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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

Former UFS Dean awarded SAAWK medal for contribution to Bible translation work
2016-05-09

Description: Prof Hermie van Zyl Tags: Prof Hermie van Zyl

Prof Hermie van Zyl
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Prof Hermie van Zyl, former Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of the Free State (UFS), was recently awarded the Ds Pieter van Drimmelen medal by the South African Academy of Science and Arts (SAAWK) for his contribution to Afrikaans Bible translation and other translation work.

Prof Van Zyl was part of the team that published the Interlinear translation of the Bible (New Testament) in Greek and Afrikaans. This translation takes the reader from the original text (Greek), to an almost verbatim version, to a rough translation, and, ultimately, to a more polished, finished translation in the target language of Afrikaans.

Other translations Prof Van Zyl has been involved in include the Afrikaans Bible for the Deaf (published in 2008), the direct translation of the Bible (of which the New Testament and the Psalms have already been published), the New Living Translation, the Parallel New Testament, and the Reference Bible. He is the first lecturer from the Faculty of Theology at the UFS to receive an award from the SAAWK.

“It is a wonderful privilege and an honour and really came out of nowhere,” said Prof Van Zyl. He added that he is grateful that, amongst all the wonderfully talented people at the UFS, he could make a modest contribution. He mentioned that the collegial conversations, seminars, and other discussions in the faculty over the years, were very stimulating. He singled out Prof Jan du Rand and Prof Francois Tolmie (another former Dean of the Faculty and long-time colleague in the department of New Testament Studies) as inspiration.

The official presentation of the medal will take place in the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria on 29 June 2016.

Prof Van Zyl was employed in the Faculty of Theology at the UFS for 29 years until his retirement in 2013. He is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of New Testament, and still lectures on occasion.

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