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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

Enhancement of social justice focus at research colloquium
2010-10-07

At the third Education for Social Justice Research Colloquium the publication Praxis towards sustainable empowering learning environments in South were handed to Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS. At this occasion were, from the left: Prof. Dennis Francis, Dean of the UFS Faculty of Education; Prof. Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Research Professor in the Faculty of Education Sciences at the North-West University; Prof. Moraka; and Dr Milton Nkoane, Senior Lecturer in the UFS Faculty of Education.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

 

This year, the University of the Free State (UFS) was the host for the Research Colloquium: Education for Social Justice for the very first time. It is the third time that this colloquium has been presented.

Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS, opened the colloquium, stating that academics, through their research, are ultimately in a good standing to advise government on important issues such as social justice for them to address these issues accordingly.

Prof. Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Research Professor in the Faculty of Education Sciences at the North-West University, delivered the opening address on the theme: Validating community cultural wealth towards sustainable empowering learning environments for social justice. He said that the legacy of our recent past as South Africa still continues to haunt us, especially as exemplified in the dysfunctionalities that are rife in our education.

“With the colloquium we manage to bring together the ideas, thoughts, resources and efforts of educators and/or educationists concerned with the creation of a more equitable, equal, free, hopeful, peaceful and socially just society. Through our teaching, our community engagement and research activities we strive towards a more humane, caring, respecting and respectful South Africa and the world,” he said.

According to Prof. Mahlomaholo, education and its research are some of the most potent mechanisms at the very centre of social transformation. The papers at the colloquium focused on investigating, understanding and responding to issues of amongst others:

  • The medium of teaching and learning which continues to be a barrier to many learners to perform to the best of their abilities in the majority of the education institutions in South Africa;
  • Health, sexuality, HIV/Aids, stigmatisation and other deseases plaguing our communities currently;
  • Self-fulfilling prophecies and stereotypes about some learners not being as intelligent as the rest and this finally being reflected and confirmed in their poor academic achievements;
  • Differentiated levels of parental involvement in the activities of their children’s learning due to long absences from their families as they have to work in far-off places of employment;

Papers delivered at the colloquium moved beyond merely identifying the problems; they also suggested possible and plausible research-based solutions to these, such as integrating HIV/Aids education in curricula, listening to the aspirations of significant stakeholders such as mothers and parents generally in teaching and facilitating more rigorous community engagement practices.

At the colloquium gala dinner the book Praxis towards sustainable empowering learning environments in South Africa by authors Dr Milton Nkoane, Senior Lecturer in the UFS Faculty of Education, Prof. Mahlomaholo and Prof. Dennis Francis, Dean of the Faculty of Education at the UFS, was launched. The publication consists of a collection of the best peer-reviewed papers from a conference with the theme Creating sustainable empowering learning environments through scholarship of engagement. The main criterion for inclusion was that the paper should contribute to the theme by means of an original, tight, theoretical and empirical study conducted with the aim of informing the practice of creating sustainable empowering learning environments. The concrete cases examined in many of the chapters are very useful to helping readers understand the specific, on-the-ground concerns related to higher education and schools.

Media Release
Issued by: Leonie Bolleurs
Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2707
Sel: 0836455853
Email: bolleursl@ufs.ac.za  
30 September 2010
 

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