College of Graduate Studies

Community Engagement

At Unisa, community engagement is actively promoted through our Community Engagement and Outreach Policy which is firmly set within its vision of being the African university in the service of humanity.

The College of Graduate Studies has actively engaged with the community through many community engagement projects. These are:

  1. A Self-feeder Mathematics Education and Identity Winter Project
    This project aims to help students build a strong foundation in Mathematics. The project will increase the accessibility of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to non-traditional and underrepresented populations We are engaged in transforming findings from proven research studies on learning, training, performance and expertise into practical training solutions and practices to support educators in STEM related fields.

  2. Revisiting Ethno-mathematics pedagogy for conceptual understanding of mathematics
    This project addresses challenges of Grade R mathematics stimulation through ethno mathematics pedagogy. The project is running three parallel engagements: academic intervention, community intervention and learner intervention.
  • The academic intervention focuses on developing educator knowledge and skills using cultural artefacts and materials that stimulate mathematical ideas. At this stage the project has trained the educators on number development. The classroom use of cultural games in nurturing number development are being recorded for educator reflection and learning. Through this unravelling of mathematical ideas from cultural artefacts teachers will gain insight on mathematical knowledge needed to teach Grade R and beyond.

  • The community intervention focuses on parents of these learners by equipping them with skills to assist and nurture the mathematical ideas at home through a Family mathematics programme. The two community workers as well as the educators will receive training on Family maths in collaboration with the Co-operative Organization for the Upgrading of Numeracy Training (COUNT) . COUNT will provide family math training with UNISA on family mathematics.

  • While influence of these programmes to learners will be monitored continuously using clinical interviews and classroom lesson reflection recorded by educators on video recorders and shared to influence training. The rationale behind choosing Grade R is the response to the importance of early childhood development highlighted in the twenty year review 1994-2014 as a significant phase for human development. In contributing to the human capital of South Africa Grade R needs to provide quality mathematics education that is relevant to the learners and developmentally appropriate. This projects responds to the University of South Africa’s mandate of servicing humanity through education and responding to the mathematics education challenge the country continually struggles with.
  1. MOOCS teacher training project

    There is poor performance in mathematics across all phases on national systemic and international comparative tests. The subject knowledge base of the majority of South African mathematics teachers is simply inadequate to provide learners with a principled understanding of the discipline. There is a need to provide teachers with a deep conceptual understanding of their subject. The most definite point of convergence across the [President’s Education Initiative] studies is the conclusion that teachers’ poor conceptual knowledge of the subjects they are teaching is a fundamental constraint on the quality of teaching and learning activities, and consequently on the quality of learning outcomes. The opportunities to grasp the symbolic system of mathematics are inhibited by classroom practices that privilege concrete modes of representation, which restrict access to more abstract ways of working with numbers. There is inadequate coverage, pacing of the curriculum and procedural orientations within teaching and learning process. THERE ARE moves back to close content specifications in curriculum and significant prescription of sequencing and pacing; scripted lessons in provincial level interventions. Criticism of teacher education, and increasing pressure to increase attention to mathematics content in pre-service teacher education. Mathematics teacher knowledge literature base tend to disagree with the view that ‘more’ mathematical knowledge alone will not suffice, but agreement that ‘deep, broad, thorough’ content knowledge is necessary. The ODeL method using MOOCs is a cheaper effective and reflexive process in improving deeper and broader content knowledge to both existing mathematics teachers and pre-service training teachers.

  2. Digital Planetarium

    Conducting community engagement, science outreach, and education to the public, learners and students using a portable digital planetarium and complementary instruments. The project seeks to improve science awareness and literacy for the public, learners and students using a portable digital planetarium and complementary instruments

  3. ISTE Winter School

    The ISTE Winter School project is a community engaged research project designed to provide professional development (already accredited by SACE as SACE Provider No. HE 12884) to educators by assisting school educators in mathematics, science and technology to overcome the challenges they face in delivering lessons in the classroom in the areas of content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Over the past years including 2016, the project has assisted over 500 educators from the provinces of Gauteng, Northwest, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The research involves three phases. The first phase (phase 1) involves determining, prior to the Winter School workshop, which of the key concepts are the most problematic to teach and learn within STEM related disciplines. The second phase (phase 2) involves identifying and evaluating the various intervention strategies used by experts (training facilitators) to teach problematic concepts in STEM-related disciplines during the workshop. The third phase (phase 3) encompasses assessing the long term impact that can be attributed to the strategic interventions designed by the workshop facilitators.

