Embracing e-Learning at Khutliso Daniels

I had an overwhelming feeling of excitement and motivation when I first entered Khutliso Daniels Secondary School. Meeting and getting to know Avuyile and Siyamthanda and their educational needs was an interesting opportunity. I started off feeling a little anxious and excited at the same time. Might they be open to it? If we gave them SD cards, how would they react to them? I was filled with curiosity and a little nervousness as these questions persisted in my thoughts.

Khutliso Daniels learners chat about #SDcardMakhanda

Driving through town on our way to Khutliso Daniels Secondary School, the general sentiment in the car was that these high school learners were going to eat us alive. I voiced those sentiments to the other Journalism students. Despite the fact that we had been high school learners not more than three to four years ago, we were afraid that these learners were not going to give us the time of day. These fears fuelled by our collective memory reminding us how ‘challenging’ we were in high school and what our reaction would be to a bunch of University students coming to ask questions? 

Incorporating SD Cards into Learners' Study Habits

The Vulindlela programme at Rhodes University involves a collaborative effort to improve access to tertiary education for local learners. One project implemented to achieve this is the SD card campaign which gives every matric learner at several MAkhanda high schools a SD card loaded with relevant study materials. Looking back on this experience, I am amazed by the influence these SD cards have had on both the students and me.

Reflecting on service learning in the SD Card project

Being involved in service learning has been an incredible experience, giving me a deeper understanding of the core principles of community-focused journalism. It's been quite an inspiring process in terms of my personal development and the impact it may have on the Makhanda community.

Opportunities for success and leadership

My name is Lindani Sifanele, a final year BSc student at Rhodes University. Community engagement at Rhodes University has allowed me to grow, learn and easily build relationships with other people. The way Rhodes University moulded me to be this young, enthusiastic man I am today makes me believe that within us, lies greatness. I give thanks to Rhodes for being a beacon of my growth. This institution's CE programme has groomed me in a way that sharpened my communication skills, critical thinking skills and compassion. I am grateful to Rhodes University community engagement (RUCE) for allowing me to grow and evolve into a better person in their space.

Facilitating Digital Access in Local Schools

Addressing the digital divide in schools is essential to ensuring access to quality education. Being able to use a computer and being familiar with computers and the internet offers learners a wealth of educational opportunities. The Computer Sciences Department at Rhodes University has initiated a project that seeks to ensure that learners in local schools have the opportunity to integrate the digital world with their learning. Dr Stones Chindipha, Prof Alfredo Terzoli and Dr Zalem from Computer Sciences in the Faculty of Sciences have implemented a project that involves installing labs in schools in Makhanda East.

Inspiring potential futures in Physics, Chemistry and Maths

44 learners and 2 teachers from Nathaniel Pamla High School made an educational journey to Rhodes University in May. Nathaniel Pamla is located about 65 km from Makhanda, in a remote rural village near the Fish River. This visit is an integral component of a longstanding community engagement initiative focussed on educational enrichment and academic support for High School Pupils. The project involves lecturers and postgraduate students from Rhodes University engaging with the learners through tutoring and mentoring.

Enhancing Participatory Democracy through Student Volunteerism

Student volunteerism offers an opportunity to improve participatory democracy among university students. Using personal accounts of their experiences of student volunteering at Rhodes University, Anna Kinsler and Tiisetso Nhlapo discussed the benefits for students of engagement with community-based organisations. Their presentation, ‘Shaping the Future Together: Enhancing Participatory Democracy through Personal Journeys in Student Volunteerism’ at the 2024 Community Engagement Conference further highlighted the contribution of community engagement to the development of graduate attributes.

Engaging Communities to Tackle Thorny Problems

Prof. Philip Ivey’s presentation, ‘Engaging Communities to Tackle Thorny Problems,’ explored the significant environmental issue occuring in the Northern Cape of South Africa. The research centers on the invasive plant species Prosopis which was introduced to South Africa in the late 1600s to provide shade and fodder for livestock. Unfortunately, this became an ecological nightmare, as the Prosopis proliferated across the arid region, severely impacting biodiversity, water availability, and grazing land.

Partners for Possibility in Education

A notable feature of the recent Community Engagement Conference hosted by Rhodes University at the Settlers Monument in Makhanda (Grahamstown), was the attendance and participation by a number of their community partners. This is in no small part due to the fact that the Rhodes Community Engagement Office (RUCE) has consistently been very intentional about working with partners to carry out their community engagement activities in the city.

Classifying Community Engagement in South African Higher Education

Developing a national framework to measure the effectiveness of community engagement and its contribution to transformation and socio-economic progress in Higher Education Institutions can contribute significantly to the positioning of CE. After years of discussion among practitioners in South Africa over the years, Universities South Africa (USAf) convened a task team to explore developing a classification system that is deeply rooted in local contexts. This system is based on the Carnegie Elective Classification for CE that emerged from the global North. Members of this task team participated in a panel at the Rhodes University Community Engagement Conference to bring the discussion to the broader CE community.

University of Pretoria positions Engaged Research in Centre Stage

Highlighting the importance of placing community-driven research on the Higher Education Research agenda, Dr. Martina Jordaan and Reverend Chris Nkomo from the University of Pretoria presented a thought-provoking paper titled ‘Capturing Stories: An Engaged Research Project with the Historical Society of Mamelodi’ on Day 2 of the Rhodes University Community Engagement Conference. University of Pretoria positions Engaged Research in Centre Stage

The multifaceted dynamics of South-South partnerships

South-South relationships are multifaceted with a rich diversity of experiences being brought to the table by the dynamic regions that make up the global South. A panel discussion at the Community Engagement Conference brought together CE practitioners from across the global south to discuss the mutual benefits, challenges and lessons learnt from South-South collaborations.

Higher Education Community Engagement effectiveness and impact: How the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement Framework can help

On the first day of Rhodes University's 2024 Community Engagement Conference, an afternoon session focused on the evolving role of community engagement in university-society relationships.

