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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

UFS congratulates Free State on matric results
2017-01-05

 Description: 002 IBP Matric results Tags: 002 IBP Matric results

With projects like the Internet Broadcast Project and the
Schools Partnership Projects the UFS helps to improve
education at schools in the Free State.
Photo: iStock

The University of the Free State (UFS) congratulates the Free State and its learners on their outstanding performance in the 2016 matric results. The university, who also plays a role in promoting excellence at school level, is proud of the Free State’s achievement as the best-performing province in the country with a 93,2% pass rate, excluding progressed learners.

“On behalf of the university community I would like to congratulate the Free State MEC of Education, Tate Makgoe, who is also a member of the UFS Council, and the Department of Education in the province on this fine achievement. The UFS is proud to be involved in projects that contribute to the success of the province’s learners. These include the Internet Broadcast Project (IBP) and the Schools Partnership Projects (SPP). The projects help to improve the quality of teaching and help learners to overcome severe domestic conditions in rural areas,” says Prof Nicky Morgan, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS.

Internet Broadcast Project

The UFS IDEAS Lab in the Department of Open and Distance Learning on the UFS South Campus supports learners in 83 schools through the IBP with the help of academic videos. The project is a collaboration between the university and the Department of Education in the province. It includes support for subjects such as Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Science, Economics, Accounting, and Geography.

A purpose-built school appliance, comprising a projector, speakers, and a PC, is set up at each school, where learners receive video lectures from highly-qualified teachers.

During a function held in Bloemfontein on 5 January 2017 to congratulate performing schools in the province, Mr Makgoe made special mention of the IBP and said that part of the success of the province can be attributed to the project. Many of the top performing schools had learners who participated in the project. One of the districts that forms part of the project, the Xhariep District, was announced as the top performing district in the province, and is second in the country.


Schools Partnership Projects

The SPP focuses on teachers in order to have a more sustainable impact, with 69 schools in the Free State and Eastern Cape being part of it.

It makes use of mentors (30) who assist teachers and headmasters with school management, Mathematics, Physical Science, Accounting, and English as language of learning. The project has an annual budget of more than R15 million – all the funds come from sponsors outside the UFS.

Mentors visit schools and share knowledge, extra material, and technology to improve the standard of teaching. The change has been significant. Matric results and Bachelors pass rates have improved dramatically in these schools.

Another aspect is the identification of learners with potential (so-called first-generation students) to go to university. They are assisted through extra classes and in applying for tertiary education and bursaries.

Many of them currently study at the UFS, and also receive mentorship at university.

Dr Peet Venter, SPP Project Manager, said his team is proud to be part of the process of helping the Free State to become the number one province in the country again.

Both the IBP and SPP was started in 2011 and are managed from the university’s South Campus in Bloemfontein.

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