Dr Yves Yeenseele (left) and Prof Vhonani Netshandama (right) 

 Through the collaborative effort between Dr Yves van Leynseele, a Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Professor Vhonani Netshandama, Director Community Engagement, 34 students (17 students studying towards the Bachelor programmes in Regional and Urban Planning and Human Geography from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and 17 University of Venda (UNIVEN) students from across disciplines, conducted community-based research covering four themes. This collaboration was titled ‘Small Enterprise Development, Food Security and Land Usage in Vhembe’ and took place between 20 and 29 January 2019. 

Participants posing for a photo with Prof Netshandama (far left) 

The themes that were covered included the effects of Super-marketisation on Spazashops (Tuck shops) in Vhembe; Buying fruits at Tshakhuma Fruit market: An exploratory research on decisions of fruit purchasing; Rural Versus Peri- Urban Food Security: Research on food security in peri-urban and rural areas of the Vhembe District in the Limpopo province in South Africa; Land use and land production. 

Teams comprising of students were provided platforms and support to work together to elaborate and improve their research proposals and plans, collect data, analyse and prepare reports and PowerPoint presentations for assessment. Amongst others, students were evaluated on the basics of applying research process, and transversal skills such as: Effective communication, Problem analysis; Team work, collaboration, cooperation, problem solving and critical thinking. 

After 10 days, students reflected on the lessons learnt and gave recommendations for future research themes. Both student groups were grateful for the opportunities. They improved their skills for designing and conducting independent field-based research and showed the ability to collaborate with their peers on synthesizing and presenting key findings. The two coordinating lecturers are committed to organsing this joint research practical again in the next academic year. The following are some of the feedback received from UNIVEN students who participated in the programme: 

“Students expressed that, “there was teamwork, during time of work, they would do that together, if it was time to play and refresh, they would do that together as well. Some said that they benefited from their style of approach to research, they highlighted that it was a great experience for them. “I got an exposure of 

analysing DATA using SPSS and I have also learned a little bit of Dutch language and other cultural lifestyle of Netherland, moreover I have created friendship with them whereby we will still exchange research ideas or skills.” Others explained the collaboration to be fruitful because through this collaboration, they have distinguished that research approaches of Netherland and South Africa are comparable. 

“I felt privileged to be part of the research project and interact with other students from different spheres of learning both the UNIVEN and UvA students. Other experiences included interactions with community members from different areas in the Vhembe district which allowed students an opportunity to improve their communication skills and to learn more about food security in this area. 

“I am now more aware of the things in my own community that I took for granted and my research skills have also improved and as a young researcher I believe an incorporation of my research skills and the ones I learnt will make me a successful researcher in the near future.” 

Some said there were many areas in which they have learnt from this project and expressed that it was interesting because they have also imparted knowledge between UNIVEN and UVA students as well, including the communities they engaged with. “From the first day I had a privilege to interact with other students both from UVA and UNIVEN. I had a chance to learn more about the Venda culture and the type of food they eat. I also learnt how principled the Dutch are.” 

Other group that participated in the research projects posing for a photo 

Some of students who participated in the research projects posing for a photo 

Students watching soccer at Thohoyandou Stadium between Black Leopards and Orlando Pirates 

Issued by: 

Department of Communications & Marketing 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 
Date: 28 February 2019 

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