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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

Socially inclusive teaching provides solution to Grade 4 literacy challenges
2017-01-23

 Description: Motselisi Malebese Tags: Motselisi Malebese

Mots’elisi Malebese, postdoctoral Fellow of the Faculty
of Education at the University of the Free State (UFS) tackles
Grade 4 literacy challenges.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

Imagine a teaching approach that inculcates richness of culture and knowledge to individual learners, thus enhancing equity, equality, social justice, freedom, hope and fairness in terms of learning opportunities for all, regardless of learners’ diversity.

This teaching strategy was introduced by Mots’elisi Malebese, postdoctoral Fellow of the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State (UFS), whose thesis focuses on bringing together different skills, knowledge and expertise in a classroom environment in order to enhance learners’ competence in literacy.

A teaching approach to aid Grade 4 literacy competency
Titled, A Socially Inclusive Teaching Strategy to Respond to Problems of Literacy in a Grade 4 Class, Malebese’s post-doctoral research refers to an approach that improves listening, speaking, reading, writing, technical functioning and critical thinking. Malebese, who obtained her PhD qualification in June this year, says her research confirmed that, currently, Grade 4 is a bottleneck stage, at which learners from a low socio-economic background fall behind in their learning due to the transition from being taught in their home language to English as a medium of instruction.

Malebese, says: “My study, therefore, required practical intervention through participatory action research (PAR) to create conditions that foster space for empowerment.”

PAR indoctrinates a democratic way of living that is equitable, liberating and life-enhancing, by breaking away from traditional teaching methods. It involves forming coalitions with individuals with the least social, cultural and economic power.

Malebese’s thesis was encouraged by previous research that revealed that a lack of readiness for a transitional phase among learners, teachers’ inability to teach literacy efficiently, and poor parental involvement, caused many learners to experience a wide variety of learning barriers.

A co-teaching model was adopted in an effort to create a more socially inclusive classroom. This model involves one teacher providing every learner with the assistance he or she needs to succeed, while another teacher moves around the room and provides assistance to individual learners.

“Learners’ needs are served best by allowing them to demonstrate understanding in a variety of ways, because knowledge is conveyed and accomplished through collaborative work,” Malebese said.

She believes the most important benefit of this model is assuring that learners become teachers of their understanding and experiences through gained knowledge.

Roleplayers get involved using diverse expertise in their field
Teachers, parents and several NGOs played a vital role in Malebese’s study by getting involved in training, sewing and cooking clubs every weekend and during school holidays. English was the medium of teaching and learning in every activity. A lodge, close to the school, offered learners training in mountain biking and hiking. These activities helped learners become tour guides. Storyteller Gcina Mhlophe presented learners with a gift of her latest recorded storytelling CD and books. Every day after school, learners would read, and have drama lessons once a week.

AfriGrow, an organisation that works with communities, the government and the corporate sector to develop sustainable community-driven livelihoods through agricultural and nutrition programmes, provided learners with seedlings, manure and other garden inputs and training on how to start a sustainable food garden. The children were also encouraged to participate in sporting activities like soccer and netball.

“I was aware that I needed a large toolbox of instructional strategies, and had to involve other stakeholders with diverse expertise in their field,” Malebese said.

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