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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

Project aims to boost science pass rate
2009-01-19

 
Attending the launch of the HP grant of about R1 million to the UFS are, from the left: Mr Leon Erasmus, Country Manager for HP Technology Services in South Africa, Prof. Teuns Verschoor, Acting Rector of the UFS, and Mr Cobus van Breda, researcher at the UFS's Centre for Education Development and manager of the project.
Photo: Lacea Loader
The University of the Free State (UFS), in partnership with computer giant Hewlett Packard (HP), wants to boost the pass rate of its science students by using mobile technology.

The UFS is one of only 15 universities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the only university in South Africa to receive a grant from HP to promote mobile technology for teaching in higher education valued at USD$ 100,000 (or about R1 million). Altogether 80 universities from 28 countries applied for the grant.

“Last year HP invited a number of selected universities to submit proposals in which they had to explain how they are going to utilise mobile technologies in the redesign of a course that is presented at the university. The proposal of the Centre for Education Development (CED) at the UFS entitled “Understanding Physics through data logging” was accepted,” says Mr Cobus van Breda, researcher at CED and manager of the project.

According to Mr van Breda, students who do not meet the entrance requirements for the three-year B.Sc. programme have to enroll for the four-year curriculum with the first year actually preparing them for the three-year curriculum.

In order to increase the success rate of these students, the project envisages to enhance their understanding of science principles by utilising the advantages of personal computer (PC) tablet technology and other information and communication technologies (ICT) to support effective teaching and learning methodology.

“By using PC tablet technology in collaboration with data-logging software, a personal response system, the internet and other interactive ICT applications, an environment different from a traditional teaching milieu is created. This will consequently result in a different approach to addressing students’ learning issues,” says Mr van Breda.

The pilot project was launched during the fourth term of 2008 when 130 first-year B.Sc. students (of the four-year curriculum) did the practical component of the physics section of the Concepts in General Science (CGS) module by conducting experiments in a computerised laboratory, using data-logging software amongst other technology applications. “The pilot project delivered good results and students found the interactive application very helpful,” says Mr van Breda.

”The unique feature of the latter is the fact that real-life data can be collected with electronic sensors and instantly presented as computer graphs. It can then be analysed and interpreted immediately, thus more time can be devoted to actual Science principles and phenomena and less time on time-consuming data processing,” says Mr van Breda.

The CGS module can be seen as a prerequisite for further studies in physics at university level and in this regard it is of essence to keep looking for new models of learning and teaching which can result in student success. This year the theoretical and practical component of the physics section of the CGS programme will be done in an integrated manner.

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  
16 January 2009
 

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