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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

The Shepherd Centre celebrates decade of empowering spiritual leaders
2016-08-01

The Shepherd Centre functions under the auspices of the Faculty of Theology at the University of the Free State (UFS), and arose out of a need for non-denominational adult-learning programmes for those actively involved in the ministry. According to the director, Dr Gerhard Botha, the centre came into being to assist spiritual leaders: “The Shepherd Centre takes on the shepherding responsibility for spiritual leaders of all Christian churches.”

Planning started in 2005, when the need was identified for foundation-phase education in the wider church community. Dr Botha was appointed as the director of the centre in 2006, and given the task of compiling a suitable curriculum. The aim of the curriculum is to enable spiritual leaders to provide current interpretations of scripture for a modern society. From the first handful of students a decade ago, The Shepherd Centre has grown by mid-2016 to 300 adult learners enrolled in the short learning programmes, many of which are catered for at the satellite sites in Kimberley, Koffiefontein, Kroonstad, Qwaqwa/Kestell, Thaba Nchu, Zeerust, and the South Campus of the UFS.

This initiative has extended its reach even further than the boundaries of the Free State. In 2014, Dr Botha and Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, visited Ethiopia, and signed an agreement of mutual collaboration with the Full Gospel Church there. In addition, a Shepherds4Africa programme is involved in Christian communities and with Christian religious leaders in several other countries, providing training opportunities to various indigenous churches, with the greater vision of spreading the Word to all countries in Africa and beyond. Dr Botha states that their hope is to provide the tools needed in order to make the community of faith as healthy so as to build its moral fibre.

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