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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

Teacher training key to democracy and freedom
2011-12-06

 

MEC Mr Tate Makgoe (left) with Faculty of Education’s Prof. Dennis Francis, holding the inaugural SURLEC Award. With them is Dr Dipane Hlalele.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

Universities have the responsibility to respond to the challenges that the South African education system is faced with.

This is the view of the Free State MEC for Education, Mr Tate Makgoe, during his address at the three-day First Sustainable Rural Learning Ecologies (SURLEC) Colloquium, which was recently held at the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS).
 
“Our universities must not only research the failures of our system. They must also come up with solutions.
 
“One of the questions that demand answers in our country is whether we produce quality teachers at our universities, considering our learners’ performance internationally. Our children lack the basics like grammar and yet we are 17 years into democracy. Why is their performance so poor in comparison to children in poorer countries?” asked Mr Makgoe.
 
“We must work together as a Government and universities to change this. Universities must be anchors of democracy and freedom, which is meaningless if our children cannot read and write. We must also focus on Mathematics and Natural Sciences, not forgetting to value our indigenous knowledge and games to enhance learning, especially in Mathematics,” he said.
 
According to Dr Dipane Hlalele, Head of the Faculty of Education at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus, the colloquium was held to search for best practices and success stories relating to the theme, Creating sustainable rural learning ecologies in the 21st century.
 
“Our objective was to tap into experiences and wisdom of policy makers, researchers, scholars, teachers and students in order to map a new direction in research as well as to make an indelible mark on the revitalisation of this campus,” concluded Dr Hlalele.
 
The UFS Dean of Education, Prof. Dennis Francis’ efforts to improve rural education were honoured with the first ever SURLEC Award.
 
Over 70 research papers from the universities of the Free State, South Africa, Venda, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology were delivered and learners from the local schools like The Beacon, Mafube, Qwaqwa and Clubview presented their winning projects at the Science Expo.

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