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Teaching, Learning and Community Engagement

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About Teaching, Learning & Community Engagement

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) is committed to embracing community engagement to discharge its social responsibility role as required by the Council on Higher Education (HEQC 2004: Criteria7). In so doing, SMU community engagement aims to create an enabling institutional environment and direction for community engagement; promoting activities and initiatives undertaken by staff and students related to community engagement.


SMU views community needs and those of the population as central to its core business as an academic enterprise. In pursuit of creating an enabling institutional environment and direction for community engagement, the context Community Engagement within SMU, aims to be collaborative, inclusive and sustainable.

The SMU philosophy for community engagement is crafted around its motto “Knowledge for Quality Health Services” and is stated as follows: ‘’Social accountability and responsiveness for mutual benefit and impact through interprofessional education, scholarship and practice’’.

Community Engagement Definitions for SMU

Community engagement is a process of integrating inter-professional education and practice with mutual benefit to both the institution and receiving community.

The communities for SMU:

Internal community
The staff and students formally affiliated with the institution comprises the SMU internal community.

External community
Civic organisations, schools, townships, the government departments relevant to the function of the university as a higher education institution, professional bodies, industries, local government and the people in general constitute the external SMU community for social responsiveness purpose.

SMU Partners for community engagement
The regional, national and international community engagement partners are as follows:

  • Regional – Service providers, clinics, health care facilities/hospitals, industries, universities and schools, nursing colleges, municipalities and non-governmental organizations.
  • National – Funding agencies, statutory bodies, research institutions, alumni, professional associations, state-owned enterprises and sport organisations.
  • International – Funding agencies, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and universities within the SADC as well as other continents.

Community Engagement Activities

Community engagement activities range from informal and relatively unstructured activities to formal and structured academic programmes involving teaching, learning and research activities performed by academics as well as students that address particular community needs. Involvement of communities and their active participation in activities to identify and resolve their needs will be the point of departure for informal unstructured programmes.

Formal structured programmes will be planned and circulated within formal academic programmes in an integrated manner of the academic project.

A variety of activities embracing social responsiveness may include but not limited to:

  • Teaching and Learning:
  • Research:
  • Professional / Discipline based Services
  • Student service learning
  • Community service
  • Distance education
  • Curriculum based community engagement
  • Community engagement/action research
  • Partnership health drives
  • Volunteer programmes/social development and empowerment

SMU strives to integrate community-related matters

SMU strives to integrate community-related matters as part of teaching, learning and research, aimed at ensuring:

  • Optimal use of SMU resources to support and sustain community development programs
  • Community engagement activities within teaching, learning and research that are relevant to the SMU context as the only health sciences university in South Africa
  • Knowledge production and provision of education enriched by scholarship of societal engagement and the values of academic citizenship
  • Skills training relevant to the needs of the identified community