International honour for student outreach

24 May 2010

UCT student organisation Ubunye has won third prize in the second round of the international MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship competition, which recognises exceptional student civic engagement initiatives.

Monday Paper spoke to Ubunye co-ordination committee chair Duncan Clough.

What does Ubunye do?

Our primary function is providing support and accountability for our projects through joint administrative work and organising events. The four projects are Inkanyezi, which improves post?school prospects for learners through mentorship and guidance; the Media School's provision of journalism classes and also their organisation of school newspapers, which serves as a creative outlet for students; TeachOut, which provides tutoring in English, maths, science and accounting; and the Township Debating League, which trains learners in debating and critical thinking.

How big is Ubunye?

We have 45 committee members and over 210 active student volunteers. During the first term, the Ubunye projects ran about 190 workshops at our schools. So Ubunye's projects fulfil a variety of needs through various after?school activities with learners in township schools.

How is Ubunye different to SHAWCO?

Ubunye's projects are mostly independent. Each project manages their own operations and sources their own funding - whereas SHAWCO projects have a stronger influence from their steering committee. Ubunye is also entirely run by students, with no permanent staff, and we work only with high school learners.

Why do you think Ubunye deserves this honour?

It is a tremendous achievement that Ubunye has a weekly impact on about 600 learners, considering that all our committee members are pursuing full?time degrees at the same time. I think the reward is an acknowledgement of the massive dedication on the part of the leaders of Ubunye's projects. They have ensured their continued success, despite the transient nature of student leadership. I also think our growth over the past three years has been particularly inspiring. Four years ago Ubunye didn't exist - and now, during the Plaza O?week recruitment drive, we managed to get over 550 students to sign up. We have become a significant presence in student?based community service.

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