Change the world

Centre for the Community School

Project Summary: UCT Symposium 
 
Project Contact Person: Bruce Damons and Nadeema Musthan
Contact Number: 0415043895 / 0415042049
Email Address: Bruce.Damons@mandela.co.za /Nadeema.Musthan@mandela.ac.za 
 
What is the project about?
 
In 2013 NMU hosted a visit involving UCT SII and SDU staff members. This created an opportunity for constructive engagement between education faculty members from both institutions as well as CCS staff, principals and teachers involved in the Manyano project2. This conversation continued during discussions at SAERA in 2017 where it was agreed that a follow-up meeting would be valuable to continue the discussions that were started and to critically reflect on some of the issues that were
raised both during the conference sessions and in informal conversations.
 
It was agreed that in order to continue this conversation, the building of an alternative symposium culture that is inclusive and dialogical, and that opens the space to all voices in ways that encourage the sharing of ideas and deepens our collective understanding is paramount. The Community-School-University Partnership Symposium that was held over the 14th and 15th of March, 2018 is the result of this collective commitment and it has provided a participatory and interactive forum for critical engagement and the sharing of experiences from multiple stakeholders in their respective university-school-community partnerships.
 
Aim of the project
 
The symposium sought to address key questions:
  • Why have we established partnerships with schools, to what end(s) and for what purpose(s)?
  • What are the various research methodologies we employ/intend employing in our work?
  • How does our work contribute to the broader project of engaged scholarship at our respective universities?
  • How can we extend our thinking about decolonising approaches to university-school- community partnerships?
Participants
  • Centre for the Community School (Mandela University): teachers, principals, community members and CCS Staff
  • SII UCT – various Faculties, SII staff, UCT students, community volunteers
  • Official Western Cape Education Department
  • NGOs  
  • Funders
Key Findings
  • There was no consensus on what a ‘community school’ is.
  • In time, a ‘community school’ should be identifiable by its purpose.
  • More than collaboration and support, partnerships have the potential to be spaces of critical reflection, solidarity and empowerment.
  • ‘reciprocity’, ‘mutuality’ & ‘tolerance’ are considered to be inappropriate words in the context of partnering across inequality and enduring socio-historical divisions.
  • It is important to challenge societal notion of ‘success’ at school – academic achievement alone is not enough.
  • Programmes must target all students, not a select few.
  • The tendency of universities and the Education Department to work in silos places strain on other partners.
  • Partnerships should be expanded to include more stakeholders.
  • When partners’ intentions change, it is important to communicate those changes.
  • There is fatigue with constant reflection without significant action – it is agreed that we need to do both.
  • The role of the partnerships is to agitate for change – with universities forwarding a decolonial “new paradigm” agenda, lobbying national government and supporting communities and schools in co-constructing research.
 
Any other relevant information