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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

Unique partnership flows out of our Schools Projects
2011-06-29

 

 At the meeting between our university and principals and teachers of three of the 23 schools in our university’s Schools Partnership Project were, from the left: Mr Motlolometsi Tshidiso,  Tsotseletso Secondary School; Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations (acting); Mr Vuyo Mlinde, Bloem-Oos Intermediary School; back: Dr Peet Venter, Head of our South Campus, and Mr Tlhabedi Mafoyane from Kagisho Secondary School.

Our university established a unique partnership flowing from two of its community initiatives; the UFS Schools Partnership Project and the Extreme Make-over for Schools Project. Bloem-Oos Intermediary School which will benefit from the Extreme Make-over for Schools Project formed a partnership with Kagisho and Tsotseletso Secondary schools becoming a feeder school for the two schools. Both Kagisho and Tsotseletso Secondary schools are now beneficiaries of the UFS Schools Partnership Project.

With the Schools Partnership Project, the university is working closely with the 23 schools for a three- to five-year-period to help schools to become top achievers of which the teachers, learners and parents could be proud. The schools were identified last year and the groundwork for this project was finalised in 2010 as well. The university’s involvement in the Extreme Make-over for Schools Project includes amongst others a partnership with the Department of Basic Education and the Bloemfontein business community to work together to launch the first of a number of a newly upgraded schools to learners, teachers and the community. Bloem-Oos Intermediary School became the first school in Bloemfontein to undergo an extreme makeover.
 
Management structures from the University, including Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations (acting), and Dr Peet Venter, Campus Head of the our South Campus, recently met with the principals and some of the teachers of three schools that form part of these two community initiatives of the university. The meeting between the university and principles Mr Tlhabedi Mafoyane (from Kagisho Secondary School), Mr Motlolometsi Tshidiso (Tsotseletso Secondary School) and Mr Vuyo Mlinde (Bloem-Oos Intermediary School) took place to enhance the relationships between the parties involved.
 
Dr Makhetha said, “When you support a school you groom learners to fit into the culture of the university. We were excited to learn that Bloem-Oos Intermediary School is a feeder school for Kagisho and Tsotseletso Secondary Schools. This partnership allows us to not only prepare learners already from an early age for university but also throughout their high school career. Let us make this project a model for South Africa.”
 
Continuous efforts and projects from the university as well as partners in the community, to invest in the learners of Bloem-Oos Intermediary School, include:
-       The Project for Peace: A calculator project where learners will be taught on how to use a scientific calculator properly. A group of the learners will also be supplied with a free calculator.
-       The Music Project: The Odeion School of Music at the UFS will also bring a music programme to the school.
-       The Desk Project: This project includes fixing of all broken desks by Group 4 Correctional Facility. (This initiative includes all the broken desks of all the 23 schools in involve in the UFS Schools Partnership Project.)
 

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