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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

National U21 Hockey Player of the Year is a Kovsie
2015-09-16

 
The best U21 hockey player in the country
for 2015, Nicole Walraven

Nicole Walraven, a student at the University of the Free State (UFS), had a pleasant surprise waiting for her on 29 August 2015. She had participated at the Women's Interprovincial Tournament in Potchefstroom, and watching the finals from the stands with her family when the announcement was made.

“They announced that they were going to award South Africa’s (SA) Under-21 player of the year. It did not even go through my head that I could stand a chance of winning it. Then next minute, I hear my name being called. ”

“To win such an amazing award means so much to me. To be acknowledged as SA Under-21 player of the year of the entire country is still something that hasn't sunk in yet; I still can't believe it,” remarked Nicole.

Prior to this tournament, the 20-year-old was selected by the South African Hockey Association to represent South Africa, at senior level, at the World League in Spain and has again made the senior squad for selection to play in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in October.

Nicole, a descendant of hockey players, is ambitious about winning the Africa Cup, which would open doors to the Rio Olympics.  “It is my biggest dream to go to the Olympics. If I had the chance to go, I would be the 4th generation Olympian in my family,” she said.

In addition to her family, the final-year BA Human Movement Sciences student, credits her lecturers for her ability to juggle academics and a thriving sports career successfully.

“I owe it to my lecturers and the University for making it possible for me to pursue my dream as well as my studies,” she said, “It hasn't been easy, and I've had to make a lot of sacrifices but it's most definitely worth it.”

Also representing Kovsies on the SA Women’s Hockey team are Liné Malan and Tanya Britz.

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