n South African Journal of Higher Education - Community development as an approach to community engagement in rural-based higher education institutions in South Africa

Volume 24, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



The premise of this article is that the 'jury is still out' to describe what effective Community Engagement entails in South African higher education institutions. The current discussions about community engagement and service learning do not cover the primary objective of adding value to the community, particularly of the rural-based universities whose service learning is almost often synonymous with community development (Bender 2008, 1154). The intention is to contribute to the discussions about placing community development at the forefront of a higher education institution community engagement mandate, with particular focus on a rural-based university. In addition, whilst there is general consensus regarding the benefits and advantages of service learning programmes for the student, there is a lack of studies and reports that focus on the impact it has on the community and the institution (Eyler 2002, 518). In this regard, I argue that community development as an approach, a process and an outcome should be central to the regeneration of CE knowledge and its application, at least to the extent that contextual relevance is realised in rural-based universities. My experience in the role of coordinating CE activities at a rural-based university influences the tone of this article.

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