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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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Almost 2000 degrees and diplomas conferred at Winter Graduation
2015-06-26

Live streaming will be available on: http://livestream.ufs.ac.za/

The 2015 Winter Graduations are almost underway. The highlight on the university calendar for every graduate will take place on the Bloemfontein Campus on 1-2 July 2015. On 1 July 2015, diplomas will be awarded by the Centre of Financial Planning Law (331 in total) and the School of Open Learning (376 in total). On 2 July 2015, a total of 1 220 master’s and doctoral degrees will be awarded to graduates from all seven faculties.

A highlight at this year’s Winter Graduation is the awarding of three honorary degrees by the university. Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, Dr Mercy Oduyoye and Mr John Samuel will receive honorary degrees.

On 17 August 2012, Ambassador Brahimi was appointed by the United Nations as the new peace envoy to Syria, replacing Kofi Annan. He is also a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and the law. Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of the Centre for Africa Studies at the UFS, will receive the honorary degree on his behalf.

Dr Oduyoye is widely regarded as one of the most influential women theologians Africa has produced in recent history. Currently, she directs the Institute of African Women in Religion and Culture at the Trinity Theology Seminary in Legon, Ghana.

Mr John Samuel, who will receive an honorary award, is also scheduled to be a guest speaker at the two ceremonies on 1 July 2015.

Wednesday 1 July 2015:

John Samuel will be the speaker at both ceremonies. He is one of South Africa’s leading education experts with international and national experience, covering a period of more than forty years. He was involved in the founding of the South African Campaign: Public Participation in Education Network (PPEN), established the Centre for Education Policy Development, the Joint Working Group (for The National Party Government and the ANC), the National Education Conference, and the National Education and Training Forum. He also made leadership contributions to the First Education and Training White Paper, the Transformation Strategy for the National Education Department, and the first Green Paper on Higher Education.

John is also Senior Programme Director of the WK Kellogg Foundation in the USA. He has also been the Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and the CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

Thursday 2 July 2015:

Nataniël will be the speaker at both ceremonies. Nataniël is a singer, songwriter, and South African entertainer, who has crossed from the alternative circuit to the stage. For the past 10 years, he has become well-known for his outspoken Kaalkop column in SARIE magazine. His solo career was launched in 1987 and, since then, he has released 16 albums, staged more than 70 original theatre productions, and published 15 books. Over the past two decades, Nataniël has gained the title of South Africa’s leading exponent of the solo stage act. He manages Kaalkop Studio, his lifestyle retail company, and records on his own independent label, Nataniël House Of Music. He is an ambassador for Child Welfare SA, and also heads his own charitable foundation, The Nataniël Progress Project.

 

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