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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

Afrikaans Language Day invites greater university community to celebrate the language
2015-08-26

On 14 August 2015, the Vuur en Vlam Committee hosted an event which provided the university community the opportunity to celebrate Afrikaans Language Day. The occasion celebrated the establishment of the language in South Africa. With the unexpected arrival of the Dutch in 1652, the language transition proved a struggle for the indigenous peoples domiciled on African soil.

The committee’s primary objective was to change existing cultural connotations associated with the Afrikaans language.  The use of diversity can help undermine the African stereotype held about the Afrikaans language, and thus bring about a mindset shift. It is important to remember that not all Afrikaans speakers are white, and emphasis is rarely directed to the diversity of Afrikaans speakers.

Approaching the celebration, a sensitive discussion around the Afrikaans language was hosted, in which various panel members discussed the state and current outlook of the language. Prof André Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, who was part of the panel said, “No language gets to be misused to maintain the privilege of the past.” Director of the Free State Arts Festival, Ricardo Peach, shared the notion that “We must build on what we have, and not break it down,” while he describes himself as a “polluted language boer”. While there is a strongly-expressed hatred for the Afrikaans language, Peach maintained further that there is much work to be done in order to “Break down the link between the language and the Holocaust which took place in the homes of Afrikaans people.”

Lindiwe Kumalo, chairperson of the Vuur en Vlam Committee, said: “We are creating an awareness around campus that Afrikaans is not dead. Once you know the language, you can interact with other people, and there is no longer that language barrier.” Amongst other things, the event encouraged dialogue by creating fun and interactive activities which exposed visitors to the language.

The Vuur en Vlam Committee is committed to creating an awareness of, and vibrancy around, the Afrikaans language, and to engaging the broader university community.

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