The University of Venda (UNIVEN) is implementing its strategic plan, 2021-2025, aiming to reposition itself for local relevance and societal impact whilst ensuring it is globally competitive. Its vision is, A university leading in engaged scholarship. Armed with this institutional strategic trajectory and intent, the Institute for Rural Development (IRD) resolved to reimagine and consolidate its core business such that at least 60 % of the work is implemented in six Traditional Authorities within Vhembe District. The Traditional Authority areas will serve as demonstration sites where we showcase how to mobilise and deploy diverse expertise to co-generate with grassroots communities, viable and sustainable solutions to societal challenges. By so doing, the IRD would demonstrate better that it is indeed “Taking the university to its rightful owners” and simultaneously demystify the role of a university in rural community development practice.

Since September 2021, the IRD 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. Furthermore, the focal areas that the stakeholders want to shape the formal partnerships between the UNIVEN and Traditional Councils were agreed upon and included in memoranda of understanding (MoU). The MoUs are equivalent to an equal partners’ marriage contract designed to yield sustainable rural community development through jointly unlocking the unique assets that each Traditional Authority is blessed with.

We hope that our work will generate frameworks that can provide direction on how grassroots communities can co-design and co-implement sustainable rural community development initiatives with the university. Implementation will be facilitated such that local citizens (children, youth, adults and community leaders) take responsibility and champion self-emancipation processes in which gender is mainstreamed. A public ceremony where the Vice Chancellor and Principal of UNIVEN will sign MoUs with the six Traditional Councils has been scheduled. Specific details are as follows:

Date: 8 December 2021
Time: 10:00-13:00
Venue: Research Conference Centre

Issued by:

Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication

University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 6 December 2021

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