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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Science school of excellence for Grade 11 learners launched
2009-04-21

 
At the launch of the Science School of Excellence were, from the left: Prof. Neil Heideman, Vice-Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS, Mr John Davids, General Manager, Volksblad, Ms Lorraine Botha, Chief Professional Officer, Centre for Education Development at the UFS, and Rev Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service at the UFS.
Photo: Dalene Harris

Science school of excellence for Grade 11 learners launched

The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) has launched a project to give top Grade 11 learners an idea of what the faculty has to offer by giving them a ‘university-type’ experience.

The Science School of Excellence Project was launched last week during a function where the university’s schools support programmes were introduced to the management and members of staff.

The project is aimed at Grade 11 learners in the Free State who obtained an overall average of 80% in the 2008 Grade 10 final examinations. This includes a minimum score of 80% (Level 7) in Mathematics and a minimum score of 80% (Level 7) in Physical or Life Science during the same examination. It will be presented on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein from 6-9 July 2009. The closing date for applications is 8 May 2009.

“By presenting this project we want to stimulate learners’ interest in the natural and agricultural sciences, give them an idea of what we have to offer, raise their interest to come and study at the UFS and let them know that we cherish them as role models in their schools and as academic leaders of the future,” said Prof. Neil Heideman, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS.

According to Prof. Heideman the Science School of Excellence will take on the form of small lab and field projects which the learners will carry out under the supervision of staff and postgraduate students. An application fee of R50 per learner must be paid by the school and a maximum of 80 learners can be accommodated. The 80 learners will be selected on a first come, first served basis and a registration fee of R200 per learner has to be paid after they have received notice that they have been accepted. Letters in this regard have been sent to principals of secondary schools in the Free State. “We will also include 10 learners from disadvantaged rural schools, who will be fully sponsored,” said Prof. Heideman.

“Fourteen of our departments will be presenting programmes, during which learners will engage in challenging exercises that will be ‘out of school’ experiences involving laboratory experiments and research activities typical of our faculty,” said Prof. Heideman.

Five other schools support programmes of the UFS were also presented during last week’s launch function. They were the Itjhoriseng Project, which is a skills development course in Mathematics and Physical Sciences for teachers in the Further Education phase; the Science for the Future Project that aims to encourage more learners to enter into science-related studies and careers; the Qwaqwa School Support Programme that aims to improve the year-end results of Grade 12 learners and a project by the South African Foundation for Economic and Financial Education (SAFEFE) and the National Council of Economic Education (NCEE),which aims to improve the economic and financial literacy of teachers.

“The university’s role in the development of teachers and learners in various subject fields has increased tremendously over the past couple of years. Learners are our students of the future. As a university we must do as much as we can to equip them and their teachers with the necessary skills to better themselves,” said Rev. Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service at the UFS at the launch of the Science Schools for Excellence Project.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
20 April 2009

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