UCT showcases social responsiveness in the annual Learning Cape Festival

18 August 2003
UCT will share the stage with the other four higher education institutions in the Western Cape at the Learning Cape Festival, an initiative of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism of the Western Cape.

The festival features more than 500 events across the province between August 9 and September 8. Its aim is to "encourage and celebrate learning throughout all parts of society in the Western Cape, making it a premier learning region, and building the human resource base for a better life for all in South Africa".

A festival exhibition and many other events such as award ceremonies, workshops, coffee corners, and music involving a wide range of education and training providers and other stakeholders, will be happening in the Podium building at the Civic Centre in Cape Town on August 29 and 30. Staff and students are encouraged to visit the exhibition and participate in other Learning Cape activities.

One of the themes is Higher Education Engaging in Regional Development, and 25 projects have been chosen by the five higher education institutions in the Western Cape as good examples of responsiveness to local and regional needs and issues.

These projects will be exhibited at the Civic Centre on August 29 and 30.

A workshop with participants from the projects and other representatives of the institutions will take place during the Mega Event to address the question: How can higher education institutions engage more effectively in regional development?

This will be followed by a large consultative meeting with other external stakeholders to look at ways of enhancing the social responsiveness of higher education institutions. The UCT projects were chosen by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Martin Hall from a list of projects nominated by the faculties. The projects are:

The Olifants River Harder Fishery Co-management Project
Science: Environmental Evaluation Unit, UCT.
Project leader: Dr Merle Sowman

This project is based in Ebenhaeser, a small rural fishing village on the Olifants River estuary on the West Coast, which is home to a community that was resettled there and who make their living from fishing harders (Liza Richardsonii). A co-management agreement was nullified because of a change in legislation. Due to a number of concerns, among these the perceived decline in fish catches and outdated regulations, as well as a need for empowerment, the Environmental Evaluation Unit (EEU) at UCT was asked to revive the co-management system. One of the key project outcomes has been the establishment of an Olifants River Fishers Committee, which has acquired additional skills in the areas of management, administration and leadership.

Facing Up: Opportunity through Occupation
Health Science Faculty: Health promoting school project.
Project leader: Roshan Galvaan

Facing Up was initiated in 1999 by Roshan Galvaan, a lecturer in the Division of Occupational Therapy at UCT, in response to a newspaper article about social work services at Zerilda Park Primary School in Lavender Hill. She negotiated with the school for an occupational therapy service to be piloted by final-year occupational therapy students under her supervision. Heather Wonnacutt, a UCT graduate, has volunteered her services to the project since January 2002. The project is now offered at two schools in the area, with the view to extending it further. The project started with an awareness that the harsh environment that children were living in resulted in some being traumatised, or choosing to become gang members.

Programme for the Development and Promotion of SMMEs in the Western Cape Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Contact person: Dr Mike Herrington

There is a conspicuous absence of small businesses in the dominant sector of the economy and little attention has been paid to small enterprise promotion in public policy. With political and economic liberalisation, the 1990s saw massive restructuring of the corporate sector in an attempt by the government to stimulate activity in the SMME sector. In a bid to help small businesses succeed, the UCT Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the GSB entered the arena to lend a hand to entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. The project identified "township entrepreneurs" in a range of activities from baking bread to making ceramics, offering them financial support through loans and advice. One of its spin-offs is that it is helping role players to gain a better understanding on how to support SMMEs.

The Memory Box Project
Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) in association with the AIDS and Society Research Unit, Commerce Faculty.
Project leader: Jonathan Morgan

The Memory Box Project is an outreach programme which was inspired by a group of HIV-positive mothers from Uganda, who used memory books for a joint activity with their children to help them disclose their HIV-positive status, and to begin the process of planning the future together. The project helps people living with HIV/AIDS tell their life stories. In so doing, it documents the pandemic and encourages advocacy for treatment and care. Memory Boxes are containers to explore and store liberating versions of personal family or community stories. Workshops are run in HIV-positive support groups where participants make a box and a book, using recycled materials.

UCT Strategy and Entrepreneurial Development Project
Commerce Faculty.
Contact person: Gavin Chait

Internationally recognised for the quality of its graduates, UCT's business science programme is the commerce faculty's flagship programme. The cornerstone of the business science fourth-year is BUS/450W (business strategy) that requires students to fully engage with the issues and complex issues of strategic analysis. For many years, the course used case studies and business simulations, finding it difficult to source suitable organisations for students to cut their teeth on. In order for students to work directly with real businesses in Cape Town, UCT formed a partnership with Business Beat, which provides a walk-in, one-stop support service for individual entrepreneurs and also manages and implements projects on behalf of corporate and parastatal entities. This relationship has given students, who act as consultants, an ideal vehicle for developing a culture of social responsibility.

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