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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

Faculty of Education hosts global education conference
2015-11-09



The Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State hosted the Annual conference of the South African Education Research Association (SAERA).  From the left are Profs André Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Dean: Faculty of Education, Carlos Torres, keynote speaker and Professor of Social Sciences and Comparative Education, and former Director of the UCLA-Latin American Center, and Azlam Fataar, SAERA president.

National and global issues, trends, and research were discussed at the annual conference of the South African Education Research Association (SAERA), hosted by the Faculty of Education at the University of the Free State.

Considered as the highlight for educators, education researchers, and education policy makers, this conference is linked directly to the World Education Research Association (WERA), and to the American Education Research Association (AERA).

More than 400 delegates from national and international universities, as well as other interest groups such as the Department of Higher Education and Training of South Africa, have submitted abstracts on a variety of topics, spanning the different disciplines in education.

Keynote Speaker, Prof Carlos Torres, Professor of Social Sciences and Comparative Education, and former Director of the UCLA-Latin American Center, explained the importance of global citizenship education.

“The requirements to enable global citizenship education are clarification, bare essentials, principles, teaching methods, and agents. Global citizenship education is an intervention in search of a theory.”

Prof Torres's areas of theoretical research focus on the relationship between culture and power, the interrelationships of economic, political, and cultural spheres, and the multiple and contradictory dynamics of power among, and within, social movements that make education a site of permanent conflict and struggle.

Prof Teboho Moja, policy researcher and policy analyst for higher education in South Africa, spoke enthusiastically about changes taking place currently in higher education, changes that are driven by the recent demands of university students. Her keynote address dealt with equality and equity in higher education in South Africa.

“This conference is taking place whilst ‘something’ is happening in South Africa. This ‘something’ had to happen to achieve equity in higher education. Recent events on campuses left me proud to see the unity amongst students. Will the next phase in transformation and reform see that the doors of learning will be opened to all, as stated in the Freedom Charter?”

Prof Moja has authored articles on higher education reform issues in areas such as the governance of higher education, policy processes, and impact of globalisation on higher education.

“Hosting a conference of this magnitude validated the research work of the Faculty of Education in particular. It also positioned the Faculty positively in the national and international conversations around education research and gave the Faculty the opportunity to showcase its research, teaching, community engagement, and most importantly its organisational skills,” said Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Dean of the Faculty of Education. According to Prof Mahlomaholo, staff (academic and support) in the Faculty have benefited greatly from listening to and networking with outstanding scholars from across the broad spectrum of education disciplines in the world. “These scholars also role modelled excellence in education research, which both our students and academic staff are now working towards emulating and surpassing,” he said.


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