Course Development Network
Course Development Network
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) 1996 Policy and Strategy for Environment and Sustainable Development: Toward Equity–led Growth and Sustainable Development places emphasis on environmental education as a major strategic activity for the region’s environment and sustainable development programme. The regional body draws its strength and direction from international policy statements and publications such as Our Common Future and Agenda 21, the global action plan for environment and development adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit.
In order to support environmental education in the region, a range of training opportunities have been developed at the SADC Regional Environmental Education Centre in South Africa and other environmental education centres in the region. These include various types of training courses such as attachment programmes, short courses and expert exchange programmes. The different training opportunities also form the basis for the informal networking in course development in the region. Strong professional relationships have been enabled through the sharing of course materials, where SADC course developers have shared and adapted course materials from one context to the other.
The Course Development Network is the first most formalised network under the regional programme. The network aims to broaden and strengthen environmental education capacity and professional development in the region. The network supports 13 partner institutions from eight of the 14 SADC member states. The members come from universities, NGOs, Polytechnics and other parastatal organisations charged with the responsibility of developing environmental education programmes in various countries.
How the network works?
The course development process involves networking institutions meeting at course development workshops twice a year over a period of thirty months. Through these regional workshops, network members share skills, experiences and resources in order to enable the development of environmental education courses in their own institutions, drawing on their local context. The network has been compiling a course developer’s resource kit called ‘the toolkit’. This is a collection of course development materials, case stories from members and partner institutions. The toolkit is seen as a resource that will enable the developing work of the network to unfold as a coherent capacity-development programme.
The focus of the collaborative work has been around six generic issues associated with course development as identified by the Network members at the network’s inaugural meeting in July 2002, namely; curriculum deliberations; course materials development; course delivery strategies; Assessment and accreditation of learning; Monitoring and evaluation of courses; e learning and web based course designing. These issues form the basis for networking. Course developers work together during regional workshops, focussing on one of the generic issues, at each of the workshops. They also meet in small interest groups of two or three to work on an issue. The interest groups are formed around three major focal areas around which courses are being developed by the members. These are EE for Industry, EE in formal educational institutions and EE for informal sector such as community based organisations and NGOs.
At each regional workshop members agree on ‘work away’ tasks, where individuals are expected to gain more insight into the issue at hand through research. They also explore how the particular issue would work in their institutional context. Sharing of how other members and institutions are tackling the issues becomes a learning point, for those who are struggling. In this way, professional development in course development is envisaged to be growing among members of the network.
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Supporting a Network of NGO's to Strengthen Environmental Education Processes
This is a sub-project of the SADC REEP aiming to support a network of NGOs with an environmental education function, sharing skills, experiences and materials in order to strengthen environmental education processes in the SADC region. The aspiration is that the NGO partners specify their own needs in relation to the ‘NGO support’ funds, and in that way, the sub-project is demand?driven and negotiated. The opportunities for networking and sharing will be enhanced through this sub-project.
It is hoped that the strengthening of the regional coordinating events, such as the EEASA conference and council meetings, and the strengthening of regional publications, will provide opportunities for NGOs to contribute to and benefit from focussed and productive regional events and information sharing. It is therefore anticipated that the separate outputs result in interwoven outcomes and synergy with other sub?projects.
To date many environmental organisations have benefit from the NGO support, both financially and technically. Some examples include the Environmental Justice Networking Forum in South Africa and its members and the Lutheran Development Services in Swaziland. The Programme has also supported training courses and the two of the international conferences of the Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) which took place in Gaborone (Botswana 2002) and in Windhoek (Namibia 2003).
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Coordination Amongst Bilateral Projects
The aim is to establish an active network of environmental education projects sharing skills, experience and materials in order to strengthen environmental education processes in the SADC region. The aspiration is that the SADC Programme will provide opportunities to other bilateral environmental education projects to share ideas, materials and experience within SADC, and to enable sharing on a wider scale with other initiatives in the region.
This component works towards enhancing the cooperation between other existing environmental education initiatives in the SADC Region namely the National Environmental Education Project for the General Education and Training Band (NEEP-GET) in South Africa, the Lesotho Environmental Education Support Project (LEESP) in Lesotho, and the Supporting Environmental Education in Namibia (SEEN) project in Namibia.
The three national projects came together to work jointly on the Ubuntu Exhibition fair at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, and to organise workshops for sharing of skills and experiences more widely. In March 2003, a Regional Policy Workshop was organised to examine policy processes at SADC, national and local levels, and the emphasis was on support for policy processes through capacity development and learning support materials production. A similar cooperation workshop was organised in August 2003 around the issues of sharing experiences at national level for Sharing Experiences of National and Regional Processes to Enable Environmental Learning in Formal Education. A third workshop to enable sharing around the role of Indigenous Knowledge processes in environmental education took place in October 2003 in Pretoria.
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