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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

UFS first to mechanise agricultural technique
2006-05-09

    

Small farmers from Thaba `Nchu were the biggest group attending the farmers day at the UFS Paradys experimental farm.  From the left are Mr David Motlhale (a small farmer from Thaba 'Nchu), Prof Leon van Rensburg (lecturer at the UFS Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences and project leader), Mr Nhlonipho Nhlabatsi (Agricultural Research Council, Glen), Ms Meisie Mthethwa (small farmer from Bloemspruit).  In front is Mr Patrick Molatodi (chairperson of the Tswelopele Small Farmer Association).
 

 

Some of the participants of the farmers day at the UFS Paradys experimental farm were from the left Prof Leon van Rensburg (lecturer at the UFS Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences and project leader, Mr Patrick Molatodi (chairperson of the Tswelopele Small Farmers Association) and Prof Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean: UFS Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences).

UFS first tertiary institution in world to mechanise agricultural technique
The University of the Free State (UFS) is the first tertiary institution in the world to mechanise the in-field rain water harvesting technique on a commercial scale.

The technique was recently demonstrated to about 100 small farmers at the UFS Paradys experimental farm outside Bloemfontein. 

“With this technique rain water is channeled to the plant and in this way food security is increased.  The advantage of the technique for commercial farmers lies in the reduced cultivation of land.  Small farmers will benefit from this because they can now move out into the fields and away from farming in their back yards,” says Prof Leon van Rensburg, lecturer at the UFS Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences and project leader.    

Rain water harvesting is an antique concept that was used by communities before the birth of Christ.  In South Africa the technique is mainly used in the plots of small farmers where they make surface structures by hand. 

"The technique is also used for the first time by the UFS on commercial scale by means of the cultivation of a summer crop on 100 ha at the Paradys experimental farm,” says Prof Leon van Rensburg,

Of the farmers who attended the farmers day most represented about 42 rural communities in the vicinity of Thaba ‘Nchu.  A group of seven from KwaZulu-Natal also attended the proceedings.  These small farmers can for example apply this technique successfully on the 250-300 ha communal land that is available in the Thaba ‘Nchu area. 

The project is funded by the UFS and the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the farmers’ day was funded by the Water Research Commission.   

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

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