The Department of Basic Education has identified the support of teachers at a local level as a key objective for achieving educational quality. Once-off training for educators is ineffective and teacher education programmes should be ongoing throughout the professional career of the teacher. The Eco-Schools programme, with its network of coordinators who support schools on an ongoing basis over many years, is well placed to support this need.
The Fundisa for Change Development Network is a collaboration of partners from the environmental sector (state, parastatal and NGO) including WESSA, who are jointly responding to the need to strengthen teacher education and practice, particularly with regard to environmental content and concepts in the curriculum (CAPS), as well as with ‘new’ knowledge such as climate change.
Teachers that participate in Fundisa for Change training receive ongoing support for trying out new teaching methods and expanding teacher knowledge in addition to resources such as the WESSA EnviroKids magazine. This partnership between Eco-Schools and the Fundisa for Change network also enables the programme to deliver quality assured materials that have been endorsed by the Department of Basic Education and by partner higher education institutions.
Since inception the Eco-Schools programme has supported teachers with Fundisa for Change training in five provinces! The training is based on the concept of developing Professional Learning Communities where Eco-School teachers meet often and are supported by one another and by an Eco-Schools coordinator.
The Fundisa for Change network was officially launched by the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabhudafasi at a teacher conference in March 2014. The Deputy Minister commended the efforts of the network to improve environmental learning and mentioned in particular her great enthusiasm and support for the Eco-Schools, endorsing the work achieved through the programme. Mr Haroon Mahomed, now Chief director at Western Cape Education Department (WCED) for Curriculum and Teacher development, has also described the Fundisa network as one of South Africa’s best models of a Professional Learning Community.