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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

How are children taught about sexuality?
2014-01-05

 

Prof Dennis Francis
How is sexuality taught at schools? More importantly, why is heteronormativity taught at schools?

These are the questions that drive Prof Dennis Francis, Dean of the Faculty of Eduation, in his research on sexuality education.

His extensive research papers point out how schools promote compulsory heterosexuality and that homosexuality is something to be hidden and kept separate from teaching, learning and daily school life.

Prof Francis’ research dates back to the early 2000s, when he became concerned about the high HIV prevalence and other sexually transmitted diseases among 15-25-year-olds and the dropping age of sexual debut, as well as the increase of sexually active teenagers that are not adequately protecting themselves against undesired pregnancies and disease.

It was in the light of this that he started looking at how messages of sex and sexuality were conveyed to adolescents before becoming sexually active.

From 2006 to 2008, he was awarded a Medical Research Council Grant under the MRC research priority area of HIV/Aids.

In the past three years, he has collaborated with Dr Renee de Palma, a leading international European scholar who has published widely on sexuality education, gender and heteronormativity.

Using a National Research Foundation (NRF) grant, they collected data from 25 sexuality educators across the Free State on the teaching of sexuality education. They have published three articles in peer-reviewed journals, one is in press, one book chapter was published and two are currently under review.

Prof Francis says he is also pursuing a research project in the teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender education in the sexuality education curriculum.

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