Community interaction is a core function of Stellenbosch University (SU). This development is in line with the statement of the National Plan for Higher Education which indicates that community engagement is currently not viewed as an option in South African Higher Education, but as an essential part of scholarship. The general vision for community engagement in South Africa is based on the White Paper on the Transformation of Higher Education (1997)1. SU has committed itself to the integration of its three core functions, namely teaching and learning, research and community interaction (SU also adopted the concept community interaction in its policy rather than community engagement). In its Community Interaction Policy, the University commits itself to the transformation process of higher education and to be an active role player in the development of South African society.
This document does not cover the detail that exists in each and every field of community-based learning and associated placements. This document is not prescriptive, but serves as a broad guideline to support staff members, students and external partners during community interaction and service-learning activities in the prevention and quality risk-management practices.
The broad concept of Community Interaction (CI) will be used in this document, implying all community interaction activities including Service-Learning (SL).
The following assumptions are important in risk management for CI at SU:
2.1 The University places a high priority on the development, safety and health of its staff and students.
2.2 Through its designated staff members, the University takes a proactive stance in risk analysis and risk management, which includes issues of liability and insurance.
2.3 Risk management forms part of good practice in CI as it creates an awareness of and commitment to providing quality service and general ethical practice in teaching and research.
2.4 Risk management strategies and procedures will be adequately planned during programme and module development and clarified during the CI orientation of students and the implementation of programmes.
2.5 SU commits itself to supporting staff, students and community partners with training and/or orientation pertaining to emergency situations, risk management strategies and insurance policies to members of staff who are engaged in CI.
2.6 It is a responsibility of the individual faculty, through its designated CI Committee or similar arrangement, to appoint a team or panel to advise staff members who wish to implement CI activities. This team should provide assistance with the evaluation of CI placements, risk analysis and management.
2.7 SU faculties will develop or already have developed safety guidelines specific to the placement and training of their students in addition to these guidelines, if required.
1 Department of Education (2001). Draft National Plan for Higher Education in South Africa. Department of Education (1997). Education White Paper 3: A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education. General Notice 1196 of 1997. Pretoria
2.8 Every staff member and student has a co-responsibility to ensure his or her own safety by keeping to safety measures and procedures throughout CI activities. This constitutes an essential element of his or her development as a responsible citizen and future professional service provider.
2.9 Agreements are entered into with the provincial or local authority and/or community service organisations in terms of which the authority or organisation undertakes to collaborate with SU staff and co-supervise the work of the students. The Divisions related to specific agreements could be consulted. A list of possible consultants and their contact details is available in this document.
2.10 A student‟s participation in CI is considered against the background of the indemnity form signed at registration as SU student.
2.11 In essence, risk management is the responsibility of all partners. CI does involve risk, but the University Management assumes that potential risk is outweighed by the advantages of engaging in CI and that risk management which includes general ethical protocol, forms part of any organisational structure. General guidelines will be made available on the CID website. Specific ethical codes will be determined by different faculties. The protection of human health should be the primary consideration in all risk management decisions.