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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.


“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

News Archive

UFS provides sign language skills to locals
2016-02-12

Description: UFS provides sign language skills to locals  Tags: Sign language

Susan Lombaard teaching at one of the sessions
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

The public and private sectors are becoming more aware of the need for effective communication between employers, employees, and clients who use Sign Language. Given that Sign Language is the first language of approximately 600 000 people in South Africa, competence in the language means taking the first step towards more inclusive service delivery.
 
Shout Out Loud - a project that promotes Sign Language - has signed up Bloemfontein Celtics, Centlec, Beyond Boundaries, and the Mangaung Municipality on a Basic South African Sign Language course at the University of the Free State.
 
No miscommunication
 
Susan Lombaard, the Acting Head at the Department of South African Sign Language, was one of the lecturers who presented the 40-hour accredited course every Friday from 15 January-12 February 2016. Other lecturers who were responsible for training were Emily Matabane and Tshisikhawe Dzhivani.
 
Lombaard believes that learning Sign Language bridges the gap between the hearing and those who have impairments. “The benefit is that there will be no miscommunication. It happens that a deaf person walks into a bank or municipality offices and there is no communication. They need to write which is humiliating for that person.”
 
Towards a promising future
 
According to Goodwill Mokoena, Project Manager at Beyond Boundaries, the project will continue annually, and a larger intake of government departments and non-governmental organisations is expected in 2016.He also indicated that Shout Out Loud has achieved substantial success in its involvement with the Bartimea School for the Blind and Deaf.

Shout Out Loud selects one pupil every month, and flies them to Johannesburg to interpret on Bloemfontein Celtics’ magazine show. It is the only magazine show in South Africa that has a sign language interpreter. “The school has been achieving 100% in matric results because the pupils are selected on merit. This has enhanced their academic performance in such a marvelous way,” said Mokoena.

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