Project Summary: The National Imbizo
Project Contact Person: Bruce Damons / Nadeema Musthan
Contact Number: 041-5043895 and 041-5042049
Email Address:
What is the project about?
In 2013 the Centre for the Community School (CCS) at the then Nelson Mandela University hosted a visit involving the University of Cape Town’s Schools Improvement Initiative (SII) and School Development Unit (SDU) staff members. This created an opportunity for constructive engagement between education faculty members from both institutions as well as CCS (Centre for the Community School) staff, principals and teachers involved in the Manyano project. 
This conversation continued during discussions at SAERA conference (South African Education Research Association) in 2017 where we 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 our informal conversations. 
A symposium was held on 14th and 15th March, 2018, with representatives from the CCS and SDU/SII community-school-university partnership projects around various aspects of our work, in particular the nature of our engagements with communities and schools. 
The summary of the discussions during this symposium is captured in a formal report, which will be made available to all stakeholders. One of the key resolutions, which emerged from the symposium, was a call for a national conversation on community-engaged school partnerships. 
The national ‘Imbizo’ would be centred on the inputs from the represented stakeholders of the Cape Town symposium and must emerge with a firm commitment to collective responsibility that encompasses solidarity, planning, reflection and action.
Focus Areas and Purpose
The purpose of the national Imbizo is to bring in community’s voice and agency because community engagement and participation is a vital and significant component of functioning democratic societies.  
A sentiment that emerged strongly from the UCT symposium was that education is a societal issue and as such we need to engage more broadly, critique more deeply, and allow both to culminate in actions that help cultivate the optimal conditions for learning, particularly in poor, working class contexts.
The Cape Town Symposium posed the following questions which would require critical engagement from participants of the national Imbizo:
  • What are the multiple forms of consultations that need to take place to establish authentic partnerships among the formal, informal and non-formal categories of education?
  • How do we ensure that no voices are left behind in the co-construction of relevant, contextual responses to the challenges confronting education?
  • What kinds of spaces need to be created to ensure that these multiple voices are continuously heard and validated in the process of responding to these challenges?
  • How do we co-construct a cohesive action plan which values the contribution that all these categories in education; formal, informal, and non-formal, can make in dealing with the complex challenges confronting education, particularly in poor working class contexts?
  • How does the mutual reciprocity of such multi-stakeholder collaboration contribute to solidarity in dealing with these complex challenges?
1. Participants of the UCT Symposium
2. All universities in South Africa interested in exploring university – community – school relationships (dependent on University partnerships): Possible participants – (Universities to make decision: maximum of 10 participants per University)
  • 2 Members from Faculty
  • 2 Community members
  • 2 School Principals – from different contexts
  • 2 Teachers – from different contexts
  • 2 Learners – from different contexts
  • All National Government Departments
3. Funding organisations
4. Teacher Unions at National Level
5. Organisations in the:
  • Non-formal space of education
  • Informal space (communities, parents etc.)
Imbizo event details
The event will take place in Port Elizabeth NMB and will be hosted by the Centre for the Community School, Nelson Mandela University Faculty of Education and Schools Improvement Initiative (SII), University of Cape Town.  It is set to take place in April 2019 for three consecutive full days.  More details will be shared on the website and CCS social media pages in due course.