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Dealing with the trauma of sexual assault

University life is supposed to be one of the most enjoyable times of a person’s life. Unfortunately, for some this is the time they may fall victims to sexual assault.
 
The term sexual assault has shockingly become normalised in society and has become a common threat to university students. The University of the Free State (UFS) through its sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence policy strongly condemns any form of sexual abuse. Dr Melissa Barnaschone, Director at Student Counselling and Development (UFS) says the university cares for the health and wellbeing of students and provides necessary support for victims of sexual assault and trauma.
 
It is unfortunate that sexual assault comes with many misconceptions that often shift responsibility and blame from the perpetrator to the victim. “It is important to always remember that it is not your fault; do not blame yourself,” says Dr Barnaschone. Helpguide.Org: Trusted guide to mental & emotional health says sexual assault leaves psychological wounds and sometimes long-lasting health challenges. Such trauma can severely affect a person’s ability to cope with daily academic, social, professional, and personal responsibilities.
 
Any sexual violence is a crime and as a victim, you are not to blame. Healing is achieved when you start to believe that you are not responsible for what happened to you. Visit Helpguide.Org for more information on post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma recovery tips and other related topics.

On this video clip, Dr Barnaschone shares some guidelines to deal with sexual assault and trauma: 

News Archive

A bridge to the future for school leavers
2009-03-04

 
Ms Merridy Wilson-Strydom, Research Consultant at the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development at the UFS. 
 Photo: Supplied)

Thousands of learners in the country’s high schools fail to qualify for post-school education and training. Now a unique project funded by the Ford Foundation and being piloted at the University of the Free State (UFS) seeks to provide such learners with a lifeline.

The 2008 Grade 12 results showed once again that the schooling system is – and has been for a long time – in the throes of a severe crisis. The most disturbing feature of this crisis is that the system does not produce learners with the required level of literacy, numeracy and other cognitive skills to further their education or to become part of the country’s workforce.

Clearly this situation is untenable in a developing country such as ours, facing the immense challenges of a severe skills shortage, poverty and unemployment. We cannot afford to have hundreds of thousands of young people walking the streets without any prospect of a decent living and a future of opportunity.

The UFS and partners in the Free State Higher Education Consortium (FSHEC) have devised a unique programme to help underprepared and even unprepared school-leavers who have fallen through the cracks of the school system.

“We are hoping to make a meaningful contribution to the challenging field of creating educational opportunities for post-school study and the world of work through the generous support of the Ford Foundation,” says Ms Merridy Wilson-Strydom, Research Consultant at the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development at the UFS.

“The Skills for a Changing World Programme is specifically aimed at removing barriers to educational opportunities for school-leavers who are not able to access higher education – mainstream or extended degrees. At the moment there are few, if any, meaningful opportunities for those learners who come through the school system un/underprepared,” she says.

The primary target group for the NQF Level-5 Programme is young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are currently excluded from post-schooling educational opportunities. The duration of the programme is one year.

According to Ms Wilson-Strydom, the core modules of the activity-driven curriculum are English Literacy and Language Development, Mathematical Literacy, Information and Communication Technology and Your Global Positioning System (YGPS), which focuses on study skills and critical life skills, e.g. dealing with diversity. Students will also be supported to make informed choices about their future study or career directions.

“The development of the core-module materials is almost complete and from the second semester we plan to test the programme by means of a pilot project, which will be conducted on the UFS’s South Campus in Bloemfontein,” says Ms Wilson-Strydom.

“The pilot study will involve a group of 20-50 learners who have finished Grade 12 but do not qualify for the UFS bridging programme known as the Career Preparation Programme or any other higher-education programmes,” says Ms Wilson-Strydom.

Although not yet accredited, the project team aims to have the programme accredited as a Higher Certificate and is also exploring the possibility of registering the programme as a Short Learning Programme.

“One of the challenges with access and bridging programmes in the country is that students do not obtain a formal qualification for their bridging year. Hence those who do not continue with higher-education study (or cannot continue for various reasons such as finances), do not gain the recognition they should get for what they have learnt during their bridging year.”

“Our focus on developing the Skills for a Changing World Programme as a qualification in its own right is a key innovation in the current education and training landscape,” says Ms Wilson-Strydom.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
4 March 2009
 

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