n South African Journal of Higher Education - University-rural community partnership for people-centred development : experiences from Makhado Municipality, Limpopo Province

Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Children, youth, women, the elderly, men and their leaders are integral components of rural communities. It is important to ensure that their unique needs and perceptions shape development programming. However, despite having various policies and legal frameworks introduced to deepen democracy in South Africa, current rural development programming approaches rarely create effective platforms that amplify this true community voice. Also, although Universities must serve as catalysts of rural development through appropriate community engagement, most of them are still unclear about how to realise this. This article presents a step by step community engagement approach that the University of Venda's Centre for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation has followed since May 2006 to facilitate people-centred rural development processes in 47 villages of Makhado Municipality, Limpopo Province. About 60 students and nine academic staff members from various University departments are involved. Central to the work are more than 200 village-based 'Foot Soldiers'. To date, vibrant village-level community engagement platforms have been established. Also, Ward development plans have been crafted with active involvement of grassroots communities.

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