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The University of Venda (Univen) is a public university in the Limpopo province of South Africa, established in 1982 to serve the Venda Bantustan. With the fall of apartheid and the reincorporation of Venda into South Africa, the University of Venda shifted focus to science and technology. Today Univen has over 11,000 students enrolled in eight schools: Agriculture, Education, Environmental Sciences, Health Sciences, Human and Social Sciences, Law, Management Sciences, and Mathematical and Natural Sciences.  As stated by Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbati, "Our goal is to develop responsible citizens who will impact positively on the growth and development of South Africa." Objective 4 of Univen’s Strategic Plan (2009-2013) is the "Integration of community engagement in the core business of the university." According to the Strategic Plan, "Community engagement at Univen will be scholarship-based and embedded in the academic work of the institution.” University of Venda’s website>>

Community Engagement

 In 2009, Univen established a Directorate for Community Engagement to “strive for excellence in supporting interdisciplinary community engaged teaching and learning, community engaged research geared towards addressing community poverty-related challenges and development needs of the communities in the Limpopo Province and in SADC rural communities.” Among the programs coordinated by the Community Engagement Directorate are the National Antipoverty Strategy Community Engagement Initiative, a collaboration between Vhembe District Municipality, Limpopi Province and Univen, and the Water and Health in Limpopo (WHIL) and Water, Health Education and Development Inititatives (WHEAD), in collaboration between Univen, the University of Virginia and selected Communities in Mutale Local Municipality. Learn more>>


 The University of Venda in 2007 identified its main research focus area as “Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Rural Development.” Within this broad area, it focuses on the following niches:

  • Developing and Managing Farming and Agro forestry System for Improved Livelihood and Food Security in Rural Communities
  • Integrated Environmental Management, Settlement and Energy for Sustainable Development
  • Combating Poverty and Illiteracy and Promotion of Gender Equality and Socio Economic Rights
  • Indigenous Knowledge System
  • Socio-Economic and Health Related Aspects of HIV and AIDS
  • Water Research for Improved Quality of Life
  • Investigating Maternal, Child, Youth and Women Health, Investing in Youth and Reversing the Trends
  • Entrepreneurship, Micro-finance, Innovation and Management of Human, financial and Heritage Resources to Bridge the gap between the First and Second Economy in South Africa

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Centre for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation

 Centre for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation is a multi-disciplinary centre devoted to research, teaching and outreach activities in all facets of rural development. One of the major programs of the Centre is Amplifying Community Voices, which started in 2006 and aims to mobilize local rural communities to be involved in championing their own development. It involves grassroots communities in the decision-making processes, which is only possible if a mindset change is effected within these communities. Learn more>>

Vuwani Science Resource Centre

 Founded in 2000, the Vuwani Science Resource Center aims to reach out to the rural people and to contribute significantly to the development of the rural community through specific services. The centre is strategically located in a rural area in the Limpopo Province in order to bring Science, Mathematics and Technology education closer to the rural community. Among the activities of the Centre are: basic computer training and digital literacy, Saturday classes, a legal aid clinic, and a health education program. Learn more>>