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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

Doll parent project exposes learners to real-life issues of responsible reproductive health
2016-11-01

Description: Doll parent project  Tags: Doll parent project

Princess Gaboilelwe Motshabi,
Princess Gabo Foundation, Maki Lesia,
School of Nursing, Zenzele Mdletshe,
Internationalisation office, Masters of
Education students from Rutgers University
and study leader.


With the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies in secondary schools, a concerned teacher approached University of the Free State (UFS) School of Nursing in 2013, and in 2015, the Reproductive Health Education Project (RRHEP) was established in collaboration with fourth-year Midwifery students, the Princess Gabo Foundation and the UFS Community Engagement Directorate.

Empowering learners to make responsible reproductive health choices was the primary objective, which got final-year nursing students involved in the Doll-Parenting Project as part of their Service Learning Module. To simulate parenting, boys and girls in Grade Eight were given dolls to take care of as their “baby” for a given period of time. After an information session with parents and guardians, the project took off at Moroka High School in Thaba Nchu and Lekhulong High School in Mangaung. The Princess Gabo Foundation, an NGO operating in the Thaba Nchu community, which supports maternal health programmes, provided the dolls, kangaroo wraps, and diaries in which learners recorded their daily experiences of caring for a baby.

Teen parenting – a challenging experience

Learners were required to calculate how much it would cost to care for a baby, the cost of buying nappies, formula milk (if not breast feeding), doctor’s visits, and medicine. The project was supported by teachers in various subject classes, and learners were encouraged to express themselves through writing of poems or essays about how it feels to be a teen parent.

Dr Delene Botha, lecturer at the School of Nursing, said there was a need to establish a sustainable research project that would attract funding. By adding some of the missing components and drawing on other disciplines such as Sociology and Psychiatry, the project was expected to be extended to meet the needs of other stakeholders including teachers, parents and the community at large.

With cellphones and data provided by the Community Engagement office, the “parenting practice” involved receiving SMS messages from nursing students during odd times of the day to remind them about the needs of the baby; such as wet nappies, the “baby” not feeling well and to be soothed.

Sensitising learners yields success

In evaluating their performance, appointed “police learners” became the eyes and ears of the community to observe and report on how “parents” treated their “babies”. Statements from participants and feedback showed Incidences of negligence and the feeling of embarrassment from being a teen parent. The report indicated that learners felt that having a baby while still at school was not a good idea. The project concluded with a debate on the subject.

As part of the programme, a group of postgraduate Education students from Rutgers University in the US, visited Chief Moroka High School and received first-hand information from their interaction with the learners from which they created digital stories of their Community Engagement experience and took these back with them.

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