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School Engagement Project

All about the DUT SEP:
  • The DUT School Engagement Project, launched in 2018, is a collaborative project involving 6 partner schools, approximately 30 DUT students and a number of staff members from various DUT departments, as well as external partners.

  • Upon implementation in 2018 the project was introduced in 4 local schools, in 2024 the DUT School Engagement Project is currently being implemented in 6 local DUT Feeder schools: Hunt Road Secondary School, Sastri College, Durban Girls High School, Centenary Secondary School, Overport Secondary School, Bechet High School which are participating in our 7 project pillars and additional schools that participate in some of our project pillars, with a vision of increasing our number to 8 partner schools in 2025 to participate in all 7 pillars of the project.

  • Using a values-based approach, learners at our partner schools and students at university are offered the opportunity to become leaders and change makers, which in turn meets a crucial need in South Africa today.

“We cannot talk about sustainable development without the active involvement of youth. When we give young people real influence in our world, they will create a better future.”

- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

  •  The Durban University of Technology embraces, as one of its key strategic pillars, the tenet of being an engaged University. With this, comes a commitment to be socially responsible and responsive to local, regional, and national needs. The DUT School Engagement Project is an example of engagement in action and fully embodies this all-important but often neglected responsibility. It allows for DUT students and staff to be engaged in a worthwhile community initiative which enhances the education of school learners and university students.2. Key Pillars of the Project

 Key Pillars of the Project

The seven pillars of the project are points of leverage that support one another to create inclusive and invigorated educational environments where skilled, ethical leaders can emerge.

It is on this premise that the project seeks to impact young people in a holistic and multidimensional manner through the seven project pillars:


 • Tuition in the gateway subjects

• Peace clubs

• Social entrepreneurship clubs

• Talent show

• Sports tournament

• Career guidance

• Health and wellbeing


 The seven pillars of the project are points of leverage that support one another to create inclusive and invigorated educational environments where skilled, ethical leaders can emerge.

Project Outcomes

​​ Key Achievements in 2023


SAERA (South African Education Research Association) Conference

  • Zwakele Ngubane (Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations) and Berenice de La Croix (Project Manager) received a warm and engaged response to their presentation of the DUT School Engagement Project at the 2023 SAERA Conference under the following title:

Crafting Socially Conscious Leaders: A Case Study of a School Engagement Project in KwaZulu-Natal


Development of Employability Skills in DUT Students

  • The DUT students involved in the DUT School Engagement Project develop employability skills through ongoing coaching and monthly meetings, as well as the application of their skills through tutoring in our partner schools, reflecting, and submitting monthly reports.

    The reflections from DUT students, below, highlight the skills, qualities and values being developed through the project:

Improvement in the Gateway Subjects

  • In each of our partner schools, twice a week, learners are offered revision classes by DUT tutors in Maths, Science, and Accounting at the grade levels determined by our partner schools. This ensures that possibilities for further study in tertiary institutions, and career opportunities, are enhanced. The academic results of all learners participating in DUT tutorials are tracked by the school coordinators:

    In our learner survey of 2023, learners were asked “How would you rate the impact of the School Engagement Project in supporting your development as a person?” The average rating was 8.5 /10

Peace Clubs

  • In each of our partner schools, twice a week, DUT students facilitate the development of Peace Clubs to fulfil the following functions: the growth of conflict resolution skills to harness diversity and reduce school violence, so that learning can take place in a safe and supportive environment; and community outreach projects to increase peace and wellbeing.

Social Entrepreneurship Clubs

  • In each of our partner schools, twice a week, DUT students facilitate the development of social entrepreneurship clubs to implement workable solutions to problems facing their school communities and leaving a legacy in the process. In this way learners are prepared for tertiary education and the world of work by developing entrepreneurial competencies.

    To graduate, and receive certificates of completion, all Social Entrepreneurship Clubs complete the following milestones:

    • School Community Needs Analysis

    • Business Plan of Proposed Project

    • Report on Fundraising Activities

    • Report on Project Implementation

    • Final Presentation on Impact Achieved

Project Events:

  • Talent Shows

    In collaboration with the DUT Cooperative Education and Drama Departments, we host our annual Talent Show which promote the arts and offer the opportunity to our young people to be on stage, showcase their talent and be applauded by a 500-strong audience. From the feedback we receive from our partner schools, we believe that the Talent Shows are a huge success.

