Kirstenbosch NBG: Capacity Development
Teacher Development Programme
Teacher Professional Development Workshops
Interactive capacity development workshops are offered to educators, educators in-training and education officials.
The workshops are based on the following themes:
Workshop participants engage in activities linked to the following questions:
- What is biodiversity and what are the levels of biodiversity in South Africa?
- Why is it important?
- What is the current status of biodiversity globally and in South Africa and what are the threats and pressures to biodiversity?
- What have the responses to this loss of biodiversity been both internationally and nationally?
- What should the continued responses be and how can we as individuals and communities assist?
The participants then investigate where the topic of biodiversity is located within the National Curriculum Statement and are assisted to develop lessons based on the biodiversity of their local context. If the workshop is based at the Kirstenbosch NBG, the participants are taken into the Garden and shown various teaching and learning activities based on the topic.
Workshop participants play the sustainability game and then develop their own definition of sustainability. A discussion about the history of the term 'sustainable development' leads to an understanding of the current four dominant perspectives of this topic.
They are shown graphs of the current 'ecological footprints' of the various countries of the world which illustrates the disproportionate resource usage globally. An article illustrating the production of a cotton T-shirt is used as the focus of an activity which interrogates the concept that modern production processes of everyday items, use and waste large amounts of resources.
The participants investigate where the topic of sustainable development is located within the National Curriculum Statement and are assisted to develop appropriate lessons. If the workshop is based at the Kirstenbosch NBG, the participants are taken into the Garden and shown various teaching and learning activities based on the topic.
Global Warming and Climate Change
Participants view a screening of the film "An Inconvenient Truth" and/or a Power Point presentation in order to develop an understanding of the concept. This is followed by an activity which allows the participants to understand how closely lives and livelihoods depend upon a predicable climate.
The current climate change predictions for South Africa forms the basis for an activity whereby the participants investigate the predicted effects of climate change on agriculture, biomes, spread of diseases, etc. in South Africa. Finally, both mitigation and adaptation solutions are brainstormed. The participants investigate where the topic is located within the National Curriculum Statement and are assisted to develop appropriate lessons.
If the workshop is based at the Kirstenbosch NBG, the participants are taken into the Garden and shown various teaching and learning activities based on the topic.
Active Learning Framework
This framework is ideal for the development and implementation of environmental action projects in a local context. Workshop participants are introduced to the framework via a Power Point presentation. They then use newspaper articles illustrating various environmental issues together with the active learning framework as a basis for developing theoretical environmental action projects which are shared with the group. They are then required to start the development of an environmental action project for their own school context.
Ad hoc workshops
These are facilitated in response to specific requests from different educational organizations. Some examples of these workshops are Resource Development, Science Process Skills, Science and Maths in Early Learning Childhood Development and Environmental Education Activities for In-Training Educators.
Most of the workshops are done in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department as well as other organizations. We aim to facilitate a minimum of three formal workshops per year.
The BotSoc-funded FET Project
Officially called the "Biodiversity, Sustainable Development and Climate Change in the FET Project", this three-year project (2008 to 2010) represents a partnership between three organisations: SANBI (The Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre in Kirstenbosch NBG), the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The project is funded by BotSoc, implemented by the SANBI Environmental Education Officers at the Gold Fields Centre with further support into the classroom from two curriculum advisors of the WCED.
The project aims to build capacity among identified Life Sciences educators in the Further Education and Training (FET) band through a focussed teacher professional development programme leading to the educators implementing curriculum-linked environmental action projects within their local context.
The curriculum advisors identified educators from eleven different schools on the Cape Peninsula to participate in the project. A series of six workshops were facilitated during 2008 based on the themes biodiversity, sustainable development, climate change and the active learning framework. During the next two years, the educators developed their environmental action projects which included:
- A long-term investigation into the effectiveness of rehabilitation at the MacSand Mining site in the Macassar Dunes (in partnership with MacSand Mining Company).
- Investigation of the impacts of alien vegetation and domestic bore-holes on the volume and flow of the Kuilsriver in the De Kuilen area.
- Investigation into the effectiveness of the retention ponds in the Edith Stevens Wetland Park in reducing levels of pollution in the out-flowing rivers and the subsequent effect on the biodiversity of these water bodies.
- A comparative study of the biodiversity in Rondevlei and Zeekoevlei through an investigation of the effects of pollution on aquatic biodiversity.
- A survey of indigenous knowledge about medicinal and useful plants followed by a biodiversity audit of the same plants in the Wallacedene community with the aim of restoring the plants in the area. (This project is also part of this school's exchange project with a class group in Seattle, Washington State.)
- An investigation into the current sources of energy utilised in the learners' homes and schools in the Phillipi informal settlement with the aim to introducing the community to alternatives such as solar heating, solar cookers, insulation and orientation of homes, etc.
The "Educators' Resource File for FET Environmental Action Projects", as an output of the project, is being developed currently. This file will contain small amounts of information about biodiversity, etc. (i.e. the themes of the workshop) and will showcase some of the schools' environmental action projects.