Community service as a concept has gained popularity throughout the world for various reasons. Perold & Rahmat (1997:14) are of the view that this concept is gaining popularity in discourses taking place throughout the world. This is especially the case in community development discussions.
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Bryant & West (2011) views community service as service or activity that “…..is donated or performed by an individual or a group of individuals to benefit the community” (p. 82). The aim of community service is to benefit members of the public or the various institutions that are found in a contemporary society. It is noted that not every individual who provides community service can be referred to as a volunteer.
This is a common misconception among members of the public. It is not everyone who is contributing to the wellbeing of the community is doing so at their own free will. This is given the fact that the individual may be compelled to provide community service by various factors.
Such an individual cannot be conceptualised as a volunteer. However, those who provide community service on their own volition with the sole aim of benefiting members of the society and the various social institutions can be regarded as volunteers (Hustinx, 2005: 530).
So what are some of the reasons that compel someone to provide community service? According to Jones & Hill (2003: 539), there are various reasons why one may feel compelled to provide community service against their will. For example, the government may require some people to provide community service as a policy.
This is for example when military officers are required to provide humanitarian assistance to members of the public during war. Another reason may be an order from the court especially for those criminals who are serving their sentence on probation.
A school may also require the students to provide community service before they graduate. These are just some of the various reasons that may compel someone to provide community service against their will.
Jehan (2004: 297) opines that recent developments in the world today have greatly affected community service. For example, globalisation has made the community so complex such that several communities around the world are dependent on each other. This being the case, community service in one community may have impacts on another society in a different part of the world.
The issue of interdependence among communities is especially significant given the fact that globalisation has created a situation whereby limited resources have to be shared by the various communities around the world (Jehan, 2004: 297).
As a result of globalisation, it is noted that community service requires the engagement of various stakeholders in the society. This is given the fact that a single sector or a single segment of the society cannot effectively meet the requirements of community service in a given society (Hustinx, 2005: 526). Collaboration between various stakeholders such as businesses, schools and such others is needed to improve the welfare of the community.
So what are some of the benefits of community service? According to Vermeulen, Nawir & Mayers (2003: 12), both the community and the person providing the service stand to benefit from community service. For example as far as the individual is concerned, community service leads to a sense of pride and satisfaction after helping the needy (Dwayne & Palmer, 2006: 399).
The individual feels needed and feels that they have contributed to the wellbeing of the society. Community service also fosters a sense of responsibility on the part of the volunteer or the person providing the service (Bednarz et al., 2008: 92). The person feels indebted to the community and feels that they have a duty to perform. It is noted that community service strengthens the community benefiting from the service.
For example, a business enterprise providing free medical services to the members of the community improves the overall health of the whole community (Altman, 1995: 529).
As the volunteer gets to interact with other members of the community, a sense of tolerance develops between the members of the community and the volunteer. This is especially so in regions such as Africa where ethnic and tribal animosity is rife. A volunteer should ideally provide services to all members of the society without discriminating on the basis of ethnicity or other differences.
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It is important to note that as much as the community and the individual stands to benefit from community service, there are various challenges facing the provision of this service in a given community (Bebbington & Farrington, 1993: 202). The challenges vary through time and space. This means that they vary from one community to the other and from one time or period to the other.
Such challenges may include the resistance on the part of the members of the community. The members of the community may resist help from outsiders even when it is obvious that such help is to their own benefit. For example, a country in Africa may decline humanitarian help from a Western nation claiming that such assistance may threaten the sovereignty of the country.
Another challenge may be resistance and lack of cooperation on the part of the community service providers. A case in point is when students resist providing community service when it is made mandatory by the school management.
It is also noted that community service may be threatened by lack of funds which will hamper the ability of the organisation or the individual to provide such services. A case in point is when there is lack of donor funding to support famine relief programs in Africa.
As already noted in this paper, community service can be provided by different individuals and organisations from within and without the target community. This may include businesses providing community service as part of their corporate social responsibility program, faith based organisations as part of their outreach program or individuals interested in giving back to the community (Booth, 2006: 13).
