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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

Judge Albie Sachs and Candice Mama discuss traumas of the past and forgiveness in the present
2015-08-05

 

Judge Albie Sachs embraces Candice Mama for her courage in confronting Eugene de Kock, who killed her father.

Two generations. Two stories of triumph. Two South Africans who have displayed immense courage.

Public Dialogue on Trauma, Memory, and Representations of the Past

Judge Albie Sachs and Candice Mama exchanged their experiences of past trauma and subsequent transformation in a public conversation. The event was co-hosted by Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) in Cape Town on Thursday 30 July 2015.

The event was the first instalment in a series entitled Public Dialogue on Trauma, Memory, and Representations of the Past. The theme of the discussion was ‘Intergenerational Dialogue on Trauma and Healing’.

"The aim of these public dialogue events we are co-hosting with IJR is to place the issues of trauma and memory, and the strategies that individuals and communities use to heal, in the public sphere," Prof Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS) said.

Judge Albie Sachs and Candice Mama in conversation

Former Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs, talked about his participation in South Africa’s liberation struggle, the loss of his right arm in an assassination attempt, and meeting the man responsible – Henri van der Westhuizen. Despite years of exile and extended periods of solitary confinement, Judge Sachs maintains that “we need to acknowledge our history, not be trapped by it.” Judge Sachs also remarked, though, that “we’re seeing too much lamentation, not enough activation.” In a heartrending gesture, Judge Sachs embraced Candice Mama in a hug for her courage in confronting Eugene de Kock, who killed her father.

How poignant then, when Mama said, “I wanted to embrace the brokenness within him,” when she spoke about her meeting with De Kock. By the time I met with Eugene, I could meet him as a human being, not as a villain.” Mama believes that forgiving someone translates into an investment in the person you are forgiving and in your own sanity. She also emphasised the importance of dialogue to move our country forward: “When we share our stories with each other authentically, walls break down.”

This is a stance that Prof Gobodo-Madikizela supports strongly: “When we listen to one another, something unexpected emerges; we encounter the human in each other,” she said. “When we listen with open hearts to each other, we see and experience each other’s humanity.”

Building a bridge between research and society

Referring to the research aspect of the event, Prof Gobodo-Madikizela said that, "in establishing the series of public dialogue events, our vision is to create a bridge between scholarly research and the community at large, on the one hand, and a visual conscience of society, on the other." The UFS is collaborating with the IJR on this research project, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The endeavour is led by Prof Gobodo-Madikizela, who also serves as Board Member of the IJR.

 

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