Prof Bernard Nthambeleni, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda led a delegation comprising of the Senior Management Committee, researchers, students, and support staff to Rambuda Royal Council to formalise the relationship between UNIVEN and Rambuda Traditional Authority through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The relationship that was cemented on 27 September 2023, has a history of nearly a decade.
The MoU will amongst others assist communities from both parties to hold jointly organised meetings/workshops, on subjects of mutual interest; cooperate in the field of community engagement, including work-integrated learning; cooperate with each other in engaged scholarship; share and utilise knowledge, skills, expertise, and experience in designing and executing development initiatives together and design together mechanisms or ways of improving the delivery of services, said Prof Vhonani Netshandama, Director of Community Engagement.
It is of great importance to Work together with traditional leaders as we can bring solutions to problems that are within communities. Traditional leaders have deep-rooted knowledge and understanding of their communities, which can provide valuable insights into the challenges they face. By collaborating with them, we can tap into their wisdom and experience to develop more effective and culturally appropriate solutions that are likely to be embraced by the community, she said.
The MoU will create a sustained enabling environment for the University, partner with the local community on interdisciplinary research which seeks to develop strategies and approaches for enhancing people’s livelihoods; jointly mobilise resources such as funding required to implement programmes that enhance the capacity of the University to deliver on crucial community-based programmes.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Bernard Nthambeleni pointed out that the University is honoured and privileged to be in sustained working relations with the communities as we strive for relevance and societal impact. He said the signing ceremony is a landmark of formalising the relations that have been established over the years.
He shared that the University prides itself on its ability to facilitate engagement in a manner that talks to the local traditional leadership for impactful research, social innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainable higher education for sustainable development. Prof Nthambeleni said, “The University is proud and excited that amongst others, one of our best professors did his community -public health work with many families under the stewardship of the late Thovhele Rammbuda, where local community health workers were also appointed to monitor the growth of children (Under Mal-Ed project)”.
He also reported on the Rural Entrepreneurship community training Project that was piloted in the year 2022 at Vele Resource Centre and has since then trained over 60 youth from Rammbuda and Khakhu communities together with UNIVEN students. He concluded his talk by saying “Mutingati udo ri thusa u bvelela sa University, na vhu rangaphanda ha sialala ho dzhia vhudifhindulelei na ndango zwitshi elana na vhudiimiseli na u tama u diitela tshanduko nga rine vhane – Hoping that this MoU will open opportunities to work together in a mutually impactful way”.
The audience received remarks by Thovhele Avhatendi Rambuda Ratshibvumo the 2nd of Ha-Rambuda. “We are delighted that the University of Venda and the Rambuda Traditional Council have agreed to this Memorandum of Understanding and that has resulted in this signing ceremony”, said Thovhele Rambuda.
Thovhele Rambuda Ratshibvumo 2nd further said, “We are living in a time where the relevance and role of traditional leadership in the modern age is increasingly being questioned”. As communities grapple with the increasing challenges faced by both the South African and global economy, he reiterated that the role of the traditional leader is increasingly being placed under heavy scrutiny. “We have a duty to remain relevant in these times by ensuring that we respond to the needs and cries of our communities, now more than ever”.
He indicated that they are aware of the University of Venda’s reputation for academic excellence and its strong commitment to creating an even stronger national and international academic presence. Thovhele Rambuda told the audience that no traditional council, no matter how large or well-endowed, can address future challenges by itself. In this era of globalization, the advent of the fourth industrial revolution and interdependence cooperative partnerships with other institutions of academic excellence around the world is not an option, but a necessity.
He continued to say the MoU should be the foundation on which future students from the Rambuda traditional boundary and its neighbours will be built. The research and innovative ideas that will emanate from this relationship should be mutually beneficial to both institutions and most importantly the community at large. Thovhele advised the University to also utilize Nwanedi Nature Reserve for its research activities.
He proposed to the University to introduce short courses to assist traditional leaders. In his conclusion, Thovhele highlighted that as a traditional council, they are running a project to assist grade 12 learners to further their studies and they encourage them to take UNIVEN as their first option. The Rambuda Traditional Council also offered the University an Office space that will be used to assist its community in many areas depending on their needs such as assisting learners with applications, entrepreneurship, legal matters, and many more.
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Date: 02 October 2023