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25 April 2019 | Story Mamosa Makaya

Since 2016, the University of the Free State Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has received a grant from First National Bank worth R2 498 000, which supports tertiary bursaries for students with disabilities. Bursary holders are funded through CUADS, as the administrator of the bursaries.
  
These are students enrolled for various academic programmes who require academic assistance and/or assistive devices such as electronic handheld magnifiers, laptops, and hearing aids. The FNB grant also covers tuition, accommodation, study material and books, and meals.  The success of the grant is already evident, with one of the recipients having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2018. A second student was capped at the April 2019 graduations with a BSc Honours in Quantity Surveying.
 
Supporting the principles of the ITP

The UFS received the grant from FNB in instalments, starting in the 2016 academic year to date, supporting the needs of 40 disabled students. This grant and the work of CUADS speaks to and supports the principles of the Integrated Transformation Plan (ITP), namely inclusivity, transformation, and diversity. The vision of the Universal Access work stream is to enable the UFS to create an environment where students with disabilities can experience all aspects of student life equal to their non-disabled peers. The ITP provides for the recognition of the rights of people with disabilities as an important lesson in social justice and an opportunity to reinforce university values.

The successful administration of the grant to benefit past and present students is a ‘feather in the cap’ of CUADS, and is a shining example of the impact of public private investment and the endless possibilities that open up when there is a commitment to developing future leaders in academic spaces, allowing them to thrive by creating a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering. 



News Archive

South Campus delivers out-of-the-box solutions
2017-11-07

 Description: ' AIO all in one device Tags: AIO all in one device

The AIO device as deployed in an IBP school.
Photo: Elrieka van Dalen

The IDEAS Lab on our South Campus supports learners in 83 schools by means of academic videos transmitted via the Internet Broadcast Project (IBP) and its own custom-built All-in-One (AIO) device. The project is a collaboration between UFS and the Department of Education in the Free State. It includes support for Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Science, Economics, Accounting, and Geography.

The AIO was purpose-built by the team at IDEAS Lab to facilitate the delivery of video lectures from highly-qualified teachers to identified schools. It comprises a projector, speakers, and a computer, which are housed in a custom-made, hard-wearing frame. The AIO is then set up at each school to which lessons are broadcast.

On-the-job training for educators

Educators have not been overlooked, either. UFS was the very first university to provide an Advanced Certificate in Teaching in a fully digital format, the ACT Online programme. It is designed for practicing teachers to upskill themselves in order to better address the needs in the classroom, not only advancing their career, but strengthening their knowledge, competencies, and subject specialisation as well. Ultimately, this leads to an improved quality of education, which has a profound impact on multitudes of students around South Africa.

CSIR joint initiative

Coupled with these projects is a new joint initiative termed ICT For Education. This project sees the CSIR collaborating with the national Department of Education, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, and the UFS. For this project, 24 primary and secondary schools in South Africa were identified to promote technological advancement in the education sector. Tablet computers have been allocated and already deployed at these schools, to learners as well as nearly 400 teachers.

South Campus is involved in the training of the teachers and learners in the use of the tablets in the classroom and other educational opportunities. In addition, training for 48 unemployed young people who will be providing first-line support began in March at a school in Thaba Nchu. The course on IT support is structured in such a way that anyone in the community can take it, starting out with topics such as My role in the community.

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