A university is such an organisation that may find it necessary to provide community service as part of its academic and professional program. The university may require the students to participate in community service before they graduate.
This is for example when the department of dentistry requires the trainee dentists to participate in dental camps organised in the community to provide members of the community with free dental services. Other activities in which the students may participate include planting trees, cleaning, caring for the needy among others.
Perold & Rahmat (1997) are of the view that universities in Africa have embraced community service as a program and strategy aimed at addressing various problems facing such an institution.
For example, the universities may require the students to engage in community service in order to gain practical experience as far as working within the community is concerned (Cooke & Kothari, 2001: 13). The universities may also participate in community service as part of the institution’s efforts to give back to the community.
According to Perold & Rahmat (1997: 15), advocates of community service are of the view that such a program can be used by the university to address various issues facing higher learning. To this end, advocates of such a program are of the view that community service benefits not only the community but also the student and the institution as a whole.
The community benefits by having its welfare and wellbeing of its members improved while the student benefits by gaining working experience among other benefits. The university on its side is able to establish and sustain working relationship with the members of such a community as a result of the community service (Wilson, 2011: 19).
One is able to identify the various stakeholders involved in community service in Africa by analyzing the benefits that community service provided by a university has. The stakeholders in such a case may include the students, the university, the government and the community as alluded to above (Mobley, 2007: 129).
Out of all these stakeholders, it is noted that the university students who are participating in community service are perhaps the main beneficiaries of such a program.
As already indicated in this paper, the students acquire professional skills as a result of their participation and they may also be earning in the process (Perold & Rahmat, 1997: 15). This is for example when the students are financed by various donor agencies to participate in community service.
It is noted that youths actively advocate for community service programs in African universities. This is perhaps given the fact that they have come to realise that they are the main beneficiaries of such programs.
Authors cite the example of the annual South African Students’ Congress (also referred to as Sasco) held in 1996 which passed a resolution supporting compulsory community work for all students in institutions of higher learning (Perold & Rahmat, 1997: 16).
According to the resolution passed by the students, community work should be in line with what the student is studying in the university. For example, a Social Work student may be involved in the provision of free social services to street children in the cities.
The South African National Youth Commission also advocates for a program targeting university students in the country. The commission is of the view that such a program can be used as a creative strategy to finance higher education in South Africa (Hellebrandt, 2008: 222). The commission proposes that students who cannot meet their higher education expenses can collect credits by providing their services to the community.
The discourse above illustrates a university-community development partnership in Africa. This is where the university and the community come together to improve the welfare of the members of the society. This paper is going to address the university-community partnership in Africa.
The author is going to specifically address the impacts of undergraduates’ engagement in community service on stakeholders as far as Africa is concerned. The researcher will adopt a literature review methodology which will involve a critical review of literature that found in this field.
The aim of such a critical literature review is to organise the knowledge base that is found in this field by identifying the various agreements and disagreements among authors and scholars. The literature review will also identify knowledge gaps in the field and propose areas for future studies.
This study will have one main research objective and several specific objectives. The main objective is the overall aim and goal of the study. The main objective will be attained by addressing the various specific objectives. The main and specific objectives are as listed below:
To address the impacts of undergraduate engagement in community service on stakeholders as far as university-community partnership in Africa is concerned.
- Analyse the various stakeholders in university-community partnership in Africa
- Analyse the various impacts of undergraduates’ engagement in community service on the various stakeholders in Africa
- Analyse the various strategies adopted by universities in providing community service in Africa
- Analyse the various benefits of community service provided by universities in Africa
- Analyse the various challenges affecting the impacts of undergraduates’ engagement in community service in Africa
- Analyse the various strategies that can be used to improve the quality of community service provided by universities in Africa
- Provide recommendations for universities in Africa regarding university-community development partnerships in the continent
Like research objectives, this study will have a major research question and various specific research questions. It is important to note that the research questions are related to the research objectives. This is given the fact that by answering the research questions, the researcher will have addressed the objectives of the research.
