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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

Conference on religion and reconciliation
2011-07-25

 

At the conference were, from the left, front: Dr Frank Chikane, President of AFM International; Dr Mathole Motshekga, Chief Whip of the ANC; at the back: Rev. Maniraj Sukdaven, Head of our Department of Religion Studies; and Dr Alan Boesak, connected to our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, as well as a minister in the United Reformed Church.

In recent times, reconciliation has mainly been politically driven, Dr Alan Boesak stated during a conference on religion and reconciliation. He was one of a number of prominent academic leaders from various religions who participated in the conference: Exploring religious understanding for reconciliation.The conference was presented by our Faculty of Theology and the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice at our university this week.

According to Dr Boesak, a theologian connected to our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, reconciliation means much more than simply former enemies no longer attacking or killing one another; they also have co-exist with a positive attitude towards one another.
 
Speakers from, amongst others, the Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Rastafarian, Islam and Buddhist religious communities shared their views on reconciliation with one another.Most of these speakers referred to the special value of humankind in each religion. A person’s life has a supernatural dimension, which ought to play a major role in the way in which people treat one another.
 
Dr Frank Chikane, President of AFM International, as well as a speaker at the event, stated that the religious community should and had to be more active in discussions about reconciliation.“If religious leaders do not talk about current issues, all kinds of voices with distorted perspectives will be heard instead,” Dr Chikane added.
 
Reconciliation can only truly take place if the contribution of each group in society is taken seriously. Apart from the high premium placed on rights in society, duties that have to be fulfilled should also be emphasised. Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana from the Ethiopian Episcopal Church is of the opinion that this sense of duty should be established in people’s frame of mind. Adv. Antony Osler pointed out from a Buddhist perspective how important it was to deal with reconciliation by living up to its principles.
 
Rev. Maniraj Sukdaven, Head of our Department of Religion Studies, is very satisfied with the high quality of the contributions during the conference.

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