Education & Human Capacity Development
Biodiversity Capacity Development
As a cross cutting division, our aim is to drive human capital development, education and awareness in response to SANBI's mandate.
The division is responsible for:
- human capital development, education and awareness in response to SANBI’s biodiversity management mandate, to enable better environmental management practices through environmental education awareness and capacity development processes.
- biodiversity human capital development in response to the broader sector’s biodiversity management mandate.
What we do?
SANBI has five main programmes offered nationally by environmental education centres. The programmes offered by the centres can be catergorised as follows:
- Biodiversity Education
- Capacity Development
- Awareness Raising Initiatives
- Stakeholder Engagement
Biodiversity Education can be divided into garden-based school programmes and other guided groups. Garden-based school programmes are offered from Grade R – 12 and beyond. The programmes are designed in a way that supports current South African national education policies through drawing on subject and grade specific curricula while at the same time finding expression for biodiversity conservation messages.
The programmes are 1-3 hours long and draw on the rich biodiversity amply provided by the National Botanical Gardens where in the environmental education centres are located. In order to cater for schools not able to visit the gardens, programmes are conducted at school premises with local resources drawn on to enrich the teaching and learning experience.
Capacity development mainly focuses on teacher professional development, training and improving skills (up-skilling) programmes. Teacher professional development involves the conducting of workshops with teachers and education officials with a view to supporting teaching and learning in schools. The focus of training programmes is to promote awareness and use of the knowledge and tools developed by SANBI’s science/research by a wider variety of users. The up-skilling programme focuses on attracting and retaining young people into the sector through training and work-based experience.
Awareness Raising Initiatives
Awareness Raising has several initiatives, namely;
- Careers programme
- Celebration of environmental theme days
- Expos / exhibitions
- Holiday programmes
Biodiversity careers are least known amongst youth and hence a need to promote them exists. To this end two events are hosted by each centre annually where experts and exhibitions are used to expose youth to biodiversity careers, the institutions offering such careers, possible financial aid as well as entry requirements for each of the careers.
Celebration of Environmental Theme Days
A minimum of six environmental theme days are celebrated per annum. These are:
- National Wetlands Week
- National Water Week
- National Environment Week
- Arbor Week
- Biodiversity Week
- Marine Week / Weedbuster Week / Heritage Week / Climate Change Week
Through the theme days, meaning behind the day is explored with beneficiaries and appropriate action is undertaken to bring a desirable change in environmental practice. Both schools and communities are beneficiaries of these programmes.
All centres are responsible to initiate and host at least 2 exhibitions per annum.
Annually, two holiday programmes are hosted by all centres during the December/January and June/July school break. Holiday programmes provide edutainment with fun activities such as arts and crafts, life skills, etc. being explored with learners. The programmes cater for various age groups beyond formal mainstream schooling. Thus, beneficiaries in places such as orphanages and places of safety are also reached.
The intention of this externally funded project is to contribute to the enrichment and expansion of biodiversity both on school grounds and in communities. The programme strives for a careful balance between skills development, job creation and greening with a strong focus on youth.
This is not a programme but an approach to each of the programmes implemented. The directorate recognizes the shared nature of education awareness initiatives. It seeks out partnerships with others so as to leverage available resources and maximize impact.
Where we work?
Biodiversity Capacity Development Division has a presence across the 6 national provinces of the country through Environmental Education Centres located in SANBI’s national botanical gardens. In total 8 Environmental Education Centres exist. They are:
- Lowveld Environmental Education Centres in Mpumalanga Province
- Pretoria Environmental Education Centre In Gauteng Province
- Walter Sisulu Environmental Education Centre In Gauteng Province
- Free State Environmental Education Centre in Free State Province
- KwaZulu-Natal Environmental Education Centre in KwaZulu-Natal Province
- Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre in the Western Cape
- Harold Porter Environmental Education Centre in the Western Cape
Although there is no National Botanical Garden in the Eastern Cape yet, the division is operational in the province covering both the rural and urban parts of the province in areas such as Lusikisiki.