Major Research Question
What are the various impacts of undergraduates’ engagement in community service on the stakeholders as far as university-community partnership in Africa is concerned?
Specific Research Questions
- Who are the various stakeholders in university-community partnership in Africa?
- What are the impacts of undergraduates’ engagement in community service in Africa?
- What strategies are used by African universities to provide community service?
- What are the benefits of community service provided by universities in Africa?
- What are some of the challenges facing community service provided by universities in Africa?
- How can universities in Africa improve the quality of community service provided?
- Which areas of university-community partnerships in Africa can benefit from future research?
Undergraduates’ engagement in community service has various impacts on stakeholders as far as university-community partnership in Africa is concerned
As already indicated in this paper, the author is going to use critical literature review as a research methodology. To this end, the researcher is going to identify the findings of various studies in this field and try to identify the various agreements and disagreements between the various authors.
One major advantage of critical literature review as a methodology is the fact that the study benefits from the various perspectives of different authors in the field. A major weakness of the methodology is the fact that it generates no new knowledge in the field. All the researcher does in critical literature review is reorganise the knowledge that already exists in a given field.
The researcher will identify articles from journals, books and such other academic sources that address the issue of university-community development partnership. Several criteria will be used to select articles that will be included as sources in this study. For example, all the articles must come from academic or professional journals that are peer reviewed or from books.
This criterion is aimed at providing credible sources for the study. Another criterion has to do with the fact that all the articles must address the issue of community service in the society.
This criterion is aimed at providing this author with articles that are relevant to the topic of the research. All the articles should also be written in English. However, this criterion does not exclude those articles that were originally written in another language but translated later to English.
Scope and Limitations of the Study
It is noted that it is not possible to carry out a single study that is capable of addressing all the aspects of a given research topic. This being the case, it is important for the researcher to identify the boundaries within which the study will be conducted. Delineation of such a boundary helps the researcher in focusing the study.
The issues that will be covered by the study are separated from those that will not be addressed. This reduces ambiguity and lack of clarity in a given study.
This study is not different. It is noted that the study has various limitations that may affect the quality of the findings if not addressed. The limitations can emanate from within and from outside the study. Following is a list of the scope and limitations of the study. The researcher will provide strategies to address the limitations where necessary.
Scope and Limitations of the Study
- The study will be limited to community service provided by universities in Africa. Community service from other agencies such as businesses will not be considered
- The study will be limited to university-community partnerships in Africa. Such partnerships in other countries outside Africa will not be considered for the study
- It is also noted that the study will be limited to the participation of undergraduate students in community service. Participation from other stakeholders in the university such as lecturers and the university administration will not be the main focus of this paper
- The study will use information from other studies conducted in the field before. This means that the study will not generate primary data. To uphold the integrity and quality of the study, the researcher will use stringent measures in selecting the literature that will be used for the study
Significance of the Study
At any given time, there are a number of studies which are being conducted in a given field. This being the case, any new research or study that is being conducted in the field has to be justified. The study can be justified on the basis of the value that it is going to add to the field. Following is an outline of the significance of this study in this field:
- The findings of this study will help African universities in identifying the benefits of community service and the challenges facing such programs. This will help them improve such programs in the future
- The findings of this study will also help universities in other parts of the world to improve their partnership with the communities by learning from the African experience
- The findings of the study will help policy makers such as government agencies, community based organisations and such other agencies interested in community development identify the importance of university-community partnerships in Africa. This will help the policy makers come up with policies that will support such partnerships in the future
In this section, the author introduced the reader to the various aspects of the study that will be conducted later in the paper. Major aspects of the study were highlighted. The researcher started by providing background information on the topic. This was followed by problem statement, research questions and research objectives, methodology of the study, scope and limitations of the study and finally the significance of the study.
The following section will provide information on the theoretical framework that will be used.
