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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

Space-based information plays vital role in disaster-risk reduction
2017-02-28

Africa is one of the continents most affected by disasters triggered by natural hazards. The result of climate change is a reality that affects every human being, whether it is extreme heat waves, cyclones, or the devastation of drought and floods. Climate change can provoke injuries or fatalities and affects the livelihoods of people in both rural communities and urban areas. It triggers damage and losses in various sectors of development, such as housing, road infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, telecommunications, energy, and affects routine economic processes leading to economic losses.

According to Dr Dumitru Dorin Prunariu, President of the Association of Space Explorers Europe, space programmes have become an important force defining challenges of the 21st century. “Space observation is essential for climate-change monitoring,” he said.

Dr Prunariu was the keynote speaker at a two-day symposium on climate resilience and water that was hosted by the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC), at the University of the Free State (UFS). He participated in the Soviet Union’s Intercosmos programme and completed an eight day-mission on board Soyuz 40 and the Salyut 6 space laboratory, where he and fellow cosmonaut Leonid Popov completed scientific experiments in the fields of astrophysics, space radiation, space technology, space medicine, and biology. He is the 103rd human being to have travelled to outer space.

The focus of Dr Prunariu’s lecture was: Space activities in support of climate change mitigation and climate resilience.

Description: Dr Dumitriu Dorin Prunariu Tags: Dr Dumitriu Dorin Prunariu

Dr Dumitru Dorin Prunariu, the 103rd human
being in outer space and President of
the Association of Space Explorers Europe.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Space-based information, an extra eye that can detect a way out during disasters
“For governments to support communities affected by any disaster, precise and up-to-date information on its impacts is essential as a way to respond in a timely and effective way,” said Dr Prunariu.

Space-based information (derived using Earth observation, global navigation satellite systems, and satellite communications) can play a vital role in supporting disaster-risk reduction, response, and recovery efforts, by providing accurate and timely information to decision-makers.

“With space-based information, disaster management teams will be able to take note of recently established roads that may not appear in typical maps produced by National Geographic Institutes, but which could be used as emergency evacuation routes or as roads to deliver humanitarian assistance to those who require it in remote areas."

Space-based tools help decision-makers to improve planning
“Space-based tools and spatial data infrastructure is also crucial for policy planners and decision-makers in increasing the resilience of human settlements. Using geographic data and information collected before the occurrence of major disasters in combination with post-disaster data could yield important ideas for improved urban planning, especially in disaster-prone areas and highly-populated regions.

“In the recovery process, information on impact is used by governments to provide assistance to those affected, to plan the reconstruction process, and to restore the livelihoods of those affected,” said Dr Prunariu.

“Space observation is
essential for climate-
change monitoring.”

The symposium was attended by representatives from Liberia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, with various international scientists from Europe imparting their expert knowledge on water and global resilience. The presence of these international experts strengthened global networks.

It isn't important in which sea or lake you observe a slick of pollution, or in the forests of which country a fire breaks out, or on which continent a hurricane arises, you are standing guard over the whole of our Earth. - Yuri Artyukhin: Soviet Russian cosmonaut and engineer who made a single flight into space.

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