Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA)

Changing African Universities into Pivots for Sustainable Development in Communities

Lead Organization

Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA)

Bellville, Province of the Western Cape, South Africa


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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Sub-Saharan Africa has its fair share of sustainability challenges. To engineer homegrown solutions will require an infusion of intellectual, moral and project leadership to ignite the latent potential of communities. Universities in the region already play a role, but are ready for participating in a collective strategy for scaled impact.The consortium will share its existing innovations and experiences in order to scale practical, sustainable, high-impact solutions. Our blueprint has a basket of solutions (21 work packages) to assist universities to contribute to the SGD’s and development.Scaled student and faculty engagement in academic programmes and research initiatives across a wide range of fields and communities will place universities at the heart of economic and social renewal in the region. Through this intervention 100&Change will bring new hope to disenfranchised communities, making universities relevant in an African 4.0 context (12) and impacting the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Problem Statement

As creators of knowledge, gatekeepers of existing and emerging knowledge, and the custodians of new knowledge and emerging knowledge, universities acknowledge they have to play a leading role as key drivers of change.Given the central concern for sustainability in an increasingly interdependent world, education and knowledge has to be deemed to be for the global common good. The creation of knowledge, and its control, acquisition, validation, and use, is a collective endeavor. Many universities articulate their understanding that building sustainable futures through pursuing the objectives of the Global Goals can only be achieved with the full contribution of universities through research, teaching and community service. Many community service-learning projects at universities are already addressing the SGD’s but the outcomes and impact are local and tend not to be recorded or shared. The needed collective effort to ensure that we change the way we live and make a living, and how we educate and inform others for future sustainability is hampered by a serious lack of funding. Scaling of good practices and the associated roll-out, monitoring, evaluation and reporting in universities need to be resourced.This project seeks to harness the willingness and mandate of universities to share what they know and have learned, through reciprocal relationships with community partners. Collective knowledge and mandate to train future leaders positions universities as key partners to attain the ultimate outcomes of the SDGs. (4).

Solution Overview

We propose to share frameworks for effective governance and management, to create communities of practice and stimulate scholarship of engagement and community service by providing access to the knowledge to where universities can and are contributing to the SGD’s and development. There are various partner universities in each of the organizations that have already progressed on a variety of elements of the SDG’s and Africa’s Agenda 2063, either within community engagement or sustainability reporting that can be brought into a basket of tried and tested solutions to be shared among the broader sector in the SADC. Our collective solutions will stimulate co-operation and collaboration between universities in southern Africa around citizenship; environmental literacy, and community engagement, early childhood development and other; by using the ‘each-one teach-one’ concept and growing this exponentially over 5 years in order to strengthen the focus of universities/HEIs in Africa on the SDGs) Impact will be that we harness university Community Engagement, Engaged-research-and-teaching-and-learning by a significant contribution to attainment of the SGD’s. The project will increase the impact of universities on attainment of all SGDs at its widest coverage for beneficiaries in the region and ultimately the world. We shall use both log frame and Cynefin & Sensemaker ( as impact measurement tools and shared databases to track implementation and reporting from our partners. The innovation of the extraction/ linking of service activities into the various goals will require software adaptations that could provide solutions worldwide to report on SGD’s.

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