NMU, Ubuntu Pathways to collaborate for social change

Nelson Mandela University vice-chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa, centre, discusses the partnership with Ubuntu Pathways MD Tarryn Mthimkhulu, left, and its deputy president, Gcobani Zonke, at the Ubuntu Pathways Campus in Zwide
REACHING OUT: Nelson Mandela University vice-chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa, centre, discusses the partnership with Ubuntu Pathways MD Tarryn Mthimkhulu, left, and its deputy president, Gcobani Zonke, at the Ubuntu Pathways Campus in Zwide
Image: SUPPLIED

In an effort to address social challenges, Nelson Mandela University is to partner with Ubuntu Pathways, a non-profit organisation providing health, educational and social support to communities in Gqeberha townships.

Founded in 1999, Ubuntu Pathways aims to break the cycle of poverty and has grown into a thriving community institution based in Zwide.

Ubuntu Pathways and the university are working on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on areas of possible collaboration involving NMU’s hubs of convergence.

The hubs, which are being set up, are physical spaces where the university meets community members to engage on common platforms to find solutions to practical problems.

The Ubuntu Campus has a state-of-the-art paediatric-HIV medical facility, an early childhood development programme and a primary school providing world-class education for 222 children aged two to nine.

The Ubuntu Clinic has an integrated approach to health-care provision, offering a wide range of services that include primary and preventive healthcare, HIV treatment and psychosocial services.

NMU vice-chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa said the model was similar to the university’s interprofessional education model, where health sciences students train in an integrated manner.

First-year NMU medical students will go out into the field,  which usually only happens in students’ fourth year of study, Muthwa said.

“Our model of the medical school is based on our understanding of how a university that trains health sciences students should approach health sciences education.

“It is to understand the burden of disease, to understand the issues from the vantage point of communities and not to have a sanitised approach to health-care response, but to have responses that are informed by the realities of the communities,” Muthwa said.

“We also pride ourselves on the interprofessional training model, which will see medical students, social workers, pharmacists, dieticians and human movement sciences students training together in practical spaces like these,” she said.

Ubuntu’s MD, Tarryn Mthimkhulu, said the Covid-19 pandemic had driven home the need for deep, community-wide reforms.

“To catalyse meaningful transformation on this scale, no one institution can be effective in isolation. 

“We would like the university to become part of a community hub of convergence, where resources are shared and thus most efficiently deployed to contribute towards social change,” Mthimkhulu said.

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