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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 tackles identity in an unusual story-telling style
2016-07-26

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

One of the leading performers, Baanetse Mokhotla.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

The I-DENT-I-TIES project has been an enormous experience for the Qwaqwa Campus students who were part of this large-scale interdisciplinary performance project. This is according to Baanetse Mokhotla, one of the leading performers.

“I have personally learnt a lot about performing arts and also grew as an individual,” Baanetse said about the production that was part of this year’s Vrystaat Arts Festival in Bloemfontein.

This massive interactive production of the 54-member student cast utilises music, song and dance in an unusual method of story-telling. It uses live video camera feeds on two big screens as well as recorded video clips of the cast itself and members of the community, some of whom were part of the audience during the two shows staged on the Qwaqwa Campus. The cast intermittently mingles with the audience, thus allowing the latter to be part of the narrative as well.

The main story line explores issues around identity while using the famous Basotho story of ‘Moshanyana Sankatana’ as a catalyst.

Two of the capturing features are the live interviews and the narration of the animated ‘Moshanyana Sankatana’ story, creating stories within a story.

Commenting about the project, SRC President Paseka Sikhosana said that he was happy to have led the student community during this proud moment.

“I loved how this show has exposed our enormously talented performers to the world. It was magical and we need more of such to ensure there will never be a dull moment on our campus,” he said.

Sociology lecturer Sivuyisiwe Magayana said: “I-DENT-I-TIES production was fresh fun. It exhibited the fact that we should be appreciative of other's differences. It also emphasised that we should move away from subscribing to an 'in-group' and 'out-group' mentality when it comes to issues of race, sexuality and identity.”

The international creative team behind this project included a New York-based Dutch director, Erwin Maas; Vienna-based Dutch theatre designer, Nico de Rooij; Djana Covic, a Serbian performance-craft-artist based in Vienna; and South African film and stage legend Jerry Mofokeng.

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