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Community Engagement

In Grade 10 or in Grade 11 (new) learners are taught the basics of research and are introduced to the theoretical underpinnings of research, data analysis and ethical considerations. Learners then build on this knowledge in Grade 11 and are taught how to implement their projects. In their final June contact session, the Grade 12 learners showcase their talent and hard work during the Celebration of Work.

By implementing these research projects learners are able to assist communities in their respective areas which ensures that the programme itself is far-reaching, helping the learners stretch their knowledge base and then to assist their communities. In 14 years of implementation, more than 150 community projects have been conceptualised and implemented.

The research component of SETMU seeks to link directly into the University’s 2020 strategic framework to contribute to the development of Wits as a leading research-intensive university. Each school presents their community projects to a panel of judges and their TTP peers.

Hluvuka High School (First position)

The social research project is a two-phase assessment project with the first phase focussing on the community profile and needs assessment task where we gave a comprehensive description of the background information and the needs of our community-Hluvuka high school.

In finding the needs of our community, a sample size of 394 out of 1530 community members was used where we interviewed the sample of community members. We then used a qualitative research method to find information and a thematic data analysis method to analyse our findings and that led us to address the practical apparatus need because of its feasibility and being the most urgent need.

The second part was focussing on the implementation plan where we had to formulate an aim and list SMART goals that would assist us in achieving our aim. We then discussed the contingency plan(s) if any of our main SMART goals would fail us. We also expressed our ‘strengths and limitations’ and the plans of action that we should act upon to implement our project and reach our goals and therefore our aim. The sustainability of our project will be the school's responsibility. This led us to conclude that our project will be successful through the available resources in our community and the resources that we would have been sourced from our chosen donors and sponsors.

University of Johannesburg Metropolitan Academy (UJMA) (Second position)

The purpose of this research project was to identify a plight in the community which is to be eradicated, this was done by profiling the learners’ respective communities by investigating the demographics, and also conducting a needs assessment so we could formulate a hypothesis of a plight within the community, by doing this, the problem of illiteracy was identified amongst Grade 4 learners and has been the biggest problem amongst Grade 4 learners in Piet van Vuuren.

This problem has caused Grade four learners to repeat the grade and after repeating the second time they had to be condoned to the next grade. This information was gathered by means of Qualitative and Quantitative data, this was in the form of surveys, interviews and inspection which was done by the Grade 11s.

In our Implementation Plan we had identified possible solutions to eradicate illiteracy by means of the SRA reading Laboratory and even included a contingency plan by means of a reading club in case our implementation plan doesn’t work by choosing the next best solution which will still solve the problem at hand, Even though there are a few limitations we may experience they will not stop us from trying to eradicate illiteracy in Piet van Vuuren.

Highveld Secondary (Third position)

The overall purpose of our research is to address the need for fully functional toilets, with the aim of improving the safety, privacy and hygiene in the toilets. From a population of1138 people in our community, 110 were our sample. To get valid data we issued questionnaires to 110 participants (sample).

We used both qualitative and quantitative research design and method to find out about problems that the community faces. When analysing the data received using thematic and statistical data analysis method, we found 5 dominating problems which were: shortage of water, unsafe environment, insufficient textbooks, and shortage of furniture, dysfunctional and bad conditioned toilets. 96% of our participants voted for the need of fully functional and good conditioned toilets.

Based on our findings, as researchers we plan to apply strategies that will ensure the improvement and sustainability of our project. These strategies include: repairing and installing doors and ceiling, placing sanitary towel disposal bins in female toilets and filling cracks and painting walls. Moreover, we will raise awareness about hygiene and display rules and regulations in the toilets. This project will be beneficial towards our school community since it guarantees the quality of being secluded from the presence of others, secured from dreadful weather conditions and promotes well-being and hygiene with the rules and regulations in the toilets.

Sir John Adamson High School (First position)

This social research project aimed at helping the community of Sir John Adamson High School in such a way that it improves the daily lives of students as well as the school’s academic performance and overall efficiency.

In order to determine our top need, we distributed questionnaires to a sample of Grade 8-11 learners as well as an aggregate of educators. By means of analysis, we determined the following to be a hierarchy of needs: pollution, substance abuse, ill-discipline, lack of school culture, with our top-tier need being lack of social structures.

The results showed us that we needed to address the lack of social support systems within the school. The goals we set to achieve this were: 1. Refurbish the life coach’s office in order to make it more comfortable. 2. Start a sorority to promote unity and social support between female learners. 3. Start a journal to motivate and inspire other learners within the school.

University of Johannesburg Metropolitan Academy (UJMA) (Second position)

In search for a need to address in our community i.e. the school, UJ Metropolitan Academy, the Two Year Cycle TTP learners conducted research by handing out surveys to individuals in our community. The project was produced by developing the community profile, assessing the needs in our community and creating an implementation plan to address the need.

Our Community Profile provides information about the demographics, infrastructure and services that are provided at our school. It also provides information about the geographical and socio-economic context of our school. Our needs assessment was done by identifying the main problems that are being faced in our community through interviews and surveys. Thereafter, we drew up our implementation plan based on the identified need. We also drew up a SWOT analysis, which looked at costs, benefits and any other advantages and disadvantages of addressing the need.

The sample of 50 that was chosen was learners from different grades in our school. Their responses gave us a general idea of what need should be addressed in the school. According to the findings, the prominent need in our school was the lack of sports. Other needs identified were: an upgraded library, lack of resources, a vegetable garden, under-resourced sick room and a heaters in classrooms. In order to tackle the lack of sports, we would need to organize a fundraiser such as a social or a ball in order to raise funds to purchase equipment. We would also use recyclable materials to make eco-friendly equipment. Moreover, we would need to implement sport as an extracurricular activity in our school.

Dendron Secondary School (Third position)

This social research was done by the 2-year cycle Targeting Talent Programme learners from Dendron Secondary School. The aim of the project is to promote a sport driven school that will benefit both our mental and physical health. This is will help in improving the confidence and positive self-esteem of learners together with interaction among themselves and their teachers. We found that learners at our school are more exposed to diseases such as obesity and other due to lack of exercise.

Our school is focused mainly on academics thus leading to learners being inactive and dull, making school boring for academically average learners. Our plan is to introduce extramural activities in our school. These activities will help in shaping and directing the passion and interest of learners apart from, the degree courses. We want to help learners improve in their academics as personal growth and development is essential for a good childhood.

This was done by proposing the idea to the school principal, after it was approved we formed arts clubs, sports clubs, drama clubs and music clubs, which were introduced to learners in a form of “extramural activities period”, were they registered in their desired clubs. We then asked that time for extramural activities to be officially included in the school’s schedule.

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