Rhodes University rallies for resilience: Dr Jessica Cockburn’s award-winning engagement celebrated

In a recent gathering at Rhodes University, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student and Academic Affairs, Professor 'Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela, set the stage for an evening dedicated to celebrating community engagement. She emphasised the significance of the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award, an accolade honouring impactful collaborations between the university and its surrounding communities in education and research. “The Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award is a prestigious and competitive Annual Award that recognises meaningful and committed partnerships between the members of the university and community partners in the areas of teaching, learning, and research, where human and material resources of the university have been combined with assets found in the local communities”.

The Spirit of Ubuntu in Rhodes University Partnerships

Rhodes University has gone all out this year in celebration of its 120th anniversary. RU120 is a celebration of the great strides made in positioning the University, not only as a leading educational institution in the country, but also as an institution deeply integrated with its community. At the Community Engagement Conference held this month, Dr Margaret Irvine, a stalwart in the movement to achieve this vision, gave a talk on how the university has leveraged the spirit of Ubuntu to forge meaningful partnerships with its community.

Understanding Ethics in Engaged Research

Engaged research is increasingly becoming a crucial aspect of higher education institutions (HEIs) in South Africa. In doing engaged research, various complex ethical considerations emerge, particularly as researchers interact with communities in collaborative and participatory ways. The panel discussion, ‘Engaged Research Ethics in South African Higher Education Institutions, at the Community Engagement Conference sought to delve deeply into these concerns with a diverse and nuanced approach.

Professor Keet advocates for transformative academic practices at Community Engagement Conference

On 14 May 2024, a three-day Community Engagement Conference hosted by Rhodes University kicked off. Attended by scholars worldwide, the conference focuses on the history of community engagement in universities, exploring its milestones and impact while considering further actions to fortify a cohesive community-university-society partnership.

The Trajectory Of Community-University-Society Relationships

This week, community engagement practitioners from diverse nationalities, sectors, institutions and organisations are coming together in Makhanda to discuss the past, present and future of community engagement and its scholarship. The Community Engagement Conference is considered an opportunity for these stakeholders to reflect on their experiences and projects, learn from their peers and colleagues and to discuss the development of community engagement and the communities that form part of these experiences. 

Young Warriors: From Grassroots to Protea

The Young Warriors Cricket Programme initiative in Makhanda has brought the game of cricket to under-resourced schools, where previously, there was no opportunity for students to learn and play the sport.


Rhodes University is pleased to announce the winner of the Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Community Engagement for 2023 - Dr Jessica Cockburn! Dr Cockburn receives this award for her leadership and coordination of several projects including the River Rescue service learning course, Tsitsa Project and partnership with Assegaai Trails.

Access Music Project Strikes the Right Chord

A musical revolution is taking place in Makhanda, orchestrated by the Access Music Project (AMP). Established in 2011, this non-profit organisation has rapidly become a force for change in the community. This year, AMPs successes have been amplified across town to the Rhodes University campus with eight learners from the programme enrolled to study in the Music and Musicology Department. One of these students is pursuing a PhD.

Sharing the Joy of Reading

A unique learning experience for student volunteers took place at Rhodes University this month - CERCO! The Community Engagement Reading Club Orientation (CERCO) is a short course aimed at training and equipping student volunteers to set up and run reading clubs with learners in various sectors of Makhanda. 

Student Leaders reflect on mutuality in Engaged Citizenry

The institutional narrative about Community Engagement at Rhodes University has undergone a significant but nuanced transformation over the past decade. While RUCE is still largely associated with coordinated volunteer activities, what it means to be a part of an Engaged Citizenry programme at Rhodes is complex.

Conceptualising Engaged Citizenry at Rhodes University

A transformative transition has occurred in Rhodes University's chosen lexicon and institutional narrative since the establishment of its Community Engagement division in 2008. The University has departed from using the conventional discourse of "volunteerism" and instead embodies the concept of "engaged citizenry." This linguistic shift is not just semantics. It marks a deliberate shift away from perpetuating the misalignment of community work with charity, donations and the saviour/victim dichotomy.

Prof Sizwe Mabizela on the Impact of the AJHECE

The African Journal of Higher Education Community Engagement will contribute an important voice and perspective informed by our local context and shaped by our experiences in the global scholarship and debate on community engagement,” says Vice Chancellor, Sizwe Mabizela in his address at the launch. Read an excerpt from his speech here.

An evening in celebration of Partnerships - the Nine Tenths Soiree

For the many stakeholders in the Nine Tenths Mentoring Programme, February was a month of love, culminating with a Soiree in celebration of partnerships!  The Welcoming Soiree took place on 22 February on the RUCE Lawn and was attended by Rhodes University VC Prof Sizwe Mabizela who welcomed new mentees and familiar faces to another inspiring year of personal growth. 

The rise of the Nine Tenths Mentoring Programme

Despite inclement weather, the spirit of achievement and community shone brightly at the Nine Tenths Student Mentoring Programme's celebration on 22 February 2024. In partnership with GADRA Education, this celebratory event honoured a record-breaking number of 50 programme alumni first-year students registering at Rhodes University in 2024.

Quantum and impact of student leadership in engaged citizenry programmes

In the vibrant tapestry of Makhanda's community, the bond between Rhodes University's student leaders and the locals forms an essential thread, weaving together a narrative of dedication and transformation. Actively participating in three distinct literacy programs across 16 primary schools, these leaders transcend the conventional role of students, becoming architects of change. Their mission is not just about academic progress; it's about instilling a profound love for reading and comprehension in the hearts and minds of young learners, enriching the community and fostering a lifelong passion for learning.

Development and Empathy Through Service Learning: A Conversation with Dr. Tamaryn Friderichs

In academia, research often takes center stage. However, Dr. Tamaryn Friderichs, a senior lecturer in the Economics Department of Rhodes University, has taken a unique approach to academic demands that blends research and teaching with community engagement.

