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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

Judge Ian van der Merwe unanimously re-elected as Chairperson of the UFS Council
2012-11-29

 
Judge Ian van der Merwe
Photo: Rian Horn
29 November 2012

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) unanimously re-elected Judge Ian van der Merwe as its Chairperson for the next three years at its last meeting for this year on Friday, 16 November 2012.

Judge Van der Merwe is a Judge of the Free State High Court. He is an alumnus of the UFS and has been a member of the Council since 9 March 2007.

In accepting his appointment, Judge Van der Merwe said that he was honoured and humbled to lead a Council of this calibre for a second term. “The Council is setting a good example of what good governance at a higher education institution should look like. Meetings are conducted in good spirit and decisions made in the best interest of the university,” he said.

“Having sat on councils of many universities before, I can say with great surety that, on balance of expertise and backgrounds, the UFS has one of the most effective councils in the country and, to have a Chairperson of Judge Van der Merwe’s stature, is a privilege. His leadership and guidance is greatly appreciated,” said Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector.

Mr Edward Kieswetter, Group CEO and Executive Director of Alexander Forbes and Deputy Chairperson of the UFS Council, and Mr Jonathan Crowther (former editor of Volksblad) have been re-elected for a further term of four years in the category: "Appointed by the Council".

External Council members were given a tour of the Bloemfontein Campus after the meeting, followed by an induction session for new council members.

New Council members who joined this year are: 

Derek Foster, in the category appointed by the Council
Ruben Gouws, elected by the non-academic staff
Lorraine Kriek, elected by the Alumni
Themba Mmabi, representative of the Minister of Higher
Education and Training
Sabelo Khumalo, SRC President, Qwaqwa Campus
William Clayton, SRC President, Bloemfontein Campus
Suraya Jawodeen, representative of the Minister of Higher
Education and Training
Mr Dan Mosia, representative of the Minister of Higher Education and Training
 

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