The aim of this study is to discuss how South African higher education (HE) is a mechanism to enable global citizenship. This qualitative secondary analysis study draws on retrospective qualitative case study data generated by multiple partners (parents, teachers, young people, HE students, researchers) in a long-term community engagement (CE) study in a remote high school. Thematic analysis of data sources (verbatim transcriptions of participatory reflection and action discussions, and visual data) enabled in-depth multi-partner descriptions on the utility of CE to address social and cognitive injustices given extreme structural disparity and social disadvantage. It was evident that, across CE partner groups, HE involvement was viewed as a mechanism to promote the positive social development of young people. In particular, when young people were included in CE, their social development was supported as they were afforded opportunities to develop capacity as future leaders and in terms of language development in multilingual spaces. We argue that CE can support progress towards social and cognitive justice by offering alternate views and beliefs to young people that promote their global citizenship practices.