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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

International Literacy Day an opportunity to reach out
2016-09-08

Description: International Literacy Day 2016 Tags: International Literacy Day 2016

Sasol Library
Photo: Sonja Small


Library and Information Services and Community Engagement office promote literacy.

Fifty years ago UNESCO officially proclaimed 8 September International Literacy Day to actively mobilise communities and to promote literacy as an instrument of empowering individuals and society. This year this great milestone will be celebrated under the banner “reading the past, writing the future”. As we commemorate 50 years we should ask ourselves whether Illiteracy has been eradicated or not.

As part of its outreach programme, Library and Information Services, in collaboration with the office of Community Engagement, for the first time jointly celebrate International Literacy Day and invited members of the community to a book launch which took place at Lefikeng High School in Botshabelo on 8 September 2016. The programme also included the establishment of a small library at the school, and on 15 September, a writer’s day event will be held together with the Department of African Languages on the Bloemfontein Campus.

The book, “Amazing Grace”, was written by Free State-born writer, Charles Dunn. Dunn took the opportunity to speak to students and the community of Botshabelo about his inspiration for writing the book, as well as take them through his journey of life, from surviving drug addiction to imprisonment, and how he finally changed his life to become an author.

In working towards eradicating illiteracy, the Library and Information Services has hosted a number of book launches in the past, to encourage a culture of reading and writing among academia, students and surrounding communities, as well as opportunities for them to network with local and international authors. Feedback from these events bears testimony that indeed the library is successful in creating spaces for lifelong learning.

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