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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

Limpopo government department receives Sign Language qualification


At the certificate ceremony were, from the left: Wisani Mashamba, Deputy Manager: Human Resources and Development in the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in Limpopo; Dr Philemon Akach, Head of the Department of South African Sign Language; Prof. Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academic; and Ms Fhumulani Maguga, Senior Manager: Human Resources and Development in the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in Limpopo.
Photo: Stephen Collett
25 April 2012

Certificates were awarded to a group of staff members from the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in Limpopo who successfully completed a short course in South African Sign Language at the University of the Free State (UFS). Fourteen staff members from this department received their certificates at a ceremony on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Prof. Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academic, said the UFS was the first tertiary institution in the country, and in Africa, to present Sign Language as an academic course. Prof. Hay urged the 14 men and women who received their certificates to use the qualification to make a difference in the lives of others.

Dr Philemon Akach, Head of the Department of South African Sign Language, mentioned the difficulties that deaf people still have to cope with. “Poverty and neglect is rife. In this country you have to toyi-toyi to be heard. If deaf people toyi-toyi, will they be heard?”

Ms Fhumulani Maguga, Senior Manager: Human Resources and Development in the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in Limpopo, said her department is looking into future partnerships with the UFS.

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