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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

Inaugural lecture challenges leaders in higher education
2012-10-30

Dr Mamphela Ramphele
Photo: Stephen Collett
29 October 2012


Lecture
(Pdf format)

According to international statistics, South Africa’s school performance is rated 140th out of 144 countries. South Africa is also ranked 143rd out of 144 countries when it comes to  the quality of mathematics and science. About 600 000 South African graduates are unemployed and about 500 000 learners are failed by our current education system.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele brought these shocking statistics to the light at the inaugural lecture of the Annual Prestige Lecture at the Faculty of Education on Thursday 25 October 2012 at the University of the Free State (UFS).

This lecture will henceforth be known as the Mamphela Ramphele Prestige Lecture.

Dr Ramphelefocused her lecture on ‘Educating the 21st century citizen’.

“One of the defining characteristics of the 21st century is the vast number of choices that confront us every day at a personal, professional and political level.”

She asked if 21st century South Africans are equipped with the skills to make the choices that confront them daily.

“The failure to transform our apartheid education into one characterized by equity and excellence, is producing graduates who lack self-confidence.”

Dr Ramphele said that in South Africa about 1/6th of government expenditure goes to education, but the outcomes remain shocking.

For Dr Ramphele the answer lies in creating platforms for open conversation about South Africa’s painful past and the agenda for radical socio-economic restructuring should include the fundamental transformation of education.

She praised the UFS, under its current inspirational leadership, for its role as change agents through the education.

Prof. Rita Niemann, senior professor at the Faculty said the Annual Mamphela Ramphele lecture is to further expand and celebrate education in South Africa.

“Dr Ramphela has given us so much food for thought by challenging leaders in higher education to speak out about the questionable state of education in South Africa and to become engaged in the ‘revolution of the spirit’ in order to deliver citizens who own and shape the country.”
 

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