COMBER focuses on the generation of theory about how to engage with communities to enhance their holistic wellness. Holistic wellness encompasses mental, physical and spiritual components. While the focus of this niche will be primarily on generating theory about how to engage with communities to promote psycho-social wellness, our work is framed within systemic theories that emphasize the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.
The Minister of Basic Education has publicly claimed that education in South Africa is in crisis, despite the fact that South Africa spends more of its budget on education than many of the other African countries who perform better in international benchmark tests. The reasons for this dismal performance are complex and manifest at all levels of education but the scenario will not improve without addressing the social factors that negatively impact on the learning and development of all role players within the system. The JET (2011) report on education stresses the importance of understanding how social factors manifest themselves in the education system. In line with the National Development Plan (2012) our research will focus on ways to help education communities to minimise and deal with the effects poverty, exclusion and inequality that are so characteristic of the greater part of our education system.
The research generated by this entity will respond in large measure to the NRF call for community engagement research, for the production of relevant, practical and contextualised knowledge and theory about (i) the processes and dynamics of community engagement by tertiary researchers; and (ii) specific psycho-social issues that concern education communities and how these can be addressed in a participatory way to encourage sustainable change within the system.