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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

Largest group on African continent introduced to Sign Language
2016-07-05

Description: z UFS101 SASL Tags: z UFS101 SASL

The introduction of basic Sign Language
as part of the UFS101 course was a great
success. From left are Susan Lombaard,
Annemarie le Roux, Tshisikhawe Dzivhani
(all from the Department of South African
Sign Language), and Lauren Oosthuizen
(UFS101).

Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

As a result of a new initiative at the University of the Free State (UFS), the largest group of students on the African continent took part in a first-year seminar which included Sign Language.

A total of 5400 students on the Bloemfontein Campus and 1000 on Qwaqwa Campus were taught basic Sign Language by Susan Lombaard, Acting Head of the Department of South African Sign Language, and her team members, Tshisikhawe Dzivhani, Annemarie le Roux, and Nicolene de Klerk.

It forms part of the UFS101 module presented to all first-year students. The initiative, begun in the first semester of 2016, will form part of UFS101 in future and was met with an overwhelmingly positive response.

Three segments of course

Sign Language was taught in three segments and positioned as large-class learning experiences in the Callie Human Centre (Bloemfontein Campus) and the Nelson Mandela Hall (Qwaqwa Campus). Students were taught about deaf culture, Sign Language theory, as well as how to sign their names, exchange pleasantries, and have a basic conversation.

A valuable skill to have

“It (the Sign Language experience) was very interesting and helpful,” said one of the students. “It is important to have the ability to communicate with all sorts of people, and to be able to help them in a crisis”. According to another, it sparked an interest in Sign Language. “It is a skill I will continue to use and try to learn more from it,” said a third.

Lombaard – in collaboration with the UFS101 team – will be presenting a paper related to this achievement at the DeafNet Africa Conference in Johannesburg, from 26 to 30 September 2016.

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