Rhodes University first institution to launch community engagement journal in Africa

In a momentous virtual gathering, the Rhodes University community witnessed the launch of the first online open issue of the African Journal of Higher Education Community Engagement (AJHECE). The event, spearheaded by Ms Di Hornby, Director of Rhodes University Community Engagement, showcased a collaborative effort to bring forth a publication dedicated to advancing community-driven education.

Empowering the Future: Matric Maths Winter School

A group of academics at Rhodes University’s Department of Statistics, have been working tirelessly to transform how high school learners perceive and engage with mathematics and statistics. The Grade 12 Mathematics Winter School is a service-learning initiative that has impacted both matric learners in Makhanda and the Rhodes University students teaching them. The Grade 12 Mathematics Winter School, led by Associate Professor Lizanne Raubenheimer, sought to inspire a love for mathematics in youth, particularly for financial maths, statistics, and probability.

Community Engagement celebrates its second PhD Graduate: Dr Theodore Duxbury

Community Engagement is an emerging discipline globally and the potential of engaged research is widely being acknowledged and incorporated into the academic agenda. In this year’s October graduation, the Community Engagement team proudly watched their second PhD candidate walk across the stage to receive their degree. Dr Theodore Duxbury, has been a dedicated, engaged researcher and volunteer throughout his studies and time at Rhodes University, contributing significantly to both the academic project and the Makana community.

RUCE Awards 2023: Inspiring community engagement excellence

The Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) Awards is an annual ceremony that honours the outstanding efforts and dedication of individual students, residences, societies and community partner organisations who have made significant contributions to community involvement initiatives. This event not only acknowledges the dedicated work of students, staff, and community partners but also serves as a platform to encourage others to engage meaningfully with local communities.

Rhodes University partners to support local cricket development

The air of excitement was palpable as close to 100 young learners from St Mary’s Primary School gathered on the main cricket field at Kingswood College on Wednesday, 01 August, for their coaching activation with nine cricket coaches from the Gary Kirsten Foundation, along with four local coaches.

Vulindlela: Making way for children of Rhodes University Staff

Learning begins at home, and parents are their children’s first teachers. This is the ethos behind the Vulindlela programme run by Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE). While RUCE is involved in a number of projects aimed at improving the quality of and access to education across in Makhanda, Vulindlela focuses on the Rhodes University family. The programme works with RU staff who are parents to high school learners in local no-fee paying schools. The aim is to nurture various skills that parents can use to support their children. The programme also works with the learners themselves, providing mentorship and educational support.

RUCE Interns Inspire Matrics to Pursue Higher Education

In celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day, the interns at Rhodes University's Community Engagement (RUCE) took proactive steps to engage with local high school students by providing guidance on the application processes for higher education institutions. Sinazo Sonjica and Makube Qinela, visited grade 12 pupils at Nathaniel Nyaluza Senior Secondary School, shedding light on opportunities at Rhodes University and other local colleges. Their efforts aimed to address the lack of information hindering students from pursuing tertiary education.

Rhodes university celebrates Nelson Mandela Day by donating Maths text books

Rhodes University made its contribution to International Mandela Month by donating R70 000 worth of Mathematics textbooks to Matric pupils in three local schools. Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Sizwe Mabizela is a passionate mathematician himself, and the donations of books went to three Makhanda High Schools. The donation promises to contribute to a sustainable and long-standing schools intervention led by the Vice Chancellor aimed at transforming education in the city.

Honouring Mandela by enriching local schools

Nelson Mandela Day, observed annually on 18 July, honours the iconic South African leader by encouraging ordinary people to emulate his legacy of social justice, reconciliation, and investment in education. This year, the Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) office focused on supporting local schools in underserved communities with a generous donation of educational materials.

JMS3 Vul'Indlela students hand out SD cards at Khutliso Daniels High School

On 25 April 2023, the Journalism and Media Studies 3 (JMS 3) class handed out SD cards with learning materials at Khutliso Daniels High School. A tradition Rhodes University Community Engagement in partnership with the JMS3 students have maintained since COVID-19 hit in 2020. The purpose of these SD cards is to give these learners easy access to learning materials without using data.

Rhodes University's Mathematics Winter School programme empowers local learners

Rhodes University, nestled in the heart of Makhanda, is renowned for its commitment to academic excellence. Recently, Dean of Science Professor Tony Booth emphasised the town's ability to nurture exceptional minds, urging grade 12 learners from six no-fee paying schools in Makhanda to take advantage of the University's resources.

Little town, big brains: Mathematics Department Matric Maths Winter School

“Little town, big brains” are the words that echoed in Arts Major, as Dean of Sciences at Rhodes University, Prof Tony Booth, addressed grade 12 students from the six no-fee paying schools in Makhanda. “Our top scientists in the faculty are from Grahamstown; from our little town comes big brains,” remarked Prof Booth. He encouraged the learners to use the resources and learning materials provided through such interventions to assist them in their studies. The RU Department of Mathematics runs the Winter School program to address the shortfalls in the public schooling system. The schools involved are Ntsika, Nombulelo, Mary Waters, T.E.M. Mrwetyana, and Khutliso Daniels. The Winter School runs over three days from 26 to 28 June and is run by lecturers Kate Koch and Amy Langston, alongside student assistants from the department.

In memory of Eusebius McKaiser: Rethinking Success Criteria for CE

South Africa, Makhanda and the Community Engagement division mourns the loss of Eusebius McKaiser, a prominent public figure, intellectual, and advocate for community engagement. Eusebius dedicated his life to challenging conventional thinking and promoting inclusive dialogue within society. He was a man of courage because to swim against the tide or walk in the opposite direction to the crowd requires COURAGE.

Empowering Education in Makhanda: Unleashing the Potential of SD Cards

In an exciting collaboration between the Vulindlela Programme and high schools in Makhanda, a pioneering initiative has been launched to provide students with SD cards with educational materials. This transformative effort aims to bridge educational disparities and revolutionize learning experiences for students in Makhanda. In this article, we delve into students' experiences using the provided SD cards, explore the diverse range of study materials included, and gather valuable recommendations to enhance the provision of study materials in schools.

