External Partnerships

Service Learning Programmes


The main focus of Service Learning is the reconstruction and development of civil society at the community level by using the assets that are embedded in these communities, and in partnership with service organisations and communities themselves, to improve the quality life of the disadvantaged communities.


The Service Learning focuses on the promotion of community engagement that is fully integrated with teaching, learning and research.

The Service Learning enhances the strategic priorities and transformation goals of the WSU faculties that provide for the development and implementation of service-learning.


To facilitate the transformation of academic progress that produces a new graduate cadreship responsive to issues of development through a service-learning ethos.

Service Learning Programmes

The Service Learning programme has different Service Learning modules in different faculties where students doing these modules visit communities around WSU Campuses.

The Service Learning modules are:

Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences & Law

Practum A (BSY31M5) Service Learning Module

This Service Learning module is compulsory and carries credits towards Bachelor of Psychology.

It falls under the Department of Psychology and Social Work. Students are required to do practicum A during the second semester of the 3rd year level of study.

Activities incorporated in practicum A include visiting communities in and around Mthatha where community-based interventions are undertaken; these include addressing common social ills and issues such as teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV and family counselling, to name a few.

The significance of practicum A, in addition to serving as a preparatory phase for the students, is that they (students) can integrate theory and practice at an early stage, given that at level 3 they are already familiar with counselling theories and ethics. 

For example, the students that have already done modules in Community Psychology (BSY2213), and Career and Counselling Psychology (BSY3112) are expected to do practicum based on these modules as well as Neuropsychology (BSY 3211). The module carries 12 credits.

Practicum B (BSY46M2)

Practicum B starts in the 4th year of B Psych programme upon successful completion of Practicum A for a period of six months. In Practicum B students are placed within an organisation.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate ability and competence to put theory into practice.
  • Promote psychological well-being with a focus on prevention, psychosocial health promotion and community-based care.
  • Provision of counselling
  • Refer clients to relevant practitioners.

This module carries 24 credits.

Rural Local Government Service Learning Module

Rural Local Government (POL3240) is a service-learning module housed in the Department of Political Studies. This module is compulsory and carries credits towards Bachelor of Social Sciences (Political Science).

The main aim of this module is to help students understand the causes of conflict within local communities, especially conflicts among councillors, committee members and traditional leaders; and also to understand the ability to use a range of conflict resolution approaches. These are conflict prevention, management, and mediation. Students are expected to demonstrate the theoretical skills obtained in class during field trips to selected local communities.

Street Law Service Learning Module

Street Law mission is to enable law students to make indigent and impoverished rural and semi-urban people aware of their legal and human rights and where to obtain assistance if or when their rights are violated or infringed.  The purpose of establishing Street Law programme is to enable 4th year Bachelor of Laws students, in the School of Law to be able to go out from the University to the surrounding communities to advise them about their human rights and socio-legal matters that affect such communities in their daily lives.

Through its training workshops, Street Law educates South Africans of all ages and diverse background about human rights, democracy, violence, HIV/Aids and the Law, voting, domestic violence, maintenance, children's rights, abortion, social security, wills, corporal punishment, child abuse and its effects, the legal system and the laws of the country in general.

Street Law's primary mission is to be a link between WSU and its surrounding local rural and semi-urban indigent communities.

The module carries 16 credits.

Research Methods, Social Statistics & Rural Development

Research Methods and Social Statistics strengthens and expands on the different research methodologies used in social science research.

The module examines in-depth, concepts and techniques in social research methods. It focuses on the different theoretical perspectives of social research methods, and techniques of conducting research from its conceptualisation to dissemination of findings.

The course focuses on but not limited to the following areas: Methods of acquiring knowledge, types of research, research design, writing proposals, sampling, and data collecting techniques, interpreting and analysing data results, writing and dissemination of results.

Students, while studying research and statistics, on the other hand, they do a research project. The research project is part of the module. The project is a practical component of the module.


