Highly interactive, fun-filled learning programmes are facilitated to a range of beneficiaries – learners; youth and community groups; students from higher education institutions; and adults. The programme is divided into garden-based school programmes and other guided groups.
The 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 wherein the Biodiversity Education Centres are located. With many of the economically disadvantaged communities located at great distances from the Gardens, many beneficiaries are offered sponsored transport to participate in the programme. In order to cater for schools not able to visit the Gardens, learning programmes are also conducted on school premises (with local resources drawn on to enrich the teaching and learning experience) as well as in natural areas such as wetlands, rivers, local nature reserves, etc.
Although the success of the programme is difficult to gauge, anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that the learning programmes greatly enhance the learners’ knowledge and skills; appears to have positive impact on their perceptions of the natural world and often leads to the schools embarking on various local environmental projects such as establishing an indigenous school garden.