’ formed the crux of Prof Sunette Pienaar-Steyn’s contribution in her capacity as Acting Deputy Director: Community Engagement at Unisa. She believes that “the purpose of community engagement is to produce knowledge, teaching and training in service of the community.”

With the intended spirit of community engagement at Unisa being the emergence of tuition and research from engaging with communities, and at the same time having a significant social impact that must be measurably developmental, Pienaar-Steyn explained the MDG’s role in all of this. “Unisa uses the MDGs as glasses to provide a lens through which academics may gaze in order to direct and coordinate their activities towards a common purpose that answers to their own individual performance indicators, while contributing to solving the greatest challenge the human race has faced to date, that of global sustainable development.”

She encourages community engagement at Unisa, but participants first need to be very clear on their subject expertise and know what value their expertise can add to community development by using the MDGs as a guideline.

The discussion picked up momentum after other key addresses by Wiseman Magasela, Deputy Director General: Social Policy from the Department of Social Development; Dr Siphamandla Zondi, Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue; Gugulethu Nkosi, Senior Lecturer, Department of Jurisprudence at Unisa; and Dr Shighughudwana Mashele, Executive Director: Tashima Research, to name a few.

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