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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

nGAP lecturers welcomed by the UFS academic community
2016-06-30

Description: nGAP lecturers group photo Tags: nGAP lecturers group photo

University of the Free State’s newly-appointed nGAP
lecturers. From the left, Neo Mathinya,
Phumudzo Tharaga, and Kelebogile Boleu.

The University of the Free State (UFS) was allocated six positions as part of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP). Four candidates have filled positions in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of the Humanities and the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences – with two positions still vacant.

According to Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, nGAP is part of the Staffing South Africa's Universities Framework, which focuses on the expansion of the size and compilation of academic staff at South African universities, especially with regard to transformation. The focus of the programme is the appointment of black and coloured candidates as well as women.

The Department of Soil, Crop, and Climate Sciences in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences welcomed two nGAP lecturers, Phumudzo Tharaga and Neo Mathinya. The Faculty was allocated four positions. Two positions are filled, while two positions in the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences are almost ready to be filled with exceptional candidates.

Agrometeorologist with his feet on the ground
Phumudzo Tharaga holds an MSc from the UFS, and is currently pursuing a PhD. Tharaga’s research focuses on quantifying the water use efficiency of sweet cherry orchards under different climate conditions in the Eastern Free State. Tharaga will offer his students a wealth of practical experience, which he began accumulating while working at ABSA as an agro-meteorologist, before moving on to become a senior scientist at the South African Weather Service. In 2015, Tharaga became a research technologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and then returned to the UFS as an nGAP candidate at the beginning of 2016.  

Description: Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer  Tags: Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer

Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer
at the Faculty of Heath Sciences
Department of Basic medicine

Motivated scholar turned academic
Neo Mathinya, who hails from Taung in the North West, has made the UFS her home. She received both her undergraduate and honours degrees from the university. Apart from joining the department as a lecturer under the nGAP initiative, she is currently studying for her MSc in Soil Physics. She will continue with this research when she comes to her PhD. Mathinya’s research focuses on soil salinity - the process of increasing salt content - which affects the ability of plants to take up water, a process, known as osmotic stress. She will investigate the effects of irrigation water salinity on the grain yield and quality of malt barley.

Researcher with a passion for crime prevention
Kelebogile Boleu joined the Department of Criminology in the Faculty of Humanities, with a fresh take on diversion and crime prevention. Boleu holds a BA Criminology (Hons) and is now pursuing her Master’s degree. She worked for NICRO a non-profit organisation specialising in social crime prevention and offender reintegration, with programmes that prevent young and first-time offenders from re-offending, thus reducing crime. Boleu said that her practical experience makes her lectures to third-year criminology students exciting. Boleu’s research focuses on analysing the value of pre-sentencing reports in assisting adjudicators to make well-balanced judgments in cases.   

Research with a winning plan for fight against breast cancer
Beynon Abrahams joined the Department of Basic Medical Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Abrahams holds a BSc, BSc (Hons), and MSc in Medical Biosciences from the University of the Western Cape. Abrahams’ Master’s research focused on breast cancer, research on which he is building in his PhD. This doctoral research involves the exploration of P-glycoprotein, a protein expressed on cancer cell and responsible for multi-drug resistance in cancer treatment. The aim of this research is to develop a therapeutic drug treatment strategy that will improve breast cancer patient survival outcomes. Abrahams’s greater vision is to look at conventional cancer therapeutic regimens, to find ways in which they can be improved.

The nGAP initiative offers these young lecturers an opportunity for growth and development as academics, while providing them with opportunities they would have not have been exposed to otherwise.

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