Galvanizing a University's Developmental Mission through Community Participation: Case of Cameroon

By Marcellus Mbah.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Given the need for development in most African communities, the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) asserts that the challenge is to establish institutions and processes that are more responsive to the needs of the poor and ordinary people, and that can promote development. Whilst African universities have increasingly been considered to carry the intellectual capital that can foster the development of residential communities, the extent to which these institutions are responding to the needs of ordinary people within the framework of social and economic development is contestable. As revealed by evidence, the voice of the community is scarcely captured in their development agenda. Based on a single interpretive case study, this article explores the concept of community-based service learning as a development means within the framework of a university’s engagement and what could be done to ameliorate power relations in a manner that creates an enabling environment where members of residential communities can participate, express interest, and as well as control over processes aimed at improving their socio-economic welfare. Drawing from a series of interviews conducted with participants from disparate backgrounds, this article highlights the needs for community participation in designing a service learning curriculum, underpinned by an interactive model of communication between the university and the community.

Keywords: Service Learning, Community Participation, Development

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.53-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 288.379KB).

Marcellus Mbah

PhD Student, Department of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, Kent, UK

Mbah is currently a full time PhD student at Canterbury Christ Church University in the United Kingdom. He also serves as the student representative on the research committee of the faculty of education. Prior to starting his PhD, he obtained an MA in Educational Management at the University of Nottingham. His research is investigating the implications of community voice within the articulation and realization processes of a university’s developmental mission in communities and how this relates to the notion of an ecological university whose prime concern according to Barnett (2011) is collective interests rather than its interests. Therefore, elements of democracy, freedom, participation and inclusion are essential in this case study which employs social critical theory within the framework of a transformative research paradigm.

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