  • To teach students the different research methods used in social science research, in particular, methods relevant to rural/developing areas
  • To bring out the relationship between theory and research and how the two add value to each other
  • To guide students through supervision on how to conduct research (from the proposal, instrument design, scholarly literature review, data analysis, report writing and presentation of findings).

Faculty of Commerce & Administration

Economic Theory ECO31M1

The module aims to cover topics in both Micro and Macro Economics.  It is offered to Level 3 students doing BCom Economics.

It builds upon the foundation established in ECO 21M2 and ECO22M3.  The principal objective of this module is on building on a leaner’s knowledge and understanding of micro-economics and macro-economics. 

The lecturer gives learners topics to research on.

The module allows a learner to study in greater depth, providing some selected topics of current interest in economic theory.

The module is designed to ensure that students receive the skills necessary to begin to formulate the fundamentals for essential solutions to economic problems based on economic theory and analysis. It carries 15 credits.

Advanced Micro-Economics

Outcome-Based Education approach is used. The module aims to cover topics in Micro-Economics. 

It builds upon the foundation established in ECO 31M1. 

The primary objective of this module is on building on a leaner’s knowledge and understanding of microeconomics. 

The module allows a learner to study in greater depth, providing some selected topics of current interest in economic theory.

It is offered to Level 4 (Honours Students). It carries 15 credits towards BCom Honours.

Faculty of Health Sciences

Community-Based Education and Service (COBES) Service Learning Module

This Service Learning module falls under the Department of Community Medicine. This module is compulsory and carries credits towards MBChB and is offered to 3rd-year students.

Human health is mostly affected by factors such as biological, social, and environmental factors.

The Faculty then was inspired to train student doctors and equip them with the necessary skills to care for patients holistically. 

The Faculty offers a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum and Community-Based Education (CBE). CBE is a two-pronged programme with Community-Based Education and Service (COBES) in the first three years.

In 3rd year level of the CBE programme, students are distributed to clinics in and around Mthatha. The allocation of students to various health centres creates a learning environment in which academic medicine becomes a reality.

Community Health Nursing Science Service Learning Module

The Faculty pioneered community-based education (CBE), in partnership with the Department of Health and the local communities.

The module incorporates primary health care as it is the vehicle for delivery of health care services in South Africa. The curriculum emphasises problem-based research and community outreach programme to benefit learners and its clientele, aiming at health promotion, disease prevention and management and self-reliance.

The nursing students registered for the BCur (Basic) degree follow a module in community health nursing during their first year of study as part of the programme. They are expected to engage in community projects together with community members as part of their practicals. 

Health Promotion Service Learning Module (HPS32M1)

The module is completed by students who have registered for Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion at the 3rd-year level.

The module provides an overview of health promotion opportunities in a range of community settings.

It introduces the rationale for health promotion in each of the settings and the particular skills required to develop health promotion partnerships with organisations in each location.

The aims of the module are:

  • To develop a critical understanding of the potential for health promotion in several community settings
  • To develop an understanding of the techniques required to facilitate the adoption of health promotion activity by several community organisations.

Module Objectives

On completion of the module students should be able to:

  • Describe the effectiveness of school-based health promotion programmes and the techniques for their implementation, and to present this information convincingly.
  • Describe the rationale for health care providers undertaking a health-promoting role, and to demonstrate an ability to present this rationale to providers.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the arguments in support of community-based approaches to health promotion, and demonstrate an ability to synthesise the evidence concerning the effectiveness of this approach.
  • Describe the evidence for work-based intervention programmes as an approach to health promotion, and to present a proposal for the conduct of such a programme.

Clinical Associates: Child Health (CHH 30M4)

The module is completed by students doing Bachelor of Medicine Clinical Practise at the 3rd-year level.

At the end of the module CH, students can:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the process of: 
    • child growth and development
    • the integrated management of childhood illnesses
  • Demonstrate adequate understanding of the immunisation schedule for South Africa
  • Perform complete history taking and physical examination of the child.
  • Show the knowledge of the joint investigations relevant in common childhood diseases/conditions.

The module has ten credits.

