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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

Renowned writer for Africa Day
2012-05-31

 

Attending the lecture were, from left: Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations; Prof Kwandiwe Kondlo, Director of the Centre for Africa Studies;Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong'o; Prof Lucius Botes, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, and Prof Andre Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice..
Photo: Stephen Collett
25 May 2012

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Lecture: THE BLACKNESS OF BLACK: Africa in the World Today

Audio of the lecture

Profile of Professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o (pdf format)

“Flowers are all different, yet no flower claims to be more of a flower than the other.” With these words Kenyan writer and one of the continent's most celebrated authors, Prof. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, delivered the tenth annual Africa Day Memorial lecture on 25 May 2012 in the University of the Free State's (UFS) Odeion Theatre on the Bloemfontein Campus. The lecture was hosted by the Centre for Africa Studies.

Long before Prof. wa Thiong’o was led inside the venue by a praise singer, chairs were filled and people were shown to an adjoining room to follow the lecture. Others, some on the university's Qwaqwa Campus, followed via live streaming.

In his speech titled the Blackness of Black: Africa in the world today, Prof. wa Thiong’o looked at the standing of Africa in the world today. He highlighted the plight of those of African descent who are judged “based on a negative profile of blackness”.

Prof. wa Thiong’o recalled a humiliating experience at a hotel in San Francisco in the United States, where a staff member questioned him being a guest of the hotel. He shared a similar experience in New Jersey, where he and his wife were thought to be recipients of welfare cheques. He said this was far deeper than overt racism.

“The certainty is based on a negative profile of blackness taken so much for granted as normal that it no longer creates a doubt.”

Prof. wa Thiong’o said the self certainty that black is negative is not confined to white perception of black only.

“The biggest sin, then, is not that certain groups of white people, and even the West as a whole, may have a negative view of blackness embedded in their psyche, the real sin is that the black bourgeoisie in Africa and the world should contribute to that negativity and even embrace it by becoming participants or shareholders in a multibillion industry built on black negativity.”

“Africa has to review the roots of the current imbalance of power: it started in the colonisation of the body. Africa has to reclaim the black body with all its blackness as the starting point in our plunge into and negotiations with the world.”

Prof. wa Thiong’o concluded by saying that Africa must rediscover and reconnect with Kwame Nkrumah’s dreams of a politically and economically united Africa.

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