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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

SASOL TRAC laboratory launched at UFS Qwaqwa Campus
2006-05-08

Some of the guests attending the launch of the Sasol TRAC Laboratory at the University of the Free State's (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus were from the left Prof Peter Mbati (Principal of the Qwaqwa Campus), Mrs Zimbini Zwane ( Communications Manager of Sasol Infrachem), Prof Gerhardt  de Klerk (Dean : UFS Faculty of the Humanities), Prof Fred Hugo
 Director of TRAC SA) and Prof Jack van der Linde (Director of RIEP at the UFS).

SASOL TRAC laboratory launched at UFS Qwaqwa Campus

The Research Institute for Education Planning (RIEP) of the University of the Free State (UFS) today unveiled the Sasol TRAC Laboratory at its Qwaqwa campus.

The laboratory will be used to help grade 10, 11 and 12 learners and educators from the Qwaqwa region to conduct the experiments from the physical sciences outcome-based curriculum.

“The Sasol TRAC Laboratory introduces learners not only to the latest technology used by engineers and other scientists in practice but also to stimulate the learner’s interest in the field of science in such a way that more of them will enter into science related careers,” says Mr Cobus van Breda, Co-ordinator of the TRAC Free State Regional Centre.

According to Mr van Breda the newly established Sasol TRAC Laboratory will enable RIEP to train learners and their educators in Physical Sciences.  The laboratory will consist of six work stations equipped with computers and electronic sensors.

“Learners from the Qwaqwa region will visit the Sasol TRAC Laboratory on regular basis to conduct experiments based on the curriculum.  Data will be collected with electronic apparatus and presented as graphs on the computer so that results can be analysed and interpreted,” says Mr van Breda.

“There is a serious shortage of suitable qualified teachers in maths and science in the Qwaqwa region.  Many schools in the region are not yet part of the RIEP project and are in dire need of assistance.  A large number of these schools are in remote areas not reached regularly by intervention programmes,” says Prof Peter Mbati, Principal of the UFS Qwaqwa Campus.

“The establishment of the Sasol TRAC Laboratory at the Qwaqwa Campus provides us the opportunity to engage with our community and assist in the development and training of these vital education subjects.  We are pleased that Sasol agreed to fund the project,” says Prof Mbati.

Students from the Qwaqwa Campus will also benefit from the TRAC programme.   “Some promising students will also undergo further training and become assistants for the TRAC programme,” says Prof Mbati. 

“Nurturing science and mathematical skills is of great importance in growing our national economy. Annually, Sasol invests more than R50 million in supporting mathematical and science education in South Africa. Our primary aim is to increase the number of learners gaining access to tertiary education in the science fields. Therefore, our Corporate Social Investment (CSI) education interventions at secondary school level focus on educator development and direct learner interventions such as the Sasol TRAC Laboratory,” explains Ms Pamilla Mudhray, CSI and SHARP manager at Sasol.

According to Ms Mudhray the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement for physical sciences in the further education and training (FET) phase from 2006, under resourced schools will need greater access to the tools and equipment necessary to teach the syllabus and fulfil the ideals of the curriculum.

TRAC South Africa is a national non-profit programme focused on supporting and expanding science, mathematics and technology education in secondary schools. The programme was first introduced to South Africa in 1994. In 2005, RIEP established the TRAC Free State regional centre on the UFS Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
5 May 2006

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