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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

It takes a village to raise a child
2016-06-13

Description: Valentino_Student Bursary Fund Campaign Tags: Valentino_Student Bursary Fund Campaign

Valentino Ndaba
Photo: Sonia Small

(Click on CC for subtitles)

Video
Student Bursary Fund Campaign booklet (pdf)
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Student Bursary Fund Campaign launched: #FundAFuture and make a difference
Motho ke motho ka batho. A person is a person through others

Want to make a difference in the world? Here is how

South Africa has one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world. Take the ribbon of golden beaches sweeping along the shores of KwaZulu-Natal, for instance. But just beyond the kiteboards dappling the ocean and fields of swaying sugarcane lies one of the largest informal settlements in the province: Amaoti. A place where barefoot children are skipping alongside poverty, and violent crime incinerates hope.

Nonetheless, that place could not keep Valentino Ndaba from graduating at the University of the Free State (UFS), and setting her sails for post-graduate studies.

A village
It takes a village to raise a child. This African proverb ripples across Valentino’s life story. “My gran always used to say education is your eternal bread. She still says it to this day. She has always instilled in me the importance of education,” Valentino smiles. Her grandmother has been but one of several champions in Valentino’s life.

Maalthee Dayaram – a teacher at Brookdale Secondary School that Valentino attended – noticed a budding talent in the young girl’s writing. With dedicated attention and ceaseless encouragement, Mrs Dayaram helped pave the way for this young writer. “You might be talented and have potential, but having someone actually believe in you and tell you that you have potential makes such a difference,” Valentino says. “I fell in love with writing, and had an idea that writing might be my future.” Dire economic circumstances threatened to snuff out any sparks of hope from that fragile future, though.

Aided by Lungisani Indlela (a non-profit organisation that provides children in the Amaoti area with school fees, uniforms, shoes, etc), Valentino clung to faith in the power of education. With unwavering single-mindedness, she consistently earned top grades.

Description: Valentino Ndaba 2 Tags: Valentino Ndaba 2

Photo: Sonia Small

Not if, but when
“Dreaming of my future, my gran would always say to me, ‘when you go to university’ or ‘when you have graduated’, this and that will follow.” Her gran’s words proved to be prophetic. As the final matric results were published in early January 2012, Valentino received a phone call that would change her life irrevocably.

That call came from the well-known South African humanitarian, Tich Smith. “Would you be willing to go to university in another province?” Smith asked. Never having travelled beyond her immediate surroundings, Valentino’s brave answer was: “Yes.”

A few days later, she walked onto the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS.

Changing futures

Valentino proceeded to obtain a BA degree in Media Studies and Journalism in 2014. She has now set her sights on an honours degree, and envisions pursuing a Master’s degree in creative writing overseas.

“Without the support I received, I would have been stuck without a future,” she says. “University has shaped me into a better version of myself. I’ve grown intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.”

You can bring about the same change for other students in need. By contributing to the UFS Student Bursary Fund Campaign, you can change the future not only of individuals, but of communities and of our country as well.

The impact of your financial support reaches far beyond its monetary value. It pulls families from poverty. It sends forth experts and visionaries into the world. It sets in motion a culture of giving.

Visit our Giving page for ways to contribute.

 

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