  4. Land Reform, Land Grabbing and Agricultural Development

    This project is a follow-up to the successful hosting of the 1st Pan-African Roundtable Dialogue on Land Reform, Land Grabbing and Agricultural Development in Africa in the 21st Century, 2nd Pan-African Roundtable Dialogue on Investment or Land Grabbing? The challenges of Agricultural Production and Food Security in Africa, 3rd Pan-African Roundtable Dialogue on Land Policies, Agrarian Conflicts, Agricultural Production, Food Security and Identity Challenges in Postcolonial Africa, 4th Sam Moyo Pan-African Roundtable Dialogue on Land Reform and Agrarian Conflicts in post-colonial Africa: Implications on Agricultural Production, Industrial Production and Food Security which were held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 7-8 June 2013, Dakar, Senegal, 5-7 November 2014, Harare, Zimbabwe, 21-23 September 2015 and Pretoria, 6-8 September 2016 respectively.

    Land reform strategies in Africa, especially in Southern Africa, pose a major threat to the economic and political stability of the region if not addressed satisfactorily. There is thus an urgent need to gain a clear understanding of different patterns of land reform in former settler colonies and peasant trade colonies, land acquisition including empirical evaluations of the notions of land deals, land grabs and investment in land, as well as assessment of the impact of globalization and the current capitalist crisis on the African land question. This project seeks to address these challenges through critical engagement with relevant stakeholders that include the national Government Departments; NGOs & Agrarian societies through roundtable dialogues, seminars and conferences informed by empirical findings and expert discussions on land reform and agricultural production.

  5. Enhancing Research Capacity amongst people with disabilities

    This CE Project aims to develop guidelines aimed at working with people with disabilities to develop their research skills and capacity to engage in research about their own issues. The ultimate aim is to develop accessible open educational resource that will enhance their skills. Also, a policy will be developed that will guide research practices for people who do research on and with people with disabilities. Rampant cases of people with disabilities being treated as fertile grounds for data mining have led to biased projection of disability issues. This means that there is lack of authentic voices and research genuinely addressing the needs of  PwDs. This problem has led to the delayed understanding and implementation of sustainable inclusion in South Africa.

  6. End Violence: Talk to your Children about Gender Equality

    A focus on gender equality, and particularly on promoting gender equitable values among children, is necessary in light of the strong relationship between gender inequality and violence. A significant body of research has demonstrated that particular notions of gender shape practices of violence in important ways. In particular, the disproportionate representation of men as both perpetrators and victims of violence can be understood in relation to the positioning of invulnerability, control over women, sexual entitlement, displays of fearlessness, and the ability to endure pain as important markers of manhood. These markers of manhood often result in elevated risk-taking and the use of violence against women, children and other men. In contrast to masculinity, submissiveness and passivity are constructed as key markers of femininity. These constructions make it difficult for women to negotiate sexual consent and resist men’s dominance in various forms (including violence).

    End Violence: Talk to your Children about Gender Equality is a public awareness and parenting skills project which focuses on the relationship between gender, violence and equality. The project is an extension of research which investigated the ways in which gender is constructed in South African families: “Doing masculinities and femininities at home: Gender (in)equitable parenting in patriarchal and feminist families”. The research project received ethical clearance from the College of Graduate Studies at UNISA (2015/CGS1/11/R). Results of the study been published as Helman, R. & Ratele, K. (2016). ‘Everyday (in)equality at home: Complex constructions of gender in South African families. Global Health Action, 8. A policy brief – Helman, R. & Ratele, K. (2016). ‘Gender (in) equality in South African families: A call for policies and programmes to promote egalitarian gender relations in the home’. Tygerberg: South African Medical Research Council – was published in January 2016.

    The policy brief notes that families have been identified as key sites in which gender inequality occurs (for example through women being made responsible for housework and child care, while men are positioned as authority figures and disciplinarians). Families are also the primary place in which children learn about gender and gender (in) equality. In light of this, families represent important sites in which gender equality can be promoted. Policies and programmes which focus on engaging parents and other caregivers in transforming problematic notions of masculinity and femininity are necessary in order to promote more egalitarian relations and to teach children about the value of gender equality. Furthermore, while a number of parenting programmes have been rolled out by the Department of Social Development in recent years, these programmes do not address gender equality as a central component. The conscious programming and policy-making for the promotion of gender equality within families is essential in order to disrupt harmful gender relations. In order to promote egalitarian gender relations policies and programmes need to make clear the link between gender inequality and violence.

    The End Violence: Talk to your Children about Gender Equality project will use postcards, pamphlets and online resources (via a website) to provide parents with knowledge, skills and resources to engage their children in discussions about gender, violence and equality. Community-based workshops will also be held to disseminate information and skills


Last modified: Thu Aug 23 14:04:00 SAST 2018