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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

Science school of excellence for Grade 11 learners launched
2009-04-21

 
At the launch of the Science School of Excellence were, from the left: Prof. Neil Heideman, Vice-Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS, Mr John Davids, General Manager, Volksblad, Ms Lorraine Botha, Chief Professional Officer, Centre for Education Development at the UFS, and Rev Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service at the UFS.
Photo: Dalene Harris

Science school of excellence for Grade 11 learners launched

The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) has launched a project to give top Grade 11 learners an idea of what the faculty has to offer by giving them a ‘university-type’ experience.

The Science School of Excellence Project was launched last week during a function where the university’s schools support programmes were introduced to the management and members of staff.

The project is aimed at Grade 11 learners in the Free State who obtained an overall average of 80% in the 2008 Grade 10 final examinations. This includes a minimum score of 80% (Level 7) in Mathematics and a minimum score of 80% (Level 7) in Physical or Life Science during the same examination. It will be presented on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein from 6-9 July 2009. The closing date for applications is 8 May 2009.

“By presenting this project we want to stimulate learners’ interest in the natural and agricultural sciences, give them an idea of what we have to offer, raise their interest to come and study at the UFS and let them know that we cherish them as role models in their schools and as academic leaders of the future,” said Prof. Neil Heideman, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS.

According to Prof. Heideman the Science School of Excellence will take on the form of small lab and field projects which the learners will carry out under the supervision of staff and postgraduate students. An application fee of R50 per learner must be paid by the school and a maximum of 80 learners can be accommodated. The 80 learners will be selected on a first come, first served basis and a registration fee of R200 per learner has to be paid after they have received notice that they have been accepted. Letters in this regard have been sent to principals of secondary schools in the Free State. “We will also include 10 learners from disadvantaged rural schools, who will be fully sponsored,” said Prof. Heideman.

“Fourteen of our departments will be presenting programmes, during which learners will engage in challenging exercises that will be ‘out of school’ experiences involving laboratory experiments and research activities typical of our faculty,” said Prof. Heideman.

Five other schools support programmes of the UFS were also presented during last week’s launch function. They were the Itjhoriseng Project, which is a skills development course in Mathematics and Physical Sciences for teachers in the Further Education phase; the Science for the Future Project that aims to encourage more learners to enter into science-related studies and careers; the Qwaqwa School Support Programme that aims to improve the year-end results of Grade 12 learners and a project by the South African Foundation for Economic and Financial Education (SAFEFE) and the National Council of Economic Education (NCEE),which aims to improve the economic and financial literacy of teachers.

“The university’s role in the development of teachers and learners in various subject fields has increased tremendously over the past couple of years. Learners are our students of the future. As a university we must do as much as we can to equip them and their teachers with the necessary skills to better themselves,” said Rev. Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service at the UFS at the launch of the Science Schools for Excellence Project.

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  
20 April 2009

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