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14 June 2018 Photo Supplied
Next Chapter Green Ribbon campaign addresses mental health
Members of Next Chapter and UFS Student counselling are working together to address mental health issues.

Next Chapter, a student support group at the UFS presented the Green Ribbon campaign, pledging their support to students and providing them with assistance in coping with life events that stimulate stress and contribute negatively to their mental health. The team aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health care, and continually assist students with mental health-related issues that they struggle with daily.

The Green Ribbon represents mental health awareness, which is a pressing matter for students and is the type of support students need in a stressful university environment. The campaign focuses on teaching students how to cope with life events that stimulate stress, and contribute negatively to their mental health.
 
A discussion by Dr Ancel George: practising clinical psychologist and lecturer from the UFS Department of Psychology, and Dr Mellissa Barnaschone: Director of UFS Student Counselling, took place, where talks were prominent about creating an inclusive environment for UFS students.

The panel shared a few tips on how students should work towards managing stress, and motivated them for the main mid-year examinations.
 
The follow-up Exam Cram Workshop, presented by Nadia Cloete and Lize Wolmarans, that combined time and stress management, took place on 2 June 2018, and saw students receiving advice on how to approach various issues during the examination period.
 
Mental health awareness does not end with the campaign and Next Chapter’s slogan “Your story continues” encourages students to regularly wear and commemorate the green ribbon in support of continual mental healthcare.
 
Should you have any enquiries or input for the ongoing campaign, contact the Next Chapter team on ufsnextchapter@gmail.com, or further email Tshepang Mahlatsi, founder of Next Chapter on tshepangmahlatsi767@gmail.com

News Archive

An education system based on hope is what South Africa needs – Dr Beryl Botman
2016-05-26

Description: Hope revised Tags: Hope revised

Dr Beryl Botman, a postdoctoral research
fellow at the IRSJ, with Dr Willy Nel research associate
at the IRSJ and lecturer at the UFS
Faculty of Education.

HOPE is tangible and concrete construct that should be rooted in the learning and training of teachers,” said Dr Beryl Botman, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ).

She presented her research paper Educators, praxis, and hope: A philosophical analysis of post-apartheid teacher education policy, based on the theoretical ideologies of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. She explores ways in which oppression has been justified, and how it has been overcome through a mutual process between the oppressor and the oppressed, drawing on Paolo Freire’s theories and practices. The presentation was held at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Faculty of Education, on the Bloemfontein campus on 13 May 2016.

From oppression to hope

Hope should be an educational construct for teacher education in South Africa. Dr Botman asserts that epistemology and ontology should be inseparable, as they are pivotal to an education system that is transformational.

The recent country-wide student protests and demonstrations are an indicant that education institutions need to seek understanding of mechanisms that fuel social conflict. Dr Botman claims that vast social inequalities make the process of democratisation difficult thus hindering transformation. She states that a critical consciousness is important for all South Africans, but more so for educators; it can be used as a tool to understanding the mechanisms of social conflict.

“Self-reflection and self-critique is vital for educators, we need to understand that we do not have all the answers because we ever-evolving beings, working on understanding ourselves and the people around us,” said Dr Botman.

The notion of hope
“I am a farmer. I have no hope for a future that is different from today. This quotation comes from Paulo Freire’s work," said Dr Botman. She said that the South African context and environment is similar. She said that people cannot live for today; one should live for tomorrow if hope is to manifest itself.

South African education environment needs to adopt a progressive consciousness that is future orientated, “You need to be hopeful, if you are radical. You need to be able to envision a new society and a new world,” said Dr Botman.

“You cannot only denounce the present, you need to also announce your hopes for a new society. South Africa needs education systems built on understanding. Although change is difficult, it is necessary for transformation,” Dr Botman added.

What makes hope educational?
“Hope is a vision for a tomorrow that is different, and vital for a transformative education system. To get out of a state of despair, people need to educate their hope. Lately, the issue of white privilege has been brought to the fore. You need to educate your hope, so that you understand the reality of others but, more importantly, of yourself,” said Dr Botman.

Dr Botma added that teacher education needs to adopt a Freirean pedagogy with a strong philosophy based on hope. The agency of teachers can either be hopeful or without hope. It is vital that education promotes hope.

“Teachers need to rely on their existential experience, the experiences of others, and the experiences of the children or students they teach. An understanding of all these experience reinforces the idea that people are life-long learners, always learning and adapting to society’s needs,” said Dr Botman.

Teachers as agents of hope

Dr Botman stated that current South African education policy is directed towards transformation but it does not stipulate means to achieve this objective. Further, she argues that educators need to put greater emphasis on self-knowledge, self-reflection, and self-education. Connecting with teachers, parents, students and the community engages with their self-knowledge and reflection.

Reorientation of teacher education
Dr Botman concluded by mentioning that rethinking ontological and epistemological aspects of education is important, and should be a pivotal point of teacher education. A renewed vision of hope-orientated philosophy and pedagogy needs to be adopted by the education institutions. A praxis, which is an informed action, when a balance between theory and practice is achieved. There is a need for an inclusive exploration of education philosophies and education systems not only European and Western but also African and Eastern as well.

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