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Perspectives in Education

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Service learning as a response to community/school engagement: Towards a pedagogy of engagement

G Alexander, M Khabanyane

Abstract


The promulgation of the White Paper on Higher Education (1997) necessitated Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in South Africa to avail their expertise in their human resources and physical infrastructure for service learning and community engagement initiatives, in the interest of demonstrating social responsibility, collaborative partnerships with, and a commitment to the development of South African communities. Service learning as a thoughtful organised, reflective and engaged service pedagogy is focused on the developmental priorities of communities through the application of knowledge, skills and interaction among communities, academics, students and service providers to the benefit of all participants (Council on Higher Education, 2006). In response to the latter mentioned, this interdisciplinary study, therefore, reports on the results of a service learning component to teach postgraduate students, attached to the Department of Comparative Education and Education Management, to perform specific skills (management tasks) via the implementation of structured interventions at their selective schools. Class presentations, reflective journals on students’ observations, experiences and actions revealed significant parallels between the implemented service learning curricular (management tasks) and the respective ‘engaged’ school communities.

Keywords: service learning; postgraduate students; community engagement; class presentations; reflective journals; management tasks




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