School of Built Environment & Development Studies

SOBEDS Honours Students Execute Skills Audit on the Homeless


Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya, Academic Leader and Associate Professor in the School of Built Environment, and Development Studies recently took a fieldtrip to the Durban CBD with his honours class to conduct a skills audit among the homeless.

Ngcoya said comprehension of real-life policy implications is an integral part of his pedagogical approach to this course. As such, he develops partnerships with various thinkers, practitioners and organisations working on the themes pertinent to the module. 

He took his students to two private homeless shelters in the city to participate in interviews of the homeless conducted by City People researchers as part of his teaching strategy. ‘I am hoping to inspire students to make the connections between the theoretical matter we read in class and their implications for society,’ he said. 

One of Ngcoya’s students, Ms Anele Mchunu said these types of events accommodate a different style of learning for students who struggle to follow classroom learning, needing visual stimulation for better understanding. During the interviews, she discovered that many homeless people no longer have the means to improve their lives because of the crippling effects of living on the streets. 

Another discovery by Ngcoya is that many homeless people have various skills and educational qualifications and can contribute to society. ‘While drug addiction was a problem for many of them, learning about how they were slowly absorbed into the world of substance abuse was also quite revealing.’ 

Ngcoya proposed the utilisation of vacant state-owned buildings to address issues of homelessness, adding that a ‘lack of political will and policy; colonial and apartheid bylaws; as well as our collective negative attitude towards the homeless are also key contributors to this problem.’

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