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30 March 2021 | Story Dikgapane Makgetha | Photo Supplied
Social Work students at the UFS are working with the relevant stakeholders in an Engaged Teaching and Learning service-learning project to promote and respect children’s rights.

The protection of children’s rights is the principal achievement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda. Emphasis has always been on the promotion and respect of children’s rights. Since the SDGs are grounded in a child rights-based approach, the University of the Free State (UFS) Social Work students – by engaging in a multi-disciplinary methodology – involve all the relevant stakeholders in their Engaged Teaching and Learning service-learning module project. 

The social partners, which included the South African Police Service (Child Protection Unit), the Department of Social Development, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Health, faith-based organisations, and other children’s advocacy agents, were involved from inception until the apex launch of the project. 

Access to basic human rights

In their exit level, fourth-year Social Work students participate in community work practicums, which incorporates the theoretical development process in adherence to the objectives of their community work. The initial phase of the project involved the situation analysis exercise, which the students implemented through collaboration with the Rekgonne Primary School action committee. 

The outcome of the survey indicated that some learners were exposed to physical and sexual abuse. It was also found that they did not have access to basic human rights such as education, health care, and social grants due to the absence of the required legal documents. From the interactive discussions that took place during the launch, it emerged that some children do not have birth certificates required for school registration and access to social grants. 

Through the students’ community project, a platform was created where important skills and information could be shared among all important role players (who are in different professions and guardians of children’s human rights). It is believed that since learners are spending more hours in school, educators would be the primary detectors to notice signs of negligence and potentially adverse circumstances among their learners.

Role players collaborate to make a difference

Through the scholarship of engagement, students succeeded in engaging with the community to attend to societal challenges (violated children’s rights). In order to realise the outcome of the project, continuous collaboration among all role players must be sustained. All parties adopted a resolution to create safe environments both at school and at home by supporting families and caregivers.

Government partners that participated were determined to strengthen protection systems and improve child welfare, reinforcing the implementation of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.  Educators were empowered and supported in the mandate of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC). This is an initiative that involves stakeholders in improving the quality of education for all children and addresses issues of safety and well-being for all children. 

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Ryk Neethling visits the UFS
2011-02-03

Ryk Neethling
- Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp

Festive, colourful and spirited – this was how the official opening of our newly upgraded swimming pool looked. Olympic swimmer Ryk Neethling, guest of honour at the event, rendered further glamour to the event when he encouraged Kovsies in his opening speech.

“I feel that this pool can be a great institution of learning, just like this university, because the lessons you learn here you can take into your job; lessons of hard work, dedication and never giving up,” said Ryk.

As a result of the money (R4,6 million) that was appropriated by the National Lotto at the end of 2009, the swimming pool now qualifies as an international competition bath (50m in length) with heating. Overflows were also installed at both ends of the bath. Starting blocks and lane ropes were also installed.

Part of the money is also used for research, which will throw light on the nutritional habits and incidents that cause swimming injuries.

According to Mr Mickey Gordon, Head: Corporate Affairs, Institutional Advancement and Sport, it is strategically important to invest in a high-quality facility for the advancement of swimming at our university. “The university wants to become a centre of excellence for Swimming South Africa,” he said.
 

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