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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

Service learning teaching strategy essential for the infusion of graduate attributes
2017-01-02

Description: Dr Pulane Pitso Tags: Dr Pulane Pitso 

Dr Pulane Pitso, Director: Institutional Performance
Monitoring within Performance Monitoring and Evaluation
Branch in the Department of the Premier, Free State
Provincial Government (FSPG).
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“Public service delivery is not only about ‘government’s sector end products’, but is also fundamentally related to the ways in which the citizens can be best served at the point of client interface, as the primary beneficiaries.”

It is against this backdrop that Dr Pulane Pitso’s study explored the role of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in infusing the curriculum with graduate attributes for improved service delivery. The study is entitled: Community service learning as a transformative tool for infusing the university curriculum with graduate attributes for improved service delivery.
 
Citizens the central focus in public-service delivery
Although with the advent of democracy, the South African public service introduced the Batho Pele “people first” initiative which is one of the key transformation-oriented initiatives to ensure that citizens are the central focus in public service  delivery. An extant literature indicates that more work by the government still needs to be done in terms of the institutionalisation and implementation thereof.

Notwithstanding that public service is primarily responsible for addressing challenges related to poor service delivery, Dr Pitso moved from a premise that a multifaceted and collaborative approach, underpinned by a concerted effort by all relevant sectors, is more likely to contribute significantly towards improving service delivery. Specific focus was given to sectors primarily mandated to lay foundations through training and development such as HEIs, since the nature and quality of public service largely depends on the nature, quality and relevance of the system of education.

CSL a transformative teaching strategy
The basis for her thesis, emanated from the contention that public service delivery is a dynamic process which cultivates into a citizen-government relationship.

“It is this relationship that makes the implementation of the Batho Pele initiative crucial in ensuring that the social fabric and moral character of government is not compromised, thus the sustainability and facilitation of the emerged relationship,” Dr Pitso says.

The study focuses on the notion of community service learning (CSL) as an increasingly recognised transformative teaching strategy. It transcends lecture halls and utilises communities as educational spaces to provide practical exposure to real-life experiences to students on both learning and serving the communities.

Instilling graduate attributes in students
Dr Pitso’s thesis, which was predominately qualitative in nature, comprised two main stages. The first stage of the study focused on determining the current state of the public service in terms of the implementation of the Batho Pele principles. Whereas with the second stage, the focus was on determining the extent to which the graduate attributes are instilled in students by means of an exit-level CSL module at the UFS.

Dr Pitso’s thesis, which was awarded to her on 30 June 2016, is the product of five years of hard work, commitment and perseverance. She said it would not have been realised if it had not been for the leadership and mentorship of her promoter, Prof Mabel Erasmus, and co-promoter, Prof Victor Teise.

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