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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

UFS researchers help find opportunities to create knowledge
2016-09-15

Description: Mobile libraries  Tags: Mobile libraries

The initiative hopes that the mobile libraries
will continue to contribute towards literature
awareness and access to books at rural
schools in the Free State.
Photo: Supplied

Did you know that only 3 392 primary schools in South Africa have libraries? In the Free State the statistics are shocking. Only 277 primary schools have libraries, while 1 087 carry on without them. One of nine provinces in South Africa, the Free State is regarded as a rural province. The South African Primary Education Support Initiative (SAPESI), in partnership with other sponsors, has committed to expanding access to books by donating mobile libraries to service schools across South Africa. In the Free State, the project is embraced by the Free State Department of Education, which employs the mobile operators and library assistants to service these libraries, driving many kilometres of gravel road to visit remote farm schools and other under-resourced schools. SAPESI has set a goal to supply 75 mobile libraries to provide 2 000 schools with access to books by the year 2020.

Discovering the value of the mobile libraries
Although the mobile libraries in the Free State have been functioning since 2007, no formal research had been conducted on their work. Towards the end of 2014, the Free State Department of Education and the Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB) commissioned the UFS to carry out a participatory action research project. Dr Lynette Jacobs, Head of the School of Education Studies at the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Education and her team engaged with role-players at district and provincial level in a Participatory Action Research project.

The research project aimed to describe the work that mobile libraries do, and appraise its influence on learners and schools, towards improving their functionality. In addition, this project aimed to build research capacity within the district teacher development centres.

Highlights of the mobile library project
The way the Free State Department of Education embraced and supported the initiative by Mr Tad Hasunuma and SAPESI, was inspiring. Each of the five education districts has two fully equipped library buses that periodically visit schools. The stock on the buses is regularly replaced by books that SAPESI receives from the international community. Specific books are also loaded for teachers to use as resources. One of the outcomes of the research project was that guidelines were developed for teachers on how to use books in addition to curriculum material in the classroom. At district level, the teams reflected on the work that they were doing and implemented improvement plans to provide an even better service. Findings of the project were presented at the XIV Annual International Conference of the Bulgarian Comparative Education Society that focused on education provision earlier this year. It was lauded by representatives of the international education community as an example of good practice to provide education to marginalised children.

Reading helps enrich children’s lives
The research project concluded by stating that the aim of the mobile libraries was to provide learners and teachers at rural and farm schools with reading books, and they were doing as best they could. While the mobile libraries cannot make up for possible challenges related to teaching and learning or in infrastructure, the learners and the teachers are regularly provided with good resources to encourage reading and stimulate literacy development.

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