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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

UFS attracts excellent and diverse students
2015-08-20


Matshediso Mokoena and Thato Monkoe.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

When Thato Monkoe and Matshediso Mokoena sat for their final matric examinations in 2014, all they had on their minds was not just passing, but passing well. Little did they know at that time that passing well would place so much responsibility on their shoulders.

 

Both Thato and Matshediso come from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds. They are first-year students at the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State, and are the first in their respective families to study at a university.

 

Thato describes his situation as “sad and good at the same time”.

 

“It is good, because I am the first one at home to have completed my matric and to have gone on to study at a tertiary institution. At the same time, it is sad as I feel sorry for my siblings who, for various reasons, did not have similar opportunities when they opted out of school”, said Thato, a BEd student.

 

”Now my sister and brother, as well as the entire family, perceive me as the one with brains, and this makes me uncomfortable. However, I am up for the challenge to be the first one to graduate with a degree in my family”.

 

Matshediso Mokoena, a BSc student, who obtained distinctions in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences last year, concurs with Thato.

 

”As much as my family is supportive, there is always pressure as they expect the best from me,” she said.

 

“The pressure does not only come from my family. My entire community looks up to me, and they can’t stop talking about my achievements”, Matshediso revealed.

 

Both Thato and Matshediso are, however, happy that the dark cloud of doubt about academic achievement in their families has finally disappeared.

 

“At least someone in my family is hard at work carving her future, and willing to set a good example. That person is me”, said Matshediso, who aspires to be a medical doctor, and has a younger sister in Grade 8.

 

Thato and Matshediso are just two of hundreds of students making good use of the University of the Free State’s commitment to attract excellent and diverse students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as reflected in the Strategic Plan 2015-2020.


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