Regional development

CHEC’s partnerships with the Western Cape Government (WCG), the City of Cape Town (CCT), Accelerate Cape Town (ACT) and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges in the Western Cape contribute to the development of the Western Cape as a learning region. These strategic partnerships constitute an integral part of the so-called third mission of our regional universities, namely, to be responsive institutions with a systematic approach to transformative social impact.

To date, the partnerships with the WCG and the CCT have focused on small research projects where academic researchers “partner” with government staff on projects that contribute to government priorities. While the government partner sets the agenda for the research calls, academics have considerable autonomy in shaping their responses to the call. Interdisciplinary and multi-institutional projects are encouraged.

The Western Cape Government

Origins and purpose of the partnership

Following a summit with the Cabinet and Premier of the then WCG held on 16 October 2006 (view the report on CHEC – Provincial Government Summit 2006), a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed. Its key objectives are to:

  • establish structures that enable the Western Cape institutions and the Provincial Government to develop and implement shared strategies for advancing social and economic development;
  • promote the Western Cape as a ‘Learning Region’, which can be used to attract people to the region to study and contribute to growth and development in the Western Cape province;
  • facilitate the regular sharing of information on the plans of higher education institutions and the Provincial Government;
  • develop a three-year plan to address the mutually agreed strategic initiatives; and
  • strengthen the contribution of higher education to the provincial economy.

Members of the WCG joined CHEC representatives on the Barcelona leg of a study tour to the North-West and North-east of England and Barcelona in 2009. The tour enabled the group to study best practice with regard to higher education partnerships with government, business and civil society (Report to the CHEC Board: Preliminary visit to Barcelona, 2009).

The Joint Task Team

CHEC’s partnership with the WCG is coordinated by the Joint Task Team (JTT), co-chaired by Dr Hildegard Fast in the Department of the Premier and Mr Mawethu Nyakatya of Stellenbosch University. The JTT consists of a representative from each of the universities, the CHEC CEO and representatives from relevant provincial departments.

Meetings are held every six weeks and include discussions on the government’s Vision-Inspired Priorities (find out more), the research grants and other partnership events (such as workshops, projects and roundtables).

The Innovation Grants and Annual Research Grants

For the past decade, the JTT has awarded grants to the value of R500 000 to several small research projects each year. In the past six years, an amount of R100 000 has also been set aside for an annual Innovation Grant. In 2021, it was agreed that the full amount of R 500 000 would be awarded to one larger project on Regional Innovation Systems (RISs). This decision was in line with the JTT’s adoption of a more strategic approach to the partnership.

The 2021 CHEC / WCG grant was awarded to Dr J. Becker and his team from UWC and SU for a multiphase project that will investigate global and local RISs, develop a model for the WCG for further review by experts, and consider the RIS sectors with the highest potential in the provincial economy.

CHEC is in the process of developing a repository for project reports.

  • 2019 / 2020 Mr F Kroll from UWC is the lead researcher for the project entitled Co-producing knowledge for resilient food systems in the Western Cape
  • 2018 / 2019 Dr J. Becker (UWC) was the lead researcher on the project, Harnessing the power of machine learning to identify nascent entrepreneurs
  • 2017 / 2018 Professors J. Chipps and A. Padmanabhunni, both of UWC, for the project Developing a contextually-informed psychosocial mobile phone intervention to enhance resilience amongst primary care nurses in the Western Cape Province (NurseCARE)
  • 2016 / 2017 Professor P. Wolski (UCT) for the project entitled Telling stories with data – an information / education platform for visualising current and near-future climate and water resources situation for general public and decision-makers
  • 2015 / 2016 Dr T. Oni (UCT) for the project Health in Housing Policies in the Western Cape Province: an investigation of housing policies to address infectious and non-communicable disease epidemics

Current and recent examples of projects that were supported through funding from the CHEC – WCG Annual Research Grant are listed below:

  • Leach, L (UWC) Prevalence of Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors in Firefighters in the Western Cape
  • De Visser, J. (UWC) Framework for sustaining and building coalitions in municipal councils the Western Cape
  • May, J. (UWC) Engaging civil society organisations in food security government in the Western Cape
  • Chu, K. M. (SU) A needs assessment and design of a sustainable intervention to strengthen care for people with chronic wounds in Khayelitsha sub-district
  • De Lannoy, A. (UCT) A road map for youth: a mentorship intervention about education and career pathways
  • Schalekamp, H. (UCT) Migration and adaptation of the transport sector’s impact on climate change in the Western Cape
  • Bell, D. (CPUT) Carel du Toit Centre (Cape Town): Outcome survey of “their” listening and spoken language approach for children with a hearing loss
  • Heathfield, L. (UCT) Investigating the use of the MiSeq FGx platform for highly degraded DNA samples for the identification of human remains
  • Rabie, S. (SU) Feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness study of Nyamekela4Care: an integrated intervention for addressing the training, empathetic skills, clinical supervision and self-care needs of service provided in resource-constrained settings.

