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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

Spotlight on Excellence in Teaching and Learning
2012-11-08

 

Dr Lynette van der Merwe and Mr Fred Mudanvanhu
Photo: Stephen Collett
08 November 2012

Dr Lynette van der Merwe from the Department of Basic Medical Sciences was announced as the winner of the Vice-Chancellor’s award for Teaching and Learning 2012. This award celebrates the excellent work done by academics in their classrooms. Mr Fred Mudanvanhu from the Computer Science and Informatics Department was named winner of the Excellence in Teaching and Learning award on the Qwaqwa Campus. They received their awards during the first Excellence in Teaching and Learning Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 29 October to 1 November 2012.

Hosted by the Centre for Teaching and Learning, the week was a showcase of scholarly teaching in various disciplines and innovation in teaching and learning practice. Some of the top academics at the university exhibited and presented their scholarly contributions in the form of presentations, short videos and electronic posters. This celebration of excellent work done by academics started on 24 October 2012, with the Excellence in Teaching and Learning Day on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Dr Francois Strydom, Director for the Centre for Teaching and Learning, said presentations made during Excellence in Teaching and Learning Week, especially those by the candidates for the Vice-Chancellor’s award for Teaching and Learning, demonstrated cutting edge, reflective scholarship.

He said Dr Van der Merwe’s innovative practises in teaching and learning stem from her Ph.D. research on Generation-Y learners and what their specific preferences are within the context of the Faculty of Health Sciences. “She illustrated how important it is for lecturers to reflect on the characteristics of the students that they are teaching to find the optimal balance between face-to-face interaction and the use of technology to engage the current generation.”

Mr Mudanvanhu was singled out for his research that contrasted the impact of different types of combinations of peer facilitated learning with the technology to improve students’ success.

Speaking at the teaching and learning awards function,Prof.Driekie Hay, Vice Rector:Academics, said the celebration of excellence indicates the pursuit towards developing the next generation of teachers, doctors, architects, scientists and researchers, to name a few. “The graduate that we educate today is the next president, the next Nobel prize winner or your grandchildren’s teacher.”
 

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