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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

Bloemfontein Campus hosts annual HELTASA conference
2014-12-09

 

From the left are: Prof Francois Strydom, Director: Academic - Centre for Teaching and Learning, UFS; Dr Lis Lange, Vice-Rector: Academic, UFS; and Prof George Kuh, Adjunct Research Professor of Education Policy at the University of Illinois.

This year, the privilege to host the annual Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) conference was afforded to our university. The event took place on the Bloemfontein Campus from 18 – 21 November 2014, attracting keynote speakers and members from across the world.

HELTASA is a professional association mainly for educators and significant role players in higher education institutions. With its inception in the early 2000s, it has grown to become the premier organisation for teaching and learning in Southern Africa, Dr Amanda Hlengwa, President of HELTASA, pointed out.

A central concern of this body is issues around success within the tertiary sector. The theme of this year, ‘Accessing success: using evidence for change’ served to focus members’ attention on what works and what does not work – as derived from researched evidence.

In a message from Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), he stressed that the task as university teachers “is not simply cognitive gains that ensure graduation success but also intellectual gains that ensure success in life during and after university studies.”

The conference was led by internationally-acclaimed keynote speakers, namely Prof George Kuh, Prof William Grabe and Prof Fredricka Stoller, as well as our own A1 NRF-rated Prof Malanie Walker.

Prof Kuh is Adjunct Research Professor of Education Policy at the University of Illinois and Chancellor’s Professor of Higher Education Emeritus at Indiana University. In his keynote address, Prof Kuh offered valuable lessons from the field to promote student success.

Profs Grabe and Stoller collectively presented the second keynote address that explored how to set up students for success through strategic-reader training. Prof Grabe is Regents’ Professor of Applied Linguistics and Vice President for Research at Northern Arizona University. Prof Stoller is a Professor of English at Northern Arizona University, where she teaches in the MA-TESL and PhD in Applied Linguistics programmes.

Prof Walker is a Senior Research Professor at the UFS Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED). She is also currently Director of Research Training and a senior researcher in the EU-funded Marie Curie EDUWEL project. In her keynote address, Prof Walker looked at well-being and agency in higher education.

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