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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. 

News Archive

Doctors make history with unique heart operation
2012-04-04

 

Cardiologists at the university delivered the first Melody pulmonary valve in Africa.
Photo: Evert Kleynhans
30 March 2012

Academics of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State made history in Africa once again this week with the implant of a special pulmonary heart valve.

“Today we are extremely proud Free State citizens,” Prof. Stephen Brown and Dr. Danie Buys from the UFS Department of Paediatrics and Child Health said after they placed the Medtronic Melody pulmonary valve in two young patients at the Universitas hospital in Bloemfontein.

This is the first time in Africa that the Melody valve is placed.

To date there are currently only 3 000 of these valves place in the world.

“It feels incredible to be part of a team of experts from the faculty.”

The Medtronic Melody valve is delivered percutaneously through a catheter from the groin. This operation is for children and young adults who are born with a malformation of their pulmonary valve.

These children often require open-heart surgery at a very young age and later require additional open-heart surgeries to restore blood flow between the heart and the lungs.

Prof. Brown said that of all congenital diseases, heart disease is most common. A lot of children born with heart disease are diagnosed very late and many die without ever receiving specialised care.

In 2011, Prof. Brown and two other cardiologists from the UFS, Prof. Hennie Theron en Dr JP Theron also reached a medical milestone when they were the first cardiologists in South Africa to do a second generation Medtronic CoreValve implant on an elderly patient.
 

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