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19 March 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Thabo Kessah
Thokozile Thulo
Thokozile Thulo says the UFS has changed its focus in supporting students with disabilities.

The Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) has recently opened a permanent office on the Qwaqwa Campus The centre aims to ensure that the University of the Free State increasingly becomes a universally accessible higher-education institution which embraces students with various disabilities.

Thokozile Thulo, CUADS Assistant Officer at Qwaqwa said: “Our focus has changed from ‘special’ accommodation for individuals to the creation of a learning environment that is welcoming and empowering to all students. Integrated learning and education methodologies and processes are being researched and developed to create more awareness among lecturing staff. This incorporates universal design, faculty instruction and curricula.” 

The CUADS office assists students to gain access to study courses, learning materials, various buildings and residences, computer facilities and specialised exams and tests. For visually-impaired students, study material and textbooks in Braille, audio, e-text or enlarged format are provided. 

The office also supports students with various psychosocial and chronic conditions such as epilepsy and panic disorder, as well as learning difficulties such as dyslexia and hyperactivity. “In addition, we support students with special arrangements such as extra time for tests and exams,” said Thokozile.



News Archive

UFS leads the way with GMO testing
2003-08-25

A formal agreement linking Africa’s first testing facility for genetically modified organisms (GMO) to an international organization was signed at the University of the Free State.

According to the manager of the GMO testing facility, Dr Chris Viljoen of the Department of Plant Sciences, the facility is now part of GeneScan, a world leader in food diagnostic testing, which has its headquarters in Germany with subsidiaries in the Unites States, Brazil and Hong Kong.

The facility at the UFS has been selected by the second largest international food company to do all its South African GMO testing for export products.

The GMO testing facility is the brainchild of Dr Viljoen, who is a specialist in the field of marker biotechnology and its applications in crop science.

He says the need for such a testing facility arose due to the international regulations on GMOs in food, especially Europe and Asia that requires South African exporters to certify whether their products contain any GMO.

“The regulations in Europe and Asia reflect a consumer need for choice in what they eat due to concerns over the safety of GMOs, as well as environmental and ethical issues. GMO testing and labelling allow consumers the right of choice to eat genetically modified foods or not. According to EU regulations, any product with a GMO content of 1% or higher is labelled as containing GMO.”

According to Dr Viljoen only four products in South Africa are currently GMO. They are white and yellow maize that have been made insect resistant, soya bean that is herbicide tolerant and insect resistant cotton. He says that the awareness of GMOs among South Africans is still very limited, especially in poorer communities, but it is likely to increase with the efforts being made in consumer education by government, seed companies and NGOs.

The testing facility has been established to accommodate the local as well as international market. The GMO testing at the UFS facility is performed using real time PCR, the most advanced means of GMO detection currently available, and using GeneScan developed technology that is recognized worldwide.
 

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