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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

South Campus supplementary schools foster future Kovsies
2016-07-13

The Monyetla Bursary Project, in partnership with the University of the Free State (UFS) and other sponsors, presents an annual Winter School for Grade 12s on the South Campus. In addition, a Saturday school for Grade 12s has been in operation since 2007.

 “Champion teachers
in the district
assist learners”

Chris Grobler, a science teacher at Navalsig High School in Bloemfontein, is the organiser of both schools. He says, “I saw it as a tragic state of affairs that those offering bursaries and the bright learners from our formerly disadvantaged schools were not meeting up with each other.”

The first year saw 300 learners attending, with five subjects being presented. This tally has since grown to 650 learners each Saturday, with 11 subjects being presented, including Business Studies, Computer Applications Technology (CAT), Geography, Maths, and English.

“Our vision was to get champion teachers in the district to assist learners to qualify for university bursaries,” says Grobler. The project has succeeded in attracting educators with extensive experience as chief markers or even subject advisors in the Department of Education.

Description: Winter school  Tags: Winter school

Roald Rautenbach presents the Computer Applications
Technology (CAT) class while Peet Jacobs interprets in SASL.
Video recordings are also made for later distribution.

Photo: Eugene Seegers

Wider reach

“This year, the 1 200 learners at the Winter School hail not only from the Free State but also from as far as North-West, Gauteng, and the Eastern Cape.” Grobler says, “We are very pleased about this, as it means that the image of the UFS is being carried further afield.”

Lesego Modisele, one of the visiting learners from Parys, says, “I like how they brought in teachers that are heads of their subjects, who are very experienced and help us a lot. They explain how exam papers are set and which important things to focus on.”

By means of the Schools Partnership Programme (SPP), 250 learners from Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo have also been assisted. Katleho Setloho, who was one of these students, is currently a medical student at the UFS.

A special feature included in this year’s programme is interpreting services in South African Sign Language (SASL) for Deaf students. As an added bonus, a disc of the sessions in SASL is being compiled for English, Mathematics, and CAT, with plans for it to be distributed to the deaf community in the rest of South Africa via the UFS.

 

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