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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

Deaf Awareness Month empowers the hearing impaired
2015-09-21

There are more sign languages in the world than spoken languages. About 600 000 deaf South Africans have the South African Sign Language (SASL) as their first language. There are about 40 schools for the deaf in South Africa. 90% of all deaf children are born to hearing parents. Only about 30% of speech is visible on the lips.

How many of these fundamental facts did you know?

Deaf Awareness Month serves to educate hearing communities about issues that the deaf population face on a daily basis, as well as to honour the history and culture of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. For the past 70 years, the University of the Free State (UFS) has dedicated September to hosting events around the topic of hearing impairment.

The theme of ‘With South African Sign Language rights, our children can!’

This year’s theme had learners from Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind, hearing impaired UFS students, and Prof Jonathan Jansen engaged in a conversation around empowerment at a picnic held on Monday 7 September 2015 at the Red Square on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Through a sign language interpreter, Matshela, a grade 12 learner, explained that he felt empowered by the efforts the university has made to embrace and empower individuals with disabilities. He then revealed his intentions of pursuing Information Technology or Social Work studies at Kovsies.

Clifford Machete, a first-year Administration student at the university, stated how sign language interpreters gave him an ‘I can’ attitude when he first arrived at university.  “As a deaf person, I see that I am able to learn with the help of sign language interpreters. There is accessibility at the university, and I am so proud to be a student here and part of Deaf Awareness Month.”

Susan Lombaard, Lecturer and Acting Chairperson at the Department of South African Sign Language, believes that Deaf Awareness Month is about promoting human dignity.

“We want to show the world that deaf people can do everything, and that their language is as strong and important as any spoken language.”

For more information regarding Deaf Awareness Month activities, contact the South African Sign Language Department on 051 401 2251.

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