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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

Agriculture must adapt to change
2008-11-28

 

At the launch of "50 years of agriculture" at the UFS were, from the left: Mr Corwyn Botha: Chairman: Agri Business Chamber and Managing Director: Cape Agri Group, Mr Motsepe Matlala, President of NAFU, Mr Hans van der Merwe, Executive Head: Agri SA, Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk: Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS, and Mr Sugar Ramakarane, Head: Department of Agriculture, Free State Province.
Photo: Lacea Loader

 “The biggest factor driving agriculture today is change. Our major challenge is to adapt to this changing environment.” This was stated by Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) during the recent celebration of the faculty’s “50 years in agriculture”.

Prof. Van Schalkwyk stated that the most important changes include power relationships in supply chains, consumer demand, new products and technology in agriculture, government action and developments in neighbouring states. “At the moment there is very little cooperation between small-scale farmers, small-scale farmers and commercial farmers and farmers and processors. There are also low levels of processing, low levels of value adding and a lack of creative thinking in agriculture," he said.

“This must change – we need comprehensive agricultural support and new business ideas in agriculture. We need better infrastructure, value chain financing and improved institutional support,” he said.

Speaking about agriculture and institutional co-operation in the Free State, Mr Sugar Ramakarane, Chief Director of the Free State Department of Agriculture, said that the UFS plays a vital role in bringing together organised agriculture in the province. “The responsibility of transforming our economy cannot be done by government alone. We need partners like the UFS to assist us with bringing together the two most important stakeholders of the agricultural sector, namely the National Farmers’ Union (NAFU) and Free State Agriculture. You can assist us with harnessing co-operation and providing practical solutions," he said

Mr Ramakarane said that his department is aware of the university’s good work with emerging farmers. “But, I want to encourage the university to help us with skills transfer and the development of the emerging farmers. You can play a vital role in developing a mentorship programme. Yours remains a central and critical role of being torch bearers in guiding the transformation agenda of our country," he said.

In his contribution on the challenges of small scale farmers in South Africa and the role of the university, Mr Motsepe Matlala, President of NAFU, said that unity in organised agriculture and working together with other stakeholders has become even more crucial with regard to the global challenges now faced by the country. “The university should take the lead in guiding all farmers on how to respond to, among others, the global financial turmoil and politics, developments in trade negotiations, food prices, input costs and the availability of energy," he said.

“If the UFS, and more specifically the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, is to continue to play a leading role in academia as well as in the production of research that matters to the growth and development of this country, it must adopt an approach that seeks to harness the capacity of everyone in an inclusive manner. The strides already made in this regard must be applauded,” Mr Matlala said.

Speaking on the future challenges in agriculture and the role of universities, Mr Hans van der Merwe, Executive Head of Agri SA said that South Africa has not spent money on agricultural development in a long time. “We must increase our product capacity in the agricultural sector. Universities must focus on cultivating enough expertise and the skills necessary to manage the resources and capacity needed," he said. In his view, South Africa must also focus on technological advancement in agriculture as this has also been neglected in the past. He urged universities to provide best-practice education and to look at international trends in agricultural training. “That is why we should not only focus our attention on South Africa, but on southern Africa,” Mr van der Merwe said.

In conclusion to the day’s programme, Mr Corwyn Botha, Chairperson of the Agricultural Business Chamber, Managing Director of the Cape Agri Group and former Kovsie stated that: “If you want to be an example of leadership, people around you must do better because you are there. A university should evaluate itself in this context. You cannot create solutions to problems with the same attitude in which the problems were created."

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
28 November 2008
 

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