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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. 



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Interior dome of Naval Hill planetarium reaches completion
2013-09-04

 

Work on the inside of the dome
Photo: Reinier Brönn
01 September 2013

The interior perforated aluminium planetarium dome has been installed by an American expert from Astro-Tec, the American company that customised the dome for the planetarium on Naval Hill. The planetarium, the first digital planetarium in sub-Saharan Africa, is scheduled to open in November 2013. The UFS manages the project.

The dome arrived in parts by ship from the USA in June 2013. These parts consisted of a number of long curved ‘ribs’ and numerous perforated panels. The panels were attached in sections to the ribs to form a smooth concave shell, creating the surface for the projection system.

The next step will be the installation of the projection system itself.

The 86-year old Lamont-Hussey Observatory on Naval Hill, also known as the Sterrewag Theatre, is home to the planetarium. The planetarium is the first component of a proposed Centre for Earth and Space. This will be a multi-purpose facility to promote science communication and preservation, and the arts.

This project is a long-term partnership between three main organisations, each bringing essential components to the project: the Mangaung Metro Municipality (MMM) as the land-owner, the Free State Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DETEA) and the UFS, which developed the concept for the planetarium project and will be responsible for its operation and further fundraising endeavours.

The National Department of Science and Technology also joined this venture subsequent to providing substantial funding to the UFS in order to purchase the projection system for the planetarium.

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