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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

IRSJ marks five years of championing social justice
2016-08-12

Description: IRSJ 5 year Tags: IRSJ 5 year

Members of the Advisory Board of the IRSJ,
Prof Michalinos Zembylas (Open University
of Cyprus), Prof Shirley Anne Tate (Leeds
University, England), and Prof Relebohile
Moletsane (University of KwaZulu-Natal),
listen to a speaker on the programme.
Photo: Lihlumelo Toyana

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) marked its fifth anniversary with a function on 27 July 2016 in the Reitz Hall of the Centenary Complex on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). Earlier that day, the Advisory Board of the IRSJ, chaired by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, hosted their annual meeting.

A new book was also launched, co-authored by JC van der Merwe, Deputy-Director at the IRSJ and Dionne van Reenen, researcher and PhD candidate at the IRSJ. It is entitled Transformation and Legitimation in Post-apartheid Universities: Reading Discourses from ‘Reitz’. The function featured not only reflections on the IRSJ, but a four-member panel discussion of the book and higher education in 2016.

The IRSJ came into being officially at the UFS in January 2011. Prof André Keet, Director of the IRSJ, said: “With a flexibility and trust not easily found in the higher education sector, the university management gave us the latitude and support to fashion an outfit that responds to social life within and outside the borders of the university, locally and globally.”

The IRSJ has not hesitated to be bold and
courageous in reforming ... traditional policies."

 

Prof Jansen went on to mention three things he finds appealing about the IRSJ: “Thanks to Prof Keet and his team’s vision and understanding of how important it is for students to have a space in which they can learn how to be, learn how to think, and learn how to contribute, the IRSJ has become a place where students can learn about things that they might not learn in the classroom. Second, it created, for the first time, a space where members of the LGBTIQ community could gather in one place. And third, it speaks to the intellectual life of the university, as evidenced by the research and publications produced over the past few years.”

Prof Jansen added: “The IRSJ will only be successful to the extent that we have safe spaces, courageous spaces, in which not only black students talk to themselves, but where black and white students talk together about their difficulties. If you’re entangled, you can’t get out of [that] unless you speak to the other person.”

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Prof Michalinos Zembylas of the Open University of Cyprus and member of the Advisory Board, said of the IRSJ: “The works produced by the institute in this short time have been valuable to this community and beyond, because they recognise the complexities of education, ... while pushing the boundaries of how to translate theoretical discussions into practical, everyday conditions. ... For example, the IRSJ has not hesitated to be bold and courageous in reforming some traditional policies in this university—remnants of an ambivalent past that reproduced inequality and disadvantage.

In reflecting on how the IRSJ came into being during her opening remarks, Dr Lis Lange, Vice-Rector: Academic at the UFS, said that it has always been “dedicated to transformation.” She added that it “gathered the energy and creativity of some of our most promising student leaders.” She concluded: “For me, the greatest success of the Institute, besides publications and local and international networks, is the fact that something that started in the margins is being asked today to come closer to the centre, to play a larger role in the structural transformation of the university.”

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