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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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Read a book SA encourages South Africans to read one book a month
2012-09-20

Campus Principal Dr Elias Malete on the left and Tebogo Ditshego's. With them are Betsy Eister, UFS Director: Library and Information Services and Mathene Mahanke from the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation.
20 September 2012

'Read a book SA's" objective is to bring reading into the everyday lives of South Africans. Speaking at Writers’ Day on the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State last Thursday, Ditshego said reading was essential. “Of all the skills that anyone can ever have, reading is the most fundamental of them all. It improves one's attention, confidence and discipline, amongst others.”

Ditshego asked why South Africa is presently faced with a 25,2% unemployment rate compared to Germany's 6-8%, despite South Africa having more and better natural resources. The answer, according to him, rests with lack of knowledge and critical skills in South Africans.

“Out of 144 countries, South Africa is ranked 133th in as far as the delivery of quality education is concerned. The reason for this is that South Africans lack knowledge, as they do not read enough. Most South Africans read for information, which is different from knowledge,” Ditshego argued.

In his welcoming remarks, Campus Principal Dr Elias Malete challenged authors to continue reminding society of their responsibilities.

“It is also your duty and responsibility to teach diplomacy lessons, to teach about effective leadership that is accountable, fair and transparent,” said Dr Malete.

Amongst the established authors who shared their wisdom with budding writers was Dr KPD Maphalla, a Sesotho literature guru and custodian of Sesotho language and culture. UFS students and learners from Sekgutlong and Tiisetsang secondary schools had the opportunity to showcase their writing skills. They also received expert advice on manuscript development and publishing from Mathene Mahanke from the Free State's Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation.

The annual Writers' Day is a joint venture of the Campus Principal and the Library and Information Services (LIS).

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