[Pretoria NBG] [Witwatersrand NBG] [Kirstenbosch NBG] [Kirstenbosch Outreach Greening]
Environmental Education at the NBI enjoyed an eventful and productive year. Considerable progress was made with the development of a national approach to Environmental Education in the Gardens, as well as with developing outreach greening as a national programme.
During the year, Pretoria, Witwatersrand and Kirstenbosch educators worked towards developing criteria to standardize the training and function of Assistant Education Officers (AEOs). This process was finalized at Educators Week when an Assistant Education Officer Policy was accepted. The policy provides for uniform requirements, training, development and benefits for all AEOs working with the NBI. Without the crucial support of the AEOs, the various Environmental Education programmes would not have been able to provide guided visits to as many as the 20 800 children who experienced the Pretoria, Witwatersrand and Kirstenbosch programmes this year.
The number of learners visiting the Pretoria, Witwatersrand and Kirstenbosch NBGs has been bolstered significantly by the provision of sponsored transport. As a result of the regular increase in the cost of fuel, the cost of school outings has become prohibitively expensive. Thanks to sponsors such as the DEA&T's Poverty Relief Fund, Nestlé and BP, the Environmental Education programme can continue to give under-resourced schools the opportunity to experience the wonder of the Gardens.
A very successful Educators' Week was held for the first time in three years. Hosted by the Education staff in the Pretoria NBG, the gathering also benefited from the expertise of visiting American educators from the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Environmental Education activities at the Pretoria NBG were given a tremendous boost with funding from the DEA&T's Poverty Relief Fund for the construction of an Education Centre. The new multipurpose Environmental Education Centre, completed in March 2002, includes office accommodation, a large hall to accommodate up to 150 learners, a resource centre, kitchen and storage facilities. The funding provided also included the sponsorship of a learner transport project, which has enabled learners from under-resourced schools to visit the Pretoria NBG to participate in environmental education activities.
The Pretoria Environmental Education programme recorded a total of 4 904 learners on guided visits and 1 205 learners on self-guided visits during this period. The Pretoria NBG also continued to provide a pre-school programme facilitated by specially trained AEOs as well as workshops for pre-school teachers and early childhood development practitioners.
Education staff again joined forces with herbarium and horticultural staff to present an exciting Arbor Week programme, which included a botanical pantomime, for learners from under-resourced schools in the Pretoria area. During Water Week, programmes with a strong focus on water conservation and the benefits of planting indigenous water-wise plants were presented.
A group of 19 high school learners, all award winners at the Northern Gauteng Expo for Young Scientists, were hosted at the Pretoria NBG and the National Herbarium. The aim of the visit was to promote careers in botany and to draw talented young people into the field of plant-related work.
Requests from schools for assistance with the design and development of school and community gardens haves increased tremendously. A partnership was entered into with the Department of Education and the National Environmental Education Programme (NEEP) to assist with the greening of five schools in the Soweto area and 10 in the Pretoria area.
The development of an indigenous demonstration garden at Banareng School in Atteridgeville was completed with the assistance of horticultural staff of the Pretoria NBG. Assistance was also provided in the upgrade and development of a koppie behind the grounds of Mboweni School, in partnership with the sponsors of the school's food garden, BMW. Alien plants were identified and removed from the site by learners, a landscape plan was drawn up, and meetings were held with the principal and staff to formulate a development plan.
At the Witwatersrand NBG, a large number of learners were accommodated with the assistance of an active group of AEOs. A total of 7 087 learners came to the Garden on guided visits and 2 210 learners on self-guided visits during this period.
Almost 970 learners participated in activities with a focus on water and wetlands in March, in celebration of National Water Week and World Wetlands Day. Sponsorship from Nestlé made it possible for learners from four under-resourced schools to participate in an Arbor Week programme at the Garden.
Education staff were asked by the Gauteng Department of Education to present a workshop for 70 Grade 4 Natural Science teachers. The aim of the workshop was to provide an introduction to Environmental Education and its integration into the school curriculum.
Because of limited staff capacity, the outreach greening initiatives at the Witwatersrand NBG were limited to workshops for community groups, such as an urban greening workshop for Soweto youth club members facilitated in conjunction with Food and Trees for Africa, a refresher course on alien plant eradication for community members arranged by the Krugersdorp City Council, and a presentation on why indigenous plants should be used as part of a Working for Water workshop for 22 local councillors.
The Kirstenbosch Environmental Education programme recorded a total of 8 800 learners coming to the Garden on guided visits during this period thanks to sponsorship of fuel from BP for the Kirstenbosch Outreach Bus. A further 6 106 learners came on self-guided visits. Several pre-visit teacher workshops were presented at the beginning of each term to introduce teachers to Kirstenbosch as a teaching and learning resource. Only schools who attended these workshops were allowed to utilize the sponsored Kirstenbosch Bus to transport their learners to the Garden.
The number of days on which the pre-school programme is offered was increased as a result of heavy demand. This programme introduces young learners to the wonders of the indigenous flora and fauna through the experiences of Monty the Grey Mongoose and includes interactive puppet shows and hands-on fun activities in the Garden.
The Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre hosted a collaborative National Water Week celebration which was attended by over 1 000 learners and also offered a special Arbor Week programme.
KIRSTENBOSCH OUTREACH GREENING PROGRAMME
The Kirstenbosch Outreach Greening Programme has enjoyed a busy year with the start of five new school greening projects in partnership with the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust, the extension of 11 existing school gardens, and the beginnings of a community-driven greening project under Eskom power lines. The programme's capacity was boosted with the addition of a second horticulturist to the outreach team with funding from the Ukuvuka Firestop Campaign.
The programme is entering the third year of its first three-year cycle and currently supports a total of 16 formal projects (at various stages of the three-year plan) and two informal projects. This support includes facilitation of greening workshops for teachers, learners, caretakers and community members, as well as support in practical development of gardens, regular site visits and liaison with individual project sponsors.
Until now the programme has primarily focused on the development of school gardens but is now broadening its scope to address some of the more pressing issues facing local communities, such as fire mitigation, through greening initiatives. In June 2001, the Ukuvuka Firestop Campaign and the Kirstenbosch Outreach Greening programme embarked on a partnership with local government, NGOs and community organizations to tackle various greening initiatives within the Eskom servitude in the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa.
The main focus of the Joe Slovo Greenbelt Project thus far has been on the formation of a community greening committee and the presentation of a well-attended training programme, which included topics such as alternative container gardening and tree cage construction. During Arbor Week, about 300 community members, teachers and learners attended a tree-planting event hosted by Isilimela Comprehensive School, in Joe Slovo, where trees were planted along the periphery of the proposed food garden area.
During the year, a number of school greening workshops were held at the Edith Stephens Wetland Park, one of the outreach programme's project sites, in order to increase community awareness of the facility and its significance. Four satellite school and community greening projects have been initiated in the local communities surrounding the Edith Stephens Wetland Park to ensure that the relevance of the park is brought even closer to home.