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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

Teacher professionalism and status under Commonwealth radar
2010-03-26

 
From the left are: Ms Simone De Cormarmond, Chairperson: Commonwealth Foundation; Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, University of the Free State (UFS); Mr Samuel Isaacs, CEO: SAQA; and Dr Carol Anne Spreen, Lecturer at the University of Maryland, USA).
Photo: Ian van Straaten


International delegates attending the 5th Annual Commonwealth Teacher Research Symposium held at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein this week unanimously agreed that more research still had to be done on issues of recognition, registration and standards affecting teachers and teaching across Commonwealth countries.

This two-day gathering of researchers, officials and representatives of regional international organisations and higher education institutions agreed that issues of teacher migration, the professionalism of teachers, teacher preparation and the use of teaching standards, as well as the comparability and recognition of teacher qualifications should be further researched.

The delegates agreed on the following based on the research and data that were presented and shared with all the participants:

Teacher migration is recognised as an increasing global phenomenon that requires ongoing research in the Commonwealth.
Recognising that inequalities and differences within and across Commonwealth countries exist, and considering that fair and ethical treatment in the international recruitment of teachers is an important cornerstone of the Commonwealth Teacher Recruitment Protocol.

Teacher training, the recognition of teacher qualifications, the professional registration of teachers and the development of professional teacher standards should be actively encouraged through ongoing pan-Commonwealth research.

An increased acknowledgement of the role of the professionalisation of teachers through an improved understanding of teacher qualifications and standards.
There should be a specific research focus on teacher preparation and the use of teaching standards.

An increased comparability and recognition of teacher qualifications across Commonwealth countries should be actively encouraged.
Advocacy of teachers’ rights, effective protection of the vulnerable teacher, and appropriate strategies should be promoted to uplift the status of teachers and teaching as a profession.

The Commonwealth Teacher Recruitment Protocol, amongst other things, aims to balance the rights of teachers to migrate internationally against the need to protect the integrity of national education systems, and to prevent the exploitation of the scarce human resources of poor countries.

Delivering his keynote address at the symposium, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, decried the quality of professional qualifications in South Africa.

“We have become very good at manufacturing outcomes. We actually have become very good at giving an impression of having achieved particular outcomes without having achieved them at all,” he said.
“So what does it mean to talk about outcomes in an unequal country with unequal resources? What does it mean to talk about qualifications when we do not trust the outcomes?”

He suggested that the teaching profession should be subjected to a peer review mechanism and that the practice of setting minimum standards should be dealt away with because it results in minimum outcomes.

Dr Carol Anne Spreen, lecturer at the University of Maryland in the USA, proposed that countries should improve the quality of their own teachers instead of importing teachers from other countries.

The research symposium was organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and hosted by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the UFS.

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

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