Fundisa for Change is a Professional Learning Community made up of environmental and teacher education partners collaborating and working with teachers across South Africa to improve and strengthen ESD and environmental learning in schools.  Although the programme has a national coordinator based at SANBI to manage and administer the programme, it operates under an emergent consortium structure.

Programme history

The Fundisa for Change programme works within an emergent consortium structure, involving national environment and education sector partners in South Africa. It was established (initially through a partnership between the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, SANBI’s GreenMatter Programme and national teacher education institutions, and partners). The objective was to strengthen transformative environmental and ESD learning in teacher education within the Curriculum framework of South Africa, and a broader Education for Sustainable Development framework through a coordinated, participatory, national system of engagement.

The Fundisa for change network was established in response to research findings from three major environmental sector strategy research programmes, including:

  • The South African Environmental Sector Skills Plan;
  • The SANBI/GreenMatter Biodiversity Human Capital Development Strategy; and
  • The Global Change Grand Challenge National Research Plan Human Capital Development Strategy.

The reports all found that the foundations of environmental learning in South Africa needed more attention if the environmental sector human capital development needs of the country were to be met within a longer term sustainability paradigm.

Core to this are two issues, identified in all of the strategic research:

  • The quality of teachers’ knowledge, and teachers’ abilities to teach ‘new’ environmental knowledge; and
  • The curriculum content necessary for building national capacity for biodiversity management, sustainable use of natural resources, resilience to climate change challenges, and building a green economy.

Current Context

The Fundisa for Change programme’s mandate has gained significance, in relation to two recent policy developments, namely South Africa’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, and the South African DHET’s revised Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education that now integrate Education for Sustainable Development into the minimum requirements for Teacher Education.

These policy developments position the Fundisa for Change Professional Learning Community as a multi-disciplinary, cross cutting structure with capability to directly make contributions to the need for a crosscutting intervention to strengthen Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and the environmental learning focus in Teacher Education.The Fundisa for Change Programme directly addresses Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), which focuses on quality education. SDG 4 clearly indicates that including sustainable development in education is necessary for achieving relevant, quality education. Specifically, target 4.7 of SDG 4 requires all governments to:

  • By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote Sustainable development, including, among others, through Education for Sustainable Development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Additionally, there is clear recognition that education (Goal 4) is also required for all of the other sustainable development goals to be realised and engaged by citizens around the world.


The overall objective of the Fundisa for Change programme is:

To enhance transformative ESD and environmental learning through teacher education.

Programme specific objectives are:

  • Capacity building:

This objective is focused primarily on the development of teacher education capacity, which in turn is oriented towards teacher capacity development for transformative ESD and environmental learning in the schooling system.  A research informed approach to capacity development has been adopted.

  • Policy and advocacy (influence):

This objective seeks to enhance national take up of ESD and environmental learning within the national system of teacher education. To achieve this, the programme has formed a working group to engage directly with national policy systems and structures, adopt a research-informed approach to engaging with policy systems, and a networked approach to advocacy.

  • Build national system of engagement:

This objective seeks to expand the network of providers and the community of practice engaged with ESD and transformative environmental learning through teacher education.  To achieve this, it seeks to develop complementary approaches, establish a strong networking infrastructure, and work with the guidance of university partners and national institutions responsible for teacher education and sustainable development.

  • Strengthen and review curriculum, learning and teaching support materials, especially textbooks:

This objective seeks to strengthen the quality, progression and validity of existing curriculum knowledge and its representation in the national curriculum system.  This objective also focusses on teacher education materials development focusing on ESD and environmental content.

  • Provide co-ordination support to establish the fundisa for change partnership programme:

This objective seeks to provide the ‘under-laboring’ structural co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation and systemic implementation support necessary for the four objectives above.  A steering committee that supports, guides and advises, as well as offers an accountability mechanism is a core dimension of the coordinating function of the Fundisa for Change Professional Learning Community and partnership programme. The steering committee is made up of teacher education institutions and National level Education and Environmental Institutions involved in Teacher Education.

Contact details:
Shanu Misser
E-mail: S.Misser@sanbi.org.za

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