Community Empowerment

Ekurhuleni Mentors University Students

Questions about planning techniques, development plans and the framework of the City of Ekurhuleni in relation to the precinct planning and its success rate dominated the sixth annual mentoring programme with the University of Venda.

This programme was held for the first time, between 18 and 25 January, virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ekurhuleni, through its City Planning Department, has had an agreement with the university since 2014 and seeks to explore possibilities of collaboration and knowledge sharing engagement that would expose third year Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (B.URP) students to the complexities of metropolitan planning.

This is done through practical exercise simulating the real world realities of planning within a metropolitan context. Participating student are assessed at the end of the programme.

Ekurhuleni’s City Planning Head of Department Palesa Tsita said the partnership offers students from predominantly rural areas exposure and practicality to urban planning.

“The University of Venda, unlike most other planning schools, is located in a predominantly rural setting (Thohoyandou, Limpopo) far from any large cities, and thus the students need to gain exposure to planning in an urban setting that demonstrates much about what they would otherwise learn only in theory. The aim of the programme is to explain the planning environment found within Ekurhuleni, and to put that into practice by devising a ‘precinct plan’ for an identified area and making planning and related proposals,” explained Tsita.

She said that this programme also allowed the B.URP programme to be accredited by the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN), the statutory body for planners in South Africa, meaning that after graduating and gaining the necessary experience, student would be able to register as professional planners.

“Through this partnership, the planners of the City of Ekurhuleni will be able to do refresher programmes with the University of Venda to maintain their registration in the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme of South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN), the statutory body for planners in South Africa within the three-year circle,” she said.

Tsita said for the past six years this partnership has allowed experienced planners in the employ of the City to mentor aspiring planners and to impart some of the knowledge and experience gained through many years of working in the industry.

This collaboration led to the City winning the South African Planning Institute (SAPI) Award in the Mentorship Category in 2016. 

Tsita said Ekurhuleni’s City Planning Department leads in spatial transformation and built environment management in order to bring opportunities to the previously disadvantaged areas.