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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

UFS invests in community journalists
2013-12-09

The first group of journalists who completed the Department of Communication Science’s short-learning programme for community journalists. The course was developed by Mrs Willemien Marais (far left) and Mrs Margaret Linström (far right). In front in the middle are Prof Lucius Botes, Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, and Mr Lumko Mtimde, CEO of the Media Development and Diversity Agency, the sponsor of the programme. Fifth from right is Ms Manana Monareng Wa Stone, Programme Manager of the MDDA.

An investment in our people, our region and our democracy. This is the value of the Department of Communication Science’s short-learning programme for community journalists.

The first 20 community journalists from radio stations and newspapers in the Free State and Northern Cape received their certificates recently after successfully completing the course Basic Journalism Skills for Community Media.

This credit-bearing short-learning programme is fully sponsored by the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), a statutory body with the aim of developing and promoting community media.

The University of the Free State (UFS) is the first university in South Africa that presents a course of this nature. “It is also the first large-scale formal training of community journalists in the Free State and Northern Cape,” says Mrs Margaret Linström, journalism lecturer in the Department of Communication Science. She developed the course together with another journalism lecturer in the Department, Mrs Willemien Marais. “What distinguishes our programme for similar programmes is the element of mentoring,” explains Marais. Students attend a week-long training session on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS. The lecturers then visit all the participating newsrooms to provide further training in terms of the unique challenges of their area. “During the second semester we’ve travelled more than 3000 km to visit radio stations and newspapers as far afield as Springbok and Phuthaditjhaba,” says Linström.

During the certificate ceremony the CEO of the MDDA, Mr Lumko Mtimde, said this partnership with the UFS has the potential to make a tangible difference in communities. “Combined community media reaches the largest target audience in the country. Against this background the importance of training community journalists becomes very clear,” says Mtimde.

The role of community journalists differ from that of journalists who work for state or commercial media. Yet most of these community journalists fall outside the network of formal training, mostly due to a lack of resources and access to training.

“This course has changed my life. I came back as a newborn baby for whom everything is new!” said Mr Setona Selisa from Naledi FM in Senekal. Selisa and his colleague, Mr Teboho Mabuya, received the award for the best participants of the 2013 course.

 

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