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What is Service-Learning?

“…a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.” USA National Commission on Service-Learning

The National and Community Service Act of 1990 (USA) suggests Service-Learning as:

• Promoting learning through thinking about how to go about implementing positive change
• Providing an opportunity to use skills and knowledge in real-life situations
• Extending learning beyond the classroom
• Fostering a sense of caring for others
• Providing structured time for students to reflect

Community-Service versus Service-Learning

Community Service

If individuals occasionally help other students with homework in an afterschool program:

  ...they are providing a service to the community as volunteers...


When individuals sit down with students struggling with academics, analyze what they found to be the challenges facing the stuggling students at school and at home, share the results and offer suggestions for the neighborhood to increase success in school, and then reflect on their experience...

THAT is service-learning!

Note! Service-learning can be organized and offered by community organizations with learning objectives or structured reflection activities for their participants. Service-Learning is not just for studnets in school!

A Service-Learning Example:

Girl Scout Brings Gold to South Africa’s Youngest Students

Thabisile kindergarten-BEFORE_Thabisile kindergarten with child looking at camera_Thabisile kindergarten-AFTER

Christina visited South Africa in 2007. While there she was struck by the poor conditions of many kindergartens (Grade R) in the townships. In these schools, Grade R is funded by the community and in poor communities like Soweto, this means rudimentary facilities and equipment. Christina spent a year reflecting on how she could make a difference, culminating in her raising enough money to renovate and create a model kindergarten room in Soweto on her return trip to South Africa in 2008.

Christina Vanech with children in new kindergarten room _Christina Vanech in Sout Africa-Girl Scouts Gold Award

Read the full story about Christina's model kindergarten room here...


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