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De Jure

On-line version ISSN 2225-7160
Print version ISSN 1466-3597

De Jure (Pretoria) vol.45 n.1 Pretoria  2012




The institutionalisation of community service and community service learning at South African tertiary institutions: With specific reference to the role of university law clinics


Die institusionalisering van gemeenskapsdiens en gemeenskapsdiensleer aan Suid-Afrikaanse tersiêre instellings: met bepaalde verwysing na die rol van universiteitsregsklinieke



Neels SwanepoelII; Inez BezuidenhoutII

IBA LLD Associate Professor University of the Free State
IIBIur LLM Director UFS Law Clinic




Met die institusionalisering van samelewingsdiens-1 en diensleer aan Suid-Afrikaanse tersiêre instellings, is dit nodig om die rol van Suid-Afrikaanse universiteitsregsklinieke in die lig daarvan te ondersoek. Die artikel ondersoek die omskrywings van gemeenskapsdiens- en diensleer en kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat ten spyte van die feit dat gemeenskapsdiens- en diensleer, en kliniese regsonderrig baie gemeen het, elkeen 'n afsonderlike onderrigmetodologie is. Die tradisionele "werklike kliënt"-model van kliniese regsonderrig wat aan die meeste universiteitsregsklinieke gevolg word, voldoen egter nie per definisie aan óf gemeenskapsdiens- óf gemeenskapsdiensleer vereistes nie. Die artikel wys op die verskille, maar ook die ooreenkomste tussen die drie onderrigmetodologie. Dit beklemtoon die omskrewe vereistes by suiwer gemeenskapsdiens- en diensleer programme, naamlik die van gemeenskapsvennootskappe en die vereiste van wederkerige leer en -onderrig. Ten einde institusionele ondersteuning te verkry is 'n heroorweging van die tradisionele rol van universiteitsregs-klinieke nodig om vas te stel of ware gemeenskapsdiens- en diensleer modules deur universiteitsregsklinieke akkommodeer kan word. Die artikel kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat hulle ideaal geposisioneer is vir hierdie doel, en demonstreer dit aan die hand van 'n gemeenskapsdiensleerprogram wat inkorporeer is in die module bewysreg. Die artikel kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat die insluiting van ware gemeenskapsdiens- en diensleer modules aanvullend tot kliniese regsonderrigprogramme institusionele geldelike steun kan lok tot voordeel van die operasionele kostes van universiteitsregsklinieke.



