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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

Course on sustainable development recognised at COP 17
2011-12-07

 

Some participants of the PED Nexus Programme during a field trip are from left: Jacques van Zuydam, Chief Director: Population and Development at the national  Department of Social Development; Prof. André Pelser, course coordinator (UFS); Prof. Sosten Chiotha, Director, LEAD Southern and Eastern Africa; and Dr Nola Redelinghuys, course facilitator (UFS).

The University of the Free State (UFS) received a nod of approval at the COP 17 Climate Change Conference in Durban for a short course it presents in partnership with the Chief Directorate Population and Development, United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), LEAD International and SANParks.

The UFS received an honourable mention in a press release from the Department of Social Development for the short course entitled ‘Leadership Training in Sustainable Development: The Population, Environment and Development (PED) Nexus’. The release was issued as part of COP17. It mentions that the course is recognised in a publication of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as one of ten innovative experiences and best practices in population and development in the developing world.
 
Prof. André Pelser, UFS Professor in Sociology, says the university played a key role in the development and implementation of the course. The UFS has been presenting the course since its inception in 2005.   Similar courses under the banner of the PED Nexus, although in a totally different format, are also presented at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of Cape Town. A total of 21 courses have been presented nationwide since 2005, of which the UFS has hosted eight. More than 230 participants from all over the world have been trained in these eight short nine-day courses.
 
The PED Nexus Programme focuses on the interrelationships of population, environment and development and its significance for sustainable human development and is closely linked to the implementation of the national Population Policy for South Africa. The press release reads that the programme is implemented in the form of short courses that target professionals and managers in governments at all levels as well as non-governmental agencies responsible for the implementation of programmes related to sustainable development.
 
Prof. Pelser and Dr Nola Redelinghuys, also from the Department of Sociology, have recently been tasked by the National Department of Social Development to upgrade the course outline.  The next course will run from 17-25 April 2012. As in the case of pervious courses, the first six days will be hosted on our main Campus in Bloemfontein, whereafter course participants and their facilitators depart to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park for the practical part of the course. 

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