MUT hosts Community Engagement Indaba to improve its impact on community work

Professor Nokuthula Sibiya

The University has moved with speed to consolidate and strengthen its position as a university of technology that is united, and community-focused. In a Community Engagement Indaba that was held off-campus on 1 December 2022, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor Nokuthula Sibiya, reminded her colleagues that it was important for a University staff member to be more than familiar with what other colleagues were doing.

The right hand must know what the left hand is doing, so they can support each other, she said. Professor Sibiya reiterated that staff needed to tear down the silos and reach out to each other. Such an attit

ude will assist to propel the University to greater heights.

This would be solid ground to launch one of the major responsibilities of a university – Community Engagement. Professor Sibiya described Community Engagement as “one of the pillars of the universities, including MUT”. Professor Sibiya said that Community Engagement at the University was a scholarly activity of research, and teaching and learning that encompasses all planned activities that the University community and the external communities engage in.

Professor Sibiya said a concern was raised that Community Engagement was receiving less priority, compared to teaching and learning,  and research the other two core functions of the University.

“A recommendation was made for an institutional Community Engagement Indaba to have a dialogue on what Community Engagement means in the context of MUT,” said Professor Sibiya.

Professor Sibiya said the interlocutors deliberated on the following questions to guide the discussion so that we could have a shared understanding of Community Engagement in the context of MUT.

“What is the community from the context of MUT; what is the engagement from a context of MUT; Community Engagement from a social impact; and how are we engaged as a university; and in what way are we engaged as a university,” said Professor Sibiya.

Also central to discussions was how Community Engagement relates to teaching and learning, and research. Both Professor Sibiya and Professor Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni, the Director of the Community Engagement and Development Directorate (CEAD) at the University, emphasised to staff the necessity for community engagement activities to be conducted following the guidelines established by her Directorate. The CEAD has guidelines that staff will have to use when doing community engagement, including when conducting research within the community. The community engagement projects or activities must be registered with the CEAD, which will give staff all the necessary assistance they will need.

Also attending the Indaba was the Student Representative Council (SRC).