The School of Education Community Engagement office in partnership with non-profit education development organisation Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) recently hosted its second Annual Environmental Sustainable Action and Community Development Conference at the Edgewood campus.

This cross-disciplinary (STEM) conference brought together over 200 participants including teachers, students, communities, municipality representatives, businesspeople and academics for an enriching and lively two days of action around the theme of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

UKZN lecturer and conference organiser Dr Angela James said, ‘High Impact Societal and Stakeholder Community Engagement is Goal Three of UKZN’s Strategic Plan. UKZN intends to foster meaningful interactions with local, national, and international communities for mutual benefit. Its engagement agenda should enrich the Institution’s teaching, learning and research activities, and deepen its contribution to wider society.

To this end, UKZN aims to contribute – through knowledge – to the prosperity and sustainability of KwaZulu-Natal and to nation building, by connecting with and committing itself to the stakeholder communities UKZN serves, in a manner that adds value and earns their respect, admiration, and trust. This goal will strive to achieve meaningful interactions with stakeholder communities and society for mutual benefit.

‘The University has committed itself and its resources to the common good of society, which has seen a vast number of outreach programmes managed by UKZN,’ she said.

A learner programme for Grades 9, 10 and 11 learners that ran parallel to the conference was also held. The programme had interactive science and mathematics teaching sessions and active engagement in hands-on science investigations, mathematics in the field and general fieldwork.

This programme accommodated 60 learners per day (a total of 180 learners). The 180 learners who attended the programme had been selected by the Department of Education.

Plenary sessions for the conference included talks by Mr Peter Thompson, who talked about Umgeni Water; Mr Chris Whyte from Industrial Development to Integrated Community Upliftment who spoke on the Hammarsdale Waste Beneficiation Centre; Ms Scilla Edmonds from Birches Primary School focusing on Education for Sustainable Development: The important role of ESD in South African schools today and a panel discussion around sanitation, a critical issue at many schools.

Words and photograph: Melissa Mungroo