Nurturing lifelong learning in communities through the National University of Lesotho: prospects and challenges
This paper analyses one aspect of a pan-African action research project called ITMUA (Implementing the Third Mission of Universities in Africa). This particular paper draws on the data from that project to explore the National University of Lesotho’s contribution to lifelong learning in its communities. It provides background information on the ITMUA initiative and analyses interview and focus group responses to two case studies in terms of their contribution to lifelong learning. It uses, as its analytical framework, a modified version of Mbigi’s African perspective on the four De Lors’ ‘pillars’, by adding a fifth pillar, courtesy of Torres. The paper argues that community engagement is a two-way process between universities and their wider constituencies with opportunities for mutual lifelong learning. But there are also challenges of understanding and process which must be addressed if the full range of these lifelong learning pillars is to be accommodated within African contexts. The paper provides an introduction to the history of community engagement in Africa as a university mission, followed by a brief discussion of lifelong learning within African perspectives. After describing the particular context of Lesotho, the concept of community service and community engagement in contemporary African contexts introduces the action research project and the case studies. The final part of the paper presents and discusses the research findings.
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