Reciprocity. That’s what it’s all about when it comes to engaged teaching and learning in a community context. Everyone must benefit – which includes getting recognition for what you’ve achieved,” says Karen Venter, Head of Service Learning in the Directorate: Community Engagement.
This conviction was put into practice at the recent Grassroots Community Engagement Awards. It was an opportunity to thank and award all the role players who made a success of this year’s Learning Festival, presented in partnership with Bloem Shelter on the Bloemfontein Campus earlier this year. During the festival, 55 skills development workshops were offered in a collaborative effort to create sustainable income-generating micro enterprises.
Global University for Lifelong Learning graduates
The awards function also doubled as a proper ‘Cap and Gown’ ceremony for 18 participants in the Global University for Lifelong Learning (GULL) programme. For the past three years, they’ve been involved in action learning on a uniquely designed Professional Bachelor Pathway to Holistic Development. This pathway is rooted in spiritual, personal, and professional development, where the learning of skills for entrepreneurship is key to gain personal and professional viability, moving from dependence to independence.
“GULL’s approach is to give people in the community a chance to advance themselves. Our focus is professional and not academic. It’s about life skills and professional skills where people don’t have the funds or qualifications to follow an academic route,” explained Prof Richard Teare, President of GULL, who came all the way form the UK to officiate the ceremony.
Academics and Life Skills running parallel
“What makes the UFS involvement in our programme so great, is that it’s run parallel with an excellent academic programme offered by the university.”
He emphasised the importance of graduation ceremonies, as it instilled a sense of pride and gave graduates an opportunity to reflect on how far they’ve come in improving their own circumstances.
“This is a deep form of learning, because we are enabling people to move from their difficult circumstances and release their own inner potential.”
Source University of the Free State