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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

UFS plans to improve undergraduate pass rate
2005-01-13

The University of the Free State (UFS) will introduce a new foundation programme this year 2005 in an effort to improve the academic performance of undergraduate students.

According to Mr Francois Marais, Head: Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development (CHESD) at the UFS, the programme will assist students by providing for the development of cognitive and critical thinking skills by means of the integration of appropriate thinking skills (such as creative thinking, decision-making, problem solving, reasoning, and how to learn), into the subject content of university courses.

“The foundation programme will benefit students from disadvantaged school backgrounds and, in future, those whose performance in proficiency tests points to the need for additional development in, for example, language proficiency, mathematical literacy, computer skills and life skills,” says Mr Marais.

Based on their level of achievement in the final Grade 12 examination (Senior Certificate), students will be referred to the foundation programme.

In order to improve students writing and reading abilities for higher education studies, foundation programme students will be offered academic language courses in English and Afrikaans.

Kovsie Counselling will render appropriate services, eg career guidance and support to these students.

The new foundation programme will be implemented in the faculties of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Economic and Management Science, the Humanities and Law.

The duration for this programme differs from faculty to faculty. In the Faculty of Law it will take five years, while in the faculties of the Humanities, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and Economic and Management Sciences it will take four years.

The national Department of Education will fund the foundation programme for three years. Funding for such programmes was made available to all higher education institutions in South Africa.

The welcoming function for all new first-year students and their parents will take place on Saturday 15 January 2005 at 11:00 in the Callie Human Centre on the main campus in Bloemfontein.

The registration of first-time entering first-year students who applied before 30 November 2004 to study at the Bloemfontein campus will take place from Monday 17 January 2005 to 21 January 2005 at the Callie Human Centre.

Senior undergraduate students (that is, students entering their second or later year of study) may register from 22 to 29 January 2005.

Postgraduate students, first time entering first year students and other students who applied for admission to the main campus after 30 November 2004 must register at the Callie Human from 31 January 2005 to 4 February 2005.

Due to the limitations placed by government on student numbers, the applications of students who applied late will be regarded as pending and will be processed as places become available.

    Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
13 January 2005

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