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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

Message of appreciation from the UFS acting Vice-Chancellor and Rector: Prof Nicky Morgan
2017-01-04

Dear Colleagues, Students, Parents/Guardians, Alumni, and Friends of the university

The University of the Free State (UFS) successfully completed the 2016 academic year, with the official examination ending on 14 December 2016.  We have also completed the last of our graduation ceremonies, and are now preparing to accommodate the additional and ad hoc examinations in the coming weeks.
 
This comes after the university has successfully readjusted its academic programme in October 2016, subsequent to the disruption of activities and programmes for almost a month. All of this could not have happened without the extraordinary support and dedication of the staff and majority of the students at the UFS.
 
I would like to thank all our staff, parents/guardians, alumni, and friends of the UFS for the role they played during these challenging months in order to ensure that we could end the academic year successfully. If it was not for your understanding and uncompromising support, we would not have been able to complete the curricula, continue with the exams, and end the year in this way.
 
However, we all know that this was not an easy task. The sheer dedication and drive of our academic staff to adapt the mode of teaching and assessment of modules must be applauded, as it took courage and perseverance. Not only did they manage to complete the curricula, they also managed to do the assessment almost completely online. The incredible role of our administrative and support staff – including our security personnel – should also be acknowledged with deep appreciation.
 
This has been a learning experience for all, which has provided us with a solid base for academic recovery in the future.
 
During its quarterly meeting on 2 December 2016, the UFS Council expressed appreciation to all staff, students, and the university management for the successful completion of the 2016 academic year.
 
To all our alumni and donors who continued to support the UFS this year – thank you for your commitment, loyalty, and continued contribution.
 
Looking forward to 2017
The UFS announced on 7 December 2016 that it will be increasing tuition and housing and residence fees for 2017 by 8%. The approved increase in fees is in line with the recommendations by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, on 19 September 2016. The increases were approved by the UFS Council on 2 December 2016, with the understanding that it would be paid by the Department of Higher Education and Training by means of the fee adjustment grant for qualifying students with a combined family income of not more than R600 000 per annum.

The university management is aware of the economic realities in South Africa, as well as the financial pressure households are experiencing. The long-term financial sustainability of the UFS, as well as the financial constraints which impact teaching and learning, research, and community service, continues to remain of utmost importance to the Council and to the senior leadership of the UFS.
 
The university management stated its pro-poor approach to student funding on several occasions; that academically deserving students from poor and working class families should receive substantial financial support. For this reason – also because it does not place a burden on poor and working-class families – an increase in tuition fees aligned with the DHET proposal was submitted to Council for approval. The presidents of the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campus Student Representative Councils were present and participated in the discussion on fees – also when Council approved the increase.
 
I am thankful to report that more applications for admission were received for 2017 (42 568) in comparison to 2016 (29 284), and we are excited to welcome first-year students to our campuses in January 2017. See 2017 calendar of events and information.
 
The necessary safety measures have been taken and contingency plans are in place when students return in 2017. The university management will continue to work with the South African Police Service to ensure stability on the campuses and the uninterrupted continuance of the Academic Project.
 
In conclusion, I would like to wish you a restful and safe Festive Season. Thank you once again for your crucial role in making the University of the Free State still one of the universities of choice in the country.
 
Best regards
 
Prof Nicky Morgan
Acting Vice-Chancellor and Rector
University of the Free State

 

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