Community service included in Rhodes course

Rhodes University students are getting involved in weekly community service, which is the practical component of the Intetho ZoBomi philosophy course.

Rhodes University community service
Community service, part of the Intetho ZoBomi course, has a positive effect on primary school students. (Image: Rhodes University)

Chili Kier
Rhodes University has broken new ground by being one of the first tertiary institutions to introduce a weekly community service into one of its courses.

The Intetho ZoBomi philosophy course gets students to mentor children from underprivileged schools.
Intetho ZoBomi, which means existential conversations in isiXhosa, prompts students to question the society they live in and form opinions on issues such as racism or patriarchy so that they are equipped to dismantle it.

The course encourages discussions on current issues too, such as service delivery or sexual violence. ZoBomi became a formally recognised subject at Rhodes in 2016, before which it was only available as a semester course.

For the community

ZoBomi is unusual because of the way in which it is structured. It includes the usual daily lectures and weekly tutorials, but it also offers community service hours at underprivileged schools in the surrounding area.

Rhodes University community service project team building
Through getting involved in the local community, the course promotes unity and team building. (Image: Rhodes University)

The community service component falls under the mandate of Service-Learning, which is focused on the mutual learning experience. The aim of Service-Learning is to combine meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning and critical reflection.

Students take on two roles when doing community service. The first is mentorship, guiding children up to the age of 15 on academics, goals and ambitions in life and how it can be achieved.

The second is to tutor children to improve their English skills. It aims to build a solid foundation on which the children can continue to hone their English writing and speaking abilities. The focus is on English because it is the language of instruction in most institutions and workplaces.

Students praise the subject

Rhodes University community service mentorship
A mentorship programme is facilitated by university students for matriculants as part of the Intetho ZoBomi course. (Image: Rhodes University)

Annuschka Silence, a first year ZoBomi student is delighted with the subject. “ZoBomi created a space for me to relieve the stress from other subjects, because helping people helps me to feel at peace,” she said.
Rhodes student and ZoBomi ZoBomi tutor, Phumelele Nkomozake encourages students to take the course as it not only helps underprivileged students to grasp tricky concepts, but it “provides an opportunity for introspection and self-discovery”.

Through this course, university students are encouraged to take a second look at themselves and see how they can uplift others who may not have the same access to the basic facilities and resources.

Sources: Rhodes University

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