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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

Colloquium focuses on rural education
2012-10-10

Some of the international delegates during the second annual colloquium on rural education recently held at the Qwaqwa Campus.
10 October 2012

 The second edition of the Sustainable Rural Learning Ecologies (SuRLEc) Colloquium was held at the University of the Free State's Qwaqwa Campus this week. This three-day international event provided the Faculty of Education's postgraduate students with a platform to present their research and to learn from experienced researchers from all over the world.

In his opening address, the Faculty's Programme Head, Dr Dipane Hlalele, challenged all delegates to translate their research into achievable goals to address all the challenges facing rural education.

"Excellence in teaching and learning in a rural context remains a challenge for all sectors and levels of the education endeavour," Dr Hlalele said.

"Urban and metropolitan schools, colleges and universities may unintentionally structure their learning programmes in such a manner that they neglect rural attributes. This results in the marginalising of learners and students from rural environments. To complete the loop, these institutions are more likely to fail in preparing graduates for decisive contributions to sustainable rural learning ecologies," Dr Hlalele added.

The colloquium was officially opened by the Vice-Rector: External Relations, Dr Choice Makhetha, who highlighted the fact that the UFS was already doing its bit in levelling the learning playfields in higher education.

"We are aware that many of our students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds find it hard to cope at university. As a result, we are not waiting for them to come through to us. We are already in partnership with a number of schools where we help learners to improve their results," Dr Makhetha said.

The crucial role played by rural teachers was celebrated during a gala dinner to honour and acknowledge their efforts despite a myriad of daily challenges.

Ms Jabulile Mabaso (The Mills Primary Farm School) was honoured for 'Excellence in multi-grade teaching in Foundation and Intermediate phases'. Ms Rekha Mathew (Sibonakaliso Primary Farm School) and Mr Andries Motsoere (Tshebedisano Primary Farm School) were awarded for 'Excellence in managing multi-grade curriculum'.

The 2012 SuRLEc Honorary Award went to Ms Motshedisi Damane for her valuable contribution to the development of rural education in the Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District. Last year's recipient was the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Professor Dennis Francis.

Delegates and keynote speakers came from Thailand, Malaysia, the Unites States of America as well as the SADC countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. South Africa was represented by the Universities of the North-West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and CUT, amongst others.

 

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