Grade 12 pupils talk about their experiences with using SD cards

This is an experiential piece about a trip to Kutliso Daniels Secondary School, Makhanda on the 25th of April 2023, it is an analysis of a personal experience had with grade 12 pupils. The paper summarizes an interview conducted with five pupils from Kutliso who spoke about their experiences with using the SD cards that were given to them by the Vulindlela project. This is a reflection piece that shows the effectiveness of service learning in educational journalism but the focal point is to show what can be done to assist the class of 2023, and as a journalist, I tell the story from my point of view together with the recipients' point of view.

Twenty-seven 9/10ths programme beneficiaries graduate from Rhodes University

Twenty-seven (27) students who came through the 9/10ths programme were awarded different qualifications in the recent Rhodes University graduation ceremonies held earlier this year. The University regards this achievement as confirmation that the programme works incredibly well.

Communities and universities working together to address local challenges

Community Engagement is not a new concept, as it has played a significant role in society over the years. However, its formalisation as a core function of universities is relatively recent. Community engagement helps universities to contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities.

The highs and lows of Community Based Participatory Research

On the second day of Rhodes University's Community Engagement Learning Symposium at the Amazwi South African Museum of Literature, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs, Professor ‘Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela, encouraged attendees to engage in difficult and uncomfortable conversations. She argued that universities must make community engagement an integral part of academics and not simply "a contribution".

Working together to uplift the community

On the evening of 9 May 2023, Rhodes University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs, Professor ‘Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela, introduced the 2022 Vice-Chancellor's Distinguished Community Engagement award winners at Amazwi South African Museum of Literature in Makhanda. The winners’ lecture formed part of a three-day Community Engagement Learning Symposium hosted by Rhodes University.

Universities are responsible for the well-being of the communities in which they exist

On 09 May 2023, the Rhodes University Community Engagement division launched its Community Engagement (CE) Learning Symposium, which included speakers from all over the globe. This was the first of three days of discussions and workshops centred around highlighting, as per the official website, the "developmental and transformative roles of universities" in incorporating CE in their institutions to serve "as a platform to build community-university relationships for the mutual benefit of all those involved in CE, such as students, communities and academics".

Community Engagement Learning Symposium: VC's Opening Address

The biennial Rhodes University Community Engagement Learning Symposium in partnership with the Centre of Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning took place on 9 to 11 May 2023. The Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University, Prof Sizwe Mabizela opened the Symposium at Amazwi South African Museum of Literature and welcomed attendees and acknowledged the efforts of the local organising committee and presenters.

Community Engagement Learning Symposium: 9 to 11 May

Fifteen South African and eight international universities participated in a hybrid format higher education community engagement learning symposium. The symposium focused on discussing the impact of community engagement in South Africa and Africa. The event was held over two days and featured expert speakers, engaging panel discussions, and interactive workshops.

GADRA graduate spotlight: Orphaned in matric, Anelisa dedicates her life to uplifting schoolchildren

Rhodes University student Anelisa Mfenyana's story perfectly illustrates how, if you are determined and work hard for what you want, you will achieve it.

GRADUATION 2023: Where Leaders Learn - Meet Melody Chauke and Takudzwa Makuwa

Community Engagement at Rhodes University celebrated graduation with a few of their student leaders and CE community! A huge congratulations to the student leaders, volunteers, mentees and mentors who graduated this week! Let's take the opportunity to introduce one of our graduates and RUCE team members, Melody Chauke, and student leader, Takudzwa Makuwa!

The ADC Counselling Hub: a VC's Distinguished Award-winning initiative

Accessing services for mental health in South Africa can be a challenge, for those with the necessary financial resources and for those without. Healthcare professionals are more scarce than the demand for healthcare services, both in public and private sectors. Beyond access, the quality of services provided can often be un-contextualised or not ideal to the social contexts that those accessing the services require. Makhanda, a microcosm for the general state of South Africa’s healthcare landscape, is no different. Initiatives that address the contextualised needs of our communities are much needed and appreciated. Cue the Rhodes University initiative - the ADC Counselling Centre. The ADC Counselling Hub is based in the Assumption Development Centre in Joza, a location in Makhanda East. The Hub is a centre for psychological services that offers free, walk-in solution-focussed therapy, referral services and psycho-educational workshops.

VC's Distinguished Award for Community Engagement 2022: ADC Counselling Hub

Winners of the 2022 Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Community Engagement, Prof Megan Campbell, Ms Nqobile Msomi, Dr Duane Booysen, Christine Lewis and Mandisa Ndabula, have engaged with community leadership to establish a much needed facility, the Joza ADC Counselling Hub in Makhanda East. South Africa's Education White Paper 3 of 1997 stresses the significance of higher education institutions fulfilling their moral and political duty to advance social and epistemic justice and equality by partnering with communities beyond the university. As university spaces are still among the most privileged spaces in society, this imperative is crucial. One of the primary responsibilities of higher education institutions is to promote this change and contribute to the fight against race, gender, and class oppression. Through community engagement, universities can move beyond their traditional role as disengaged 'ivory tower' institutions and become more socially-responsive, championing this struggle.

Five staff members jointly receive the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award at graduation

During the 14h30 graduation ceremony of 30 March 2023, the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award was jointly awarded to Professor Megan Campbell, Nqobile Msomi, Dr Duane Booysen, Christine Lewis and Mandisa Ndabula from the Rhodes University Psychology Department.

Promoting knowledge to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nation’s (UN) 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to create a more peaceful and sustainable world, and university research can play a vital role in achieving them. The Rhodes University Library and Community Engagement division have initiated SDG projects to promote access to this knowledge across society.

Rhodes University celebrates mentoring programme successes

A celebratory dinner was recently held to acknowledge the achievements and financial donors of Nine Tenths, a successful mentoring programme which forms part of Rhodes University’s Community Engagement (RUCE) initiatives. The dinner was attended by several high-level individuals, including the Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, mentors, mentees, and donors who had provided critical support.

