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Bridging the gap of the cultural divide through international collaborative partnerships. Priscilla S Daniels, Tracey-Ann Adonis and Karin Benjamin TWK PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATION OF 10 YEARS NETHERLANDS, 16 JUNE 2014. INTRODUCTION. Higher education institutions operate in a global environment

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Bridging the gap of the cultural divide through international collaborative partnerships
Bridging the gap of the cultural divide through international collaborative partnerships

Priscilla S Daniels, Tracey-Ann Adonis and

Karin Benjamin



INTRODUCTION international collaborative partnerships

  • Higher education institutions operate in a global environment

  • HEIs commit to internationalisation as they realise that contemporary challenges relating to several spheres of social, economic and health development cannot be addressed without consideration of the global perspective

BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT international collaborative partnerships

  • A community request from Directorate of Community Services in the Theewaterskloof municipality – graduate from UWC (10 years ago)

  • Requested placement of Community and Health Science students with aim of assisting the Directorate in achieving its deliverables in the services sector

  • Visiting delegation from Hogeschool Arnhem en Nijmegen at UWC – also interested in placing students in this rural area.

  • Model of partnership – was envisioned

BACKGROUND international collaborative partnerships



South Africa

Theewaterskloof Municipality

COMMONALITIES BETWEEN HAN AND UWC international collaborative partnerships

THE TWK PROGRAM international collaborative partnerships

  • Collaborative international partnership model

  • HEI from developed country (NETHERLANDS), 2 universities (UWC & CPUT) and a community college (ELF) from a developmental state (SOUTH AFRICA)

  • TWK municipality the main beneficiary (we recognise the benefits for the educational institutions) and the key deliverables of the TWK Program are aligned with the Integrated Development Plan of the municipality

  • Monitoring and evaluation

  • Sustainable Partnership development =

  • important aspect

OFFICIAL GOALS OF THE TWK Project international collaborative partnerships

  • To implement/Initiate projects to improve the quality of lives and to alleviate poverty local communities within Theewaterskloof,

  • To transfer skills and to add additional capacity to the municipality,

  • To enhance the capacity of students and expose them to multi cultural communities through service learning,

  • That as far as possible the IDP should inform the projects initiated through this partnership

CORE COMPONENTS OF THEEWATERSKLOOF IDP international collaborative partnerships

RESEARCH QUESTION international collaborative partnerships

What strategy/ies of partnership development in the TWK partnership project was/were most effective in equipping the students with a unique intercultural experience that benefitted the TWK municipality in accordance with the IDP deliverables of this municipality?

RESEARCH APPROACH (1) international collaborative partnerships

  • Qualitative ResearchParadigm

  • Ethnographic CASE STUDY Design

    • To gain insight into the perceptions of the partners

    • To provide an in-depth description of this particular partnership

  • The form of reasoning was inductive as we worked without any set notion of inquiry

RESEARCH APPROACH (2) international collaborative partnerships

  • A purposeful sample of partners in the TWK project was selected which included TWK municipality representatives, HAN & UWC academics, students & area fieldworkers

  • The value systems of the partners were acknowledged in the research process.

  • Some of the limitations of this study were that the results from this case study are only a representation of this sample partnership as well as the inductive reasoning process however the results from this process could lead to further intensive research on this partnership.

DATA GATHERING AND ANALYSIS international collaborative partnerships

  • Unstructured interviews

  • Observations

  • Reports, minutes of meetings

  • Site visits

  • Student reflection

  • A grounded theory approach was utilised in the data analysis.

  • Inferential validity and reliability of the data was ensured by data triangulation of data gathering tools

ANALYSIS THEMES AND KEY RESULTS (1) international collaborative partnerships

  • THEME 1: International Collaboration to benefit communities, universities and students

    • “Add value through the student service learning to the existing rural community development initiatives and the Integrated Development Plan in the towns of the TWK Municipality. Encourage, assist and participate in research and advocacy initiatives in the area with the collaboration and approval of the local stake-holders.”

ANALYSIS THEMES AND KEY RESULTS (2) international collaborative partnerships

THEME 2: Strategic partnerships are guided by strategic processes

  • “The results are overseen during a regular workshop attended by the TWK Mayor, Municipal Manager and other affected senior officials as well as representatives of the partners in Civil Society.”

  • “It is important to share expectations from the beginning and to prime a good communication process.”

  • “Finding a common goal. Sharing values and principles. Agreeing on the role and responsibilities of each party and respecting such separate roles and responsibilities. Equal partners and mutual benefit should be present. Partners need to recognise that they need each other. Strong emphasis on project management and a structured and organised relationship.”

ANALYSIS THEMES AND KEY RESULTS (3) international collaborative partnerships

  • THEME 3: Lessons learnt through engagement

  • “This project should never stop because however small contribution we make to this program makes a big difference in the lives of those who desperately need the assistance of the students and this program.”

  • “A sound working arrangement is required and goodwill between the parties are not enough. Obviously relationship management is also critical… you need to share value, principles, expectations, and respect.”

  • “There must be accountability and any possibility that each other’s time and resources will be wasted should be avoided. Celebrate success but also be honest and truthful about problems and failure and deal with it.”

  • “It is simply a matter now of maintaining the current good results. Improved coordination between council and HAN projects should however be explored”

  • “It is important to have understanding of and respect for each others’ differences in cultures and it is important to manage relations as well.”

DISCUSSION international collaborative partnerships

DISCUSSION international collaborative partnerships

  • Mediation and improved communication and information sharing resulted in an open and transparent process that was based on consultative processes and resulted in collaborative planning, action and was guided by the TWK municipality in collaboration with the project management team. (Though there was a MOU there were implementation challenges and through trial and error clarity of roles emerged).

  • The process of clarification didn’t happen immediately and strengthened the partnership through several strategic planning sessions, new MOU’s were developed, feedback and continuous monitoring and evaluation was identified as a strong component.

  • Partnerships between HEI’s reduce risks, sharing of financial costs and tap local influence and expertise

  • As the office is now located in the TWK municipality, the partnership is an infused principle of community needs directed by the municipality through the IDP

RECOMMENDATIONS international collaborative partnerships

  • There should be ample opportunities for communication and a structure of communication must be developed so that role players and partners are informed at every step of the project. Regular meetings with all role players are therefore required.

  • Management structures need to work in order to facilitate the development and progress of the partnership project. These need to be put in place and a set time for management meetings need to occur.

  • There should be training in service-learning for all community, academic and services partners so that there is a shared understanding of the collaborative process and purposes for the partnership.

  • Clarification of roles of each partner should be collaboratively developed and agreed upon.

  • Decision making should be transparent in order to maintain trust relationship in partnerships.

  • A facilitator is necessary that mediates the cultural differences

CONCLUSION international collaborative partnerships

"I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it's humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people." - Eduardo Galeano

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead