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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

Stained glass artist’s hard work recognised
2016-07-13

Description: Bongani Njalo Tags: Bongani Njalo

Bongani Njalo, project co-ordinator for the
Program for Innovation in Artform Development,
was recognised as one of the 200 Young
South Africans by the Mail & Guardian category
for the year 2016.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan

“I’ve used each highlight of my career as a benchmark for greater accomplishments.”

These are the words of Bongani Njalo, who was selected as one of the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans together with Adv Loyiso Makapela, Junior Lecturer at the University of the Free State (UFS) Law Faculty. Njalo was recognised in the Arts and Culture category for his outstanding contribution to the art scene.

Getting to know the artist

The fine art graduate has worked on different art projects in several cities, and is currently the project co-ordinator for the Program for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD). PIAD is a programme developed by the UFS and the Vrystaat Arts Festival, which focuses on how technology, interdisciplinary and experimental arts can connect with and impact on communities.

Aspiring artist on the move

Soon, this young artist will be on the move again, as he has been accepted into the Internal Leadership Program in Visual Arts Management at Deusto Business School, taking place in Bilbao in Spain in November and in New York next March.

When asked about the nomination, Njalo simply said: “To be honest with you, I don’t feel any differently whatsoever. I now feel I have more work I’d like to do.”

A man of many talents

Not only was Njalo an intern at the Mandela Bay Development Agency where he compiled the book entitled Art & Artists of the Eastern Cape, but he also curated the Eastern Cape Artists Exhibition at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2011.

In 2012, Njalo was invited to curate a group exhibition, Beehive, for the Cape Town International Month of Photography Festival, and in 2014 he won the David Koloane Mentorship Award.

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