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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 speakers should think differently, says Coenie de Villiers
2016-06-08

Description: Coenie de Villiers Tags: Coenie de Villiers

Coenie de Villiers was the speaker at the DF Malherbe
Memorial Lecture, held in the Equitas Building on the
University of the Free State Bloemfontein Campus on
24 May 2016.
Photo: Stephen Collett

Do not ask what can be done for your language, but what your language can do for others. With this adaptation of the late John F. Kennedy’s famous words, Coenie de Villiers stressed that the onus for the survival of their language rests with Afrikaans speakers.

According to the television presenter and singer, the real empowerment of Afrikaans does not necessarily take place in parliament. He was the speaker at the DF Malherbe Memorial Lecture, presented in the Equitas Building on the University of the Free State Bloemfontein Campus on 24 May 2016. The lecture by De Villiers, a UFS alumnus, was titled Is Afrikaans plesierig? ’n Aweregse blik.

Government not the only scapegoat
He used Kennedy’s famous phrase, Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country, as framework. “I believe that, if we reverse our sights and do not ask what the world can do for Afrikaans, but ask for a change what Afrikaans – and in particular each and every user thereof – can do for others, then we have, in good English terms, ‘a fighting chance’ that Afrikaans will not only survive, but that it will thrive.” He said it would be too easy to just blame the government’s language policy and/or its lack of application for the language’s uncertainties.

Speakers should act correctly
He said the actions of speakers, sometimes motivated by a love for the language, often causes more damage. “It is not the language that should squirm under the microscope. It isn’t Afrikaans that is being tested: it is us, the speakers, writers, thinkers, doers, and tweeters of the language that are being measured.”
De Villiers believes one should stand up for your language without hesitation or fear, but not necessarily in the middle of the road, and never in such a way that you abandon the moral compass of humanity.

Language will live on

He told the audience that Afrikaans speakers should maintain their language every day with the merit, humanity, and respect that they believe the language – and they themselves – deserve. The language will “live on as long as we use it to laugh, and talk, and sing, and do not kill it off with rules and directives.”

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