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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

Digitising the Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT)
2017-02-06

Description: Digitising the Advanced Certificate in Teaching  Tags: Digitising the Advanced Certificate in Teaching

The 100% online ACT aims to help
teachers improve their qualifications.
More information is available at
http://www.ufs.ac.za/ACTonline.
Photo: Supplied


Online learning is fast becoming the most convenient and affordable way to study. In 2016, the South Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) became the first university in South Africa to launch a fully online course for current teachers to upgrade their qualifications; the Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT).

The IDEAS Lab digitisation team on our South Campus is responsible for converting the existing ACT modules from a blended format to a 100% online format. With this format all lessons and study material are available online, with no contact sessions required. The advantages of online, interactive learning far outweigh those of blended learning. Lessons are converted to videos online, which is not only more user-friendly, but students can also access the lessons repeatedly.

In addition, tutors are always available, with WhatsApp groups and the ACT Online Facebook page further facilitating the support provided. Discussions between or communication with students situated in remote areas is made possible, adding to an enriched student experience. Immediate feedback on activities serves as a diagnostic tool as well as motivation for the students.

Lesson videos are recorded at the IDEAS Lab Studio at the South Campus or onsite at various schools. Students are expected to complete a unit, which consists of two lessons, per week.
There are “think about your learning” activities after each lesson as well as “after readings” to ensure that students have grasped the material. In these and many other ways the online ACT is specifically designed to suit students’ unique needs and make their studies a satisfying and rewarding experience.

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