Global Advanced Research Journal of Environmental Science and Toxicology (GARJEST) ISSN: 2315-5140
July 2015 Vol. 4(2), pp. 015-024
Copyright © 2015 Global Advanced Research Journals


Full Length Research Paper 

Knowledge, use and attitudes towards medicinal plants of pre-service teachers at a South African University

Elaosi Vhurumuku

Marang Centre for Science and Mathematics Education, University of Witwatersrand School of Education, Johannesburg



This study surveyed the knowledge, use and attitudes towards traditional medicinal plants of pre-service science teachers at a university in central Johannesburg, South Africa. The study aimed to determine the use of traditional medicines among pre-service science teachers (n=120) as well as find out the knowledge about the medicines held by the sampled teachers. It also sought to determine the pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards traditional plant medicines and traditional healers. Data was collected through a written questionnaire and interviews. The questionnaire and interviews solicited the pre-service teachers’ knowledge, use and attitudes towards traditional medicines regarding five common ailments namely; stomach ailments, flu/fevers; headaches; wounds and malaria. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics and is presented in the form of a table and a graph. The results show that the knowledge about medicinal plants used to treat the five investigated common ailments is limited as revealed by the relatively small number of plant species mentioned by the respondents (19). It was found that although all the participants use traditional medicines to treat one or more of the investigated ailments; their attitudes towards the use of traditional medicines and traditional healers can be described as negative. The majority of the respondents reported that they had used traditional medicines to treat fevers or flu. Most of the participants are sceptical about the effectiveness of traditional medicines to treat the investigated ailments. It is recommended that if the integration of knowledge about medicinal plants and indigenous knowledge in general into the school science curriculum is to be achieved, then a lot of work needs to be done to change teacher attitudes towards both traditional medicines and traditional healers. 

Keywords: Traditional medicines, knowledge, use, attitudes, pre-service teachers, common ailments, curriculum, school science.

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