15 July 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Chris Grobler, Eunice Qwelane, Bob Tladi, and Elmien Retief on the UFS South Campus during the Monyetla Bursary Project’s Winter School.
Chris Grobler, Eunice Qwelane, Bob Tladi, and Elmien Retief on the UFS South Campus during the Monyetla Bursary Project’s Winter School.

Three members of the Free State Department of Education (FSDoE) recently visited the UFS South Campus to see an example of inclusive education at work: The Monyetla Bursary Project’s sixth Winter School. Monyetla means ‘opportunity’ in Sesotho. We spoke to Bob Tladi (Chief Director: Education Development and Support, FSDoE), Eunice Qwelane (Director: Inclusive and Special-Needs Education, FSDoE), Elmien Retief (Acting CES, Inclusive and Special-Needs Education, FSDoE), and Chris Grobler (Director: Monyetla Bursary Project) to find out why this year’s programme was of special interest to the province’s Department of Education.

According to Eunice Qwelane, the special area of interest for her department was the hard-of-hearing and deaf Grade 12 learners from Bartimea School in Thaba Nchu. She says the Winter School is “an opportunity for these disabled learners to be integrated into the broader school community. For them, it is also a step of progressive development towards their future, as well as preparation for tertiary education.” She adds that it is also an opportunity for them to receive excellent tuition. “Monyetla’s Winter School at the UFS South Campus ensures that subjects are taught by the best possible educators.”

Chris Grobler mentions that additional opportunities were created for these learners to interact with hearing learners. During their time off at the cafeteria or during breaks, they can play games and get to know one another. Hearing learners were also taught basic greetings in South African Sign Language (SASL) and were encouraged to interact with deaf students as much as possible.

He adds: “There is a need for administrators to develop and widen their thinking. Schools that attend the Winter School are from all over the province, not only Motheo District in the Free State. Even more than that, learners visit from all over the country — from the North-West, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern, Western and Northern Cape — because we have built a reputation here. As the University of the Free State, we are doing good towards ALL. It is a compliment for the Free State Department of Education and the university.”

Eunice Qwelane concludes: “We really appreciate what the UFS is doing, because within the department we do not have winter camps that cater for visually or hearing-impaired learners. The university, in collaboration with the Monyetla Bursary Project, is solving an existing problem and bridging a gap in the system. It is an inspiration for these learners, because they can move away from isolation. This is inclusivity at its best and inclusivity in action that the UFS is bringing to us as a department, and we really appreciate that.”

Other services rendered at Winter School 

1) Help learners apply to UFS (feeder programme of matrics for UFS in collaboration with Schools Partnership Project at South Campus)
2) NBT application assistance
3) Funding opportunities, application assistance
4) Job shadowing / internships, partnerships with companies and sponsors
5) South African Sign Language (SASL) interpreting at Computer Lab
6) Simoné Hendricks: SASL Specialist interprets SASL in Maths and Accounting
7) D6 School Communicator — download teaching resources used during Winter School

Winter and Saturday Schools: Facts

  • 2007: Saturday School started with 300 learners and five subjects
  • 2019: This has grown to 1 500 learners and 15 subjects in 2019
  • 2008-2011: Gr 12 learners express a need for further opportunities to improve their skills in key subjects such as Maths, English, Science, and Computer Literacy
  • 2012: Winter School is started by Monyetla Bursary Project, with the aim of linking corporate sponsors with deserving underprivileged learners
  • 2019: Winter School has now grown to be a multi-province drawcard to the UFS South Campus

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