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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 committed to a two-language model
2010-08-13

  Prof. Jonathan Jansen

The University of the Free State (UFS) will continue to use a two-language model while it builds capacity for research and teaching in Sotho languages.

This was announced by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, when he delivered the 29th DF Malherbe Memorial Lecture on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein yesterday, on the topic: The politics and prospects of Afrikaans, and Afrikaans schools and universities.

“In the course of time black students will learn Afrikaans, white students will learn Sesotho, and all students will learn decent English,” he said.

“Classes will remain in English and Afrikaans, especially in the first years of study. Dual-medium classrooms will break down the racial isolation where outstanding university teachers are comfortable in both languages. Parallel-medium classes will exist where large numbers enable such a facility.”

He said schools and higher education institutions that continue to use language as an instrument of exclusion, rather than inclusion, would remain “culturally and linguistically impoverished”. He said the future of Afrikaans in these institutions lay in its inter-dependence and co-existence with other languages.

“A strong two-language model of education, whether in the form of double- or parallel-medium instruction within a racially integrated campus environment is the only way in which Afrikaans can and should flourish in a democratic South Africa,” he said.

“It is the only model that resolves two problems at the same time: the demand for racial equity, on the one hand, and the demand for language recognition, on the other hand.”

He said the idea of an exclusively Afrikaans university was a “dangerous” one.

“It will lock up white students in a largely uni-racial and uni-lingual environment, given that the participation rates in higher education for Afrikaans-speaking black students are and for a long time will remain very low,” he said.

“This will be a disaster for many Afrikaans-speaking students for it will mean that the closed circles of social, cultural and linguistic socialization will remain uninterrupted from family to school to university.

“Rather than prepare students for a global world marked by language flexibility and cultural diversity, students will remain locked into a sheltered racial environment at the very stage where most South African students first experience the liberation of the intellect and the broadening of opportunities for engaging with the world around them.

“The choice at the Afrikaans universities, therefore, must never be a choice between Afrikaans and English; it must be both.”

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell:   083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za
13 August 2010

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