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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

UFS acts fast in expelling students for serious misconduct
2014-02-22

On the evening of Monday 17 February 2014, Muzi Gwebu, a fifth-year student in BCom Economics, while walking on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS, was side-swiped by a vehicle driving recklessly through campus. He followed the vehicle where it stopped at one of the residences and approached the two occupants. A confrontation started and he was assaulted by one of the occupants of the vehicle.

Gwebu sustained minor injuries and was immediately assisted by the university’s residence life division. He lodged a complaint of assault at the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The senior leadership of the UFS is shocked and outraged at this blatant act of violence against one of its students. The Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen, says: “We regard this incident in a very serious light and we worked closely with the SAPS throughout the night to identify and locate the perpetrators who were driving with false number plates.”

With the assistance of the student leadership in one of the residences, the owner of the vehicle and his companion were traced this morning.

The two students were immediately handed to SAPS by the university’s Protection Services and were arrested on charges of attempted murder, assault and driving with false number plates.

In addition to the criminal investigation by the SAPS, the university is also conducting an urgent and formal investigation into the incident.

The university has offered Gwebu full counselling and support until he is fully recovered.

“It is sad and disappointing that, after so much progress with the social transformation of the UFS, such a horrific incident could have occurred. It is pleasing, however, that across the board, all our students condemned these vicious acts. The students, if found guilty in the criminal and institutional investigations, will definitely not be allowed to study at the University of the Free State,” he said.

END

Statement by Dr Willy Nel, Residence Head of Armentum men’s residence

The Residence Head, Residence Committee and all residents of Armentum male residence on the Bloemfontein Campus unequivocally distance themselves from any behaviour which does not breathe the letter and spirit of the University of the Free State's vision of Human Embrace and Academic Excellence. We work tirelessly to upend traditions that are contradicting this vision. Therefore we add our voice to those who condemn the incident in which ex-residents allegedly assaulted a pedestrian who is also a student of our institution. We express our support to and confidence in the university's and other processes to find justice in this matter.

Dr Willy Nel
Residence Head: Armentum



Media release
Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Tel: +27(0)51 401 3422
Cell: +27(0)83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

 

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