Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Global acclaim for Theewaterskloof Project


The Theewaterskloof International Community Development Project (TWK) recently clinched second place in the prestigious MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship.

The prize recognises exceptional student civic engagement initiatives at higher education institutions across the globe

Out of 67 nominations from 40 universities in 19 countries, the projects driven by TWK were recognised for making an impact in impoverished communities in the Western Cape.

The TWK Project was established several years ago and is a partnership between CPUT, HAN University in the Netherlands, the University of the Western Cape, Elgin Learning Foundation and the Theewaterskloof Municipality.

Currently the coordinating office of the project is based at CPUT.

On 6 June 2009 , CPUT Vice-Chancellor, Prof Vuyisa Mazwi-Tanga, accompanied by a CPUT student involved in the TWK Project, Fattinald Rangongo, received the prize at a ceremony in France .

Prof Mazwi-Tanga said the TWK Project, along with the other projects that received awards, are making a “huge impact on communities and at universities.”

She said the prize is a “valuable” recognition of the work being carried out at the institution.

CPUT is an engaged university, with research activities and teaching, geared to involving communities.

“Issues in the community must inform the research and teaching and learning agenda of the university,” said Prof Mazwi-Tanga.

She said the institution is also involved in several other community based projects, of which one was internationally recognised.

The Tabeisa project, which aims to develop entrepreneurs in poor communities, won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2008.

“We are on the right path, but need to consolidate all these activities and showcase them appropriately,” she said.

Prof Mazwi-Tanga said while in France, the winners of the MacJannet Prize also had an opportunity to network and discuss how they could support each other.

Jacqueline Scheepers, CPUT Manager of the TWK Service Learning Project, said the initiative sees South African and Dutch students participate in service-learning projects that build on their areas of study. The projects are designed by the students and address the needs identified by the community.

Through the projects students provide services in areas such as social work, education, health services, sports, architecture and environment management. Currently there are more than 30 projects under way in the towns of Genadendaal, Caledon, Grabouw and Villiersdorp.

Scheepers said the prize brings “validity to the whole project.”

“This recognition will help us to develop more links, especially internationally,” she said.

Abraham Oliver, a TWK Project field coordinator said the prize will also assist them in further developing the programme.

“We want to make the project sustainable by securing outside funds,” he said.

Currently the partners are responsible for funding of the projects.

Director of International Affairs, Merle Hodges, who nominated the TWK Project for the prize, said the project is not only impacting on communities in the Western Cape .

“What we’ve found is that Dutch students are now taking the programs back to their institution and implementing them there, so the effects are even wider,” she said.

Ben Bartels, HAN Director International Relations and coordinator for TWK Project said this is a “powerful” programme.

“For us as representatives of universities it is our duty to create and to facilitate powerful learning environments for students in which they can develop their professional and personal growth,” said Bartels.

He said without the students’ enthusiasm, projects like these would be “doomed to fail.”

By Candes Keating

Photos: (Clockwise) Learners from Pineview Primary in Grabouw who participated in a community clean-up project; A CPUT student and Dutch students meet learners at a Grabouw primary school. The students ran an environmental project at several schools in the area; A Dutch student and local learners help clean up the community.

Written by CPUT News