RUCE 2019 Highlights

Student leaders
Student leaders



  • GBS Mutual Bank funded the Nine Tenths Programme and sponsored 7 of the Missing Middle students at Rhodes. They also funded the installation of 28 water tanks, providing much needed water to 22 Pre-school Centre’s in Makanda.  Community Members, Pam Sandi and Cindy Deutschman led this initiative.
  • The Transnet Foundation and Kingswood College have enjoyed a five year partnership educating vulnerable pupils. The first three pupils registered at Rhodes in 2019 and are coping well.
  • The Standard Bank, Tutuwa Trust has committed to three years funding for projects in the VC’s Education Initiative. The Niven Trust and the Davies Foundation have remained consistent partners.
  • The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust have funded transport for student volunteers for the past 3 years.


The Rhodes University Social Innovation Hub was launched in June this year, as a result of a partnership between 5 EU Universities and 6 South African Universities. This hub is purpose-built to help bridge the digital divide in our country and capture and share social innovation globally through storytelling. 

We have three lab facilities: a fixed lab at RUCE, 2 Semi-fixed labs in Joza (ADC and JYH), and a mobile pop up lab. These ‘third’ spaces have successfully served community partners, academics, RU students and school pupils.  

In only 6 months we have accomplished the following: held 11 digital story telling circles, hosted 7 Train the Trainer workshops, facilitated 72 digital literacy classes, produced 30 digital stories, hosted 2 public story telling nights,  published 21 profiles of social innovation in our city and produced two digital storytelling course modules - currently being used by the 11 university partners.   

*Approximately 70 people move through the RUCE Social Innovation Hub each week.


The number of research outputs from the Community Engagement Division has been growing exponentially over the past four years. Our researchers are publishing in high impact international Journals and presenting at prestigious international conferences. Our Division’s contribution to research has grown exponentially over the past few years.  In 2019 we have achieved the following so far:

  • 4 articles and 1 book chapter published
  • 6 articles under review and 4 book chapter under review
  • 4 international conferences; 9 national conference

All of this highlights the growing expertise in the emerging discipline of the Scholarship of Engagement at Rhodes University, which is now recognised as a National Leader for engaged research.

2019 was a particularly exciting year with the first two Masters Students supervised in RUCE, Thandiswa Nqowana and Mateboho Ralekhetla, successfully completing their MSc degrees using engaged and participatory methodologies. The graduation ceremony was also an important time at which the Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Award Medal for Community Engagement was awarded to a pioneer of engaged research, Prof. Tally Palmer.


RUCE has also continued to pioneer new ways of strengthening Service-Learning (SL) within Rhodes and across South Africa. This year, RUCE launched a new accredited online Community-Based Service-Learning course. This course has successfully equipped academics with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to create sustainable courses in partnership with community based organisations in order to improve knowledge exchange programs at the university and foster a new generation of engaged Rhodes graduates.   Central to the growth in SL has been the funding granted by the Rhodes Central Budget this year, 22 projects have been funded.

Community Engagement was integrated into the Rhodes Teaching and Learning Policy for the first time. RUCE organized a highly successful IMBIZO at NELM in May this year.


Tonight 198 student volunteers have met the required standard and will be recognized for their commitment to the Makanda community. This is the first year they will be receiving a University accredited short course certificate for their voluntary service.  

  • 4 of our ECP student leaders presented papers at our annual Community Engaged Learning Imbizo
  • Sesonasipho Yedwa (last year’s Student Volunteer of the Year), presented his volunteerism-based academic research paper on using organisational psychology for the public good at the Rhodes University Postgraduate Conference, a topic he intends on continuing with at Masters Level.
  • The following NPO’s partnered with Rhodes Divisions to host special events: Sibanye and RU Equity & Institutional Culture Division, kamva Youth and RU Student Affairs Division and Inkululeko and RU Career Centre.


Over a 400 students in Rhodes Residences participated in S@M led by 56 CE Residence Reps, the amount of work done by the students and their S@M partners in achieving the goals set by their partners is to be commended.  Each community partners sets 3 goals for the year, the Residences plan and execute the programme together.


Budding Q is an early childhood literacy programme aimed to develop the fine and gross motor skills children need for emergent literacy. The beginning of the year baseline assessments confirmed the shocking state of literacy in our city. Budding Q is locally designed to address this fact. We partnered with SEVEN Grade R classes. Our students, particularly the community psychology honours students are key to the programme’s success and they rose to the occasion, reflecting deeply, critiquing carefully and committing wholeheartedly to make the programme run smoothly.  We are proud to announce that 54 of our volunteers will be awarded ‘committed volunteer’ certificates this year.


A highly successful partnership with GADRA education, Faculty of Education, Ntsika, Mary Waters and Nombulelo Secondary has resulted in another outstanding year. Tonight, we are awarding 90 RU mentors short course certificates. This qualification demands high levels of commitment: over 100 hours of work! This is the most we’ve awarded in any year and a testament to the dedication to the programme and commitment to reviving Grahamstown/Makhanda’s schooling.

This year the programme re-introduced a second Mary Waters Cohort, making 2019 a bumper year, reaching 196 learners mentored by 105 RU volunteers. Currently the Grade 12’s in the programme have produced 74 Bachelor passes, all of who have applied to Rhodes University (15 already accepted). 

Nine Tenths is a TEAM effort.  Mentors, Mentees, the Management Team, particularly Ashley and Babsy from GADRA for crunching numbers and serving the tough love children often need,  the schools and their amazing teachers that drive the functional aspects of the programme, and their principals that are dedicated and persistent. We would like to take a moment to appreciate one of our amazing principals, Nicci Hayes, who will be leaving Nombulelo this year, she has been extraordinary in this leadership role.


  • This programme targets Grade 1-6 staff at Rhodes and their school going children. Parents (the staff) select the content of their workshops and pupils enjoy academic support weekly.
  • Weekly Saturday classes for Grade 11 and 12 pupils, tutored by Rhodes volunteers, lunch prepared by parent Precious Mdoda.
  • Of the fourteen Grade 12’s on the programme, 7 have applied to Rhodes (3 already accepted).
  • Parents have enrolled in computer classes twice weekly in the Social Innovation Hub, being computer literate has helped support their children.
  • Hosted a Careers Afternoon with the parents and learners, where people from different fields gave speeches and insight on how to get into the respective field.


This programme targets Grade 1-6 staff and their young children (0-14 years) to promote early literacy by providing reading packs for staff to take home to their children and by providing workshops around the importance of a culture of reading in the home.  Highlights this year include an Intsomi Family Day for parents and children in June, publication of the first Intsomi newsletter and a service learning project with 3rd year RU TV Journalism students. 

Source:  Community Engagement Directorate

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