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* This article is based on a Masters dissertation submitted at the University of the Free State - Bloemfontein by Inez Bezuidenhout under the study guidance of Prof Neels Swanepoel.
1 The University of the Free State, choose in Afrikaans the expression "samelewingsdiens" over "gemeenskapsdiens" because the former is more inclusive. See de Beer "Samelewingsdiensleer in hoër onderwys: Afrikaans vir nie moedertaalsprekers" 2010 Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig 24.         [ Links ]
2 (accessed 2012-08-14).
3 Literature on community service and service learning refers to "academic" community service- and service learning. See for example Eyler "Reflection: Linking Service and Learning-Linking students and Communities" 2002 J of Social Issues 517.         [ Links ]
4 See Netshandama "Community development as an approach to community engagement in rural-based higher education institutions in South Africa" 2010 SAJHE 342. The author points out the interchangeable, but incorrect, use of terminology in regards to various learning and teaching methodologies.
5 See Swanepoel et al " 'Integrating theory and practice in the LLB curriculum: some reflections" 2008 JJS 104. See further Ankersen et al "Applying Clinical Legal Education to Community Smart Growth: The University of Florida Conservation Clinic" in Partnerships for Smart Growth-University-Community Collaboration for Better Public Places (eds Wiewel et al (1984) 68 who wrote: "Universities run on semesters; the real world does not. This poses a fundamental methodological dilemma for all live client clinics, particularly in environmental litigation, which is often complex and driven by events and dockets that are out of the clinician's control. While courts and even opposing parties are frequently willing to work within the parameters of clinics, cases can lie dormant, explode in the middle of final exams, and otherwise frustrate the efforts of clinicians to assure quality experience". It has been our experience that generally clients at university law clinics, as with clients in normal legal practices, require their (student) lawyers to be regularly available. This simply is not always possible with students in a clinical legal education programme at university law clinics.
6 See Amsterdam "Clinical Legal Education - a 21st century approach" 1984 J of Legal Ed 612 who writes on the predominant criticism of legal education generally at the end of the 20th century. On the potential contribution of clinical legal education programmes in legal education, see Bloch "The case for clinical scholarship" 2004 J for Clinical Legal Ed 7. Bloch dispels the perceptions held by many clinicians and others, that because of the practical nature of the work of clinicians, it does not involve "clinical scholarship". For the predominant debates on legal education generally in the 20th century, see Church "Reflections on legal education" 1988 THRHR 153. For the Australian perspectives in regard to introducing clinical legal education, see Campbell "Blueprint for a clinical program" 1991 J of Professional Legal Ed 121. For the American experience, see Condlin "Clinical Education in the Seventies: an appraisal of the Decade" 1983 J of Legal Ed 604. He writes: "In the early years clinical courses were few in number and marginal to the law school curriculum. Traditional faculty opinion was suspicious or negative, resources were patched together from 'soft' sources, and people who directed these programs worked in obscurity and alone". For the UK experience with clinical legal education, particularly its goals, see Duncan "Ethical practice and clinical legal education" 2005 J of Clinical Legal Ed 7.
7 On the role of law clinics in the LLB curriculum, see Vawda "Learning from experience: the art and science of clinical law" 2004 JJS123.
8 See for example, Bezuidenhout Thie symbiotic integration of thieory and practice: a sui generis approach (LLM dissertation 2010 UFS); Steenhuisen Die doelstellings van kliniese onderrig aan 'n regsfakulteit (LLM dissertation 1998 RAU); De Klerk "University Law Clinics in South Africa" 2006 SALJ 929; De Klerk, "Integrating clinical education into the law degree: thoughts on an alternative model" 2006 De Jure 244; De Klerk & Mahomed "Specialisation at a university law clinic: the Wits experience" 2009 De Jure 306; Du Plessis "Access to justice outside the conventional mould: creating a model for alternative clinical legal training" 2007 JJS 44; Haupt "Some aspects regarding the origin, development and present position of the University of Pretoria Law Clinic" 2006 De Jure 229.
9 Mahomed "United in our challenges - should the model used in clinical legal education be reviewed" 2008 JJS 53.
10 Barnisher "The clinical method of legal instruction: its theory and implementation" 1979 J of Legal Ed 67, provides an excellent indication of the clinical method of teaching, especially in terms of the "live client" model of teaching.
11 Bezdek "The Cuny program: interaction of doctrine, practice and theory in the preparation of lawyers" 2009 J of Professional Legal Ed 59 on the simulation model of education.
12 Mahomed 2008 JJS 55. See also Amsterdam 1984 J of Legal Ed 616 on the method of clinical legal instruction.
13 De Klerk et al Clinical Law in South Africa (2006).
14 (accessed 2011-08-04). This definition does not pertain only to law but includes a generic definition which can be applied to all academic programmes.
15 Bender et al "Service learning in the curriculum. A resource for higher education institutions" Council of Higher Education (2006) 22.
16 (accessed 2011-08-04).
17 In terms of the same policy "service" is defined as "... in the context of social transformation" ... "service" at a higher education institution can be defined as a response to social accountability and aimed at addressing communal challenges through the key functions of teaching and research in close co-operation with local communities and the service sector in a spirit of mutuality and reciprocity. On the one hand this encompasses making available the institution's intellectual competence and infrastructure to improve service delivery. On the other hand, it is a focused modification and contextualisation of what is taught, learnt and researched.
