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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

A huge student turnout for NBT
2010-02-24

Ms Babongile Bomela (seated, left) and Mr Riekie Vickers (seated, right) with some of the first-year students who wrote the NBT's. They both acted as invigilators for the tests.
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe


More than 5 000 first-year students at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently wrote the National Benchmark Tests (NBT).

These tests are used to complement first-year students’ Grade 12 results and provide a profile of student competencies that the university can use to improve the quality of teaching and learning to enhance student success.

This was the first time that the UFS had made use of the NBTs, which were thoroughly piloted at several South African universities during 2009.

“A total of 5 449 students from the Main, South and Qwaqwa Campuses participated in this very ambitious testing process,” said Ms Merridy Wilson-Strydom from the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development (CHESD) at the UFS.

“Altogether 7 687 test papers were completed. This is an excellent turn-out and highlights our students’ commitment to their studies.”

It was compulsory for all students (excluding those from the Faculty of Health Sciences) to write the Academic and Quantitative Literacy Test (AQL). Students from the Faculties of Economic and Management Sciences as well as Natural and Agricultural Sciences also wrote the Mathematics Tests.

“AQL targets students’ capacity to engage successfully with the demands of academic study in the medium of instruction, and the ability to manage situations or solve problems in a real context that is relevant to higher education study, using basic qualitative information that may be presented verbally, graphically, in tabular or symbolic form,” she explained.

“The Mathematics Test targets students’ ability with regard to mathematical concepts that are formally regarded as part of the school curriculum and tested in the Mathematics Examination Papers 1 and 2.”

The NBTs have been developed with inputs from over 300 academics from all the 23 universities in the country. They are available in English and Afrikaans.
Data integrity is quality-assured by the Assessment Systems Corporation in Michigan, USA, and further interrogated by the Education Testing Services in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

The NBT results of UFS students will be available by the middle of March 2010. First-year students who do not perform at the required proficiency level in the academic literacy domain will be required to complete a language development module. This module is offered in both English and Afrikaans, depending on the chosen medium of instruction of the student.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
2 March 2010
 

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