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21 May 2019 | Story Igno van Niekerk | Photo Stephen Collett
Digital storytelling
Collaborating for the common good are from left: Willem Ellis, Karen Venter, Dr Deidre van Rooyen, Prof Hendri Kroukamp, Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele, and Dr Johan van Zyl.

Prof Hendri Kroukamp, Dean of the Faculty of Management Sciences quoted the Cat Stevens song I can’t keep it in, to capture the excitement surrounding the opening of a Digital Storytelling Lab on the Bloemfontein Campus on 10 May 2019.

After months of hard work by Dr Deidre van Rooyen, Willem Ellis, Karen Venter, as well as the staff of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Centre for Development Support, the Common Good First lab was completed just in time for the launch attended by about 50 delegates from other South African universities, as well as private and public institutions.

Stories meet technology

In a message, from Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Vice-Rector: Institutional Change, Student Affairs, and Community Engagement, informed the audience that the launch heralded the joining of the old world of stories with the new world of digital technology. Julie Adair, Director of Digital Collaboration at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, welcomed the UFS as a partner to this international social innovation collaborative project in a video message. 

Dr Van Rooyen, the project manager for the UFS, explained how she got involved in the Common Good First project, what the benefits of digital storytelling are, as well as what opportunities the lab creates for cooperation between role players involved in social innovation projects. 

Why the Common Good First lab?

The purpose of the lab is to create a digital network to identify, showcase and connect social innovation projects in South Africa to one another and to universities around the world for research, student engagement and learning and teaching. The lab has been fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for recording and digitising the stories that result from social innovation projects.

In a live Skype session with Dr Il-Haam Petersen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), and some of the recent successes of the digital stories in Philippi in the Western Cape were shared.

Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele, UFS Director Community Engagement did the final honours by cutting the ribbon, declaring the lab open, and sharing the dream that the work done in this lab will contribute to positive relationships and cooperation between the university and the community, in making not only the university, but the country and the world a better place.


News Archive

UFS trains Kovsies to become great in world terms – Prof Jonathan Jansen
2016-01-19

Description: First-year welcoming 2016 Tags: First-years, UFS First-years

First-year students from the University of the Free State (UFS) recently attended the welcoming ceremony at the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Johan Roux

The University of the Free State (UFS) does not train Kovsies to become great in Bloemfontein or even South Africa. The UFS trains them to become great in the world.

With these words, Prof Jonathan Jansen welcomed the first-year class of 2016 to the “home of Wayde van Niekerk, Rolene Strauss, and the 2015 Varsity Cup rugby champions”.

Prof Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, welcomed the newcomers to the start of the “best time of their lives” on 15 January 2016 at the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus. First-years and their parents attended the annual welcoming ceremony.

Prof Jansen congratulated the students on choosing the UFS, and on being part of the elite group that was selected to study at the university.

The UFS received 25 142 applications from newcomers, he said, although there are only about 8 000 places. In 2015, there were roughly 17 500 applications.

He said it was also the most diverse group of applications the UFS had ever received.

Access to education

According to Prof Jansen, the UFS is committed to helping poor students gain access to education, no matter what their background or the colour of their skin.

Lindokuhle Ntuli, the UFS Student Representative Council (SRC) President, said higher education should be more accessible. He said South Africa has allowed education to become commercialised.

“The sooner we as a country realise education isn’t an expense, but rather an investment, the better,” he said.

UFS campaigns

Prof Jansen thanked the UFS SRC for the Right to Learn (R2L) campaign. Launched by the SRC on 30 October 2015, this campaign has already raised R1.2 million to help academically-deserving underprivileged students to study.

“I have launched a campaign myself to raise R100 million between now and September. About 50% of my time will go into this,” Prof Jansen said.

“I will work tirelessly with Lindokuhle and the SRC to raise money.”

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