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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

UFS awarded tenders worth R22,5 million for Maths and Science teacher-training
2010-03-17

The Centre for Education Development (CED) at the University of the Free State (UFS) has received tenders worth about R22,5 million over the past two years from four provinces to train Mathematics and Science teachers from underperforming schools.

The CED has received tenders from the following provincial departments of education: Free State, Northern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga.

“The centre has a good reputation for the training of teachers in these disciplines and has been involved with the upgrading of Maths and Science teachers for at least 15 years,” said Prof. Daniella Coetzee, Director of the CED.

It is currently busy with the training of North West teachers after being awarded a R13,5 million tender by the Province as part of its quest to improve pass rates in Mathematics and Natural and Physical Sciences in underperforming schools.

“The tender is for the upgrading of the knowledge and methodology of teachers for Mathematics and Natural and Physical Science, as well as the upgrading of the knowledge of subject specialists in the North West Province,” said Prof. Coetzee.

For this project the centre trains 1 000 teachers and 90 subject specialists from underperforming schools over a period of three years.

The programme commenced in February this year with a baseline assessment of the teachers to determine knowledge and methodology gaps upon which to focus in the training.

“After the programme has been completed we will also do a post-assessment to see if there had been progress,” she said.

The training is offered only on Saturdays at Vryburg, Klerksdorp, Makapanstad, Brits and Zeerust and is presented by lecturers from the CED as well as selected and trained tutors from the North West province.

“We have successfully completed another Maths, Science and Technology project for the North West Department of Education. We have also completed similar projects for the Northern Cape and one for the Free State Department of Education,” she said.

These completed projects entailed formal qualifications (Advanced Certificate in Education) in Maths, Science and Technology and were worth in excess of R5 million.

The CED has just been recently awarded yet another tender in excess of R4 million over a period of two years by the Mpumalanga Department of Education.

Prof. Coetzee had the following to say about the CED being the preferred choice of these provincial Departments of Education: “It has to do with the fact that the CED has been performing well with the upgrading of teachers. It has proven itself as a leader in the in-service training of Maths and Science teachers in South Africa.”

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
17 March 2010

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