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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

Latest information technology employed to make learning in Disaster Management easy
2014-10-20



Prof Dusan Sakulski
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs
Live, colourful, interactive, real-time-calculated. This is how Prof Dusan Sakulski, researcher and lecturer from the UFS’s Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC), describes his e-learning platform implemented in this department.

Rather than producing research that gathers dust somewhere in a cabinet, Prof Sakulski believes that research should be used to make life easier, not only for society, but also for his students.
 
This educational civil engineer, who is responsible for information technology implementation in disaster risk management, developed through his research several programs to optimise the three contact sessions DiMTEC students have to attend each year.
 
One of the initiatives implemented by Prof Sakulski and his daughter Teodora, was the recording, editing and compiling of theoretical lessons and making it available to students online. “Students then don’t have the excuse of missing a class. Furthermore, it allows them to rather focus on group work during contact sessions and to discuss problems they encountered with the work,” he says.
 
Students also have access to an early-warning system portal for the prediction of hazards, including droughts, floods, rain and temperature. In the disaster-risk environment, this program is very useful, not only for students, but also for practitioners working with this kind of data on a daily basis. The operational and educational application works in real time – with the click of a mouse students and practitioners have access to information on current weather conditions. Indicators for possible natural disasters are also built into this program. Truly a useful application when you are working in the field of disaster risk management.

Difficult and technical data are presented live, with information that is colourful, interactive, real-time-calculated and audible, thanks to embedded mathematical language. In this way, students can learn, memorise and understand their work better.


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