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02 May 2018 Photo Charl Devenish
South Campus UAP celebrates 27 years of access to education
Mr Francois Marais, Prof Kalie Strydom, Prof Daniella Coetzee (South Campus Principal), Prof Francis Petersen, Dr Nthabeleng Rammile (Vice-Chairperson of the UFS Council), and Dr Khotso Mokhele (Chancellor of the UFS).

More than 27 years ago, international funding from the Human Sciences Research Council and Anglo American was put to an unusual use for that time. Prof Kalie Strydom’s research unit at the University of the Free State (UFS) was tasked with reviewing how institutional missions would change in the new South Africa. Prof Strydom worked closely with surrounding communities in Bloemfontein to develop a bridging course which would help students who showed potential to access tertiary education, although they did not meet the requirements. His vision brought to birth the University Access Programme (UAP), as it is known today, which is hosted on the UFS South Campus, and is still providing unique access to higher-education institutions in South Africa.

People with a passion for human development
March 2018 saw the 27th anniversary of this remarkable initiative, which has given a second chance to over 18 000 students. Special guests at the event included Prof Strydom, Mr Francois Marais, and representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training and Investec’s corporate social investment office.

Dr Sonja Loots, researcher in the UFS Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), singled out two key individuals in the formation of the UAP: Prof Kalie Strydom, who initiated the programme, and Mr Marais, who has been Director of the UAP since its inception. Dr Loots highlighted one of the driving forces behind Prof Strydom’s perseverance, vision, and determination with the UAP by quoting from an interview with him for an upcoming book on student access and success. He said, “It was a decision based on principle … to be part of the solution to a better country.”

Access and success still an issue today
In his presentation on the “Importance of Access”, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, pointed out the vital role of access in South Africa, especially the value it offers for the betterment of the country’s people. However, he said that student success is also an issue, and institutions need to be accountable for it. Quoting Prof John Martin of the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Engineering, “We must be flexible on access, but robust on success.” Only by “closing the loop” in this way, can the UFS and other higher-education institutions ensure a valuable contribution to the economy of the country.

News Archive

UN-SPIDER expert appointed at UFS Risk Management Centre
2017-06-02

Description: Dr Joerg Szarzynski Tags: Dr Joerg Szarzynski

Dr Joerg Szarzynski, head of the EduSphere section
and Education Programme Director at the
United Nations University, Institute for Environment
and Human Security.
Photo: Supplied

“This new development will strengthen the long-lasting collaboration between DiMTEC and the United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn in Germany. This [collaboration] goes back for almost a decade of joint training courses and increasingly also includes collaboration in the frame of scientific projects, especially in Africa.”

These were the words of Dr Joerg Szarzynski after his appointment as Affiliated Associate Professor to the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC) at the University of the Free State (UFS). Dr Szarzynski will assume his new position with immediate effect.
 
The United Nations University (UNU) is a global thinktank and postgraduate teaching organisation headquartered in Japan.

Dr Szarzynski, head of the EduSphere section and Education Programme Director at UNU-EHS, brings with him a wealth of experience, including serving as senior expert to the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER). Within the team, he was principal desk officer for Africa responsible for relief activities after natural disasters, technical consultation, information management, collaborative network development and the cluster on health and climate change adaptation. He also has broad expertise in climatology and remote sensing, global environmental change research, capacity-building and web-based data and information management.

“Dr Szarzynski’s appointment brings
new research opportunities.”

Lecture focus on vulnerability and disaster risk reduction
As part of his new academic responsibilities, Dr Szarzynski will conduct face-to-face lectures during a course on vulnerability and disaster risk-reduction. With this course the centre aims to increase awareness of the complexity and importance of vulnerability and resilience in the field of disaster risk management. Dr Szarzynski’s teachings will focus on Early Warning Systems and Geospatial Technologies in Support of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Emergency Response Preparedness. He will also lead courses on Assessment and Coordination in International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response and Information Technology in Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management.

Furthermore he will give lectures via distance learning for the wider curriculum at DiMTEC.

Collaboration between DiMTEC and UNU
Dr Andries Jordaan, Director of DiMTEC at the UFS said: “His appointment opens new networks within the United Nations system, which brings new research opportunities. Furthermore, his expertise is important to us. He has already provided input and delivered lectures through Skype in the course of Information Technology and Communication.”

Dr Szarzynski has been lecturing for the past 10 years in the UFS’ international PhD curriculum.

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