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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

Guidelines for diminishing the possible impact of power interruptions on academic activities at the UFS
2008-01-31

The Executive Management of the UFS resolved to attempt to manage the possible impact of power interruptions on teaching and learning proactively. Our greatest challenge is to adapt to what we cannot control at present and, as far as possible, refrain from compromising the quality of teaching and learning at the UFS.

First the following realities are important:

  • There is no clarity regarding the period of disruption. It is possible that it may last for a few months to approximately five years.
  • At present Eskom (as well as Centlec) is not giving any guarantees that the scheduled interruptions will be adhered to. It comes down to this that the power supply may be interrupted without notice, but can also be switched back on in an unpredictable manner.
  • Certain scheduled teaching-learning activities/classes, etc. may (initially) be affected very negatively, as the UFS is working according to a scheduled weekly module timetable at present.
  • During the day certain venues with natural lighting and ventilation may remain suitable for contact sessions, while towards evening venues will no longer be suitable for the presentation of classes.
  • Lecturers will have to fall back on tried and tested presentation methods not linked to electricity, without neglecting innovative technology-linked presentation methods, or will have to schedule alternative teaching-learning activities for lost teaching-learning time.

Against the background of the above-mentioned realities, we secondly request you to comply with the following guidelines as far as possible:

  1.  In addition to your module work programme, develop an alternative programme (which can, for example, among others, consist of additional lectures or a more rapid work rate) in which provision is made for a loss of at least two weeks’ class/contact time during the semester. Consult Centlec’s schedule of foreseen power interruptions for this planning.
  2. Should it appear that your class(es) will probably be disrupted seriously by the scheduled power interruptions, you should contact your dean for possible rescheduling of your timeslot and a supplementary timetable. A prescheduled supplementary timetable for Friday afternoons and Saturdays and/or other suitable times will be compiled for this purpose in co-operation with faculties.
  3. The principle of equivalent educational treatment of day and evening lectures must be maintained at all times. Great sensitivity must be shown by, for instance, not only rescheduling the lectures of evening students - given specifically the sensitivity regarding language and the distribution of day and evening lectures.
  4. In the case of full-time undergraduate courses, no lectures should be cancelled beforehand, even when a power interruption is announced, as power interruptions sometimes do not take place or are of shorter duration than announced. If the power supply is interrupted, it should not be accepted that it will remain off and that subsequent lectures will not take place. Should a power interruption occur in a venue, lecturers and students must wait for at least ten minutes before the lecture is cancelled. Should natural lighting and ventilation make it possible to continue with the lecture, it should be done.
  5. Our point of departure is that no student must be able to use the power interruptions and non-presentation/cancellation of lectures as an argument for having failed modules, for poor academic performance or to negotiate for a change of examination scheduling.

Thirdly we wish to make suggestions regarding teaching and learning strategies (which can be especially useful in case of a power interruption).

  • Emphasise a greater measure of self-activity (self-initiative) on the part of students in this unpredictable environment right from the start.
  • Also emphasise the completion of assessment assignments in good time, so that students cannot use power interruptions as an excuse for late submission. Flexibility will, however, have to be maintained.
  • Place your PowerPoint presentations and any other supplementary learning materials on the web.
  • Use the opportunity to stimulate buzz groups, group work, panel discussions and peer evaluation.

Please also feel free to consult Dr Saretha Brussow, Head: Teaching, Learning and Assessment Division at the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development, about alternative teaching, learning and assessment strategies. Phone extension x2448 or send an email to sbrussow.rd@ufs.ac.za .

Thank you for your friendly co-operation!

Prof. D. Hay
 

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