  • Sports Tournament

    We host our annual DUT Sports Tournament in collaboration with the DUT Sports Administration Department, to promote sports, health and wellbeing, relationship building and leadership development. We focus on soccer (for boys and girls), netball and E sports. From the feedback we receive from our partner schools, we believe that the Sports Tournament achieves its goals.

  • Career Guidance

    With our project partners (Bridge and Tomorrow’s Leaders in Training) we offer two Career Days annually, allowing learners to plan their careers effectively so that they are aligned, motivated and successful in their tertiary studies. The learners participated in four interactive modules and achieved the following learning outcomes:

    • Complete a self-assessment to understand yourself better and plan your career.

    • Interact with Career Guidance facilitators who will answer your personal career questions.

    • Create a personal vision for your life.

    • Use self-leadership to create the future you want.

    • Learn about the different career options available to you.

    • Understand the current World of Work and how to excel in it.

    • Explore entrepreneurship as a meaningful career option.

    • Discover the importance of building your CV while still at school.

    • Improve your EQ skills and experience increased motivation in your life.

    • Plan your career around your strengths and passions.

    • Discover the different study options available in tertiary institutions and the required Grade 12 results.

    • Find out how to apply to tertiary institutions.

    • Find out how to apply for financial assistance.

  • Health and Wellbeing

    In 2023 we launched a 7th project pillar, Health and Wellbeing, in collaboration with the DUT Food and Nutrition Department and Corporate Affairs, to enhance learner wellbeing as this affects every aspect of leadership, life skills and academic development in our learners. This pillar includes a healthy, indigenous cooking competition - DUT Super Chefs - that took place on 23 September (just before Heritage Day). Approximately 100 learners, teachers, parents 21 and other guests attended DUT Super Chefs 2023 and it was a rich, meaningful and enjoyable event.

Project Impact

In our annual surveys, project partners have consistently indicated the significant contribution that the project is making to academic progress as well as the development of entrepreneurial and values-based leadership skills.

At our partner schools, they are extremely grateful for the DUT School Engagement Programme as it effectively and consistently fills in the educational gaps outlined below: In particular:

  1.  The DUT programme provides free tuition to learners in the gateway subjects in grades 10, 11 and 12. This provides much needed extra tuition and revision for the learners in an effective manner that is coordinated by our school teachers. This effectively means that the DUT tutors and our schoolteachers are working together to provide the best academic support for our learners (who otherwise would not be able to afford this). We are also happy to report that our learner achievement in these subjects has improved steadily and our bachelor passes are improving (specific statistics can be made available).

  2. The DUT programme provides in-depth and personal exposure to tertiary programmes. This close association allows learners greater access to information about their chosen career fields.

  3. The DUT programme strengthens our aim of holistic education. While academics are important, social and entrepreneurial skills are also important. The peace club embraces divergent learner interests and explores mechanisms of peaceful coexistence. The social entrepreneurial club is more specific in its aim of financial education and independence. In the previous year, this club raised funds and established a peace garden on our school premises.

  4. Opportunities to showcase learner talents are always welcomed at schools. Public schools like ours are hard pressed to organize such events. The DUT programme successfully hosted a sports tournament and a talent show. The keen interest and participation by our learners indicated that the learners thoroughly enjoy.

What makes the DUT programme a good fit for our schools is that their educational philosophy is value-based. They go beyond technical academic skills and extend their activities to enhance the holistic development of the learner. In broad terms, they assist in empowering the youth with value –based development – something our future will need. Examples of these are punctuality (of the DUT team) and the learners, commitment, dedication and passion for improvement, reliability, and consistency (classes during exam period etc.) and integrity (mutual respect).

The DUT school engagement programme has proved to be a valuable and essential partner to us as a public school. It is an excellent example of public-private partnership where the funds are effectively used to empower a generation of young adults. It is making a significant contribution to education in particular, and to the development of this country in general.”


The DUT School Engagement Project is positively impacting around 2500 lives each year through the 7 project pillars. This report serves as a testament to the dedicated support and efforts of our funders, partners, the DUT community, school management teams, tutors and learners. Our commitment to achieving our project goals remains unwavering, and we look forward to your continued support in our journey of research, innovation, and community engagement.

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