Four Education students gave a presentation on a Service-Learning Forum Webinar hosted by the eThekwini Municipality’s Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) under the theme: Service-Learning for Social Transformation.
A senior lecturer and Academic Leader supervised the presentation for Community Engagement in the School of Education, Dr Angela James.
Mr Luthando Molefe, an Education honours student (Teacher Development Studies), said Service-Learning was a teaching and learning strategy that integrated meaningful community service/engagement with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.
‘The benefits of Service-Learning are that it provides students with the practicality of applying what they have learned in the classroom space while also developing their interpersonal skills such as the ability to create a platform of working well with each other and to build leadership skills. Academically, it provides students with critical thinking skills, cognitive development, and problem solving and decision-making skills,’ he said.
Ms Jennifer Sheokarah, a PhD student (English Language Education), said: ‘Service-Learning combines two of my most favourite things: Research/Learning and making a difference in the community. I believe that it is of utmost importance to combine the two as it is not only good to enhance oneself but also others in the process, making it a win-win situation.’
She says ‘aspects of Service-Learning form part of my PhD which I am currently pursuing, where I empower African second language learners using innovative and unconventional teaching and learning methods’.
Ms Lungelo Mdluli, a Bachelor of Education student, spoke about the implications of Service-Learning for academics, particularly pre-service teachers. ‘Teachers and learners spend the majority of their time together during school hours. However, teachers’ understanding of their relationship with learners and their colleagues is highly influenced by the planned curriculum. Little time is spent on conversations about the situations within communities,’ she said.
‘Through Service-Learning, academics are one body using a professional approach to uncover those stories that cannot be told from a distance but are only stimulated by a relationship formed during Service-Learning, in which people tell the truth about their already seen or evident circumstances.’
Education Honours Student Ms Caitlin Govender spoke about her journey. ‘Getting a job, doing a few magnanimous deeds now and then and going on with my life, I did not know my actual role in society and my community and I think that’s a concern for students. A question that we should be asking for our students is what role will they play in their communities in the future? Are they not just doing this for credits, marks, or their daily jobs? Reflections are one of the most crucial aspects for transformation because without looking back and reflecting, we live them as merely experiences or memories.’