In the beginning of 2009, The University of Venda created a directorate
on Community Engagement (CE). Through the directorate, Univen seeks to ensure
that a qualitative, symbiotic and reciprocal relationship exists between
itself and its community stakeholders – a relationship of mutual benefit.
It is the intention of Univen to excel in Community Engagement programmes
that is both scholarship-based and community oriented, embedded in the academic
work of the institution.
To be an exemplar for best practices in Higher Education CE programmes
that focuses on Rural Development and Poverty Reduction in South Africa
The Directorate Community Engagement strives for excellence in supporting
interdisciplinary community engaged teaching and learning, community engaged
research geared towards addressing community poverty-related challenges
and development needs of the communities in the Limpopo Province and in
SADC rural communities.
The following values influence CE programmes at Univen
People orientation: We listen to people and interact with communities so that teaching and learning and research programmes at UNIVEN has the community voice in them.
Interdisciplinary, Multidisciplinary and Trans-disciplinary Collaboration: We endeavour to support all interdisciplinary collaboration that is geared towards addressing shared challenges with communities
Authenticity, Responsibility and Accountability: We strive for honesty, responsibility and accountability for public good.
Truthfulness and trustworthiness: We commit ourselves to cultivate community informed, credible, reliable and trustworthy research and learning programmes.
Sharing: We share with the public, the knowledge, the challenges and the resources were possible towards public good.
Inclusivity: We embrace contributions from students, academic support and service staff towards public good. We embrace community engagement philosophies in teaching and learning, Research and Social responsibility programmes of the University.
CE Strategic goals
Recognising that planning, implementation, coordination and management
of CE activities appropriately rest with the schools and centres through
individual staff members, Deans and Heads of Departments, the directorate
Community Engagement provide support and coordination functions. CE directorate
Provides a intellectual and community informed leadership on community
engagement programmes in schools and centres;
Mobilize, organize and interact with staff, students, rural communities
and other stakeholders for responsive teaching and learning, research and
social responsibility projects;
Serve as a nerve centre for engagement on issues of community interest
such as Water, Health, Local Economic Development, Social development, etc
Create platforms and or facilitate the creation of knowledge co-creation
Facilitate the creation of platforms and opportunities for work-based
learning, service learning and other forms of experiential learning for
students at various schools.
Vhonani is a trained mental health nurse and midwife. She spent most of
her early career years training students to become nurses and nurse managers.
She started at the University of South Africa (UNISA) where she taught Health
services management and later on joined the University of Venda where she
taught everything from Bio-chem and bio-physics for nurses to general nursing,
nursing management and mental health. She later on became more interested
in community problem based nursing education health. In her DCur, she investigated
a question of what it means for a university to be in partnership with the
community and what is entailed in the concept of partnership with communities.
She developed a model and standards for partnership between a nursing education
institution and a community. She has assumed roles as both interim HOD of
the Department of Nursing and assisted the dean of the school of Health
Sciences. She spent a couple of years as a coordinator of community engagement
programmes for the university including international programmes that have
community based programmes embedded in it. In 2006, she was a visiting scholar
at the University of Virginia, school of nursing. The role included coordinating
work integrated learning, and partnerships with communities, industries,
local FET college and other stakeholders. From 2005 and 2008, she was an
academic coordinator for the Community Development Workers Programme in
the Limpopo Province. She was part of the reference group that worked on
the development of training material for traditional leadership and community
development in behalf of the Local Government SETA. She also assisted in
facilitating some of the programmes.
Vhonani has served the maximum 3 terms at the Programme Accreditation Committee
of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) in the Council on Higher
Education (CHE). She also served as a board member for Vhembe FET College
and was responsible for the academic board subcommittee of council. She
is an executive board member of the South African Higher Education Community
Engagement forum, a board member of a UNIVEN Income Generation Centre (UIGC)
and of several non profit organisations. Vhonani has worked with several
community based organisation including international non profit organisations.
Her research areas include amongst others the role of community engagement
in social transformation, Education for Social Justice and responsible citizenry,
school partnership for development, the role of volunteerism in development
and in grooming students to be responsible citizenship, Water and heath
as well as mental health. Vhonani enjoys working with students on community
engagement work and has mentored a significant number of students in this
Being a strong believer of working together for common purpose, Vhonani
has initiated and coordinated several collaborative initiatives both locally
and internationally. She is the current lead project manager for Vhembe
District Skills development initiative (2013-2015) an area which she passionately
developed in the past 3 years. Her vision is to develop well rounded graduates
that are socially responsible and development savvy. She looks forward to
opportunities for youth learnerships and internship programmes that are
Water and Health in Limpopo (WHIL) and Water, Health Education
and Development Inititatives (WHEAD)
Collaboration between Univen, University of Virginia and selected Communities
in Vhembe District Municipality.