24 April 2023 | Story Anathi Nyadu and Avela Ntsongelwa | Photo Supplied
Humanities Soutpan community outreach
Collaborating to uplift the community of Soutpan. Staff members from the Faculty of the Humanities met with representatives of the Soutpan community to engage in community-enriching projects.

Universities have an important role to play in the healing of communities by engaging in initiatives that address social ills such as drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, violence against children, women, and the elderly. 

This is according to Prof Mogomme Masoga, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities at the University of the Free State (UFS). Prof Masoga was addressing guests, including faculty staff members and community members of Soutpan, at the launch (18 April 2023) of the faculty’s community engagement partnership with the community of Ikgomotseng in Soutpan, some 40 km outside Bloemfontein.  He informed guests that the partnership was the first of many initiatives that the faculty will be engaging in with the community of Soutpan.

Flagship partnership 

The flagship partnership will see participation by various departments within the faculty, including a parenting project with carers at day-care centres and in the communities, led by students from the Department of Psychology. The Department of Drama and Theatre Arts will stimulate the children’s minds through puppet shows, while the Department of History will collaborate with the community on heritage issues. During the engagement with the community, the Department of Sociology also indicated that it is launching an engaged scholarship month project for their honours and second-year Social Movements modules, where several guest lecturers will engage with students to bring stronger social context to sociological discussion. The faculty is also exploring a literacy project where it will contribute books and inculcate a culture of reading among community members.

Talking about the origin of the collaborative engagement, Dr Rosaline Sebolao, Teaching and Learning Manager in the faculty, says “the partnership emanated from a visit by the faculty to a day-care centre called Halaletsang, founded by a community leader, Belina Nhlapo, who demonstrated her passion for empowering communities. With the intention of expanding the faculty’s engaged scholarship programme, the team entered into a number of engagements that led to the identification of potential collaborative projects by departments and the community”.

Maximum societal impact with sustainable relationships

This partnership is one way in which the Faculty of the Humanities hopes to contribute to the UFS’Vision 130. The faculty aims to bring Vision 130 to reality by conducting community research and establishing quality relationships that will yield sustainable results. These results will not only impact communities but also our students who, through their engagement, will become globally competent and competitive graduates. 

According to Israel Mawoyo, First-Year Success Programme (FYSP) coordinator in the faculty, the partnerships involve a working relationship for the Faculty of the Humanities and the community of Soutpan. “This partnership will create a platform for staff and students to engage in the scholarship of community engagement practices within the community. Ultimately, the Soutpan and the faculty community are to work together so that they both benefit from this partnership.”

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