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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

Double achievement for Prof. Paul Grobler
2012-04-25

 

Prof. Paul Grobler
Photo: Supplied
25 April 2012

Early this year, two journal editions appearing almost simultaneously in Europe featured cover photographs based on papers by Prof. Paul Grobler of the Department of Genetics and his collaborators.

These papers stem from collaborations with Prof. Gunther Hartl at the University of Kiel (Germany) and Dr Frank Zachos from the Natural History Museum in Vienna (Austria). Both papers cover aspects of the genetics of southern African antelope species.
 
The first paper appeared in the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research” (from the Wiley-Blackwell group). This was titled “Genetic structure of the common impala (Aepyceros melampus melampus) in South Africa: phylogeography and implications for conservation”.
 
In this paper, the team analysed impala from various localities in South Africa to determine the relationship between distribution and genetic structure. The results suggest a clear relationship between genetic characteristics and habitat features that regulate gene flow.
 
The second appeared in the journal Mammalian Biology (from the Elsevier group), with the title “Genetic analysis of southern African gemsbok (Oryx gazella), reveals high variability, distinct lineages and strong divergence from the East African Oryx beisa”.
 
Here, the researchers looked at various aspects of the genetics and classification of gemsbok. Among the notable findings is that gemsbok populations on the game farms studied are less inbred than previously predicted.
 
Proffs. Grobler and Hartl initiated these projects on gemsbok and impala, with sub-sections of the research later completed as M.Sc. projects by students from both South Africa and Germany.
 
Prof. Grobler has been involved with aspects of the population genetics of various mammal species since the early 1990s, and continued with this line of research after joining the UFS in 2006. Current projects in this field include work on wildebeest, vervet monkeys and white rhinoceroses.

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