In this section, the writer will provide information on the theoretical framework that will be used for this study. The researcher will use the participatory theory to critically analyse undergraduates’ engagement in community service in Africa.
It is noted that there are various models or theories of participation that are to be found in this field. Most of these theories are borrowed from political participation literature and adapted for participation in the context of community development. The researcher will highlight some of these theories and provide the main assumptions and arguments of the theories.
Theoretical framework is an important aspect in any given research. This is given the fact that the assumptions of the theory guide the researcher in conducting the study. By analyzing the various provisions and assumptions of a theoretical framework in the field, the researcher is able to explain and analyse what they observe when conducting the study.
Theories are also important since they are used in organising knowledge in a given field in a coherent manner. This makes it easier to retrieve and access the knowledge stored in such a field.
Participation in Community Development: Theoretical Models
According to Andrea (2000: 28), participation is a very important aspect of community development. Given the fact that university-community participations are aimed at developing the community, it is noted that community development theories are applicable in such a case. Such a community development theory is the one addressing participation in development activities in such a community.
According to Chambers (2007: 23), there are various factors that affect participation of various stakeholders in community development activities. These may include the form of motivation that such individuals are receiving, the socio-psychological orientation of the participants among others (Hartslief, 2005: 12).
Community Development Participatory Models
As already indicated earlier in this paper, there are several participatory models explaining the level and intensity of participation among stakeholders. These models can be borrowed and adapted from political participatory models found in political science literature. Following are the major participatory models that can be applied in the field of community development specifically university-community partnerships in Africa:
The Mobilisation Model of Community Development Participation
According to this participation model, it is assumed that stakeholders in community development participate in the activities as a result of the availability of opportunities in their surroundings (D’Exelle & Riedl, 2008: 12). As far as political participation is concerned, individuals can only participate in political activities such as elections if they are presented with opportunities to do so.
In the context of community development, mobilisation participation model holds that an individual will participate in community development if such an opportunity is made available to that individual (Edmunds & Wollenberg, 2002: 244). For example, a student will only participate in community service activities if they are provided with the opportunity to do so.
To this end, universities should ensure that they provide the student with the chance and opportunity to participate in community development through community service.
This is perhaps the motivation behind the Congress for South African Students cited earlier when members proposed that community service programs should be mandatory in all institutions of higher learning. By making community service mandatory, the university will effectively provide the student with an opportunity to participate in community development (Perold & Rahmat, 1997: 100).
Mobilisation model theory also stipulates that individuals participate as a result of stimuli from other persons around them (Colby et al., 2011: 55). As far as political participation is concerned, it is noted that people will participate in politics as a result of persuasion and influence from other people around them.
The same can apply to community development participation. Individuals may participate in community service as a result of influence from other people. In other words, students in African universities can participate in community service if they are motivated by other people around them. The university can provide such motivators to the students.
Community Development and the Social Psychological Model of Participation
According to Hellison (2009: 28), stakeholders such as the youth can resist community service for various reasons. It is also noted that there are various strategies that can be used to resist community service or participation in community development activities. This is for example individual rebellion, collective action such as demonstrations among others.
Social psychological model of participation can be used to explain such extreme behaviours. In politics, the model can be used to explain political uprising and mass actions such as the ones experienced in Egypt, Libya and other African countries.
This theory provides that individuals are utilitarian actors who are able to analyse the costs and benefits of various actions (Ugochi, 2007: 27). They can analyse the benefits and costs that are associated with their participation in community service activities and they will act based on this analysis.
If the student feels that they will not benefit from community service, they are bound to resist and rebel against efforts made to compel them to participate in such activities (Horm & Warford, 2003: 144). It is also noted that the individual is an actor who subscribes to a network of social norms and beliefs (Ferraiolo, 2011: 100).
It is this network which provides the individual with internal and external motivations to act in a given manner. It is the reason why a student will support calls to make community service mandatory to all students in higher learning institutions in South Africa given the fact that they are tied to such students’ bodies.
