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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

“Every journey begins with the first steps” – Marguerite van der Merwe
2016-07-08

Description: Marguerite van der Merwe Tags: Marguerite van der Merwe

Marguerite van der Merwe, recipient of University of the
Free State Chancellor’s Medal, with Chancellor
Dr Khotso Mokhele, at the Winter Graduation ceremony.

Photo: Johan Roux

Marguerite van der Merwe has dedicated her life to the enrichment and increased quality of life for others. At the University of the Free State’s Winter Graduations on 30 June 2016, Van der Merwe and her brother, Anthony Douglas Osler, were both honoured with Chancellor’s Medals for exceptional service to South Africa and the world beyond our borders. In the early 1980s, she learned about the Alexander Technique and her life since then has been about perfecting the technique and sharing it with others. The Alexander Technique teaches people of any age, gender, occupation or interest, how to be posture-aware and perfect, how to be aware and alert, and how to be calm and discriminating, all of which are part of a practical teaching to integrate these qualities consciously into all our daily human activities.  

She walks the walk

She understood the Alexander Technique to be the perfect way to develop the body both physically and mentally, as it develops the higher mental faculties like focus, attention, awareness, consciousness, discrimination, and unfolding of the psyche, thus developing the human potential holistically as a spiritual way of being. She received her training for the technique in Cape Town and London, thereafter she published The Art of Walking, a guide to the Alexander Technique.

Van der Merwe is an internationally-certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, has been offering this work and its application in the spheres of health, education, and performance skills for 30 years, both nationally and internationally.

Van der Merwe says that the South African higher education system should encompass a holistic approach to teaching and educating. Education should envisage a modern vision of education that supports the evolution of the potential of the human being as a holistic system – a competent, skilled, caring, kind individual, developed in physical, mental, emotional and sensorial aspects. She believes that students thus educated will model ‘wholeness’ and ‘humanness’ as they take their place in society, business, education, and entrepreneurship.

Enriching women’s potential

Apart from The Art of Walking, Van der Merwe published EVE-OLUTION, a book to inspire women to listen to their intuition, and empower women to repossess their bodily wisdom, freedom, and authenticity. Van der Merwe proclaims that it is important to liberate women to take charge of their own bodies, minds, and souls. The purpose of the book is to ensure that young women soak up wisdom and encouragement and for older women to express their wisdom, which needs to be respected and listened to.

“Females and feminine roles in society and family are being liberated and acknowledged in the actions of many women as we stand for equal opportunity, equal power, and equality in many fields,” says Van der Merwe.
“Our young women in business and the higher education fraternity, for one, are strong in their views, beautiful in their presence, outspoken in leadership,” Van der Merwe concluded.

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