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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

Internet Broadcast Project wins international award
2014-05-05

The Enterprise Video Awards (EVA) named Kovsies’ Internet Broadcast Project (IBP) the winner of the Innovation in Pedagogy category. During a glitzy ceremony on 28 April 2014 in Madison, USA, Edward Musgrave, Deputy Director of the ICTISE Division, took to the stage to receive the award.

The IBP makes use of the best teachers in the Free State to broadcast lessons on more than ten subjects to school learners who do not have access to quality education. And it is not only the learners who benefit. Their teachers receive invaluable training in the process as well.

This remarkable programme provided the judges with plentiful evidence to be named the winner. The IBP team had to come up with highly innovative solutions to overcome the costs of local bandwidth constraints. The result? High definition videos being streamed in real time across a 1Meg line. Simultaneously to 70 centres across the Free State. Added to that is the fact that multiple images are broadcast as one, reaching 43 000 learners and 1 250 teachers per week. To top it all, the broadcast is interactive – the learners can ask questions directly to the teacher during the lesson.

All of this at no cost to the schools.

“It is remarkable for a South African university to receive this international recognition,” said Sarietjie Musgrave, heading up the ICTISE programme at the South Campus. “It raises awareness, not only for the work we do, but also the community work the university does,” she said.

And now the Free State has the highest pass rate of matriculants in South Africa.

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