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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

Pianoboost a hit on Google Play Store
2017-03-01

Description: Pianoboost Tags: Pianoboost

Pianoboost is an interactive app developed by
Dr Frelet de Villiers, lecturer in the Odeion School of Music
at the University of the Free State.
Photo: Supplied

“I got the idea after watching my children play Sing Star on PlayStation, where the game can detect how accurately you sing. I realised this could turn my dream into a reality if I looking into the possibility of an app that can do note recognising,” says Dr Frelet de Villiers, developer of the Pianoboost app, about her brainchild.

Dr De Villiers, lecturer in the Odeion School of Music (OSM) at the University of the Free State (UFS), developed this interactive app for piano learners to learn music. She started the developing process three years ago, but the project only got momentum when she  approached LivX, a digital developing company in Pretoria, six months ago.

Useful for other instruments
Pianoboost has been live since 9 February 2017 and already received positive reviews, with a five-star rating on the Google Play Store. “In my experience as piano teacher, I know that learners struggle to learn their notes. They can’t recognise the note on the music sheet and therefore cannot play it on the piano,” says Dr De Villiers. Although this app is developed for piano, it is also successfully used for other instruments like the marimba, violin, and guitar, because it can pick up sounds from almost any instrument.

Ideal for use in academic programme
There are students in the certificate and diploma modules at the OSM who haven’t received any formal music training. Therefore, the app is ideal for them to use. “We have instrument-specific methodology in our degree courses. So, those students could also be exposed to the app for use in their own teaching of young learners,” says Dr De Villiers.

Different features sets app apart
The app, available on Android devices, has instant music recognition and impressive features that already sets it apart from existing learning apps. It is used on a real acoustical piano (you do not need to plug the tablet into a keyboard), has instant note recognition, shows the correct position of the note on the piano when you are wrong, and works like a flash card system, to name a few. “By using the app, you also learn the names of notes whether you played it right or wrong,” says Dr De Villiers.

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