educational programme promotes sus devOn the 28th of February the Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, MP, launched the Fundisa for Change Education for Sustainable Development Programme at Emperor’s Palace, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.

The launch of this programme marked the end of the two day Fundisa for Change Education for Sustainable Development conference which took place from 27 until 28 February 2014.

The Fundisa for Change Conference was established through a partnership between the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI) GreenMatter Programme, Rhodes University, the National Teacher Institution and other partners. The aim of the partnership and conference is to strengthen environmental education within the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) framework of South Africa for the training of teachers on content on environmental issues. The conference was held under the theme ‘Building a national system of teacher education engagement for transformative environmental learning and education for sustainable development.’

The Fundisa for Change Programme emanates from a consortium of national environment and education sector partners in South Africa, to strengthen environmental learning and teacher education. The Programme responds to two core issues:

• The curriculum content necessary for building national capacity for biodiversity management, sustainable use of natural resources, resilience to climate change, and building a green economy;

• The quality of teachers’ knowledge and ability to teach ‘new’ environmental content.

Speaking at the launch, Mabudafhasi said, “Our government has long realised the flashing warning signs of the heavy price we pay if the environment is ignored. We heeded the warnings and started developing the relevant pieces of legislations. Our positive outlook emanates from the realisation that environmental education, which we tirelessly advocated for over the years, is finally taking centre stage. Key institutions are coming on board and this makes me now feel confident that nature environment upon which we so heavily depend upon, can be conserved and managed”.    

“There is a need for a strong national partnership to make environmental content knowledge available to the education and training system to fast-track the inclusion of new environmental content knowledge into the national system of education and training” said Mabudafhasi.

Dr. Sibusiso Manzini, Executive Programme Director for GreenMatter says that the Fundisa for Change Network, when rolled out nationally, will help not only to attract students into much needed green careers, but also help them build the foundational concepts that will allow them entry and success in university studies, thereby improving employability.

“The aptitude of our future generations to be successful in and contribute meaningfully to a changing world rests on what our schooling systems and teachers can achieve today," Manzini concluded.

Fundisa for Change is now poised to move to scale. Two types of teaching resources, including eight common property modules have been developed, some of which have been successfully piloted with teacher educators from across the country.

In the next year the programme aims to obtain endorsement of the Fundisa for Change materials and programmes from the South African Council of Educators (SACE) to align with new policy developments in which teachers will obtain professional development points for completing continuing professional development programmes.

The programme aims to also continue offering teacher training and training of trainers programmes for teacher education partners wishing to implement the Fundisa for Change programmes and materials. Additionally a national textbook for teacher education will be developed to ensure ‘critical mass’ and longer term sustainability of the programme.

A multi-institutional Fundisa for Change research programme will be launched, and already there are over ten Masters scholars and two PhDs engaged in Fundisa for Change research.

With funded support from Murray & Roberts a seminar series will also be launched, to take place in ten national teacher education institutions this year, to introduce the programme and materials to all staff members in these institutions.

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