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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

Universities join hands in developing literacy tests
2010-03-19

 
At the signing ceremony, from the left, are: Prof. Driekie Hay (Vice-Rector: Teaching and Learning), Prof. Albert Weideman (Head: Department of English) and Prof. Lucius Botes (Dean: Faculty of the Humanities).
Photo: Supplied


The development of academic literacy tests recently took a step into the future with the formal establishment of the Inter-institutional Centre for Language Development and Assessment (ICELDA).

ICELDA, under its first executive head, Prof. Albert Weideman, Head of the Department of English at the University of the Free State (UFS), is a cooperative venture between the multilingual Universities of Pretoria, North-West, Stellenbosch and the Free State.

It is dedicated to the development of reliable state-of-the-art academic literacy tests and currently makes 32 000 tests available to partnering universities annually.

Most notably, it has produced three of the most reliable academic literacy tests in the country. These include an Academic Listening Test and the Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL) for undergraduate students, with reliability levels that are more than 20% above international benchmarks.

“We are even more excited about our Test of Academic Literacy for Postgraduate Students (TALPS), which is already a crucial instrument in determining the literacy levels of postgraduate students at the Universities of the Free State, Pretoria and North-West,” said Prof. Weideman.

In addition, ICELDA is currently piloting studies for language tests for financial advisors, nurses, students of disaster management, as well as police studies at Unisa.

ICELDA will also collaborate with the Centre for English Language Communication (CELC) at the National University of Singapore.

“One of the undertakings I made on my visit to Singapore a year ago was that I would assist in every way I could with the building of joint expertise with CELC in language testing,” said Prof. Weideman.

“However, our focus will remain firmly on research.”

He said his goal was to employ the surpluses generated by selling tests to provide promising students with bursaries to stimulate further study and design of academic literacy and other language tests.

By drawing more researchers into the field, Weideman said, ICELDA could provide the capacity for developing reliable language tests that South Africa had always lacked.

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

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