Institute For Rural Development

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Formalising University of Venda-Traditional Councils Partnership for Citizen-driven Rural Community Development in Vhembe District 08 December 2021, Research Conference Centre @ 10h00

Institute for Rural Development
Taking the University to its rightful owners, grassroots communities

Since September 2021, the Institute for Rural Development has been facilitating multi-stakeholder engagements involving university staff and students, and citizens of Madonsi, Manenzhe, Masia, Njhakanjhaka, Sinthumule and Tshivhase Traditional Authorities. The engagements clarified what stakeholders perceived to be a relevant university, engaged scholarship and societal impact. Focal areas that local stakeholders want to shape the formal partnerships between UNIVEN and Traditional Councils were agreed upon and used to prepare memoranda of understanding (MoU). It is envisaged that through implementing the MoUs sustainable rural community development will be achieved through processes that make it possible to jointly unlock and deploy the unique assets that each Traditional Authority is blessed with.

A public ceremony in which the Vice Chancellor and Principal of UNIVEN will sign MoUs with the six Traditional Councils referred to above has been scheduled. Specific details are as follows:

Date : 8 December 2021
Venue : Research Conference Centre
Time : 10:00-12:00

Institute for Rural Development to host workshop to cement partnership with Traditional Authorities Citizen-centred Rural Development
From 29-30 September 2021, the University of Venda’s Institute for Rural Development hosted a citizen-centred rural development workshop seeking to connect the University with the Madonsi, Manenzhe, Masia, Njhakanjhaka, Sinthumule and Tshivhase Traditional Authorities. It is envisaged that this will lay the foundation for building viable partnerships for improved livelihoods of grassroots communities. A standard Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will be signed with all Traditional Councils will be co-developed. Furthermore, an operational plan for the MoU in each Traditional Authority will be developed. During the workshop, the process of building a shared understanding of relevance, engaged scholarship and positive societal impact, including how all this can be realised through active involvement of children, youth, adults and community leaders in the six Traditional Authorities, will be initiated. 

Date : 29-30 September 2021 
Venue : Muofhe Graceland Lodge 
Time : 09:00 am 

Participants in this workshop will included representatives of Civic Associations, women and youth from each of the six Traditional Authorities with their Chief (Hosi/Thovhele) leading the delegation, staff and postgraduate students from the Institute for Rural Development, two staff members from each UNIVEN Faculty, Directors and Executive Deans. 

Although the workshop will involved six Traditional Authorities only, it provided a framework for how others can work with a university as equal partners. This workshop was a unique milestone in rural development practice for the following reasons: 

a) It was the first time that delegations of Traditional Authorities and university campus community will come together to negotiate, reimagine and interrogate issues as equal partners and co-design a rural development agenda that will be co-implemented; 
b) The University of Venda was simply showing its commitment to the practice of engaged scholarship in line with its vision, viz. “A university leading in engaged scholarship”. For the IRD, the workshop is ample proof to society of practicing its slogan, “Taking the university to its rightful owners”. 

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