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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

Universities join hands in developing literacy tests
2010-03-19

 
At the signing ceremony, from the left, are: Prof. Driekie Hay (Vice-Rector: Teaching and Learning), Prof. Albert Weideman (Head: Department of English) and Prof. Lucius Botes (Dean: Faculty of the Humanities).
Photo: Supplied


The development of academic literacy tests recently took a step into the future with the formal establishment of the Inter-institutional Centre for Language Development and Assessment (ICELDA).

ICELDA, under its first executive head, Prof. Albert Weideman, Head of the Department of English at the University of the Free State (UFS), is a cooperative venture between the multilingual Universities of Pretoria, North-West, Stellenbosch and the Free State.

It is dedicated to the development of reliable state-of-the-art academic literacy tests and currently makes 32 000 tests available to partnering universities annually.

Most notably, it has produced three of the most reliable academic literacy tests in the country. These include an Academic Listening Test and the Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL) for undergraduate students, with reliability levels that are more than 20% above international benchmarks.

“We are even more excited about our Test of Academic Literacy for Postgraduate Students (TALPS), which is already a crucial instrument in determining the literacy levels of postgraduate students at the Universities of the Free State, Pretoria and North-West,” said Prof. Weideman.

In addition, ICELDA is currently piloting studies for language tests for financial advisors, nurses, students of disaster management, as well as police studies at Unisa.

ICELDA will also collaborate with the Centre for English Language Communication (CELC) at the National University of Singapore.

“One of the undertakings I made on my visit to Singapore a year ago was that I would assist in every way I could with the building of joint expertise with CELC in language testing,” said Prof. Weideman.

“However, our focus will remain firmly on research.”

He said his goal was to employ the surpluses generated by selling tests to provide promising students with bursaries to stimulate further study and design of academic literacy and other language tests.

By drawing more researchers into the field, Weideman said, ICELDA could provide the capacity for developing reliable language tests that South Africa had always lacked.

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

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