The Environmental Education programmes in the Kirstenbosch, Pretoria and Witwatersrand National Botanical Gardens focus on guided school visits, teacher training and educational support for outreach greening projects. Our programmes aim to support the school curriculum and explore new and innovative ways of ensuring that our programmes, and by extension the Gardens, become increasingly relevant and more accessible to all South Africans.
The guided schools programme in each of the gardens is supported by a team of dedicated and committed Assistant Education Officers. The Assistant Education Officers enable us to increase numbers without compromising on the quality of our programmes.
Teacher Development programmes are becoming increasingly important in the light of the transformation in education. Organisations like the NBI have an important role to play with regard to teacher development and support and also to ensure that environmental education is effectively integrated into the school curriculum.
The Kirstenbosch Outreach Greening Programme is a cross-directorate activity linking the Gardens Directorate and Education. It is well established and acts as an inspiration for fledgling outreach greening activities initiated in schools and communities in the other Gardens.
In an attempt to facilitate closer collaboration between staff in different Gardens, a number of joint projects have been initiated. These have resulted in extensive sharing of expertise and experience as well as the standardisation of the Assistant Education Officer policy and sections of the training manual.
The Environmental Education staff in the Pretoria and Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden have also been working together to facilitate the NBI/UNESCO Teacher Capacity Building: Skills Development Through Environmental Education workshops. During the year under review, certificate ceremonies were held at both gardens and 77 teachers graduated. These workshops have been instrumental in the forging of partnerships between the NBI, UNESCO, the Gauteng Department of Education, teachers and principals of schools participating in the project.
The Schools Environmental Education programme in the Pretoria Garden revealed a steady increase in the number of learners visiting the Garden. One of the most popular events was the Arbor Programme. During this programme, staff from the Education Section, the National Herbarium and the Garden Directorate facilitated a sponsored programme for learners focusing on the importance of indigenous plants and botany. A total of 3538 learners visited the Garden for guided programmes while an additional 1848 came on unguided outings.
Education staff, assisted by Horticultural staff are developing a indigenous demonstration garden at Banareng School in Attridgeville. The school is used by a number of organisations, including the Gauteng Education Department, as a training venue to promote the development of vegetable and indigenous school gardens.
The Education Staff, concerned about a slight drop in the number of learners visiting the Garden initiated an innovative marketing strategy that resulted in an overall increase of 21% for the period under review. Nestl} donated funding to facilitate the visits of 15 under-resourced schools to participate in guided Environmental Education Programmes. The first of these visits took place in March 2001. A total of 6553 learners visited the Garden for guided programmes while an additional 2918 came on unguided outings.
The Education Officer in collaboration with Food and Trees for Africa facilitated a number of Urban Greening Workshops for approximately 160 teachers and community leaders. Another highlight was the workshops, run in collaboration with Johannesburg City Parks, to train community members to participate in projects to clear alien invader plants. Our Education Officer presented a workshop titled, "Why Indigenous" which highlighted the advantages of indigenous plants and the negative effects of invader species on our environment.
During the period under review, several exciting events occurred at the environmental education centre at Kirstenbosch.
A total of 8 542 learners visited the Garden for the guided schools' programme. A total of
6 890 learners visited the Garden using the self-guided programme.
Education staff visited Rondevlei Nature Reserve to observe their schools' programme. The Western Cape Primary Science Programme (WCPSP) Workshops presented further possible options for teachers regarding the NBI's schools' programme.
An education officer from the Missouri Botanical Garden visited Kirstenbosch as part of the exchange programme undertaken by these two gardens and shared aspects of the schools' programme offered by the Missouri Garden.
Several self-guided 'previsit' teacher workshops were presented. The purpose of these workshops was to train and enable teachers to use the Kirstenbosch NBG as a teaching and learning resource to reinforce their syllabus and curriculum. Four themed workshops, attended by 51 teachers, were run during the year.
A one-day workshop discussing interpretation within the NBI was held at the Witwatersrand NBG on Saturday, 17 March 2001. The product of this meeting is an Interpretation Policy for the NBI, recommending that each garden, where possible, have one staff member dedicated to Interpretation. The overall interpretive theme for the NBI that was agreed on at the meeting was: "Indigenous plants enrich our lives-let's care for them!". This interpretation workshop was a response to the recommendations which were put forward by the External Review panel.
The success of the environmental education programmes is due largely to the generosity of the following sponsors:
- UNESCO - which sponsored the UNESCO/NBI Teacher Capacity Building workshops over the past two years.
- Menlo Park Fruit & Veg - who donated fruit for learners attending the Arbor Programme at Pretoria.
- Lesley's Transport - sponsored the transport for learners from under-resourced schools from Eersterust, Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Pretoria-West to participate in the Arbor Programme at the Pretoria Garden.
- Cartoria Toyota in Lyttleton - sponsored the transport for learners from under-resourced schools in Soshanguve to participate in the Arbor Programme at the Pretoria Garden
- Nestle- donated funds to sponsor Environmental Education Programmes for 15 schools at the Witwatersrand Garden.
- DANCED - sponsored 5 Urban Greening Workshops at the Witwatersrand Garden for teachers and community members. These workshops were facilitated by the NBI in association with Food and Trees for Africa.
- Food and Trees for Africa - sponsored five Urban Greening Programmes as well as the transport for learners from Soweto to participate in the Arbor Programme at the Witwatersrand Garden.
- Random Harvest Nursery - donated indigenous trees to each of the schools participating in the Arbor Day celebrations at the Witwatersand NBG.
- The Table Mountain Fund - which supports the running and maintenance costs of the bus, the outreach teacher workshops, and the development of environmental education programmes at the Edith Stephens Wetland project.
- DG Murray Trust - which supports the DG Murray Discovery Room in the Gold Fields Centre at Kirstenbosch; Anglo American and De Beers Chairman's Fund - which provided the seed funding for the purchase of the bus and the establishment of the outreach programme.