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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

Enhancement of social justice focus at research colloquium
2010-10-07

At the third Education for Social Justice Research Colloquium the publication Praxis towards sustainable empowering learning environments in South were handed to Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS. At this occasion were, from the left: Prof. Dennis Francis, Dean of the UFS Faculty of Education; Prof. Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Research Professor in the Faculty of Education Sciences at the North-West University; Prof. Moraka; and Dr Milton Nkoane, Senior Lecturer in the UFS Faculty of Education.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

 

This year, the University of the Free State (UFS) was the host for the Research Colloquium: Education for Social Justice for the very first time. It is the third time that this colloquium has been presented.

Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS, opened the colloquium, stating that academics, through their research, are ultimately in a good standing to advise government on important issues such as social justice for them to address these issues accordingly.

Prof. Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Research Professor in the Faculty of Education Sciences at the North-West University, delivered the opening address on the theme: Validating community cultural wealth towards sustainable empowering learning environments for social justice. He said that the legacy of our recent past as South Africa still continues to haunt us, especially as exemplified in the dysfunctionalities that are rife in our education.

“With the colloquium we manage to bring together the ideas, thoughts, resources and efforts of educators and/or educationists concerned with the creation of a more equitable, equal, free, hopeful, peaceful and socially just society. Through our teaching, our community engagement and research activities we strive towards a more humane, caring, respecting and respectful South Africa and the world,” he said.

According to Prof. Mahlomaholo, education and its research are some of the most potent mechanisms at the very centre of social transformation. The papers at the colloquium focused on investigating, understanding and responding to issues of amongst others:

  • The medium of teaching and learning which continues to be a barrier to many learners to perform to the best of their abilities in the majority of the education institutions in South Africa;
  • Health, sexuality, HIV/Aids, stigmatisation and other deseases plaguing our communities currently;
  • Self-fulfilling prophecies and stereotypes about some learners not being as intelligent as the rest and this finally being reflected and confirmed in their poor academic achievements;
  • Differentiated levels of parental involvement in the activities of their children’s learning due to long absences from their families as they have to work in far-off places of employment;

Papers delivered at the colloquium moved beyond merely identifying the problems; they also suggested possible and plausible research-based solutions to these, such as integrating HIV/Aids education in curricula, listening to the aspirations of significant stakeholders such as mothers and parents generally in teaching and facilitating more rigorous community engagement practices.

At the colloquium gala dinner the book Praxis towards sustainable empowering learning environments in South Africa by authors Dr Milton Nkoane, Senior Lecturer in the UFS Faculty of Education, Prof. Mahlomaholo and Prof. Dennis Francis, Dean of the Faculty of Education at the UFS, was launched. The publication consists of a collection of the best peer-reviewed papers from a conference with the theme Creating sustainable empowering learning environments through scholarship of engagement. The main criterion for inclusion was that the paper should contribute to the theme by means of an original, tight, theoretical and empirical study conducted with the aim of informing the practice of creating sustainable empowering learning environments. The concrete cases examined in many of the chapters are very useful to helping readers understand the specific, on-the-ground concerns related to higher education and schools.

Media Release
Issued by: Leonie Bolleurs
Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2707
Sel: 0836455853
Email: bolleursl@ufs.ac.za  
30 September 2010
 

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