Community relations is an indispensable factor for growth and development especially in a fast-changing society like Nigeria. Community relations refers to the methods that companies use to create and manage relationships with the communities in which they operate. A company engages in Community relations by taking an active role in the well-being of their community.
From the general study I have had, Educational Activities is one of the common community relations activities. This article therefore focuses on the role of community relations to higher educational institutions.
According to UNESCO (2009), universities should create mutually beneficial partnerships with communities and civil societies to facilitate the sharing and transmission of appropriate knowledge. Essentially, the primary functions of universities are teaching, learning, research and community engagement (Waghid 2002). While teaching and learning is done within the confines of the universities, community engagement involves taking new knowledge produced and physically applying it to real life situation with the aim of positively impacting the lives of the people at the community level (Sanoff, 2000).
Therefore, it is an impetus for educational growth and development in Nigeria. It is imperative to adopt community relations in order not just to enjoy a mutual relationship but to boost academic growth and development.
Taking a look at the community engagements as one of the primary functions of universities cited by Waghid 2002, there are some community relations initiatives;
- Providing land for school buildings, sports field, farms or gardens
- Water supply, clinics, hospitals, library, etc.
- Provision of materials and furniture
- Under research, communities can provide opportunities to for study of local activities and customs.
Higher institutions can do a vice-versa activity;
- Higher institutions can assist its host community in leasing out halls and classrooms for adult education and community occasions.
- Also, the higher institutions can invite members of the host community to take a facility tour round the school, as well as involve them in programs, to aid education and information.
By providing services to the communities, serving the society and collaborating with it, universities emphasize learning at the local community level. There have been hitches to this relationship involving;
- Overcoming differences between and among academics and the community.
- Overcoming competing priorities and institutional differences
- Engaging and maintaining community involvement.
Despite the challenges, there are still a number of case studies. Here are a few;
According to Walterhouse (2000), Derby University is an interesting example. It provides significant intellectual help to community members who are involved in organizing rural tourism and developing small business.
Another is the role of Kaunas University of Technology in community development. An example of the initiative is a project “Kaunas as a Learning City”, which is being implemented jointly with the Kaunas municipality. The project is based on the fact that the Learning city creates for its habitants, communities and organizations an effective and favourable learning environment and ensures that citizens are constantly learning in today’s technology-based world.
Summarily, from this article, it has been pointed out that higher educational institutions have communities where they operate, and their relationships in their host community will lead to development. We have been able to deduce even from the case studies, that universities carry out community relations through providing significant intellectual help to the community members in diverse ways (which can be in terms of adult education and other community services).
Also, it has been deduced that communities can apply community relations to higher educational institutions, through the provision of materials and furniture, as well as opportunities for the study of local activities and customs.
Community relations really has a lot to play on the effect on higher educational institution, that is the main reason it has to be taken seriously.
I hope you enjoyed reading this much as i do.