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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

Spanish academic discuss frameworks for successful higher education
2013-08-29

Prof Melanie Walker, Senior Research Professor at CHECaR, Prof Sandra Boni and Dr Sonja Loots, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the CHECaR seminar.
29 August 2013
Photo: Thabo Motsoane

In the latest Centre for Higher Education and Capabilities Research (CHECaR) seminar, Prof Sandra Boni from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain presented on ‘Competencies in Higher Education: A Critical Analysis from the Capabilities Approach.’ The presentation focused on the significant transformation taking place in universities and how that is affecting teaching and learning practices. The competencies approach plays a key role in this transformation process by associating the mastering of certain skills with successful completion of higher education qualifications.

Prof Boni and her colleagues argue that the competencies approach is flawed and too narrow to be used in evaluating successful higher education and that a broader human development perspective has to be applied. She argues that the capabilities approach represents a more inclusive framework for guiding the holistic development of students through the expansion of all human choices to achieve what they value most, not just to benefit economically from education. The inclusion of the human development framework in universities’ training would lead to generating ‘public-good professionals’ who are equipped prepared with the necessary competencies to enter their chosen career – but who will also be the bearers of a social consciousness.

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