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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

New guidelines to increase diversity in student residences at the UFS
2007-06-08

As from 2008, the University of the Free State (UFS) will implement new policy guidelines for student residences so as to increase diversity on the Main Campus of the UFS in Bloemfontein.

These new policy guidelines were approved by the Council of the UFS today (Friday 8 June 2007) after consultations with a range of stakeholders, especially students currently in residences, student leaders and student organisations, with inputs received from alumni and parents as well.

According to a statement by the Chairperson of the UFS Council, Judge Faan Hancke, and the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, the guidelines are based on an educational rationale with a definite educational objective.

“What the UFS seeks to do with these new policy guidelines, is to overcome the racial divides of the past and equip students in residences with the knowledge and skills to understand people from other cultures, appreciate other languages and to respect differences in religion but also economic background,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said in their statement.

“This will give students in UFS residences a distinct advantage over many other work seekers in South Africa, because the workplace today is a very diverse place with people of many backgrounds,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said in their statement.
They said the UFS wanted to establish a new model of residence life in which students will voluntarily embrace diversity and learn about diversity so as to add value to their educational experience in a residence.

In the late 1990s the UFS made the first attempt to integrate its residences which led to violent clashes between white and black students. A compromise agreement was reached based on freedom of association but this has over the years led to the current situation of largely white and largely black residences.

To support students during the implementation of the new policy guidelines, the management of the UFS will establish several mechanisms and programmes for students to empower them, to build their capacity and to facilitate a smooth transition to a new model of student life in the residences.

Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said the decision is another important milestone in the ongoing transformation of the UFS and in the provision of quality higher education for all UFS students, and that the decision had been taken in the best interests of the students.

“This is a very carefully managed transition to bring about a non-racial character to our student residences in line with the Constitution and the ethos of a democratic South Africa,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said.

How the new policy will work in practice

As from 2008, the new policy aims to bring about an important shift in the way first-years are placed in a residence. From 2008 first-year students are to be placed to achieve a minimum diversity level of 30% in each junior residence.

In senior residences a mix of approximately 50-50 will be the goal from 2008.
Residences will be responsible for placing 50% of first-years, which gives them the scope to increase diversity. The university’s accommodation service will place the other 50%. All these placements must occur in accordance with the educational rationale and the related diversity objective.

If a residence cannot reach the diversity objectives, the university will use the 50% of placements that it controls to achieve sufficient diversity in a particular residence.

Support mechanisms for students

According to Dr Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: Student Affairs, students in the residences will not be left on their own to deal with the issues of diversity. The management of the UFS has identified several important areas where the process may need support, especially in the early stages of implementation. Students and student leadership will be involved in the further design and finalisation of the implementation details.

These areas where support will be finalised are the following:

  • Providing properly trained and qualified personnel (such as live-in wardens, residence heads etc.) to supervise the implementation of the policy on a 24-hour basis;
  • Ongoing orientation workshops for all students in residences to deal with diversity in a mature way;
  • Support to deal with language issues, including interpreting services so that language rights of all students can be respected; and
  • Assistance with the review of residence governance, administrative and other procedures that have been used in residences up to now.

“There can therefore be no doubt that the management is committed to the well-supported and successful implementation of this new policy and to giving the best possible education to all our students,” Judge Hancke and Prof Fourie said.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
8 June 2007
 

 
 

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