The After-School Game Changer Grant and Symposium

In addition to the general WCG research grants, CHEC also collaborates with the After-School Game Changer Programme of the Western Cape’s Education Department, through the administration of a research programme that aims to support practitioners and researchers to collate and share existing data on good practice related to after-school programmes or extended education.

This collaboration has led to the development of various research reports, as well as an After-School Game Change Symposium that was hosted by Stellenbosch University in October 2020. The Symposium provided a valuable opportunity to bring together actors in the ASP sector with academics and researchers and policy makers, to reflect on research findings and their implications for a more equitable education ecosystem. One of the envisaged outcomes of the Symposium was to build a community of practice of researchers interested in the sector in order to stimulate new research.

View the 2020 report.

Symposium on Gender-Based Violence

On 15 September 2020, the WCG partnered with CHEC to host a virtual Gender Symposium. The objective of the event was to bring together the Western Cape universities’ researchers, government officials and practitioners to build on the existing knowledge and evidence-base on gender issues with the goal to mainstream approaches to gender-based violence in the Western Cape. The event built on previous recent engagements in the WCG to strengthen the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to gender-based violence (GBV). The event was opened by Minister Sharna Fernandez, who is the WCG lead on GBV, while CHEC Board Member and University of Cape Town Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Transformation, Prof Loretta Feris, provided a welcome address on behalf of CHEC.

Speakers from both academia and practice included Prof Thuli Madonsela (University of Stellenbosch), Bridgette Mdangayi (National Business Initiative), Shehnaz Cassim Moosa (City of Cape Town) and Sixolile Ncobo (Commission on Gender Equality) to name but a few.

The City of Cape Town

Origins and purpose of the partnership

Following a successful colloquium with the City of Cape Town in November 2007, a committee was constituted to take this partnership forward through the identification of strategic projects between CHEC and the City of Cape Town. Proposals for projects were developed in the fields of human resources, ICT and the physical environment.

These areas were endorsed at a follow-up meeting with the leadership of the City and the universities on 20 October 2008, at which a Collaboration Protocol was signed. (View the Collaboration Protocol.)

The purpose of the Collaboration Protocol is to:

  • Achieve growth and development related to social, economic and environmental goals within the city’s boundaries and to realise the full potential of the city;
  • Build a more skilled and skilful citizenry, equipped to contribute effectively to the development of our democracy and the growth of the economy;
  • Consolidate Cape Town’s status as a ‘rising urban star’ and the prime centre for higher education in Africa.

While the original Collaboration Protocol has been extended on a three-yearly basis since 2013, the intention of the partnership remains the same, as listed above.

The Standing Committee

This partnership is co-ordinated by a Standing Committee which is jointly chaired by Professor Dina Burger of CPUT for CHEC and Ms Carol Wright, Manager: Development Information, for the City of Cape Town. Representatives from each of the universities sit on the Standing Committee.

Joint Research Programme

The Standing Committee oversees the Joint Annual Research Programme which funds research projects from researchers at the four public universities within the framework of the Programme of Action between CHEC and the CCT. The Standing Committee introduced the first three-year cycle of research grant funding for projects that are aligned to the CCT strategic priorities in 2015/6. As with the CHEC – WCG partnership, both single institutional and multi-institutional projects are funded.

In 2021, and then again in 2022, the CHEC / CCT Joint Standing Committee circulated a research call in line with the current context of the global pandemic and response and recovery imperatives. While the over-arching theme is that of building resilience, university researchers were asked to consider this in terms of the following focus areas:

  • Youth (18 – 35-year-old age groups) – Sport and Recreation; Peace and Security; Education and skills development; Youth Identity and Inclusion; Youth Unemployment; Youth at Risk (including youth vulnerability)

  • Economic Growth and Development – Employment (including employability); Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Design; Informal Economy; Poverty and Inequality (including inclusion)

  • Infrastructure, New Technologies and Sustainability – Infrastructure; Water; New technologies including green technology; Energy including renewable and alternative energy; Transport; Connectivity; Disaster Risk Management; Climate Change; Spatial patterns and enablement

