Capacity building for teaching and learning in environmental education: the role of public/private partnerships in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa
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A recently mandated focus on environmental education (EE) in the basic education curriculum of South Africa requires that all children in grades 1 to 9 be introduced to environmental concepts and related content. Not many schools and teachers have
the necessary knowledge and experience to make this major shift workable. Similarly, the capacity of the provincial education departments to support schools in the expected integration of EE is limited. How then do schools and teachers cope with this dilemma and demand for change? In this paper, we use the concept of opportunities to learn (OTL) to understand the capacity building processes in two schools within the South African province of Mpumalanga. Specifically, we discuss the interactions between governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in building the capacity of schools (and specifically teachers) to provide quality learning in EE. Data for the study was collected through document analysis and interviews with teachers and
officials in the province. Our findings suggest that, on their own, local education departments have limited intellectual and material resources to build the schools' instructional capacity for EE. In conclusion to this paper we posit a possible approach to developing such capacity through interactions between public and private resources and programmes for EE.