Vice-Chancellor welcomes students from Gadra Matric School, Nine-Tenths, and the Bridging programme

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela welcomed hundreds of students from different initiatives such as Gadra Matric School (GMS), the Bridging programme and the Nine-Tenths mentoring programme last week. Professor Mabizela congratulated them for making it to Rhodes University and encouraged them never to give up on their dreams.

Standard Bank, Bata Shoes and Rhodes University partnership brings 135 pairs of shoes to Khutliso Daniels learners

It was smiles and jubilation at Khutliso Daniels Secondary School yesterday when 135 learners received new school shoes from Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation and Bata Shoes. This results from a fruitful partnership between Standard Bank and Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE).

Getting to know Liselihle Nkanana

Liselihle’s bubbly personality quietly fills the room. It’s not difficult to imagine this humble but firm young woman leading a classroom of overly-enthusiastic Foundation Phase learners to their full potential someday soon. Her gentle presence and dynamic energy speaks volumes about her passion for education and learning. As a Bachelor of Education Foundation Phase student, Liselihle is well on her way to making her vision for a future a reality. Mentorship played a role in the progression of Liselihle’s educational journey and her involvement in mentorship programmes has been a part of her development as a teacher.

Makana community members uplift citizens with dazzling orchestra concert

On Sunday, 13 November 2022, citizens of Makana filled the Cathedral of St Michael and St George to experience the newly-formed Makana Community Orchestra's inaugural concert.

RUCE team reach the semi-finals of the Geneva Challenge

RUCE team members Anna Talbot, Claire McCann and Nigel Machiha were placed semi-finalists of the Geneva Challenge 2022! This year, there was over 80 final submissions and theirs was among the 18 selected semi-finalists.

Student leader focus: Meet Takudzwa Makuwa

Our Rhodes University Community Engagement student volunteers work tirelessly and selflessly to uplift the community through mentoring, early childhood education, engaged citizenry and social change. Meet Takudzwa Makuwa, a student leader for the BuddingQ Volunteering Programme – and hear about what inspires him.

Student leader focus: Meet Jodi-Anne Rooi

Our Rhodes University Community Engagement student volunteers work tirelessly and selflessly to uplift the community through mentoring, early childhood education, engaged citizenry and social change. Meet Jodi-Anne Rooi, a student leader in the 9/10ths Matric Mentoring Programme – and hear about what inspires her.

Together We Become - Khanya Maths & Science Club

The Khanya Maths and Science Club have been running for 22 years, purposefully aiming at assisting local learners of Makhanda who have a passion for Maths and Science to be inspired and propel their futures forward. The club takes place every Saturday mornings at 9 am at the Great Hall Rhodes University. The champions behind making sure the club runs consistently and smoothly each year, are the club coordinator Mrs. Joyce Sewry assisted by the staff and student volunteers of the Chemistry and Science departments at Rhodes University. However, the club does also have student volunteers from other departments.

Makhanda schools receive water tanks from Standard Bank for Mandela Day

The month of July is significant in the global calendar as the world celebrates the life and legacy of the late great leader, Nelson Mandela. As an annual celebration, the United Nations officially declared Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009. Since then, every 18 July, Mandela's birthday, people from all walks of life are rallied to action to recognise their power to make a difference in the lives of those around them. In commemorating this day, Rhodes University, in partnership with Standard Bank's Tutuwa Community Foundation, hosted a celebration at Khutliso Daniels Secondary School to recognise the Bank's significant contributions to uplifting education in the Eastern Cape. The School is one of 67 schools that received brightly painted water tanks from Standard Bank for Mandela Day.

The long lineage of Madiba’s humanism: Professor Siba Grovogui of Cornell University presents the 2022 Nelson Mandela Public Lecture

The late Nelson Mandela is celebrated as a leading figure of the liberation struggle against Apartheid, renowned for a morality always turned towards empathy, forgiveness, and a commitment to the freedom and equality of all.

RUCE celebrates Nelson Mandela International Day

Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) joined millions of people worldwide on Monday in celebrating and reflecting on the heroic efforts of the late Former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist, Dr Nelson Mandela. RUCE celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day, which falls on his birthday every year.

Rhodes University student selected for highly competitive training programme

Masters in Economics student Claire McCann was recently selected as one of thirty students to attend a highly competitive, fully-funded economics training programme.

Matric Winter School ran by Statistics Department at RU a hit amongst learners

Rhodes University Statistics Department held a Grade 12 Mathematics winter school from 27 June to 1 July for 52 matric learners from across Makhanda. The learners came from secondary schools Kutliso Daniels, Ntsika Senior Secondary and Mary Waters. The winter school was part of a service-learning project in the department and involved staff and student participation.

RUCE team member takes part in APORDE

RUCE was very excited to learn that one of their team, Claire McCann was selected to participate in the APORDE programme in Pretoria in September. Only 30 people are selected annually for this high level training programme.

The profound power of partnership in a pandemic

As per tradition, Rhodes University recently hosted the 2022 VC's Distinguished Community Engagement Award Lecture by Professor Rod Walker.

Community engagement turns students into responsible citizens

Rhodes University's Community Engagement (RUCE) division plays a significant role in the wider Makhanda through its various projects. But lesser known is the long-lasting impact it has on its volunteers. To launch RUCE's Community Engagement Week for 2022, previous Student Volunteer of the Year Award winners took part in a panel discussion. Looking back on their volunteering experience, they reflected on how it has contributed to their personal and career development.

Over 50 Gadra alumni graduate from Rhodes University two years running

For the second consecutive year, over 50 Gadra Matric School (GMS) alumni graduated from Rhodes University in a single graduation ceremony, which marks a significant milestone in the journey to transform education in Makhanda.

Pharmacy Prof commended for hand sanitiser initiative during global health crisis

Professor Rod Walker from the Rhodes University Faculty of Pharmacy has been named the recipient of the prestigious 2021 Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Community Engagement. He describes this honour as “a wonderful recognition of the many who supported, facilitated and assisted in ensuring the success of the sanitiser project”.

