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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

Valuable opportunity for future educators
2012-02-13

 
The UFS will award bursaries to about 670 students this year. These bursaries, to the value of over R42 million rand, will give these students the opportunity to follow their dream of becoming educators in South Africa. At the selection process were, from the left: Prof. Gawie du Toit, Programme Director: Initial Teacher Education at the UFS, Dr. Rantsie Kgothule, Teaching Practice Coordinator at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus; Ms Fiona Padayachee, Deputy Director: Recruitment and Selection in the Free State Department of Education; and Mr Kennedy Vilankulu, Information Manager at the Fundza Lushaka bursary scheme.

 

This year, 675 students from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Faculty of Education will be awarded bursaries worth more than R42 million from the Fundza Lushaka bursary scheme.

The selection process for the recipients is already underway. Although each student’s academic performance plays a vital role in the selection process, beneficiaries are also selected based on performance in scarce subjects like mathematics, science and African languages.
 
 “We are trying to attract and train as many teachers as possible. Hoping they will honour their contract and teach in South Africa” said Mr Kennedy Vilankulu, Information Manager at the Fundza Lushaka Bursary Scheme.
 
Mr Vilankulu commended the faculty on its management of the bursary scheme. This is evident in the close liaison between the faculty, on both the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa campuses, and the Free State Department of Education. Just over 90% of the beneficiaries of the bursary scheme study at the UFS.
 
Prof. Gawie du Toit, Programme Director: Initial Teacher Education (ITE) says the quality of a school can never exceed the quality of its teachers. It is the faculty’s aim to educate caring, accountable and critically reflective education practitioners. These teachers must be able to act as agents of change in diverse educational contexts. Prof. Du Toit said it was a privilege to collaborate with both national and provincial Departments of Education in this venture.

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