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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

Digital Storytelling empowers and liberates students
2014-10-17

In January 2014, Jode Brexa, an American Fulbright scholar, came to our university and moved into the guest room at Welwitschia residence.

It so happened that Brexa and Elize Rall, residence head of Welwitschia – better known as Wel-Wel – started talking about digital storytelling. Brexa’s Digital Storytelling project captured Rall’s imagination. Shortly thereafter, Brexa convinced the RC members of Wel-Wel to participate in the project.

Digital storytelling is, on the most basic level, the use of computer-based resources to tell stories. The idea is to combine the art of storytelling with multimedia – including graphics, photos, text, audio, image and/or music.

The Wel-Wel students were taught storytelling skills and each student’s unique story was recorded and edited. It was so successful that they then showed their stories to the Rector and Dean of Students. Brexa will now – with their permission – take their stories to America with her, where she will share it with her community.

During the weekend of 10–12 October 2014, the RC of Wel-Wel introduced 12 learners, who are currently in Grade 10 at the Christiaan Liphoko School, to the project. The learners stayed in the gazellie for the weekend and, in the course of a few days, learned how much power is locked up in their personal stories. They learned that everyone’s story has the power to inspire and empower.

Wel-Wel has been involved in various outreach projects to the community. However, this was the first time that Wel-Wel literally brought the community to their doorstep. This is also not a charitable project. It is uplifted students reaching out to the youth to empower them in order to empower others in turn.

Meanwhile, Brexa also linked the project to the university’s Schools Partnership Project. The programme works through mentorship programmes to uplift previously disadvantaged schools. Hands were also taken with Columba Leadership NGO – financed by Old Mutual.

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