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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

Transforming lives through reading
2014-08-11

 
The UFS Library and Information Services visited Lekhulong Senior Secondary School as one of their community development projects commemorating Mandela Day on 25 June 2014. Situated in the Bloemfontein township of Rocklands, the school’s library was depleted of books and in need of a total revamp. The group of change agents under the guidance and leadership of Marcus Maphile, Assistant Director: Information Services, consisted of seventeen library staff members, library ambassadors and volunteers from Student Life and Leadership.

A total of 450 books were donated to the school. The range of books was made up of mainly dictionaries and encyclopaedias. Fifty of these copies were acquired through the ‘Buy or Donate a Book’ campaign run by the library earlier this year.

In thanking the UFS library, the school’s principal, Mash Mawasha said reading has always been a challenge for his learners and that he is confident that this will be a major turning point for them.

The Director of Library Services, Betsy Eister, expressed the UFS library’s commitment to this project. She pledged regular visits to the school to ensure that Lekhulong library staff are trained on how to run the library and that teachers include library books in their teaching.

“We try to ensure that by the time learners arrive at universities,” Maphile said, “they have exposure to libraries, that they acquire a love for reading books and most importantly have confidence not only to express themselves but to use the library system efficiently.”

The book donation programme has been running successfully for two years and apart from revitalising school libraries in disadvantaged communities, the UFS library staff provides training and support to teacher librarians. Next year, the team plans to extend their project to another community in Bloemfontein – that of Headstart High School.


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