Reason for our project/programme
SANBI is mandated by Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to provide strategic leadership for capacity development and transformation in the biodiversity sector. It formed a remarkable partnership with the Lewis Foundation in 2009 and an outcome of this partnership has been a dynamic strategy for the biodiversity sector. The strategy aims to contribute, over the next 20 years, to the growth of an equitable and skilled workforce of biodiversity professionals and technicians to optimally implement the sector’s complex mandate. For more information please visit http://www.skillsforbiodiversity.org.za/.
The division’s intention is therefore to ensure that the sector is transformed through the identification, attraction and retention of scarce and critical skills amongst the South African youth. It is also the programme’s intention to up-skill those already within the biodiversity sector. It aims to address the legacies of lack of skills and the chronic shortages of leadership, especially by black South Africans. Policy development and engagement with decision makers will hopefully ensure adequate resourcing of the sector.
Over and above this, the programme provides a platform for science, policy and society to interface. The research and policy work conducted elsewhere within SANBI is interpreted in programmes that ensure capacity amongst communities is built on different biodiversity conservation issues. Equally the programme serves as a platform to communicate biodiversity conservation challenges experienced by communities necessitating research and or policy development.
What we have achieved?
The division’s success stories are mainly the Biodiversity Education Programme, Teacher Capacity Development Programme as well as Greening. Through the Biodiversity Education Programme learners are mostly bussed to National Botanical Gardens where diverse biodiversity topics with relevance to classroom learning and teaching are explored.
A story by Xola Mkefe, an ex biology and science teacher, now a manager for West Coast National Park at Langebaan, published in the Cape Argus of 12th August 2010 bears testimony that this programme has contributed immensely in attracting young people into the biodiversity sector. Mr. Mkefe says “During my five years as a science and biology teacher in Khayelitsha schools I took my classes to Kirstenbosch Gardens . . . I have led thousands of kids through Kirstenbosch and seen them transformed by the experience of nature. I’ve been amazed at how they absorbed and was overwhelmed by the beauty, the peace and tranquility of these gardens".
Equally awareness raising initiatives such as career’s programme, celebration of environmental theme days and exhibitions have created awareness and interest in the youth and some adults to work in the biodiversity sector. Mr. Mkefe, for example, joined SANBI as an Environmental education Officer in 1996 after his days as a biology and science teacher. He is now a park manager.
Our Greening programme is also one of our SANBI’s flagship projects. The intention of the Outreach Greening Programmme is to transform neglected pieces of open spaces into green spaces through the development of indigenous gardens. The programme has contributed immensely to giving rural and township schools a necessary green facelift , transforming them into green learning centres. These gardens have served as a basis for learning basic horticultural skills and have enhanced the teaching and learning of the syllabus.
The programme has responded to food security through development of vegetable gardens in schools which in turn contribute to the feeding schemes in schools.
Mostly in rural municipalities, places of cultural significance were neglected but through Greening the Nation Programme places such as royal cemeteries and cultural villages were given the green status befitting of such places.
The division has a long track record of teacher professional development in areas such as curriculum implementation with focus on environment, resource development and themes such as biodiversity, climate change, etc.
The division has developed relationships with a diverse group of organizations and individuals across various government departments at all three tiers of government, non governmental organizations (NGO’s), community based organizations (CBO’s), Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) and private companies. Please see links to each centre for details on partnerships established.
How you can contribute
Sponsor a bus for learners or contribute towards the development of an indigenous or vegetable garden.
Enquiries on our programmes
Director: Vivian Malema
Tel: 012 843 5020
Lowveld Environmental Education Centres
Centre Manager: Xolelwa Hlalu
P O BOX 1024
Tel/Fax: 013 752 6504
Mobile: 076 767 7616
Pretoria & Walter Sisulu Environmental Education Centre
Centre Manager: Tebogo Cyprian Mathaba
Tel: 012 843 5186
Free State Environmental Education Centre
Centre Manager: Suzan Mandla
Tel: 051 436 3530
Fax: 051 436 1867/41
KwaZulu Natal Environmental Education Centre
Centre Manager: Jabulani Mpungose
P.O. Box 21667, Mayor's Walk
Tel: 033 344 3298
Fax: 033 344 1427
Cell: 082 332 4144
Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre
Centre Manager: Roleen Ellman
Telephone: 021 799 8677
Fax: 021 797 1919
fax2mail: 086 555 9282
Harold Porter Environmental Education Centre
Centre Manager: Eunice Jurgens
Fax to Email: 0865889526