College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

Community engagement with a difference

On 4 December 2019, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) held a Community Engagement Certification Day at Unisa’s Daveyton Campus. The college, in collaboration with the College of Economic and Management Sciences (CEMS), awarded certificates to students from the Daveyton community who had completed the Household Food Security, Sustainable Apparel (Sewing), Township Tourism and Entrepreneurship Project. The colleges collaborated to ensure that participants who wished to further use their acquired skills to start a business, learnt additional entrepreneurial skills during a three-day workshop.

Attendees of the certification day

To sustain this project, funding is urgently needed so that the Daveyton Campus can establish a sewing lab with about 30 machines. This will enable community members who wish to start a business by employing the sewing skills they have acquired, to come to campus and use Unisa’s sewing-machines, until they can afford their own. This is a sustainable way of ensuring that entrepreneurs put into practice the skills they have learnt.

Dr Nana Agyepong (Community Engagement Researcher, CAES), a recipient of the certificate for completing the Sustainable Apparel Sewing Project with Prof Elizabeth Kempen (CAES Head: Office of Graduate Studies and Research)

Two community engagement participants who were very excited at being afforded an opportunity to receive training from Unisa, expressed their gratitude as follows:

"We really appreciate the efforts of the Unisa team." ~ Complete

"Dr Nana and your team, we would like to thank you for all your hard work and for providing informative training. Thank you for the great change you have made in my life." ~ Busisiwe

The Daveyton Campus Director, Mrs Vhahangwele Lethole, mentioned that when their offices first relocated to Daveyton it was not about moving to a bigger space or a place with more resources – it was about serving the community, which is why they reached out and identified which skills people needed, to improve their lives.

The community supported this initiative and, as a result, about 200 people attended the certification day. Here is an indication of the number of participants who completed the CAES and CEMS workshops:

  • Household Food Security = 90
  • Sustainable Apparel (Sewing) Project = 101
  • Township Tourism = 33
  • Entrepreneurship = 86

Students who completed the Household Food Security and Sustainable Apparel (Sewing) Project show off their creations

Prof Kempen explained that the college and dean were particularly proud of a CAES student, Ms Nomsa Msibi, who devoted her time to teaching the community members who participated in the workshops. Dr Agyepong believed this was a first step towards establishing a long-lasting relationship between Unisa and the surrounding communities – the Daveyton community in particular. In her view, the success of the project proves that similar ventures can be duplicated at other Unisa regional offices, for effective community engagement and engaged research.

Students who completed the Household Food Security and Sustainable Apparel (Sewing) Project show off their creations

* By Gugulethu Ngcobo

Publish date: 2019-12-17 00:00:00.0