Rhodes University 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.
Nicci Hayes, the CSD director, was at the core of organising the event, along with Zongezile Matshoba from Amazwi taking inspiration from Book Dash and tweaking it to suit Makhanda’s version.
The event was in celebration of Amazwi’s 40th birthday as well as CSD’s 40th birthday. The efforts of the volunteers resulted in 23 beautiful children’s books. The Book Dash event included a reading of the created books on Wednesday, September 8th, on Zoom.
Hayes hopes the books will help make a powerful impact after their successful creation and underlined plans to make them freely available online in addition to copies being printed as funding allows.
The project was a great success and an enjoyable time for those participating, yet another event from the CSD highlighting the value of community assets. It promotes togetherness when individuals from various ways of life come together with a common goal that is beyond their own gain.
Nationally, Universities have not been known to build innovative partnerships with the local community but this has changed over the past ten years and we are seeing the results of these healthy partnerships growing and impacting on the development of communities. A growing number of departments at the University are investing in authentic partnerships which have enriched the academic project while also dealing with community needs.
The programs extend beyond the CSD, with a brilliant example in the Nine Tenths mentoring program that bagged First Prize in the prestigious 2021 MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. Showcasing the commitment of the university to a transformational approach towards community engagement where there are mutual benefits for all involved.
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) research finds showed that 79% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa are not able to read for meaning. This is an alarming statistic and the CSD has been working hard to address these literary challenges through their initiatives and programs such as the Makhanda Book Dash on the one hand, and through their Advanced Certificate in Foundation Phase Literacy on the other hand.
There are excellent opportunities to achieve and excel in various spaces between the community and the university. The collective is always stronger than the individual. The CSD’s Book Dash is a powerful example of this and showcases the incredible abilities of the citizens involved.
Di Hornby, the Director of Rhodes University’s Community Engagement Division, believes the work done through the community-university relationship over the last six years has been very impactful through its shared goals and outcomes.
The goal is to continue to grow within this powerful relationship that is being carefully fostered and use the connection to create more impact that can benefit the people of Makhanda.