Faculty of Natural Sciences

Crop pests of Southern Africa Service Learning Module

This Service Learning module forms part of Bachelor of Science. The objectives of the module are:

  • To create awareness for local farming communities in fundamental aspects of identifying arthropod (livestock, crops and household importance)
  • Introduce farmers to basic scouting techniques for vegetable arthropod pests as well as the use of pesticides to control these pests
  • Introduce students to basic sampling techniques for vegetable pests
  • Introduce students to various aspects of arthropod, weed and diseases of crops within agroecosystems and their control.

Insects and Man Service Learning Module

Insect and Man is a core academic module belonging to Pest Management Programme of the Department of Botany.

It has been designed to assist students and subsistence farmers from local communities around:

  • Identify, combat and contain pests' problems in an ecologically and environmentally sound manner so that natural processes such as interactions between pests and beneficial insects in the environment are not disrupted.
  • Improve food production by small-scale farmers through the use of efficient and effective agronomic practices amongst other novel agricultural methods, thereby alleviating starvation, malnutrition, disease and poverty.



Role of Service Learning (SL) Unit

The role of the SL Unit is to coordinate SL projects and assist academics from all faculties and campus to integrate community engagement into mainstream academic programmes and research.

Another role of the SL Unit is to nurture and develop mutually beneficial partnerships between communities, higher education institutions and the service sector.

The Unit also provides academics with the resources, materials and guidance in the planning, implementation, assessment and evaluation of SL projects.

How Does the SL Programme Work?

The SL project or programme is divided into three main phases:

  • The Planning Phase
  • The Implementation Phase
  • Evaluation Phase.

The activities which are linked to these phases are:

Planning Phase

  • Registration of SL project
  • Design SL curriculum
  • Establish mutually beneficial partnerships
  • Manage risk for students
  • Compile site visit schedules
  • Plan a budget and explore funding
  • Plan project assistance (lectures, community site mentors, group leaders, for example).

Implementation Phase 

  • Distribution of educational materials
  • Students implement on community sites
  • Students are monitored on-site
  • Assessment of student projects
  • Student reflection is conducted.

Evaluation and Review Phase

  • Partners reflect on the project
  • Project is evaluated and the project is revised
  • Reports are compiled and submitted
  • Research opportunities are explored.

Although the project activities are allocated to three respective phases, some activities can overlap depending on the nature of the project and the agreement between partners.

Service Learning Partnerships

Service Learning has a triad partnership model that consists of WSU staff and students, community partners and service providers (government departments and agencies).

These partnerships are based on mutual trust, respect and a culture of sharing resources, skills and knowledge.

The collaborative conceptualisation of projects involves consultations with all partners throughout the project's phases.

The purpose of tripartite partnerships for SL is:

  • To foster community empowerment and development
  • Transformation of the higher education system in relation to community needs
  • Service delivery to previously disadvantaged communities (JET, 1999, in Lazarus, 2001:1)

Partnerships are also developed between corporate and large community organisations in cases where additional funding is required.

Benefits of Service Learning for the Different Participants

Service Learning projects aim to be beneficial to all the parties involved - community partners, service providers and students.

Benefits for Students

  • Students learn to apply principles from the module/course to new situations. This means that students are provided with a learning synergy that enables them to value academic learning along with community-based experiential learning.
  • Their sense of social responsibility and commitment to the greater good is advanced.
  • Students are provided with opportunities for active learning and problem-solving through participation in the community (Howard, 1998: 23-24).

Benefits for Academic Staff

  • Service Learning allows lecturers to approach their curriculum creatively and in a way which can benefit both students and the broader society.
  • The role of the academic staff in the classroom is expanded from a provider of knowledge to a facilitator of critical synthesis and learning.
  • Lecturers are provided with opportunities for collaborative research on community development with internal and external partners.

Benefits for Community and Service Partners

  • Community development is enhanced through staff and student involvement; then students become more invested in the community.
  • The community builds links with higher education institutions and gets increased access to institutional resources.
  • The quality and efficiency of services offered to the community increases as the community and service agencies receive an infusion of creativity and enthusiasm from students.