Implementing Effective Engaged Scholarship to Promote Human Rights Activism for Community Development: The Case of the University of the Free State in South Africa

Poverty alleviation, achieving socioeconomic development and redressing the imbalances and inequality on the past have being the major challenges of the democratic South African government. Various pieces of legislation, policies, strategies and programs developed and implemented in this regards have proved insufficient. Similarly, the efforts of many actors on the journey to prosperity, justice and equality have reaped mediocre results. Universities and the communities through the engaged scholarship approach have a contribution. Through academic service learning by the universities and the community-based research within the community, the academia and the community can develop and implement project that contribute to community development. However, in many instances the poor and marginalized communities are often unaware of their socioeconomic and political rights preventing them to (1) claim such rights and (2) participate in community development programs.  This paper argues community awareness socioeconomic and political rights is the first and most important step in bringing them out of poverty and inequality. Engaged scholarship based on human rights activism can produce both (1) active citizens who claiming their rights and (2) concrete development projects that address the needs of communities. The paper revalues the contribution of Universities in building prosperous, just and equitable societies. Using a qualitative interdisciplinary investigative approach, it recommends a model on how to convert the University of the Free State into a space where human rights-based collaborative interventions contribute to greatest public goods.

Paulin Mbecke . University of the Free State (South Africa) and Universite du Moyen Lualaba (DRC) .
Busisiwe Ntsele . University of the Free State (South Africa) .

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