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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

I-DENT-I-TIES to shine at the Free State Arts Festival
2016-07-08

Description: I-DENT-I-TIES  Tags: I-DENT-I-TIES

Erwin Maas with members of the student cast from the
Qwaqwa Campus. They are, from left: Mpho Xaba,
Lebohang Molefe and Tankiso Mofokeng.

Imagine this: A student cast from a rural campus; Production team consisting of a New York-based Dutch director, a South African screen and stage legend, a The Hague/Vienna-based Dutch theatre designer, and a Vienna-based Serbian performance-craft-artist and designer.

This sounds like a far-fetched flight of the imagination. But it is real and it is called ‘I-DENT-I-TIES’, a large-scale interdisciplinary performance project with international theatre professionals and students from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus.

According to the  director of the project, Erwin Maas, the production explores the ‘dents’ and ‘ties’ of both individual and communal identification and distinctiveness and does this through the famous Basotho story of ‘Moshanyana Sankatana’ as a point of departure.

“We explore questions like ‘what are dents in our society as well as in ourselves’, ‘what ties me to who I really am and who I want to be’, ‘what does it mean to be me’, ‘what does it mean to be South African’,” said Maas, who has been working on this project since last year.

The production also celebrates personal, communal, and universal narratives and identities through song, dance, story-telling, and music. It explores the past, the present, and the future.

“This production will certainly reveal an extraordinary journey into what makes us unique and binds us together,” he added during the rehearsals that started in May at the Qwaqwa Campus.

Maas has teamed up with a well-known South African film and stage legend, Jerry Mofokeng, as consultant. Mofokeng, who introduced Maas to the ‘Sankatana’ story, has featured on a number of critically-acclaimed films that include ‘Cry, The Beloved Country’ as well as the Academy Award-winning ‘Tsotsi’. Maas has also worked with the Hague/Vienna-based Dutch designer Nico de Rooij and Djana Covic, a Vienna-based Serbian designer.

The production is a partnership between the UFS Student Affairs, Vrystaat Arts Festival, the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa. It will premiere at the Free State Arts Festival, held in Bloemfontein from 11 to 16 July 2016. This will be followed by a performance at the Qwaqwa Campus on 19 July 2016.

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