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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

Inaugural lecture challenges leaders in higher education
2012-10-30

Dr Mamphela Ramphele
Photo: Stephen Collett
29 October 2012


Lecture
(Pdf format)

According to international statistics, South Africa’s school performance is rated 140th out of 144 countries. South Africa is also ranked 143rd out of 144 countries when it comes to  the quality of mathematics and science. About 600 000 South African graduates are unemployed and about 500 000 learners are failed by our current education system.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele brought these shocking statistics to the light at the inaugural lecture of the Annual Prestige Lecture at the Faculty of Education on Thursday 25 October 2012 at the University of the Free State (UFS).

This lecture will henceforth be known as the Mamphela Ramphele Prestige Lecture.

Dr Ramphelefocused her lecture on ‘Educating the 21st century citizen’.

“One of the defining characteristics of the 21st century is the vast number of choices that confront us every day at a personal, professional and political level.”

She asked if 21st century South Africans are equipped with the skills to make the choices that confront them daily.

“The failure to transform our apartheid education into one characterized by equity and excellence, is producing graduates who lack self-confidence.”

Dr Ramphele said that in South Africa about 1/6th of government expenditure goes to education, but the outcomes remain shocking.

For Dr Ramphele the answer lies in creating platforms for open conversation about South Africa’s painful past and the agenda for radical socio-economic restructuring should include the fundamental transformation of education.

She praised the UFS, under its current inspirational leadership, for its role as change agents through the education.

Prof. Rita Niemann, senior professor at the Faculty said the Annual Mamphela Ramphele lecture is to further expand and celebrate education in South Africa.

“Dr Ramphela has given us so much food for thought by challenging leaders in higher education to speak out about the questionable state of education in South Africa and to become engaged in the ‘revolution of the spirit’ in order to deliver citizens who own and shape the country.”
 

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