The environmental education & awareness unit
The Environmental Education and Awareness Unit (EE & A Unit) is the educational wing of Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) responsible for the development, organisation, coordination and implementation of mass environmental education, awareness, greening and capacity building programmes and projects with and for communities within the City of Johannesburg. The main purpose of the unit is to educate and engage mainly with communities and schools from diverse backgrounds on the need to protect, conserve and restore city’s natural resources for sustainable development. The EEU & A annually reaches over 80 000 beneficiaries through its various programmes, projects and educational campaigns that are coordinated and conducted in schools and communities.
The unit has four environmental education centres that cater various regions in the city. Namely:
1. The Dorothy Nyembe EE Centre
Corner Sibeko and Matlala Drive
Tel: 011 989 3367
Services: Region D & G
2. Johannesburg Botanical Gardens EE and Science Centre
Thomas Bowler Street and Olifants Road
Tel: 011 782 9597
Services: Region B & C
3. Rietfontein EE Centre
138 Holkam Road
Tel: 076 2730 096
Services: Region A
4. The Wilds Education Centre
2388 Corner St Patrick and Houghton Drive
The Wilds Municipal Park
Tel: 011 011 6432 313/ 6431 246
Services: Region E & F
The work of the EE & A Unit largely rests on the following three objectives:
- Enhance environmental literacy towards informed environmental responses
- Strengthen people and open space interactions
- Integrated approach towards the development and implementation of environmental education and awareness programmes and projects
Based on these objectives, The EEU & A Unit has four programmes that act as a conduit to deliver environmental education, awareness and capacity building programmes. The programmes are:
The Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) contains aspects of the environment to a lesser or greater degree. The school’s programmes are interactive, learner-centred, fun and aim at enhancing curriculum learning where grade specific programmes are developed through consulting CAPS for grade R-12. The programmes are 1-3 hours long and cover a variety of topics such as open space management, water conservation, biodiversity, energy conservation and plant diversity. Through the programme learners are taken to JCPZ’s designated nature areas such as the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, The Johannesburg Zoo, nature reserves, bird sanctuaries, wetlands, environmental education centres, recreational parks, etc. to raise their environmental awareness on the need for proper open space utilisation, conservation and management. These type of programmes encourage development of critical thinking abilities and learner involvement in solving environmental problems in society. The following programmes with grade specific themes are offered by the different JCPZ environmental Education Centres:
Environmental Awareness Raising Initiative
This programme is aimed at both in and out of school youth and community members in general. It involves raising environmental awareness on open space, biodiversity and conservation issues through the following activities:
Celebration of environmental themed days
Annually the unit celebrate seven environmental theme days that are aligned to the JCPZ mandate. The theme days are part of either national or international themes for a specific environmental day, week or month and they are: National World Wetlands Day, National Water Week, Earth Day, Bird Week, International Day for Biological Diversity, National Environment Week, Arbor Week and Alien Species Week. In partnership with the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) through the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the unit also celebrate National Science Week (NSW). NSW is the initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and its goal is to contribute to the development of a society that is knowledgeable about science, critically engaged and scientifically literate. The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens EE Centre is one of the JCPZ centres that are annually supported by SAASTA through DST to develop, coordinate and implement Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI) education and awareness activities aimed at popularising science to the broader South African society as well as making STEMI appealing to learners including the general public, such that they consider STEMI as preferable career options. JCPZ is grateful to the annual sponsorship support by SAASTA and DST towards its educational programmes that annually reach over 80 000 beneficiaries.
Every official school holiday period, each of the four JCPZ education centres host holiday programmes at public amenities such as libraries, recreation centres, parks, nature reserves and shopping centres. The programmes cater various age groups, are fun, hands-on with ample edutainment activities. Beneficiaries of these programmes are exposed to activities such as craft workshops, interpretative nature trails, drama and cleaning up of local public open spaces.
After school programme
The EE centres assist school learners from various grades with environmental school projects as part of curriculum learning. The programme is conducted in the afternoon when learners are out of their normal schooling time (after hours) and during school holidays. Leaners are encouraged to walk in anytime at any of our centres for assistance. As per curricula requirements, learners are also involved in arranged community service projects.