2022 Volunteer Applications Now Open

Applications to join 2022 volunteer programmes are now open. Rhodes University staff and students are invited to apply to be a volunteer with Community Engagement. As a RUCE volunteer, you will have be trained on how to engage meaningfully with partners and how to enact social change in sustainable and mutually-beneficial ways. You can join up to four volunteer programmes: Engaged Citizens Programme; Nine Tenths Mentoring; BuddingQ and Siyakhana eMakana. Applications close 24 February.

Meet our 2021 Community Engagement Award Winners

Community Engagement's 2021 awards ceremony took place in October last year. Luyanda Hadebe won First Place in the Student of the Year category and Catherine Parkinson won Student Researcher of the Year.

Community Engagement student leader wins Rhodes Scholarship

Claire McCann, a Rhodes University Community Engagement student leader and joint Honours in Economics and Politics student, has been granted a Southern African Rhodes Scholarship to complete her Masters degree at the University of Oxford in England.

Book Launch: Challenging the "apartheids" of Knowledge

Rhodes University Community Engagement invites you to the launch of our first book titled Challenging the "apartheids" of Knowledge in Higher Education through Social Innovation. The launch takes place on Thursday 25 November 2021. Siseko Khumalo will facilitate a discussion on the book with the books editors, Sharli Paphitis, Joana Bezerra and Craig Paterson.

From volunteer to passionate advocate for community education

On Wednesday, 20 October, the 2020 Vice Chancellor's Distinguished Community Engagement Award public lecture was held at the Amazwi Museum of Literature and virtually by the award recipient Ms Mapula Maponya.

Working together to change the world through community engagement

In a world facing many global challenges amidst faltering leadership, bottom-up community projects are often the humble heralds of social change. But their pivotal role is often overlooked. This was the sentiment shared during Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) Symposium on Thursday.

Bettering communities through community engagement

Community engagement should not be a one-way street but rather an exchange of knowledge from which all parties involved benefit. These are the sentiments of the South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum (SAHECEF) Chairperson, Professor Darren Lortan. He was speaking on the second day of the Community Engagement Symposium hosted by Rhodes University the Durban University of Technology.

Working together in the face of an uncertain future

Starting on Tuesday, 19 October 2021, Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) Division hosted the 5th annual Community Engagement Symposium under the theme ‘The role of Community Engagement in the reimagination of Higher Education during and post the Covid 19 pandemic’.

RUCE rewards outstanding student volunteers

Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) hosted its annual award ceremony on Tuesday 12th October 2021.

Nine Tenths programme celebrates global prize win

Rhodes University's award-winning community engagement programme, the Nine Tenths Matric Mentoring Programme, celebrated its win of the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship on Sunday, 3 October 2021.

CSD and Amazwi partner with the local community for a picture-perfect project

Creative volunteers gathered at the Amazwi South African Museum of Literature with a collective goal; to work together with the aim to produce high-quality children’s picture books. The Makhanda Book DashX was launched by the Rhodes University Centre for Social Development (CSD) on August 26th in collaboration with a group of volunteers from the community, ranging from high school students to administrators and lecturers.

Community Engagement Symposium 2021

Rhodes University Community Engagement and Durban University of Technology will run their annual Community Engagement Symposium with an adapted blended format on 19 to 21 October this year. Rhodes University Community Engagement has been organising these spaces for sharing and learning for over six years, and this year, the symposium will feature a virtual component in response to the Covid pandemic.

CE SYMPOSIUM 2021: Call for abstracts

The 2021 Symposium, "The role of Community Engagement in the reimagination of higher education during and post the Covid 19 Pandemic," addresses very relevant and pressing concerns relating to Community Engagement and similar institutions across the globe. Higher education is currently based on an economic foundation that has been severely challenged and shaken by COVID 19. The pandemic has clearly shown that the current education system which educates for certainty is unable to cope with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Importantly, the pandemic has highlighted the need for all of us to be socially responsible-to take care of ourselves and care for others-be responsible for ourselves and be responsible for others. The current discourse on the re-imagination of higher education reflects the lexicon of CE-for example, the purpose of HEIs is for the public good; social and civic responsibility; care and compassion; community development.

Digital storytelling ignites insatiable appetite from Rhodes University academics and beyond

Rhodes University academics are now using digital storytelling as an assessment tool for service learning and to generate rich qualitative data.


6 Weeks Course. Offered Twice in 2021. Second Semester Course Starts August 09 • Enroll by July 26

The Power of Relationships in CE programmes

The Nine Tenths mentoring programme has just recently won the first place MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. This is the first time that first place has been awarded to a community engagement programme on the African continent, and this achievement speaks to the passion and resilience of all of the programme’s stakeholders, including the RUCE Division, GADRA Education, partner schools, Rhodes University volunteers and the Grade 12 learners (mentees).

Book edited by RUCE is published by SUN Press

The Rhodes University Community Engagement Division is proud to share that the book Challenging the “Apartheids” of Knowledge in Higher Education through Social Innovation” published by SUN Press in now available! This is the first book edited by RUCE with colleagues from different universities and organizations from South Africa.

Rhodes University is first SA university to win top spot for MacJannet Global Citizenship Prize

Rhodes University recently became the first South African university to win top place for the prestigious 2021 MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship for its Nine Tenths Matric Mentoring Programme.

A record 52 Gadra alumni graduate from Rhodes University in 2021

For the first time ever, over 50 Gadra Matric School alumni graduated from Rhodes University in a single graduation ceremony, which marks a significant milestone in the journey to transform education in Makhanda.

Rhodes University graduate honours late father’s legacy

With a global pandemic in our midst, universities all over the world have been forced to find new and creative ways to celebrate the students’ graduation day, robbing them of the normal ways of celebration. However, this is not the worst that the pandemic has done to students, as some are forced to celebrate graduation without parents, who were lost due to COVID-19.

