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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

Spotlight on Excellence in Teaching and Learning
2012-11-08

 

Dr Lynette van der Merwe and Mr Fred Mudanvanhu
Photo: Stephen Collett
08 November 2012

Dr Lynette van der Merwe from the Department of Basic Medical Sciences was announced as the winner of the Vice-Chancellor’s award for Teaching and Learning 2012. This award celebrates the excellent work done by academics in their classrooms. Mr Fred Mudanvanhu from the Computer Science and Informatics Department was named winner of the Excellence in Teaching and Learning award on the Qwaqwa Campus. They received their awards during the first Excellence in Teaching and Learning Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 29 October to 1 November 2012.

Hosted by the Centre for Teaching and Learning, the week was a showcase of scholarly teaching in various disciplines and innovation in teaching and learning practice. Some of the top academics at the university exhibited and presented their scholarly contributions in the form of presentations, short videos and electronic posters. This celebration of excellent work done by academics started on 24 October 2012, with the Excellence in Teaching and Learning Day on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Dr Francois Strydom, Director for the Centre for Teaching and Learning, said presentations made during Excellence in Teaching and Learning Week, especially those by the candidates for the Vice-Chancellor’s award for Teaching and Learning, demonstrated cutting edge, reflective scholarship.

He said Dr Van der Merwe’s innovative practises in teaching and learning stem from her Ph.D. research on Generation-Y learners and what their specific preferences are within the context of the Faculty of Health Sciences. “She illustrated how important it is for lecturers to reflect on the characteristics of the students that they are teaching to find the optimal balance between face-to-face interaction and the use of technology to engage the current generation.”

Mr Mudanvanhu was singled out for his research that contrasted the impact of different types of combinations of peer facilitated learning with the technology to improve students’ success.

Speaking at the teaching and learning awards function,Prof.Driekie Hay, Vice Rector:Academics, said the celebration of excellence indicates the pursuit towards developing the next generation of teachers, doctors, architects, scientists and researchers, to name a few. “The graduate that we educate today is the next president, the next Nobel prize winner or your grandchildren’s teacher.”
 

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