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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

First Black Rag Queen wants to give voice to voiceless
2017-02-22

Description: Coronation ball 2017 Tags: Coronation ball 2017

The winners of the 2017 Amanzi Coronation
ball are, from the left: Devina Harry,
Second Princess; Kgomotso Sebusi,
First Princess; Prudence Mahlaba, Rag Queen;
Suhail Peerbhai, Mr Rag; Jordan Nadasen,
First Runner-up; and Mohlale Matlala,
Second Runner-up.
Photo: Gerhardus Bosch


“It is true what they say about your purpose driving you towards your goal. The ride to eventually becoming the first black RAG Queen was motivated by a pure desire in my heart to help other people.”

This is the moving words of Prudence Mahlaba, who was crowned Rag Queen at the Amanzi Coronation Ball on Friday 17 February 2017. Suhail Peerbhai, a second-year BCom Economics student, was crowned Mr Rag 2017.

Giving a voice to the voiceless

Mahlaba says she wants to make a positive impact, “not only on the less fortunate, but also on the voiceless.” The fourth-year LLB student strives to adhere to the vision of the acronym RAG (Receive and Give). RAG is mainly about a good cause in order to make a difference.
“It is beauty with a purpose, practising what you preach, and doing unto others what you want them to do unto you,” Mahlaba said.

It was a night of glitz and glamour as the finalists made a last bid for the sought-after titles at the prestigious event held at the Student Church on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State.

Role provide foundation for change
“Becoming Mr Rag is an exceptional feeling; however, this role entails much more responsibility,” Peerbhai said. “At a time like this, it has given me a solid foundation to make a difference in communities that are less fortunate.”

His advice to future participants in the contest is, “to go for it, since it entails the most life-changing challenges students in our era can face. No classroom teachings can provide you with the same values and experiences.”

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