In partnership with other public, private and non-governmental organisations, the unit coordinate and display exhibits at public open spaces, malls and education centres. The exhibits cater a variety of environmental issues that are prevalent in communities within the City of Johannesburg whilst addressing service delivery issues by different city entities.
Further, on an annual basis, the unit in partnership with Gauteng Department of Education hosts a career exhibition expo for high school learners as part of June 16 commemorations. At this event, learners are exposed to various careers in the environmental and STEMI sphere. Information on what each careers entails, subjects that one needs to pursue for such career/s and which institutions offer the courses for the aspired career is shared with learners.
Mobile science education outreach programmes
The unit has a mobile science centre (vehicle). The mobile vehicle is sponsored by SAASTA through DST and is utilised to conduct STEMI workshops, talks, science shows, science experiments and other environmental awareness outreach activities for various age groups. Members of the public and learners are invited to book the mobile programmes for outreach programmes which will be conducted at the comfort of their own facilities free of charge. A two weeks’ notice is required to book for the programme. Bookings can be done at: 011 7829 597.
Capacity Building Initiative
The capacity building programme include amongst others, development, coordination and facilitation of environmental education workshops, training and up-skilling programmes for non-governmental organisations, the general public and youth groups. The workshops and training programmes are not restricted to a particular topic but aim to cater the needs of intended participants. They also respond to local environmental challenges in communities with the intention of encouraging action based learning to resolve these challenges.
With youth groups, train the trainer programme is rendered where youth are trained and capacitated to create awareness in their communities, get as many community members as possible to partake in centre based education programmes as well as establish community-based natural resource management programmes that are outcome based, tangible and sustainable. These include community-based food gardens in public amenities such as schools, nursery schools and community amenities.
The unit has two greening projects which are rolled out in schools and communities i.e. fruit tree distribution in communities and development of food gardens in schools. The fruit tree project is an initiative aimed at planting fruit trees in people’s homes especially at historically marginalised areas to enhance food security while greening these areas. To date over 30 000 fruit trees have been distributed and planted in areas such as Orange Farm, Cosmo City, Lufhereng, Dornkop and Braamfischerville. The tree distribution project is accompanied by tree care and maintenance education where members of the community are educated on a particular fruit tree species at the comfort of their own home. Fruit tree education involve educating communities on how to select a site to plant a fruit tree, how to dig a hole, care and maintenance of fruit trees including pest control. Based on the information given people are provided an opportunity to decide if they want a fruit tree for their home or not. A verification process is in place to confirm if the trees have indeed been planted in households that have collected trees during distribution. The verification is conducted by Community Based Educators (CBEs) who are drawn from the local community. Fruit trees planted in different areas have survived and can be seen when driving along the areas they were planted; an achievement the unit is proud of as it makes a vital difference in the communities we serve.
The food gardens project is another project which involves the establishment of a 100m² food garden in a school and its mainly fuelled by sponsorships secured by the Unit. So far 43 food gardens were developed in schools across the City of Johannesburg, especially in predominantly marginalised areas. Schools that participate in the project are from the historically and socioeconomically challenged townships and have been identified in consultation with the Department of Education. The vegetable gardens enhance nutritional feeding schemes available in the respective schools while also improving the livelihoods of community members who take care of the gardens on behalf of the schools. The gardens enhance curriculum learning as they are used as a teaching and learning resource for curriculum learning.
Prior to developing the gardens, a greening team made up of parents, educators and learners is formed in each school. The group is exposed to a series of workshops such as soil and compost making, site selection, preparation and planting methods, pest control, propagation and harvesting methods as well as food preparation recipes. After each workshop, the participants are given work-away tasks ensuring that they immediately implement what they have learnt during food gardening workshops. Once the gardens are established, the various centres conduct and offer onsite support for three years to ensure continuity and sustainability.
How to Start you own vegetable garden
EE & A Annual Education Plan
Click on the links below to download the programmesJBG EE Centre Programmes
To book for the programmes, contact the various education centres for assistance related to bookings and general education enquiries.