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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

NSH breaking the cycle of poverty
2015-09-28

In was a joyous occasion for the Hlomuka family when their last-born walked across the stage to receive her degree. Spontaneous ululating sounded from the crowd as Nozipo Hlomuka knelt before the Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Khotso Mokhele, who conferred her degree.

“At that moment, I thought ‘this is really and finally happening’,” says the young teacher from Qwaqwa, who received a B Ed degree at the spring graduation.

At that moment time stood still for Nozipo, who once believed that, because of financial difficulties, this day would never come.

Across our three campuses, there are many students in similar positions to Nozipo. As many as 60% of students on our campuses are food-insecure, and suffer from hunger. The No Student Hungry Bursary Programme as established in 2011 to provide food-insecure students with a modest food bursary.

In 2014, just when Nozipo thought she could no longer continue studying, she became the recipient of an NSH-bursary.

Although receiving a degree is a huge achievement for Nozipo, her parents, too, were overcome with emotion, to see the first of their five daughters reach this academic milestone. Having only finished grade 8, Mrs Notula Hlomuka, Nozipo’s mother, says it was important for her to see her children finish school, at least. Mrs Hlomuka sold fruit and vegetables which provided the family’s only income.

“It was not always easy. It was never easy. Sometimes, there was no money and not enough to eat, and your children must go to school hungry. We could not afford new clothes for all the children, and the school uniforms were handed down to the younger sibling ending with Nozipo. Those were difficult days. It’s over now. God provided.”


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