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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

“You cannot find Ubuntu in a culture of dominance” – Dr Mamphela Ramphele during second Leah Tutu Gender Symposium
2015-02-28

 

From the left are: Samantha van Schalkwyk, Zanele Mbeki, Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and Dr Mamphela Ramphele.
Photo: Johan Roux

 

Video message from Mrs Leah Tutu

Session 1: Keynote address by Dr Mamphela Ramphele
Ndiyindoda! Yes, you are a man 

Session 2: Professor Robert Morrell from the University of Cape Town
South African Gender Studies: Setting the context

Session 3: How can we engage young men to act against violence against women?
Panel discussion by Lisa Vetten (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research), Despina Learmonth (Psychology Department, University of Cape Town) and Wessel van den Berg (Sonke Gender Justice) 

Session 4: Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
Self-defence as a strategy for women’s resistance: Reflections on the work of Susan Brison
 

Engaging men to act against gender-based violence in the Southern African context.

This was the theme of the second International Leah Tutu Symposium, hosted by the Gender Initiative of Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies of the University of the Free State (UFS) on Tuesday 24 February 2015.

What does it mean to be man? How can men become active in the fight against gender-based violence? And when does one say: enough is enough? Questions like these set the tone as highly-respected individuals such as Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Prof Rob Morrell, Lisa Vetten and Andy Kawa took to the stage in the Odeion on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Leah Tutu
Unfortunately, Mrs Leah Tutu could not attend this year’s event, but she still managed to send sparks of wit and insight into the auditorium. In her video message, Mrs Tutu referred to the fact that our country has “consigned discriminatory legislation to the rubbish bin of the past”, but we continue to inhabit a divided society.

“We have a constitution and bill of rights that should have sounded the death knell for patriarchy. But women are unsafe across the land,” Mrs Tutu said. “Our freedom cost too much to be left out in the rain,” she urged.

Ndiyindoda! Yes, you are a man
In Dr Ramphele’s keynote address, “Ndiyindoda! Yes, you are a man”, she scrutinised the dominant masculinity model that has supported an alpha-male mentality for millennia. A mentality that celebrates dominance, power and control – where the winner takes it all. How then, can we expect our young boys to embrace the value system of a human rights culture?

“Gender equality is at the heart of our constitutional democratic values. Yet, our society continues to privilege and celebrate the alpha male as a masculinity model,” Dr Ramphele said. This dissonance can only produce conflict and violence.

We encourage our young men to be gentle, communicative, caring people who show their emotions. And when they do, what do we as women do? Do we encourage them?

“Or do we join those who call them wimps, moffies, sissies? How do we respond when they are ridiculed?” Dr Ramphele asked. Are we, as mothers, fathers and grandparents willing to socialise our children to acknowledge a diversity of masculinities as equally valid in our society?

The new man and the new woman of the 21st century need to be liberated from the conflict-ridden dominant masculinity model. They need to be able to shape their identity in line with a value system of human rights as enshrined in our constitution.

Perhaps Dr Ramphele’s message could be summed up by one sentence: You cannot find Ubuntu in a culture of dominance.

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