  • Healthy Communities – Safety (including resilience and impacts of urban disasters or changes); Trauma and Violence (including gangsterism, gender-based violence, violence against children and vulnerable groups); Substance Abuse; Informality (including, from the community perspective – the multifaceted aspects of urban informal activity, informal enterprises and informal settlement); Skills development; Inclusion; Healthy Lifestyles, Wellness, well-being; Community Resilience, Pathways for engagement (including for deepening community resilience)

  • Citizenship and Democracy – How can CCT and the universities support each other through enhancing approaches, methods, tools and dialogue in working with and for citizens of Cape Town in the areas of: Engagement; Leadership; Social cohesion and integration; Active citizenship: Citizen generated data and Citizen science?

The 2022 CHEC – CCT research call and the application forms can be found here. Please note that the closing date for submissions is 15 July 2022.

The closing date for the proposals for the 2021 CHEC – CCT grant was 2 July 2021. The Standing Committee discussed the proposals, shortlisting several for further discussion. Those researchers who received the grant were:

Those researchers who received the grant were:

  • Moodley, T. (UWC) Substance use and abuse in marginalised communities in the Western Cape during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Gibbon, V. (UCT) Forensic Pathology with a focus on improving methods of identifying unidentified persons using scientific and visual analysis
  • Sitas, N. (SU) Building resilience through arts-based transformative learning and youth empowerment in a changing climate
  • Waddell, J. (SU) Understanding the value of social infrastructure for building community resilience to compound disasters: Implications for disaster planning and recovery in the Covid-19
Recent examples of projects that were supported through funding from the CHEC – CCT Joint Research Programme are listed below:

  • Cilliers, R. (CPUT) A child-centred approach to urban resilience research: participatory ar-based research with children from a socially vulnerable community
  • Windapo, A. (UCT) Evaluation of the challenges related to project delivery confronting project leaders in the dynamic urban settlement environment
  • Theron, G. (SU) Do better types of respiratory control (Queen Charlotte buff) reduce the infectiousness of patients with tuberculosis?
  • Malgas, R. (SU) ResilienceXNature: Investigating living mulches for small scale farmers
  • Soeker, S. (UWC) Implementing and evaluating a programme to promote resilience amongst out-of-school youth in Cape Town
  • Geiger, M. (SU) Collaborative Development of a Code of Ethics for research with Persons with Disabilities in Cape Town
  • Rother, A. (UCT) Poisoned Communities: Building Environmental Health Practitioners’ Capacity to Promote Sustainable Pest Control in Cape Town’s Poor Communities
  • Wegner, L. (UWC) Developing a Relevant Intervention for Out-of-School Youth in Cape Town: A Positive Youth Development Approach

Accelerate Cape Town (ACT)

CHEC has been a member of Accelerate Cape Town since October 2014. During 2020, the process of developing a closer relationship between CHEC and Accelerate Cape Town has focused on collaboration around a specific project, namely the CHEC Dual Higher Education project. On 12 March 2020, Accelerate Cape Town held a workshop with CHEC where the DHEP was introduced to a well-attended business and university audience. Prof Josef Gochermann, DHEP German partner and expert in dual higher education from Osnabrück University in Germany delivered the keynote on the European model of Dual Higher Education followed by an introduction of CHEC and the DHEP by Prof Martin Oosthuizen and Dr Sharman Wickham respectively. Pursuant to the workshop, Accelerate Cape Town and CHEC held a follow-up webinar with the same audience on 8 July 2020. The aim of the webinar was to provide an opportunity for a follow-up discussion between business and academia, in order to catalyse the engagement by the formal business community in the Western Cape around the DHEP.

Due to the close relationship between the CHEC Dual Higher Education Project and ACT, Dr Antoinette Smith-Tolken currently represents CHEC on the ACT Council. The ACT Council oversees workstreams relating to Government Engagement, Transformation, Leadership Practice, Talent, and the Western Cape Economic Ecosystem. The workstream on the Western Cape Economic Ecosystem is significant for CHEC’s vision of supporting the creation of the Western Cape as a learning region, and provides an enabling mechanism for supporting innovative collaborative projects between CHEC, the regional public and business sectors.

TVET Colleges

Following a meeting on 30 August 2021, CHEC and the DHET Regional Office currently are exploring the following areas of collaboration:

  • Capacity development of senior management at TVET Colleges.
  • Collaborative provision of higher education qualifications, especially Higher Certificates.
  • The development of articulation pathways in specified qualification pathways.
  • The possible sharing of resources.

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