The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences carries out UNISA’s vision of being the African university in the service of humanity by way of a range of Community Engagement activities. The College Identifies partnerships with communities with specific needs which can be addressed through the expertise of the College in the areas of teaching and research. This entails leveraging our knowledge and skills to the benefit of communities, and improving our teaching and learning for staff and students as a result. We are in a unique position to engage with communities by virtue of our strong focus on sustainability within the context of agriculture and the environment. These activities find expression in projects that are sustainable quality co-operative partnerships with communities. Moreover existing CAES community engagement and outreach activities are nurtured and new ones are actively promoted.
Mothong African Heritage Trust project in Mamelodi
UNISA as part of the Department of Science and technology (DST) National Indigenous Office (NIKSO) consortium has been tasked with the Agricultural Research Council with development of the site for cultivation of medicinally important species. The first to be established at the site is a species with cosmecutical application which will enter the commercial market soon. The farmers and community will be cultivating the material to be supplied for manufacturing. To ensure an income and to utilise the facilities optimally other crops such as vegetables and fruits will also be introduced. The farmers and community will also be involved in data collection and participation of the research trials which will be conducted at the site. A staff member of the Department of Agriculture and Animal Health will conduct some of the research trials which form part of her PhD studies. The site will therefore not only be developed as a commercial farm, but also as a research centre where different stakeholders are involved.
A number of stakeholders are involved in the project, supporting the project in different ways. Some of these are the Department of Health, City of Tshwane municipality, Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre in Mamelodi, Department of Environmental Affairs, Agricultural Research Council, University of Pretoria, Department of Science and Technology and UNISA African Renaissance Centre.
Diepsloot Community Engagement Project
The Department of Life and Consumer Sciences identified Diepsloot Combined Full Service school, as a suitable school for the community engagement project, in 2010. The actual activities and responsibilities started in January 2011. The main purpose of this project is to assist and empower educators with their teaching skills in different subjects, especially in the science subjects. The staff members of the Department assist the educators in the following learning areas: Mathematics, Mathematics Literacy, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, English and Tourism. The departmental staff members also assist the educators with short experiments in Life Sciences and Physical sciences.
At the beginning of this year (2012), the department expanded their community engagement activities by getting involved in the nutritional programmes of the school. The government is running feeding schemes in underprivileged schools throughout the country. With expertise that we have in the department, it was felt that we could offer some assistance on issues like food preparation, food security, food storage and also to offer some informal training to the volunteers who prepare food for the learners.
Community Asset Mapping (Camp for Change) Program This Community Engagement Project introduces the concept and methodology of the Community Asset Mapping Program (CAMP) and the subsequent monitoring process of Community Asset Mobilization Programme as a way to affect change in the communities of the Bojanala Region. This project is primarily a Community Engagement Project and as per the Institutional requirements for community engagement, the following outputs can be highlighted:
Research activities and output
Tuition activities and output
Sharing of technical expertise and knowledge
Water Quality and Community Based Tourism Workshop
Unearthing a Sustainable Future
This Community Engagement Project will use environment literacy to create an environmental awareness as well as the importance of living green in today’s society. In order to do this the main aim of the project is to establish the environmental literacy levels of the average Grade 11 and 12 learners in selected schools. This project is primarily a Community Engagement Project and as per the Institutional requirements for community engagement, the following outputs can be highlighted:
Research activities and output
Creating an awareness amongst school learners of the importance of living green
Environmental and Map Literacy
The purpose of this project is to identify varying levels of map literacy amongst children under the age of 16 years in South Africa. Using the International Cartographical Association (IGU) biennial International Children’s Map Competition as a basis of this project, children in South Africa are approached to create maps within a specified theme. At the same time a questionnaire is filled in to determine varying levels of map literacy amongst these children.
The activities of this project focus on the environment and general map literacy.
Mandlethu School Project
The Department of Agriculture and Animal Health has been involved with a registered Community Engagement project at the Mandlethu FET School in Vlaglaagte Location 1, Mpumalanga since 2009.
The project is now in Phase 3. Phase 1 and 2 addressed the improvement of Agriculture teaching and learning. Phase 3 is currently addressing the improvement of 5 other science subjects (Mathematics, Math Literacy, Life Science, Physical Sciences and Geography in 2012 in collaboration with the College of Education (Further Teacher education) at Unisa.
The goal of the project is capacity building of science teaching and learning in order to improve pass rates of science subjects and to increase the enrolment of school leavers into science disciplines in tertiary institutions. It is hoped that ultimately it will assist in alleviating science skills shortages in South Africa.
The specific aims of Phase 1 and 2 were:
The specific aims of Phase 3 are:
Achievements of Phases 1 and 2