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Fundraising priorities
Home > Donating to UCT > Fundraising priorities > Promoting good governance & human rights

Promoting good governance & human rights

With a focus on critical social justice issues, these projects express UCT's commitment to harnessing our expertise to bring about change. Such efforts are based on strategic partnerships that engage with communities, that advocate for improved policy, and that prepare students as socially responsive citizens.


(Fundraising needs: scholarships)

The availability of social, economic and political data on Africa has never been greater but these rich resources are far more frequently produced and used by scholars based outside of the continent, rather than by African students and scholars to understand their own societies. Many academics based in Africa struggle to produce analytic policy reports or to publish peer-reviewed research, largely due to the heavy administrative and teaching demands in African Universities, leaving them with little time for conducting in-depth analysis. Quantitative analytical skills also continue to lag far behind skills in qualitative analysis. A partnership between the University of Cape Town and Afrobarometer responds to this need through two flagship initiatives that build capacity among young African academics. The Summer School Programme offers substantive courses in quantitative analytic techniques while the Masters Programme in Democracy and Governance covers a more comprehensive training in the disciplines of research, method, and data analysis.

AIDS Archive

(Fundraising needs: staff)

Southern Africa's efforts to contain and counteract the HIV/AIDS pandemic have produced a valuable resource of information on the disease, its vectors of transmission, prevention, treatment, care and support. To capture the vital historical record associated with this social tragedy, UCT Libraries and the Community Media Trust have embarked on an ambitious partnership to archive and curate over 3000 hours of video footage of HIV/AIDS related media. The goal is to create a searchable online database that will make the information globally accessible for teaching and research. The footage being donated by the Community Media Trust comprises one of the largest audio-visual collections on the AIDS experience in South Africa and internationally. The archive, touted to be the first of its kind in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), contains stories and personal testimonies on AIDS during its manifestation. It also contains extensive material on the Treatment Action Campaign's struggle for access to treatment from 1999 to the present.

Children's Institute

(Fundraising needs: staff, operational costs and equipment)

Children and the issues that threaten their well-being are of primary concern for every society and in South Africa, the challenges we face in protecting the rights of our children are still critical. One in five children remains chronically malnourished and children younger than five account for over 80% of all child deaths. Over one in three children do not have access to basic services such as housing and sanitation. This is the kind of information that reminds us of our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our society. The Children's Institute has, over the past 10 years, served as the 'hands and feet' of child policy and advocacy work in South Africa, identifying the needs of children and giving them a voice. The most visible project of the Children's Institute, the South African Child Gauge, is an annual publication that monitors the situation of our children.

Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit

(Fundraising needs: staff)

Violence against women and children demands immediate and sustained action and this is the mission of UCT's Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU). With one in four women having to flee life-threatening situations in their homes, this fundamental human rights violation needs our combined efforts. The GHJRU unites scholars, NGOs, criminologists and medical practitioners in the fight against this scourge and, through interdisciplinary research, creates social interventions to address violence against women and children. The Unit fulfils its mission by focussing on five core areas: Research, Advocacy, Education, Training, Consultancy Services. These efforts are supported by conducting rigorous, evidence-based research into experiences of and responses to violence against women, particularly exploring the intersections between the health and criminal justice sectors. The development of well-informed, evidence-based advocacy positions in turn support legal and policy reform in South Africa and similarly situated countries.

Graduate School Of Development Policy and Practice

(Fundraising needs: scholarships and chair)

Improvements in governance and accountability, economic policy, and international economic circumstances have led to more consistent growth in the current period than at any previous time in modern African history. In order to sustain and expand on this growth, we must address the urgent and ongoing need to train highly skilled individuals to serve as senior officials in government and government agencies. The Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice rises to this challenge in the area of strategic leadership in government. Its core mission is to train senior officials in government service in Africa and other African countries, as well as to train top graduates for public sector leadership. The School offers an MPhil in Development Policy and Practice, and a programme of executive short courses that provides training for senior officials and elected office bearers. Your investment in the work carried out by the GSDPP will contribute towards the implementation of Africa's key development goals, through the nurturing of highly skilled leaders.


(Fundraising needs: staff and scholarships)

A quality foundation phase learning experience is the critical building block of a successful education career. Laying a firm foundation in a child's early schooling years, particularly with the basic concepts of languages and mathematics, is essential for ensuring academic success in later years. This is the rationale behind the iKwezi Lead Teacher Project which sets out to improve the educational outcomes of Language and Mathematics in the first two years of school education, Grade R (Kindergarten) and Grade 1. The iKwezi programme was piloted between 2011 and 2013, covering 9 schools in the Western Cape Province. The success of this pilot has resulted in the project now being implemented on a district wide level that will cover up to 97 schools and reach 120 teachers in what is known as the Metropole East Education District. It accounts for some of the poorest communities in the province such as Khayelitysha, Kuilsrivier, Blue Downs and other neighbourhoods on the Cape Flats. iKwezi, an isiXhosa word meaning 'star', captures the idea of schools achieving successful education outcomes through the intervention and becoming beacons of hope amidst impoverished socio-economic conditions.

