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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 Digital Doorway project will change lives in Heidedal
2011-02-16

 
Learners of the Heidedal community looking at the new computer system.
Photo: Johan Roux

The combined effort of ICTISE (ICT Innovation in School Education), Reach and the Heidedal community saw a four-station Digital Doorway (computer system) being placed on the premises of Reach at the end of 2010. ICTISE is a programme of the University of the Free State (UFS) and operates from the university’s South Campus. This computer system will allow all Heidedal schools and community members to have free access to computers.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, opened the Digital Doorway by cutting a ceremonial ribbon with the assistance of one of the community’s learners.

The Digital Doorway concept originates from a joint initiative between the Department of Science and Technology and the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Digital Doorway consists of four screens and allows access to select content, including open-source application software. This includes audio books, subject textbooks, encyclopaedia, educational games such as “touch maths” and quizzes as well as useful information for school subjects and a newspaper especially for children.

The Heidedal Digital Doorway is the first of its kind in the Motheo District. Typically, one or two kids will be working on each of the computers, while up to five other learners will be giving instructions, allowing the whole group to learn. The Digital Doorway is a smart way of bridging the digital divide, bringing science and technology to our community and opening the doors of learning. ICTISE will support the Heidedal schools to make full use of this new facility by training teachers and community members.

“The UFS hopes that this project will change the lives of the Heidedal community by providing the youth with an opportunity to be in line with the changing world of technology,” said Ms Sarietjie Musgrave, Head: ICTISE.

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