20140707_104929Reimagining Environmental Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The Fundisa for Change programme participated in the week long series of presentations that were conducted at the Environmental Learning and Sustainability Centre, Rhodes University, during the National Arts Festival. A presentation was made on the programme by Soul Shava from UNISA, Zintle Songqwaru the Fundisa for Change coordinator and Professor Rob O’Donoghue co-presented in the session on the 7th of July 2014. The presentation fitted into the weeklong theme “Reimagining social practise for sustainability” and ran under the sub-theme “Orientation and Overview of the Fundisa for Change Programme.”
This one hour long event gave an overview of the programme, reemphasised the main objectives, shared about its current state nature and explained how that nature arose from reimagining environmental learning in the curriculum and then suggested how environmental education and education for sustainable development could be done in practice in the near future. The session ended with a brief discussion on the possible ways of taking forward Fundisa for Change.
The Fundisa for Change Programme reimagining curriculum implementation
The main Fundisa for Change objective, “Transformative environmental learning through teacher education” is aimed at strengthening and fully equipping teachers with the requisite knowledge in order for them to impart to the younger generations. Under the main objective are six key sub objectives which include capacity building, policy and advocacy, building a national system of engagement, curriculum and textbook contributions as well as coordination and communication.
Fundisa for Change is unique because over the past EE was ‘integrated’ into existing learning areas across the curriculum making an addition to the curriculum. This approach had limited impact as most of the EE content was non-examinable and therefore many teachers found no need to emphasize on it.
The model that the Fundisa for Change programme took is such that the existing environmental content within the different subject curricula is first identified. Once identified, Fundisa for Change then strives to enhance the teaching of the identified environmental content through developing and resourcing teachers’ capacity to know the content, teach the content effectively and successfully assess this content.
In addition, the Fundisa for Change approach recognizes that our environment is complex and dynamic, the knowledge about it is also in constant shift as there are constantly new emerging challenges. Due to the sometimes contested nature of environmental knowledge Fundisa for Change emphasizes the need to go beyond the current curriculum requirements, what is termed CAPS++ as this enables learners to deal with knowledge at higher levels.
The Pedagogical Process Model
Professor O’Donoghue presented the Pedagogical Process Model that can be used to structure classroom activities for developing content, facilitate the teaching and enable the assessment expected by the CAPS curriculum. Teaching, learning and assessment should be integrated so that they support each other in CAPS.
The processes of teaching, learning and assessment are facilitated by resources. Fundisa for Change have to date produced at least ten subjects and content specific resources for teachers to be used on the CAPS curriculum.
“We have developed material that is designed to encroach into the education system in a systematic way and these go along with the various scholar stages ranging from the lowest grade to the highest and some for the FET as well” said Shava.
Fundisa for Change has been mainly developing capacity of subject advisors. The next phase is devolving into schools and will do capacity building for school principals. The presenters acknowledged the support of the consortium of partners on the programme whose contributions into the reimagining and supporting realisation of the re-imagination make the programme unique.
Plenary discussions
During discussions, one view on the future of future of Fundisa for Change was that it remains the way it is since it has a strong civic drive and that will always keep it at the cutting edge of environmental education and education for sustainable development for South Africa. Another view was that Fundisa for Change was mainly a research and knowledge generation endeavour that needed to be handed over to the department of education once the capacity development and research model was finalised. One contribution was on the current training model. It was suggested to think about working with a few institutions or schools and then putting resources into developing capacity at all levels-whole institution development model. Therefore by this suggestion, Fundisa for Change would work with schools whose principals underwent capacity building.