Knowledge Co-Op

(Fundraising needs: staff and operational costs)

As development challenges grow with intensity the world over, higher education institutions such as the University of Cape Town are aware of their need to groom socially responsive leaders. UCT has therefore made a commitment to produce graduates whose qualifications are internationally recognised and locally applicable, underpinned by values of engaged citizenship and social justice. The Knowledge Co-Op at UCT is a programme that helps to put this mission into action by matching student research projects with community based organisations that are in need of skills and research expertise to improve the capacity of their work. The 'science shop' model adopted by the Co-Op is well established in developed countries but has not been widely used in under-resourced contexts such as ours in Southern Africa and the Global South. UCT students, under the supervision of project leaders, are given the opportunity to see the direct impact of their work through interactive engagement with communities that lack development resources. The experience is an invaluable lesson for students who are empowered to practice this kind of innovative leadership in the careers that they will pursue.

Neville Alexander Archive

(Fundraising needs: staff and equipment)

South Africa has recently passed the epic landmark of 20 years since the abolition of Apartheid legislation. One of our keys challenges is to preserve and create access for current and future generations to engage with the legacies of iconic people and their projects that defined the paths to democratic transition. The Neville Alexander Archive is a major body of work within our UCT Libraries Special Collections, documenting the political, intellectual and civic work of this hero in South African history. A digital archival hub of this nature serves to encourage broader national and international participation in ongoing discourse. The infrastructure exhibits both the optimal preservation in the digital era of varied histories and encourages debate around nationhood, citizenship and legacies of liberation. Leaders such as President Nelson Mandela and academics such as Prof Njabulo Ndebele have often declared that the work of archives in the South Africa of today is potentially one of the most critical contributions that can be made to restoration and reconciliation.

Poverty and Inequality Initiative

(Fundraising needs: event)

The current state of poverty in South Africa is such that 47% of the population remain poor, using the national poverty line of $43 per month. This figure has grown from the 1994 measure of 45.6% when the country achieved democracy and freedom from apartheid. After twenty years of democracy, much still remains to be achieved, especially considering that South Africa's unemployment rate stands at 25.4 % and the Gini coefficient measures our inequality at 0.69, demonstrating that the country is one of the most unequal in the world. UCT's Poverty and Inequality Initiative is a national project that sets out to determine what is known and unknown about poverty and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa. The 2012 conference kick-started some national thinking, with over 300 papers submitted from 19 South African universities. The conference, dubbed Carnegie3 in reference to the two previous studies on poverty and inequality in South Africa that were funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, is already matching or even surpassing its predecessors in terms of the input it has received from researchers.

Stella Clark Teacher Award

(Fundraising needs: events)

Despite the challenges faced by education in South Africa there are some schools, even in the most impoverished areas, that still triumph. Their success can be attributed to remarkable school leadership and in particular, dedicated teachers. The Stella Clark Teacher Award acknowledges the work of exceptionally talented teachers as the often unsung heroes who go beyond the call of duty to motivate and inspire their learners to rise above their circumstances. The Award is an initiative of the University of Cape Town in honour of Stella Clark who was an extraordinary lecturer at the University's Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED). At the beginning of each academic year, CHED invites students to nominate high school teachers who they believe helped make it possible for them to pursue their dream of accessing tertiary education. The successful teacher, the school, and the UCT student who nominates the successful teacher, all receive monetary prizes.CHED is delighted with the impact that the Stella Clark Teachers' Award has had, and looks forward to the growing influence it will have in future years.

Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO)

(Fundraising needs: endowment)

Producing graduates with a keen sense of their social responsiveness, as role models and future leaders, is one of the key objectives of the University of Cape Town. In realising this goal, students are motivated to lead or participate in community development programmes that take them beyond the realms of their academic careers. SHAWCO provides opportunities for students to engage in development work around communities that experience socio-economic challenges, particularly in the areas of education and health. SHAWCO dates back to July 1943 when Andrew Kinnear, a medical student at UCT spent his vacation driving an ambulance to earn money that would pay for his medical training. He was appalled by the poverty and lack of medical facilities in certain areas of Cape Town and asked Dr Golda Selzer of the Pathology Department at Groote Schuur Hospital to assist him in establishing a clinic. What started out as a small initiative has now grown into one of the largest student volunteer-driven organisations on the African continent, attracting hundreds of local and foreign visiting students on an annual basis to work on health and education development programmes.

The Rule of Law in Africa Initiative

(Fundraising needs: staff)

Judicial independence is of paramount importance to any constitutional democracy. There are now numerous examples of judicial courage and creativity in the Southern African region, with ground-breaking jurisprudence on complex issues of equality rights and judicial review. Through research efforts of the Rule of Law in African Initiative, there is a great opportunity to build a cadre of modern-thinking, rights-orientated judges in the region, who can learn from each other and support each other. To do so, knowledge capital will be crucial, to ensure that judges in all countries enjoy similar access to legal resources to support their judicial skills and their own growth as judicial professionals. The Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, which leads the Initiative, provides targeted technical support to judges in the region so as to enable them to dispense justice in a timely, efficient and transformative manner. Apart from the placement of UCT law students as research clerks in judiciaries, the Initiative also provides online 'virtual' assistance to judges.

UCT Law Clinic

(Fundraising needs: staff and operational costs)

Navigating through the legislative environment is often a daunting task that requires the aid of legal experts. The reality is that those most in need are those who cannot afford professional fees. The UCT Law Clinic was established in 1970 as a service that provided free legal advice to people in township communities who are often cut off from mainstream facilities. The Clinic therefore provides an essential service to the community, promoting access to justice for those who would not otherwise be able to realise how law can effect social change. As part of this service, the Clinic provides practical training to senior law students from UCT's Faculty of Law. Typical matters dealt with by the Clinic include divorce, custody, breach of contract, motor car accidents and evictions. Apart from the main office on the university campus, the Clinic runs evening satellite centres throughout the academic year in community libraries across some of the most disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape.