Fourth Year Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (BURP) students undertook an Integrated Development Project (IDP) titled ‘Transforming Marude Secondary School into a model school’ as part of the Department’s community engagement imperatives. The project was coordinated by Dr Emaculate Ingwani and Ms Shylet Anesu Nyamwanza – covering the period from July 2019 to October 2019. The BURP 4th Year students were clustered into three groups to integrate multiple realities on creating a model school while reflecting on the university-town-gown relationships between Marude Secondary School and the University of Venda. The IDP project comprised of desktop analyses; fieldwork research through a reconnaissance; and questionnaire surveys. School teachers and learners at Marude Secondary School as well as informal traders that operate at the school gate were targeted for participation in the survey. Data presentation and analysis was aided by computer software packages including Statistical Package for the Social Services (SPSS), AutoCAD, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The constructed alignment of these IDP activities demonstrates intricate relationships ‘between’ research, teaching and community engagement in a university context. Teaching and learning methodologies such as coaching, workshopping, discovery and mentoring were used to activate the community engaged pedagogies through IDP.
On 16 October 2019, BURP 4th Year students presented the research findings of the situation analysis undertaken at Marude Secondary School to stakeholders including officials from Thulamela Local Municipality; the Principal, teachers and learners from Marude Secondary School; the Community Engagement Directorate; and academics from other departments at the University of Venda. These stakeholders together with staff members from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning formed a panel of assessors for the IDP. 2
Professor Vhonani Netshandama (Directorate of Community Engagement); Mr Mbedzi (Thulamela Local Municipality); Mr Nepfumembe (Thulamela Local Municipality); Mr Muthelo (The Principal of Marude Secondary School); Mr Khorommbi (Deputy Principal of Marude Secondary School); Mrs Mapholi (a teacher at Marude Secondary School); Mr Vhutshilo Nekhubvi (Maths Department, University of Venda); two learners from Marude Secondary School (Ratondwa Munzhelele and Mulalo Ndou); staff members from the URP Department including Dr Chakwizira (HoD), Dr Ingwani (IDP Coordinator), Ms Akola and Ms Nyamwanza were present during the presentations. Each group presentation was followed by a question and answer session from the assessors to verify the research findings.
Key findings show that the school requires implementation of precinct design, as well as landscape architectural plans and strategies to enhance the design, legibility, maintenance, and safety at the school. 3
In her remarks and words of encouragement, Professor Netshandama was pleased with the quality of presentations from the situation analysis as these not only provide important groundwork towards improving the situation at Marude Secondary School, but constitute a classical example of a community engaged scholarship and how lecturers and students should take advantage of available opportunities for Work Integrated Learning projects in neighbourhoods. Thulamela Local Municipality was also pleased with the quality of presentations.
As a result of the 16 October 2019 IDP presentations, the BURP 4th Year students were further requested to present their research findings from the situation analysis of Marude Secondary School to a wider University community and stakeholders. Among the invited stakeholders were Professor Jan Crafford (DVC Academic); officials from the Department of Education (Vhembe East District); the Principal of Marude Secondary School; and staff members from other departments at the University of Venda.
Dr Chakwizira acknowledged the stakeholders present and underscored that the Department of Urban and Regional Planning was humbled to showcase their contribution to the flagship project on making Marude a model school through community engaged teaching and learning. 5
Prof Crafford expressed his sincere gratitude to Dr Chakwizira and Dr Ingwani for championing the Marude Secondary School research through community engaged teaching, learning and research.
Professor Crafford pointed out that the project undertaken by BURP students at Marude Secondary School was a special activity and was the beginning of “big things for Marude Secondary School” as the University of Venda cannot divorce itself from carrying a responsibility of promoting excellence on this ‘flagship university school’. Professor Crafford added that Marude Secondary School is a flagship project that requires a hands-on approach for its transformation into a model school, and that there is need to create synergetic and symbiotic relationships between University of Venda for the school to be modelled in similar fashion as with the University of Pretoria and its neighbouring school(s). It is therefore a University of Venda’s dream to fully integrate Marude Secondary School into UNIVEN.
Dr N.G. Rambiyana from the Department of Education (Vhembe East) thanked the students, the URP staff members and Professor Netshandama for organizing the presentations. He indicated the need for further collaborative engagement on sustainable strategies for transforming the school.
In her closing remarks, Professor Netshandama encouraged colleagues/schools that were represented at the meeting to take advantage of foundational work done by Dr Ingwani and utilize their expertise appropriately to participate in the broader project on Marude Secondary School. 7
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18 November 2019