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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

Transformation in higher education discussed at colloquium
2013-05-16

16 May 2013

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The University of the Free State hosted the Higher Education Transformation Colloquium earlier this month on the Bloemfontein Campus.

On Monday 6 May 2013 till Wednesday 8 May 2013 the event brought together a wide range of stakeholders, including some members of university councils; vice-chancellors; academics and researchers; leaders of student formations and presidents of student representative councils; transformation managers; executive directors with responsibility for transformation in various universities, members of the newly established Transformation Oversight Committee and senior representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training.

The event examined and debated some of the latest research studies and practices on the topic, as well as selected case studies from a number of public universities in South Africa.

Delivering a presentation at the colloquium, Dr Lis Lange, Senior Director of the Directorate for Institutional Research and Academic Planning at the UFS, said transformation in South Africa has been oversimplified and reduced to numbers, and the factors that might accelerate or slow the process have not been taken into account.

Dr Lange was delivering a paper, titled: The knowledge(s) of transformation: an archaeological perspective.

Dr Lange argued that “in the process of translating evolving political arguments into policy making, the intellectual, political and moral elements that shaped the conceptualisation of transformation in the early 1990s in South Africa, were reduced and oversimplified.”

She said crucial aspects of this reduction were the elimination of paradox and contradiction in the concept; the establishment of one accepted register of what transformation was and it is becoming sector-specific or socially blind. This means that the process was narrowed down in the policy texts and in the corresponding implementation strategies to the transformation of higher education, the schools system, the judiciary and the media, without keeping an eye on the structural conditions that can influence it in one way or another.

Dr Lange said the need for accountability further helped with reduction of transformation. “Because government and social institutions are accountable for their promises, transformation had to be measured and demonstrated.”

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