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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

Ghanaian academic speaks about next generation of African scholars
2013-10-08

 

Attending the seminar were from left: Adv Erika Cilliers, Sisa Mlonyeni (both from the Office of the Public Protector), Prof Adomako Ampofo and Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of the Centre for Africa Studies.
Photo: Jerry Mokoroane
08 October 2013

Prof Akosua Adomako Ampofo, one of the Centre for Africa Studies’newly-appointed advisory board members, addressed students and staff on 3 October 2013. Her topic Are you the scholar Africa needs?enthralled the audience with the passionate way in which she argued for nurturing activist-scholars rather than scholars who simply produce knowledge for the sake of it. “It is more urgent than ever before that … we do not simply see our roles as researchers and teachers, but that we are committed to impacting our communities” for the better – also by “making our knowledge production globally visible,” she argued. Africa is said to contribute less than 0.5 percent of the world’s scientific publications. The fact that most of these – and nearly all of the social science production – emanate from just three nations (Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa) means that many countries are absent from the radar.

According to her, the next generation of African scholars will have to compete within a hostile terrain where private universities are proliferating and costs of higher education are on the rise. These scholars will have to possess 22nd century skills, but a 20th century heart and sensitivity for the continent and its people.

Drawing on Kwame Nkrumah, Prof Ampofo proposed three guiding principles for becoming the scholars Africa needs. Firstly, by having a passion for knowledge as well as an Africa-centred knowledge – “nobody can tell our stories better than we can.”. Secondly, to translate our research into outputs not only in the form of internationally-recognised publications, but also in popular sources that will be read by a much wider public. And lastly, to carrying the torch for teaching and learning in the classroom – preparing our students to serve Africa or, as Nkrumah said, producing “devoted men and women with imagination and ideas, who, by their life and actions, can inspire our people to look forward to a great future.”.

Akosua Adomako Ampofo is a Professor of African and Gender Studies, and Director of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. An activist-scholar, her current work addresses African knowledge systems; race, ethnicity and identity politics; gender-based expressions of violence; constructions of masculinities; women and work; and popular culture. She is currently co-editing a volume titled, Transatlantic Feminisms: Women and Gender in Africa and the African Diaspora.In 2010, she was awarded the Sociologists for Women in Society Feminist Activism Award.


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