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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 Sign Language expert appointed to a national government committee
2010-05-13

Photo: Mangaliso Radebe


The National Department of Basic Education has appointed the Head of the Department of Afro-Asiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice at the University of the Free State (UFS), Mr Philemon Akach, to serve in its Curriculum Management Team.

“It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been appointed as a member of the Curriculum Management Team to manage the development of Sign Language as a subject to be listed in the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12,” the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, wrote in her letter to Mr Akach.

“I am excited, after mulling over this, saying that maybe this time around it may just work because, from experience, I can sensitise the other committee members on how to build in an implementation strategy right from the beginning,” said Mr Akach.

“Over the last 12 years we have implemented the proposed part of the curriculum for tertiary institutions at this university, so our input will be a practical one. We have not only theoretically proven it can be done but have developed multimedia teaching materials as a legacy to sustain the course as a permanent feature at this level. I will share this with the management to implement what is already working.”

He was a Director of Sign Language and Interpreting Development with the Deaf Federation of South Africa for three years (1996-1998). During that time he directed the development of the South African Sign Language (SASL) curriculum as a school subject from Grades 0-12, as well as SASL as a second language, and a proposal to tertiary institutions on what they should take note of, should they considered introducing SASL as an academic course. All of these were handed over to the Department of Education in 1997.

“Committees are a good tool to write proposals but if there is no policing of the implementation, not much seems to work,” he said.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
12 May 2010
 

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