Participation in Community Service and The General Incentives Model of Participation
According to Gillette (1985: 373), there are people who participate in community development with a lot of intensity than others. This is for example those students who will organise community service activities and lobby their teachers and students to join them.
The general incentive model can be used to explain such observations. In the context of politics, the theory can be used to shed light on high- intensity forms of participation in political activities. This is for example running for office, campaigning, canvassing and such other activities.
In the context of participation in community development and specifically through community service, it is noted that stakeholders need incentives to participate in such activities (Vermeulen, 2005: 34).
However, it is noted that we should consider a wider array of such incentives as opposed to limiting ourselves to individual incentives that motivate the stakeholder (Vermeulen et al., 2003: 12). This model is somehow similar to the motivation model given the fact that the stakeholder needs a push to participate in community service.
There are various forms of incentives that will motivate a stakeholder to participate in community service (Goulding, 2009: 38). A university should be aware of such incentives to ensure that they are put in place where necessary to encourage students’ participation in community development.
Such incentives may include the satisfaction that the stakeholder derives from such participation, the recognition that they get among others (Osvaldo & Gustavo, 2011: 29).
Addressing Impacts of Undergraduates’ Engagement in Community Service in Africa
In this section, the researcher will critically analyse issues surrounding the impacts of undergraduates’ participation or engagement in community service in Africa. Among the issues that will be covered include the impacts of such an engagement on stakeholders, the challenges facing such an engagement and strategies used by universities in community development among others.
Stakeholders in University-Community Partnerships in Africa
Before looking at the various benefits of community service by university students, it is important to first identify the various stakeholders that are involved in university-community partnerships in Africa. It is after identifying such stakeholders that we can then look at what each of them stands to gain from undergraduates’ engagement in community service. The following are some of the stakeholders:
This is perhaps the most important stakeholder in university-community development partnerships (Timms et al., 2005: 9). It is the students enrolled in various departments in the university who are involved in community service most of the time.
For example, Perold & Rahmat (1997: 102) cites the case of the South African Students’ Congress which was advocating for mandatory community service for all students in institutions of higher learning in South Africa. From this analysis, we can conclude that the student has a very important role to play in university-community partnership. The student is the link between the university and the community in this partnership.
As much as one would like to argue that the undergraduate is the most important stakeholder in university-community partnerships in Africa, it is important to note that the student cannot exist or carry out their duties without the support of the university. It is the university which gives such a student the mandate and the authority to provide community service in the society (Hewson et al., 2010: 12).
When the members of the community interact with the student during community service sessions, they see the student as a representative of the particular university that they are coming from. This being the case, it can be argued that the university is an equally important stakeholder in the university-community partnership in Africa.
It is the university administration which provides the students with transport, finance and other facilities that are needed in carrying out community service. It is also the university which is tasked with the duty of equipping the student with the skills that are necessary in carrying out community service (Long, 1999: 23).
It is noted that the community is the major beneficiary of community service provided by the university through the students (Platteau & Gaspart, 2008: 34). The participation of the community is very important in community service. It is important to ensure that the members of the community are involved in the process of identifying their needs and coming up with possible solutions to their problems (Shortall, 2004: 120).
According to Chambers (2007: 41), it is important to ensure that community service activities are not imposed on the community by the university and the students or any other agency involved in community service.
This is given the fact that when that happens, the community is likely to resist such efforts in effect neutralising the intended benefits. This is despite the fact that the community service endeavours may have been tailored to benefit the community and not the student or the university.
Impacts of Students’ Participation in Community Service in Africa on Various Stakeholders
As already indicated earlier in this paper, there are several impacts of students’ participation in community service in Africa and elsewhere in the world. It is noted that the impacts may vary from one stakeholder to the other depending on the form of community service that is being offered.
