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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

Researcher in Plant Breeding one of nine women on the African continent to receive acknowledgement for work in food security
2015-08-04

 
 Prof Maryke Labuschagne

Prof Maryke Labuschagne, Plant Breeding researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), is one of only nine women on the African continent to receive the prestigious ‘Country Lifetime Achiever Award’ from Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Programme (MIW) this year.

During a breakfast event, CEO Communications recognised the Most Influential Women in SADC South who are Building Nations. The event took place at the Vodacom Dome in Midrand on 28 July 2015.

She received the award for her commitment and continuous contributions to food security. “I am concerned about this. We need to develop people who can go into Africa to work together for food security on the continent,” says Prof Labuschagne.

Prof Labuschagne
and her students’ research focuses on the genetic improvement of food security crops in Africa, including such staples as maize and cassava. “These crops are genetically improved for yield, drought tolerance, disease, and insect resistance, as well nutritional value.”

“Food security is one of the key factors for stability and prosperity on the continent,” she says.

Apart from the fact that her research is helping to provide food for thousands of people on the continent, she is also an NRF-rated researcher, and author or co-author of over 160 articles in accredited journals.

This is not the firstaward that Prof Labuschagne has received for her work. In 2008, she was chosen as the National Agriculturalist of the Year by the Agricultural Writers Association of South Africa. In 2012, she received the Researcher of the Year award from Grain South Africa, as well as the African Union’s Kwame Nkrumah Science Award for Life Sciences on the continent. 

The Country Lifetime Achiever Award is a prestigious award that recognises and honours the lifelong efforts, achievements, and contributions by individuals in their local communities. This recognition covers all sectors and countries, to create a platform where the work and involvement of extraordinary people can be displayed and noted.

About the award, Prof Labuschagne says: “It is always great to be recognised for your work.”

Elana Meyer (athlete) and Thuli Madonsela (Public Protector and advocate) have also received awards from the programme this year.

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