18 In terms of the same policy document "community", " ... refers to specific, collective interest groups, conjoined in their search for sustainable solutions to development challenges, that participate or could potentially participate as partners in the similarly inclined community service activities of the UFS, contributing substantially to the mutual search for sustainable solutions to jointly identified challenges and service needs through the utilisation of the full range of resources at their disposal."
19 In terms of the same policy document, "engagement" is defined as " ... continuously negotiated collaborations and partnerships between the UFS and the interest groups that it interacts with, aimed at building and exchanging the knowledge, skills, expertise and resources required to develop and sustain society."
20 Mouton et al "Service learning in South Africa: lessons learnt through systematic evaluation" 2005 Acta Academica 116 118.
21 Mouton et al2005 Acta Academica116 118.
22 See also Lategan 2005 Acta Academica 99 100. According to Sherman "Teaching grassroots democracy through service-learning: lessons from the collaborative teaching/lawyering method of clinical legal education" 1999 Mich J of Community Service Learning 82: "If a lawyer's problem solving is merely an instance of human problem solving, then we must not think about the collaborative teaching/lawyering method of clinical legal education merely as a good way to educate 'law student' problem-solvers, or even 'pre-law student' problem-solvers. Rather, we must think of it [as] a good way to educate citizen problem solvers, using a method that ultimately empowers both the helper and the helped". Naidoo & Devnarian "Service learning: connecting higher education and civil society-are we meeting the challenge?" 2009 SAJHE 935; De Beer 2010 Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig 27.
23 (accessed 2011-08-04). See also Swanepoel et al 2008 JJS 107.
24 Breyfogle "Towards a new framework of 'server' and 'served': de(and re_constructing reciprocity in service-learning" 2006 Int J of Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed 27. See also Furco (accessed 2011-08-04).
25 2006 Int J of Legal Ed 27.
26 Kravetz "Transforming communities: the role of service learning in a community studies course" 2006 Int J of Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed 1 1-49.
27 "Incremental Integration: a successful service learning strategy" 2006 Int J of Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed 43. On the "mutual learning" that community service programmes offer, see Maistry & Ramdhani "Managing tensions in a service-learning programme: some reflections" 2010 SAJHE 561.
28 In this regard, a clear comparison can be drawn between community service learning and street law programmes that developed in South Africa in 1985. According to McQuoid-Mason "Access to justice and the role of law schools in developing countries: some lessons from South Africa: pre 1970 until 1990: Part 1" 2004 JJS 2004 a street law programme is ". a programme designed to train law students and others to make lay people, usually school children, aware of their legal rights and where to obtain legal assistance. It helps people to understand how the law works, how it can protect them, what kind of legal problems they should be aware of, and how they can resolve these problems ... the programme encourages tolerance by making participants argue and experience opposing viewpoints . [Law students] have an opportunity to assist in community development and capacity building." See also McQuoid-Mason & Lotz "Using street law to teach social justice to law students in South Africa" 2005 Human Rights & Non-State Actors47. See also Church "Reflections on legal education" 1988 THRHR 154; Swanepoel et al 2008 JJS 108.
29 Dunlap et al "Reflection-in-action: designing new clinical teacher training by using lessons learned from new clinicians" 2004 Clinical LR 50. We submit that reflection in clinical legal education programmes is more specifically focussed on (a) the legal service rendered, (b) the strategies adopted to serve the legal needs of the client and (c) the expected outcomes of the service. In the clinical legal education reflection paradigm, the values that are hoped to be instilled are also career centred such as the need for professionalism and taking professional responsibility for the client's legal problem. As valuable as this may be from a legal educational perspective, it remains somewhat limited to specific career preparation only. The reflection that accompanies service learning modules aims to achieve the development of civic responsibility and defining the law student's role and value framework within the community that he/she will ultimately serve. It is therefore broader in its outcomes vision towards inculcating skills and values than clinical legal education.
30 Bender et al (2006) 22.
31 Duncan 2005 J of Clinical Legal Ed9.
32 n 29.
33 On an instructional guide to expectations of community and service partners in regards to community service learning, see Naidoo & Devnarain 2009 SAJHE 937.
34 On "pre-field" preparation for a community service learning programme, see Naidoo & Devnarain 2009 SAJHE 937.
35 Eyler "Planning for Effective Reflection: The Reflection Map" 2002 JSI 523 writes on effective reflection, in which is included (a) individual reflection, (b) reflection with classmates, and (c) reflection with community partner. Reflection on community service and service learning ideally ought to be a continuous process including pre-reflection, reflection during the programme and reflection after the programme. Naidoo & Devnarian 2009 SAJHE 938 state: "Reflection serves as a useful tool in attaining meaning from one's service experience. The most common methods of documenting one's experiences are through journals and service learning portfolios. Reflection is a process which is regarded as an integral part of service learning in that it: decreases stereotyping; transforms experience into genuine learning about individual values and goals and, about larger social issues; challenges students to connect service activities to course objectives, and, develop critical thinking and problem solving skills".
36 Kriegler "Domain knowledge and the teaching of creative legal problem solving' 2004 Clinical LR149. The author in relation to the teaching of legal problem solving differentiates between "domain knowledge", such as derived from doctrinal courses and "tacit knowledge", not covered by the former, but an integral part of clinical legal education. We submit that the value of all three teaching methodologies described in this article, conveys this "tacit knowledge" required in "creative problem solving".

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