One thing that has not being noted is the fact that the participation of students in community service can have both negative and positive impacts on the various stakeholders (Madzivhandila, 2005: 3). The impacts on the various stakeholders will be analysed in detail here:
Impacts on Students
- One of the positive impacts of community service on students is the fact that they gain professional experience from their participation (Ribot, 1999: 34). Take the case of a medical student who is about to graduate. Going to the village and providing medical services gives them an idea of what it is like to work in a real life situation
- It is also noted that participation in such endeavours leads to a sense of satisfaction on the part of the student. The student feels that they have done something useful for the community and this increases their sense of responsibility (Ribot, 2005: 89)
- It is noted that participation in community service may have financial benefits for the student. This is for example when the student gets paid to perform extra community service or when they perform community service in exchange for credits to finance their higher education
- However, it is also important to note that participation in community service may have various negative impacts on the student in Africa. For example, participation may take a lot of the student’s time. This is time that could have been used in other activities such as reading for an exam (Arnstein, 1969: 222)
- At times community service may be irrelevant to the student. This is especially so if the student is involved in community service in an area that is not related to what they are studying in school. This may also happen when the student is compelled to perform community service in order to graduate (Sithole, 2005: 177)
Impacts on the University
- Participation in community service has several impacts on the university as an institution of higher learning in Africa. One of the major positive impacts is the establishment of links between the university and the community within which it is located (Andrea, 2000: 18)
- However, the participation of undergraduates in community service may be expensive on the part of the university. This is especially so if the type of community service the university is involved in is capital intensive (Timms et al., 2005: 2). This is significant given that most of the universities in Africa are underfunded
- Student participation in community service may also enhance the quality of education that is offered by the university. This is given the fact that the education is not only theoretical but also practical. This being the case, the status of the university as far as potential employers are concerned is enhanced
Impacts on the Community
- The welfare of the community is enhanced when the university engages such a community in a university-community partnership initiative. For example, the health of the members of the community improves when the university provides free or affordable medical services to them (Durham, 2004: 600)
- Participation of undergraduates in community service may lead to what Platteau & Gaspart (2008: 1) refer to as ‘elite capture’. This happens when a few members of the community hijack the services provided by the university and excludes other members of the society. This will in effect lead to community development that is skewed in favour of a few members of the society or the elite
Improving University-Community Partnerships in Africa
Having looked at some of the benefits and costs of community service as far as university-community partnership in Africa is concerned, it is now important to look at various strategies that may be used by the various stakeholders to improve the partnership in Africa.
We can analyse this by looking at some of the key features of a successful university-community partnership in Africa and elsewhere in the world. The following are some of the features:
Using Faculty Work to Improve the Welfare of the Community
According to Wilson (2011: 21), higher learning institutions using university-community partnerships to engage the community must start by analyzing the importance of such a partnership in achieving the mission and objective of the university.
To this end, it does not benefit the university or the community for that matter to engage in community service activities that are seen as ‘dumbing down’ the agenda of the institution (Wilson, 2011: 21).
As one step towards improving the quality of community service offered by their faculty members and students in general, the university should review the intended community service activities and how they are related to the objectives and mission of the university.
Understanding and Respecting the Community
A unique feature of students’ participation in community service is the fact that the activities bring together students and members of the community drawn from different racial and ethnic backgrounds (Vermeulen, 2005: 65).
This being the case, there is need for the university and the students to respect and appreciate the unique culture of the community within which they are providing community services. A successful community service program is marked by this respect and understanding.
It is noted that more often than not, universities make their way into the community and start imposing programs on that society. This is especially the case when universities from the western nations are involved in a university-community partnership with communities from the African continent.
Such a university may enter such an African community with what Wilson (2011: 23) refers to as a “know-it-all” attitude. Such a university will practically force the community to adopt the policies that are proposed by the so called ‘know- it- all’ partner.
Wilson (2011: 22) provides the university wishing to improve the quality of community service with a strategy calculated to gain acceptance from the target community. The author is of the view that the university should first immerse itself fully into the target community before initiating engagement. This will make the community accept the university and thus support the activities of such an institution.
