Early Childhood Development: A Case Study of University-Community Engagement in South Africa





early childhood development, community engagement, democratic engagement, critical pedagogy, community building


Third sector organisations are effective links between Higher Education Institutions and communities in promoting and expediting Community Engagement programmes tasked with raising awareness, fostering social responsibility and civic mindedness in students and, thus, contributing to the common good. In recognition of this, Durban University of Technology (DUT) pre-emptively enabled collaboration between the institution and a cluster of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in 2004. This paper examines one of the partnership programmes between the Gandhi Development Trust and the Durban University of Technology, the Early Childhood Development Values Education Project and the successful Community Engagement partnerships created with three academic departments of DUT. It focuses on the Department of Drama programme based on Bloomgarden’s Preparation, Action, Reflection, Evaluation (PARE) framework integrating experiential and academic learning. The study draws on the theoretical lens of Dewey’s Democracy and Education and Freire’s Critical Pedagogy and uses the case study method to present the data gathered through the PARE phases. Foregrounded in the paper is the impact of democratic education characterised by values such as inclusiveness, participation, reciprocity, and an equality of respect for the knowledge and experience that everyone contributes to education and community building.


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How to Cite

Padayachee, K. and Harris, G. T. (2023) “Early Childhood Development: A Case Study of University-Community Engagement in South Africa”, African Journal of Inter/Multidisciplinary Studies, 5(1), pp. 1–11. doi: 10.51415/ajims.v5i1.1279.