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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

Social work students off to Sweden on exchange programme
2015-08-17


Excited about the prospects of studying in Sweden, Letttie and Moratoe already have their bags packed. Photo: Valentino Ndaba

In 2011 the university signed an exchange programme agreement with Jönköping University (JU), in Sweden. Since the inception of the contract the UFS Department of Social Work has been able to send two second year students to the guest university for a semester annually while also hosting students from JU.

 

The UFS is one of only 350 partner universities that JU co-operates with on an international level. The university that describes itself as “the most international university on Sweden” welcomes 714 exchanged students annually. This year, their School of Health and Welfare will host two of our Social work students, Moratoe Tshabalala and Lettie Mohoko; who are the fourth duo to take this unique opportunity.

These Kovsies will join the JU from 17 August-20 December 2015. By focusing on Swedish Social work and welfare policy, participation and inclusion, and Old-age care, they intend to use the learning experience to influence our country’s welfare system.

Growing up in Wesselsbron - a small town in the Free State, Lettie has always been passionate about working with people and having a positive impact on their lives. She sees the exchange programme as an opportunity to gain an international perspective which will provide more skills, hence improving her community engagement.

Moratoe, who is from the small town of Senekal, echoed similar sentiments, adding that she is interested in the distinctiveness of Sweden’s social welfare system, which offers free education, where old people get free care from the government, and children get incentives to attend school.

Lettie and Moratoe also volunteer as representatives of the UFS at ENGO Family Care, a non-profit organisation in Bloemfontein.

Dr Anneline Keet, Head of the UFS Social Work Department, believes that the exchange experience enhances the students’ critical thinking, and facilitates their ability to engage with different social welfare systems. While only two students are able to experience the full exchange annually, the rest of the students also benefit from the discussions taking place in class where students from the guest university (JU) join them for a semester.

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