Africa may be regarded as a backward and primitive continent by many students who are not aware of the diversity of communities in this continent. Such students may be stereotypical when engaged in community service in African communities. This will compromise the community service activities initiated by universities in this continent.
Establish Long-Term and Sustainable Partnerships with the Community
Wilson (2011: 24) notes that a successful university-community partnership is not an “episodic phenomenon”. It is not something that develops overnight. On the contrary, such an engagement is “….programmatic, research-based and more often than not long term” (Wilson, 2011: 24).
Most communities in Africa are plagued by challenges and problems that have accumulated over the years as a result of negligence from the rest of the world. This is for example problems brought about by colonisation and exploitation of resources by the western nations (Colby et al., 2011: 56).
These are some of the challenges that are addressed by university-community partnership initiatives in Africa. For example, such an initiative may be addressing rampant poverty in Africa which has been brought about by interplay of factors such as bad governance, exploitation, illiteracy among others.
To better address such challenges in Africa, the universities should adopt a long term strategy as opposed to a short term form of intervention (Bednarz et al., 2008: 88). As already noted, the problems did not develop overnight. This being the case, a strategy aimed at addressing these challenges should also be long term just like the challenges themselves (Dwayne & Palmer, 2006: 400).
As a step towards building long term engagements with the community, it is noted that the university should seek the collaboration of other agencies in community development. These are agencies such as the government, faith based organisations and other non-governmental organisations (Osvaldo & Gustavo, 2011: 25).
It was mentioned earlier in this paper that recent developments in the word such as globalisation and the rise of technology has changed the community completely. This is especially so for African communities which were under the rule of colonialists for a very long time.
This being the case, the challenges that are facing these communities cannot be effectively tackled by one agency alone. This is the reason why the university requires other strategic stakeholders to ensure that the university-community development partnership is sustainable (Booth, 2006: 13).
Types of Community Service Programs Initiated by University-Community Partnerships in Africa
Community service programs take various forms in Africa. The following are just some of these forms of community service programs:
Volunteer Service Programs
According to Perold & Rahmat (1997), a volunteer is a person who takes community service as a form of extra-curricular activity. The volunteer is involved in community service during holidays or when they are not having classes in the case of a university student.
In volunteer programs, the student is expected to perform general tasks and not necessarily tasks that are related to their academic field. This means that volunteer programs are not taken as part of class work by the university.
The student engaged in volunteer community service is not paid. However, it is noted that the university may fund the activities of the volunteer but this should not be taken as payment on the part of the volunteer student (Bryant & West, 2011: 85).
According to Hustinx (2005: 530), this is a form of program that combines studies and working at the same time. For example, the student may be involved in assisting their lecturers in conducting research, teaching other students among other things.
A major aim of work-study program in African universities and other universities around the world is to support the student financially. This is especially so if the administration feels that the student is bright but is needy and cannot afford the tuition fees. This is one way of giving back to the community on the part of the university.
A well known form of placement program is internship. Internship has become part of the curriculum in many universities in Africa and in the world in general. However, it is important to note that placement is not strictly structured to give back to the community on the part of the university (Perold & Rahmat, 1997: 100).
On the contrary, the major aim of placement is to provide the student with a link between theory and practice in learning. However, a critical analysis of the program will reveal that it has some aspects of community service in it. This is especially so when the student is attached to community based organisations such as NGOs which are providing free social services to the public.
This study critically looked at the impacts of undergraduate students’ engagement in community service in Africa. The researcher started by defining what community service is and what it entails. Some of the benefits and costs of community service to various stakeholders were analysed.
The various forms of community service were also analysed as well as the various strategies that can be used by the universities in Africa to improve their community service programs.
Recommendations for Future Research
Future studies should make an effort to analyse how universities can improve their development partnerships with the communities. This is given the fact that there is very little data in this field touching on this topic
Future studies should also try to analyse the impacts of other students apart from undergraduates as far as their engagement in community service in Africa is concerned. This is as a result of the realisation that other groups of students such as post-graduates are also involved in community service
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