Philosophy lecturer awarded for community engagement excellence

Mapula Maponya from the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics (AGCLE), is the recipient of the 2020 Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Community Engagement.

Makhanda matriculants soar despite significant national and provincial pass rate drops

Makhanda schools have bounced back from the disappointing results of 2019 in style and in the process recorded a collective pass rate of 80% for the first time in the city’s history!

CHERTL reinvents its Academic Orientation Programme under COVID-19 restrictions

In response to the COVID-19 context, the Centre for Higher Education, Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL), offered the annual Academic Orientation Programme (AOP) in a distance mode this year.

HKE Department takes community engagement centre stage

Dr Jono Davy, Mr Andrew Todd and Mr Ben Ryan of Rhodes University’s Department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics (HKE) have been recognised as the recipients of the 2019 Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for Community Engagement.

HKE trio transform classroom-based teaching method towards embedded engagement model

On 04 February 2021, the three winners of the 2019 VC’s Community Engagement Award gave attendees an inspiring look into the possibilities of transforming classroom-based teaching and laboratory-based research into an embedded and transformative experience for students, academics and community members.

Introducing Dr René Oosthuizen

Dr René Oosthuizen is a new lecturer at the Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) Division. She joins the team as an Engaged Research academic and coordinator of the Engaged Citizen Programme.

Community engagement champions awarded at first virtual RUCE awards

On Thursday evening, 26 November 2020, the University management, students, volunteers and community partners converged virtually to honour and celebrate the community engagement champions.

2020 Community Engagement Awards to be online

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) Awards ceremony will take place online via Zoom and be streamed on the Division’s Facebook page.

Makhanda Circle of Unity Scholarship 2021

The Makhanda Circle of Unity Scholarship has been established by the Makhanda Circle of Unity Forum for the fulfillment of an inclusive and purposeful approach for the socio-economic development of Makhanda and its surroundings, which aims to bring together all relevant and interested voices, communities, and stakeholders in a spirit of problem-solving, partnership and civic participation.

Rhodes University to boost community-based research training

Last week, Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) and Durban University of Technology partnered to launch the Knowledge for Change (K4C) South Hub amid much excitement.

South Africa joins the global #LightsOnAfterschool movement

Partners in the After School sector, including grant-making and educational support organisation, The Learning Trust (TLT), the Western Cape Government’s Youth and After School Programme Office and the Community Chest, are putting the spotlight after-school.

2020 RUCE Awards Nominations Open

You can nominate students and organisations that have done exceptional Community Engagement work this year


Rhodes University has become a leading engaged university with a number of internationally renowned engaged research programs and meaningful community engaged learning partnerships. The Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award is a prestigious and competitive annual award which recognises meaningful and committed partnerships between the members of the university and community partners in the areas of teaching, learning and research, where human and material resources of the University have been combined with assets found in local communities in order to contribute to sustainable human and community development.

Open for education!

This week excitement was in the air as 60 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres across Makhanda opened their doors for pre-school education to commence after 175 days at home under higher levels of lockdown. The Makhanda ECD Collective, a partnership between Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE), the Centre for Social Development (CSD), local ECD Forum, the Department of Health and the Social Development was formed to make this possible.

Rhodes University embarks on community psychology project with local schools

When Rhodes University started asking local school principals and management how best to assist them with the additional pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project team didn’t anticipate what a positive learning experience it would be for everyone involved.

Community Engagement and Pharmacy team up to bring health development to rural areas

The Rhodes University Faculty of Pharmacy and the Community Engagement Division (RUCE) have partnered up to holistically address the health challenges in Makhanda and the surrounding communities.

Serving Diligently And With Passion During A Pandemic

William Welkom, Station Manager of the Makhanda Fire Department, who has worked as a firefighter for 34 years, 5 months says “the pandemic has indeed changed our approach on how we do our work. As an essential service department, one had to ensure that we still render a service efficiently and effectively when dealing with incidents within the community, whilst also trying to stay safe.”

A Personal Fight Against Covid

Even though many have been fearing the unknown, doctors and nurses had to face it head-on, giving hope to the millions of South Africans who were sitting at home trying to protect themselves from contracting the virus.

Stay at home and if possible avoid social gatherings

With the rising infection numbers and the looming fears of being part of these numbers, health workers continue working and going beyond their normal duty requirements, serving the people of South Africa in the different corners of the country.

A word of caution as we enter August - Salute to our real time heroes

“Please be vigilant, as we are entering August, we expect a significant rise in infections, adhere to all non-pharmaceutical measures to flatten the curve.” A message of caution given to the community by Sister Heather Ferreira the Head nurse at the Rhodes University Health Care Centre.

ECD Facemasks drive exceeds the 1000 goal

The #1000ECDFacemasks campaign, run by the Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) division in partnership with Facemasks4Makana, exceeded the 1000 mark. 14 individuals in Makana heeded the call and contributed 1 064 facemasks to the initiative.

Students’ free e-learning project challenges the need for multimillion-rand tablets in Eastern Cape

Three students are downloading a wealth of free digital learning resources and hand-delivering them to parents and children in their homes, showing that expensive tablets are not necessarily the best and most cost-effective way to get education to poor households.

CALLED TO SERVE - Cheers to our heroes

During a time of anxiety and panic, South Africa saw a rise of heroes, who heed the call to being at the frontline of the COVID19 war, when many were sheltered and safe in their homes.

Rhodes University among leading African Universities announced for new UK research consortium

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced the outcomes of its African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) partnership research programme to tackle global challenges such as disease, poverty, climate change, fragile states and food insecurity. This

Gardening drive enables citizens to grow their own produce

Rhodes University’s Community Engagement (RUCE), in partnership with Food & Trees for Africa, has launched its Victory Gardens drive, which aims to encourage Makhanda citizens to start their own vegetable gardens in order to foster increased food security.

RUCE's Digital Storytelling Course going fully online! 

