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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

Cultural immersion programme for Rutgers University students
2014-07-29

 

After a community engagement induction, Rutgers University students head out to visit communities.
Photo: Supplied

The International Office and the Department for Community Engagement will host a week-long cultural immersion programme for eight students of Rutgers University from 27 July – 2 August 2014. The Rutgers Graduate School of Education's South Africa Initiative (SAI) bridges cultures, connects educators and provides hope for learners and students from South Africa and the United States.

This interdisciplinary programme provides teachers and students on both sides of the world with the opportunity to exchange information through service learning, training and distance technology. This leads to educational gains for students and educators in both countries.

The Rutgers group of master’s, PhD and undergraduate students will visit two NGOs working with children at risk in the community of Heidedal, namely Tshepo Foundation and Lebone Village. The week-long programme will include lectures on the social, cultural and historical background of pre- and post-apartheid South Africa. Speakers from various departments and faculties of the UFS will feature during this event. These include the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, the Postgraduate School, the Department of History, African Languages, as well as Education.

Prof André Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, will share the transformation story of our university with the group. Dr Henriette van den Berg will speak on mentoring postgraduate students to become successful researchers of the future.

This year marks the 12th anniversary of the SAI Cultural Immersion Program and a fruitful partnership with the UFS and other South African universities. Over the years SAI has provided tonnes of school books and supplies which have been shared with more than 2 000 learners in South Africa. Special projects such as the Literacy Through Photography and Brielle Digital Stories Project have been conducted by SAI alumni in schools. These have resulted in thousands of dollars of support given directly to South African schools.


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