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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

Ivory Coast too dependent on UN to combat violence against women
2015-10-08

During the seminar presented by the Centre for
African Studies (CAS) at the University of the Free State
were, from the left: Thesipo Machabaphala, student in
Gender Studies; Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of CAS;
Dr Peace Medie from the University of Ghana,
guest speaker; and Sesi Mahlobogoane, student in
Gender Studies.

The Ivory Coast is still too dependent on the work of the United Nations (UN) to combat violence against women in the country. There is much talk about ways to address the problem, but the government is still not acting quickly and effectively enough to make a difference in the long term.

These were some of the findings by Dr Peace Medie from the University of Ghana, guest speaker during a seminar series held by the Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State on 1 October 2015.

Dr Medie presented a seminar for students in the Gender Studies programme entitled Women, Security, and Justice: a Study of the Ivorian State’s Response to Violence against Women. Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of CAS in the Faculty of the Humanities at the UFS, facilitated the seminar.

For the sake of internationalisation, the CAS often presents guest speakers from outside South Africa to address its students. In addition , Dr Medie is from Africa.

According to Dr Medie, who conducted some 150 interviews during her research over two years, there was a shortage of resources in the Ivory Coast. This is also the case in several other African countries previously involved in war.

She believes the Ivory Coast should do more to combat violence against women successfully.

She said the UN had a great influence on the way people, especially the police, were thinking about the problem - which included sexual violence against women.

“The UN will not be there forever,” Dr Medie said.

“If response depended only on the influence of an international organisation, what would happen when the UN leaves?”

According to Dr Medie, a shortage of active women’s organisations also had a role to play. She was of the opinion that these organisations should put more pressure on the government to ensure better treatment for women.

“Local organisations are needed because it is not sustainable to depend only on the work of the UN.”


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