During this period of social distancing, finding ways of connecting with others and strengthening bonds in communities has become even more pressing. By its nature, digital storytelling is a tool to facilitate closeness over physical distances. To continue its pursuit of community cohesion, the Social Innovation Hub will launch an online version of its main digital storytelling course.

Eastern Cape alliance launches digital network to fight Covid-19 in rural areas

The Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) at Rhodes University in collaboration with Imvotho Bubomi Learning Network (IBLN) and other local networks in the Eastern Cape has established the Eastern Cape Together Iqonga LoThungelwano.

Eastern Cape alliance launches digital network to fight Covid-19 in rural areas

As Covid-19 infections escalate in the Eastern Cape, confusion, misinformation and anxiety are rife. The need for clear, reliable and locally relevant information is urgent, especially in isolated rural communities. A coalition of farmers, students, academics and activists are using WhatsApp messages in vernacular isiXhosa to get the message out.

Makana residents urged to help make masks for young children

Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) has partnered with Facemasks4Makana to launch a campaign urging Makana residents to help make 1000 masks for children aged two to six years old.

Rhodes University student volunteers translate books for Book Dash

A group of Rhodes University Community Engagement student volunteers in the BuddingQ programme have been hard at work during the national lockdown period.

49 days’ worth of free ECD resources

Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) has compiled a multilingual educational resources repository that is aimed at assisting Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners and caregivers/parents with content that is suitable for children between the ages of two and seven years.

The Absa Foundation supports Makhanda’s solidarity fast

As part of Makhanda’s ‘Day of Fasting’ taking place on 29 May 2020, Rhodes University’s Community Engagement (RUCE) Division has received a generous donation from the Absa Foundation.

Marking a milestone: 8000 litres and counting

Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, today expressed 'deep gratitude’ to the institution’s donors who have been providing raw materials for the sanitiser production initiative.

BP’s funding enables Rhodes University’s Nine-Tenths programme to continue online

Rhodes University has received a major boost for its Nine-Tenths programme through funding from oil and gas company, BP South Africa. The organisation has pledged an amount of R666 573 for the years 2020 and 2021

Rhodes University reaches further in supporting rural communities with sanitiser

Rhodes University Professor of Pharmaceutics, Rod Walker, and his team of Pharmacists have been assisting Eastern Cape rural development trust, the Ubunye Foundation, to produce sanitiser from the raw materials they sourced.

Community Engagement launch campaign against GBV in Uyinene’s honour

In celebration of the birthday of slain student Uyinene Mrwetyana, Rhodes University Community Engagement (Ruce) on Monday launched a campaign against gender-based violence which sought to affirm all women in SA.

Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor pledges 33% of salary to Covid-19 Relief fund

Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, has pledged 33% of his salary - for three months - to the Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Health minister backs call for face masks as Makana campaign gathers speed

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize has called on members of the public to wear cloth face masks when they are in public places and here in Makhanda, the Facemasks 4 Makana group is well on its way to making face masks available for as many people as possible, with dozens of people at home making masks to donate across the town.

Community-Based Service -Learning Online Short Course

The Community Engagement Division is offering the Community-Based Service -Learning Online Short Course twice in 2020.

Community collaboration during a pandemic and beyond

In a campaign they are calling Gxotha i Covid-19 (‘Chase Covid-19 away’), Rhodes University’s Community Engagement (RUCE) Division has been at the epicentre of collaborative efforts to raise awareness about the outbreak of Covid-19.

Rhodes University partners with Grocott’s Mail to bring you your paper

This Friday you would not have found your Grocott’s Mail at the supermarket as usual, and here’s why.

Rhodes University produces much-needed hand sanitiser for the province

In the wake of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), where hand washing is one of the ways to avoid contracting the virus, South Africa is currently experiencing a nationwide shortage of hand sanitiser. In response to this dire need, a team of Rhodes University scientists has set up a lab to produce hand sanitiser.

Makhanda Cycle of Unity Vacancy: Programme Director

The Makhanda Cycle of Unity collective is looking to fill a Programme Director vacancy

Close to 600 student volunteers already on board

Close to 600 students started with their volunteering this week, after two consecutive weekends of volunteer training for new and returning volunteers.

Vice Chancellor welcomes first year students from local schools

Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela officially welcomed almost 100 first year local (Makhanda) students as part of the University’s ongoing initiative to create access for local communities into the University yesterday.

Rhodes students in the City

Growing students who are critical thinkers, understand their context and are socially responsive is very important to Rhodes University. Through community engagement, the university has and continues to create engaged learning opportunities for its students and these include service-learning, engaged learning through volunteerism, student sports clubs and societies, or the citywide Vuka Makana initiative.

VC Distinguished Community Engagement Award Nominations Open

The Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Community Engagement Award is a prestigious and competitive annual award which recognises meaningful and committed partnerships between the members of the university and community partners in the areas of teaching, learning and research, where human and material resources of the University have been combined with assets found in local communities in order to contribute to sustainable human and community development.

Community Engagement Welcomes Lebo Nkambule!

Bringing heaps of passion and enthusiasm to CE, Lebo will be representing the SRC and serving as the voice of the student body by initiating, sustaining and co-ordinating SRC community engagement programmes.

Learning programme increases tertiary access for children of support staff

Rhodes University support staff members involved in the University’s Vulindlela programme are excited to welcome their children to Rhodes University this year. Seven learners whose guardians were involved in the programme produced exceptional matric results and have been accepted to enrol for their first year of studies at Rhodes University.

The power of theatre to enable social transformation

In the course of 2019, the Rhodes University Drama Department staged several theatre-based performances as vehicles for social intervention and change.

Joy as funds flow for pre-primary water solution

A R200 000 fund, raised by staff and clients of Standard Bank. will ensure that approximately 1 200 local children up to the age of five will have ready access to water in their early childhood development centres (ECDs).

Volunteer Opportunities: Get involved with Rhodes Community Engagement

Would you like to get involved with Community Engagement? Here is a list of what’s on offer at Rhodes University (and application forms!).