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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

Laptop in, paper out
2013-07-31

 

Prof Pieter Nel gives advice to students.
Photo: Johan Roux
31 July 2013

The first major steps to a paperless lecture environment for the School of Medicine were taken in July 2013 with the presentation of laptops to all first-year- medical students.

The aim is to have the entire undergraduate medical programme computer-driven within a few years and to get rid of paper in the classroom.

Prof Pieter Nel, Programme Director: Health Sciences at the school in the Faculty of Health Sciences, said, “As far as we know, this action is the first of its kind in any medical school in South Africa whereby an entire class are supplied with computers for this purpose. We also have no knowledge of anything similar in any programme within any other faculty at any university in South Africa.”

All first-year medical students received laptops. The UFS is facilitating the process to provide students with computer access via their own laptops. “The reason for this is that the undergraduate health-sciences programme will be totally computerised from now on. Students will therefore utilise their laptops in all their contact sessions.”

The entire building where teaching takes place is equipped with Wi-Fi. The students buy the laptops at a much lower cost than the commercial price.

Prof Nel said the printing costs of study material during a student’s undergraduate study years can amount to as much as R5 000.

In future, first-year students will receive laptops, computerising the entire undergraduate health-sciences programme within a few years, Prof Nel said.

During the presentation of the first laptops, Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, referred to this action as a big step forward in modernising the undergraduate training of medical students in the faculty.

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