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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

Colloquium focuses on rural education
2012-10-10

Some of the international delegates during the second annual colloquium on rural education recently held at the Qwaqwa Campus.
10 October 2012

 The second edition of the Sustainable Rural Learning Ecologies (SuRLEc) Colloquium was held at the University of the Free State's Qwaqwa Campus this week. This three-day international event provided the Faculty of Education's postgraduate students with a platform to present their research and to learn from experienced researchers from all over the world.

In his opening address, the Faculty's Programme Head, Dr Dipane Hlalele, challenged all delegates to translate their research into achievable goals to address all the challenges facing rural education.

"Excellence in teaching and learning in a rural context remains a challenge for all sectors and levels of the education endeavour," Dr Hlalele said.

"Urban and metropolitan schools, colleges and universities may unintentionally structure their learning programmes in such a manner that they neglect rural attributes. This results in the marginalising of learners and students from rural environments. To complete the loop, these institutions are more likely to fail in preparing graduates for decisive contributions to sustainable rural learning ecologies," Dr Hlalele added.

The colloquium was officially opened by the Vice-Rector: External Relations, Dr Choice Makhetha, who highlighted the fact that the UFS was already doing its bit in levelling the learning playfields in higher education.

"We are aware that many of our students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds find it hard to cope at university. As a result, we are not waiting for them to come through to us. We are already in partnership with a number of schools where we help learners to improve their results," Dr Makhetha said.

The crucial role played by rural teachers was celebrated during a gala dinner to honour and acknowledge their efforts despite a myriad of daily challenges.

Ms Jabulile Mabaso (The Mills Primary Farm School) was honoured for 'Excellence in multi-grade teaching in Foundation and Intermediate phases'. Ms Rekha Mathew (Sibonakaliso Primary Farm School) and Mr Andries Motsoere (Tshebedisano Primary Farm School) were awarded for 'Excellence in managing multi-grade curriculum'.

The 2012 SuRLEc Honorary Award went to Ms Motshedisi Damane for her valuable contribution to the development of rural education in the Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District. Last year's recipient was the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Professor Dennis Francis.

Delegates and keynote speakers came from Thailand, Malaysia, the Unites States of America as well as the SADC countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. South Africa was represented by the Universities of the North-West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and CUT, amongst others.

 

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