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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

Colloquium focuses on rural education
2012-10-10

Some of the international delegates during the second annual colloquium on rural education recently held at the Qwaqwa Campus.
10 October 2012

 The second edition of the Sustainable Rural Learning Ecologies (SuRLEc) Colloquium was held at the University of the Free State's Qwaqwa Campus this week. This three-day international event provided the Faculty of Education's postgraduate students with a platform to present their research and to learn from experienced researchers from all over the world.

In his opening address, the Faculty's Programme Head, Dr Dipane Hlalele, challenged all delegates to translate their research into achievable goals to address all the challenges facing rural education.

"Excellence in teaching and learning in a rural context remains a challenge for all sectors and levels of the education endeavour," Dr Hlalele said.

"Urban and metropolitan schools, colleges and universities may unintentionally structure their learning programmes in such a manner that they neglect rural attributes. This results in the marginalising of learners and students from rural environments. To complete the loop, these institutions are more likely to fail in preparing graduates for decisive contributions to sustainable rural learning ecologies," Dr Hlalele added.

The colloquium was officially opened by the Vice-Rector: External Relations, Dr Choice Makhetha, who highlighted the fact that the UFS was already doing its bit in levelling the learning playfields in higher education.

"We are aware that many of our students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds find it hard to cope at university. As a result, we are not waiting for them to come through to us. We are already in partnership with a number of schools where we help learners to improve their results," Dr Makhetha said.

The crucial role played by rural teachers was celebrated during a gala dinner to honour and acknowledge their efforts despite a myriad of daily challenges.

Ms Jabulile Mabaso (The Mills Primary Farm School) was honoured for 'Excellence in multi-grade teaching in Foundation and Intermediate phases'. Ms Rekha Mathew (Sibonakaliso Primary Farm School) and Mr Andries Motsoere (Tshebedisano Primary Farm School) were awarded for 'Excellence in managing multi-grade curriculum'.

The 2012 SuRLEc Honorary Award went to Ms Motshedisi Damane for her valuable contribution to the development of rural education in the Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District. Last year's recipient was the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Professor Dennis Francis.

Delegates and keynote speakers came from Thailand, Malaysia, the Unites States of America as well as the SADC countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. South Africa was represented by the Universities of the North-West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and CUT, amongst others.

 

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