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CEPD Conference: Universities in Southern Africa as catalysts for sustainable rural development
Kopanong Conference Centre, Johannesburg
6 March 2008
Centre for Education Policy Development (CEPD)


Background document

Introduction

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is faced with the challenges of high poverty rates, underdevelopment, decreasing agricultural output, a high prevalence of disease, and so on. In order to overcome these challenges, the region will require, in addition to the development of integrated rural development strategies, the participation of all stakeholders in the fight against these scourges.

While rural development strategies should emphasise the development linkages between rural and urban communities; bridging the gap between the first and second economies; and the development of human capital as a valuable resource to sustainable development, universities in southern Africa need to position themselves strategically as catalysts for such development.

In addition, participatory democracy is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development. The extent to which stakeholders, including universities, participate in the development of society remains crucial. To what extent do universities contribute effectively to sustainable rural development and to integrating strategies, positioning themselves as catalysts for sustainable rural development? Universities ought to be able to contribute - through human capital development, knowledge production, research and community outreach programmes - to sustainable rural development. Do they in fact do this? How could the relationship between universities and the lives of rural communities be strengthened for their mutual benefit? These and related questions are in urgent need of exploration.

Aims of the conference

The conference will initiate a dialogue between key role players in rural communities and the academic community to find new ways of developing partnerships and programmes for sustainable rural development. The conference seeks to raise the following questions to stimulate debate on the role of universities in development:

  1. How should higher education institutions conceptualize the key issues affecting the relationship between higher education, rurality and sustainable development (including national priorities such as the Millennium Development Goals)?
  2. What are the implications of this relationship for teaching, learning, research and building relationships with communities?
  3. How should such institutions conceptualize 'their communities'? How should these 'communities' be engaged and what, if any, are the implications for language, culture and Indigenous Knowledge Systems?
  4. Is there a unique role that rural-based universities can play in the development of rural communities?
It is also hoped that by tackling these issues, the conference will make a useful contribution to the discourse on development and the challenges of attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Conference speakers

The following are confirmed speakers:

  • Professor Dani Wadada Nabudere, Marcus-Garvey Pan-Afrikan Institute, Uganda
  • Prof. Sonny Nwankwo, University of London, United Kingdom
  • Prof. Catherine Odora Hoppers, University of South Africa
  • Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza from University of Cape Town, SA
  • Ms Kim Porteus and Mr Brian Ramadiro University of Fort Hare, SA
  • Mr Paul Msoma, Institute for Policy Research and Social Empowerment, Malawi
Targeted audience

The conference aims to provide a platform for dialogue between role payers. This invitation is therefore open to representatives from rural communities, higher education policy makers, researchers and managers at higher education institutions, representatives from other education sectors, national, provincial and local government representatives, and representatives from business.

Conference organising team

To obtain more information regarding the conference or to pledge any support, please contact the organising team leader, Ndinannyi Brutus Malada, by e-mail on , or visit our website: www.cepd.org.za. To register, please complete the registration form that is downloadable from CEPD's website and e-mail to Vuyiswa Ncontsa on or fax to +27 (0)11 403 1130 before 8 February 2008.

Conference date and venue

The conference will be held from 6 to 7 March 2008 in Johannesburg at the Kopanong Conference Centre, 243 Glen Gory Road, Norton Estate, Benoni, Gauteng. Directions to the conference venue can be found at: http://www.kopanong.co.za/map.html. The Kopanong Conference Centre can be contacted on +27 (0)11 749 0000.

Conference fee

A conference fee of R850 is payable for attendance. Transport and accommodation will be for delegates' own accounts, and delegates are requested to arrange their own accommodation and transport to and from the conference. Delegates wishing to stay at the conference venue should inform Kopanong reservations in time in order for them to get the discounted rate for accommodation (please indicate to the hotel that you will be attending this conference).

Conference sponsorship

This conference is made possible through a grant received from the Conference, Workshop and Cultural Initiative (CWCI) Fund, a joint initiative of the National Treasury and the Delegation of the European Commission in South Africa.

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