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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 study finds initiation does not build character
2015-06-24

Photo: Canva.com

Initiation at schools and school hostels does not build character or loyalty. On the contrary, it is a violation of human dignity and the rights of children.

This is the opinion of researchers from the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Education after an exploratory study of initiation practices in schools.

Although the use of initiation in schools and school hostels is forbidden by the Regulations to Prohibit Initiation Practices in Schools, the study found that this practice is still widely evident in schools. The study also found that, in some cases, teachers and/or principals take part.

In the study, led by Dr Kevin Teise from the Faculty of Education, it was found that physical deeds and even violence and emotional degradation were inflicted under the guise of ‘initiation’.

The study was discussed recently during a panel discussion between the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Law, and the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice.

The ‘initiation activities’ that take place during school hours ranged from carrying senior learners’ bags or doing other favours for them, handing over their food or food money, doing senior learners’ homework, and looking down when they speak to senior learners.

In school hostels, it was found that learners were expected to do humiliating things, and were also subjected to physical demands and even violence. Learners pointed out that they were smeared and beaten, their heads pushed into toilets, they had to bath or shower in cold water, they had to eat strange things, and they were prevented from sleeping.

Dr Teise says initiation practices are a general phenomenon in the schools and school hostels that took part in the investigation. Newcomers were subjected to silly and innocent practices, but also to physically and emotionally degrading, and even dangerous ones, before and after school, and during breaks and sports- and cultural gatherings.

“The study’s findings give every indication that the constitutional principles on which the policy document, Regulations to Prohibit Initiation Practices in Schools, is modelled, are not being put into practice and respected at these schools. Policy documents and school rules are pointless if learners, old pupils, parents, teachers, and the broad community consider initiation an acceptable behaviour that is, ostensibly, an inseparable part of school or hostel tradition and of the maturation and/or team-building processes.”

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