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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

Elzmarie honoured internationally for economics education
2012-10-13

Elzmarie Oosthuizen (middle) with Prof. John Brock of Colorado University in Colorado Springs and Prof. Claudia Parliament of Minnesota University.
12 October 2012

An exceptional honour has been bestowed on Elzmarie Oosthuizen of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences with the awarding of the Patricia K. Elder International Award to her in America at the beginning of October 2012.

The award is made by the National Association of Economics Educators and the Council for Economics Education (CEE). It gives recognition to individuals whose outstanding and committed service makes a meaningful impact on the delivery of economics education worldwide. The award was made to her at the 51th annual Financial Literacy and Economics Education Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

Elzmarie is Manager: Teaching and Learning in the Faculty. She was originally appointed to manage various projects to better prepare students for what is expected of them.  She teaches in the extended programme and achieved success with bridging mathematics and the changing methodologies that she uses.

She plays an active role in international economics education programming. Elzmarie was an essential element in the development of CEE’s programmes in South Africa and has now moved to expand economics education programmes to Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana. 

She successfully participated in the CEE’s Train the Writers programme and lobbied the CEE to provide a mentoring programme that would prepare participants to offer a training of writers programme within their own country. This year, she presented the first writers programme for South African teachers.

Claudia Parliament, Director of the Minnesota Council on Economics Education, said in her recommendation for the award:  “Elzmarie is a change agent.  She has boundless energy.  Few can keep up with her work pace.  She has put economics education on the map in South Africa and she is poised to have a similar impact in other countries in southern Africa.”

Elzmarie says: “I feel very honoured to have received this award.” Since 2004, she has worked very hard and trained some 800 teachers. In 2011, some 200 000 children were reached through the training.

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