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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

Ecofeminism a possibe solution to impending famine
2016-05-12

Description: Ecofeminism Tags: Ecofeminism

Dr Inge Konik (right) is pictured with her postdoctoral supervisor, Prof Bert Olivier, Senior Research Professor at the Department of Philosophy.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

In view of the environmental and social problems faced in South Africa today, researchers such as Dr Inge Konik are hard at work mapping these issues and seeking long-term solutions. Dr Konik,  a lecturer in the Department of Journalism, Media and Philosophy at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) shared her views in a presentation on 6 May 2016. She spoke about revaluing indigenous ways of life and subsistence-focused lifeways, linking this to materialist ecological feminism, or ecofeminism for short.

Dr. Konik’s presentation, hosted by the Department of Philosophy at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS), was entitled: “Transversal reflections on ecological feminism and ubuntu.” The research underpinning the presentation derived from Dr Konik’s doctoral thesis which was supervised by Ariel Salleh (University of Sydney) and Andrea Hurst (NMMU).

Dr Konik’s research suggests that ecofeminism - which is a convergence between environmentalism and feminism - may hold the answers to the question of how we may work against environmental and social injustices. She also proposed that society look back toward subsistence communities of the past, and those currently being marginalized in our industrial societies, and linked the values evidenced in the practices of these communities to the African philosophty of ubuntu. In order to solve  complex contemporary challenges Dr Konik suggests that we combine these seemingly disparate theoretical frames - ubuntu and ecofeminism - by applying a transversal approach, which involves openness to dialogue  between traditions.

“My focus was on ecological feminism and critical theory and very specifically on South Africa, given the challeges South Africa faces - the environmental and social challenges and what kind of frameworks would be helpful,” said Dr Konik, who will officially become a postdoctoral research fellow at the department as of July 2016.

Prof Pieter Duvenage, Head of the Departement, stated that compelling research outputs are anticipated from Dr Konik as a fellow.

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