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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

An education system based on hope is what South Africa needs – Dr Beryl Botman
2016-05-26

Description: Hope revised Tags: Hope revised

Dr Beryl Botman, a postdoctoral research
fellow at the IRSJ, with Dr Willy Nel research associate
at the IRSJ and lecturer at the UFS
Faculty of Education.

HOPE is tangible and concrete construct that should be rooted in the learning and training of teachers,” said Dr Beryl Botman, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ).

She presented her research paper Educators, praxis, and hope: A philosophical analysis of post-apartheid teacher education policy, based on the theoretical ideologies of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. She explores ways in which oppression has been justified, and how it has been overcome through a mutual process between the oppressor and the oppressed, drawing on Paolo Freire’s theories and practices. The presentation was held at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Faculty of Education, on the Bloemfontein campus on 13 May 2016.

From oppression to hope

Hope should be an educational construct for teacher education in South Africa. Dr Botman asserts that epistemology and ontology should be inseparable, as they are pivotal to an education system that is transformational.

The recent country-wide student protests and demonstrations are an indicant that education institutions need to seek understanding of mechanisms that fuel social conflict. Dr Botman claims that vast social inequalities make the process of democratisation difficult thus hindering transformation. She states that a critical consciousness is important for all South Africans, but more so for educators; it can be used as a tool to understanding the mechanisms of social conflict.

“Self-reflection and self-critique is vital for educators, we need to understand that we do not have all the answers because we ever-evolving beings, working on understanding ourselves and the people around us,” said Dr Botman.

The notion of hope
“I am a farmer. I have no hope for a future that is different from today. This quotation comes from Paulo Freire’s work," said Dr Botman. She said that the South African context and environment is similar. She said that people cannot live for today; one should live for tomorrow if hope is to manifest itself.

South African education environment needs to adopt a progressive consciousness that is future orientated, “You need to be hopeful, if you are radical. You need to be able to envision a new society and a new world,” said Dr Botman.

“You cannot only denounce the present, you need to also announce your hopes for a new society. South Africa needs education systems built on understanding. Although change is difficult, it is necessary for transformation,” Dr Botman added.

What makes hope educational?
“Hope is a vision for a tomorrow that is different, and vital for a transformative education system. To get out of a state of despair, people need to educate their hope. Lately, the issue of white privilege has been brought to the fore. You need to educate your hope, so that you understand the reality of others but, more importantly, of yourself,” said Dr Botman.

Dr Botma added that teacher education needs to adopt a Freirean pedagogy with a strong philosophy based on hope. The agency of teachers can either be hopeful or without hope. It is vital that education promotes hope.

“Teachers need to rely on their existential experience, the experiences of others, and the experiences of the children or students they teach. An understanding of all these experience reinforces the idea that people are life-long learners, always learning and adapting to society’s needs,” said Dr Botman.

Teachers as agents of hope

Dr Botman stated that current South African education policy is directed towards transformation but it does not stipulate means to achieve this objective. Further, she argues that educators need to put greater emphasis on self-knowledge, self-reflection, and self-education. Connecting with teachers, parents, students and the community engages with their self-knowledge and reflection.

Reorientation of teacher education
Dr Botman concluded by mentioning that rethinking ontological and epistemological aspects of education is important, and should be a pivotal point of teacher education. A renewed vision of hope-orientated philosophy and pedagogy needs to be adopted by the education institutions. A praxis, which is an informed action, when a balance between theory and practice is achieved. There is a need for an inclusive exploration of education philosophies and education systems not only European and Western but also African and Eastern as well.

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