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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

‘Language central to multidisciplinary society’
2012-03-22

 

Dr. Neville Alexander (right) discussed the role of language and culture in creating tolerance in South Africa. On the left is Prof. André Keet, Director of the UFS' International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconcilliation and Social Justice.
Photo: Johan Roux
22 March 2012

A multilingual state and culture could lead to more tolerance in South Africa, and schools and universities could play a leading role in the creation of a multilingual culture.

This is according to Dr Neville Alexander, one of South Africa’s foremost linguists and educationalists.

Dr Alexander spoke during a discussion session on language issues in a new South Africa at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice.

He said in a multidisciplinary society, language is central to everything we do. 

“Language has the ability to empower people or to disempower them. Yet the present government failed to value the other official South African languages, apart from Afrikaans and English.”

Dr Alexander said it is “convenient and cheap” for the government “to only govern in English”.

Government officials and academics often used the shortage of terminology and glossaries in various African languages as an excuse to use only English as the medium of instruction. This tendency puts young children in the South African school system at a disadvantage since it deprives them of their right to mother tongue education.

According to Dr Alexander, this is similar to the problems that academics experienced centuries ago when only Latin terminology existed for certain disciplines.

“It is the task of educationalists and experts to develop the necessary word lists and terminology to offer more economic value to all our official languages.”

If multilingualism was promoted at school level, a multilingual culture would become more acceptable in future. In this way, we could have an isiZulu of isiXhosa dominant university in South Africa in 30 years time.
 

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