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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

Kovsie champ makes SA Paralympic swimmers team
2015-06-05

Johann van Heerden
Photo: Supplied

Johann van Heerden will fly the Kovsie flag high in this year’s International Paralympic Committee (lPC) Swimming Championships in Glasgow. The University of the Free State first-year BEd student is one of 10 South Africans representing our country.

According to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, 640 swimmers from about 50 countries are to plunge and stroke their way to the touch plates from 13-19 July.

“I first started swimming because I had a fit when I was born and it caused me to have Cerebral Palsy. My parents thought that, because my right-hand-side functioning was not good, swimming might help strengthen my muscles,” said Johann.

His parents played a major role in influencing the beginning of his professional swimming career.

Lauren van Heerden, Johann’s father, said, “I am so excited for him, and I am proud that he will be representing our country overseas. It is a big competition so it is a good experience for him.”

Qualifying for the IPC championships has proved that hard work pays off. As his coach, Mark Markgraaff, puts it: “Johann must go out there and have fun, most importantly; he will reap the benefits of his hard work.”

It is not only his parents and coach that Johann has made proud; Hetsie Veitch, Assistant Director of the Unit for Students with Disabilities, also expressed how proud she is.

“Since I’ve known him, he has been a very determined young man who is dedicated to his sport.”

The Rio Paralympics is where Johann envisions being next year.

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