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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


News Archive

IRSJ Research Fellow promotes human rights transformation
2017-10-05

 Description: Coysh read more Tags: Transformation, human rights, education, community, research 

Dr Joanne Coysh and Dr Sahar Sattarzadeh attend the
launch of Human Rights Education and
the Politics of Knowledge.
Photo: Luis Escobedo D’Angles


Dr Joanne Coysh is a multi-talented individual who has designed, facilitated, and accompanied participatory processes for research, learning, and change. She is also a postdoctoral research fellow from the University of Warwick, in the UK, and is working at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) at the UFS.  Dr Coysh’s book, Human Rights Education and the Politics of Knowledge, was launched at the Centenary Complex on the Bloemfontein Campus by the IRSJ on 15 August 2017. 

Connecting theory with practice
In the book, she argues that the traditional ways in which human rights education is conducted often become an obstacle. Based on her work on participatory group processes, Dr Coysh is uniquely positioned to bring a different and more practical, even radical, angle to the process of human rights education. Her purpose with the book is to connect theory to practice in order to design processes through which people begin to take positive and transformative decisions and actions. These not only have the potential to transform lives but our relationships with each other and the world in which we live as well.

Teaching and learning from the bottom up
When working with individuals and groups, Dr Coysh believes that they should be engaged, enabled, and empowered throughout the process. Not only does she explore real problems in context, but when doing her work, she also believes in encouraging respect for existing research and knowledge.
 
Her international experience in education and working in communities has allowed her to integrate global best practices into local application, allowing her to explore the big picture as well as local context. Having mastered the art of balancing theory with practice, research with reality, and facilitation with integration, her book shows how this dance can turn human rights education into human rights transformation.

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