Make a difference with RUCE!

What partnerships can I make with local community based organisations in Grahamstown?

Grahamstown – home to UCKAR – is situated in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. Across from UCKAR campus lives 65 000 of the total 80 000 people in Makana, more than half of whom are unemployed. UCKAR plays an active role in the community development of Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape through focused and targeted interventions within its area of expertise. Following national policy on higher education, Community Engagement (CE) is located as a core function of UCKAR and is integral to teaching, learning, and research.

The University is involved in a diverse range of community initiatives in the Eastern Cape, through both staff and students. These take place on many different levels, from involvement at government policy level and ground-breaking research, to practical and strategic volunteer interventions at a community level. UCKAR’s community engagement initiatives are centrally coordinated through the Community Engagement Directorate and networked with its community development partners, which include NGOs, CBOs, institutions, government and the private sector, ensuring effective intervention that benefits our students and our community.

Volunteerism and volunteer activities form an important part of the student experience and learning at university. Volunteering provides students with opportunities to grow outside the classroom environment, acquiring essential critical thinking, leadership, project management and interpersonal skills. Through hands-on volunteering experience, students are afforded the opportunity to share their skills and learn from peers and community partners. The volunteer experience is a team experience, promoting civic consciousness and critical engagement that assist students in gaining a better understanding of their social environment.

How you can get involved:

Community Engagement Representatives from your Residence and/or Hall will give a presentation on the various ways you can get involved in CE at UCKAR during Orientation Week. However, below is a brief description of the various programmes (for more information visit our website:

1. The Student Volunteer Programme (SVP)

The Student Volunteer Programme runs for the full duration of the academic year (except for vacation and examination periods). Volunteering is open to all students. Students are encouraged to actively participate, giving at least an hour of their time, skills, and energy to make a positive difference in our Grahamstown community. Volunteers can choose to volunteer in organisations which include Arts and Alternative Education, High School Tutoring, Literacy and Homework, Care and Mentoring. In 2016 over 300 students volunteered across Grahamstown in over 20 community partner organisations.

Volunteer placements are dependent on personal choice, opportunities available, and your timetable.

Registration closes on Tuesday 28 February 2017. Mandatory training will be provided on Saturday 4 March 2017. Transport is provided to your community partner site.

2. The Siyakhana@Makana Programme (S@M)

Siyakhana@Makana is a project-planning process, which seeks to support students in building meaningful relationships with community organisations while working towards a shared co-created project from start to finish. The 19-week process (one hour per week) will see students engaging in focused training and a series of support meetings that will assist them in project planning with the community-based organisation with which they are partnered. Students and community partners will present their project proposals to a committee for feedback before implementation. At the end of the project-planning cycle, students and community partners will evaluate their project. This programme was successfully piloted in 2015, and 2016 saw even greater results with over 20 partnerships being established across Grahamstown.

A minimum of five individuals may form their own team and register to be part of the programme. Registration closes on Friday 3 March 2017. Mandatory training will be provided on Saturday 11 March 2017. Transport is provided to your community partner site.

3. Residences and Halls

Each hall (and some residences) are partnered with an Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre. This programme was piloted in 2016, and 15 new partnerships were established with residences, halls, and ECD Centres. Each year the ECD partner site and the hall and/or residence jointly participate in the Siyakhana@Makana (S@M) project planning cycle to work on a specified goal. They also participate in the School Readiness Programme in which learners are tutored weekly. Resources (books and games) can be loaned from the CE office to use for the morning tutoring sessions. Transport is provided to the ECD partner site.

4. Sport clubs and Societies

Sports clubs and societies can also join the Siyakhana@Makana project planning programme. Students who are part of a sports club and/or society can take part in this and work alongside their community engagement representatives and the community partner to work on a co-created project from start to finish. Sports clubs and societies are also involved in various other community engagement projects. More information can be obtained from the sport/society chairperson. Transport is provided to your community partner site

Visit the Community Engagement Office at 5 Prince Alfred Street for more information. Contact us on 046 603 7230 or email

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Words by UCKAR Community Engagement